Here are my three thoughts on the Buffalo Bills as their bye week nears its end:
1. Will going to red uniforms change their fortunes? Maybe, although we won't find out until their second game after the bye, Nov. 12, against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
That's when the Bills will don the new red look, as part of a sales-driven initiative entitled, "The NFL will be flooding the field with color."
The league and Nike unveiled a sneak preview of the new uniforms during Thursday night's game between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. Beginning with the Bills-Jets game, opponents in four Thursday night games will be wearing new uniforms. The other games in which new uniform colors will be worn are Nov. 19 (Jacksonville vs. Tennessee), Nov. 26 (Dallas vs. Carolina), and Dec. 17 (Tampa Bay vs. St. Louis).
I'm reminded of when the Bills went to red helmets in 1984. I broke the story for The News during the offseason, and called Pro Bowl nose tackle Fred Smerlas at his offseason home in Massachusetts for a comment.
"Red helmets?" he said. "Maybe the next thing they should do is put pictures of Big Bird on the sides of our pants for the kids."
"This season, we'll exit the tunnel in a rush of color that paints perceptions differently," said the announcer in the commercial that aired during NFL Network's coverage of the Patriots-Dolphins game. "There are the fans' superstitions and game-day gear that reach beyond fabric to become our driving force. Home or away, the colors are a part of us. On Thursdays, we disrupt, we unify. On Thursdays, we turn up our game in full color."
Disrupt? Unify? Or, maybe, just create another avenue to make more money for the money-making machine that is the NFL.
2. The notion that the Patriots were going to have their hands full Thursday night seems laughable in the aftermath of their 36-7 pounding of Miami. After Dan Campbell replaced Joe Philbin as Miami's coach and the team proceeded to score back-to-back victories against Tennessee and Houston by a combined 82-36, it was assumed the Dolphins were finally playing like the post-season contender some pundits (including this one) assumed they would be before the season. It also was assumed that the Patriots, after being pushed to the brink in beating the Jets last Sunday, were in real jeopardy of suffering their first loss of the season. Then came the reality of going up against Tom Brady, who made throwing four touchdowns look as routine as he always does. Dion Lewis, the running back whose name Rex Ryan refused to acknowledge before the Bills' loss to New England in Week Two, made some incredible moves to go along with his remarkable speed to leave Dolphin defenders grasping at air all night on runs and after catches. Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman did their typical rampaging through the opposing secondary. And then there was New England's defense, which sacked Ryan Tannehill five times and had him running for his life most of the night.
3. Perhaps the Bills can rest easy during the bye knowing that Miami is coming to town next. The Dolphins didn't look a whole lot better than the team the Bills humiliated in South Florida in September. Back then, it was assumed the players simply had quit on Philbin, who was coaching his next-to-last game for Miami. Now, what we have come to find out was that even if they were a bit more inspired by Campbell, the lopsided wins in the previous two games probably had a little more to do with facing bad opponents than making a genuine turnaround. The Dolphins also suffered a huge blow Thursday night with the loss of their best pass-rusher, Cameron Wake, to an Achilles injury. When the Bills faced Miami in September, everything was working for them in all phases. Despite their two-game losing streak, it's reasonable to think that that will again be the case for their Nov. 8 rematch with Miami at The Ralph.