Buffalo Bills: The Brilliance of the Tarvaris Jackson Trade

Greg Maiola@Gom1094Senior Analyst IIAugust 26, 2012

Source: hosted2.ap.org
Source: hosted2.ap.org

The Buffalo Bills slightly shocked their fanbase when reports surfaced that the team had in fact acquired quarterback Tarvaris Jackson from the Seattle Seahawks.

But honestly, if fans were to truly watch the Bills quarterbacks this preseason, they should not be surprised at all.

Starter Ryan Fitzpatrick inked a six-year, $59 million contract extension during the 2011 season. At the time of the extension, his Bills were 4-2. They then went on a 2-8 streak to close the season.

But no reason to fear, right? Fitzpatrick was dealing with rib injuries and didn't have much help around him.

Heading into the 2012 season, the job was clearly Fitz's, and the main quarterback battle was between Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen for the No. 2 job. There was no chance that both players could make the squad as reserves, as Brad Smith was penciled in as the No. 3 quarterback.

So the job was between an erratic but successful quarterback and a quarterback who has a relationship with the coach. Well, a crazy (bad) preseason by all changed everything.

Against the Washington Redskins, the Bills produced two field goals. Fitzpatrick was the top Bills quarterback of the day, with a 56.0 passer rating.

Here were the quarterback stats of that game: 

Player Completions Attempts Yards TD INT RTG
R. Fitzpatrick 6 14 61 0 0 56.0
V. Young 5 12 50 0 0 54.2
T. Thigpen 3 8 38 0 1 13.5

Clearly, all three quarterbacks had a bad game. But it was the first preseason game, so it doesn't matter, right?

Game 2 against the Minnesota Vikings:

Player Completions Attempts Yards TD INT RTG
R. Fitzpatrick 8 11 58 1 0 115.0
V. Young 8 14 123 0 0 86.3
T. Thigpen 8 15 56 0 1 34.3

Though on paper Fitzpatrick looks decent, he went into the locker room with a 16-7 deficit. Young appeared to look the best that day, especially with a pretty bomb to T.J. Graham.

This game saw Young take the lead over Thigpen for the No. 2 job. Thigpen had another lousy outing while Young left Bills fans optimistic that he can be a solid backup.

But then came the crucial game No. 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Player Completions Attempts Yards TD INT RTG
R. Fitzpatrick 7 18 89 0 0 55.1
V. Young 12 26 103 0 2 25.0
T. Thigpen 0 0 0 0 0 0

Fitzpatrick looked lackluster. Many of his passes were thrown out of bounds as a result of confusion between the receiver. Regardless of why he looked bad, he was simply miserable at times and overall under-whelming.

With Thigpen not playing, Young had a chance to put an exclamation point on the job. But he looked horrible, throwing two bad picks and playing sloppy football.

So after three preseason games, the No. 2 spot is a question mark and Fitz's inconsistent play may cause a bit of concern.

Thus makes the trading for Jackson such a great front office move.

The Bills simply will not settle any longer. The No. 2 spot was supposed to be earned, not given. Well, both quarterbacks showed why they aren't hot commodities in the NFL.

Acquiring Jackson means that the Bills won't need to settle for a backup quarterback who has proven to be erratic and not to be trusted. Jackson has started NFL playoff games and is athletic enough to make plays when things don't go his way.

And let's be honest, Fitzpatrick has looked bad and isn't showing why he is worth the millions that he signed for. So rather than Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey just sitting around and hoping for the best, they went out and got a decent quarterback to come into Buffalo and compete.

Sure, the job is Fitzpatrick's to lose. But if Buffalo really wants to win now, they can no longer tolerate his subpar performances and lousy play. Now they know they have a hungry and capable player on the bench waiting for his chance.

At the very least, Jackson's presence forces Fitzpatrick to elevate his play and step up as a player. Competition shows who the real players are. And for what it's worth, Fitzpatrick's last quarterback competition saw him lose the starting spot to Trent Edwards.

The Bills went out and made their roster better. There is a sense of urgency within the franchise, and mediocrity is no longer accepted. Fitzpatrick better feel the heat and must step up his game. The No. 2 quarterback job is now in safe hands, but the everyday competition in practice will bring out the best in both quarterbacks.

And if Fitzpatrick, the $59 Million Dollar Man, feels that he must go out and prove something week after week after week, Buffalo Bills fans should be in for quite a treat this fall.