‘The Music City Miracle,’ 1999, the last playoff game the Buffalo Bills were a part of. One of the most controversial endings to a playoff game started a streak of 13 fruitless years without even a qualification for the playoffs. The longest current playoff draught in the NFL. Even the hapless Browns have made it to the playoffs more recently than the Buffalo bottom dwelling Bills.
They say parody runs free in the NFL, try telling this to a Bills fan who has watched more than a decade of playoffless football. Sure, being in the same division as the Patriots is a great excuse for not achieving your goals, but both the Jets and Dolphins were able to capture the AFC title at least once during Tom & Bill’s run of superiority. So why can’t the Bills? Of course there is no one reason, rather mistakes at every and all levels. Drafting was awful in the first decade of the new millennium, a coaching graveyard came to fruition after Marv Levy left, a quarterback graveyard came to be after Jim Kelly left. It seems like every season the Bills lead the league in injuries, with countless starters ending up on IR. Bad weather in Buffalo, terrible performances under the lights, (1-7 in primetime games since 2000), questionable ownership moves, etc etc.
So will the 2013 season be more of the same?
All signs point to an unfortunate yes. Once again there’s a new head coach and a new signal caller under center for the Bills. It’s the 6th head coach for Buffalo in 10 years, and it will be the 5th new quarterback to start the season in that same span. Consistency is not Buffalo’s bread and butter.
Yes, they have a dynamic run game in Spiller and Jackson, and yes, their O-line, which has arguably been one of the consistently worst O-lines for years, has shown signs of cohesiveness and stability, (4 offensive lineman return from last season). And yes, there is even high optimism about the possible passing attack, with the only quarterback selected in the first round this year expected to be the week 1 starter. Buffalo has some of the worst weather of any football city, and they absolutely need a big strong arm to throw in, and against it, not since Jim Kelly has an arm like EJ Manuel existed for the Bills.
But until they field a formidable defense, opponents will continue to convert 3rd downs, (Buffalo was dead last on getting off the field on 3rd downs last year), score points at will, (Bills have been in the top 5 for allowing points for the last three seasons), and run the ball at will, (Buffalo has been near the bottom of every significant defensive running category the last 8 years).
So while the glass half full optimist will tell you that Buffalo will field a young and exciting offense, and that the defense has nowhere to go but up, and that the patriots are getting old and vulnerable, the realist will simply tell you, ‘same old bills.’