The third and final installment
On the eve of the 2012 season opener against the New York Jets, the city of Buffalo and the Western New York area in general were in an uproar of anticipation. What looked like an unimposing schedule and a vastly improved defense were at the forefront of a team that looked destined to enter the postseason for the first time since the Clinton Administration. The game kicked off a little after 1:00PM and the end result would usher in the beginning of the end.
Circle back a little more than four months prior to the opener to April 27th at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. One day before the Buffalo Bills nabbed the best player on the board and filled a major need at corner with South Carolina product Stephon Gilmore. With their second pick Nix again hit a home run with Georgia offensive tackle/guard Cordy Glenn (who was projected by many to be a top 20 pick). What looked to have the promise of being one of the best team drafts in recent history fell apart at the seams with their third round pick. The Bills traded up two spots to the number 6th pick in the third and it looked like they were set to finally pick a developmental quarterback in either Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson, Arizona’s Nick Foles or Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins. The Bills front office and Gailey were rumored to be very interested in Wilson and Cousins, interviewing both during the combine and attending each pro day. Instead of investing a third rounder on a QB they could groom for at least a season or two, Nix and Gailey pulled the trigger on NC State wide receiver/kick returner T.J. Graham.
Graham was considered by many to be a 5th round talent at best and both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay had him tabbed as a 7th rounder. Wilson on the other hand had thoroughly impressed scouts with his combine and pro day workouts and along with Cousins, was one of the stars of the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL. Alas, Nix felt Wilson was a reach in the third. He was drafted by the Seahawks six picks later and led them to the playoffs as the full time starter this season.
For the third year in a row the Nix and Gailey neglected to take a “chance” on a quarterback (do not bring up Levi Brown, he doesn’t count) and would once again enter a season with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm.
Fast forward back to the opener in the Meadowlands. The Bills were out of the game in the first quarter, after Fitzpatrick squandered an early turnover and gift wrapped a pick to Darrelle Revis on the ensuing drive. The Jets put up 21 unanswered on their way to a 48-28 romp of the “upstart” Bills. With that, the Bills once promising 2012 season was over before it even began.