Buffalo Bills Need to Use Tarvaris Jackson at This Point of the Season

Greg MaiolaSenior Analyst IIDecember 13, 2012

Aug 30, 2012; Detroit, MN, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (7) scrambles out of the pocket in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions in a preseason game at Ford Field. Detroit Lions defeated the Buffalo Bills 38-32. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US Presswire
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Right before the start of the 2012 season, the Buffalo Bills acquired quarterback Tarvaris Jackson from the Seattle Seahawks. This trade didn't cause Buffalo to give up much, only a late-round draft pick, and allowed the Bills to have a quality veteran to back up Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The trade made sense. Jackson would replace a lousy Vince Young and be higher on the depth chart than the inconsistent Tyler Thigpen. Jackson has been an NFL starter before and even has playoff experience, something few players own.

What doesn't make sense, however, is the fact that Jackson has not been activated for one game this season.

Why on Earth would the Bills trade for a player, make a statement and simply not use him? Sure, a few deactivated weeks to learn the offense is reasonable, but the Bills are 5-8 at this point.

Fitzpatrick feels no pressure to have himself slip down the depth chart. Benching Fitz for Thigpen simply wouldn't happen for as long as the Bills were in playoff contention. If Jackson was getting practice reps and was active, Fitzpatrick should have a reason to fear.

Here are the two players' career stats as of December 12, 2012.

Player Games Started Completion Percentage Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Rating
Ryan Fitzpatrick 62 59.8% 13,654 89 78 77.0
Tarvaris Jackson 34 59.4% 7,075 38 35


No one player has the clear statistical advantage. No one player is the superior player, either.

Jackson has taken the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs, something Buffalo hasn't experienced at all in over a decade. If Jackson was active in recent weeks, Fitz would feel the pressure, knowing that there is a capable player awaiting his opportunity, and would have had to respond to his presence. Maybe Fitzpatrick would have stepped up and been the difference in Buffalo's playoff hopes. Maybe not.

But we are past that. Jackson has been glued to the bench for 13 weeks and hasn't had an opportunity to play, let alone dress for a game. If that holds up through the end of the season, Buffalo simply wasted a trade and a valuable year of Jackson's career.

Why bring in a player not to play him? Since Jackson is a free agent in 2013, the Bills might as well see what Jackson has to offer. Unfortunately, they know what they have in Fitzpatrick, so they would be smart to give Jackson a look since it won't be costing them anything expect for draft positioning.

Jackson can make plays on the ground and is one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the league. He would provide Buffalo with another dimension at the position that they haven't seen in years. Since he is a free agent at the end of the year, playing him wouldn't cost him any more than keeping him on the bench would.

Maybe they find out he is a capable starter and keep him going into the 2013 season. Maybe they realize he can't play and he never represents the Bills again. But at this point of the season, starting a playoff-experienced quarterback over the lousy Fitzpatrick makes a lot of sense, and is a step Buffalo needs to take.