A long time ago I realized that it’s not worth it overreact to NFL preseason football, good or bad. Fans can get caught up in the success (or failure) of vanilla schemes and coaches not calling plays to win, but rather to evaluate. Because of this, I will not overreact to the awful preseason play of the 2017 Buffalo Bills. But…if I were to overreact, it might go something like this:
Offense: In my alternate universe of overreacting, I would be very concerned with the offense. Since the Bills will rest the majority of their starters for the preseason finale Thursday against the Lions, what we have seen is what we will get. The starting offense scored one TD this preseason. That TD was aided by multiple defensive penalties, including a pass interference which set the Bills up with a first and goal. Tyrod Taylor’s preseason stats were 14/29, 100 yds, 2 INT’s and a 27.9 quarterback rating. If you take away his passes to now-Rams WR Sammy Watkins and now-retired WR Anquan Boldin, he threw for only 56 yards to players that will actually be on the roster this season. Timing and QB/WR chemistry is important in the preseason, and Taylor was unable to develop either.
Penalties: If I were overreacting, I would be dumbfounded at the number of penalties that the Bills have committed through 3 preseason games. Sean McDermott brought officials into practice this past week, but that did not help. Numerous drives and 3rd down conversions were stalled because of offensive penalties. Three illegal formation penalties in the Baltimore game, the so-called “dress rehearsal” for the season. How does that happen? Somewhere Rex Ryan is sitting back with his “Yes Sir” wristband, and laughing at how McDermott’s discipline approach has not worked through three preseason games.
Pegula’s Decisions: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Let me take you back to New Years Eve 2014. The Bills just finished their first winning season in a decade, led by a Super Bowl caliber defense. That defense was nothing short of elite and stifled numerous top tier quartbacks that year. Doug Marrone walks out on the team on New Years Eve, just days after addressing the players and giving no indication that he was about to quit, and the Bills search for a head coach began. The search ended with Rex Ryan, who first-time owners fell in love with, mainly because they could not see through Rex’s bravado. Lost in this was Jim Schwartz, who was the coordinator for that elite defense. At that point, it was the offense that needed work and they hire Rex Ryan. Over the next two years the Bills suffered through an unneccesary and stubborn scheme change; the once elite defense becomes a shell of itself and instead set records of futility. But there was a shining star in the disastrous reign of Rex Ryan. Anthony Lynn lead the Bills to a 10th overall offensive ranking, and fans found themselves saying “if only the defense was better…” So, what do the Bills do? They pass on retaining Lynn and hire a questionable coordinator in Rick Dennison to run the offense, which was fine to begin with. Now, the offense can’t even seem to move the football. You see the pattern here? Why do the Pegulas continue to do this? Jim Schwartz was not a good head coach, but maybe the Pegulas should have done more to keep the 2014 defense in place, since it was not broken. This time around, maybe the Pegulas should have done more to keep the 2016 offense in place, since it was not broken. Let’s not forget that these would be my thoughts, if I were to overreact to the meaningless preseason…
Defense: If I were to overreact to the bad, I should also overreact to the good. The defense is finally back to the way that it looked in the aforementioned 2014 season. The run defense looks stout, and the front four are getting to the quarterback, allowing the new-look secondary to look much better than last year. This defense is elite again, and they will keep the team in many games this year.
Overall, if I was in the business of overreacting I would say that this is a bad team. We all know that the Bills never get national respect from the big pundits and media outlets, but maybe all of the predictions are true, maybe the Bills are throwing in the towel this year and are fully in 2018 mode. Luckily for my own sanity…I promised myself that I would not overreact in the preseason, good or bad. Is holding true to that promise considered me putting more blind faith into this franchise, or am I refusing to see what is right in front of me? We will know the answer to that soon enough.