How Good Was Bledsoe In 2004?

How many people have had what was a seemingly good purchase experience with a major consumer item turn into a "less than satisfactory" customer service or ownership nightmare. Some have, some haven't, but those that have not all seem to either know of someone directly or indirectly that has.

Imagine if you will, purchasing a new car. The car is actually a used car, but "to you it's new." The enthusiasm mounts, the purchase is made, and a certain level of expectation exists. There is no warranty but the person having sold you the vehicle shows you all of the past history and maintenance paperwork and assures you that it's been a great running car. You could have done some more research on the vehicle before purchasing it, yet opted not to. Afterall, it was the exact color and model that you were looking for and you'll look great driving it you reason. You overpay for it somewhat but it's OK because "it's exactly what you're looking for." Right?

You start driving the vehicle and there are no major issues, but that whistle of air coming in from bad molding around the window and that rattle coming from underneath the hood are annoying and teasingly irritating not to mention the leak that exists on the front windshield seal when it rains. If only you had test-driven the car when it had been raining! They are not of immediate concern however as for one reason or another you believe they will dissipate. Besides, you made a good purchase don'cha know.

Then after several months that rattle gets a little louder and that whistling wind has not mitigated itself. The seal, while only evident when it rains, is also only an infrequent annoyance, yet one that limits your ability to drive safely in the rain. These things become an ever-increasing annoyance but you continue to live with them. Then you have a major repair that is necessary and you pour money into the car because you have no choice as you do not have enough money to purchase another more reliable car. You reason to yourself that there is not another car available that would perform better for you.

Then, another major repair costing you more money. Meanwhile, that whistle becomes more and more aggravating even though it has not gotten any louder. That rattle keeps on intensifying as well.

Then while doing your taxes, your accountant informs you that there's new tax legislation enabling you to get rid of your car and take a very sizeable tax deduction on it that year which would essentially render your costs of the first two years as normal costs of owning a car while simultaneously absolving you from any further costs of maintaining what now looks to have been a "lemon." The decision would free up more than enough money for you to buy a much nicer car than the one you have. The catch is that you get rid of the car altogether by giving it to a charity and that it be done immediately. Your family begs and pleads that perhaps this is a good idea as the annoyances and safety issues impact them as well.

But you reason to yourself that since you just changed insurance companies, that surely your luck with the car will change now and that all of the aforementioned issues will somehow vaporize once the new insurance cycle kicks in. So in spite of your accountant's recommendation, you decide to ignore his advice and keep the car. On top of that you need money to pay your tax bill, which you'd have if you donated the car, so you refinance the car even though you owned it outright, and incur a loan to be paid off as a result.

Then a few months later, that car requires more and more maintenance. You keep throwing money at it through constant major and minor repairs of varying sorts. You keep insisting that the car will run fine as long as it is insured by the proper agency, as long as you can renovate the upholstery and interior of the car, perhaps let your wife drive it vice yourself, and perhaps a few other non-car related changes. After all, it ran well at one point in time.

So it is with Humpty and the Buffalo Bills. In short, the Bills picked up Humpty under now faulty notions that should he not perform "up to standard", that the team could release him "no strings attached" given that the onus for the amortization of the signing bonus befell the New England Patriots. He didn't perform "up to standard", yet, instead of relieving themselves of this enormous liability, the team opted to go against their first statements and sink even more money into Humpty as well as creating many "strings" which would have to be accounted for at a later date one way or another. This was all done under the guises that only some nominal tweaking under new coaching would "resurrect Humpty" and per the eye brow raising assessments of new QB coach Sam Wyche that Humpty was really a Joe Montana waiting to bust out.

So the question at present becomes "has Humpty truly played better than in past seasons with the Bills?" On a marketing driven team suggesting that there has been a clear improvement in Humpty's play, the question begs addressing.

Regular readers fully realize the numerous times where evidence has been laid out for the seeming "improvement" of the Bills and Humpty this season falling largely into the category of having had a significantly easier schedule than last season. There will be more on that in following weeks as promised.

Remaining focused on the issue at hand however, namely ‘has Humpty actually played any differently overall than in past seasons", we'll take a closer look at the particulars.

Humpty has in past seasons and throughout his career, played very well posting very good numbers against the worst teams in the league while playing equally poorly vs. the better teams in the league each season to include any and all playoff performances. Against teams in the mid-range, teams finishing the season 7-9, 8-8, or 9-7, it is a coin flip.

Statistically speaking, the distribution of characteristics related to his performances "from the best to the worst" teams suggests more than a simple or normal adjustment in performance based solely on differences in the strength of opponents and defenses played. In the final analysis, it is and has been all but a certainty that against the top teams in the league Humpty simply cannot be counted on for an average or thereabouts game let alone anything which would assist in propelling a team's offense to a solid performance. As a result of this he represents a liability, not an asset to the team.

As well, the baseline season of 2002 is oft used as a measuring stick for an "improved" and/or "fixed" Humpty. So in the following analyses, pay particular attention to the first and last lines, the 2004 vs. 2002 performance data. This is also not to suggest that the 2002 season was a good one for Humpty as explained and supported in the past, yet again here, in painstaking detail.

So how has he performed over the past three seasons?

In games that the Bills won, Humpty had in:

2004: 9 wins, 15 TDs, 5 INTs, 6 Total Turnovers; 3/1 TD/INT, 2.5/1 TD/TTO
2003: 6 wins, 8 TDs, 3 INTs, 4 Total Turnovers; 2.7/1 TD/INT, 2/1 TD/TTO
2002: 8 wins, 15 TDs, 0 INTs, 1 Total Turnovers; 15/1+ TD/ INT, 15/1 TD/TTO

In games that the Bills lost, Humpty had in:

2004: 7 losses, 5 TDs, 11 INTs, 15 Total Turnovers; 1/2.2 TD/INT, 1/3 TD/TTO
2003: 10 losses, 3 TDs, 9 INTs, 17 Total Turnovers; 1/3 TD/INT, 1/5.7 TD/TTO
2002: 8 losses, 9 TDs, 15 INTs, 18 Total Turnovers; 1/1.7 TD/INT, 1/2 TD/TTO

In games vs. teams with winning records, Humpty had in:

2004: 8 games, 6 TDs, 13 INTs, 17 Total Turnovers; 1/2.2 TD/INT, 1/2.8 TD/TTO
2003: 9 games, 4 TDs, 9 INTs, 15 Total Turnovers; 1/2.3 TD/INT, 1/3.8 TD/TTO
2002: 9 games, 12 TDs, 14 INTs, 17 Total Turnovers; 1/1.2 TD/INT, 1/1.4 TD/TTO

In games vs. teams with 10 or more wins, Humpty had in:

2004: 5 games, 4 TDs, 6 INTs, 8 Total Turnovers; 1/1.5 TD/INT, 1/2 TD/TTO
2003: 9 games, 4 TDs, 9 INTs, 15 Total Turnovers; 1/2.3 TD/INT, 1/3.8 TD/TTO
2002: 2 games, 2 TDs, 5 INTs, 7 Total Turnovers; 1/2.5 TD/INT, 1/3.5 TD/TTO

In games vs. teams within a game of 8-8, Humpty had in:

2004: 5 games, 6 TDs, 8 INTs, 10 Total Turnovers; 1/1.3 TD/INT, 1/1.7 TD/TTO
2003: 1 games, 1 TDs, 0 INTs, 0 Total Turnovers; N/A
2002: 9 games, 11 TDs, 10 INTs, 11 Total Turnovers; 1.1/1 TD/INT, 1/1 TD/TTO

In games vs. teams with 6 or fewer wins, Humpty had in:

2004: 6 games, 10 TDs, 2 INTs, 3 Total Turnovers; 5/1 TD/INT, 3.3/1 TD/TTO
2003: 6 games, 6 TDs, 3 INTs, 6 Total Turnovers; 2/1 TD/INT, 1/1 TD/TTO
2002: 5 games, 11 TDs, 0 INTs, 1 Total Turnovers; 11/1+ TD/INT, 11/1 TD/TTO

In games vs. teams with top-10 scoring defenses, Humpty had in:

2004: 7 games, 5 TDs, 10 INTs, 14 Total Turnovers; 1/2 TD/INT, 1/2.8 TD/TTO
2003: 8 games, 3 TDs, 7 INTs, 12 Total Turnovers; 1/2.3 TD/INT, 1/4 TD/TTO
2002: 3 games, 6 TDs, 3 INTs, 3 Total Turnovers; 2/1 TD/INT, 2/1 TD/TTO

In games vs. teams with top-half (top 16) scoring defenses, Humpty had in:

2004: 8 games, 7 TDs, 10 INTs, 14 Total Turnovers; 1/1.4 TD/INT, 1/2 TD/TTO
2003: 9 games, 5 TDs, 7 INTs, 13 Total Turnovers; 1/1.4 TD/INT, 1/2.6 TD/TTO
2002: 7 games, 9 TDs, 9 INTs, 12 Total Turnovers; 1/1 TD/INT, 1/1.3 TD/TTO

In games vs. teams with bottom half (worst 16) scoring defenses, Humpty had in:

2004: 8 games, 13 TDs, 6 INTs, 7 Total Turnovers; 2.2/1 TD/INT, 1.8/1 TD/TTO
2003: 7 games, 6 TDs, 5 INTs, 8 Total Turnovers; 1.2/1 TD/INT, 1/1.3 TD/TTO
2002: 9 games, 15 TDs, 6 INTs, 7 Total Turnovers; 2.5/1 TD/INT, 2.1/1 TD/TTO

In games vs. teams scoring defenses ranked 20th or worse, Humpty had in:

2004: 8 games, 13 TDs, 6 INTs, 7 Total Turnovers; 2.2/1 TD/INT, 1.8/1 TD/TTO
2003: 5 games, 4 TDs, 2 INTs, 4 Total Turnovers; 2/1 TD/INT, 1/1 TD/TTO
2002: 7 games, 12 TDs, 1 INTs, 2 Total Turnovers; 12/1 TD/INT, 6/1 TD/TTO

In not one instance do the statistics verify that Humpty's performance had improved over that of 2002 when it comes down to brass tacks. The mantra surrounding his play is one of racking up big numbers against the weak teams in the league while being next to useless in games vs. the stronger teams.

That should shed more than enough light on Humpty to make this decision an easy one. Yet, for those still not convinced, consider that it should be the goal of this team to win a Super Bowl. Reasonable arguments can be made as to whether or not this actually is the goal, however, the following facts speak to Humpty's ability or inability to be able to achieve that.

Over the past three seasons from 2002 to 2004, in 8 games vs. teams that ended up playing in their conference championships, the Bills finished 1-7 with their only win having been the anomalous and infamous N.E. Patriots win at home for the season opener in 2003. Of the 8 games, only 2 were on the road, two of the four games vs. the Patriots. The other six games were at home at the Ralph. In those games collectively, Humpty posted the following numbers:

8 games, 5 TDs, 11 INTs, and 14 Total Turnovers; 1/2.2 TD/INT, 1/2.8 TD/TTO

As well, in those eight games, he had only one single game whereby he had more passing TDs than turnovers. That was the 2003 Eagles game at the Ralph against a largely prevent defense in the 4th quarter entering the quarter trailing 16-0 prior to losing 23-13.

Much ignored, is the fact that in playoff games in which Humpty has played, namely with the New England Patriots, his performances have been nearly identical. In those games he posted the following numbers:

5 full playoff games, 5 TDs, 12 INTs, 14 Total Turnovers; 1/1.4 TD/INT, 1/2.8 TD/TTO

Again, he had only one game during those five games whereby he threw equal to or more TDs than INTs let alone turnovers. That happened to be in the wild card game vs. Miami in 1997 whereby he threw a TD on a drive begun at the Miami 29-yard line courtesy of the Patriot defense having intercepted the ball. It was the Patriots only offensive TD on the game.

Either way, Humpty's stats today in three more games are virtually identical to those of his playoff performances "back when."

Other 3-year ('02 – '04) tallies include:

In Wins:
23 games, 38 TDs, 8 INTs, 11 Total Turnovers; 4.8/1 TD/INT, 3.4/1 TD/TTO

In Losses:
25 games, 17 TDs, 35 INTs, 50 Total Turnovers; 1/2 TD/INT, 1/3 TD/TTO

Vs. teams finishing 10-6 or better:
16 games, 10 TDs, 20 INTs, 30 Total Turnovers; 1/2 TD/INT, 1/3 TD/TTO

Vs. teams finishing 7-9 to 9-7:
15 games, 18 TDs, 18 INTs, 21 Total Turnovers; 1/1 TD/INT, 1/1.2 TD/TTO

Vs. teams finishing 6-10 or worse:
17 games, 27 TDs, 5 INTs, 10 Total Turnovers; 5.4/1 TD/INT, 2.7/1 TD/TTO

Vs. teams finishing over .500:
26 games, 22 TDs, 36 INTs, 49 Total Turnovers; 1/1.6 TD/INT, 1/2.2 TD/TTO

Vs. less teams finishing less than .500:
17 games, 27 TDs, 5 INTs, 10 Total Turnovers; 5.4/1 TD/INT, 2.7/1 TD/TTO

Vs. top-10 Scoring Defenses:
18 games, 14 TDs, 20 INTs, 29 Total Turnovers; 1/1.4 TD/INT, 1/2 TD/TTO

Vs. top-half Scoring Defenses:
24 games, 21 TDs, 26 INTs, 39 Total Turnovers; 1/1.2 TD/INT, 1/1.9 TD/TTO

Vs. bottom-half Scoring Defenses:
24 games, 34 TDs, 17 INTs, 22 Total Turnovers; 2/1 TD/INT, 1/1.7 TD/TTO

Vs. Scoring Defenses ranked higher than 20th:
28 games, 26 TDs, 34 INTs, 48 Total Turnovers; 1/1.3 TD/INT, 1/1.8 TD/TTO

Vs. Scoring Defenses ranked 20th or worse:
20 games, 29 TDs, 9 INTs, 13 Total Turnovers; 3.2/1 TD/INT, 2.2/1 TD/TTO

Some additional factors for consideration are that from 2002 to 2004 Humpty's:

QB rating dropped from 8th to 22nd to 25th.
Sack ranking went from 31st to 32nd to 26th but were primarily a function of the number of times he dropped back to pass. In 2002 he was sacked on approximately 8.1% of his dropbacks. (664) In 2003 that number rose to 9.4%. (520) This past season it fell back to 7.6%, approximately where it was in '02. (487)
Interception ranking dropped from 10th to 10th to 22nd.
Yards-per-attempt ranking dropped from 8th to 26th to 26th.
Completion % ranking dropped from 13th to 16th to 26th.

Of course per all the above and not coincidentally, throughout the past three seasons, the Bills are:

2-14 vs. teams that finished with 10 or more wins;
5-21 vs. teams that finished with winning records;
18-4 vs. teams that finished at .500 or worse;
14-3 vs. teams that finished with 6 or fewer wins;
9-0 vs. teams that finished with 4 or fewer wins.

For those viewing this charade objectively, there is and has been no improvement in Humpty's play this past season. Yet, the spin, marketing, and media-driven Bills management continues to attempt to yank the wool down over the fans' eyes. The problem is that the wool, worn from seasons of tugging it tightly, is beginning to disintegrate and being yanked off by the handful. There is not an argument in the world suggesting that the Bills best chances of winning anything other than a big fat "L" in games against opponents with anything resembling a solid defense, and in games that matter the most, are "better" with Humpty at QB than with any other below average QB in the league. There are ample arguments to the contrary however!

Furthermore, efforts to "resurrect Humpty" have largely been focused on diminishing the negative components to his play vice actually increasing or improving the portions of his play which would actually contribute to winning games or the efficiency components to his play. Yet, not even that has occurred. The problem with Humpty is his inability to perform at a high level. Would that fact alter itself if his compensation is reduced??? Of course not! Ergo, if he is inadequate now, then regardless of salary or other compensation, he still is not worth retaining. To reiterate, he has played similarly throughout his career!

So what's the problem? Why hasn't it been announced that Humpty will be released outright? Rob Johnson was released for similar on a team with a fraction of the tools at his disposal. Quite frankly, I am of the opinion that if this QB had any other name than "Drew Bledsoe", he'd have been gone post-haste after last season.

Likely Commander Tom & Co. are lamenting and agonizing over the "last days" as the reality of the situation is hitting them.

Perhaps more disturbing is the seeming inability of the team to simply come to an easy decision. There is a lack of leadership on the field and it is apparently a derivative from the corporate culture at One Bills Drive. Instead of merely releasing Humpty outright, the rumors are now that the team will ask him to restructure all but knowing full well that their offer will be rejected thereby putting the move officially on Humpty's shoulders.

Commander Tom and the team are quite possibly reluctant to take a firm stand and make a decision for which they must admit a massive failure, so likely they are figuring out how best to spin or set it up such that the degree of the failure is perhaps mitigated with as little of it as possible falling back onto them. No such luck fellas! This failure was not only made, but then foolishly repeated last season. So come on, somebody, please step up and take a leadership role and make a command decision here! What on earth is the holdup? Any longer and competencies will get questioned. It certainly makes one wonder what the true goals of this team are at this point.

Team GM Commander Tom has undertaken Humpty as a personal "pet project" of sorts given the perpetual state of denial that exists regarding Humpty in Buffalo these days. A horrendous decision was made prior to last season whereby the team should have released Humpty in exchange for a bonanza of opportunity. Yet, personal affinities for Humpty overrode common sense and reason. The team will pay for this decision for seasons to come.

But the mistakes of the past need not be repeated, again for the third time, to add insult to injury. Humpty should not even be given the opportunity to occupy a crucial roster spot as one of 3 QBs that may have to be relied upon! Few in Buffalo want to "have to rely" on Humpty anymore.

Bills fans are watching closely to see what the attitude of the team is as well as what this pivotal decision will be, once again, a decision that threatens to shape this team for seasons to come perhaps. Less so financially but more so from a chemistry and team characteristics standpoint, but a dynamic altering decision nonetheless.

There is speculation that in Dallas Bill Parcells is interested in Humpty. The smart money says that this is just that, pure speculation. If it is true, then I will certainly have lost some respect for the great NFL coach. Are the lessons learned with such difficulty? As well, this would most certainly be nothing more than a reflection of the desperation that exists in Dallas regarding the QB situation with any contract for Humpty likely being for veteran minimum, or very close to it, and heavily incentive laden. Look for Humpty to end up back in Seattle close to home as a backup.

Humpty is a backup in this league at this point plain and simple and perhaps a journeyman backup as has been explained for over two seasons now. Due to his media appeal and misleading dossier forged by misperceptions, his career has dragged out several seasons longer than reasonable and longer than it should have and for that he should be extremely grateful.

Nevertheless, there is certainly no ill will for Drew Bledsoe meant as the Humpty reference is more a "splash of cold water" in the face for those that insisted that they could "fix Humpty" and that he was ‘really a Joe Montana waiting to bust out.' It is not nor has been any personal insult or assault on the person of Drew Bledsoe himself. All accounts have Drew as being one of the nicer guys in the NFL. I wish you all the luck in the world Drew if you leave here. I simply hope that you do leave here as the QB of the Bills. Quite frankly, you are very fortunate to have been handed the starting roles that you have been for as long as you have been.

Bills fans and now media at all levels have certainly chimed in. The ball is now in Commander Tom & Co.'s court. Will the personal favoritism and lack of acceptance for a horrendously poor decision continue to rule the day, or will the proper decision in terms of moving this team in a forward direction be made for a refreshing change of pace and practice. Will they make the decision on their end, or will they leave it in Humpty's hands? It's time fellas! In fact, it was time last season. In fact, Humpty should never have been acquired. But lost time and opportunities cannot be recouped, only further lost time and opportunities prevented.

Inquiring minds want to know. They'll have to wait a week or two to find out however. Make no mistake however, this single move will have more indirect impact on this team, one way or another, as it already has, than any other move of this offseason. Many of the others may very well hinge upon the decision made here.

This entire situation has become a farce and a calamity and a soap opera of sorts for anyone following the Bills. It's been "Groundhog Day" in Buffalo since his acquisition. But the right choice is obvious. It's time to get rid of this lemon!


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