I sit here, watching hours upon hours of pregame shows, before week 1 and I should be giddy about the prospect of real football in just an hour. In years past I would not be able to sleep easily the night before that first Sunday of games. I would be talking to my wife nonstop about how excited I was for 1pm. But this year…this year just feels different. I’m welcoming of the football that will be played soon…yet, I don’t really know how to feel about my Buffalo Bills. Let me try to sort out my feelings below.
Let me start by (painfully) admitting what I think may be my problem: Even if they played to their full potential, I don’t believe the Buffalo Bills can win the Super Bowl this year.
Ok. I said it. Please don’t kill me. It’s just how I feel, right or wrong. And you have to believe me when I say that I’ve never felt this way before a new season even starts. Never. So I’m trying to figure out why I feel this way entering 2011. But that must be the problem…it has to be. How can I feel good, excited and fully invested in watching a team play that I truly do not feel can win it all? That’s a non-starter…right? How do you invest yourself in a season, a team, that if your being honest with yourself, you feel that no matter if they play to their full potential, it’s not good enough? Well, let’s try to figure out why I feel this way and then maybe figure out a best outcome, for me anyway.
It all starts with the quarterback. Look, I like Ryan Fitzpatrick. I love his entire story. I like to root for him and am genuinely happy he is having success. His success couldn’t happen to a better, more deserving person. But in my wildest dreams, I can never imagine a team with him at quarterback could ever win the Lombardi Trophy. Now, I know there are no stats that can verify that belief of mine…it’s more a gut feeling I get after watching football for many years. Guys drafted in the 7th round, who are with their 3rd team before even being given a chance to be “the guy”, who was brought in to be a backup to Trent Edwards…guys like this do not often win a Super Bowl, unless you have a defense ranked with the all-time best. Not only that, but the inaccurate throws, the two game stretch last year with multiple turnovers, it all adds up to him not being the future of this franchise, in my mind. So if this is the most important position in all of sports, and I do believe that is true, and the guy we have is not (in my mind) the future for our team at the position…then what am I rooting for? I’m grounded before the plane even takes off. Rip me if you’d like to, but I did not even feel this way watching Trent Edwards play, because at least there was this hope, albeit very slim, that he could get it together and be that young, hotshot QB to lead us to multiple playoffs and a Championship…the guy that Bill Walsh thought he could one day be. And I just don’t have that same feeling about Fitzpatrick, probably because I don’t have many guys I can compare him to…a guy who was already 28 years old and on his 3rd team before he became a star. Maybe only Rich Gannon? Brad Johnson at least had a few good years with Minnesota (1996: 17 td to 10 int, 1997: 20 td to 12 int) before winning it all with Tampa. Trent Dilfer was drafted 6th overall, so while his career wasn’t great, he at least had the talent to work with, and had an NFL all-time great defense to help him gain his Super Bowl ring. So I look at Ryan Fitzpatrick’s career td to int ratio (44 td to 42 int) and all the other aspects I explained above and my mind will not allow me to dream about a scenario where Ryan Fitzpatrick is holding the Lombardi Trophy.
But I HATE feeling this way. I really do. So I think to myself, “well, maybe this defense can come together and win us some ballgames…maybe even sneak us into the playoffs!” I love Marcel Dareus. I really like Kyle Williams. I’m high on Aaron Williams. I like Nick Barnett. I think McKelvin has a ton of talent. I’m intrigued by Alex Carrington as OLB. And I can’t wait to watch Shawne Merriman harass quarterbacks for entire games. So that’s reason for optimism….right?
Well….it’s not that simple for me. I can’t keep the “big picture” from infiltrating my brain. I can’t keep the “if there is a zero percent chance of winning it all this year (in my mind), then don’t I want the team to show improvement on the field, but ultimately lose enough games to be awarded the most valuable draft selection to make their team better for years to come?” I mean, in a way, isn’t that kinda what Buddy Nix was thinking by trading away Lee Evans? Maybe he thought to himself, “there’s no way this team is ready to win it all this year…so I am trading away a guy who could help us to more wins this year, to get a valuable draft pick to help the team for years to come.”? Isn’t that the ultimate logic behind a trading away a player for a draft pick? You can’t tell me that Lee’s replacement will be better than Lee this year for Buffalo. I won’t believe it, no matter how much I think Evan’s talents were wasted a bit by not fitting into Gailey’s offense.
And so, all this leaves me conflicted. I love football. I love my Buffalo Bills. I have been a season ticket holder in the past. There is no feeling like a good win on Sunday. But I feel like by getting a win on Sunday, I am trading short term gratification (feeling good about a win) for long-term draft pick value (and even waiver wire order). Yes, I realize that good drafting teams can acquire good players into the higher picks of each round, but you can’t deny that whichever teams make the playoffs have no shot at Andrew Luck, Quinton Coples, Landy Jones, Matt Barkley, etc, unless they trade value (future draft picks or players) for the right to select such players. I would gladly sit through another season of 4-12 if it means my Buffalo Bills would then acquire a QB with the talent to become our next Jim Kelly. I am ready to sacrifice short-term gain for long-term. But hopefully 4-12 includes 12 losses by 3 points or less!
(But then my mind turns to, “Well, free agents will be more likely to come here if the team is winning than if they are losing…so that is a reason to root for wins over losses, even if the team ultimately has no chance (in my mind) of winning a Super Bowl this year”….good point…and round and round we go….)
It all makes for conflicting emotions. I really don’t know how I should feel right now. I’m sure once the football is kicked off at 1pm, I will be rooting for the Bills to do their best, because that’s what I’ve done for my entire life. But deep down, if the Bills show improvement, but it doesn’t translate to wins this year, that may just be my desired scenario.
Go Bills! (but stop at the one yard line and kick a field goal! Haha)
Thoughts? Anybody else feeling this way?