Buffalo, NY - While it is true that most rebuilding teams target a young prospect to develop as their quarterback of the future, the Buffalo Bills are the first to adopt the novel strategy of having not one nor even two, but three such young hopefuls.
Upon being reached for comment, Buffalo Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon issued the following press release:
"In studying this matter at great length, including in-depth statistical analytics research and interwebs searches, we have developed the consensus opinion that if one is good, two must be better, and three is clearly better than two. There is no question that the franchise has struggled to find a successor to Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly. By focusing on only one QB prospect, we have only been able to produce one QB failure at a time. By choosing three young players, we hope to build upon tradition and produce three QB failures in the same time it would normally take to generate only one."
This potentially revolutionary strategy was inspired by the concussion Bills QB Kevin Kolb suffered during a meaningless preseason game. After intense off-season film review and self-evaluation, Bills coaching staff determined that the offensive line was clearly inadequate and especially deficient in pass protection. It was this conclusion which led the Bills to target Kolb in free agency, as last year the Arizona Cardinals had the worst offensive line in the league. The team hoped that Kolb's experience playing behind a poor offensive line would yield dividends for the Bills this year.
Sadly, Kolb's injury dealt a severe setback to their strategy. It was then that Bills President Russ Brandon conceived the intriguing notion that young QBs would more readily withstand being repeatedly bludgeoned and abused by opposing pass rushers than older, more experienced ones. GM Doug Whaley expanded upon this, joking "that if one is good, two is better." At this point, Brandon jumped up, whooping, "And three is even better than two!", and the scheme was born.
Team sources privately admit that they have actually been exploring the concept of using four developmental QBs. It was this thinking that led to the signing of Matt Flynn, a QB with proven experience as a developmental project for teams such as the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, and the Oakland Raiders. After further internal discussion, the team finally decided against a fourth QB at this time and released Flynn, although they admit they have not ruled out the possibility of signing another young QB if the opportunity presents itself.
League reaction to the Bills unusual tactics has certainly been mixed. AFC opponents such as the New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Miami Dolphins have generally been supportive and publicly expressed hopes that the Bills would continue to field young and inexperienced QBs. However, it must be acknowledged that most non-divisional teams have been more skeptical. Some NFL executives who were privately interviewed scratched their heads, gaping dumbfounded, and mumbling "What the hell?"
Nonetheless, the Bills have been steadfast in their belief that while NFL experience is "relevant" and "useful", they have faith that ultimately other considerations are more important, especially given the state of the offensive line. Team official roll their eyes and laughingly dismiss objections to the benefits of having older, more experienced QBs on the roster as backups and mentors by pointing out that while "Colin Brown is no longer on the roster, both Erik Pears and Doug Legursky still are, and the offensive line depth is even more incapable and inept."
I suppose I should apologize for posting two satirical stories so closely together. However, both of these were basically conceived and written while watching the Thursday Night Football game between the Colts and the Titans. It's not difficult to see the inspiration, a quality backup quarterback (um, with some ties to the Bills) and a decent offensive line with a very good pulling guard (um, with some ties to the Bills).
Please note, my point is not to complain that we didn't keep Fitzpatrick nor Levitre. I am reasonably happy with Whaley, Marrone, et al and I accept that this is a rebuilding year. And I realize there will be rookie coaching mistakes as Marrone learns on the job, from handling challenges to becoming more flexible using the no-huddle offense to adjusting schemes because of injuries. Any given week we see head coaches with decades of experience making mistakes, the same way we see veteran star players make mistakes. When Marrone has erred making game decisions, it has usually been on the aggressive side and I am actually quite happy with that.
There were three glaring issues the Bills didn't address before the season started and while I am ecstatic that the era of chew-off-your-arm-to-stay-awake mind-numbing Bills football seems to be at an end, nevertheless this has still be infuriating.
1. As they did in 2009, the Bills managed to turn their offensive line from a strength to a liability. I can accept the loss of Andy Levitre IF we maintain some continuity by first signing Chad Rinehart. Erik Pears is very weak insurance against the health of Cris Hairston. Even more troubling than the state of the current OL is the depth behind the starters. I expect more from a HC who played multiple OL positions and is a former OL coach.
2. I understand that Kolb's injury was unexpected. However, it happened in the preseason, and that makes the failure to bring in an adequate veteran backup even more puzzling. With even a marginally competent veteran QB, the Bills would have won a couple more games and still be in playoff contention.
3. Danny Crossman. Please don't think that this is the third point makes my frustration with him any less. After the hiring of Marv Levy, special teams have usually been a strength of the Bills, ranking near the top of the league. Now, even though they have exciting return men in McKelvin and Goodwin, a very good gunner in Easley, special teams are more of a weekly debacle and adventure. This is what happens when a coach take sympathy on an old friend and hires him to a position he has already proven himself unable to handle.