Dear Fellow Rumblers -
This Fan Post Letter is meant to solely get something off of my chest. I completely understand Friday night was a pre-season game. In fact, I can honestly say whole heartily that my expectations have been and remain to be fairly low. So, in saying that, I did not expect Buffalo to go into Washington and deliver an offensive or defensive masterpiece. I did not expect Trent Edwards to throw for a couple quick strike TD's and 100 yards nor did I think Maybin would shred the Washington O-line. Our first game in the 3-4 was bound to be rocky and vanilla and I am 100% OK with that as the team adapts and adds more scheme.
However, what I am upset about is something we very rarely talk or write about here. What I am speaking of is what many refer to as "heart", or identity. There are two instances in Friday's game where I feel the BILLS missed golden opportunities to let the AFC EAST, the media and the rest of the NFL know that is will not be your same old, run of the mill, Buffalo BILLS. The first came on the first offensive BILLS drive. Yes, Stupar's penalty was a killer, but Trent bounced back and hit Lynch for a 12 yard pick-up on 3rd and 13. That left a very makeable 4th and 1 on Washington's 20. Keep in mind, we have this touted 3-headed running attack and a decent FB. Instead, Gailey pulled a page out of the Jauron playbook and kicked the field goal. Now, I don't know about you, but to me the BILLS need about zero practice with field goals! We've shown the league we have mastered that art over the last 4 years! Why not make a stand? Why not throw everything you have, man on man, and push the pile forward for a clean set of downs? Worst case scenario, you turn the ball back over on the Washington 20 yard on a change of possession. I would contend the 3 points mean nothing in the pre-season.
In my opinion, going for the 4th and 1 would have sent a message to the team, players and fans that we will push forward and we will not settle. Do you honestly think Rex Ryan, Bill Belichick and Tony Sparano would have kicked that field goal? I would argue they wouldn't. I believe Chan passed on a huge motivational and team make-up opportunity and I will argue that this, in my mind, was his first coaching mistake. This team needs to move forward with confidence that it "will" win and play to do so. By settling for the field goal the team walks away feeling the drive was unfulfilled and incomplete. Not sure about you, but to me that is not getting the job done and making an excuse that failure is OK. It’s pre-season guys! Take the chance why you still can. Do you really thing we would all be writing today about not getting those 3 points when we had the chance? We had an opportunity to build a new identity and change the momentum of the game, all on one play.
I also believe the same case could be made for the similar situation (although poorer field position) in the second quarter. This was the infamous 4th and 1 after Trent hit Johnson for a 14 yard pick-up where we tried to "trick" the Skins into jumping off sides. You all know that was never going to work. So, instead of plowing forward with our stable of RB's we decided to let Morman get a little more work in; because we all know he hasn't had enough in the last few years. You can argue with me that the cirumstances were different and to an extent I agree. However, I believe we again let another opportunity pass us by. In short, same old same old.
In closing, I'm hoping this team creates an identity. One like the JETS where both the players and coaches say no-one can push us around. This team needs something other than field goals, teaching fundamentals and trying to get better. It needs the expectation of a winning attitude. I believe Chan had an opportunity to accomplish just that and put his first stamp on the organization. In short, he didn't show us the baby.
Disgruntled yet eternally hopeful fan...aka JRA_BBILLS