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Oh brother, Bills. Where art thou, Sabres?

Here we go again, Bills fans. It’s the same old script with this year’s team. They are the joke of the league for the 13th straight season.

This season has been aggravating as a fan not only because the team’s performance is excruciatingly poor compared to their mammoth payroll, but more so, because of the lack of accountability from this squad.

I’m a Red Sox fan. I had to put up with an absence in organizational chain of command and accountability all spring and summer. Well, I am being forced to put up with this malarkey even after their season has ended.

Though they have not won much, I have viewed the past two Bills’ teams as a tight-knit group that would battle for the full 60 minutes together, regardless of what the scoreboard read. Boy, has that perception changed this year.

My skepticism of Chan Gailey at the beginning of the year been proved to be justified. He is tip-toeing the line of becoming perhaps the worst coach in Bills history.

Chan claims all the defensive mistakes the team commits are fixable. Who are you kidding, man? You do not correct allowing 1,200 yards in consecutive weeks overnight. The problem lies in poor coaching, execution, effort and accountability. That is not getting fixed in one week. 
It has become clear the defense will be dreadful the rest of the year. Chan, it is time to own up to your coaching mistakes. Admit errors like having Brad Smith throw the ball while protecting a lead, not knowing how to run a four-minute offense and thinking Ryan Fitzpatrick is the second coming of Jim Kelly.

Speaking of accountability, can we please give Mario a break from that, fans? He has continually said that his wrist hurts from writing too many checks with the $50 million guaranteed he received. He’s not getting manhandled or outworked, he’s just getting held on every play and offensive tackles are being too rough on him. Yes, sarcasm indeed. Sack-up.

The worst part of this for me? I sat through the worst Sox season in decades, now the Bills sit 3-6 (not a typo, look at their next two games), and I have no fallback to another atrocious Bills’ season. Damn you, NHL Lockout.

Watching MSG replay the “May Day” game recently also made me realize how much I truly miss the Sabres and hockey in general, despite the replay featuring John Gurtler on the play-by-play and not the legendary call by Rick Jeanneret.

I am usually content with the Bills being out of contention by early November because I have grown so accustomed to it and there is Sabres hockey to watch by then. But with losing the whole NHL season appearing to be a real possibility, I am nearing a full calendar year of being disillusioned by all three of my teams — not your fault though, Sabs. 

Being a Bills fans is great, don’t get me wrong. But it has just as many shortcomings as it does benefits. Hockey in Buffalo is my solace to the torturing the Bills have caused me over the years.

The Sabres, though inept a times, are still capable of providing a playoff-contending product. That makes them worth watching from beginning of the season until the end. The same cannot be said of the Bills, and it was always nice to have the choice to forgo watching them during meaningless December games.

Now, Buffalonians have no choice. This crazy sports town will be forced to watch the Bills vs. Jets in week 17 because if they don’t, they are at risk of sports withdrawal. It’s a serious condition around these parts.

If there were no lockout, I would have treated the Sabres opener against Pittsburgh two weeks ago as a playoff game because of the Bills’ rough start. My rooting interest will also go up ten-fold if indeed part of the NHL season is salvaged.

I want to see newly-acquired Steve Ott get so far into Milan Lucic’s head that a bench-clearing brawl ensues. I want to see if Ryan Miller can retain his second-half form from last year and make the Sabres a Cup-contender. I want to see what the Foligno-Ennis-Stafford line can accomplish in a full year. And if either or both Grigorenko and Girgensons can be competent contributors in the NHL as teenagers.

It sure beats hearing Mario whine while underachieving, watching Chan not make coaching adjustments during the ebb and flow of a given game, Wannstedt’s defensive scheme unable to get back to the future and Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller’s talents being wasted away due to an inordinate amount of pass plays called for the erratic Fitzpatrick.

It was nice to see the Bills to get off to a 5-2 start last year. By the end of that wild ride though, it was inevitable they would not be able to keep that quality of play going.

I was gratified with all of the entertaining games that were provided, but by mid-season I bought more into the hype of the Sabres season, than the rest of the Bills’. Like they often have since the Flutie-era, the Bills became a secondary rooting interest for me.

A historically bad defense, poor coaching and a lack of effort have derailed the Bills’ season before their bye week. With all of the extraordinary optimism surrounding this team in the offseason turning into false hope, this town needs the Sabres now more than ever.

Chan Gailey makes Lindy Ruff look like Scotty Bowman. Watching Gailey coach makes me wish management would sign Lindy to a 15-year contract, and that is saying something.

The Sabres may make me try to pull some of my hairs out at times, but the Bills will be the reason I go bald, not my genetic inheritance.
So I am begging Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr to find some common ground and get a deal done. I love sports too much to go a year without a truly meaningful game.

Joe

About Joe

The Lord of Buffalo Wins

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