Buffalo Bills Week 17: Curse of Gillette Broken!

Orton ended the 12 game losing streak at Gillette Stadium, & then promptly retired from Football.  - Photo via musketfire.com

Orton ended the 12 game losing streak at Gillette Stadium, & then promptly retired from Football. – Photo via musketfire.com

I think I speak for most fans when I say: sure, we won, but does it really matter? The season actually shaped up perfectly for us to end the playoff drought. There were two games (KC and Oakland) that, if we won, things would be playing out differently. I mean New England even ended up playing backups, which never happens! Sunday could have been a free win and a lock on a wild card. Unfortunately, we all know how the season went. So we won for the first time ever in Gillette Stadium, ending a 13-year losing streak. Does the win really mean anything? Even though we finished with a winning record, does the season feel successful in any way? So how did the Bills beat the Pats?

The Patriots rested a lot of productive players. Gronkowski and Edelman were scratched to allow two weeks of rest as New England already clinched a first round bye in the playoffs. The Bills seemed to come to play as they jumped out to an early lead with a nice 80-yard scoring drive on their opening possession. Robert Woods made a nice diving catch for the score. Boobie Dixon added a touchdown run in the 2nd quarter, and Dan Carpenter added to his season high field goal attempts with yet another, giving the Bills a 17 to 6 lead at the half.

Who is this guy?  -Photo via wpri.com/(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Who is this guy? -Photo via wpri.com/(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Patriots pulled Tom Brady at halftime, and back-up Jimmy Garoppolo looked pretty good given the circumstances. The Bills failed to score any points in the second half. Sammy Watkins needed just 18 yards to get to 1,000 on the season, but the Bills QB only targeted him twice in the 2nd half. It was surprising since we saw the Patriots keep Wilfork in the game for 39 snaps so that he hit his playing time bonus, and Odell Beckham was targeted 19 times in his game so he could hit 1,000 yards. It was a game that summed up the entire Bills season perfectly.

So what can the Bills do moving forward? How could a team that led the league in rushing in 2013 with two running backs that were constantly banged up be so bad in 2014? The offense has regressed under Marrone/Hackett over the last two years while the defense has progressed. Marrone and Hackett are hands off when it comes to the defense and are totally responsible for the line and offense: our two Achilles heels. Kyle Orton has surprisingly decided to retire today, so what are the Bills going to do at QB? Who will be available? Without a first round pick in this year’s draft what can the Bills give up to upgrade the QB? Will EJ Manuel be better in his third year having had time to sit and watch a veteran? Or is he already damaged goods thanks to the coaching staff teaching him how not to lose a game instead of how to win a game?

With Orton out of the picture and Manuel still under contract, he’s obviously going to be on the roster next year. The only QBs that may be available are RG3, Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Colt McCoy, Colin Kaepernick, and Mike Vick. Are the Bills going to the Super Bowl with one of these guys? The only guys I would like to see here in this list are RG3, Colt McCoy or Eli Manning (if he’s less expensive than Jay Cutler). I also want to see the Bills draft a QB this year and hope for a Russell Wilson situation. The Bills need to start taking more swings at QB in order to increase their chances of finding one. It’s been 15 years since we’ve had a decent QB (I’m not counting Drew Bledsoe). The only way you’re going to find one is to get more than one every three years and see who works out best.

Do any of these QB's fill you with hope?

Do any of these QB’s fill you with hope?

As far as off-season moves I personally want to see Marrone and Hackett gone. Decision-making and play calling from the coach and coordinator were the weakest spots on the team. Some of it is execution by the players, but if the plays are poorly designed, then it won’t matter how they are executed. The coach has no concept of game management, clock management or player management. Bills fans are actually calling for Chan Gailey to come back to see what he can do with the talent we have on the team, so what does that say? I don’t think there has been a week where I haven’t written about some bonehead decision Marrone made. Constantly playing field position, punting from the opponent’s 39 yard line and settling for field goals is not how you win Super Bowls in this league. The Bills gave up next year’s first round pick for Sammy Watkins and then never threw him the ball. They didn’t even try to get him to 1,000 yards while playing against scrubs in a meaningless game Sunday. The trade looks even worse since there are so many WRs from this past year’s draft doing very well that were available to us in the draft without moving up. Odell Beckham Jr. is amazing, and he makes plays because the Giants throw him the ball even if he’s not open — a concept that seems foreign to the Bills. It’ll be an interesting off-season for sure!

Well, Bills Nation, I want to thank you for reading my columns each week. It’s been a great year even if we missed the playoffs again. I hope you’ve enjoyed my weekly recaps and rants. I hope you found them a little different. Be sure to follow us on twitter @wgoinbuffalo — and me @jasonsins . Definitely give me some feedback on these, so I can take that into the offseason to be a better writer next year! Have a Happy New Year and see you all next year right here: same Buffalo time, same Buffalo place.

By: Jason Sins

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