With frustration building in the 716, Bills fans should take a step back and see the team that is being put on the field from week to week, and how this current Bills roster compares to previous expansion teams in the past 15 years.
Being a Bills fan, you learn to embrace the fact that there are some things in life you can’t control. I have been a Bills fan since 2002, so I feel I have earned the right to complain about them whenever I feel like it, since I was not a fan of the Bills when they had their early success in the 1990’s. So, to compare it to another situation, it would be like arriving to a party within 30 seconds of the police breaking it up. Sure, there are memories, but they have to be told to you: you didn’t live them.
This article isn’t so much to complain about the Bills as it is to offer some solace to those of you who share my pain and anguish every Monday morning in Western New York. If you have listened to any of the Hashtag Sports episodes over the last 6 months, you would know that I am a big fan of numbers, and while it is said that ‘numbers never lie’, they don’t tell the complete story either. But, I have encountered some numbers, which will hopefully shed some light on the Buffalo Bills that currently sit in the basement of the AFC East once again.
Examining the Buffalo Bills, and the moves that were made in the offseason, both on and off the field, I tried to find the last time an NFL franchise that started the season with a new General Manager, Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, Defensive Coordinator, and start a rookie or 1st year quarterback, and I was able to find four teams, who will be referred to as the ‘Fab Four’. Digging deeper, I wanted to see how the Bills matched up with each of the teams and collectively. First I averaged the personnel of the Fab Four, and compared that to the Buffalo Bills. The average record for the teams that were broken down was 4-12.
Experience (Players on Team)
As you can clearly see, the average experience of the Fab Four and the Buffalo Bills are very similar. When you institute a new regime, new coaches, and a new quarterback, many of the new players that are brought in are from the draft and rookie free agents, because the team has to produce an identity that the coaches want to mold. Couple that with the fact that the Buffalo Bills were already a young team, and you are going to have some plays, drives, and games that are going to contribute to the growing pains of the organization. By no means am I making excuses, merely shedding some light and trying to explain what is happening on the field.
The following chart the average age of the players, offense and defense, as well as the average experience of the starters and the rest of the team. Not only are the Buffalo Bills a young team, they don’t have much experience, in comparison to the Fab Four, that were in a similar situation. However, one bright spot for the Bills is that they have averaged nearly a touchdown more than the teams before them.
Now, some of you may be to the point of asking ‘”What do these statistics mean?” Some of you might be asking, “Who are these teams that you are comparing the Bills to?” When I give you the answer to the second question, you should be able to figure out the answer to the first. Here are the Fab Four:
And, as always I was messing around when I was researching other ties that the Bills have to these teams, such as Frank Reich on the Panthers, Rob Johnson on the Jaguars, and former 5th round pick of the Bills, Jay Foreman, led the Texans in tackles. Other Bills on those teams were Don Beebe, Carlton Bailey, and Pete Metzelaars.
So going off the statistics, the Buffalo Bills are less experienced as a team, younger, have less experienced starters, and have a staff that is similar to an expansion team. The Bills played like one against the Buccaneers, but for the rest of the season have been competitive. Coming off the heels of Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful of the Bills team we have…because it could be a lot worse.