Not that anybody was surprised, but the Bills were in perfect harmony after the victory over the Jaguars. The franchise receiver zipped his lips about the play calling, and the franchise quarterback wasn’t forced to explain why he played like a backup. The defense and special teams were exceptional.
The Bills allowed themselves to experience the euphoria that comes with winning because, yawn, winning doesn’t come easy in the NFL. Sure enough, after trampling a pathetic 2-9 Jacksonville team, they took turns singing verses from the same old song along One Bills Drive.
We’ll start with the lead vocalist, George Wilson: “We cannot worry about the past at this point. We just have to focus on the next game, the next play, the next series.”
Kyle Williams: “I am not worried about a month ago. Obviously, yes, we wish this would have happened earlier and we could have played this well earlier. But the only thing I can control is what is in front of me.”
Mario Williams: “What happened before is the past and we just have to keep pushing.”
OK, let’s talk about the future. Let’s face reality, too.
Generally, players are wired into the present and the idea they should keep competing until someone tells them to stop. The 24-hour rule gives them a day to enjoy victory or bemoan defeat before their mentality shifts to the next opponent. They’re not thinking about the future beyond Sunday, and that should not change.
For everyone else, starting with Buddy Nix, the future means spending the final four games figuring out who deserves a paycheck beyond this season. Forget overcoming the math and making the playoffs. The idea that the Bills would accomplish anything of consequence in the postseason is a pipedream.
The Bills are 5-7, ninth in the conference and a tiebreaker behind the embarrassment known as the New York Jets. Buffalo still hasn’t won a road game under Gailey over a team that finished with a winning record. Reaching the playoffs is one thing. The real reach is thinking they would beat a playoff team on the road.
Buffalo’s victories this year have come against opponents with a combined 17-43 record. None has a winning record. One was against Arizona, which has lost eight straight. The Bills’ losses are against teams with a combined 54-29-1 record, including a blowout loss to the Jets. Another was at home to Tennessee, which is 4-8.
St. Louis is coming to town this weekend with a 5-6-1 record overall, a 1-3-1 record on the road and a 0-3 record against non-conference teams. The Rams are precisely the kind of team that allows the Bills to create a false sense of hope en route to another mediocre 7-9 record and the 13th pick overall.
The Bills, incredibly, are still in the hunt for a playoff spot with four games remaining while riding another one-game winning streak. They likely would need to win at least three of the final four games to reach the postseason. It has happened only twice under Gailey. Both were part of a three-game streak last season en route to 6-10.
But that’s in the past, right?
This is about the future.
I’m not suggesting the Bills should tank the season. Please, spare me the bit about the Bills trying to win every game because they’re so competitive. If anything, they’re delusional. If they were that competitive, they wouldn’t have rolled over earlier in the season or, more importantly, been rolled over.
The Bills haven’t found the answers, so let’s look for them. Nix needs to find out who can play, starting with receiver Marcus Easley. He looked dangerous in the open field, so he belongs on the field. Tarvaris Jackson should get a start at quarterback. Maybe he can challenge Ryan Fitzpatrick next season to back up the first-round pick.
Rookie David Snow made his NFL debut Sunday after replacing injury-prone center Eric Wood, who is sidelined again. Rooks Ron Brooks and Nigel Bradham have fared well and should improve with experience. Maybe the same is true for two young veterans in the secondary, Da’Norris Searcy and Crezdon Butler.
Why not play them?
Let’s be honest, whatever the Bills have done for years hasn’t worked. At worst, they would lose a few football games and miss the playoffs. At best, they would win a few games and make the playoffs while discovering several players who perform better under game conditions. They would become part of the future.
And the Bills could change their tune.