If you're a player for the Bills you know you're not going to the playoffs, but you have to continue to play for pride. You don't look forward to next year and where the team might pick in the draft. In some cases you play for the team's success if you have time left on your contract, or if you're a free agent you play for your future knowing other teams might be looking at your game tape to see if they want you on their team. It doesn't matter what sport it is, you play to win games period.
There's no debating that there's talent on this roster, and if they had stayed healthy they wouldn't be a 4-8 football team. But that's part of sports. The teams that usually go a long way are among the healthiest. Sure there are some teams that persevere better than others, but the ones that can avoid a rash of injuries are usually representing their division as champions. Our team has been devastated with so many injuries, especially on the offensive line.
We don't have an established quarterback where we're trying to find out just what he can do at this point in the season, so there's not as much intrigue offensively. Both quarterbacks this season for the Bills were dealt a setback knowing the guys up front have been a bunch of moving parts due to injury. Guys have been coming in and out and you don't know who is going to be in and who is going to be out.
It's hard to blame the guys up front because injuries are part of the game, but the cohesiveness that you need for an offensive line, just hasn't been there. And it means so much to the success of an offense to have the same five linemen play week in and week out. Those guys aren't blocking one-on-one all the time, so knowing what your linemates are capable of is important. With guys shifting spots all the time and not being established with the same guy to your left or right it makes the job that much harder to accomplish.
That in turn multiplies the responsibilities of the quarterback because not only is he going to need to assess the coverage he may also need to be more wary of the protections. Granted that's the responsibility of the offensive line, but when you don't have the same guys every week it's hard to fault the linemen that are in there because they're all busting their hump to make it work.
Facing Kansas City this week, the Bills are playing a team that has gone through a lot of the same struggles that they've experienced this season whether it's not being able to convert third downs on offense or stopping teams on defense. But the Chiefs are no doubt looking at the Bills as an opportunity, just like Buffalo is looking at them as a chance to get a win.
The thing is playing at Arrowhead is not easy for a road team. The fans are loud. They scream and yell all the time. The best thing for the Bills to do is get some points on the board early and take those fans out of the game. If you can get those fans to sit on their hands, that's a plus for the Bills.
If those fans are riled up it's going to be that much harder for Ryan Fitzpatrick to get out of a play and audible to what might be a big play on offense. We've seen him do it before, but if those fans are loud enough where they compromise communication it'll make it that much tougher. Points on the board early will be key.
Finishing off seasons strong has not been easy for the Bills in recent years, but that's where leadership has to step forward and get everyone focused on the game and not thinking about where they're going to be golfing or vacationing after the season is over.
Everybody in that locker room has pride and does not want to be embarrassed, but the leaders on that team have to make sure the team is singularly focused on winning Sunday. It takes everybody and this late in the season when you know you're not going to the playoffs, that's when the leaders have to step up to demand a top flight performance.