When a team is going through tough times like the Bills are right now you always wish there could be a simple solution, that there would just be one thing to fix it. As professionals they will never give up, but when I watched the film of last week's game against Miami what I saw was everyone on the roster was not doing their job all the time. There were some lapses.
I was particularly drawn to the run game. The Bills have done pretty well running the ball through the first quarter of the season, but they struggled against the Dolphins this past week. Now Miami is a very good run front and that was a part of it, but everyone has to block in the run game. It's not just the linemen that have to block, but tight ends and receivers have to block downfield also.
Whether you've got a linebacker as an assignment or a defensive back you've got to block.
Those running backs are blocking pass rushers so the quarterback has enough time to throw to the receivers, so it has to go both ways.
That's what made Thurman Thomas so respected on our team. Sure he was a talented runner and receiver, but him picking up blitzes so we could make plays in the passing game made our receivers like James Lofton, Andre Reed and Don Beebe want to block all the more for him when we ran the ball.
But that's far from being the biggest issue facing this team. What I always knew was when things weren't working during the course of a ball game, whether it's the quarterback or a linebacker you have to be able to communicate. That's the biggest thing I see. There?s not enough communication on the sidelines when things aren't going well.
You've got to be able to talk with one another and offensively it starts with the quarterback. If things aren't going the way he feels it should, he needs to speak up. And it's not always yelling. It's communication. When people talk about leadership it's not always what you say to somebody, but how you say it. How do you get your teammates to believe in your thought process and how you believe things need to get accomplished.
There's a respect factor to that obviously. You have to make sure when you speak that the players respect you as a leader. It's not always easy, but you have to get your teammates to follow you and believe what you believe. I just haven't seen enough of that to this point.
As I mentioned, you wish it was an easy fix to get this turned around, but they're struggling. When you have to max protect 10 to 15 times through the course of the game and you're only sending two wide receivers out it?s tough to be productive and successful offensively.
The players know they have to hold themselves accountable, but there has to be one specific individual to pull that group together whether it?s on the sidelines or in the locker room at halftime. I'm not in that locker room so perhaps that is being done. But it?s hard to say things are moving in the right direction right now.
The good news is we're only a quarter of the way into the season. And look at what happened last year. They started out on fire and they went downhill afterwards. This year they had a great showing against New England and that gave fans hope that they could really compete this season even though they did not come up with the victory. But all of a sudden maybe it could be headed the other way.
That's where leadership from players and leadership from coaches come into play. That's when Dick Jauron has to lay down the law. He has to tell it like it is because as everybody knows if it doesn't happen this year they might not be here next year. And we as former players want them to succeed. We're pulling for them.
I don't know that a lineup shakeup is the answer to this team's problems, but all a backup player ever asks for is a chance to prove himself. Sometimes it doesn't present itself in practice.
Sometimes it takes putting somebody in a game situation to see if they can play. It looks like Dick Jauron has done that with rookie Ashlee Palmer to start at outside linebacker and Kawika Mitchell moving to the middle. Something had to happen. Somebody needs to light a fire under this team and I hope it can make a difference.
As I've said many times I don't care how bleak things may seem at times, as a fan I will never give up on my team. I'm still pulling for them. Everybody has a solution when they're sitting at home with a remote control in their hand. And the fans pay for their season tickets and have a right to have an opinion, but it?s not as easy as everybody thinks it is.
The team needs leadership at times like this, and I'm not saying that leadership doesn't exist in that locker room, but somebody has to step forward and get this team to pull together. This team has to recapture that winning attitude.
As players you try to have that mentality where you're talking about how to secure a victory at the end of games and again that comes back to communication between players to get everyone thinking the same way.
This week I believe they can get back on track. The Browns much like the Bills are struggling and they had a quarterback controversy already with Brady Quinn going to the bench. Now Cleveland did play a good game last week and it doesn't really matter that they're 0-4. Yes, the Bills had a stinker last week, but they can come right back this week and play good football.
This Sunday is a great opportunity to get back on a winning note and build from there. They have to get a win under their belt and get that winning attitude back in the locker room, especially with another division game coming up.