If you weren’t reading BLD this preseason, you might have missed the insane amount of disrespect the Bills got from ESPN as the media power released its annual gaggle of preseason previews.
– Most of their “experts” picked Buffalo to finish last in the AFC East. This one really didn’t bother me too much, since Buffalo did go 4-12 in 2010.
– ESPN’s “Scouts” Inc. (sarcastic quotation marks added by me) released an embarrassing set of positional rankings that including ranking Ryan Fitzpatrick as the league’s 32nd-best quarterback and Fred Jackson as the league’s 30th-best running back. That’s Fred Jackson, current MVP candidate, ranked as the 30th-best back in the league. Yup.
– And as is typical when the media discusses the Bills, commentators went out of their way to be snarky about the Bills’ chances, with a lot of talk about “Andrew Luck sweepstakes” and whatnot.
Basically, most people at ESPN were too lazy to actually watch Bills games last season and see that there was some real talent here. But now that the Bills are 4-1 with wins over preseason favorites New England and Philadelphia, are the Bills and their top players finally getting some respect from ESPN?
In a word, yes. Here’s some examples:
– Fred Jackson is now ranked 7th in ESPN’s MVP Watch. Now, unless Aaron Rodgers keels over and dies, there’s no way Jackson wins the MVP award. But it’s nice to see that his tremendous season is being noticed by the mainstream media. They even dug up a pretty cool stat: since 1960, Jackson is the only player ever to compile at least 480 rushing yards, 232 receiving yards, and five rushing touchdowns.
– Ryan Fitzpatrick is currently 5th in the league in QBR, ESPN’s fancy new quarterback stat. A big step up from the 32nd-best QB in the league. (32nd. That still baffles me.)
So the respect is getting there. We’ll have to see if it all evaporates if the Bills lose this week in the Meadowlands.