There are plenty of things that us Bills fans have to complain about and question this season. But there is one thing that really stands out to me.
(Before you go on, you must know that this isn't a slight on Brad Smith at all... Its a slight on the Bills for paying a player a hefty chunk of cash, and refusing to utilize him the way they should be utilizing him.)
The man is an anomaly to me. When he was signed in the off-Season for a suprising 4 year, 15 million dollar contract, I was shocked. Why would the Bills pay almost 4 million dollars per season for a guy who has primarily been a above average special teams player?
Then I started thinking about the possibilities. Brad Smith had a pretty illustrious career as a Quarterback at Missouri. He was a QB in the mold of (a less skilled) Michael Vick, successful in both the pass game and the rush game. This could be good for the Bills. Smith had also moonlighted as a Wide Receiver, but nothing more then a 3rd option, with his highest reception total for one season being 32 in 2007.
He's also been a pretty viable kick returner for the Jets, having 2 kickoffs returned for TD's last year.
Anyways, my thinking was that the Bills were going to get creative and use Brad Smith out of the shotgun in a wildcat-esq formation. They would have the option of having Smith hand off, rush himself or throw the occasional pass.
Yet here we are, 12 games into the season, and what has our 15 million dollar man done for us?
- He's caught 19 balls, with 1 touchdown. He's emerged as the only other "worthy" wide receiver on the team that can stay healthy, outside of Stevie Johnson.
- He's returned a total of ZERO punts. Sure, he never returned punts for the Jets either. But if he's supposed to be a return specialist, and your other returner (Spiller) has done nothing, why not give him a shot?
- He has returned 15 Kickoffs, for an average of 19 yards per return. That is less of a slight on him, and more about the new kickoff policy in the NFL this year.
- He has thrown exactly 1 pass. And yes, that pass was for an interception. It was with 5 minutes left in the first game of the season, a deep bomb that missed. Not the worst throw. Def. not a throw that makes you NEVER want to let Smith pass again.
- He's rushed the ball 20 times, which doesn't seem like much, because..well.. it isn't. He was successful when the Bills were using him, at the beginning of the season. Teams were on their toes, because they weren't sure if Smith was going to rush, pass or hand off.
But then something happened. The opposition soon realized that Smith almost NEVER threw the ball (again, he's attempted only 1 pass this season..an INT). They stopped looking at him as a QB/RB threat, and started treating it like it was just Fred Jackson taking the snap. So Smith's success on the rushes started to deteriorate.
Then the Bills stopped using Smith to rush the ball on anything other then a __ and 1 (etc 2nd and 1, 3rd and 1). Every rush was a draw right up the middle. Again, defenses started to catch on, and soon smith started to become inefficient.
So now here we are. He doesn't rush the ball anymore. He doesn't pass. Smith is now our #2 wide receiver. And the problem with that is he isn't that good. He doesn't have above average speed, or rout running abilities or size. He is athletic, but that's about it.
So this is my plea to the Bills. You are down and out. We aren't making the playoffs. Why not give Smith a chance. Throw a few option passes in from the Wildcat. Make the defenses start thinking again!
Do something, anything, to warrant paying this guy 15 million dollars!