The prevailing opinion on this blog seems to be that our defense was much worse than the offense. That Ryan Fitzpatrick was solid and the offense played pretty well, but that defense is what prevented Buffalo from having a more respectable season. But the reality is that Buffalo's offense, even when Ryan Fitzpatrick was starting, was just as bad as the defense. Everytime I see somebody talk about how defense is such a huge need that it's a bigger need than QB, I have a Zoolander moment.
In the 13 games in which Ryan Fitzpatrick was the QB, the Bills averaged 18.3 points per game. Compared to what teams did over the course of the entire season, that would have been the 26th best offensive production in the league.
In Fitz's 13 games, the defense gave up 24.8 points per game. That would have been 25th in the NFL.
For a point of comparison, the average amount of points scored per game, per team was 22.1. The median teams scored 22.3 ppg and gave up 21.65. The Bills' offense was just as far away from being productive as the defense was. The Bills did play better defenses than offenses last year, but not by enough to really change the numbers. Fitz played defenses that gave up 20.4 ppg (so, we averaged 2.1 fewer points per game than other teams did against our competition). Offenses that we played against scored 22.6 points per game (The Bills gave up 2.2 more ppg than our competition scored against other teams). The offense, under Ryan Fitzpatrick was not good. It was actually pretty awful. The wait and see crowd on Ryan Fitzpatrick and his 23 TD abberation needs to know this.
It's worth pointing out that I didn't count the points given up by the defense in overtime. The reason for that was sheer laziness because I didn't feel like doing the math involved in adding the extra time. I'm not sure how the NFL counts overtime stats, but I'm assuming they do it like hockey or baseball judges goaltending and pitching on a goals/runs per 60 minutes/9 innings. If anything, including the 9 points the defense gave up in roughly half a game would make the defense look better and including the zero points that the offense mustered in their three OT losses would obviously make their stats look even worse.
Even the turnovers paint this same picture. The Bills offense turned it over 27 times in Fitz's 13 games and that's not including the special teams fumbles. That extrapolates out to 33.2 turnovers. The league average was 26.9 and that includes special teams turnovers. So, the real average is more like 25ish. The Bills defense forced 18 turnovers which extrapolates out to a near league average 22.2. It's inexplicable that Fitz and the OL aren't considered something that needs to be upgraded as badly as the different groups of defenders (ie: DL run defenders, LB run defenders, LB pass rushers).
There are three specific arguments that always drive me nuts the most. One is that defense is more important than a QB, which isn't the point of this post, but is an absurd argument because comparing 11 guys to one guy is just so unfair. Buffalo can't draft an entire defense and nobody would argue that LCB or RDE is more important than QB. The second argument is one I'll touch on later. The third thing that people often say goes something along the lines of: "If Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn't a fluke" or "If he can have another good season" or anything similar to that. And those comments drive me nuts because Fitz wasn't good last year. I've showed how few points the offense scored with him. And here is where he finished in terms of QB rating:
18 - Jason Campbell - 84.5
19 - Carson Palmer - 82.4
20 - Kerry Collins - 82.2
21 - Alex Smith - 82.1
22 - Ryan Fitzpatrick - 81.8
23 - Shaun Hill - 81.3
24 - Donovan McNabb - 77.1
25 - Sam Bradford - 76.5
26 - Chad Henne - 75.4
That's the company that Ryan Fitzpatrick has in terms of success. Yet he's adored on this blog. People think that him simply not getting worse is good enough. He needs considerable improvement just to be an average starter. He needs major improvement to be an above average starter. Crazy pills....... One good point people often make is about improving the offense around Fitz. Upgrading RT and TE. But then nobody ever talks about the offense being anything other than an afterthought in terms off additions this offseason. It's as if people think Fitz is good enough and the solution to a better offense is to use the 4th round picks on a RT and TE.
I went back over all the mock drafts that have been posted here on Rumblings over the last couple months (I went back 10 pages and got tired of collecting data). I added up all the picks from the first three rounds and this is what was prioritized:
First round - 13.7% offense. And two of those picks were the result of trading down out of the top 15 picks.
Second round - 34% offense
Third round - 39.5% offense. Even after the first round, where the Bills have already gone defense in these mocks, there's still a lack of balance.
At last check, DynamicHero's community poll was running at about 10% of votes going offense in the first round. So, obviously, I'm not imagining this "defense, defense, defense" mentality that currently rules this blog.
The confusing thing for me is that these stats aren't some spin on a situation. I can already see the responses saying that you can prove anything with stats, but I'm not twisting numbers to make a point. This is the raw data, make of it what you will. My spin on the numbers is that Buffalo fans remember the big Fitz games, but conveniently forget when the defense did play well. Look at Buffalo's four wins. They've got the great Fitz comeback (and a game where the defense scored a TD and Fitz threw a pick six, so the offense scored 42 and the defense gave up 24, but added 7). Then there's the Miami game in which Fitz played well, but the team only scored 17 points as the defense held strong, giving up 14. Fitz didn't play particularly well in Buffalo's other two wins, 14-12 and 13-6 victories over two mediocre (or worse) football teams in Detroit and Cleveland. Where is the praise for Buffalo's defense in those wins? If the Bills' D was really as awful as they are often made out to be, then Buffalo is a 1 win football team.
The overtime losses are another point that fans often make when talking about how close to respectable Buffalo's record was. And Fitz was stellar against Baltimore. One of the best games I've ever seen a QB play. He was also pretty bad in a 13-10 loss to KC that took a full five quarters to settle. The Bills handled one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL and the defense did everything they could while the offense lost the game. Both the offense and defense played pretty well against Pittsburgh, but it's worth noting that the Bills held Roethlisberger and their O to a much lower total then they scored on average (16 vs. 23.4) than Fitz and our offense was able to score vs. that great defense (16 vs. 14.5). Yet, Fitzpatrick and company seem to get all the credit in Buffalo's supposed success this season. Nobody complains about the way that the team collapsed against Minnesota in a game where the Bills D tried to hold strong, forcing four turnovers while the offense completely collapsed, turning it over four times themselves. Or nobody complains about Fitz and the offenses' absurd six turnovers against New England in what fans had hyped up to be a barometer type game. We talked about how telling the results of that game could be, but apparently, nobody learned a single thing about the Bills offense and their three point output. Seriously, they scored three points and turned it over six times.
The other argument that drives me crazy that I mentioned earlier is that Buffalo doesn't need a QB right now. As if improving the rest of the team first and then going out to the backyard to pick a ripe one from the QB tree is an option. But building a team and then drafting a QB is a recipe for continued mediocrity. Young QBs rarely win in this league. It takes time to develop them into good players and it takes even more time for them to grow into players capable of beating the other top QBs in consecutive games to win the Super Bowl.
Here's the list of players on the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl winning roster that were actually on the team when they drafted Aaron Rodgers: Chad Clifton, Donald Driver, Scott Wells, Nick Barnett. And that's it. Or how about the NY Giants, the other team that drafted a QB, developed him and then won a SB with him recently. Here's the players on their 2007 roster who were already on the team when they drafted Eli: Rich Seubert, Jeremy Shockey, Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan, Amani Toomer, David Tyree. And that's it. There is no point in filling other needs before QB. Why fill the quicker developing positions before the slower developing positions? What's so urgent about fixing the run defense that makes it more important than drafting a QB?
The problem is that Bills fans seem to have given up on a Super Bowl. The attitude has become one of lowered expectations, not just for the present (which makes sense), but also for the future to the point that making the playoffs is good enough (which is just sad). It's a defeatist attitude of "let's not be laughed at anymore" or "let's focus on being relevant". But that's not good enough. Being average, playing Ryan Fitzpatrick and hoping that enough balls bounce Buffalo's way to make the playoffs is the worst possible goal that this franchise can have. C'mon fans, get your heads out of your ... err... remove brains from bottoms, wake up, smell the roses, smell the coffee, drink some of that coffee and then smell the roses some more. Dream big. As Derek Zoolander would say, "What is this? A center for ants? We need to think at least ... three times bigger than this"