It's unbelievable how the possible answer to the Buffalo Bills' woes has been here the entire time.
Interim coach Perry Fewell picked up his first win as a head coach today when the Bills defeated AFC East rival Miami, 31-14.
The Bills, whose offense has sputtered, struggled and stunk week-in and week-out may have finally found a rhythm. Buffalo has put up at least 300 yards of offense in consecutive weeks, and has looked like an entirely different team in general.
These Bills looked energized. Sharp. On top of their offensive/defensive assignments. The receivers' route-running was crisp and their separation was deep.
Who would have thought a few outdoor practices would change an entire mentality?
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Terrell Owens have created an eharmony-level chemistry. In their last two games together, Owens has caught 14 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns. This was the T.O. fans have waited for all season.
Plus, the coaching staff finally understood that it is Fred Jackson, not Marshawn Lynch, who needs to be the premier back. Jackson bruised and breezed his way past defenders to keep Buffalo's offense on the field for longer than 49 seconds and a three-and-out. He rushed 15 times for 73 yards – including five catches for 43 yards – and found the end zone twice. Jackson, unlike Lynch, runs north-south when he finds open field. He makes the checkdown a go-to play in the passing game, too.
This game, Buffalo cashed in on its turnovers. Buffalo capitalized on the four turnovers – all picks. Maybe the most important was Drayton Florence leaping up to snare a lame-duck Chad Henne pass. After Rian Lindell kicked a career-long 56-yard field goal to put the Bills up 17-14 late in the third quarter, the Fins got the ball back and were driving.
The ensuing play would crush Miami and ignite Ralph Wilson stadium.
Instead of reverting back to a Dick Jauron-brand of coaching, Perry Fewell went for it. Don't hold back – capitalize on your opponent's mistake. So Fitzpatrick called an audible at the line and rolled the dice, tossing a bomb to Owens.
T.O. delivered, beating the single coverage and taking one to the house.
Game, set, match.
Despite giving up six sacks, the rag-tag offensive line held together well. They overcame the adversity and delivered, which gives hope to Buffalo fans everywhere.
Give tons of credit to this battered Buffalo defense. Sure, there are multiple starters on injured reserve, including two of the original three starting linebackers. On paper, that matters.
In real life with real emotions, that goes out the window. Every Buffalo defender stepped up today and stopped Miami's vaunted rushing attack when it mattered. Ricky Williams did rush for 115 yards, but the Bills stopped him in crunch time.
Between the suddenly stout defense, the turnover ratio, Fred Jackson and a crop of young players, this team has hope. The players are proving their worth and T.O. is finally earning his $6.5 million paycheck.
If only the front office made a coaching change sooner, things could have been different. In a decade cloaked in darkness, Perry Fewell could be the rising sun of this franchise. The Bills can build momentum off of this game. They have time to find an identity. Sit tight – we could be in for an exciting ride.