I’ve been debating this in my head since James Hardy came down with that catch in the end zone. With only two weeks gone this year, it may be hard to answer this, but that only makes the question more intriguing.
Are the Bills for real?
Seeing that first drive sure made me think so. There are a lot of signs pointing to yes, and factoring in the suddenly weak division only adds to the urgency this team is faced with. However, there are still some big question marks for some, and until those questions are answered I don’t think I can be comfortable.
As a matter of fact, I may never be quite comfortable with any team ever, but that’s just my paranoid nature. I don’t think I’ll ever feel safe with the Bills, but the goal here is to at least feel okay considering them a good football team.
The first thing to consider is the level of competition the Bills face. This may be the first time in half a decade the Bills will have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs by way of a division title. The Bills’ resurgence along with the decline of the Patriots, Dolphins, and Jets may match up to form the perfect storm for a playoff spot.
Let’s put it this way: the Dolphins are rebuilding, and if you think they are worth seven wins this year you are an optimist. Say they finish 4th and be done with it. Now tell me this: did the Patriots or Jets look better than the Bills did on Sunday? Aside from some asinine throws from Favre, terrible play calling, and minimal offensive line performance yeah, the Jets can win the division. Count on that.
However, aside from taking a sack well did Matt Cassel do anything to blow you away? The Patriots said they weren’t going to use the “kid gloves” with him, but if that’s their version of big boy offense I have some Mega Blocks we can throw on the field to keep him occupied.
The explosive 2007 Patriots minus one major component have put up 17 and 19 points in their first two games against some pretty mediocre defenses, and are 22nd in the league for yards per game. A statistically middle of the road defense isn’t going to cut it for New England, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen so far.
The climate is right for a shift in power, and the Bills look like they are taking advantage. Even with New England’s easy schedule, the Bills have a nice little stretch of opponents to gain some confidence with, and who knows what a good start can mean for a young team’s confidence coming off the bye week?
I’m not saying that the Bills are “good”, we still can’t know that just yet. What does give me hope is the fact that they have done some things that just look right. When I say that I don’t mean Marshawn’s dreads look aesthetically pleasing, but rather the Bills are doing the things little that good teams do.
Establishing the run and scoring early. Solid special teams play. Playing through inclement (read: bloody hot) weather. Bouncing back from a bad quarter. Coming from behind late. Stopping big third downs and adjusting to the run. All the little ingredients of a win, all the things necessary to prevent games from slipping away. Aside from a few mistakes in Jacksonville (mistakes that were overcome, mind you), the Bills have played pretty damn near perfect football 120 minutes into the season.
The Seattle game was far too easy to gauge anything, but against Jacksonville the Bills showed is something. They started strong and took control of the game, only to lose control because of a turnover and special teams mistake. Jason Peters missed a block and the hands team wasn’t alert enough. These things happen, and anyone who has paid enough attention to the Bills knows what happens next.
It didn’t happen this time, though. In past years the Bills would punch but couldn’t take a punch. Last year’s team doesn’t get back up and drive down the field for that winning score, and it certainly doesn’t stop the Jags from punching again. This defense held strong after the Jones-Drew touchdown, and it certainly made some big plays with Youboty’s tackle late and the McGee interception to end the half.
Brian Galliford at Buffalo Rumblings watched the tape again (something I need to start doing) and agrees that the defense is only going to get better. Once it tackles better and develops its pass rush to compliment great plays in the secondary, this could be quite the compliment to an offense that isn’t afraid to get creative.
So are the Bills for real? Yeah, I think they are. So far they look it, at least. Sunday will be another test, but this time it will be an interesting one. First of all, the run defense will be tested with McFadden, but also on a higher level the team will face this: will the Bills play down to their opponent?
Oakland is an absolute mess with Kiffin and the corpse that owns them at odds, and I think Teen Wolf is their defensive coordinator right now. The Bills should win, and it will be interesting to see how they play a team that actually is worse than them on paper.
Yeah, I said it, because right now, the Bills look pretty good. Paper or otherwise.