This fanpost came about as I was writing my other post, Buddy Nix: The Hero Buffalo Deserves. It is an alternate universe in which the Bills had just three changes. A game managing QB, decent defensive coordinator and a decent offensive coordinator. Skip to the bottom if you want to read some discussion of where I think we are vs where we might have been.
Alternate Universe 2012: The 11-5 Bills
Week 1: The Bills perform to their talent level on defense because of good preseason coaching and solid non vanilla schemes on defense. Our QB manages the game well and Mark Sanchez is exploited like the bad qb he his.
What happened: Sanchez throws for 266 yards, 3 tds and a pick. Fitz throws for 195, 3 early picks and 3 garbage time tds. Spiller touches the only ball 14 times but gets 169 yards. 0-1
What happened: The Bills do just that 2-1
Week 4: The Bills hold on to a strong 21-7 lead over the Pats and the defense makes adjustments in the second half so that they are not outcoached in the 4th.
What happened: Bills had the lead 21-7 but gave up 31 points to the Pats in the 4th quarter. Due to being out coached at every angle possible. 2-2
Week 5: The Bills lose the the 49ers in a non embarrassing way.
What happened: The Bills give up 621 yards of offense and lose 45-3. 2-3
Week 6: the Bills decisively dominate the Cardinals embarrassing offense.
What Happened: The Bills needed an Mega Hand block and a Kolb injury to win. 3-3
Week 7: the Bills do not allow 100 yards rushing to the Titans and Matt Hasselbeck to beat them.
What happened: Chris Johnson runs for 195 and 2 tds on 18 carries. Hasselbeck leads a dramatic 4 minute offense to take the lead and with 2 minutes left the Bills flounder. 3-4
The Bills have allowed the following rushing yards 247, 311, 182 and 197 to the Pats, 49ers, Cardinals and Titans respectively
Week 9: The Bills lose to the Texans honorably.
What Happened: The Bills lost in a surprisingly good game. 3-5
CJ Spiller stats over the past 4 weeks:
Actual Hypothetical Touches Yards per Attempt Yards Touches Yards per Attempt Yards 12 7.33 88 20 7.33 140 12 5.83 70 20 5.83 110 6 6.5 39 20 6.5 130 9 7.88 70 20 7.88 150
Week 10: The Bills lose to the pats in a close game.
What happened: Bills lose to the pats in a close game 3-6
Week 11: Bills win a thriller on thursday night football.
What happened: Bills win a thriller on thursday night football 4-6
Week 12: Bills win a good game with CJ leading the way with 130 yards on 20 carries because we game planned to keep the ball out of Luck's hands and Fitz didn't throw the game away.
What happened: CJ had 25 touches in Miami with 125, should we repeat? No. CJ has 107 yards, great right? Nope, 14 touches averaging 7.64 yards. Down by 7, Fitz throws a pick and Stevie saves his butt with a strip fumble. New set of downs!! 3 and out game lost. Screw reality. 4-7
Week 13: Bills win a convincing game against the Jags.
What happened: The Bills beat the Jags 5-7
Week 14: CJ touches the ball 20 times for 120 yards, we keep the ball out of Bradfords hands and win.
What Happened: CJ touches the ball 7 times for 52 yards Freddy touches the ball 14 times for 30 yards. We give up a td with 4 minutes to go to lose the game long lead and Fitz throws a pick to lose the game. 5-8
Week 15: Bills lose a close game to a playoff bound Seahawks.
What Happened: Bills lose 50-17, and seahawks run for 270 yards with Russell Wilson running for 3 tds 5-9
Week 16: Bills lose a close game to Miami.
What Happened: Bills lose to Miami in miserable fashion. 5-10
Week 17: Bills win against the Jets and go 11-5 for the wild card!!!
What Happened: Bills have an empty win against the Jets. 6-10
Bills learn from their week 9 loss to Houston and win the wild card.
Bills play Denver but lose due to a great game by Manning.
Buffalo celebrates the great season and moves into the offseason with tons of hope.
I did this to get a feel for how the season would have gone. With just minor coaching changes and in my eyes realistic changes in the game due to different coaches, the team goes 11-5 instead of 6-10. A good defensive game plan against Sanchez, keeping the 14 point lead on New England with 8 minutes left in the 3rd, a decent game plan against Chris Johnson and giving the ball to CJ for 2 wins against the Colts and Rams results in a 11-5 season. I realize that this is all in hindsight and hindsight is 20/20 but I really dont think its that much of a stretch to get them to be an 11-5 team.
In hockey, teams have to scrape the barrel for a few years to become perennial playoff contenders. See the up and coming Islanders, the Penguins and the Blackhawks. I truly am happy that the Bills sucked so bad last season, it gave us one more draft to solidify our defense and to re-tool our offense. I had hoped that Fitz was the answer, but I could not have been more wrong. I really think all this team needs are some good coaches and they can be a playoff contender for a bunch of years in a row. I think Marrone as CEO, Hackett with his vertical west coast offense and Pettine with the defensive talent will have this team in the playoffs much sooner rather than later. If not this year, then next year without a doubt.
I despised what happened this year, but in my eyes, it made the team so much better in the long run. If we had been marginally better and gone even 8-8 or 9-7, we are not as good as we are today. Perhaps we still have Chan, perhaps we still have Fitz, we might not draft EJ, not get a chance at Woods or even Kiko. I love the direction the team went with all the WR's, the QB and a ranging linebacker with attitude. I'm excited for the 2013 season more than I have ever been as Bills fan, except this year is different. The team is no longer this stagnant hopeful team who is trying its best to compete. We went out and became aggressive in every aspect of our team. I say watch out, this team is ready to compete now more than it has been in 10 plus years. I'm so excited for the team.