The Bills season – another one bites the dust

No need to belabor the obvious.  The Bills were a disappointment as the season wore down.  Josh Allen said they “ran out of gas.”  Well, okay.  You have an indicator signal in your car when you are getting close to empty.  It means it’s time to fill up the tank.  Didn’t the coaching staff notice the team was getting close to “E” before they stalled out?

Damar Hamlin’s near tragedy and miraculous recovery to date certainly has been difficult for the team, the community, and even the nation.  I disagree, however, with the recent Buffalo News headline:  “The year Bills’ fans learned the hard way that football is not life and death.”  Not true.  Most fans have always known that.  Family and health always come first.  The sun always comes up the next day (okay, that is when the clouds let it shine.)  As to football wins and losses, disappointing ends to previous games and seasons have also made keeping football-in-proper-perspective notion part of this community’s DNA for a long time.

Maybe it was all the hype about being the Super Bowl favorite, starting even before the season began, that makes the loss to Cincinnati all the more difficult to accept.  The hype wasn’t just local.  National pundits and oddsmakers drummed that into us for many months.

I posted at the beginning of the season that I thought the team would only lose three or four games, but I was also looking for a season that would end with a Super Bowl win.  Maybe we should have paid more attention to the awful way that playoff game in Kansas City ended last season – poor strategizing and clock management when it was needed the most.  I also thought the Bills could beat the Bengals, but like many others I was stunned by how they were manhandled  on both sides of the ball.

A friend noted to me that sometimes you can be deceived by a team’s previous record to give credibility to wins the following season.  This season many took a lot from the big wins against  LA and Tennessee, but  in reality those teams were not good, nor was Green Bay.  They clobbered the Steelers, but that was Kenny Pickett’s first game and they were without T.J. Watt.  They struggled with both the Jets and Miami and also had close games against the Browns and Lions.  Their best wins were against KC and New England.  What would have happened if Hines didn’t have two kickoff TD’s?

All season long  they were saying that Allen should take the shorter completions, but against the Bengals he seemed to take or look for the long ones, which take longer to set up and depend on better line protection.  Allen missed Beasley, who was previously dependable on short routes.  Crowther got hurt early, McKenzie wasn’t dependable, and Shakir was a rookie finding his way.  Gabe Davis didn’t live up to expectations after three years invested in development. 

Going forward, everyone has their own ideas about what is needed to do better next season. Another prime receiver; a better running back; help on the D line; a healthy Von Miller; and a few other holes to fill. Brandon Beane reports that the team is currently millions over on the NFL’s new $224.8 million salary cap . We will likely say goodbye to several of this year’s players. Some contracts will need to be re-negotiated to spread out the costs.

Free agency shopping will not help much because the available stars will not be affordable.  We will draft late in the league lineup so the pickings there may not be all that great either.

The statistics of the season suggested we had a great team.  The offense Allen ran up some impressive numbers.  The defense was ranked high.  So what?

Because of those stats, it is not likely that there will be any significant changes in the coaching staff; the team dropped their safeties coach last week.  Standing pat after three successive disappointing, too-early ends to the season makes a fan wonder if it is really a good idea to avoid hard decisions about the coaches.

In football lore, when thinking about head coaches, there has been a category of HCs that should be noted.  Marty Schottenheimer and Chuck Knox, both with Buffalo connections, come to mind.  They were great regular season coaches.  They got their teams into the playoffs.  But they could never win a championship.  Sean McDermott is not going anywhere at the moment, but he has yet to emerge from the Schottenheimer/Knox category of coaches.

There has been a lot written and spoken about how Stefon Diggs carried on near the end of and after the Bengals game.  I think he got the frustration part perfectly right.  Everyone connected with the team – the coaches, players, administration – should have the same fire.  Despite what they have said about Diggs, that is not really evident.

Hope springs eternal.  In two short weeks the focus will shift to the 2023 season.  For this fan, though, it is going to be hard to jump on the Super Bowl bandwagon again.  The Eastern Division will be much more challenging.  The Bills are no better than third best in the conference as the 2022 season ends.  That may or may not be true next season.

I think the Bengals would have won the AFC championship but for a bad referee call or two. Eagles by four in the Super Bowl.

Go Sabres!

Twitter @kenkruly

Just the facts — campaign financials for potential 2023 candidates and others; the Chief Judge appointment

Twice a year, in January and July, all political committees in New York State, whether or not they are involved in an election that year, are required to file reports with the state Board of Elections noting their receipts, expenditures, and account balances.  The January reports were due last week, reporting on finances as of January 11th.  State legislative candidates who ran in 2022 were only filing for the period from the end of November through January.  All other committees were reporting their finances since last July.

The state Board of Elections website makes extracting such information difficult. Also, the BOE appears to make no serious effort to require the filings to be made on a timely basis.

The following is a summary of some major committee accounts of Western New York political committees.

State Legislators (who are reporting from November 2022 through early January)

Senate

  • District 57 – George Borrello (R) – raised $2,000; Balance $123,410
  • District 60 – Pat Gallivan (R)– raised $250; Balance $173,206
  • District 61 – Sean Ryan (D) – raised $9,300; Balance $208,750
  • District 62 – Robert Ortt (R) – no January report available as of January 23
  • District 63 – Tim Kennedy (D)– raised $29,692; Balance $1,894,553; Refunded $64,025; Senator Kennedy continues to have more in his campaign treasury than the combined total of the 15 other state legislators from Western New York who are listed in this post.

Assembly

  • District 140 – Bill Conrad (D) – raised $1,705; Balance $27,572
  • District 141 – Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D) – no January report available as of January 23
  • District 142 –Pat Burke (D)– raised $1,500; Balance $21,753
  • District 143 – Monica Wallace (D)– raised $1,000; Balance $73,762
  • District 144 – Michael Norris (R) – raised $0; Balance $133,065
  • District 145 – Angelo Morinello (R)– raised $1,000; Balance $41,126
  • District 146 – Karen McMahon (D)– raised $500; Balance $58,418
  • District 147 – David DiPietro (R)– raised $6,260; Balance $135,409
  • District 148 – Joseph Giglio (R) – Raised $0; Balance $13,480
  • District 149 – Jonathan Rivera (D)– raised $0; Balance $40,448
  • District 150 – Andrew Goodell (R) – Raised $500; Balance $54,912

All other reporting was the first since July 2022

City of Buffalo

  • Mayor Byron Brown (D) – raised $189,525; Balance $243,950

County of Erie – County Executive race potential candidates

  • Mark Poloncarz (D) – raised $204,483; Balance $429,551
  • Ed Rath (R) – raised $0; Balance $4,610
  • Mickey Kearns (R) – raised $233; Balance $5,858
  • Gary Dickson (R) – raised $3,792; Balance $16,470
  • Nate McMurray (D) – has no committee on file with the state BOE

Former elected officials

  • Joel Giambra (I) Balance $488,452 (July 2022; January 2023 report not available as of January 23)
  • Tony Masiello (D) Balance $79,490 (January 2022; January 2023 report not available as of January 23)
  • Michael Ranzenhofer (R) Balance $785,981
  • Robin Schimminger (D) – Balance $387,518

Judicial politics

The Judiciary Committee of the State Senate last week failed to recommend Governor Kathy Hochul’s appointee for Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, Hector LaSalle.  Evidently for political purposes the number of senators on the Committee was recently increased by four members which permitted the progressive members of the Democratic Caucus, who are mostly from New York City, to defeat the nomination.  Democratic Senator Sean Ryan of Buffalo was among those voting against the recommendation of LaSalle to the full Senate, which failed by one vote.

The Senate Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, announced after the Committee action that “[i]t’s clear that this nominee was rejected and that’s it.”  The State Constitution, Article VI, Section 2.e., however, states that the Governor shall appoint the Chief Judge “with the advice and consent of the Senate.”  There is no reference in the Constitution to a committee of the Senate having any role in the confirmation process.  The Judiciary Committee consists of just 19 of the 63 members of the Senate.

The Governor was required to choose her nominee from a list of seven potential candidates put forth by the constitutionally created Judicial Nomination Commission, which consists of four people appointed by the former Chief Judge, Janet DiFiore; three appointed by former Governor Andrew Cuomo; one appointed by Governor Hochul; and one each appointed by the Speaker and Minority Leader of the Assembly and the Majority Leader and Minority Leader of the Senate.  There is some talk about revising the constitutionally mandated process.

Governor Hochul is reviewing her options for this judicial nomination.  How she proceeds could impact the entire 2023 session of the Legislature, including the adoption of the annual budget.

Twitter @kenkruly