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Bills hope week in Arizona provides a transformation

By Tim Graham

PHOENIX -- Ryan Fitzpatrick's ballcap was made by New Era and was in Buffalo Bills colors, but it wasn't team-issued. Although it would be pretty cool if it were.

On the front was a Transformers logo.

If ever there were a time for the Bills to turn into something else, this would be it. Their past two games have been historically calamitous, giving up 97 points and 1,201 yards.

Rather than return to Western New York in between Pacific-time-zone games, the Bills went straight from San Francisco to the Valley of the Sun and will spend the week here to prepare for the Arizona Cardinals.

The week away could be beneficial to centering themselves, maybe find some inner strength.

I asked Arizona native Ryan Fitzpatrick if he should take the team on a field trip to Sedona -- capital of the New Age tourist industry -- two hours north on Interstate 17.

You know, for some transformation.

"Light some incense," Fitzpatrick said, "and just put a triangle above my head and do all that stuff."

In seriousness, the Bills seem to be approaching the week away with earnest.

"I think it can be very helpful, but time will tell on that one," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "I think being here and being away with just ourselves ... because the people that are going to change this and rectify this are sitting in that team room. It's not going to be anybody else."

The Bills are 2-3, with their only victories coming over the 1-4 Kansas City Chiefs and the 0-5 Cleveland Browns (the NFL's last winless team).

The Bills have been stampeded for 145 points in their three losses and have set some NFL records for defensive incompetence.

"We stink right now," Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. "I don't know how else to call it.

"We've got a long way to go, and the only way to get there is by working and hopefully everybody's prepared for that."

A week away from Western New York might be good timing. The players won't need to go to the grocery store incognito or avoid television, radio or the morning paper.

Being forced to spend some time together might help.

"You've got to regroup," Bills center Eric Wood said. "We've all got to look ourselves in the mirror. We've got to get better. We've got too much talent to be setting records like we're setting, to not be putting up any points, to not be sustaining any drives.

"I think this is the perfect week to get it fixed. We've got an isolated setting where we don't have a lot of distractions out here. It's time to get it straight.

"It'll take a lot of people looking deep down and deciding how bad they want it. We work so hard through the week, and we're not showing up on game day. We've got to get it fixed.

"The character of the guys on our team, you wouldn't think that'd be an issue, but for some reason these past couple weeks we've just laid down in the second half. We've got to get back to hitting people in the mouth."

That would be quite the transformation.

But that philosophy doesn't sound very New Age at all.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |