Fresh start?

Buffalo has plenty of issues heading into New England. Is a fresh start what the team needs to turn things around? BFR's Kevin Prise provides commentary...

Well, Bills fans, it's that time of year again. Opening kickoff is mere hours away, and another season is staring us in the face. Usually these circumstances excite and enliven us, as we are beginning the year on equal footing with the entire NFL. Anything can happen, and every team has equal opportunity to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the year.

After the events of the past few weeks, however, how much hope can Bills Nation be expected to have? Besides the opening few minutes of the first preseason game, we have not been able to see T. O. in action. The starting offense has been atrocious at best, scoring a grand total of three points in fifteen possessions over the course of the preseason. Three points!

True, it is hard to truly measure the true aptitude of an offense that is yet to be tested in authentic game mode, but early results are frightening. Buffalo's offensive line has given Edwards little to no time to work with in the pocket, and the running backs have had minimal room to run. As a result, Jauron didn't know what to do, so he decided to fire the offensive coordinator, Turk Schonert.

So now, Bills fans, what is there to work with? The flustered coach, recognizing the futility of the situation, needed to find someone to blame for the mess. He found his outlet in Schonert, so we are now left with a play-caller in Alex Van Pelt that has not had nearly enough time to adapt to the role, especially with New England on tap.

The Bills have not been able to conquer New England since Sam Adams was running around for touchdowns back in the heyday of 2003, when they managed to find a way to win six games. At this point, we have to wonder if Buffalo is capable of beating anyone.

Just over a month ago, before any football was actually played, there was a genuine sense of excitement going around in Orchard Park. The messiah, in the form of Number 81, had arrived in town, and he was saying all the right things to the media about working hard and being a positive influence in the locker room. Edwards was priming for his breakout season, and the team's triple threat of running backs was appearing to be an intimidating force.

That was before any football was actually played. While sifting through the grim results of the preseason, we begin to remember the results of last year. After winning five of our first six games, we dropped eight of our final ten. Buffalo failed to beat any team in our own division, dropping all six games, and finished four games back of third place in the AFC East. After being criticized all season long for being a weak, uninspiring leader, Jauron was retained for another go-around, even after the owner claimed again and again that changes had to be made.

Last year, the Bills couldn't find a way to beat Matt Cassel. Now, they're faced with Tom Brady, a guy who knows how to win games. Jauron doesn't know how to win games. He has never been able to lead the Bills to a winning record during his three full seasons in Buffalo, and yet he is back to try his luck again.

It's anyone's guess what will happen on Monday night. Last time the Bills played the Patriots in prime time, they were publicly humiliated, on national TV, at home. This time, Jauron and Company are to travel to hostile Foxborough, where the fans are riled up after somehow failing to make the playoffs after an 11-5 regular season. With the team in disarray, this appears to be a recipe for disaster.

However, as we have seen time and time again, they play the game for a reason. The Bills have surprised us before. It has been a while, but it has been done. Maybe the O-line will begin to jell, giving Trent some time to find Owens and the gang for some big gains. Maybe Van Pelt will channel his years of experience as a professional quarterback into some sound and crucial judgments under pressure. Maybe Jauron will be able to use the omnipresent pessimism around town as a motivational tool.

Maybe there is something we don't know about this year's team. The season still hasn't started yet. As of now, the Bills have not lost a game. They have as good a chance as anyone to win some games. Current circumstances don't look promising. However, on Monday night, two teams will take their positions on the field, not just one. When the opening kickoff takes place, the score will be tied. After that, the fate is in the Bills' own hands. Let's hope that they don't squander it. Western New York is tired of waiting.

Kevin Prise is an analyst for Contact him at

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