Searching the Desert

by Ryan

Oh, hello there.

I was just looking at some pictures from the game on Sunday, and I can’t decide how I feel about it. I mean, that was a pretty nice sack there, and on the first play from scrimmage no less. However, that’s The Pillsbury Throwboy in there, a third string quarterback who had no idea he would be seeing the first team defense.

When you really think about it, you can play this little game with just about everything that happened in the Bills’ 20-7 win over Indy. Sure, the defense looked great, but that was against a third and fourth string quarterback, and Joseph Addai decided to die on that one play. Then there was that miss-timed jump from Leodis, and our run defense still manages to look suspect at times.

Then there’s special teams. Lindell looked good, but we didn’t get much on our returns and Fitzpatrick probably isn’t making the team. The offense had one fantastic drive, but that was J.P. Losman in there, and you knew he was going to come through and “answer the bell”, as they put it. I mean, for a stretch we were running on all seven cylinders, but how much value can you place in it with Peters still not reporting and so many of our starters held out?

You see what I did here? All of it, that neurotic, crazy second guessing. That’s what it’s like to be a Bills fan in preseason, and that’s why I hate preseason football. Now this isn’t going to be one of those “we should shorten preseason” arguments, because as you can see, this is probably a good thing. Let me explain.

If the hockey off season is hard, the football off season is a withdrawal on heroin. For the last decade the Bills stop playing football at the end of December, and until September you don’t have much reason to head to Orchard Park.

Yeah, there is the postseason and the NFL draft and mini camps, but all of that is nothing more than a slow drip of methadone in a rehab clinic. Real football is that 17 week stretch of Sundays in the fall, and nothing, not realistic computer graphics, not depth chart scouting, and not even fantasy football drafts can substitute properly.

What comes close, however, is preseason football. Kinda.

The problem with preseason football is that all we really want to get out of it is something to look forward to. Progress, that’s all we want. Just… show me things are coming along nicely, and maybe we will have a good year. Even now, with all this Toronto stuff looming and the playoff-less streak as long as it is, I only want to see potential in preseason games.

The problem with this is that preseason football isn’t the real deal, and so no matter what we see we don’t believe it. If the team plays badly, well, they are getting things together and will improve. “That’s what preseason is for,” we say.

However, they play well and the list of excuses grows longer and longer. Not the first team, the plays were scripted, the other team didn’t want to show their hand, peaking early, whatever. Couple in the injuries on both sides, the general fan’s indifference, and all those 6th string players and, well, just how much can it really tell you about your team?

Still, I do think preseason is worth something. With each passing week, we get closer to the regular season. I mean, even though I have no idea what to take away from Sunday’s game, I specifically watched Monday Night Football to “scout” the Seahawks. Hasselbeck was out and their receiving core may have featured Nate Burleson and… well, that’s it. However, we got through another day together, and eventually it will matter.

Before you know it Thursday will come, we will speculate once again, and suddenly, real football will be here. Eventually.