This is going to be bad.
Think Vince Ferragamo, Jeff Tuel, or Todd Collins bad.
Even, for those of us who remember the darkness of 1976, Gary Marangi bad.
Then multiply that by a few dozens.
It’s unfortunate that Derek Anderson’s name is going to be forever linked with what the New England Patriots are going to do to the Buffalo Bills in front of a national television audience tonight at New Era Field. But, that’s the way it goes.
Quarterbacks receive excessive credit and blame. The disemboweling that commences at 8:15pm won’t be all, or even mostly, Anderson’s fault. The guy was playing on the floor with his kids less than a month ago and didn’t really want to get up.
Thanks to the decision by Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane to go into the 2018 season with a raw rookie backing up a seemingly nice-enough kid whose calling in life is clearly not throwing footballs in a real game, though, here he is. And here we are.
New England arrives in Orchard Park as a 14-point favorite. That unheard-of point spread favoring a team playing away from home seems overly generous to the Bills.
We are talking about a team that lost 37-5 to the previously helpless Indianapolis Colts. That wasn’t even their worst beating of the season, having been Nathan Petermaned 47-3 by the Baltimore Ravens, who have not scored more than 27 points in a game during the seven interceding weeks.
The Bills, of course, have managed to achieve that modest total just once, and that was because Minnesota kept giving them the ball at point-blank range and Josh Allen produced nearly all his rookie-season highlights to date during the first two quarters.
Tom Brady is not Kirk Cousins, however. Even if the greatest 40-year-old quarterback ever suddenly turns into a turnover machine, it is difficult to imagine an Anderson-led offense populated by zero playmakers not named LeSean McCoy penetrating the end zone even once, to say nothing of the number of times required to exceed the number of points the Patriots will still score.
That’s because last week in Indianapolis, a defense that had been playing at a level capable of carrying an offense that could even qualify as below average to the fringes of wild-card contention finally buckled.
Things started off well enough, but after seeing that Anderson was incapable of doing anything beyond taking the snap and handing off or throwing dump passes near the line of scrimmage, that same defense appeared to collectively succumb to human nature and say, “To hell with it.”
It is tempting to do the same regarding tonight. Especially after watching the Boston Red Sox complete their romp through the Major League Baseball postseason. Like their football-playing region-mates, the Red Sox figured out around the turn of the millennium how to build a consistent winner. Unlike the Patriots, who built their dynasty around the same coach and quarterback, Boston has now won at least one World Series with three different managers and front-office regimes, as well as a constantly evolving roster.
At the same time the Red Sox—and Patriots—have gotten it right again and again and again and again, the Bills, whether owned by the Wilsons or the Pegulas, have not been able to get it right for nearly two decades.
That might be the most interesting part of tonight’s game: seeing the opposite ends of the organizational spectrum in stark relief.
It might be even more intriguing if we didn’t get treated to the spectacle twice a year.
Dave Staba is a recovering journalist who posts rather infrequently at wewantmarangi.blogspot.com and can be found somewhat more often on Twitter: @DavidStaba. He is The Public’s contributing editor for sport.