Riding the Mechanical Bill

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As I was cleaning out my shed in the backyard a few days ago it occurred to me just how messy I needed to make things just to be able to restore order and functionality to this very unorganized storage facility. Total chaos ensued, and the ability to operate even at the most basic level during that cluttered couple of hours was severely handicapped. God help me should I need to perform an emergency transplant of one of our coveted Butterfly bushes. All my tools were scattered about, and the essence of all that made life serene and predictable lay in jumbled treachery on the lawn’s dieing and drying carpet.

Looking around my “junk yard” trying to determine the best course of action that would provide an improvement over the previous methods of tool placement, my mind began to wander - something it often does at my seasoned age. As I floated aimlessly through random thoughts about Obama nations, the nasty taste of Tofu Burgers, and why my dogs only crapped in certain places the yard, I eventually landed on the question haunting every Bills fan – how, in our most hopeful season of this century, are we going to overcome the issues that face our team enough to make the playoffs?

With our two premier running backs out of commission only days before we play host to the hated Patriots we find ourselves hoping that the “Third Choice” can effectively take that busy baby-back-baton and run with it. Though I have admiration for Tashard’s exceptional 90 yard plus performance against the Browns, it was still (just) the Browns in a game that no reason short of nuclear holocaust could have (or even should have) justified a loss.

And though we may hold our collective breaths waiting for the announcement of Fred and CJ’s fate for this weekend, the realistic side of our brain tells us that even if either (or both) of them are listed to play, how good can they possibly be with the pains of their injuries still freshly tapping on their nervous system.

So we default to our last remaining “offensive” hope - the resurgence of that old gunslinger, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Yes, the same Fitzy that so many have come to love, and so many have come to hold in anguished disregard. I grip tightly to the hope that the Amish Rifle will reemerge to those levels of performance demonstrated a long, long, time ago in a land far, far away from my Arizona home. But I think I have good reason for my optimism. And I was looking at the evidence of those reasons in my own back yard.

During the off season Ryan made a commitment to himself, his team, the Bills organization, and all of the Bills Nation to improve as a quarterback. To do this he would need to readdress everything he had ever learned, and everything that he had become comfortable with. He needed to “empty the shed”, so to speak.

We all know that Ryan Fitzpatrick is a very smart man. Harvard and the Wonderlic are only a couple examples that prove this to be a fact; not fiction or wishful thinking. We have also observed him read defenses with astonishing accuracy. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s football I.Q. has never been in question.

But all of the intelligence in the world can not help you when it is time to execute the physics of the game. Sadly, Ryan’s ability to pit best courses of action against defensive schemes does necessitate a corresponding improvement of “muscle memory”. It just heightens his chances of completing crappy passes over someone absent of similar powers of predictive analysis. Hell, if I had his mental capacity I may be able to muster a 52.7 quarterback rating in the NFL. But I don’t, and I can’t.

So as fans we are left with the frustrating knowledge that there is a limit to how far Ryan’s deadly football acumen will take him and our team in this league.

Examining our hero’s shed inventory we can easily determine what items can be returned to their proper place, what items need maintenance and repair, and what items need thrown out and replaced. So back on the shelf goes game comprehension – the proven counterweight to offset an absence of natural talent. Back in its cubby hole goes the obvious effects of leadership that Ryan continuously demonstrates both on and off the field. Before returning it to its perch we probably should update the rules and regulations of the NFL and thank the football God's for a resolution between the league and the NFLRA.

OK. The shed is now partially returned to its’ old functional self.

Still laying menacingly outside of the shed in pitiful disarray, are broken and flawed pieces of our Buffalo Gun, carelessly scattered on the ground. With the "Gun's" mechanics dismantled and craving oily attention, everyone can see that the time has come to rectify the biggest obstacle to the Bill’s success. Yes, that’s right, the time has come to fix the rifle at its most rudimentary level – the mechanical level.

Enter a new quarterbacks’ coach, David Lee. This man, a unique creature amongst his ilk, carries a tool kit of ideas and techniques that intend to correct the shortcomings of our physiologically challenged gridiron leader. And so throughout the bulk of the off season he works vigilantly with Ryan to pass on his 38 years of coaching experience by tweaking this, tightening that, removing and replacing this over here, polishing and repairing that over there. It was time to get a new stance; try a new swing; oil the hips for swivel-ability; expand the periphery of awareness; examine wrist flicks, finger rolls, and grip; learning how to effectively speed read through progressions with a 2.5 second limit; cram playbook charts that attenuate strengths and mitigate weaknesses; study grab bags filled with audibles, trick plays, and basic plays; don't forget to fully understanding the functions and dysfunctions of every player on the offense.

Much of this is an intellectual routine already firmly entrenched in Ryan Fitzpatrick’s random access memory. But the executable files that employ all of this knowledge to attain the best possible outcome are not as pristine, not as fine tuned as the other skills sets he confidently possesses – or at least not yet.

Let’s return to MY shed for a moment. It’s been a few days since I’ve reorganized. While it is in fact a superior option to all previous versions I still tend to reach for something in the place that it WAS, and not the place it is now. Eventually this new and improved structure will become second nature to me, with efficiency and effectiveness increasing exponentially in the wake of practice and usage. Not that I actually “practice” getting a shovel and electric trimmer, mind you.

The same is true with our favorite first string quarterback. It is difficult enough to get used to a reorganized closet or desk drawer much less restructured, resorted, and reorganized mechanics when throwing a football. Oh, did I say that he has been throwing a football for some time now? And did I happen to mention that he has, in his own admission, been doing it wrong all of this time? And please don’t forget all of necessary minutia in his Heads Up Display that got him into the NFL as a quarterback to begin with. There is no wish for him to barter any of those skills away for a quicker release. But we all know, himself included, that we need something more before the Bills achieve the next level. With all of that said I should be honest here; as a fan it’s frustrating that, while each week we see evidence of mechanical improvement, we also observe him reverting back to where he WAS, rather than where he needs to be.

The guy is human. Really… he is. Spock-like smarts doesn't change this fact.

And so we ride the mechanical Bill. We go up, we go down; we roll left then jerk right; a heave to the front and a jolt to the rear. We hang on for dear life and wonder if the pain in our joints is worth the investment made as the ride threatens to jerk the limbs from our screaming, flailing bodies. I even think I saw my television flinch at one of my outbursts during the week one debacle with the NY Jerks…. Uh… Jets.

But please don’t forget who is riding the hardest. Don’t forget who has the most to lose. That would be Ryan Fitzpatrick himself. How many people do you know, football or otherwise, who would be willing to throw out everything that they have known and everything that they have felt the most comfortable with on a hope and a prayer that things MIGHT get better. You’ve gotta love the guy for trying.

But Ryan, old buddy; if you happen to stumble upon this post that supports the challenges of your reinvention, please heed these words. Three games are now under your belt with positive signs that this new shed that you’ve de-cluttered and rearranged may actually produce results. You have my respect and I consider you one of the brighter spots in a long and depressing 12 years. But we desire results NOW. We have been patient fans for too long and can wait no longer for the total transformation. The Patriots are at the door with their B.B. Guns (that’s Brady and Belichik). So either sit, or give it a shot. Mechanics or not, the “Whagon Blasters” are ready for the next step.

Are you Ryan?

Go Bills!!!!

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of

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