1985 - Bottom of the Barrel... Again

1985 - Bottom of the Barrel... Again
2-14 record, fifth of five in AFC East, 14 of 14 in AFC, 27 of 28 in NFL
Following the disastrous 1985 season, the Bills brought in several new coaches but kept head coach Kay Stephenson.  Hank Bullough was named Bills assistant head coach and defensive coordinator following his success as Cincinnati Bengals DC.  Ted Cottrell was hired as the new defensive line coach.  Former offensive line and head coach Jim Ringo rejoined the organization as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.  Bills' GM Terry Bledsoe was stricken with a heart attack in February of 1985 and director of pro personnel Bill Polian and director of scouting Norm Pollom acted in Bledsoe's stead.  After having the worst record in the league the Bills would have the first overall pick for the third time ever.  The first was used to select O.J. Simpson.  The Bills would select another Hall of Famer with the first pick in the 1985 by tabbing Bruce Smith as the newest Buffalo Bill. Largely due to Polian, Smith signed his contract in February preventing any missed time.  In later rounds the Bills would add DB Derrick Burroughs and WR Chris Burkett.  In the third round the Bills picked quarterback Frank Reich and in the fourth round selected receiver Andre Reed from tiny Kutztown to complete one of the best draft classes in league history.  The Bills also signed kicker Scott Norwood after he was released by the USFL's Birmingham Stallions. Joe Ferguson, the leading passer in Bills history, was traded before the 1985 season to the Detroit Lions.  The press and many fans blamed the aging signal-caller for the team's dramatic fall from 1980 to 2-14.  Ferguson left as the leader in seasons (12) and games played (168) for the organization.  In an off-season of more major changes, After three seasons in Seattle where he caught just 27 passes for 304 yards and 1 touchdown, the Bills acquired tight end Pete Metzelaars in a trade with the Seatte Seahawks for Byron Franklin, the leading Bills receiver of 1984.  The Bills also traded two-year starter at offensive tackle Jon Borchardt in the off-season and in week three of the regular season claimed Joe DeLamielleure off waivers.  Joe D started three games for the Bills in his final season in the league.

The Bills started former Rams quarterback and free agent addition Vince Ferragamo at quarterback in the season opener and he was joined by rookies Andre Reed and Bruce Smith in the starting lineup.  He was the first quarterback not named Joe Ferguson to start the opening game for the Bills since 1972.  After Buffalo's 0-4 start coach Kay Stephenson was fired.  Three of the losses were by one score or less but it was not enough to save Stephenson's job after his dismal 10-26 record as head coach.  Defensive coordinator Hank Bullough was named head coach and in week five the Bills were blown out by Indianapolis 49-17.  Following another anemic showing in week six the Bills got their first win of the year over the same Colts, 21-9.  After two more losses the Bills shut out the Oilers 20-0 holding Warren Moon to 3-14 passing and 22 yards while picking off three passes.  New Bills QB Bruce Mathison threw for 121 yards on 11-22 passing while being harassed for 8 sacks and ran five times for 57 yards and a touchdown.  The Bills went on to lose their final six games of the year, scoring a single touchdown in three games and being shut out in the final game of the year.  The offense was even more pitiful than in 1984 ranking last in points scored, and in the bottom eight in passing yards, rushing yards, turnovers, and first downs.  The defense fared only slightly better coming in 20th in points allowed, 17th in yards allowed, and 26th in rushing yards allowed. 

Greg Bell's 883 rushing yards led the team, neither starting QB threw for over 1700 yards but together Ferragamo and Mathison threw for 3312 yards, and no Bill made the Pro Bowl.  Jerry Butler did go for 770 yards through the air and Andre Reed placed second on the team behind Bell with 48 catches and led the team with 4 touchdown receptions.  Longtime Bills executive Patrick McGroder joined O.J. Simpson and Jack Kemp on the Bills Wall of Fame.  McGroder was instrumental in bringing the Bills back to Buffalo in 1960 and was Sr. Executive Vice President of the organization from 1962-1985.  At the conclusion of the season the Bills fired Terry Bledsoe as general manager and promoted Bill Polian to fill the position.

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