When Rex Ryan was hired as the new head coach of the Bills, it was apparent it wasn’t going to be business as usual at Orchard Park.
It all started with the huge deal of linebacker Kiko Alonzo to the Philadelphia Eagles for All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy. It gave the Bills the one thing they haven’t really had since the days of Thurman Thomas, a running back that was feared (All apologies to Willis McGahee, Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson, CJ Spiller & Travis Henry).
The big question that remained for this team was who was going to be under center. This was another sore spot for Bills fans. They were sick of names like JP Lohsman, Trent Edwards, Kyle Orton, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kelly Holcomb.
Look at that list of names and tell me if even one of them inspires confidence? Of course they don’t and that is a major reason why the Bills have the longest post-season drought in the NFL, 15 years.
So the big question heading into the 2015 season was, how will this season be different? I mean, EJ Manuel was still there, and as far as fans are concerned, he didn’t seem to be the answer. Veterans Matt Cassell and Tyrod Taylor were also brought in to compete with Manuel to see who would get the nod.
This was a true QB competition, as only GM Doug Whaley had anything invested in Manuel, so he did not go in as the presumptive favorite by any means. I think to everyone’s surprise Manuel performed extremely well in the pre-season, but so too did Cassell and Taylor.
I think it was obvious after the third game, that Cassell was not going to be the choice, but he would be the perfect back-up. The question was, Manuel or Taylor. While I believe the general feeling was they had so much invested in Manuel, that he would be the guy, it was Taylor who Ryan tabbed as the Opening Day starter.
Taylor is more dynamic than Manuel, and I believe has a better arm. I think he could be just the man that the Bills are looking for to end “The Drought”.
But the bigger surprise at Bills camp was the release of veteran running back Fred Jackson. Already slated to be the oldest runner in the league, he is a fan favorite in Buffalo and was always there to either start, or step in when needed without complaint.
He has led this offense for the past 9 seasons and word out of Buffalo is the GM is the only one who didn’t want Jackson back.
If these Bills miss the playoffs by a single game, there is no question where the blame will lie. Jackson is the kind of player who will make that one game difference. It will be strange in Buffalo without No.22 there, but you know like Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, Cornelius Bennett, Andre Reed and Jim Kelly before him, Jackson will ALWAYS be a Bill.