Good morning, Buffalo Rumblings. Happy Valentine's Day!
If you're on the east coast like me, you're probably snowed in, which mean you probably haven't showered, you're eating stale cereal in your underwear while you lie in your own filth. It's also Valentines Day, which mean that your significant other might want to do something "fun," but you'd rather sit at home, troll on Rumblings and watch the Olympics all day.
The good news is that you're not alone. I'm right here with you; the only difference is I actually have to work from home today and go in to work tomorrow on a Saturday, because my boss is expecting those TPS reports.
So sit back and relax, grab your favorite beverage and join me in a discussion about our Buffalo Bills love affairs.
The 2013 Bills season was a true love affair. There were things you loved and things that you didn't, and like any dysfunctional, one-sided love affair, it ended in heartbreak. Now that the love affair is over, you're left picking up the pieces trying to decide if it's worth another run. You grab your flower and you start pulling off the pedals: I love you; I love you not.
I Love You
Defensive Line. Wasn't it fun watching our big guys up front wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines? Kyle Williams was his usual self, blowing past blockers with his unbelievable first step. Kyle amassed 10.5 sacks and 68 tackles, all while constantly being double teamed. His running mate, Marcell Dareus, had 7.5 sacks and 71 tackles. Both men made the Pro Bowl and proved to the rest of the league that they are the best defensive tackle tandem in the NFL.
Oh, did I forget Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes? Mario finished the season with 13 sacks ranking him fourth in the NFL, and also earned Pro Bowl honors. He now holds the Bills' all time record in sacks in one game with 4.5. Hughes, who was acquired in a trade from the Colts, revitalized his career after facing bust status as a first round draft pick, finished the season with a career high 10 sacks.
I Love You Not
Up-tempo offense. Going into the season, I liked the idea of running an up-tempo, no-huddle offense. The glory days of Jim Kelly running the K-Gun was something that many of us fans envisioned for the 2013 Bills. After seeing college coaches run the up-tempo offense with much success (notably Chip Kelly), we had a guy in Doug Marrone who was bringing his own version of the scheme to Buffalo. Nate Hackett, while here in Buffalo as the quality control coach some years back, actually had the opportunity to pick the brain of Kelly, and was running some variations of the K-Gun as the offensive coordinator at Syracuse under Marrone. Both coaches convinced us that the scheme can work in the NFL, even with a rookie quarterback. We were told that running plays faster actually helps the quarterback process information, and dissect the defense a lot easier due to their inability to make substitutions and adjustments.
Unfortunately, we saw the opposite. With the constant rotation of quarterbacks in and out of the lineup, it made it impossible for the scheme to gain any type of traction. The advertised high paced-efficient offense eventually became a sputtering mess, drawing procedure penalties and even play clock violations. The defense suffered as the constant three-and-outs by the offense kept them on the field. The coaches were forced to scale back the offense and playbook, and by season's end, the up-tempo attack was no longer.
I Love You
Secondary. Donnie Henderson did a tremendous job with this unit in 2013. When starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore went down with his wrist injury in the preseason, we all thought that we were doomed, as Gilmore was the one guy that the Bills could ill afford to lose. With an already suspect secondary, the Bills were forced to depend on the ever inconsistent Leodis McKelvin. Leodis stepped up and had the best season of his career.
Jairus Byrd, who decided to skip training camp and the entire preseason due to his contract situation, also missed regular season games due to his plantar fasciitis injury; the team turned to converted safety Aaron Williams. Williams, who had a disappointing first couple of seasons, thrived in his new role as a safety. Williams was making plays all over the field last season, and as the team kept sustaining injuries at cornerback, he showed his versatility and filled in. Tied with a team leading four interceptions, Williams had his best season last year and was even mentioned as a possible Pro Bowl candidate.
Undrafted rookie cornerback Nickell Robey also had a fantastic year, making big plays all season. Rounding out the rest of the secondary were Jim Leonhard (four interceptions) and Da'Norris Searcy (71 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 TD). The team finished fourth in pass defense, which was pretty darn good for a unit that we all thought would struggle.
I Love You Not
Toronto Series. Going into Week 13, the Bills were very much alive in the playoff race. Needing a big victory against a struggling Atlanta Falcons team, the Bills seemed poised to take home a win. Unfortunately, they weren't home. Each year the Bills forfeit one of their eight home games in Buffalo to play a game in Toronto in an attempt to regionalize the franchise and earn revenue. After losing to the Falcons and ultimately ending any hopes at the playoffs, the Bills are now 1-5 in six regular season games in Toronto.
During the game, it was obvious that visiting Falcons had the real home field advantage. The game was played indoors in early December at the Rogers Centre. The same Falcons that play in at least nine indoor games a year felt right at home. Not forced to face the rough weather conditions that day in Buffalo, the Falcons were comfortable and so were their fans. Falcons fans seemed to outnumber the Bills fans that were in attendance, and it was comical to see our quarterback urging the fans in the stands to quiet down during our offensive possessions. Many Bills fans felt that if this game was played in Buffalo, the results would've been different, and maybe our season would've turned out differently.
In January, there were reports that the Bills and Rogers Communications met to discuss the future of the series. Like many of you, I'm hoping that this is the last of the Toronto series.
Okay Bills fans, it's your turn. I'm interested to hear what you love and didn't love about the 2013 season. Now that the season is over and you had some time to soak it all in, is this Bills love worth rekindling again next season?