The Sadness That Awaits in the Buffalo Bills’ Rebuilding Process

How are they going to screw this one up?

It’s almost time for another NFL season! In less than two weeks, fans will gather to watch their teams with a sense of hope and excitement. In week 1, everyone is undefeated, and everyone has a chance!

Unless, of course, you’re a Buffalo Bills fan.

While I’m typically more hopeful than most about My Favorite Team, the Bills have made a commitment this year. They’ve traded away several of their star players — Sammy Watkins, Ronald Darby, and others — for draft picks, and as a result they have 2 selections each in the first, second, and third rounds of the 2018 draft. They’ve chosen to postpone an attempt to win now for future of the franchise. In other words:

TIME TO TANK!

After years of wallowing in the middle, they’ve finally decided to go for the tank. There are even rumors that the Bills will trade Tyrod Taylor, which could potentially fetch a second or even a first round draft pick!! Why aren’t I linking to any articles about those rumors? Because I just heard about them, ok? Especially the first rounder part. NFL general managers think Tyrod Taylor is worth a first rounder and that’s how it is. Make sure to tell all your friends.

With or without Tyrod, Buffalo is entering a true #ReBillding (copyright That Good You Need) process. While it’s not ideal — no one likes losing — a typical NFL fan might be excited about what comes next. An enormous draft class! Young talent and cap space! The opportunity to find a franchise quarterback and win for years to come! The opportunities abound.

But this is the Bills. Without going into too much detail, here’s a short list of happenings involving the Bills that have occurred since I’ve been a conscious NFL fan:

  1. In a class that included Odell Beckham, Jr, Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Evans, and others, the Bills traded up to draft Sammy Watkins. Sammy spent 3 injury-filled seasons with the team, fought with fans, and was traded away to the Rams.
  2. In 2015, the Bills traded for LeSean McCoy, who at 27 was already nearing his running back expiration date, before promptly signing him to a monster contract. Talk about going against the grain, league trends, and common sense! At least McCoy brought them a Super Bowl.
  3. EJ Manuel.
  4. In 2011, Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Bills to a 4–2 start. Despite his overall record of 13–15 with the Bills, the team decided to sign him to a 6 year contract. The Bills finished the year 6–10. Fitzpatrick started again the next year, and the Bills finished 6–10. Then the Bills drafted EJ Manuel. It wasn’t a great time.
  5. This happened a long time ago, but it’s one of the first parts of football fandom that I remember. Doug Flutie led the 1999 Bills to the playoffs with a 10–5 record before sitting for the final game. Backup quarterback Rob Johnson started that game, before returning to the bench for the…wait what’s that? He played well in a meaningless game and the Bills decided to start him in the wild card game, which they lost? They lost in an impossible way that only the Bills could possibly pull off? They haven’t been back to the playoffs since? Oh.
Oh

That’s about as far back as I’d like to go. There are, of course, many more truly stupid, disappointing, or depressing things that have happened to the Bills over the years, but this isn’t about those. No, this is about the future!

And so, given all we know about the Bills and their current situation, here’s how we can expect the next few years to go.

2017

This upcoming year doesn’t look good. Winning 5 games this year might just exceed expectations, as the Bills vie for the top choice in next year’s draft.

So, of course, the Bills will exceed expectations and end up with, like, the 5th overall pick. A horrible year will be made worse thanks to a late season, meaningless comeback win against the Dolphins that drops their draft position. They will be forced to trade up a few spots to get a quarterback and thus field a smaller draft class than the team had hoped. Not the worst, but not great, as somehow the Bills have screwed up trying to tank.

2018

Despite trading a bunch of picks for the pick, the Bills will still have a fairly fruitful draft. The team won’t truly compete but they’ll be in a bunch of those “in the hunt” graphics. You know, the ones the networks throw in front of you in mid-November, when your team is 3 games out of the wild card race, to try and convince you that your dumb, stupid team might make the playoffs and is, therefore, still worth watching?

Your team never makes it, but boy do those “in the hunt” graphics work.

2019

Finally, a winning season. The young Buffalo Bills begin to gel, and they go on a mid-season win streak. Things are looking up, and it seems like they might make the playoffs! But then, alas, in a key game against the Patriots, who are now starting the highly controversial robotically enhanced Tom Brady, they lose.

On his way to an 8th Super Bowl victory (they win every year now) Brady beats the Bills on the strength of an alloy arm. The NFL allows the alloy arm because Tom Brady sells a lot of tickets and because the President of the United States, Tom Brady’s BFF, tells them they have to.

This is your reminder that Tom Brady is an unapologetic Trump supporter.

2020

2020. 3 years after the tank, and with a strong crop of draft choices that have, somehow, someway, developed into competent NFL starters, the Bills do it. They make the playoffs for the first time since 1999. They not only make it, they get a bye. They’re the 2 seed, and the playoffs return to Western New York!

Their long snapper pulls his forearm in warm ups before the first game, they can’t punt or kick field goals, and they lose.

2021

Ready to compete, and viewed by many as a serious Super Bowl contender, the Bills prepare to make an impact. The cap space that drafting well has allowed them to save has in turn allowed them to sign a few big name free agents. After massive protests, Alloy Tom Brady is kicked out of the league. The stars are aligning for the Buffalo Bills.

Fun fact, did you know the CBA runs out in 2021? And that the players, especially after the last round of CBA negotiations, are already preparing for a strike?

So, of course, that’s what’s going to happen. A CBA will be signed, finally, in late October. NFL teams will play a meaningless shortened season, just 6 weeks of exhibitions. The Bills will go 6–0, and everyone will agree they were the best team by far. The 2017 tank and the roster moves that followed finally worked. The season was shortened, but this group has a future!

2022

After experiencing a fall without football, Americans begin to develop new interests. Soccer continues to rise in popularity. After the US handball team made an unexpected run in the 2020 Olympics, handball begins to ascend as an American favorite, and starts to move in on the NFL’s audience.

The lack of NFL football helps everyone realize that they don’t really like it that much and, to be honest, they like having their Sundays back. They spend more time with their families, they go to hayrides together, and the divorce rate drops. Besides, football is just too dangerous.

The league folds, and the Bills never win the Super Bowl.

I become a really, really big handball fan.

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