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Time For a Change
Time to Name Names
by Tony Bogyo
October 13, 2003

There’s a reason I’m not a professional sportswriter. Aside from a lack of a degree in journalism, I’m just a regular guy, a Bills fan like many others. I don’t go to all the games, I don’t travel with the team, I don’t have access to the press box or the locker room and I have no opportunity to interview any of the players, coaches or management.

What I do have is a voice. I’d like to think that this column that I write in my spare time embodies the thoughts and feelings of other Bills fans. Because I have no insider access to the team and people don’t pay to read my column, I’d like to think I have more freedom than many other sportswriters to speak my mind. To prove this point I’m going to say some things I doubt you’ll read in the “real” media this week.

The Bills have no heart. They are a vastly overrated team that will likely finish no better than last season, and may even finish worse. The problems start at the top and it is time for the coaching staff to be shown the door.

I’ll take it even further and personally call out players who aren’t getting the job done. When you make millions of dollars a year playing professional football you have to put up with fans like me questioning your drive and dedication.

I have never seen a team play so beneath their abilities and with so little spark. This team has the personality of a coma victim. Both offensive and defensive units have been sleepwalking for weeks now without any sign of life. As a fan, it’s tough to see an entire team of millionaires phoning it in every Sunday. Where is the drive? Where is the desire? Where is the pride? I guess those things are reserved for the poor fans – the same schmucks who buy the tickets and the merchandise that pay for their diamond Rolexes and customized Cadillac Escalades.

If I hadn’t been to the Patriots game or watched the Jacksonville game, I would have no idea that this team is even capable of being a contender.

On Sunday the Bills went up against the New York Jets, an 0-4 AFC East rival. Given the poor play over the past three weeks, I was stunned that nobody was talking about how important this game was going to be. If the Bills were going to have any shot at the playoffs they would have to win their divisional games. So why was nobody fired up for the game this week? I think the answer is obvious – there is no fire with this team.

The complete lack of heart was quickly evident as the Bills did the same things they’ve been doing for weeks. Abysmal play on both side of the line. Going 3-and-out on offense and failing to make the defensive stop on third down. Penalties. Inability to run or stop the run. Poor special teams play. Big name players not getting the job done.

Does nobody on the team share the frustration of fans like me? I saw a team getting embarrassed by a divisional rival and nobody on the sidelines seemed very upset. After the game you heard players and coaches alike talk about needing to execute better and go out and get the job done. They can save all of these cliché nuggets of nothing for somebody who cares. Give me Terrell Owens yelling at his offensive coordinator on the sideline when his team is getting killed – it may be classless, but at least the guy shows he wants to win.

Before I single out players, let’s take a look at what this team did and didn’t do as a whole on Sunday.

Against the Jets, the Bills:

  • Gave up 30 points to a team averaging just over 11 points a game.
  • Scored a field goal in the first quarter and then failed to score for the remainder of the game.
  • Gave up 7 sacks – that’s more than twice the Jets’ average of 3 a game – and they were without DE John Abraham.
  • Failed to stop the run. Going into Sunday’s game, the Jets ranked dead last in rushing with 53 yards per game. On their best game to date they had rushed for 66 yards – they had 71 yards on the ground by halftime and finished with 118.
  • Turned the ball over four times and failed to generate a turnover – a turnover ratio of –4.
  • Generated a paltry 53 yards on the ground against a team ranked dead last against the run. Coming into the game the Jets were allowing 174 yards a game on the ground, but the Bills managed just 2.8 yards per carry against this “stout” unit.
  • Were flagged for five penalties for 45 yards.
  • Went 3-and-out 3 times.
  • Were 0-2 on 4th down conversions.
  • Allowed Santana Moss to average 34 yards per punt return, including a 47-yard scamper in the second half.
  • Fell to 3rd place in the AFC East behind Miami and New England.

OK, time to call out some of the people responsible for the nausea-inducing stats above (I’m keeping a tape of the game in my medicine cabinet in case I ever swallow poison and have to induce vomiting):

  • The offensive line – Does this unit do anything right? The run blocking has been the biggest oxymoron I’ve ever seen. In case watching a 1500 yard runner like Travis Henry struggle to run for more than 3 yards a carry or 9 yards in a given play wasn’t enough, these guys gave up seven sacks. When you can’t run block and you can’t pass block, you shouldn’t be blocking. Individually, Trey Teague continued to make bad snaps, and his latest miscue resulted in a turnover. I don’t know how a center loses track of his QB and fails to see that the guy has pulled out from center and is signaling for a timeout. Teague was also beat a number of times for sacks. Mike Williams continues to make one wonder why the Bills drafted him so highly and paid him so well – is he doing anything to deserve this? My guess is that these guys go to the Bills Halloween party as the Keystone Cops and win first place for accuracy.
  • Henry – While not getting any help from his offensive line, he’s better than his sub-3 yards-per-carry average – he’s got to show something. His attempt to cover the bad snap was a joke – he couldn’t fall on the ball to make sure it did not fall into enemy hands. With an average of less than 3 yards per rush you’d think this guy would know how to fall by now.
  • Drew Bledsoe – The weight of having to carry this team on his shoulders is starting to crush him. He threw an interception, was partially responsible for the bad snap/fumble, coughed up the ball when sacked for a seventh time and failed to lead the offense to anything more than an early field goal drive. He also failed to get rid of the ball on a couple of his sacks when he should have been able to avoid the losses. When you know your offensive line is as bad as it is you need to be a bit more aware of how long you can hold onto the ball. The lack of fire Bledsoe shows on the sideline and with the press makes me think he may be a mannequin – a theory supported by his lack of ability to avoid the rush.
  • Josh Reed – This kid is not yet ready for primetime. He is a #2 receiver in name only – the stats show that Bobby Shaw is really the guy behind Moulds. Playing as a #1 receiver against the Jets, Reed caught only three passes. A legend in his own mind.
  • Nate Clements – Had only two tackles and a bad pass interference call. He’s the CB we keep next year as we wave goodbye to Antoine Winfield?
  • London Fletcher – beat badly for a touchdown. Completely lost.
  • Lawyer Milloy – see London Fletcher above. Does this guy only come to play when it’s New England?
  • Dainon Sidney – The 6-foot tall 188 pound defensive back let Jets receiver Santana Moss catch the ball and drag him 7 yards – truly pathetic. He invented a new sport – DB dragging.
  • Alex Van Pelt – Was intercepted in his only pass attempt. He did less damage holding the clipboard.
  • Gregg Williams – This guy has failed week after week to get his team to correct the mistakes they have made and to get it in gear. They are playing nowhere near their capabilities. Shows no fire, no desire, no leadership. He has the personality of a tomato. If you’re the top dog, the leader, and you can’t get the best out of your people its time to go – you’ve failed. Why wait to finish 8-8 or worse for the axe to fall – get rid of this guy now and at least make a statement to the players and fans that this type of performance is completely unacceptable.

Everyone has bad games and at times it is true that “we need to execute better”. I’m all for giving people a second chance, but these guys have had four chances in the last month to show that they can play and they have not risen to the occasion. I know it’s almost impossible to win every game and I really can accept losing. What I can’t accept are losers, and right now few people on the team can avoid that tag. If you’re going to lose, go out giving it your all. Show some passion. Show some pride. Show you have a pulse.

I do feel a little better now that I’ve called some people out. If any of the above-named players or coaches thinks I’m an idiot or takes issue with my thought I welcome them to contact me – at least I’d know they have a pulse and care about something. While I don’t really want to see Mike Williams show up at my door with a baseball bat in his hand, I’d take a beating if it was for the good of the team – and I’m just a regular guy who doesn’t make millions playing a game. I’ve got heart.

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