That was not Dick Jauron on the sidelines in Dallas, but Chan Gailey looked like him. That was not Trent Edwards at quarterback against the Cowboys, but Ryan Fitzpatrick played like him. This calendar does not say 2008, but it sure felt like it Sunday. In 2008 the Bills fooled their fans by looking like a playoff team for the first two months of the year then free falling like a rock. Different coaches and different players (even different uniforms!) yet you can't blame anyone for thinking they are seeing a mirage again.
Coming off the Jets debacle at home the week before, you would have thought at least the Bills would have been focused at the start in Dallas. Instead, the defense allowed Tony Romo and company to walk down the field with the ease that Kim Kardashian manipulates the media. The on the very first offensive play, DeMarcus Ware walks in untouched and crushes Fitzpatrick. Ware left unblocked on the first play says a lot about the mindset of the Bills on Sunday. The Palace in Dallas is huge and can be over whelming for fans, but it's supposed to be just another 100 yard field for professional players. The Bills started that game like the kids in Hoosiers making into the big arena for the first time.
I am not ready to jump off the Fitzpatrick bandwagon and say the the contract signing was a bad idea. Fitz has shown he can play in the NFL and I think he will bounce back this season. But over the past few weeks we have seen him hold the ball longer (hence the Edwards comparison) and the forced throws like the one that led to the Newman touchdown. He has to get back to being the guy we saw for the first month and a half when he made quick drops, quick decisions and kept a steady rhythm and pace that gave his offense confidence. It also helps when this offense runs through Fred Jackson first and foremost. Sunday they lost sight of that when they got behind and Jackson, while putting up good numbers, ends up with nowhere near enough touches.
Defensively I admit that I was wrong. I thought this group would start to play better as the season went along, not having to rely so heavily on turnovers. But against Dallas it was almost comical how mismatched physically the Bills seemed against a good, but not elite Cowboys offensive line. God bless Leodis McKelvin, he sure tries. But I have never seen a player with better cover skills who has zero ability to make a play on the ball. Some guys just get flat out beat on plays. McKelvin is running right along side receivers all the time and somehow the other guy always ends up with the ball. Tell me Dez Bryant didn't look like McKelvin's older brother torturing him in the backyard?
The 2008 Bills were poorly coached and lacked real leadership, so in hindsight its not a big surprise that they fell apart. But these Bills still have a chance to salvage this season. The Patriots winning against the Jets was good news for the Bills because it keeps them just a game back with a win against New England in their pocket. But that is big picture stuff. In the short term they have to go to Miami and get the job done, not allowing a suddenly awake Dolphins team to drop them farther into misery. Step one in the Bills road to recovery is to recognize their faults and try to fix them. Step two is to go out and beat the tens they are supposed to beat (Miami) and stop the bleeding. Step three is to show they actually belong on the field with the good teams in the NFL. They have failed in their last two attempts at that goal, but if they get back to what they do well, they will get other chances.
Most impressive players vs Cowboys
Fred Jackson: There were some negatives. Jackson was a non factor when the game was in doubt in the first half and he did lose a fumble. But Fred looked like a Pro Bowl runner again with over 100 yards
Brian Moorman: When things were going so well for the Bills I mentioned Moorman a couple of times for less than great days. He boomed his first punt 60 yards yesterday and looked like his old self.
George Wilson: Tough to say anyone in that mess of a secondary played well, but before Wilson got hurt he was flying around field
Kelsi Reich: That would be David Nelson's girlfriend, the Cowboys cheerleader. I really don't have to tell you why she is on this list. By the way, I like David Nelson but save the gifts for Christmas for the girlfriend, not when your team is down two touchdowns.
Least impressive players vs Cowboys:
Ryan Fitzpatrick: I think to some degree Fitz is trying to play up to the contract. He can't do that. He needs to go back to being the same under appreciated, underpaid Fitz. Don't try to do too much.
He tried to make some throws yesterday that he just can't make.
Stevie Johnson: Had two drops by my count and never established himself in the game. If you are a number one or want to be paid like one you have to make plays, especially on the road when you are struggling.
Leodis McKelvin: I went back to look at the scouting reports on McKelvin coming out of college. Here is an example He possesses a natural instinct for the position, because he is quick to read and react. McKelvin has good man coverage skills and can also play zone, due to his above average football intelligence. He has good hands for interceptions . This is why you can never trust these reports. Either McKelvin totally lost those instincts or this scout had no clue I don't think its the later. McKelvin was a consensus number one and the Bills took him. He is maddening in the games.
Nick Barnett: For most of the season Barnett has been good to very good, but yesterday he was either invisible or was lost.
Marcel Dareus: I know the big fella has lost Kyle Williams for the year, but he's the man on that defense. You barely heard his name all day.
CJ Spiller: I think you have to wait a certain amount of time before you use the word bust. The time is up.
Brad Smith: I have defended this signing for the first two months. I am done defending. The kickoff was inexcusable. I just explained to someone seeing Leon Washington do the exact same thing a few years ago, but how he knew the rule and stood with one foot on the line when he caught the ball and, at the time, the Jets got it at the 40. Smith needs to know the rule and make that easy play.
I have been seeing some Bills players get upset on Twitter because fans are being negative. Hey fellas, grow up. You love your social media access when everyone is throwing you "much love" Learn to deal with the backlash when you put on a performance like you did Sunday in Dallas. Win a game and fans will climb right back on and the waters of Twitter will be safe for you to swim