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Strategy over culture: How the Bills were built for the moment vs. Browns

Bills Roundup

Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott answers questions after the Cleveland Browns defeated the Bills 19-16 in an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WROC) — The team that values culture over all else could have not built this opportunity better if they tried.

On the Bills sideline, you had the all for one, do things the right way, the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts team that kept finding ways to win and overachieved to 6-2.

On the Browns sideline, you had the “prima donna, cleat worrying, multiple shave collection of superstar that could not get out of their own way while grossly disappointing months of hype at 2-6.

The Bills even got a sparkling example of staying strong in the face of adversity with that bananas eight play goal line stand.

When Nick Chubb landed at the one yard line with the Browns already up 6-0, I thought the Bills were gonna get hammered and maybe should have stayed on the bus.

The goal line stand that followed was breathtaking. Songs should be sung about it. It should have been the moment another comeback Bills win was born.

A comeback win that would have been frosted by all the culture pixie dust falling off Josh Allen’s (11th this year) fumble forward that Jon Feliciano recovered for a first and goal.

But, the Bills just aren’t talented enough to make that win happen.

This time, the team they let hang around had Jarvis Landry and Nick Chubb and Odell Beckham and Kareem Hunt — stars who each accounted for a first down on the game-winning touchdown drive.

They have, perhaps, a budding star in quarterback Baker Mayfield who authored the fourth fourth quarter comeback of his young career when he found a wide open Rashard Higgins for the go-ahead touchdown.

The Bills offense doesn’t have that kind of star power.

Josh Allen finally surpassed that pesky 260 yard threshold in a game, but still flirted with turnovers most of the game, even before his magical fourth quarter fumble. His deep ball is still, at best, a prayer for pass interference.

His supporting cast is improved, but hardly game breaking. John Brown and Cole Beasley haven’t topped five catches in a game since September. (Landry had nine catches for 97 and a touchdown against the Bills)

The one guy who might be a star did not get nearly enough touches. I’ve been pro Brian Daboll all year. The Bills offensive coordinator has not been great, but he’s been good.

However, I spent the whole second half wondering where Devin Singletary was. I don’t think he needs the 20 carries he got last week against Washington, but eight carries and three catches in Cleveland were not nearly enough.

There have been columns and tweets and stories written all season about how the “keep it close, get one late score and let the defense dominate” formula was not going to keep working. The Browns showed everyone why.

And if the Bills can’t get wins against a (now) 3-6 team that could not get out of its own way the first half of the season, what’s gonna happen against Dallas, New England, Pittsburgh or (gulp!) Baltimore?

Culture is not unimportant on a football team, but it’s hardly an end-all, be-all. I think good culture only lasts as long as the good results on the scoreboard keep coming.

The Bills are still short on talent or, at least, short on talent that has matured into top flight NFL players to keep winning games. It’s something that may have to wait until after Brandon Beane works his magic on another draft and free agent spending spree.

For the rest of this year, they’ll have to rely on the oodles of culture to make up for the gaps in talent. Something that wasn’t good enough to beat the 2-6 Browns.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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