Monday, September 26, 2011

I Bill-ieve In Miracles

Calling all fans of the mucial group Hot Chocolate, I do "Bill-ieve" in miracles, but this is not something of the kind.  For the second straight week, the resilient Buffalo Bills have managed a comeback after facing an improbable deficit of 18 or more points in the first half.  But this week, versus the New England Patriots, it was more than just a game. In what could prove to be a defining moment, the beginning of a new era if you will, the "No-Name-Bills" have passed their first true test that vouches for belonging among the list of 2011's elite NFL teams.

It is these same unlikely "No-Name-Bills" that now hold the only 3-0 record in the AFC of the National Football League.  Who would have thunk?

The national disrespect of the Bills' talent because the lack of name recognition adds fuel to the fire for the team.  Starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, a 7th round pick, and the first Harvard quarterback to throw a pass for a Pro-Football game in more than 40 years, has "Bill-ieved" from the very beginning.

Confirming his awareness of the underappreciation, Fitzpatrick notes, “Everyone’s been making a big deal about us not having any big names and we are the no-names. In the outside world we’re nothing. Nobody believes in us. We feed off of that.”

Division III Coe College's Fred Jackson, another oft-overlooked player, has endured a roller-coaster ride to the spotlight.  Deservingly, without the likes of Marshawn Lynch around, the starting running back position is now securely held in Jackson's grasp. 

Some say, "With money comes power", but for the 4th leading rusher in the NFL after week 3, he righteously has been hinting "With power comes money".  His age is 30, which is widely considered the age that NFL running backs begin breaking down.  However, more than anything, Jackson shows signs of youth. Through week 3 "F-Jax" has compiled 303 yards (6.4 ypa) on the ground, and 115 yards receiving (14.4 ypc), looking stronger and more focused than ever.

Although one could argue that he is the most important part of this Bills team, Jackson will earn a salary of $1.75 million in 2011, tenth most on the team.  It is hard to recall if there were ever a more appropriate time for Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. to break the bank.

“We’re just a bunch of undrafted guys and seventh-round picks. We want to show we can play against anybody – the Patriots, whatever.” 

Ironically, it looks like the misfits might be just the right fit.  If Buffalo's General Manager Buddy Nix is smart (which will be another test of the new era Bills) they will continue to exercise contract negotiations to lock-down offensive standouts Ryan Fitzpatrick, Fred Jackson, and Stevie Johnson (2008 7th Round Pick - Kentucky).

It's been 11 years since the Bills have circled the wagons like this.  Perhaps the undefeated, number 1 scoring offense in the NFL can finally break that playoff draught this season. 

Defensive leader (and Super Bowl Champion) Nick Barnett explains, "It’s too early to talk about we're going to the Super Bowl or this and that. We still got some growth to do. But I think we're playing [well]. If the offense keeps putting up 30 points, there’s no way we should lose, ever." 

I think I can speak for all of the Buffalo faithful when saying, we "Bill-ieve" in miracles, you sexy thing.