Some random thoughts while watching the Buffalo Bills not even reach low expectations in a 42-17 preseason loss to the Washington Redskins Friday night:
* Ex Bills Steve Tasker and Ray Bentley assuredly were a lot softer on the Bills during Channel 7’s telecast than the team’s fans undoubtedly were in their living rooms and area bars.
At game’s end, Bentley noted that there were some “bright spots” for the Bills. He added that 16 injured players on the roster were unavailable and noted the game “was probably not a true test of what the Buffalo Bills will be this season.”
It was hard to immediately see Bentley's “bright spots.” The early field goal drive?
Earlier Tasker noted that the Bills “didn’t stop playing.” So I suppose that could be a “bright spot.”
Hey, they were auditioning for full-time jobs. So why would they stop playing?
Referring to Bills Coach Chan Gailey, Tasker also said “No question this night did not turn out the way he wanted.”
Tasker and Bentley seemed more like apologists during the game than announcers.
Nobody expects announcers picked by the team to be assassins but a little more honesty would be preferable to their soft criticism. The lead of the game story today in the Buffalo News story written by Allen Wilson was “Ugh” and called Coach Chan Gailey’s debut “a colossal flop.”
Now that's an honest assessment. Just once you wish Tasker or Bentley had stated the obvious, especially when the Bills were down 35-3: The Bills are playing worst than expected and the quarterbacks still don’t have a chance to find any open receivers with backup linemen protecting.
* Some of the graphics during the game made one feel like he was taking an eye test. Last season’s statistics were in such small type that you’d need better than 20-20 eyesight to read them.
* Just got my first text from my older son, who was at the game. By the way, the game wasn’t played in the nation’s capital as you may have read. The Skins now play in Landover, Md., not D.C. Anyway, it is safe to say my son was a little more critical in his text than Tasker and Bentley were during the game.
* Don’t you hate it when announcers immediately side with the officials even when replays make some calls look questionable. Tasker quickly called a Skins reception near the goal line a touchdown before a commercial. After the commercial, Bentley noted the receiver may have been juggling the ball before he crossed the goal line. During the season, it would have been worth a challenge.
* Hey, some actual criticism. Tasker noted that Bills rookie back C.J. Spiller was put in the no-win situation of pass blocking a defensive end and that receiver Lee Evans should have tried harder to break up a pass that was intercepted. Still, it was hard to see what Evans could have done to prevent the interception. Bentley called out rookie linebacker Arthur Moats, who hustles but may have been beaten defensively on a few plays. I say “may” because Tasker wasn’t sure who was supposed to cover a wide open receiver.
* Since the goal of the game is to find players, it would have been nice to hear Tasker or Bentley tell viewers if anyone was playing well for the Bills.
* Here is what I believe to be an announcing first in a preseason game. Tasker talked about Bills fans having “angst” because of the way the team is playing and they are only down 14-3. Never heard "angst" used before in a game. Imagine how much angst there was when the game was 35-3.
* Tasker and Bentley agreed that Gailey kept quarterback Trent Edwards in longer than expected to make him feel more positive rather than sit him after an interception. Bad idea. Things only got worse for Edwards as the game went on.
* Comic relief: With the Bills having a fourth down and about a yard to go, Tasker suggested they go for it with 32 seconds left in the half. Then Bentley pointed out there were several minutes left in the half and Tasker was looking at the play clock. Who could blame Tasker for wanting to make this game end quickly? It would have been a good idea to call it a half then anyway.
* Tasker and Bentley both applauded Gailey’s decision to go for a first down deep in the Bills territory. Neither veteran announcer thought the obvious: The Bills were just trying to draw the Skins offside. It didn’t work.
* Turning philosophical with Bills down 21-3, Tasker said “you think the sky is falling. You forgot there are five more months of football. You’re going to play a lot better than this, you’re going to play a lot different.”
Right after those optimistic words had gotten out of Tasker’s mouth, the Redskins ran back a punt for a touchdown and a 28-3 lead.
A little humor was called for. I could almost hear Bills Nation collectively saying “the sky is falling! The sky is falling!”
“This is not the start (the Bills) had hoped for,” assessed Bentley.
* It’s the fourth quarter and I suspect I did what many Bills fans did. I put the volume on mute and phoned a Buffalo native who lives out of town and whose first question was: “Why are the Bills so lousy?”
Clearly, the “angst” is spreading out of town.