Few could have predicted the Buffalo Bills manhandling of the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
The 41-7 drubbing was certainly one of the more shocking outcomes of the first week of NFL action.
Head coach Chan Gailey knows that just because you defeat the reigning AFC West champs on their home field, it doesn’t give you any time to pat yourself on the back.
“We won all three phases of that game,” said Gailey at his Monday press conference. “That means nothing starting … now.”
For the first time in Gailey’s tenure in Buffalo, he’s not taking a break. The attitude has trickled down to his players.
“It’s only one game,” said Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick after Sunday’s win. “We’re gonna move forward, and enjoy it for a day.”
That is the type of attitude Gailey wants his team to have. Comments like that from his starting pivot and team captain show the changing atmosphere in the locker room.
“We’re not one of those teams – yet – that needs to worry about complacency or being overconfident or anything like that,” Gailey said. “Our memory is not that short. We remember what it was like in those locker rooms last year.”
The Bills suffered eight straight losses last season before finally picking up a victory against the Detroit Lions in Week 10. They finished the season 4-12, in the basement of the AFC East.
The tandem of quarterback Trent Edwards and running back Marshawn Lynch, the team’s third and first round picks from 2007, started Week 1 in 2010. Lynch was dealt to the Seattle Seahawks, and Trent Edwards is currently unemployed.
They’ve been supplanted by Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson, respectively.
Changing of the Guard
Drafted in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams, Fitzpatrick was projected to be a backup signal caller.
Sunday marked the first time the seven-year veteran from Harvard’s began the season as the starter. He made the most of it, finishing the game 17-for-25 with 208 yards and four touchdowns before getting a well-earned break.
“I was telling some of the guys this is the first time in the NFL I’ve ever come out of a game for good reasons,” said Fitzpatrick.
ESPN recently developed a complex matrix for rating quarterback performance, giving more details than the standard and convoluted QB Rating system. In Week 1, Fitzpatrick had the league’s best performance, scoring 91.2 out of 100.
Most Bills fans know Jackson’s story.
A graduate of Division-III Coe College in 2003, Jackson went undrafted before a two-year stint in the United Indoor Football League with the Sioux City Bandits.
He then spent a year in NFL Europe with the Rhein Fire in 2006 before being awarded a try out for the Bills in 2007.
Ever since joining Buffalo, he has been a quiet yet consistent performer. He backed up Lynch in his first four years with the team, and never really obtained much national exposure for his talents.
But he has now won the starting job and is considered a mentor to last year’s ninth-overall pick, CJ Spiller.
Jackson rushed for 112 yards and added a five-yard reception Sunday. He failed to score but he doesn’t need that spotlight. He knows what his team needs to do to win.
“We gotta stay on the field,” Jackson said after Sunday’s game. “Whatever it takes, kicking, punting, scratching, clawing to do it.”
With two guys who undoubtedly have that proverbial chip on their shoulder wearing the captain’s crest on their jerseys, the Bills have a great tandem leading their team for the remainder of the NFL season.
“The thing we’ve harped on all off-season is expecting to win,” Fitzpatrick said. “We came into this game expecting to win. Last year it took us so long to get that first one. Now with that winning feeling, all of a sudden we’re hoping that our confidence is high. And this expectation of winning games, and going in there and not only hanging in games, but beating teams, is going to continue.”