A time for wagon circling
As Bills show progress, fans should maintain perspective
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 23:10
It is usually at this time of the season that fans’ expectations drop radically. By now, at the conclusion of Week Six, we usually have an idea and an image of what our team is.
The Buffalo Bills’ 2-4 record is disappointing, however, it does not reflect the potential this team has demonstrated thus far.
It is important to recognize that this is a rebuilding year. With a rookie coach and a rookie quarterback and a rookie offensive coordinator, there is a lot of growth that needs to take place. And it is imperative that we, as fans, understand that this is a process that will take time.
As a young team, they have been competing every week – making each game come down to the final minutes. Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals reflected one of the primary problems the team has suffered for the last several seasons: They have been devastated by injuries.
The absence of EJ Manuel and Stevie Johnson was palpable for fans who have put their faith in their first-round draft pick to be the franchise quarterback. Many fans have responded with protestations of frustration, saying the management should have been prepared for a potential Manuel injury.
Manuel, a mobile quarterback, is injury prone due to his playing style. The team would have benefited from having a veteran who could groom him through his rookie season and who could be prepared to take over should he be injured.
Buffalo did sign Kevin Kolb for two years and up to $13 million and, much to Bills Nation’s chagrin, he suffered a devastating, career-ending injury during the preseason. The Bills coaching staff cannot predict player injuries, so it is difficult to blame them for this loss.
And in the midst of a rebuilding year, with a young team that is trying to gel and establish its identity for long-term success, it was not worth taking up cap space on another veteran backup quarterback whose only purpose would be a temporary solution.
Jeff Tuel appeared promising during the preseason and he seemed to be reliable enough to take over, but he had no experience. The experience he did have in college isn’t exactly impressive; he went 4-22 in 26 starts at Washington State.
His performance against the Cleveland Browns was indicative of one thing: that he is not ready to lead an NFL offense.
Thad Lewis demonstrated strong ability on Sunday and it says something about the state of the team that even with all its injuries, and with its youth and inexperience, the Bills hung in it until the end and came back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
Every game must be kept in perspective this season.
It is a bad statement on behalf of the fans that the fourth home game of the season failed to sell out – resulting in Ralph Wilson purchasing the remainder of tickets so that fans could watch the game on television.
But it is also worth pointing out Buffalo is the third-poorest city in the United States, according to Buffalo Business First. Part of our fan base’s identity is rooted in our sense of working-class toughness and blue-collar braggadocio.
But if the team is not performing, and if two of the most important players on the team are not playing, many Buffalo-area residents do not feel it is worth paying the costs of tickets alongside the accompanying expenses of attending a game – parking, food, drinks, etc.
Buffalo has some of the most loyal and diehard fans in the NFL. We stick with our team no matter what, and we are strengthened by our devotion to a cause greater than ourselves.
The outcome of Bills games is beyond the control of fans; and that is exactly what being a fan is about: having faith in something beyond your control.
As the team is in a period of rebuilding this season, it is pivotal fans keep this in mind and continue to support the squad – which is showing a great deal of promise, but making baby steps in its attempt to construct a winning team.
The Bills are the only NFL team to have yet made the playoffs in the 21st century. We all want to see that change. And in the meantime, Bills fans should do what they do best – circle the wagons.
It is what makes us who we are.