We told you earlier today that one NFL commentator, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, thinks the Bills are a much improved team that could even push for the playoffs. However, around most of the mainstream media you won’t find much love for Buffalo…and it’s becoming increasingly clear that no one over at ESPN thinks too highly of the Buffalo Bills.
The first ESPN insult came when Scouts Inc. released its list of the top players in football both overall and by position. Of the scouts’ (and I use that term grudgingly) top 200 players, only one of them was a Bill – star DT Kyle Williams came in #37. Not one other Buffalo player made the list. And I’m not terribly upset about that, although I would argue Stevie Johnson or Fred Jackson might deserve a sniff at the top 200.
But it gets worse when you look at the positional rankings. Here’s some of the more ridiculous cases of Bills players getting disrespected just for playing for the Bills:
QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick, 32nd. We’ve covered this sham already, but I’m going to rant again. They had Fitz behind Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow. Oh, and Matt Moore, Alex Smith, and a bunch of other stiffs. Unbelievable.
RB: Fred Jackson, 30th. Fred played behind one of the worst lines in football and still had pretty good numbers last year – 927 rushing yards, 4.2 yards per carry, 5 rush TD, 2 rec TD- ddespite not starting the first few games. He can run, catch passes, and block well. He’s not quite elite, but he’s very good.
So Scouts Inc. ranks him behind guys like Marion Barber (3.3 ypc, cut by Dallas), Jahvid Best (3.2 ypc in his only NFL season), Felix Jones (what has he ever actually DONE in the NFL?), Pierre Thomas (really????), and freaking Ryan Matthews (let’s ask Chargers’ fans how they feel about that.) Terrible.
OT: Erik Pears, 96th; Kraig Urbik (?) 104th; Demetrius Bell, unranked. Just to show you how much “film” Scouts Inc. apparently watched, Kraig Urbik is listed as a tackle (he’s a guard), and Buffalo’s starting left tackle Demetrius Bell isn’t even ranked. That’s some good attention to detail right there.
WR: Stevie Johnson, 34th. Again, I’m not saying Stevie’s a top-10 receiver yet, but they have him ranked below Devin Hester (who put up a whopping 475 yards and four touchdowns last season), Josh Cribbs (who is not really even a wide receiver), Michael Crabree (what has he EVER done?), and Dez Bryant. The Bryant thing really bugs me. It’s not that Bryant sucks or anything – he does not – but he’s barely played. If he didn’t play for Dallas would he be nearly as high on the list as he is? If Stevie Johnson was a Cowboy, he’d have been top-20 WR. Guaranteed.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea: No one in the national media thinks they have to care about the Bills.
Today was another slap in the face as ESPN.com released its big NFL season preview. Predictably, the Bills aren’t getting much respect: Every single “expert” has selected Buffalo to finish last in the AFC East.
John Clayton went out of his way to be snarky, saying, “How do you trade Lee Evans when you say you are trying to build a winner? The Bills are in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.”
Yeah, John, because Lee Evans was the key to this team winning. Because he brought the team so many wins during his time in Buffalo. How will the team ever replace his 578 yards and four touchdowns?
Matt Williamson, the man behind “Scouts” Inc. (sarcastic quotation marks added by me), doesn’t feel much better about the Bills: “The Bills are a distant fourth in the AFC East. Led by Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, I do expect the defense to be vastly improved. But I am not 100 percent sold on Ryan Fitzpatrick. And the offensive line is still very problematic.”
Well, at least he knows Kyle Williams exists. But sorry, Matt - you lost all credibility with the “Tebow ahead of Fitz” thing. And how the heck are the Bills “distantly” behind the Dolphins?
Maybe I’ll end up eating all these words when the Bills go 3-13, but man, I just feel like a lot of national journalists just do not care. Here’s the apparent thought process: “Oh crap, I gotta write something about the Bills. Let’s see…I didn’t watch any film of them because I was too busy on that Tony Romo story – THIS is the Cowboys’ year! – but this won’t be hard. Here we go: The Bills suck. Add sarcastic comment…and I’m done with them! Let’s talk some Mark Sanchez!”