CBS’ cameras caught a guy in the stands at The Ralph impersonating Kansas City Coach Andy Reid early in the Buffalo Bills’ 17-13 loss Sunday to the Chiefs and he quickly became known as Fake Andy Reid on Twitter.
CBS analyst Solomon Wilcots clearly knows a Fake Doug Marrone or at least someone who makes decisions much differently than the Marrone coaching the Bills the last two seasons.
Wilcots’ baffling performance was a reminder that sometimes watching a network telecast of a Bills game leaves one wondering where the announcers get their information and opinions about the Bills.
It happened repeatedly Sunday with Wilcots and his on the ball play-by-play man, Spero Dedes.
Wilcots, who has a commanding voice that makes a viewer pay attention to even some off-the-wall observations, referred to the Bills coach as an aggressive play-caller who learned under New Orleans Coach Sean Payton and would “keep his foot on the gas pedal.” He added that Marrone and Reid both “go for broke.”
Now when is the last time a Bills fan remembers Marrone going for broke? He is a coach who repeatedly punts from around the opponents’ 40 yard-line. It is hard to think of a bigger disconnect between what Wilcots said what Bills fans have come to expect from Marrone.
At times, the analyst’s performance was almost as aggravating as the Bills ability to give away a game that was there for the taking.
Mr. Conservative: Wilcots and Dedes also repeatedly wondered what play Marrone would call in key situations. Unless I’m missing something, Marrone leaves the play-calling to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. I don’t recall hearing Hackett’s name in the telecast.
Wilcots seemed to be auditioning for a job as an offensive coordinator when he suggested the Bills would throw a pass to the end zone on third and one yard to go near the goal line. It might have been a smart move, but it wasn't called by Hackett or Marrone. To his credit, Wilcots was on the money suggesting the Bills throw a pass to a tight end later in the drive before a Kyle Orton pass fell incomplete
Wilcots might have been the only person at the Ralph more conservative near the end of the game than Marrone. The analyst made one of the biggest head-scratching suggestions in recent memory when he said the Bills should kick a field goal inside the Red Zone to close to within 17-16 with a little more than two minutes left and then go for an onside kick.
If Marrone had taken that advice and the Bills never saw the ball again and lost by a point he would have wished he was Fake Doug Marrone. Wilcots could have argued the merits of kicking a field goal and then kicking deep in hopes of getting the ball back without any timeouts left and just needing a field goal to win. But trying an onside kick? The odds of winning that are even less than the odds of the Real Doug Marrone going for it on a fourth and one near midfield. That’s just foolish analysis on a day that a lot of foolishness was going on.
The Double Talk Award: One of Wilcots’ keys before the game was having the Bills take the lead, which he suggested would give them a “chance of winning” and could change the Chiefs' offensive strategy. A chance of winning? This is the NFL, where home teams almost always “have a chance “of winning. Apparently, nobody also told Wilcots that a NFL game lasts 60 minutes and you never win in the first quarter. Later, Dedes noted that the Chiefs didn’t change their game plan despite falling behind, which seemed to contradict Wilcots’ earlier statement.
The Flinch Heard Around WNY: One of the key plays was a non-play. It occurred when the officials decided that a flinch by the Bills lineman Seantrel Henderson occurred before a Chief jumped off-sides away from Henderson. CBS’ cameras caught the flinch. Wilcots supported the call but it would have been nice to hear from CBS’ referee expert to know how often a similar flinch is called. Marrone said after the game he was told by the league that it was a good call.
But What Did He Think of the Henderson Call? Fox’s in-house officiating expert Mike Pereira went on Twitter early in the game to say he didn’t agree with an unnecessary roughness call on the Bills’ Aaron Williams after he supposedly led with his helmet and hit Smith after the quarterback gave himself up on a slide. “Late slide, contact not to head or neck,” wrote Periera. The penalty helped the Chiefs in their early field goal drive. Wilcots seemed to support the call, even though he questioned whether Williams actually hit Smith.
Going for broke, Reid Style: The Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles ran for a touchdown on a fourth-down and one yard to go at the Bills 39-yard line. That prompted Wilcots’ comment “both these coaches go for broke.”
Going for Broke, Marrone Style: Dedes questioned whether the Bills were lining up on the fourth and a yard to go just to try and get the Chiefs off-sides on the Flinch Play. I doubt any Bills fan who has watched Marrone’s conservative style had to ask that question. The coach wouldn’t say what he planned to do after the game. He was put in a similar position later in the game with the Bills behind and punted to play field position. Wilcots supported that decision, which worked out. But want to bet that Reid would have gone for it earlier?
Best and Worst Line: Before the game, Wilcots said of Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith “you can trust him to take care of your infant son.” It was a good line that dealt with how careful Smith is with the ball. But upon further review, you would hope that you could trust any grown man in the NFL with your infant son. And considering the recent Adrian Peterson case, the line bordered on inappropriate.
Wait Until December: Dedes seemed to believe that the game was being played “in very cold conditions” at The Ralph even though it was above freezing. Otherwise, Dedes had a pretty decent game by the standards of secondary announcing teams. He put Orton’s play this season in perspective early, noting “this has been a season of redemption. This is his moment.”
Best Picture: No, not the Fake Andy Reid shots. CBS had some good overhead shots showing whether receivers were open. It also showed Bills lineman Kyle Williams going into pass coverage on one play. However, it could have dealt more with how the Chiefs’ kept Bills receiver Sammy Watkins in check and whether his injured groin had anything to do with it.
Best Restraint: CBS showed Fake Andy Reid in the crowd but thankfully didn’t overdo it after the first half.
Where Was the Crawl? CBS repeatedly advertised the Bills game with Miami Thursday night on The NFL Network, with CBS announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling the action. Channel 4 would have been wise to run a crawl explaining it was also carrying the game here on Thursday.
There Goes the Pro Bowl: The last couple of announce teams have been promoting Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin as playing on a Pro Bowl level with four interceptions. Sunday wasn’t his day, even before his key fumble.
Calling Phil Simms: The CBS drama “Elementary” seems to be “jumping the shark” by having Simms guest star in Thursday’s episode of the CBS drama. Western New Yorkers won’t get to see his performance until late Saturday night when Channel 4 plans to carry all of CBS’ preempted Thursday programs. “The Big Bang Theory” starts off Channel 4’s delayed coverage of the Thursday lineup at 11:35 p.m. after the local news.
Silliest Stat: CBS noted at one point in the second quarter that Orton had a 0 for 6 passing stretch after starting the game hot. It could have put that stat in better perspective if it had noted that most of Orton’s passes in that span were intentionally incomplete because the Chiefs had the play covered or because of drops by receivers. However, Wilcots could have noted more often how Orton uncharacteristically missed open receivers during the game. If this was Orton’s “moment” as Dedes suggested, he missed it badly.
Instant Replay: Remember early in the season when a broadcast showed a guy preparing cooked chicken wings at the Anchor Bar without wearing gloves. Well, CBS showed a chicken wing scene again at the establishment and the guy preparing the wings to be served this time wasn’t wearing gloves again.
Calling Rich Gannon: After the Bills dominated the New York Jets two weeks earlier, the CBS analyst suggested the Bills had a chance to go 9-3 in a four-game stretch. It seemed overly optimistic even before the Bills found a way Sunday to repeat their history of grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory and looking like a Fake Playoff Team.