If the Buffalo Bills taught us one thing in week three, it’s that you shouldn’t gamble on football. If they taught us a second thing, it’s that in football, there really are intangibles – human elements that affect how a game plays out, often defying predictability and classification.
That’s because the Bills were heavy underdogs playing against a team with super Bowl aspirations; the question of the outcome never involved the Bills chances of winning, it involved how much they would lose by and whether or not they would cover. In retrospect, most of us, myself included, were terribly short sighted.
The hope that stirred in Bills fans is that the team in general and their rookie quarterback in particular can surpass physical tests, game statistics, and other measurable metrics that say the team is not good, and that Josh Allen was overdrafted. Spurred by any number of things - a massive point spread, a teammate quitting on the team at halftime, an opponent that clearly overlooked and disregarded them - the Bills had a compelling, shocking victory in Wisconsin. Err, Minnesota.
In his second NFL start, Allen led what will almost certainly be the upset of the seasons - not just for the BIlls, but the entire league. Where will he go from here? We can’t accurately predict the future (or else we’d be rich), but we can look at the past and the many low bars previously set by quarterbacks drafted by the Buffalo Bills.
2013 - E.J. Manuel
After losing his first NFL start to the New England Patriots, the 16th overall draft pick led the Bills to their first victory of the season in heroic, thrilling fashion. Down by six points, Manuel drove down the field in under two minutes, capping the 80-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson with seconds remaining in the game. The Bills won 24-23, with Manuel finishing four yards short of 300 on the day, with a touchdown and interception.
Manuel suffered a knee injury that year, missing six games, going 4-6 in that span, with the Bills finishing 6-10 on the year. He only started seven games in the following three years with Buffalo.
2010 - Levi Brown
Brown was drafted in the seventh round, was cut and resigned and never impressed enough to make it to the starting lineup. His career involved three passes, two completions, and a pick. Sorry Brown.
2007 - Trent Edwards
Just like Manuel, Trent Edwards had his first NFL start against the New England Patriots, and just like Manuel, Edwards lost. However, just like Manuel, Edwards won his second start. He completed 22 of 28 for 234 yards and a touchdown, beating the Jets 17-14. Edwards started nine games that year, going 5-4. Of course, he lost his last three starts of the season, and the Bills fell to 7-9.
Edwards was average the following year, going 7-7 as a start, and that mediocrity eventually led him back down the depth chart, and off the Bills.
2004 - J.P. Losman
Losman was going to be the savior of the Bills - spoiler alert, he wasn’t, which is why Edwards entered the picture three years later. Losman never started the season he was drafted, but took a few snaps during the year. When he did get the start in 2005, he led the Bills to victory, beating the Texans 22-7 in the Buffalo home opener. However, things fell apart quickly, with Losman and the Bills losing the next three. Losman was replaced by Kelly Holcomb in week four, returning to start in week 11 after Holcomb suffered a concussion, losing a bunch more games, and giving way to Holcomb again. The Bills were 5-11 that season, and then 7-9 the following season with Losman starting all 16 games. So much mediocrity.
1995 - Todd Collins
Collins has had the longest of NFL careers of the more recent Bills QB draft picks, though a majority of it was as a backup, so I guess that’s a victory? Maybe. Collins, I suppose you could say, led the Bills to victory in his first start. They beat Troy Aikman and the Cowboys 10-7 behind a Thurman Thomas touchdown. Collins started only three games that year, winning two, and appearing in seven. When he finally had the chance to fully take the reins, Collins went 5-8 in 13 starts. He lost his last two starts, and in the offseason he left the Bills for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Week Four Mini Preview
We won’t know if Allen is a savoir this week, this month, or even this year. But it’s a decent start (and we’ve been there before). We got this one wrong last week. But so did a lot of people. And it’s unclear how the intangible and luck that went into the BIlls winning week three will translate into Week four. WIll they use the energy to propel themselves to another upset win, or are they drained, having played their hearts out and with nothing left. On the other side is a great QB playing with a knee injury that seems like could take him out of the game at any moment. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are 10 point favourites, and despite what happened last week, barring a Rodgers disappearance, it doesn’t seem likely the Bills can muster the same spirit and success they had last week. Unless of course Clay Matthews gets a roughing the passer penalty on the first day to set up a Bills opening drive touchdown.