I was trying to figure out a way to talk about the Bills game that no one else had. The waves of reaction following a game are usually pretty predictable, and I don’t want to fall within those categories. I think it’s fair say a “reasoned response” is what we’re going for here in the Roost, and oftentimes that takes longer than I’d like it to. Still, I think I got something.
Last Monday Chris, Jon and I participated in Nick Mendola’s FAIL league draft. The results can be found here if you’re curious, but after Sunday’s game what happened at the end of the eighth round.
Sam was getting ready to leave where we were drafting and finish his draft from home. As a joke, he took the Bills. Now with the way FAIL is set up, he could take the Bills defense or the Bills overall, which would be taking their overall record.
As I was struggling to figure out what to pick next (I ended up going with the Colts) I wondered out loud what would be the worse pick: the Bills D or the Bills?
The best answer I got was from Jeremy White: You can “fake” a good defense with fantasy numbers, but you can’t fake a good team.
The biggest “problem” with fantasy football is that most football fans have shifted their idea of “good” to coincide with what makes a good fantasy player. Scoring touchdowns makes a player good, but in reality being effective is what is really more important.
In other words, the Bills may not be a good football team, but their defense can be “good” if they score defensive touchdowns or sack the quarterback a few times.
The reason I bring this up is because I can’t decide just what to think about Sunday’s Bills game. What did the Bills losing to the Dolphins teach us that we already didn’t know? We knew the offense would be poor, we knew Trent Edwards would struggle. Other than the special teams playing slightly better than they did in preseason, what did Sunday teach us?
After thinking about it I’ve decided that we may have learned two things. The first is that the Dolphins are probably not a very good football team, and the other is that the Bills defense might be better than we thought.
I throw disclaimers all over the place there because we really don’t know anything yet. The NFL season is only 16 games long, but it is still extremely difficult to learn much about any one thing. What you take from that first game is how your expectations change about certian things.
Now no one is seeing a huge shift in overall expectations from Sunday’s game. Losing to Miami isn’t going to be the difference in making the playoffs or not, but it does say something about Miami. Let’s face it, they struggled on offense despite a great showing from Brandon Marshall. Chad Henne doesn’t look to be the answer, and they didn’t do much in spite of his presence on the field.
On defense they obviously did good things against Edwards and limited C.J. Spiller’s performance, but their flexibility wasn’t all that impressive. They had just as many big breakdowns that led to touchdowns as the Bills, and clearly were not prepared for the no-huddle the Bills used late in the game.
We’re moving in circles here, but the answer is that it is both: Miami isn’t nearly as good as a lot of people think, but that also means the Bills might not be as bad, either. To be clear, they are bad. Very bad. They might not crack double digits quite a few times this season, but Miami doesn’t look like a team that will be surprising anyone in the AFC East this season, either.
The Bills defense played a lot better than most fans thought, especially against the Dolphins run game. Somehow the Bills’ secondary was the strength of the squad last season, and many expected the same this year. But what they didn’t expect is for them to be all that good, especially transitioning into the 3-4. No one really knows just how good they are, but they didn’t look like the worst defense in the league on Sunday. They may not be “faking” it but right now they are looking like the better pick for sure.
What does that mean in the long run? Well, nothing. The Bills are still going to get beat next week against a much stronger Green Bay team, but I think we learned more about Miami on Sunday than we did the Bills. We know what we’re getting on the Buffalo side of the ball, what we don’t know is who they line up against.
Clearly this post solved nothing, but I think it sums up just what I’m thinking about the Bills right now. I have no idea what to make of them, but I know it’s not good.