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Dr. Heckle and Mr. Run and Hide
Mixed Emotions About the Season to Date.
by Tony Bogyo
September 16, 2003

Ah, week 2 of the NFL season. Time to fall back into my familiar fall patterns. Work like crazy on Saturday to mentally justify a day of football leisure on Sunday. If Iím to be perfectly honest, I suppose itís more about keeping my wife off my case for becoming a football mental case than anything else. Yes sir, if I get any flack about doing absolutely nothing non-football related I want to be able to proudly reply, ďBut Hon - yesterday I mowed the lawn, painted the house, built that deck weíve always wanted, rebuilt the transmission on your car and gave the cat open heart surgery - and that was all before lunch!Ē

So it was with this sense of accomplishment that I went down to join the Boston Bills Backers down at The Harp (a great pub across from the Fleet Center) in Boston on Sunday. Well over 200 of my fellow Bills fanatics were on hand as the Bills took on the Jacksonville Jaguars. I was home. This is my natural habitat for a Sunday afternoon.

As I noted in my last column, this has been one hell of a week to be a Bills fan in Boston. Never have I felt better about my team and my unabashed pride in being a big fan. Being able to strut around town in my Bledsoe jersey has been great, but I had started to wonder whether things were too good to be true. Sure I could heckle the Pats and their fans this week - but would it come crashing down and force me to run and hide?

For the second week in a row the Bills won, and won big. For the most part the team looked to fire on all cylinders as offense, defense and special teams all played well. The opening week savaging of the Patriots hadnít been a fluke - this was a good team. Another week of Bills pride lay ahead - is there anything better than knowing you are undefeated and in sole possession of first place in the AFC East?

Maybe it was the chowdah (thatís chowder, the white creamy kind, for you not fluent in Bostonian), but I started to feel weird - really weird. The voice in my head, usually a bigger Bills fan than the guy who paints himself blue and does shots of tequila out of a bowling ball in the parking lot, suddenly started to get all dark on me. Theyíre not that good - 9- 7 is the best theyíll do Enjoy it now - itís not going to last. Whoa - where the hell did THAT come from?

9-7 - thatís just plain silly. Thatís crazy talk. This is a team that went 8-8 last year with a defense that ranked near the bottom of every category in the book. We spent the money of the D and now weíre a whole different team. All of our free agents have produced dividends in just the first two games. Sam Adams is a machine and a guy who knows how to put his hands up, catch a ball and take it along with his 330-pound frame all the way to the end zone (Sam Adams is 330 like Iím 130 - nice try, Sports Illustrated). Lawyer Milloy is pumped to be here and played a huge part in the trouncing of New England. Takeo Spike is everywhere - making tackles, sacks and interceptions - is this guy happy to be out of Cincinnati or what?

The Bills defense ranks 8th in the NFL and is first against the pass (163 yards per game). They have had 5 sacks and 4 takeaways in two games and have started out fast in each game. The defense has yet to allow an opponent to run more than 3 plays on their first drives, and has helped sway the time of possession heavily in the Bills favor early in the game. They have been completely dominant so far, going more than 80 minutes into the season before allowing a single point. They have done a great job in goal line situations, allowing only one 4th down try to translate into a touchdown. This is the defense that will take us deep into the playoffs. Heck, this is a defense that could win a Super Bowl.

Celebrate all you want you fool - the stats donít lie. After week 2 youíre already talking about the Super Bowl - ha! Big Sam Adams scored a touchdown, but howís he doing in stopping the run? Thatís why we got him, right? The Bills are 18th in the NFL against the run. The pathetic Patriot running backs averaged 5 yards per carry against this ďsuperĒ defense, as did Fred Taylor. Just wait until you meet Ricky on Sunday - youíll be exposed for the frauds you are! The defense ranks 23rd in allowing 4th down conversions (3 for 5). You havenít faced a solid offensive team yet - just wait and see how great these guys are when they face some real competition. Run and hide - your days of proudly strutting are over!

Wow - that was seriously dark. Darker than Halloween with Marilyn Manson styling the hair of Jimmy Johnson. Glad thatís over - time to get back to celebrating a great win by a great team.

The Bills are the talk of the national media. Chris Berman continues to talk about circling the wagons, but even Tom Jackson has them ranked at the top of his list this week. These guys are for real. They are second in the league in scoring, putting 69 points on the board in just two games. They have started out fast, scoring on each of their game opening drives this year. Travis Henry leads the league in scoring with 5 touchdowns. Drew Bledsoe is third in passer rating with 112.5. Much of the credit goes to the offensive line who has given Bledsoe great time to make the reads and passes he needs to make. Bledsoe has been sacked only twice this year. The Bills are 6th in passing in the NFL with 279 yards per game, and rank second in pass yards per play at 15.1. The offense has thus far been able to keep drives going and eat up the clock early in the game, forcing opponents to dig themselves out of holes and come from behind. The long ball looks good - Bledsoe has been able to thread the needle numerous times to his receivers while only throwing a single interception. The play of Bobby Shaw and Josh Reed has people asking, Peerless who?

So the passing game looks good - it looked good last year and you finished at 8-8. What about the running game? The Bills rank 25th in rushing with a weak 75 yards per game. Against the Jags Travis Henry carried 21 times for only 26 yards. On the season the guy who said he was shooting for O.J.ís record and breaking the 2000-yard mark is averaging 2.4 yards per carry and has a season long run of 11 yards. You call that run blocking? Whereís the power running game the coaches promised this year? Looks like Bledsoeís going to be the man again this year - you better hope he stays healthy! There have already been two bad snaps this season - thatís one per game. The coaching has been less than stellar - the Bills are still committing 8 penalties per game and just what the hell was that 4th and 2 play in Jacksonville? Any more fantastic trick plays like that and youíll hand games back to your opponents.

Forces of evil be gone! By the power of Tom Donahoe, I command you to leave!

I think itís gone now - I think Iím OK. That ride was crazier than a California recall election, Florida-style punch cards and all. I think Iím going to lay off the chowdah for a bit - I donít think it agrees with me. If you run into me out an about Iíd be happy to talk about our heroes and their quest for the Super Bowl, just be warned that I sometimes get these dark feelings of doubt about the team and want to run and hide - I think it was something I ate.

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