It’s about the money, so it’s pointless to talk about whether the Bills In Toronto series is paying off for the team or Rogers Communications or Ralph Wilson, or whether it’s an artistic success or a flop or how many tickets are discounted by how much or which team has the support of the crowd.
It is a one-off that doesn’t mean the Bills are any closer to leaving Buffalo or that the Bills or any other NFL team will end up in Toronto. Newsflash: the NFL isn’t coming to Toronto. Ever. The guess here is that only the CFL zealots – those who believe everybody else thinks they’re second class when in actual fact most people just accept the CFL for what it is without thinking too deeply – see it as a threat. They ought not to. If the Bills In Toronto Series makes financial sense for both sides, it will be on again. When it doesn’t, it will be done. Finished. The Bills won’t kill the Toronto Argonauts; stadium issues are the Argonauts’ biggest worry.
The NFL has come and gone from this city for another season after Sunday’s 50-17 humiliation of the Bills by the Seattle Seahawks and when it does come back again next season – signs are that it will – here’s hoping Bills head coach Chan Gailey isn’t part of it. In fact, if Sunday’s loss leads to Gailey’s canning, the guess here is Bills fans will see the series as a success.
There was all the usual post-game, over-analysis and for all 90 per cent of us in the media knew it was accurate. Funny thing about a team that is as abysmal as the Bills, regardless of the sport: they always seem to think they were in the game even at points where they weren’t, grasping at straws. The Bills saw momentum from a touchdown with 1 minute 16 seconds left in the second quarter, and a 41-yard field goal on the final play of the half, when all the rest of us saw a 31-17 deficit that was never going to be overcome with a mediocre quarterback like Ryan Fitzpatrick and a defence that never did figure out Russell Wilson. Perhaps the most damning indictment of the Bills’ performance came from no-show defensive end Mario Williams, who repeated over and over that there was a systemic breakdown occurring all game long, that a defensive scheme that required players to split up responsibility on Wilson’s read option play was constantly gummed up. “You can’t have two guys with one responsibility,” he said.
It’s not the first time this season that Dave Wannstedt, the Bills defensive co-ordinator, has been revealed to be something less than a genius.
It’s giving the Bills the benefit of the doubt to say they played like a team that didn’t care that most in the game think their coach is going to be fired. At times it looked like they were greasing the skids for him. Few players would go there in the mess of the locker room – safety George Wilson said it was “not in my job description” – but Fitzpatrick, who frankly owes his out-sized contract to modest success under Gailey, said it “pained him greatly” to see Gailey twisting, because Gailey had given a great deal of opportunity to some people in the locker room. “Especially me,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick may not be back here again either, if general manager Buddy Nix’s public musings about trading up to get a young quarterback come to fruition, although given the performance of Seahawks quarterback Wilson – who was there for the taking in the last draft, which has been shown to have been a treasure trove of quarterbacks – it would appear as if Nix’s ‘come to football Jesus’ moment is a year late. At any rate, whoever is coaching the Bills or whoever is quarterbacking the team will likely have another game in Toronto on their agenda. It’s part of the deal. Time everybody dealt with it.