Updated 10/09/2012 12:13 PM
On the road with the Bills
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I've said it several times over the past two days, and it remains true today. Its truth seems to be magnifying. The Bills are better off spending the week in Arizona, away from the pessimism that has engulfed One Bills Drive, and seemingly all of Western New York.
It's a hot topic. I couldn't even get into the Buffalo airport before hearing words of concern. It started with the driver in the parking shuttle. Next was the security checkpoint. As I picked my laptop up from the scanner and put it back in its case, the TSA agent noticed the YNN logo and asked what story I was traveling for. When I replied that I was headed to Arizona for the Bills, a concerned traveler piped right in.
"What's the point?" the traveler said, while reaching around me for his shoes. The TSA agent, obviously a football fan, gave me a disheartened look, taking deep breath and shaking his head a little bit. Then, he brought up the topic that most fans are most dissatisfied with.
"I just don't know what they paid (Mario) Williams all that money for," he said. We chatted briefly about the improvements the defense needs to make, shared concern for Ryan Fitzpatrick, and touched on how we're disappointed that a season that began with so much promise has stalled this early. And, I might add, we did it all while trying not to hold up the line.
The fact of the matter is that the parking shuttle driver, the concerned traveler, and the TSA agent all represent the perception of the Bills in Western New York. Bills bashing has become common water cooler talk, although it probably always has been. One thing is certain. If the Bills can put forth a winning effort in Arizona, this pessimism will disappear. Fans will see a team that's 3-3, after a tough stretch, and will not care how they got there. The question is: can they do it?
In an effort to get fully adjusted to the west coast time differences, the Bills will be staying in Phoenix. They'll practice this week at Arizona State, and will keep their schedule identical to the normal preparation in Orchard Park.
It begins Wednesday, with media availability around 11:00 AM (Phoenix time). Practice runs from 2:00PM to 4:00PM, with meetings before and after. It's a second sort of training camp, that the team hopes will build chemistry that has been lacking in the past two weeks.
Stick with YNN and YNN.com for coverage of the Bills this week from their temporary headquarters in Arizona.