Maybe Next Year
“Maybe next year,” has been the saying for many Buffalo Bills fans since their last playoff appearance in 1999 (under Wade Phillips). But unlike those years, the saying may actually have some merit in the coming years.
The Bills are 2-9, and for many it seems like a repeat of the disappointing years before.
“It has been a disappointing season to watch the Bills this year. Some games just make me want to change the channel, while others just end in a heartbreak loss,” says NU senior Jake Weiland.
For Niagara University sophomore Shawn Kelley, however, there is hope for his favorite team.
“I’ve been a Bills fan my whole life, and they’re actually having an all right season,” he says. “The coaching is better this year – even though we’ve blown some of our leads – but we don’t look as tired at the end of the game.”
Better conditioning can be attributed to head Coach Chan Gailey. With 16 years of experience, Gailey enters the franchise as the 15th head coach in its history. Gailey is recognized by many in the league as an offensive specialist.
Some fans do not hold Kelley’s enthusiasm about this season.
Like many Bills fans, both Wieland and Kelley see hope in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is entering his second year as a Bill and fifth year in the NFL.
“When it comes to the QB position for the Bills, we haven’t had a true quarterback since we got rid of Bledsoe. But to see Fitzpatrick putting up decent statistics and leading the offense down the field, I feel that he has had a pretty successful season,” says Weiland. “We haven’t seen a quarterback from the Bills throw for 300 yards in a game in years and Fitzpatrick has already had two games of 300-plus yards and another few games just under.”
“He reminds me of a young Donavan McNabb. He can run and make plays when things are breaking down,” says Kelley.
Fitzpatrick had a career game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bills were down by 17 points at halftime.The quarterback led the team to a comeback win, 49-31. Fitzpatrick threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns. The deficit was the largest road deficit overcome by the Bills since Oct. 25, 1987, when they rebounded from a 21-point hole to beat the Dolphins in Miami, 34-31.
“We’re making moves,” says Kelley. “We fired the whole coaching staff before this year and are starting new. Hopefully, management won’t be afraid to spend some money on good players.”
“I feel that the organization is going in the right direction as we are seeing a lot of the younger players stepping up – like Steve Johnson. The only thing that is keeping us from winning more games is the offensive line and injuries on defense. If we could fix a few of those problems, you might see the Bills actually being able to compete in the division,” says Weiland.
The Buffalo Bills organization has taken steps to create a better team, but they have a long way to go before they are capable of competing with a competitive division.