It began like it has the past 15 years: A renewed sense of hope, led by perhaps the boldest and brashest coach in the NFL.
"Is this thing on? Because it's getting ready to be on. And, that's the truth," Rex Ryan said.
Those were his first words at his introductory press conference in January.
But, the reality is, this season has heard its share of talk yield little results.
"We're going to see how many teams match our work ethic, and all that," he said. "Because, as we look at it, we represent the community. The Buffalo Bills represent the community of Buffalo. We're going to be tough."
They have been tough, but largely undisciplined on Sundays.
If once is an accident and twice is a trend, what's to make of 124 penalties racked up by Buffalo this season?
From pushups, to "Yes sir" bands to stem the tide, the flags indicate a systemic failure of leadership.
"We're going to build a bully and we're going to see if you're going to play us for sixty minutes because we're going to give everything we have every snap out there," Ryan said back in January.
There's no denying the Bills effort. There's no denying Ryan is a player's coach. And, there's no denying his players have taken on their coach's bold, brash personality.
But, that "bully" wasn't only manhandled in "The City of Brotherly Love", but routinely throughout the season.
"Fourth in the league is probably a little disappointing, to be honest with you, because that's not where my expectations are," Ryan said of the Bills defense of 2014. "I know we'll lead the league in defense."
Yes, what was supposed to be the strength of the this team for a third straight year has regressed into one disappointing effort after another.
In January Ryan was asked, after several disappointing results in his final years with the Jets, why Bills fans should believe they're getting more than a mediocre coach.
"I'm not a mediocre coach and anyone that thinks so, I would challenge them with that."
Challenges have not been Ryan's forte this year.
"I know it's been 15 years since the Bills made the playoffs. Well, get ready, man. We're going. We are going."
It was a very matter of fact statement.
But, after 14 weeks and another heart-breaking loss, Buffalo's postseason dreams are on life support and a 16th year without a playoff appearance is, in a mild winter, the cold hard truth Bills fans are facing heading into 2016.
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