The Buffalo Bills lose in heartbreaking fashion to the Arizona Cardinals: a letter to Sean McDermott

Dear Coach McDermott,

Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, that heartbreaking loss, that oh so familiar feeling for Bills Mafia, is emblematic of the problems of this team. Don’t burn the tape. Don’t bury the game ball. In fact, have that Hopkins catch playing on a loop on every TV in the building for the next two weeks!

I love you, coach. I love this team, but I need to speak my peace. As the holidays approach, I’m in a Festivus mood, and to quote the late, great Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza, “The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances. I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you’re gonna hear about it!”

I know you read my stuff, Sean. I know you’re a process guy, and I’m dripping with process, baby! Maybe these thoughts and suggestions will help. Something needs to be done.

In case you missed the game (Shame on you!), here are the highlights:

10 Things I think I think about the Buffalo Bills heading into their bye week.

1. The Dolphins are coming …

I was afraid that the Dolphins would get Tua, and I was afraid when they did draft him. I have been saying it for a long time (check my receipts) that Tua will be the best QB in this draft class. The kid is like a young Drew Brees. He’s athletic, quick, but most importantly, he takes a 3-5 step drop and gets the ball out of his hands fast. You can’t blitz him. He doesn’t seem to get confused. He’s smart and he is coming for us, Sean. That is a well-coached team with a feisty no-name defense and great special teams. We can’t be losing games as we did on Sunday, and if we don’t watch our ass, the Week 17 game against the fish in Buffalo could very well determine the division.

On a personal note. my buddy, Everett, a Dolphins fan, is starting to come at me, Sean. Make it stop!

2. A.J. Klein is a nice story. That’s all.

PFF probably has A.J. Klein as top ten in pass rush win rate for all that stat is worth. But why even block him? I swear to god that Drew Bledsoe could have Barry Sandersed Klein in the backfield. I will grant that A.J. has been playing better these last two weeks, but how many missed tackles did that man have yesterday? Look. Klein isn’t the worst player or worst linebacker, but we need another plan if Milano is out. He was a fun story last week, but there have to be other options. Like John Holmes in skinny jeans, you’re going to need to adjust.

3. The offensive line needs to show some pride!

Offensive lines, as far back as the fall of Constantinople, have loved to run the ball. They’re moving forward. They’re attacking and serving up pancakes like Waffle House at 3 am after St. Patrick’s Day! But not these Bills. No. This Bills offensive line does not seem to relish the run. I can’t imagine them shouting “Let’s run the ball!” to Daboll or McDermott. But they need to. They need to get that dog in them. And, frankly, any O-lineman who doesn’t want to truck the opposition with the regularity of Bruce Nolan eating Grape Nuts cereal should sit his wide ass on the bench and think about his life.

4. Daboll, you cannot continue to abandon the run!

Speaking of running the ball … Daboll, obviously there are tells on this offense when you are going to run the ball. Teams are swarming the line, and I’m not sure what it is, but we’ve got to not make it obvious the run is coming. It’s not Singletary’s fault that he is struggling to run when he has to evade three tacklers to get back to the line of scrimmage. That’s about blocking. That’s about scheme. That’s about disguising. I know you get cute with stuff sometimes with reverses, trick plays, etc., but we cannot just abandon the run game as we do every game. Pass rushers will pin their ears back and come after Allen as they do every game, and it’s only by his mystical strength and illusiveness that he gets half of his throws off. Moss and Singletary ran 11 times for 35 yards on Sunday. That is not going to cut it, and if we can’t get more balanced soon, teams with good defenses (playoff teams maybe?) are going to get to eat our lunch. So, put down that double-bacon cheeseburgers, and get to that Yoga class you’ve been promising your wife you’d go to. Balance is a beautiful thing.

5. I’m more excited about Tommy Sweeney than I am about Dawson Knox. #facts

Dawson Knox has been a massive disappointment this season. I’ve been a Tommy Sweeney stan (I still don’t understand this word, but I’ll roll with it if the kids will think I’m cool!) since he was drafted. Sweeney has been hurt all season, and Knox had such promise after an intriguing rookie season. But Knox has been blown up blocking, cannot seem to catch a pass (though he can catch a virus, apparently), and just looks lost out there. Honestly, at this point, I feel better when I see Lee Smith on the field. I want to see what Sweeney is. I want Knox to sit his ass on the bench and get his head straight. It’s a sad thing when your quarterback is obviously a better receiver than your top tight end.

6. Dane Jackson is a dog. Woof!

I’ll keep this brief: I like Dane Jackson. The kid is a dog. He hits, he covers, he’s physical, and I can’t help but wonder how he’d look in shorts. I know he’s not amazing yet in coverage (He’s a rookie .. relax.), but I’ll take guys who hit, who don’t hesitate, who put it all out there.

7. Ed Oliver is approaching bust territory. Sorry.

When he was drafted, Ed “Captain Insano” Oliver was being compared to Aaron Donald and John Randle. Thus far into his career, he looks more like Stuart Randle than John Randle. After a season and a half, Oliver has moments, shows flashes, but has been rather “Captain Sano” overall. In 2020, he has one sack, twenty-one tackles, and four QB hits. Yes, I know, he almost gets there. He’s nearly hit the QB. He came quite close to making a play. He just barely missed that tackle. I get effort. I get game film, but you know what stats are? They are finishing. They are that final effort to overcome what the opposition is putting in front of you. I don’t know what’s going on with Ed, but I know, for me, I need to see more from this supposed top-flight DT talent.

8. Special Teams has been a bright spot for the Bills.

Who let Bojorquez shave his mustache?! OK, so we saw the ugly side of Bojo yesterday, but, in general, he’s been pretty stellar this season. Tyler “Tee Bass” Bass (illegitimate child of Sebastian Janikowski and a lake-dwelling fish) was great yesterday, making three career-long kicks. It goes to show that McDermott’s patience with these guys is paying off. Credit to you, Mr. Process.

9. The receiving corps: the good, the bad, and the ugly …

Gabe Davis. I love you, kid, but you need to come back to the ball. Watch John Brown. Watch Cole Beasley. Watch Stefon Diggs. All of those guys come back to the ball and do so until they meet it. I love your game, son, but you need to be more aggressive fighting for these footballs. I can’t help but be intrigued by what Isaiah Hodgins might bring to the table …

Beasley, Brown, and Diggs … you keep doing what you’re doing.

10. Josh. I need to see more Tom Brady and less Cam Newton.

Josh. You know I love you, man. I’ve got a poster of you in shorts on my bedroom ceiling, and I make my girlfriend comment on my arm-strength, mobility, and patchy facial hair. But, man, I have a gripe. You can be a little like Cam Newton when things aren’t going well. You go with momentum, and I get the game has that, but instead of sitting on the bench, mouth agape, looking disheveled, I need you to shave that “beard”, get off your ass, and start marching up and down the line of men looking for you to inspire them. I want to see you yell. I want to see you patting people on the back. I want to see you encouraging. You do a great job of that when the team is doing well, but I need you to do that when the team is falling apart. It’s easy to lead when victory is assured. It’s hard to lead when the Carthaginians are on your doorstep.

Quick Thoughts:

  • DeAndre Hopkins is tall, has long arms, and maybe the strongest hands in the NFL. Why wasn’t a receiver like Davis or even Diggs out there in coverage on that last play?
  • Daboll, I love that picket fence play you have for John Brown … but you need other plays for that situation.
  • WHY IS BRIAN WINTERS STILL ON THE TEAM? Seriously.
  • I realize Daryl Williams is playing lights out at RT, but I have a hard time believing that the line wouldn’t be better with Nsekhe in at RT and Williams in at RG instead of Winters.
  • You know, I don’t blame the national media for not trusting the Bills. In your heart of hearts, do you? The team struggles on defense, struggles to block, can’t run, and is the football equivalent of the Houston Rockets chucking up 3s. If they go in, great! If they don’t, well …
  • There’s a part of me that is glad we lost in this fashion before the Bye Week. This team has not had Bills Mafia to cheer them on, so this may be part of the problem, but I need to see more juice from these guys. This team has not come close to reaching its potential, and that’s the most frustrating thing. That’s on you, coach. That’s on you.

Thanks for reading! If you have any thoughts, complaints, or if you just want to tell me which curly-haired white guy you think I look like, you can hit me up at @adamnannini on Twitter.

You can also listen to me and my podcast partner as we make game picks every week on The NFL Basement podcast. Check us out and subscribe!

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