Much of the cause for Buffalo’s 17-year playoff drought can be attributed to the team’s failure to find an effective long-term starter at quarterback. The first round picks busted, the late round picks never amounted to anything, and the veterans were usually mediocre at best. Here are three players who played well enough to deserve recognition during this period of ineptitude.
Bledsoe played three seasons for Buffalo after the team traded a future first round pick for his services. With a 23-25 record as a starter, he took the team to the brink of the playoffs in 2004 when a Week 17 loss to Pittsburgh’s backups eliminated them from postseason contention. He earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2002, and holds the franchise record for single-season passing yards and attempts. He ranks in the top-five for most career passing stats in Buffalo Bills history.
Fitzpatrick has played his whole career as an underdog, claiming literally every starting job he earned by taking over when the starter was injured and outplaying him. That quality, along with his risk-taking style and friendly nature, earned him plenty of long-lasting love from Bills fans. The Amish Rifle took over as a starter midway through 2009, and played three additional seasons in Buffalo. He played for some putrid teams, with a 20-33 record in Buffalo. His best stretch was a 5-2 run in 2011 that ended Buffalo’s losing streak to the Patriots and earned him a $53 million extension. Among QBs who threw at least 500 passes for the Bills, Fitz ranks fourth in adjusted net yards per attempt, fourth in career passing yards and third in touchdowns.
Taylor’s legacy in Buffalo will always be mixed, but he will have a place in bar trivia as the starting quarterback when the Bills ended their drought. With a 22-20 record as a starter (23-20 if you don’t count Matt Cassel’s “win” in the 2015 season opener), Taylor had the best record of any drought QB and was one of only two QBs with a winning record in that span (Kyle Orton went 7-5 in 2014). Taylor owns the team records for QB rushing yards and touchdowns, and no passer with more than 500 attempts had a higher career completion percentage than Taylor’s (62.6). His 51 passing touchdowns rank sixth, but with only 16 interceptions in his career, he blows away every other quarterback in terms of protecting the football. His best season was his first one - playing in Greg Roman’s offense, he threw 20 touchdowns against 6 interceptions at 7.1 adjusted net yards per attempt, adding 568 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Now it’s your turn to vote. Who was the best quarterback of the drought? Share your rationale in the comments. Up next is the running back of the drought, a position with much more dignity.
Who was the best quarterback of the Buffalo Bills playoff drought?
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