Originally posted by Boomer Smith at The Penalty Flag Blog.
The Bills drafted E.J. Manuel with the 16th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft. He has the height and athletic ability needed for a NFL quarterback. His superior arm strength and quick release make him ideal for the weather conditions that an area like Buffalo present to a quarterback. However, the biggest need at both quarterback and in Buffalo is consistency. Buffalo fans have endured too long a roller coaster ride that leaves your head spinning and our stomach’s in knots. Throughout the playoff drought this roller coaster ride has been seen in two ways: the long winding fall that will seem to never end before laboring to pull itself up or a steady climb to the top only to free fall like an avalanche down Everest. Lets take a look at some of the seasons that have had Buffalo fans on this vicious ride.
2000 Season: The Bills made the best of the ongoing Flutie/Johnson saga and posted a 7-4 record 12 weeks into the season. They seemed to be primed for a third straight playoff trip until the rug was yanked from underneath them. The Bills went 1-4 in the final five games, all four losses coming in a row, to finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs. In those four straight losses the Bills were outscored 121-53. This season served two purposes: 1. closed the book on the Bills of the late 80′s and 90′s that Buffalo fans had loved and cherished for so many years and 2. started the new chapter of Bills football which hasn’t seen the playoffs since. Wade Phillips was fired as head coach and Flutie was shipped off to San Diego… let the inconsistency begin.
2003 Season: Buffalo managed a 4-4 record for the first half of the season in 2003 thus making them in charge of their own destiny. Unfortunately the 2nd half of the season was as cold as a Buffalo winter going 2-6 to finish 6-10 and well out of the playoffs. The streak is now up to four years without a playoff appearance. Another staggering statistic started to arise…the inability to win close games. Six of the Bills 10 losses were by 10 points or less.
2004 Season: Buffalo dug themselves into quite the hole to start the season at 1-5 but stormed to an unprecedented 8-2 finish. Their 9-7 record would be the best finish by the Bills since the 1999 season but still no playoffs in Buffalo. The Bills lost a heartbreaker game to the Steelers 29-24 in Week 17 of the season to keep them out of the playoffs. Even worse the Bills lost three games that year by three points or less.
2006 Season: Still digging holes for themselves, Buffalo fell to 2-5 out of the gate. They would rebound and go 5-4 over the last nine games to finish 7-9. Another season of finishing strong but only playing half the season. The streak was up seven years without a playoff game but the corkscrew in this roller coaster season… five games lost by three or fewer points.
2007 Season: Playing in prime time was not kind to the Bills in this season. Once again Buffalo stumbled out of the gate going 1-4 before their bye week. One of those losses was the collapse on Monday Night Football losing on a last second field goal to Dallas 25-24. This game would also count as one of the four losses that year by less than 10 points. After the bye week the Bills won four in a row to finish the second half of the season at 6-5 but another 7-9 overall finish. Of course the Bills four game win streak was halted by the Patriots 56-10 thumping in Buffalo on Sunday Night Football.
2008 Season: Buffalo opened the season on a tear amassing a 5-1 record 6 weeks into the season. Too bad for the Bills they had 10 more to play. Buffalo lost 8 out of their last 10 games that season for another 7-9 finish. Six games were decided by 10 or less points. One heartbreaking loss was a close loss to Cleveland on Monday Night Football on a missed field goal as time expired. Even the great Jim Kelly looked on in disbelief as the kick sailed wide of the upright.
2011 Season: The Bills stampeded to a 5-2 start and even ended their dreaded losing streak to New England. After rolling the Redskins in Toronto the Bills went on to lose seven straight games. Their 5-2 start fell to a 6-10 finish and another season derailed by inconsistency.
This is what a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach are up against. Finding consistency on a team that has been anything but and teaching consistency to not only the new incoming rookies but also the veterans that have been there. The hype of the upcoming season will continue to build as it is already but will the actions follow through. So come fall a 1st round selection strong armed rookie quarterback with a quick release, from a Florida school, will go under center to try end the Bills losing ways, and his name is Jim Kelly..no wait its E.J. Manuel. Huh…maybe there is signs of consistency already?