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The Future Is Now
Let The 2005 Season Begin
by Tony Bogyo
October 26, 2004

Last week’s Bills Daily poll showed for every one fan that thought the Bills were a bad team two fans felt the team was better than their record indicated. After Sunday’s debacle in Baltimore I’d be curious to see how the same poll came out this week.

Make no mistake about it – the Bills are a bad team. I take no joy in making that statement – as a Bills fan it pains me to see the cold hard truth.

Before you send me hate mail telling me that the Bills aren’t a bad team let me explain what a bad team is. A bad team is a team that doesn’t get the job done week after week. I don’t care how close you come to almost winning a game and I don’t care what your excuse is for losing – good teams get wins and bad teams take loss after loss. By this simple definition the Bills are a bad team and there’s not a person out there who can convince me otherwise.

It’s nearly Halloween and I’ve decided on my costume. This week I’m going as an optimist. Instead of being a cantankerous Bills writer dwelling on the negative I’m going to talk about looking to the future rather than dwelling on the present.

If I’m going to have a costume my subject should also have a costume. My suggestion for the Bills is to dress up as the 2005 Buffalo Bills.

I’m optimistic that the 2005 Buffalo Bills will be able to move the ball better than the current squad and put more points on the board – it would be hard to do much worse.

The proverbial elephant being ignored in the room is the date of Drew Bledsoe’s last game as the Bills starting quarterback. Everybody knows the move is coming but nobody wants to talk about it. Mike Mularkey and Bledsoe continue to claim week in and week out that there will be no change at the signal caller position and for the next few weeks that’s an easy statement to make – rookie J.P. Losman has not yet fully recovered from his broken leg.

By the time Losman is able to play the Bills will likely have accumulated more losses and will be playing for little more than respectability and future considerations. In true Buffalo fashion there will be much talk of a quarterback controversy as observers call for a change and the Bills stubbornly stick to their man. If the Bills are smart they will realize that the most important thing they can do for the organization is to prepare their young quarterback for the future by getting him as much playing time in real game situations as possible. If the season is already lost the pressure on the rookie to win will be manageable – he won’t be expected to do the impossible, just show steady progress.

The Bills also need to make a move at the running back position and get second year “rookie” tailback Willis McGahee as much playing time as possible.

McGahee has arguably shown more on a bad offensive squad than incumbent ball-carrier Travis Henry, but to date he has seen very limited action. The Bills need to get McGahee more involved for a number of reasons. The Bills need to take a very hard look at McGahee’s ability to be an every down back in their system. They need to assess his talent and durability and determine how comfortable they can be should they opt to trade Henry. As with the quarterback position the Bills need to season their young running back and prepare him to carry the load next season.

The silence was deafening at this week’s post game press conference. Mularkey declined to talk about the starting running back leaving many to believe that the McGahee era is upon us. Given the terrible run blocking generated by the Bills offensive line, it would seem to be a no-brainer decision to go with the younger back who hits the hole faster and drags the pile better than the veteran.

In addition to making changes at quarterback and running back, it may be time for the Bills to experiment with the offensive line. I understand that continuity is important to an offensive line, but with the injuries the unit has suffered there has been little time for this unit to gel. Why not plan for 2005 and try something new along the line? If Mike Williams is better suited to play guard why not put him inside? How would Trey Teague fare moving to the outside? With little to lose Jim McNally should be given the green light to staff the offensive line the way it will best help the Bills for the future and not be as concerned about performance this year – they can’t get much worse anyway. As long as the line can keep Losman free from serious injury I see no reason why the unit can’t be reshuffled.

There are those who will say that playing young players like Losman and McGahee is exactly what the bills should not do. Injuries could delay the development of the player and the team. Benching veterans may diminish their trade value and send a negative message to the players and other teams. While there may be validity to these concerns I believe the benefits of making some bold changes and looking to the future outweigh any possible pitfalls. When the season is over (and it’s already over) the most important thing is the future. Without the future there is no hope.

Bills nation needs to have hope. The future is now.

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