A head injury and a head case.
That sums up the Bills' sorry state of affairs after Saturday's unwatchable, 13-9, preseason loss in Baltimore.
Tyrod Taylor, the team's beleaguered starting quarterback, suffered a concussion after completing one pass against the Ravens. His status for the last preseason game (assuming the Bills would be foolish enough to let him play) and the regular season remains up in the air.
Then there's Marcell Dareus, or as I like to call him, 'Space Agent 99'. Dareus, the Bills' highest-paid player, was sent home before the game for violating a team rule. General manager Brandon Beane was blunt in his criticism of Dareus before the game and suggested there might be further discipline.
It was suggested that Beane was "sending a message" by sending Dareus home. Really? If you ask me, it was a merciful gesture. Dareus didn't have to suffer through that game. Even by preseason standards, it was one of the worst football games I've ever witnessed -- and I've covered the Bills for the entire drought.
So the Bills' grim preseason continues, draining away much of the blind optimism about their chances in the first year under Beane and Sean McDermott. It hasn't been this bad since 2009, when Dick Jauron fired Turk Schonert as offensive coordinator a week before the opener.
It's hard to say which is a bigger concern right now -- Taylor's head or Dareus's -- without knowing the severity of Tyrod's injury. A concussion is a troubling thing, especially when it's your starting QB and he's certain to take a lot of punishment when the, uh, real bullets fly.
But this is a harsh welcome to the big-boy jobs for Beane and McDermott, who arrived with high hopes but are now confronting the realities of the NFL. They inherited big problems, including a flawed, financially bloated roster and an aspiring franchise QB who's an inferior passer.
Dareus, on the books for $16 million a season, is a major drain on the cap, a serial knucklehead with vast athletic potential and negligible commitment to his profession. They can preach all they like about accountability and process. The guy making the most money is laughing all the way to the bank.
It's unclear what Dareus did to get sent home to Buffalo. My best guess is that he was late, which happened twice in a week late in the 2013 season. He might have crashed his car while street racing. Maybe he got caught smoking marijuana again, though that's unlikely since Beane said it wasn't a league matter.
"Obviously, a guy with his contract status, you would hope that he would be a better leader than that," Beane said, "and hopefully he learns from it and moves on and just be a Buffalo Bill."
That's the first time the words "Dareus" and "leader" have appeared in the same sentence in my column. By my count, this is at least eight lapses of behavior -- I think "mis-steps" is too kind a word -- by the big defensive tackle since the middle of the 2013 season.
Those were strong words by Beane. You don't often hear team brass mention a player's contract status. But you can be sure the new GM feels the weight of Dareus's mammoth contract, which was worth an estimated $100 million when the Bills made the premature and ill-fated decision to extend him in 2014.
It's likely the worst contract ever given to a Buffalo athlete, and the worst in the entire NFL right now. Dareus makes quarterback money. For a defensive tackle -- even one who was living up to the deal -- it's an exorbitant amount, a gross overpayment by the Pegulas early in their ownership.
Doug Whaley got a lot of heat for the Sammy Watkins deal, but the Dareus contract was equally regrettable. But capologist Jim Overdorf and president Russ Brandon have to take a big share of the blame for that deal.
Dareus had multiple indiscretions at the time. He had been held out of games for lateness twice, been charged with marijuana possession, crashed his car while street racing a day after telling the world he was determined to turn over a new leaf.
I advocated cutting him in the spring of 2014. The fans thought I was the devil for suggesting it. The Bills rewarded him, anyway. Who looks stupid now? Beane would probably love to get rid of Dareus, but he's stuck with him. Cutting him now would cause a major cap hit and no team would trade for him.
I imagine this will blow over, like all the other episodes. Maybe Dareus will bring out the ADD card again, or swear that he's committed to being a good boy and an accountable team player. Meanwhile, responsible veterans like Lorenzo Alexander and Kyle Williams will have to defend him, again.
So after repeatedly insulting his team and his profession, Dareus still has a place in the NFL. But Colin Kaepernick does not, because he's apparently guilty of a far more egregious sin -- not standing for the national anthem.
T.J. Yates has a job, too, which is amazing. Yates, who also suffered a concussion in Saturday's game, is horrible. Anyone who buys the notion that Kaepernick doesn't have a job because he's not good enough should take a long look at tape of that game in Baltimore, and tell me Yates is better than Kaepernick.
You don't need to evaulate 31 other teams to make the Kaepernick point. Yates's employment alone is evidence. All right, so he's a valuable voice in the old quarterback room. Make him a coach, then.
Nathan Peterman has created a lot of excitement for a fifth-round rookie completing 50 percent of his passes for 5.5 yards an attempt. I understand fans wanting to see the new guy, but if Taylor is out for any length of time, the Bills have to give serious thought to signing Kaepernick, or some other viable starter.
If they're worried about sending messages, they should worry about what the guys in the locker room feel about the Bills having the worst backup quarterback situation in the league. Taylor has been hurt twice in three preseason games. It doesn't bode well for his health in the regular season.
A truly meaningful message would be cutting Dareus, who has been average since getting the contract. Of course, that won't happen because of the money. McDermott can preach about process, but he lives in a world where bad behavior can be handsomely rewarded.
I promised to hold off on the word "dysfunction," but they're testing me.