No thanks for Manning (and other Bills thoughts)

Okay, I’m about to wander down a very unfamiliar path for me: Writing about the Bills. However, there have been some folks on Twitter and elsewhere who want to cut Ryan Fitzpatrick and go after Peyton Manning. I feel the need to get this out there for those of you who are thinking that.  It’s a terrible idea, and it’s never going to happen.

Peyton Manning is a future Hall of Famer. He’s got all the stats, the awards and the championship. There’s no way this guy doesn’t end up in Canton. That said, he’s not the answer for the Bills. They choose to make Fitz the answer with the big contract he signed last season.

I still think he’s the right answer. You can’t just dump him and grab Peyton for a number of reasons.

This isn’t Madden or your fantasy football team, so chemistry is important. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Stevie Johnson, David Nelson, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are a major part of the Bills core for the foreseeable future. And for the first time in a while, with Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey, it feels like the Bills have made progress in a rebuilding process that has been going on for over a decade.

So do you really want to take a wrecking ball to progress? I sure as hell don’t. Chemistry may be a big sports cliche, but you better believe it’s a big part of success. This core, particularly on offense, has built chemistry. Barring some unforeseen circumstances, I want to keep that going. The fans have seen what this group can do at full force. I would like to see what they can do moving forward.

Fitz has also given more to this team than Manning ever could. Fans have largely ignored that he played the last half of the season with broken ribs. Think about that for a second. It hurts to breathe with broken ribs. He played a fast-paced, full contact game with the same injury. He’s shown dedication and heart in an effort to help this team succeed. Although his performance slumped because of the injury, you’ve got to admire the heart. He didn’t want to let the fans or the team down, and some people are ready to show him the door.

He also did this to his hair to get Stevie Johnson to re-sign with Buffalo. Maybe it wasn’t quite what closed the deal, but that just shows his dedication to helping the team. That’s a big leadership quality. There’s no doubt in my mind Peyton Manning is a fantastic leader, but he’s not the one for the Bills.

Another problem you run into is a potential Brett Favre situation. Peyton’s neck injury is pretty serious, having four procedures done since the initial injury. Plus, at 35, he’s no spring chicken. Ron Jaworski even thinks Manning’s skills are diminishing. Favre going to the Jets and then the Vikings was an unmitigated disaster. Sure, he saw some success, but he largely looked like a bust. A lot of people remember him for that and ridiculed the teams that thought they were getting something good. Not to mention the Vikings mortgaged their future, and it blew up right in their faces. We’re the butt of enough jokes, I don’t want to be the butt of another one.

On top of all that, most analysts are adding “if he can play,” and “if he’s healthy,” to their discussions. Too many ifs for a team that’s finally beginning to make progress on a rebuild. I don’t want the Bills to blow it by taking a chance on a question mark in the most important position.

So, the fact of the matter is getting Manning at the expense of Fitzpatrick would be a MISTAKE. It would cause more damage than good, and he still carries a lot of question marks. If my argument doesn’t sell you on this, the experts agree that the Bills won’t even consider it. Michael Silver at Yahoo! Sports wrote an article about the likelihood of signing Manning for 12 different teams. His only commentary on the Bills chances was, “LOL.”

So get it out of your head because, in the words of Terry Pegula, Ryan ain’t going nowhere.

Now that I got that off my chest, I would like to offer a few more thoughts on the Bills.

The biggest news recently has been the signing of Stevie Johnson. Five years, $36.25 million. Great deal, I think. Johnson is a great talent with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. However, he hasn’t quite established himself as an elite player because of a few key drops over those same two seasons. So, I think this deal is fair, and I think he will prove himself over those five years. Johnson has been a key part of the offense, and I think he’s gonna be all grown up this season. Also, his penalty did not cost us the Jets game. So stop acting like it did (because I know some folks out there are still thinking that). God that feels good to get out.

Now that Johnson is re-signed, the fans’ anxiety has turned to Fred Jackson, who has one year left on his contract. He wants to re-sign, the Bills want to re-sign him, and the fans might have a collective aneurysm if he isn’t re-signed. My gut feeling is that a deal will get done by the start of the season. I can’t quite explain why that is, but given the recent signings, I believe it will happen.

That brings me to my final point. It feels like things are changing. Buddy Nix seems like he’s for real. Like he’s not full of hot air, just talking winning and keeping players. I think he legitimately cares about the team and wants success, without worrying about ownership’s constraints. Same goes for Chan Gailey. He’s always brutally honest and doesn’t pull any punches.

These two, the returning players, and maybe some new acquisitions *cough*Vincent Jackson*cough* have me excited for the upcoming season. I think this team is headed in the right direction, and it’ll be fun to see if I’m right come September. Until then, I’ll be rolling in the Sabres bandwagon for the remainder of the season if you need me.

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