Bills Fans Find Themselves in Groundhog Day

The alarm clock goes off at six in the morning daily for Buffalo Bills fans. The song that awakens us? Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe." Bills fans have been stuck in their own Groundhog Day since 2000 and it looks like that's not going to change this year.

They say we’re young and we don’t know

We won’t find out until we’re grown…

It may be November 15th around the world, but to Buffalo Bills fans it’s been February 2nd since the end of the 1999 season. We’re all Phil Connors and we’re stuck in Punxsutawney. It’s Groundhog Day, Bills fans and it looks like we’ll be waking up to Sonny and Cher for at least another season.

In case you aren’t familiar with the references, I’m talking about the Bill Murray classic, Groundhog Day. The film came out in 1993 when the Bills were actually enjoying great success. It’s about a weatherman who keeps waking up to the same day over and over again. In the movie, Murray’s character, Phil Connors, finally wakes up to it being February 3rd after he changes his ways and does everything right during the day.

The Buffalo Bills just aren’t ready for the date to change. At the end of the day, it’s come down to two things: quarterback play and coaching.

The Bills quarterback position went from being a real “who’s who” during their Super Bowl run with Jim Kelly and Frank Reich to a “who’s that” since. It’s only gotten worse since their last playoff appearance in 1999 when Doug Flutie and Rob Johnson split time. Since then, here’s a list of quarterbacks who have started for the Bills:

Alex Van Pelt, Drew Bledsoe, J.P. Losman, Kelly Holcomb, Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm, Ryan Fitzpatrick, E.J. Manuel, Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel and Kyle Orton.

To quote my dog, “Woof!”

The NFL is a quarterback driven league. If you have a great quarterback, your odds of making the playoffs greatly increase. Bledsoe had his moments but the quarterbacks listed were/are far from great. There’s a reason why teams led by Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are usually in the postseason. The quarterback play makes up for other glaring weaknesses. Buffalo’s quarterback play has been a glaring weakness.

Sometimes, a coach alone can turn a team around. Wade Phillips was head coach in 1999 when the Bills last made the postseason. You’d have trouble convincing me that the Bills have had a better head coach since.

There’s been Gregg Williams, Mike Mularkey, Dick Jauron, Perry Fewell (interim HC), Chan Gailey and Doug Marrone. Six head coaches since Phillips left in 2000. Some coaches were all talk, others were playing not to lose, and some were better left as coordinators. The team has hired coordinators, recycled head coaches and hired from the college ranks. The jury is still out on Marrone, but as of this writing the Bills still haven’t found the right guy for the job.

If you ever saw movie, it took Phil Connors time to turn his life around. Unfortunately, the same can be said for the Bills and their franchise. It hasn’t all been doom and gloom for the team though. Some pieces are in place for the Bills to finally turn the team around.

Cordy Glenn and Sammy Watkins are most certainly franchise players on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively, the line is one of the best in the league. The team will have to re-sign Jerry Hughes and Marcell Dareus in the near-future for this to continue. At linebacker, there’s plenty of young talent between Kiko Alonso, Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham. Having Alonso back in 2015 will only improve the defense. Stephon Gilmore and Aaron Williams have certainly flashed star potential at their respective positions as well.

At one point in the movie, Connors tells Rita Hanson, played by Andie MacDowell, everything that’s going to happen in a diner. That’s exactly what it’s like being a Bills fan. Against the Chiefs two weeks ago, fans saw the loss coming a mile away. The Bryce Brown fumble as he was about to enter the end zone? We’ve seen that before from other players. The backbreaking fumble by Leodis McKelvin on special teams? We’ve seen that from McKelvin before as well as others. Right now, we’re like Connors. We know what’s coming, for better or worse.

I’m not entirely sure when Buffalo’s version of Groundhog Day will end, but it’s another year in Punxsutawney (a year without the playoffs). Eventually the day will change. Until then, buy all the life insurance you can from Ned Ryerson. Being a Bills fan takes a lot out of you.

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