The Buffalo Bills are the “ONLY” team in the NFL that hasn’t made the playoffs in the 21st Century, and they are on solid ground to make it 16 straight years not reaching the postseason after their ugly, penalty filled performance in Sunday’s 23 – 20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, a game they badly needed to keep their thin playoff hopes alive.
After the game, Bills coach Rex Ryan admitted that the loss “probably cost us a playoff berth.” Well, Rex, I think you got it right. The Bills are toast again, and now it will be a battle to just play out the season with nothing much at stake, except maybe Doug Whaley’s GM job. Let’s face it, the Bills just can’t break the losing habit and 16 straight years missing the postseason is the legacy of the front office started under Ralph Wilson and continuing under Terry Pegula. This is the same franchise that lost four straight Super Bowls and now boasts the longest playoff drought among the four major North American sports.
All the preseason buildup and media hype that triggered a big run on season ticket sales has melted away as the Bills stand at 6 – 7 and even if they win out (highly unlikely), the best they can do is 9 and 7, the same as last year. That record, and the fact the fans were unhappy at another year of missing the playoffs, drove Doug Marrone out of town and led to the hiring of Ryan who couldn’t win much with the Jets. But it worked for the front office and fans gobbled up tickets, ensuring another big money year for a brain trust that can lure fans but can’t produce a playoff-caliber product.
The Bills pretty much did themselves in against the Eagles with 15 penalties and two turnovers, and even if former Eagles star LeSean McCoy had a touchdown scamper (which he didn’t), it probably would have been called back as nine of the Bills penalties were on the offense. In all, the Bills racked up 101 yards in penalties, showing the same lack of discipline that has marked their season from the start.
Tyrod Taylor threw for 268 yards for Buffalo, and he can hardly be blamed for the loss as his line was overwhelmed by the Eagles pass rushers led by end Fletcher Cox who could only be stopped when tackled by the Bills linemen, causing many of the penalties.
The next stop for the Bills is Washington for a game against the Redskins, a team still alive for the postseason. It will very difficult for Ryan to get the Bills up for the Redskins as the playoffs are all but out of reach. Maybe they will play for next season or to keep their jobs. There are many high-priced players on the Bills roster but at 6 and 7, it looks like they are overpaid “talent.” And the front office has never been able to figure out the difference between real players and phonies. That has been the case for a very long time and now we will all have another year to hear the excuses and the promises of better things to come. At least the new ownership is willing to spend but so far, the results have been the same.
LeSean McCoy had nothing to say after losing to his old team, and he looked average (74 rushing yards, no big plays) in the game despite all the hype about his motivation to extend himself against the coach who traded him away. McCoy is a good back but not a game breaker. Tyrod Taylor has his moments but is he really the franchise quarterback the Bills need? There are many questions about this team, and as far as I’m concerned, about Rex Ryan’s “players coach” reputation. Maybe some discipline is needed to win big games, and the Bills have none.
Oh well, just another so-so year that started with so much hope and is ending like all the others with no postseason and many question marks. That’s the Buffalo Bills, folks. The record doesn’t lie.