You're probably wondering what I was smoking when I decided to crop an unfocused, seemingly innocent photo of a turned over Buffalo Bills helmet.
But as the 'ole ball coach Lee Corso would say, "NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND."
See, this photo is brilliant. It's telling. It's compelling. It's the Bills franchise as it stands: a franchise in turmoil, a franchise lost.
I'm a Bills fan, but this team has been a joke for a long time. The current coaching search has been disappointing, the quarterback play, Terrell Owens experiment, Mike Williams selection and Tom Donahoe effort all backfired. Holy cow, I could go on and on.
The biggest beef, and probably largest of any fan, is zero playoff appearances since 1999. Perhaps I'm a skeptic and so be it, but I have no reason to BILL-LIEVE in this team.
Having said that, as a fan deep down, I'm hopeful. Here are my five highest priorities the Bills and Buddy Nix need to fix if they want any chance at competing.
1. As it stands today, the Bills are completely unfocused.
What's this team's identity? This issue, I'm assured, is addressed with the next head coach and Nix's philosophies. It has to be or success is unattainable.
A GM, owner, president, staff and coaches need a bond and common goals. More importantly, they need to be on the same page, something clearly lacking between the years 2000-2009.
2. This team needs to find good players.
Other than a few studs brought in here, the team's lack of depth has cost them. Injuries have been a problem, which I will address next, but when players get injured the Bills line up "fill-ins." Even their starters are sometimes head scratchers. Nix must find talented football players.
3. What's going on with all the injuries?
A concern I have is the trend of Bills players on IR. It hasn't just not been this year. The Bills, to piggyback on this point further, fail to sew up games in the fourth quarter. Are they exhausted by then? A new conditioning program/emphasis on team health needs to be addressed.
4 . Find a legit quarterback, please!
As important it is for football to be considered a team sport, no other position in the NFL game is more important that the man under center. Trent Edwards, J.P. Losman, Shane Mathews, Kelly Holcomb, Gibran Hamden, Ryan Fitzpatrick—yikes. The lone QB who garners any respect was Bledsoe. The Bills have yet to find the right man to lead this team.
5. Matter in the League
Win more than seven games a season, make the playoffs and this team won't be considered such a laughing stock. I guess what I'm saying is obvious: Winning takes care of a lot. But it doesn't take care of everything. The Bills need to brag more, boast about their heritage, not be afraid to make bold decisions.
Nationally, the Bills are never talked about (except when they signed T.O.) in a league saturated by larger markets with deeper corporate pockets. They need to make drastic moves, but not ones that will set them back on their plan. Bottom line from a fan's perspective is that they need to act like they aren't just concerned about business, but winning, too.
Right now, all of these issues need to be addressed, not in any particular order. They may take some time, (especially a QB and they need one badly!) but right now the Bills are on the fringes of irrelevance. Their future is murky, and unclear. They are alone year-after-year, ousted from playoff contention for a decade.
Bill Cowher doesn't find this job appealing. He wants to coach again, but in an ideal situation. I'm not surprised he hasn't jumped on board with the Bills. The Bills need to address a variety of issues as outlined. Right now the Bills should be in heaven. They are the only team currently looking for a coach. Instead, the Bills can't sell what little they have.
It's depressing as a fan to realize it, but it's true.
I hope some day I can offer a brighter review of the franchise, one where I can turn this hazy photo of a Bills helmet into a clean, crisp dome of a legit NFL franchise.