Ralph Wilson Was ‘Shocked’ By Bills Week 1 Win: How About Week 2?

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson has been recovering from a broken hip.  As a result, the 92-year-old was not able to attend the Bills home opener against the Raiders on Sunday but instead had to watch from home.  When asked about Buffalo’s 41-7 win over the Chiefs in last weekend’s season opener, Wilson told The Buffalo News it was as surprising for him as the rest of us.

“I was shocked, along with everybody else,” he said.

If the blowout surprised him, I wonder how the face of the Bills organization felt about his team’s unbelievable comeback against the Raiders this weekend.  Oakland absolutely dominated the Bills in the first half and took a 21-3 lead into the locker room, assuring everyone that Week 1 was a fluke for Buffalo.

Whoever stepped up and delivered the halftime speech for the Bills must have done a tremendous job, because a different team took the field in the second half.  Fred Jackson broke a 43-yard less than two minutes into the 3rd quarter and made a comeback manageable for the Bills.  Ryan Fitzpatrick once again looked like a seasoned veteran as he threw three touchdown passes in the second half — including the game-winner with only 14 seconds remaining to seal the 38-35 victory.

Shocking would be an understatement for the way the Bills have played through the first two weeks of the season.  Their defense still needs a lot of work, but their offense suddenly looks explosive.

Chan Gailey: Bills Expect to Go Undefeated and Make Playoffs

We understand a fresh slate is a chance for renewed confidence. The beginning of a new season erases everything that happened the season before. That is a good thing for teams like the Buffalo Bills, but how high should a team set its expectations following a 4-12 season?  For Chan Gailey, the sky is the limit.

Despite a horrendous 2010 season and an offseason that did not bring any significant improvements, the Bills head coach said he is expecting big — check that: Huge — things from his squad in 2011.

“I expect it,” Gailey told WGR 550 when asked if the Bills could make the playoffs. “I think our players expect it. If you don’t expect it, something’s wrong with you. If you say I want to be a little better than last year, you ought to get out, that’s wrong. I expect to win every one of them, I expect to be undefeated, that’s the way I’ve always been and that’s the way I’ll always be.”

Gailey knows his team is not going 16-0, just like Rex Grossman knows the Redskins should probably be thinking wildcard if they hope to make the playoffs.  That being said, he’s right about expecting to win every game.  If you handed a Bills player a schedule and had them go through it with you, do you think they would start pointing out games they expect to lose?  Even Randy Moss wouldn’t be that disgruntled.

Buffalo Bills’ New Uniforms Leaked in Madden NFL 12 Teaser Video

The Buffalo Bills will unveil new jerseys for the upcoming season and it turns out their new look can be seen in a Madden NFL 12 teaser video. The discovery was made by Chris Trapasso who noticed it while watching the promo video, and it was confirmed by Tim Graham. The Bills’ new unis have an old school feel to them, similar to the throwbacks they have worn recently. Graham has more details on what the uniforms will feature.

“The helmets will be white with the blue charging buffalo and gray facemasks. Jerseys will have broad stripes on the shoulders instead of the sleeve bottom. Pants will be blue or white, the opposite of the jersey. Blue pants will have red-between-white piping. White pants will have red-between-blue piping.

Socks will have blue-and-white striped tops, and players will have the option to wear blue or white shoes as opposed to black. Belts are believed to be gray.”

For a comparison between the new and old uniforms, here’s what they wore last season:

[Read more...]

Bills Hang on Late to Grab Their First Win of the Season

There will be no winless teams in the NFL this season.  That can only mean one thing — the Buffalo Bills have finally done it.  Ryan Fitzpatrick and company defeated Shaun Hill and the Lions 14-12 on Sunday afternoon in Buffalo.  Naturally, the Bills made it as interesting as possible.

Buffalo took a 14-3 lead into the fourth quarter before Hill led drives that ended in a field goal and a 20-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson.  The touchdown to Johnson came with 14 seconds remaining in the game, meaning the Lions were forced to go for two and the tie.  I’m sure Bills fans fully expected the Lions to convert the two-point attempt and win the game in overtime, but Buffalo shocked the world by hanging on for the victory.

The Bills had lost each of their previous three games by three points, so they’re obviously starting to do something right.  They’re still only 1-8, but I’m sure the Lions can relate to the feeling of getting the monkey off their backs so they can try to have a little fun the rest of the way.  Buffalo can now focus on developing its young players and putting themselves in a better situation for next year.  Who am I kidding?  Their situation still stinks pretty badly.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mike Groll

The Most Unpredicatable Year in NFL History Continues

The earth must be off its axis or something.  I assume those of you who have been keeping track of the Sunday early games are as dumbfounded as I am.  As we already told you when we posted our NFL picks here at LBS, there’s just no easy way to pick against the spread so far this year.  Come to think of it, picking straight up is no picnic at the moment either.

If you took the Browns +13 against the Saints and the Bills +13 against the Ravens, good for you.  At the half of both games it looks like you made better picks than I did.  But if you try to tell me you expected New Orleans to be trailing Cleveland, 20-3, at the half and Baltimore to be behind Buffalo, 24-20 — both at home — then I know you’re just lying through your teeth.

Yet somehow that’s what’s going on at the moment.  I just spoke to a wise 89-year-old football expert (who I refer to as my grandfather during the work week), and even he said he can’t remember a year where there was less of a clear-cut favorite in both the AFC and NFC.  Yes, he’s still all there.  Who are the powerhouses?  Who are the Super Bowl favorites?  Right now the answer to those questions looks like a simple “nobody.”  If these games continue the way they’re going, wish us luck putting together the power rankings on Tuesday.

Peyton Manning Not Enough to Draw Fans in Toronto

The Buffalo Bills are attempting to regionalize themselves in hopes of being able to stay in New York.  As part of that effort, they have scheduled a series of pre- and regular season games to be played in Toronto.  The first — a preseason game between the Bills and Steelers in 2008 — drew 48,434 fans.  That same year, Buffalo played Miami in the regular season in front of 52,134.  Last season, the Bills played the Jets in Toronto and again were able to draw over 50,000 fans (51,567).

On Thursday night, the Bills faced the Colts in Toronto and while the announced attendance was 39,583, the Toronto Star is reporting that roughly 20,000 fans showed up for the game.  That would be bad news for the Buffalo Bills.  The stadium’s capacity is 53,000, meaning the NFL managed to almost sell it out for the first three games in Toronto.  The idea is for the Bills to gain popularity, so the fact that attendance numbers were cut in half when one of the NFL’s best in Peyton Manning came to town has to be discouraging.

In order for the Bills to survive in Buffalo, they need to prove that they can play some of their games in front of a packed house in Toronto and gain significant popularity in their region.  As PFT points out, the Bills need the Toronto series to be a success.  Otherwise, they could be looking at a move to Los Angeles.

UPDATE: An LBS reader has called to my attention the fact that the Bills attendance numbers are not that bad.  Initially, I had said they aren’t drawing enough fans.  However, they were 10th in the NFL in attendance last season, so filling the seats probably isn’t at the root of their financial issues.  Thanks to the reader who drew our attention to it.

Report: Only 20,000 at Colts-Bills game in Toronto [ProFootballTalk]

Bills GM Buddy Nix: At Least We’re Not as Bad as the Raiders

The Buffalo Bills had a well-documented struggle to find a head coach to fill their vacancy that was created after interim coach Perry Fewell was fired. They aimed high but were rebuffed by Mike Shanahan and Bill Cowher, then assistant coaches Brian Schottenheimer and Russ Grimm also turned them. Reports also said that Jim Harbaugh turned the Bills down as well. It’s pretty easy to see why Shanahan and Cowher said no — they’re in positions of power and they can almost pick the situation they want. Schottenheimer and Grimm probably figured that more appealing opportunities would be available down the line, ditto Jim Harbaugh. Given the dismal state of the offensive line, poor quarterback talent, uncertainty of the franchise’s home (there are rumors that the team could move to Los Angeles), it’s easy to see why coaches in demand said no. Why would they want to put themselves in a situation where failure is likely?

Even though the perception was that nobody wanted the Bills job, new GM Buddy Nix made it a point to share how desirable the job was. In his news conference introducing new head coach Chan Gailey, Nix said he received around 15 phone calls a day from people eager to coach the Bills, requesting an opportunity to interview. He added that we’d be surprised by some of the names, too. Then came the money shot at the very end of the press conference when he was asked about the Bills job: “Trust me, it’s a good job. Don’t ever think you can’t fill coaching jobs, even if they’re bad. Oakland gets a lot of calls. Don’t say I said that.”

I appreciate Nix’s humor but telling me they received 15 calls a day doesn’t do much to convince me about the desirability of the job; anyone can preside over a losing season but it takes a good coach to turn around a team like the Bills. Most of the guys who called probably aren’t proven, good head coaches. As far as their hire goes, I’m not going to say Chan Gailey can’t turn the Bills around and that the Bills are a team that can’t win next year — they can. I learned my lesson by watching the Dolpins and Falcons turn-arounds two years ago. I just feel that there aren’t many tools in Buffalo and that they need serious quarterback and offensive line upgrades in order to improve. Gailey may have won every year at Georgia Tech but I’m quite unimpressed by his three 7-6 seasons and two 7-5 years especially considering how much better they’ve been before and after his tenure. He can win in Buffalo, it just won’t be easy.