by Mario "Game" Granata
When taking a look at the spot that the 4-3 Buffalo Bills are currently in the NFL, one has to ask if they really have a change to make some noise if they were to get into the playoffs with Kyle Orton guiding the ship…or the wagon if you will. However, there have been some less than touted quarterbacks in the past that have led teams to the Super Bowl, and a few who have actually won it, so its not so inconceivable for the Bills to make a run. Lets take a look at the quarterbacks who have made (and won) the Super Bowl.
Now when the casual fan takes a look at the array of quarterbacks who have made it to the Super Bowl, it almost looks like the land of misfit toys, and throwaways. Names such as Rex Grossman (2006), Matt Hasselbeck (2005), Rich Gannon (2002), Kerry Collins (2000), Chris Chandler (1998), Stan Humphries (1994) and Tony Eason (1985), are just a few of the gentlemen who had the distinct privilege to play in NFL’s greatest game, who had less than stellar careers. Now, a few of those names might have their supporters, but for all intensive purposes, they were one hit wonders. Rex Grossman rode a tough Bears defense to the dance, Kerry Collins faced one of the greatest defenses in league history (2000 Ravens) as did Tony Eason (1985 Bears). Some others might mention that Rich Gannon was an MVP the year he went to the Super Bowl, but who wouldn’t be throwing passes to Tim Brown and Jerry Rice? All kidding aside, there are 5 quarterbacks who have went to the Super Bowl, and of them 3 have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. See how these quarterbacks match-up against Orton.
2003 Jake Delhomme – The Super Bowl that was a stepping-stone in the career of Tom Brady and the New England Dynasty, Delhomme managed a 10-5 record that season at the age of 28. What people don’t realize was that Delhomme had a 19-16 TD-Int ratio that season, and only managed a 59% completion percentage. What helped him was a 10th ranked defense that had 16 ints and 39 sacks and allowed just under 300 yards a game. If Jake Delhomme could take the Panthers to the dance, why would it be unbelievable for Orton to as well?
2002 Brad Johnson – A defense that tends to get overshadowed by the 1985 Bears, 2000 Ravens, and now the 2013 Seahawks is the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccanneers. The Bucs allowed a league low 12.2 ppg that season, while racking up 43 sacks and 31 ints. This more than made up for Johnson’s 62.3 completion percentage, although the 34 year-old did have a 10-3 record with a 22-6 TD-Int ratio. Orton is 31, and the Bills are starting to show some signs of life after a few poor defensive showings. However the Bears, Ravens, Seahawks and Bucs had to find their rhythm defensively and it seems that the Bills are as well. Time will tell if they can keep the momentum going for Orton.
2000 Trent Dilfer – The one name that comes up for every football fan, when their quarterback is not elite, and they want to believe that they have a chance is Trent Dilfer. The only quarterback to be cut after winning the Super Bowl, Dilfer wasn’t the starter in Baltimore in the beginning of the season. You see where this parallel is going. Once again, Dilfer had a defense that is known throughout football lore, as they had to cover for his completion percentage (59) and his TD-Int ratio (12-11). Dilfer went 7-1 after taking the starting role, but with that defense, who wouldn’t?
1995 Neil O’Donnell – Another quarterback who wasn’t the starter, O’Donnell didn’t start until week 5 (sound familiar) and led the Steelers to the Super Bowl while completing 59% of his passes, and having a 17-7 ratio of TDs-Ints. He benefitted from having a defense that was 9th in the league, and was ultimately outdone in the big game against the Dynasty bound Cowboys of the 90’s. Dynasties and dominant defenses? These guys just can’t catch a break.
1987 Doug Williams – The final quarterback, who also wasn’t the starter, Williams came in for an injured Jay Schroeder and even though he managed a completion percentage of 56, he too benefitted from a defense that put up 53 sacks and 23 interceptions along the way. Williams had an amazing Super Bowl performance by leading the Redskins to 35 second quarter points. Now, without using Google, name the Redskins starting running back in that game…no cheating.
Quarterbacks who weren’t highly touted, weren’t the starters, and who benefitted from some tremendous defenses, were able not only to reach the biggest game in the NFL, but a few were able to capture victory. Currently, the Buffalo Bills are on pace for 55 sacks and 18 interceptions with their bend and don’t break style. The Bills are also 8th in the league in points against, making the case that they have just enough on that side of the ball to make a run, not only into the playoffs and beyond. Kyle Orton isn’t the shiny ‘franchise’ quarterback that the Bills wanted, and I highly doubt that the names that were mentioned above were sexy picks, but they were able to get the job done. Can Orton use his veteran savvy and a defense that is starting to find their rhythm to take the Bills to the promise land? Lets sit back and see, Bills fans, this should be interesting.