The Buffalo Bills' quarterback position has been a topic of conversation pretty much my whole adult life. It's been 19 years since Jim Kelly retired, and we've yet to find his replacement. On this site and others like it, Bills fan alike debate in vain regarding who migh be the next guy, and how the Bills are going to go about getting him.
These debates are fun to have, because quite honestly, it's all that we can do for now since the question still remains. The question that I pose to you, the fans, is this: are the debates and the coverage that we give these free agents quarterbacks, and quarterbacks who are labeled "tradable," worthwhile?
As I write this article on one screen, on the other I'm reading Cory Buck's article on whether the Bills should get involved in trade talks with the St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford, and Anthony Marino's article on whether the Bills can do better than Josh McCown. Combined, both articles have generated 281 comments, 3,041 Facebook shares, and 54 retweets. Obviously, Bills fans are engaged in these discussions. I, however, find myself on the other the sign of the fence - not because I don't think it's newsworthy or entertaining, but because I think the speculation is an exercise in futility. Whatever comes of it would more than likely not equal success.
I know it's a doom and gloom way of thinking; maybe my contrarian buddy 'JPLosman7' has rubbed off on me with his glass half-empty approach, and maybe the consistent positive outlook from my buddy 'poz' needs to be reinforced on me.
I have previously shared with the community that my day job includes financial analytics. As a financial analyst, I rely heavily on trend data to help project future outcomes. That sort of thinking and rationalization is what I use to help predict what I think would be successful in Buffalo. I often find myself looking at previous trends and results to determine whether the course of action that the Bills are taking will, in fact, work. I realize that this isn't an exact science, but chances are I'm right more times than I'm wrong. With that sort of success, it allows me to have conviction in the things that I believe.
Why are our quarterback discussions an exercise in futility?
We can all agree that the No. 1 goal for the Bills is to win the Super Bowl. We can also agree that they should do things that give them the best chances of winning. What if I told you that wanting a free agent quarterback as the starter in Buffalo would more than likely not end in a Super Bowl victory? That, in fact, they'd have a 10 percent chance of doing so?
In the past 10 years, there has only been one Super Bowl winner that had a free agent quarterback, and that was perennial Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer signal caller Drew Brees with the New Orleans Saints in 2009. In the same time frame, there was not one traded quarterback that won the big game with his new team.
I know what you're thinking. "Kent, it's unfair to use Super Bowls as your only measurement of success. What about playoffs?" Well, of the 12 teams that made the playoffs last year, only two (17 percent) of them had a quarterback that was acquired through free agency: the Arizona Cardinals and the Denver Broncos. None was acquired by the way of trade. Feel free to search this site, and go back however many seasons you want. You'll never find a season where there were more free agents and traded quarterbacks representing their teams, than ones that were drafted.
I know it's fun to discuss the possibilities of acquiring another quarterback, but try not to have unrealistic expectations or get upset that the one the Bills sign or decide to bring in for an interview isn't the one that you would like. If the Bills are starting a free agent quarterback opening day, or one that was acquired via trade, there's a really good chance that the season is going to end up like every other season in the past 15 years: us on the outside looking in. If the Bills are going to seriously compete for the playoffs, and perhaps the Super Bowl, the quarterback is already on the roster or will be drafted.