What a week for the Buffalo Bills. All in the week before free agency commences, these Bills managed to trade for the league leader in rushing yards since 2010, get rid of an injury prone luxury at inside linebacker in Kiko Alonso and swing a deal for Matt Cassel. How ‘bout them Bills, huh? No. Unfortunately, Rex Ryan is right back where he started. These Bills are looking more and more like those Jets by the second, and that is not a good thing. The truth is that at the end of the day, unless your team name rhymes with ‘85 Shmears or 2001 Shmavens, you are not winning the Super Bowl without a quality quarterback. Bills fans, enjoy these next few promising years, because once you realize there’s nothing under center, things are going to go downhill fast.
Rex took the wrong job. Atlanta was the perfect opportunity for him to flourish. A defensive guru with little knowledge of the other side of the ball save for a deep understanding of how to run it, Rex could have endured tremendous success coaching a team like the Falcons that already has an established signal caller with weapons at his disposal. However, Atlanta wanted to interview Dan Quinn, balked, and Rex signed with the first team to throw a contract in his face. The Bills.
These Bills aren’t bad, however. They’re actually quite good. The Bills posted a 9-7 record this season, the same as the Jets did before Rex’s arrival, the Bills have a talented backfield, just as the Jets did, a loaded front seven, just as the Jets did, a young secondary, just as the Jets did, and, most importantly, the Bills have an uncertainty under center, just as the Jets did. That’s why the Bills will be very solid these next two years, before they get figured out.
Let me ask you this, reader: can Matt Cassel win you a Super Bowl? Can EJ Manuel?
If you answered yes to any of the following, then you’re wrong.
Buffalo knows at this point that they whiffed on EJ Manuel. The phrase “few years to develop,” after he’s been the starter for a full season and a half, is code for “reevaluate in practice before deciding if we’re sure we want to cut at some point.” He is not the answer. I’d call Matt Cassel a game manager if he were still that. Despite a mildly successful run with a Patriots team coming off a perfect regular season and a playoff birth with the Kansas City Chiefs, Cassel has proved to be nothing other than an inconsistent backup. Evidence? The Minnesota Vikings wanted nothing more than to red-shirt Teddy Bridgewater this season. They didn’t get to do that. Cassel didn’t make it past Week 4 as the starter.
That being said, as I stated, the Bills run game is going to be nasty good this year. Shady McCoy is a beast and let’s not forget how Fred Jackson manages to prove everyone wrong every year. The Bills also have Sammy Watkins to throw to, and, as Rex most definitely learned this year, he is developing into an absolute weapon. I guarantee you that these Bills make this year’s playoffs. I guarantee you that Rex looks like a genius in the process. Defensively, he is. As a motivator, he is, too. But, despite his aspirations, he will not take home a ring. At least not for these Bills.
In synthesis, Vince Lombardi put it best when he said “Football would be the world’s most perfect team sport, if the quarterback weren’t so damn important.” That’s why these Bills, this coach, will be very good next season. They might even be very good the next three seasons. However, until they can figure things out under center, they will not win a ring. The NFL is such a win-now league that by the time they give up on Cassel and acknowledge their mistake in Manuel, Rex will be on his way out. It’s exactly what happened in New York and the blue print hasn’t changed.