FanPost

We’re going to stink worse than Cornell Green

Greetings fellow Rumblers,

This is a post in which I take the very unpopular position that the Bills are going to stink really bad this year. Real bad. The Bills 2010 season bad. Aaron Maybin’s rap song bad. Cornell Green bad.

And frankly, I think now, at the start of training camp – while hopes are high, ambitions big, and Kool-aid, well, cool – is a good time for such a post. And I think it’s a good time because, in my humble opinion, I believe the great majority of us have deceived ourselves into thinking the Bills might actually be good this year. I do not see things the same way.

So I’m hoping this post will serve as a big jug of Gatorade that we drink before a wild party. We drink the Gatorade so we can enjoy the inebriation while also taking action to lessen the severity of the hangover. So, yes, let’s enjoy the Bills season before the annual train wreck, but let’s also acknowledge how we might very well stink. And if we take such precautions, come Week 4, when our hopes have been sufficiently dashed, we may feel something better than a hangover of complete and utter devastation.

But before I go on, let me preface my post with a few disclaimers:

a. I do not profess to know how the season will turn out, and I will be the first to point out that I could be wrong. All of my opinions are strictly opinions. If I say “this or that person is going to stink” forgive me because I meant to say “I think this or that person is going to stink” or “I have reason to believe…”

b. If you think reading this post is going to make you upset, this is a good place to stop reading and save yourself the grief.

c. This is a prediction ONLY about the Bills 2013 season. This has nothing to do with the direction the Bills are heading in as a franchise. As bad as I think the Bills are going to be this year, I do have some hope for their future.

6 Reasons Why the 2013 Bills are Going to Stink

1. The 2013 Bills WRs are not going to be the second coming of the “greatest show in turf.”

It seems to be the widespread belief that with our new (and very speedy) crop of WRs, the Bills are suddenly going to be putting up massive numbers in the air, with Marquise and Stevie inventing new booty-bumping TD dances for SportsCenter each week. Statistics for rookie receivers, especially those taken after the first round, are pretty underwhelming. I went back and looked at all the receivers taken the last three years within ten spots of Woods (41st overall) and Goodwin (78th overall).

Here are the rookie statistics of WRs drafted in the Robert Woods range (31 overall through 51 overall) in the past three years:

Name

Year

Receptions

Yards

TDs

Brian Quick

2012

11

156

2

Stephen Hill

2012

21

252

3

Alshon Jeffery

2012

24

367

3

Titus Young

2011

48

607

6

Dexter McCluster

2010

29

209

1

Arrelious Benn

2010

29

395

2

And here are the rookie statistics of WRs drafted in the Marquise Goodwin range (68 overall through 88 overall) in the past three years:

Name

Year

Receptions

Yards

TDs

Devier Posey

2012

6

87

0

TJ Graham

2012

31

322

1

Mohamed Sanu

2012

16

154

4

Austin Pettis

2011

27

256

0

Leonard Hankerson

2011

13

163

0

Vincent Brown

2011

19

323

2

Jerrel Jernigan

2011

0

0

0

Damian Williams

2010

16

219

0

Brandon LaFell

2010

38

468

1

Emmanuel Sanders

2010

28

376

2

Jordan Shipley

2010

52

600

3

Eric Decker

2010

6

106

1

Andre Roberts

2010

24

307

2

Based on the statistical averages of each group, we can expect Robert Woods to have this stat line: 26 receptions, 331 yards, and 3 TDs, and Marquise Goodwin to have this stat line: 21 receptions, 260 yards, and 1 TD.

Again, this isn’t an argument that they were bad picks. It’s just that I don’t think we should be overly hopeful for Kolb/Manuel putting up Drew Brees-like numbers with their new, speedy receiving corps.

2. It will take the team time to adjust to a new coaching staff, playbook, and schemes.

I went back to 2007 looking at the records of every team that started a new head coach, comparing that new coach’s first year record to the fired coach’s record. My findings were somewhat surprising. I’d expected to find that teams generally got slightly worse with a new coach (because of the whole new playbook and scheme thing). This wasn’t the case. In the past five years, new head coaches, on average, have added 1.2 more wins than the previous coach’s final year. (Seventeen teams improved versus 12 that either lost more games or won as many games as the previous coach.)

But here’s the bad news: Teams with new coaching staffs that have improved the team’s record are generally teams that had hit rock bottom the previous year, with records of 5-11 and worse. (The 2008 0-16 Lions, for instance, improved to 2-14 the next year.) Teams that finish with a subpar-but-not-terrible record (like the 2012 Bills who went 6-10) do not see an improvement in win record in the first year of a new coaching staff as often as rock-bottom teams. Of the thirteen teams that had a coaching change after a 6-10 or better record, nine finished with worse records under a new coach, while only four had better or equivalent records.

3. Mike Pettine is not a deity.

Here are some Rumblers comments about the defensive coordinator change:

“MY PRAYERS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED!!!”

“I am sure this hire will be an upgrade.”

“Good change to a better coach, with minimal disruption to the team.”

“His credentials are such that I’m certain, if he want to coach a darn 5-2, 46, or even a tampon 2 he could do it!!!”

“[He]will improve our defense just by being the man behind the scheme.”

These comments actually have nothing to do with Mike Pettine. These are fans lauding the promotion of Dave Wannstedt, who, unbelievably, escaped town after being fired without being tarred and feathered. It’s common for us to greet every new coaching hire as a big step up (simply because we’re happy we got rid of the last bum), when in many cases it’s a big step down. I do think Pettine’s a step up, but I don’t think he’s got a magic wand that he can wave over a field of pumpkins to turn into a legitimate defense.

Pettine’s defenses have been, on the whole, very good. But they haven’t always been great. Last year, for instance, the Jets, while having a good passing D, still allowed 23.4 points a game (20th worst in the NFL) and allowed 133 rushing yards per game (26th worst in the league and just 12 yards better than Wannstedt’s numbers). This isn’t to say that Pettine will be bad, but I offer these numbers to show that a coordinator, himself, cannot singlehandedly turn any group of players into an elite defense.

4. Our Defense stinks.

Last year, we were 22nd worst in yards given up, 26nd in points, 10th in pass defense, and 31st against the run. It was a dismal year. And not much has changed. We lost Sheppard, Barnett, Wilson, and Anderson replacing them with the likes of Lawson, Alonso, Hughes, and a couple of late round rookies. There might be a marginal improvement (especially with Alonso), but, for all we know, there could be a marginal regression, too.

We still like to say we have a top-five defensive line (even though no one knows the identity of our second pass-rusher), but it seems unjustified when we often have bottom-ten stats. Mario has not earned his money and Dareus has been a big disappointment given his draft status. Kyle is great, but that doesn’t leave us with a top-5 line. Suddenly we’re excited about Jerry Hughes because he was a first round pick, even though Mario and Dareus have been utterly underwhelming as top first round picks.

Our LBs are raw or unproven and our DBs look scary. (Not “good” scary, but “I’m going to get nervous every time Tannehill drops back” scary.) We have Leodis McKelvin listed as a starter, which is cause enough to have our eyeballs spring out of their sockets. We feel optimistic about Aaron Williams at SS because he played against the likes of Sweet Home High School at the position on his varsity team, while we completely disregard the fact that he has been an utter disappointment as a football player the last two years. If the starters here are concerning, our depth should be raising alarms.

Oh, and we might not have Jairus Byrd.

5. Our offensive line has gotten worse

It’s been fan sentiment to shrug off the loss of Levitre, and completely undervalue the guard position. I agree that, of all the starting positions, guard might be the most insignificant. But that’s not to say that there isn’t a range of quality among NFL guards. Because they’re big bodies who get caught in a scrum, we just imagine that any 6-foot-5, 325 lbs giant will service at the position. I think this is because, with our incredibly short Bills fan memories, we’ve forgotten what it’s like to scream at Derrick Dockery from the family room couch. We’ve had competence on the O-line for a few years, so that means we’ve forgotten what a bad line looks like, and that we can just throw any old hog in there to fill Levitre’s spot. But look at teams like the Titans or Cards who’ve either heavily invested in guards or struggled all across their O-lines. I’m not arguing that we should have paid Levitre the money he wanted or that the Bills O-line is going to be noticeably bad, but I am suggesting that the O-line is just one of many positional groups on the Bills that have either stayed the same in quality or gotten worse.

6. Our QB situation is a big unknown, and we could very well get something uglier than Fitz as we wait through Kolb/Manuel’s growing pains.

Kolb, though he’s shown flashes of competence, still has a career QB rating of 79 and has never thrown more than 2,000 yards in a season. Fitzpatrick, as galling as his play could be at times, put up respectable numbers, especially in comparison to the many QBs we’ve previously had. Last year, Fitz’s stat line was 3,400 yards, 24 TD, 16 INT, and an 83 QB rating. It’s very possible that things get a lot worse.

Conclusion

As gloomy as I think things are going to be, I look forward to this season. I’m eager to watch Manuel progress (if we get the chance), to see Woods and Goodwin develop, and Spiller have the best year of his career. I’m eager to see how team morale is affected by a poor record, and how Marrone handles it. And of course I’m eager to see if Pettine and his magic wand turn this D into something respectable. But, overall, I’m not expecting much. We will go 5-11, have the fourth pick in the 2014 draft, and, despite the efforts of this post, our hopes will be dashed, we’ll resent having bought into the OBD propaganda, and, for a fleeting second, we’ll say “I’m done with this team” the same way, during a nasty hangover, we say we’re never going to drink again. But wounds heal, broken promises are forgotten, and, come Sunday, we’ll be back on the bottle with the Bills on the tube.

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of BuffaloRumblings.com.

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