Five observations on the Bills’ 19-13 loss to the Jets on Thursday night at the Rogers Center:
- The scenario is supposed to be, when Bills’ owner Ralph Wilson dies, Toronto makes a successful bid to buy the franchise and moves it to Canada.
But after two regular-season contests into the eight-game deal - including three exhibitions - you have to wonder.
There was absolutely no buzz about Thursday’s game and one Toronto columnist suggested the Rogers family had hooked its star to the wrong NFL team in aligning itself with the “dysfunctional” Bills.
In fairness, Thursday’s crowd was larger than what Buffalo and Miami attracted a year ago, though no attendance was announced. And the support the Dolphins had was far more vocal than the Jets’ faithful two nights ago.
Still, after the game, the Bills’ players took a politically-correct stance.
Wide receiver Terrell Owens emphasized, “It was a neutral site.
“There was a lot of excitement by the game itself being here. I saw an array of jerseys from all across the league, so I don’t think either team had an advantage … but there was definitely some excitement.”
To which quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick added, “The crowd was into it … they were definitely on our side today. They were making some noise on third down when our defense was on the field … it was a great atmosphere for us.”
- The biggest disappointment in the game, besides the loss, was the missing energy and intensity the Bills had shown in the first two games under interim coach Perry Fewell.
Thursday night was a blah effort in a game where the Bills figured to be fired up.
- Afterward Fitzpatrick offered an indicting, if unintentional criticism of the coaching staff.
When asked what went wrong with the offense, he maintained, “Some of it was them just out-scheming us and bringing guys that we couldn’t block … that was an issue today.”
In other words, the Jets’ staff - in a very short week - did a better job in game preparation than the Bills did.
- The Bills’ offense continues to pay the price for the flawed offensive line decisions of Fewell’s predecessor Dick Jauron.
Langston Walker was never going to be an All-Pro, but wouldn’t Buffalo like to have the waived tackle now?
Instead he opted for an impossibly young line that has endured a painful “on the job training.”
In fairness, Jauron was unlucky, losing right tackle Brad Butler in the season’s second game, and left tackle Demetrius Bell, who never played a game as a rookie a year ago, has started only eight of 12 games due to the injury. And rookie first round draft choice Eric Wood, after starting the first 10 games at right guard, was lost for the season to a broken leg.
Then, Thursday night, reserve tackle Kirk Chambers went out with an ankle injury and former Steeler Kendall Simmons started for the second time in Woods’ place, after last playing a game a year ago September.
The only two Buffalo starters in a position where they opened the season were center Geoff Hangartner and rookie left guard Andy Levitre, who actually started a game at left tackle, until a season-ending injury to veteran Seth McKinney moved him back to his normal spot.
Small wonder Fitzpatrick was sacked three times and hit on eight occasions by the Jets, fumbling twice, losing one.
- Of course, the defensive line is hardly without blame.
By NFL standards the ends - Aaron Schobel (243 pounds), Chris Kelsay (261) and Ryan Denney (264) - are decidedly undersized.
And it shows against the run where the Bills are last in the NFL in yards surrendered and yards per carry.
Versus the Jets, Buffalo was gashed for 249 yards on 43 carries.
When New York went for a second-best in franchise history 318 yards on 40 carries, Fewell maintained it was a couple of big plays - Thomas Jones had a 71-yard scoring run and a 64-yarder - that skewed the total.
Thursday night, not so much.
Jones, who had 210 yards on 22 carries in the first meeting, had 109 on 23 tries. Thursday night.
But the longest play was his 29-yarder in the closing moments when the Jets were trying to run out the clock with the game decided.
However, New York, on 10 other carries, also had a 21-yarder, a 19, two 17s, four 13s, a 12 and an 11.
You know your team’s in trouble when the leading tackler - in this case George Wilson with 10 stops, eight solos - is a safety.
As former safety Bryan Scott, moved to linebacker in desperation noted, “It’s disappointing … whether it was guys missing their gaps, flowing too fast, over-pursuing or poor tackling.”
In this case, it was all of them.
(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)