The injury bug bit the Bills earlier today; now the little monster has taken both legs of the Buffalo Bills. During his weekly press conference, Bills head coach Dick Jauron gave us the first update on Marshawn Lynch, whose injured ankle (which he sustained at the very end of the Dolphins game) created a cloud of uncertainty over his playing status. The news is bad.
Lynch is likely to miss this Sunday night's Patriots game, and Jauron also alluded that the injury may be a multiple-week issue. Lynch was absent from practice today; if he is unable to go this weekend, the Bills will likely lean on its other three runners (Anthony Thomas, Dwayne Wright and Fred Jackson) to maintain offensive balance against a stingy Patriots defense.
This team is snake-bitten. The season starts with promise, only to see that promise squashed by injuries to prominent starters (Posluszny, Price, Simpson) and the devastating loss of a teammate (Kevin Everett). Then, just as things are turning around, we lose two more players to IR (we're up to 12 now, by the way), and our best player won't be able to go for the biggest game of the year. Snake-bitten.
Jauron's comments (as quoted from the linked article above):
"We've all seen things happen real fast and people heal real fast particularly when they're that young and he's a little bit different," said Jauron. "So we'll hope and see what happens, but if he can't go then we'll go on to our three guys and we like them all."
We like them too, Dick. We just don't like them against the Patriots. Thomas is a steady veteran, and he's likely to get most of the work early; Wright has been sprinkled in throughout the season and is currently second on the team in rushing attempts (his 25 are dwarfed by the 196 of Lynch); Jackson has spent most of this season as an emergency quarterback, but he could have an impact as a slasher and receiver if given an opportunity. These guys are good players. They're just not Marshawn Lynch. Only players like Marshawn Lynch can be catalysts for a victory against a team like New England.
Starting quarterback J.P. Losman reacted as well:
Yes and no, J.P. Yes, players will have to step up. But it doesn't start with the three runners - it starts with you. The pressure's on, kid - this is now, literally, your offense to carry. Have fun with it.
The Optimist's Perspective
Speaking as a Bills fan, this (still potential) loss is devastating for Buffalo's chances of upsetting the undefeated, historically good Patriots. We've seen crazier things happen, sure - but a victory over the Patriots now is about as likely as the A-Train suddenly being blessed with the playing talents of Thurman Thomas.
Maybe that's the perspective we need to take here. Even with Lynch, did this young Bills team really stand a chance? The realist in me says yes and no. One thing is for certain: of the team's remaining schedule, this game is the one that the team is most likely going to lose. Why not cut your losses and let Marshawn get healthy this week, then see if he can't make a go of it the week after in Jacksonville? Win or lose, we're still in a playoff race, after all. Maybe letting Marshawn sit is the best move for the team's playoff chances this season.
That's the realistic, optimistic perspective. That perspective sucks. The glamor of this matchup is gone - the Bills are now one-dimensional offensively, and that dimension is spelled "L-e-e". If Belichick can take Lee away, it will take a Herculean effort from every single other skill position player to turn this into a game.
I'm exhausted thinking about this. I'm upset that we're not getting a shot at the Pats at full throttle, but I mostly just feel bad for Lynch not getting a shot to perform against the league's best team on a national stage. Here's hoping our team MVP gets healthy ASAP.