“What’s new?’’ Terrell Owens responded Sunday when asked about yet another Bills meltdown – this one of epic proportions – in a 41-17 evisceration by the Tennessee Titans that saw Buffalo yield 24 unanswered points in the final 11 minutes.
The collapse featured two pick-sixes – one by starter Trent Edwards and one by backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose pass should have been caught by T.O., but instead slipped through his fingers.
There were six more penalties, including five false start calls, against the offensive line. And a total of 10 penalties whistled against the Bills, bringing their nine-game total to 69, just two fewer than they committed in 16 games last season.
There was a heated exchange between wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and T.O. and Josh Reed after a horrendous series by Edwards, in which the quarterback misread the defense and made three errant throws.
And there was another head-scratching decision by Buffalo coach Dick Jauron, who declined a holding penalty that would have forced the Titans to face a third-and-16. Instead, the Yale-educated football coach decided to roll the dice and force red-hot Tennessee field goal kicker Rob Bironas to attempt a 51-yard field goal, which he made with plenty to spare to put the Titans up 27-17 with 3:21 left in the game.
So what’s new, T.O.?
Sadly, not much.
Asked afterward to assess an offensive line that allowed two sacks and who-knows-how-many-other quarterback hurries, the beleaguered Jauron said: “I believe they are going to be a good line. It’s going to take time, and time is not something we have a lot of.’’
With his team 3-6 and sinking rapidly into the abyss, time no longer is on his side. In fact, it should have expired on his days as a Bills coach after last year’s third consecutive 7-9 record.
I wrote in this cyberspace several weeks ago that if I were Ralph Wilson I would make an interim change to at least let loyal and long-suffering Bills fans know that management feels their pain and isn’t going to put up with it any more.
And after the last two fade-away losses (piled on top of what will be a decade without a post-season), I offer up that advice again. Elevate Bobby April or Perry Fewell and begin in earnest the courtship of Bill Cowher or Mike Shanahan or Tony Dungy or Jon Gruden or Mike Holgrem or some other coach with a track record of building winning cultures at this level.
Why prolong the agony?
Other tidbits and observations from Sunday’s forgetta-BILLS’ performance:
* Trent was just 4-for-9 for 58 yards with that costly interception in the second half, after a decent first-half performance that saw him complete 14-of-19 passes for 127 yards, one touchdown and no picks. After starting out with 4 touchdown tosses and 1 interception in his first two games, he’s had 2 TD passes and 6 interceptions in his last four starts.
The problem is that Ryan Fitzpatrick is pretty limited. So you might as well keep auditioning Edwards.
* I hadn’t watched Titans running back Chris Johnson play a lot until Sunday. He’s something else, isn’t he? The Titans running back showed why many believe he is superior to Adrian Peterson by rushing for 132 yards and two scores on 28 carries and catching nine passes for 100 yards.
* Awfully nice of CBS to replay that “Home Run Throwback’’ lowlight for Bills fans wasn’t it? Believe me, no replay is necessary because that one is indelibly embedded in the memory banks of western New Yorkers. It can’t be erased.
* If you discover the whereabouts of running back Marshawn Lynch, please contact the Bills coaching staff. This guy wearing the No. 23 jersey is operating in Least Mode, not Beast mode.
* I’d still like to see Fred Jackson utilized more than he has been.
* I don’t have a problem with T.O. showing some emotion. Heck, it’s about time somebody other than the fans and media got a little angry about the way this team’s been performing. But it also would be nice if T.O. backed his words with action. He clearly quit on one of those routes and his butterfingers led to the interception return for a touchdown.
* Apparently, Jeff Fisher is coaching for his job in Tennessee. He’s into his 16th season in the position (he started when the team was still the Houston Oilers). I’ll tell you what, if Bud Adams lets him go, I wouldn’t mind seeing him on the Bills sidelines next year.
* Another game, another Jairus Byrd interception. That’s a team record five consecutive games with a pick and gives the former Oregon star eight, tying Archie Matsos’ Bills record for interceptions by a rookie.
A nationally recognized sports columnist and best-selling author, Scott Pitoniak is pursuing new challenges after 35 years in the newspaper business. He hopes one day to write the great American novel and hit a baseball over the wall at Yankee Stadium. In the meantime, he runs his own website – ScottPitoniak.com – and blogs about sports and life’s other adventures.
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