Its no secret that after finishing a respectable 9-7 the Buffalo Bills have made every effort to get over the hump. They made more splashes this off season than the pool at fat camp. They started at the top, after former head coach Doug Marrone committed career suicide by opting out of his deal after making strides in Buffalo, eventually taking a huge demotion (now an assistant in Jax) they gave AFC East foe Rex Ryan the keys to the bus. I think Bills fans are happy with the way it worked out!
At times Ryan comes off like comedian Ron White with his obnoxious post game antics and flare for punchlines and tabloids but make no mistakes the guy knows how to coach defense and more importantly how to rally his troops. Ryan’s brash personality brings a level of intrigue to the Bills and the city of Buffalo a place that’s been better known for its hot wings than its football the last decade or so having missed the playoffs the past 13 seasons (longest active drought). Rex Ryan in Buffalo is a solid first step in restoring the glory to the franchise. Ryan loves causes, returning this once prominent franchise to relevance is a great rally cry. Also he gets to face his former squad (NYJ) and match wits with his nemesis Bill Belichick twice a year. Ryan in Buffalo is good for the fans, the city, the ownership and the team.
Moving on, the new regime wasted little time in changing the identity in Buffalo most notably on the offensive side where they needed the most help. They shocked everyone when they traded Kiko Alonso a young talented LB to the Eagles for All-pro RB Shady McCoy. They out bid and maybe over paid to sign a legit all around TE in Charles Clay who will help stretch the field something his predecessor Chandler lacked. They made a luxury move adding to their WR corps signing Percy Harvin a burner with return skills, whos presence should instantly make Sammy Watkins a better WR if he can stay healthy and remain in the good graces of teammates and staff.
To pave the way for the stable of backs (McCoy, Jackson, Dixon, Brown & rookie Williams) they grabbed the best fullback on the market in Jerome Felton. His hard nosed blocking will come in handy in short yardage and goal line situations something the Bills struggled with last year. They also brought in the controversial OG Ritchie Incognito who may be more known for his hazing of ex-Fin Jonathan Martin than his play but the former All-Pro can block and block well when his weight is in check. He will add a nastiness to the trenches, something the Bills have lacked since the 90’s.
With this upgrade in offensive firepower to go along with Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Old Faithful Fred Jackson it seems when considering the fact that the Bills return one of the NFLs top defenses they are a lock at a play off run right? How can a team with more weapons than a Detroit street corner not be a contender? Well did I mention the black hole of talent at the QB position? Allow me to to introduce the lack luster cast:
1. Ej Manuel a former 1st round pick who is entering his 3rd year with the Bills. EJ had bust written all over him the moment he stepped on stage, first because he was drafted by Buffalo a place where QB’s have come to die not flourish & second he wasn’t set to be very good especially right away. He was flawed at FSU; the knocks on his ability to digest multiple defenses, move threw progressions along with his accuracy came out during the combine process. All experts (i did as well) thought he was to be a mid rounder not the 1st qb off the board.
Keep in mind he didn’t win the job in Buffalo he was handed it (Kolb got hurt again… true story) EJ stepped into a ton of hype, mainly because Bills fans wanted so desperately to believe in him not because he was the truth. His last second come back win vs Carolina in the home opener all but anointed him the 2nd coming of Kelly but that ship sank faster than the Titanic. EJ’s true colors shined threw and he went on to be very uninspiring in his first season. He struggled finding his targets, avoiding the rush and protecting the ball in 10 games (1,972 yards 11 TD’s 9 INT’s) before getting hurt. It only took 4 games the following season for him to lose his job to out of shape, over the hill journey man Kyle Orton who was looking for a payday before retirement, 5 mill to be exact. Orton played as average as average can be in 14′ and still kept EJ on clipboard duty, which doesn’t speak well for Ej. But Manuel is big, agile and strong armed unfortunately he appears to lack the IQ and accuracy needed for the position but maybe a QB friendly O.C. in Roman can summon his inner Unitas…. lol
2. Matt Cassel is the veteran option on the chart making his fourth stop in his career after being traded over from Minnesota for a draft pick. His time was up once rookie and 1st rd pick Teddy Bridgewater solidified the job. Cassel is somewhat of an enigma, he’s flashed ability in his career once in New England where he stood in for Brady and once in KC where he made the Pro Bowl. He has not been consistent nor have been the players and coaching staffs around him. So who knows who the real Cassel is. It is a fact Cassel is heady, smart with a good IQ which makes up for his lack of intangibles, average arm with minimal escape ability. Cassel seems like the right move given his experience but journeymen in Buffalo have a track record of flopping (Johnson, Holcomb, Fitzpatrick, Kolb) so who knows which Cassel will take the field. The Pro Bowler who will end the playoff drought or the cast off who will be looking for another job in 2016.
3. Tyrod Taylor the VTECH product who dazzled in college with his feet and cannon arm but underwhelmed the scouts with his height and command of a pro-style system. Taylor was the back up in Baltimore behind franchise QB Joe Flacco, needless to say he never got a chance to prove himself. So he is somewhat of a dark horse candidate here, he may fit into OC Greg Romans system better than Cassel given his ability to use his feet and operate the read option. But that has yet to be seen, all things considered Taylor is a long shot to materialize into a reliable starter even in a run heavy system but the powers that be have been wrong before, perhaps one man’s trash is anothers treasure.
4. Jeff Tuel is also on the depth chart and it’s a mystery that he has an NFL resume to his credit. He is not realistically in consideration for the starting job at least pigs still don’t fly and hell is really fuckin hot. I am sure I am wasting my time writing about him since he should be cut come kick off but since I do most of my writing on the shitter I got time so I’ll include him.
Tuel was an undrafted FA out of Washington State where he compiled a pretty pedestrian career even getting benched for stinking it up as a senior. Tuel has a weak arm, average release and seems over matched by the NFL game. He’s most known for his pick 6 on the goal line vs Kansas City that went 99 yards the other way and sealed the win for the Chiefs. If he emerges as the starter I will literally eat a bowl of Buffalo shit fresh from its ass. That’s how much of a long shot he is even on a weak roster like the Bills.
So clearly there is no Joe Montana amongst this group, christ there’s hardly even a Gus Ferotte here but do the Bills need a Montana to end the drought, make the playoffs and dethrone the Pats? I don’t think so! Like I said they have a ton of talent on offense and their defense is projected to be better than last year’s squad given the change to a 3-4 look, the return of swing man Alex Carrington and the addition of 2nd rd draft pick Ronald Darby at CB. So does a team with an abundance of talent need a bonified star at QB to win it all? Some say so given the list of recent Super Bowl winning QB’s Brady, Wilson, Rogers, Brees, Roethlisberger etc. Most of those guys if not all will end up in Canton someday. So if you don’t have a Montana do you give up? It seems like the poor sport thing to do and it wouldn’t be fair to the other guys on the team. So I look to the 2000 Ravens and their less than stellar QB Trent Dilfer who for lack of a better word aided them to a Super Bowl Ring, mainly behind the work of battering ram RB Jamal Lewis and their all world defense led by Ray Lewis, Sam Adams, Peter Boulware and Rod Woodson. Like that squad the Bills will feature a talented RB in McCoy who may not be the same power runner as Lewis but is a bigger home run threat, their defense employees a QB hunting D-line with Dareus, Williams x 2 and Hughes. They have an athletic LB corps and a few ball hawks in the secondary so why can’t the Bills be the new Ravens? They can and they don’t need a Joe Montana to do it, thank god because HOF QB’s aren’t exactly looking for work these days unless Brett Favre is debating a 4th comeback and if he is Bills should scoop him up. However the Bills only need to find a Trent Dilfer, besides there a ton easier to come by than the Joe Montana’s of the world
Now despite the crap Dilfer may say about himself on ESPN, the numbers don’t lie he was a pretty sub par QB during his NFL career, never tallying more than 21 TD’s in any season and he only did that twice. He was a fill in guy, especially in 2000 when he stepped in for starter Tony Banks. Dilfer managed only 12 TD’s to go along with 11 INT’s during his Super Bowl season, the guys on the Bills roster may not be impressive but I’m willing to bet they could manage a stat line like his, well maybe not Tuel. So if the Bills are built like the 2000 Ravens why can’t they win like them? They can and they don’t need a Montana on this team to do it, believe it or not they need a Trent Dilfer and I think Manuel, Cassel and even Taylor are capable of being Dilfer. The recipe is simple Hand the ball off, make the right throws once in a while and cheer your defense on!