Two-QB system would fit the Bills
By Nick Bakay
Page 2 columnistDoug Flutie or Rob Johnson? Wade Phillips waffles like the final tally in Palm Beach County, as a city, a nation, cries out that the Bills' QB situation is doomed to wander the earth in anarchy until one guy is anointed Da Man.
I say start 'em both.
Rotate them every series, every play. Better yet, line 'em both up in a shotgun version of the triangle offense, and fly Phil Jackson in to teach them the Chipotle word for "sharing."
It takes a village to play 16 games at quarterback in this man's NFL. Signal-callers are better described as "Injured Reserves Waiting To Happen." They go down more often then the NASDAQ, and not just the good ones -- check out what's going on in San Diego and Chicago. Then, look a little deeper -- Kurt Warner, Brad Johnson, Chris Chandler, Steve McNair, Brian Griese and Brett Favre: All starters, all went down at some point, and it's not even crunch time. Hell, Troy Aikman is taking pain shots that are so powerful, you're only allowed three a year.
Tweak the rules all you want, it just makes attackers more inventive: "A forty-grand fine for helmet on helmet contact? No big whoop. I'll just master the art of hitting him clean and bouncing his head off artificial turf." It's not a question of if your QB is going down, but when. And if he's lucky enough to stay healthy, defensive geniuses are breaking down film, figuring him out, and stifling him.
|Bills quarterback Rob Johnson isn't as mobile as Doug Flutie, but ...|
So I'm pro-platoon, especially in Buffalo. Much was made of the Hall of Fame migration out of Orchard Park -- Bruce, Andre, Thurman, all of whom have been replaced by first- and second-year players drafted in later rounds. Translation: Cheap labor. If you're going to allocate about $9 million a year to these two gunslingers, put you money on the field. You'll note that no one is crying about seeing Alex Van Pelt on the sidelines toting the clipboard.
And frankly, it's not like one guy is better than the other. They're just ... different. Short versus Brittle. Tall versus Scrappy. Flutie improvises, Johnson can hit the 70-yard bomb.
Flutie doesn't get sacked, Johnson doesn't have third-and-7 passes batted down like spike-lobs on the Cuervo tour.
At the end of the day, I still see my old friend "Push" rearing his ugly head.
Consider last Sunday's tilt against the Bears. Flutie played well, then Johnson came in for a series and played just as well. The team didn't sag, they just hitched the wagon to Tall Boy, who led them down field for points. Then, Flutie comes back in the second half to score on a nifty bootleg for a resounding victory. Both men hit Eric Moulds on scripted, under-thrown lobs over the DB's shoulder. Both moved the offense. It works.
Or flash back to the so-called "Music City Miracle." Would Flutie have been sacked for a safety by Jevon Kearse? Probably not. Could he have passed the Bills down the field to grab a lead with seconds to go in the fourth quarter? Hmmm ... Let's also note that neither player covers kickoffs, or could possibly explain the NFL's official definition of a fuzzy lateral.
Be advised that I will always be grateful for Flutie -- he embodies resilience by the way of David, not Goliath. He also single-handedly rallied the franchise and kept it in Buffalo when the stadium referendum needed votes. That being said, Johnson is the future, and it's easy to forget that back in the day, when all this controversy started, he lost his job due to an injury, got healthy, and stayed on the bench.
We have thunder-and-lightning RB tandems because they keep defenses on the edge. I say mix it up at QB, and give those defensive coordinators a new reason to sleep in the office.
Humorist Nick Bakay, currently a writer for the CBS sitcom "King of Queens," is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and Page 2.
|... Flutie doesn't have Johnson's arm strength.||