What in the World Are the Bills Doing?

The title of this post could apply to just about any Bills offseason in the past ten years. Outside of 2004, when the team caught fire late in the season only to blow a wild-card spot on the final day of the season to a Steelers team resting its starters, Buffalo hasn’t been in serious playoff contention in December since Saddam Hussein was still alive and the unquestioned dictator of Iraq. The biggest reason, obviously, has been the failure to groom a long-term starting quarterback since Jim Kelly retired in 1996. Doug Flutie and Drew Bledsoe both had one-year renaissances with the team, but couldn’t parlay those memorable years into anything substantial. Trent Edwards looked promising once upon a time…until he inherited the Captain Checkdown title from John Joseph Harrington. J.P. Losman was…well, he was J.P. Losman, let’s not mince words and say there was ever any hope for that guy. And for the past two and a half seasons, the Bills backed their way into Ryan Fitzpatrick, who turned a hot start in 2011 into a $62 million contract extension – a pretty high price to pay for a guy with Brett Favre’s propensity for throwing into traffic with approximately one-tenth the arm strength. Chan Gailey was able to massage a functional offense around Fitzpatrick’s limitations, largely through screens to the Bills’ talented running backs (Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller), but it was readily apparent that Fitzpatrick was not the long-term answer at quarterback for Buffalo. His release earlier this offseason gave the Bills a chance to start fresh and actually make a bold and progressive move at quarterback.

Which is why they signed Kevin Kolb to a two-year deal possibly worth up to $13 million on Easter Sunday to (presumably) be the team’s starter for the 2013 season. I…I just…I can’t possibly find a rationale for this deal that makes any sense. I mean, the Bills HAVE seen Kevin Kolb play over the past three seasons, right? When he’s healthy, he’s a very hit-or-miss quarterback who comes up with big plays on occasion but has inconsistent accuracy and takes way too many sacks. And that’s when he’s actually able to be on the field, which is generally 35-55% of a team’s season. He separated his shoulder last season trying to give Larry Fitzgerald a high five after practice. WHAT POTENTIAL EXACTLY ARE YOU SEEING HERE, BUDDY NIX? Look, any question whose answer turns out to be “Tarvaris Jackson, starting quarterback” is a deeply, DEEPLY flawed one, but Tarvaris is able to produce almost exactly what Kolb gives with his arm (plus much improved mobility) for a fraction of that price. If your plan was to take a flyer on a veteran quarterback while grooming a quarterback of the future in the middle rounds of the draft, wouldn’t you want to take the chance on the guy who has both – A): more natural talent and B): a friendlier contract to deal with?

I swear I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer, Bills fans, but my goodness. How could you POSSIBLY get excited about this team’s chances in 2013 given their offseason moves? Firing Chan Gailey, a senile old man who yet somehow turned a collection of offensive spare parts into an above-average unit, and replacing him with a coach who had a .500 record at a local university (Doug Marrone) undoubtedly strikes fear in the heart of Bill Belichick. Letting talented guard Andy Levitre walk in free agency tears a big hole in the teams’ biggest strength: the screen play in the passing game. And now here comes big, bad Kevin Kolb to putz around behind center for six games and hold onto the ball for an eternity waiting for Larry Fitzgerald or DeSean Jackson to come open deep down the field, only to realize that neither of those guys play on his team anymore and subsequently turtle for a six-second sack. Happy forthcoming 5-11 record, Bills fans! My deepest condolences are extended, as always.

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