I think I'm the guy that once said that preseason games are forgotten within five minutes of the start of the National Football League season.
OK, I'll stick to that.
I'll also say that there hasn't been this much pessimism about the start of a Buffalo Bills' season since, oh, 1971.
You might recall that season as the one where John Rauch was fired just before the start of the games that counted for criticizing some of his ex-players in a television interview. He was replaced by Harvey Johnson, who was involved in one terrible season as an interim coach in 1968 (going 1-10-1 after replacing Joel Collier). Those bad feelings were justified; Johnson actually lowered his career coaching percentage with the Bills with a 1-13 season.
Why the long faces, Bills fans? Let's count the ways.
The Bills haven't made the playoffs in almost a decade. Dick Jauron has coached the team for three years, and gone 7-9 each time. Last season the Bills collapsed after a good start, as young quarterback Trent Edwards took a step sideways at best.
In the preseason, the Bills' starting offense scored exactly zero touchdowns in five games. Then on the eve of the season, Jauron fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert. Schonert went out the door saying that Jauron wanted to install a more simple, Pop Warner-like offense. Ouch.
Two days after cutdown day, the Bills released starting left tackle Langston Walker. That means Demetrius Bell, who has as many pro starts in the regular season as I do, will take over on the most important spot on the line. Oh, and if he's nervous, he can at least talk about it with a pair of rookie guards. That's four new faces on the line from last season. What's the over/under for the number of games Edwards stays healthy?
Oh, and today Terrell Owens, when asked by the New England media, said he didn't really like the Bills' no-huddle offense. Bills' fans have been watching Owens like a volcano, waiting for a sign that he's ready to explode. The joys of having a combustible wide receiver are many.
Need some good news? It looks like a great year to be looking for a coach in December. The list of available candidates, at least potentially, include Bill Cowher, Brian Billick, Tony Dungy, Mike Shanahan and Mike Holmgren -- Super Bowl winners all. And it might be a great year to get a quarterback out of college, what with such players as Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and the intriguing Tim Tebow joining the rest of the Class of 2010.
On the other hand, Bills' owner Ralph Wilson has never been one to go out and sign a big name for big dollars as a coach, at least since Chuck Knox came aboard about 30 years ago. And yesterday's college quarterbacking standout always has the chance to turn into the next Rick Mirer or, heaven forbid, Ryan Leaf.
And who wants to write off an entire season before it starts? I'll bet the people who have bought season tickets don't.
You know how you feel like averting your eyes when you see an accident coming? I wonder how the ratings will be for opening night against the New England Patriots.