All-Time Teams: Buffalo Bills



Introduction

In my endless research of all things football and through my passion for the history of the NFL, I have decided to try and compile an All-Time Team for all 32 current NFL franchises. By All-Time Team I mean a starting roster compiled of the very best players to ever put on each franchise’s jersey. I will be starting in alphabetical order by current franchise location, so Arizona Cardinals all the way to The Washington Football Team, with the goal of releasing one to two All-Time teams a week for the duration of the current NFL season. This is meant to be fun and cause some debate and is based on my opinion after all my research and deep dives into each franchise’s history. Of course, not everyone will agree with who I chose, and I’d love to hear from anyone who agrees or disagrees, but first, let’s lay out some ground rules for how I came up with each team.


1. Each team roster will consist of the following:

Offense - 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 2 OT, 2 OG, 1 C

Defense - 2 DE, 2 DT, 3 LB, 2 CB, 2 S

Special Teams - 1 K, 1 P, 1 Returner

Coach - 1 Head Coach


2. I only considered an individual’s stats and contributions with each specific franchise. For example, Peyton Manning’s years with the Broncos were not considered when deciding on the starting QB of the Colts All-Time Team. As a result, the stats and awards listed with each individual player are only those that were achieved with that specific franchise.


3. A player cannot represent two teams as the starter. Players who spent time with more than one team were considered for the franchise they spent the most time with or had the most impact on. This rule led to some interesting scenarios that I will discuss in detail with each specific article to try and clear up any confusion.


4. A player’s stats and impact were considered in context with their era. This won’t simply be a listing of who passed or ran for the most yards in franchise history.


5. All stats are from Pro-Football-Reference and through the 2021 season. I will also be counting sacks from 1960, though the NFL doesn't officially count sacks until 1982.


6. Players in the "Honorable Mentions" section are ordered by year. It's not an indication of where I believe they rank in franchise history.


Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!


Buffalo Bills All-Time Team


Franchise Information

First Season: 1960

Record: 449-492-8 (47.72 W-L%)

Playoff Record: 17-19

Super Bowls Won: 0 (Lost in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993)

AFL Championships Won: 2 (1964 and 1965)

Passing Leader: Jim Kelly 2,874/4,779 | 35,467 Yds | 237 TD

Rushing Leader: Thurman Thomas 2,849 Att | 11,938 Yds | 65 TD

Receiving Leader: Andre Reed 941 Rec | 13,095 Yds | 86 TD

Sack Leader: Bruce Smith 171 Sk

Interception Leader: Butch Byrd 40 Int

Scoring Leader: Steve Christie 1,011 Points

Winningest Coach: Marv Levy 112-70


QB: Jim Kelly (1986-1996)

Record: 101-59 | 60.1 Cmp% | 35,467 Yds | 237 TD | 175 Int | 1,049 Rush Yds | 7 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp% 1990 (63.3%) | Led League in QB Rating 1990 (101.2) | Led League in TD 1991 (33) | 5x Pro-Bowl (87, 88, 90, 91, 92) | 1x All-Pro (91) | 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 AFC Champion | Hall of Fame Class 2002


Jim Kelly is the easy choice at quarterback for the All-Time Bills. He is the franchise leader in passing yards and touchdowns and led the Bills to over 100 wins. He led the league in touchdowns, completion percentage, and quarterback rating once each. Kelly was a consistent winner and led the Bills to eight playoff appearances in 11 seasons, reaching the Super Bowl in four straight seasons from 1990-1993. Yes, the Bills lost all four Super Bowls, but this was still one of the best teams ever assembled. Reaching four straight Super Bowls has never been done any time before or after. Kelly made five Pro-Bowls, one All-Pro Team and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Jack Kemp (1962-1969) | Record: 43-31-3 | 46.4 Cmp% | 15,134 Yds | 77 TD | 132 Int | 780 Rush Yds | 25 Rush TD | Led League in Yds/A 1964 (8.5) | 6x Pro-Bowl (62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 69) | 1x All-Pro (65) | 1965 AFL MVP | 1964, 1965 AFL Champion

  2. Joe Ferguson (1973-1984) | Record: 77-86 | 52.5 Cmp% | 27,590 Yds | 181 TD | 190 Int | 1,174 Rush Yds | 10 Rush TD | Led League in Yds 1977 (2,803) | Led League in TD 1975 (25)

  3. Doug Flutie (1998-2000) | Record: 21-9 | 56.3 Cmp% | 7,582 Yds | 47 TD | 30 Int | 885 Rush Yds | 3 Rush TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (98) | 1998 Comeback Player of the Year

  4. Josh Allen (2017-Present) | Record: 39-21 | 62.3 Cmp% | 14,114 Yds | 103 TD | 46 Int | 2,325 Rush Yds | 31 Rush TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (20)


RB: Thurman Thomas (1988-1999)

4.2 Yds/A | 11,938 Yds | 65 TD | 456 Rec | 4,341 Rec Yds | 22 Rec TD | Led League in Yds/A 1991 (4.9) | Led League in YScm 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 (1,913, 1,829, 2,038, 2,113) 5x Pro-Bowl (89, 90, 91, 92, 93) | 2x All-Pro (90, 91) | 1991 MVP | 1991 Offensive Player of the Year | Hall of Fame All-1990s Team | Hall of Fame Class of 2007


Thurman Thomas is one of the best all-purpose running backs to ever play the game. His 11,938 yards and 65 touchdowns are both franchise records. He led the league in yards from scrimmage for four straight seasons from 1989-1992. His best season was 1991, where he was named MVP and Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,407 yards and seven touchdowns and catching 62 passes for 631 yards and five touchdowns. Thomas had eight straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons from 1989-1996. He was named to five straight Pro-Bowls from 1989-1993, two All-Pro Teams, the Hall of Fame All-1990s Team and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.


RB: O.J. Simpson (1969-1977)

4.8 Yds/A | 10,183 Yds | 57 TD | 175 Rec | 1,924 Rec Yds | 12 Rec TD | Led League in Yds 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976 (1,251, 2,003, 1,817, 1,503) | Led League in TD 1973, 1975 (12, 16) | Led League in Yds/G 1973, 1975, 1976 (143.1, 129.8, 107.4) | Led League in YScm 1973, 1975, 1976 (2,073, 2,243, 1,762) | Led League in RRTD 1975 (23) | 6x Pro-Bowl (69, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76) | 5x All-Pro (72, 73, 74, 75, 76) | 1973 MVP | 1973 Offensive Player of the Year | 1973 Bert Bell | Hall of Fame All-1970s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1985


O.J. Simpson rounds out maybe the best running back duo of all the All-Time Teams. Off the field issues aside, Simpson is one of the greatest running backs of all time. He led the league in rushing yards four different times, including an insane 1973 where he became the first back in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards in one season. He's the only one to do it in a 14-game season, averaging 143.1 yards a game. His 2,003 yards still ranks as the eighth most yards in a season ever. At retirement only Jim Brown had rushed for more yards in their career than "The Juice." He was a six-time Pro-Bowler, made five straight All-Pro Teams from 1972-1976, was named the 1973 MVP, named to the Hall of Fame All-1970s Team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Wray Carlton (1960-1967) | 4.1 Yds/A | 3,368 Yds | 29 TD | 110 Rec | 1,329 Rec Yds | 5 Rec TD | Led League in Yds/A 1962 (5.6) | Led League in TD 1965 (6) | 2x Pro-Bowl (65, 66)

  2. Cookie Gilchrist (1962-1964) | 4.5 Yds/A | 3,056 Yds | 31 TD | 78 Rec | 875 Rec Yds | 4 TD | Led League in Yds 1962, 1964 (1,096, 981) | Led League in TD 1962, 1963, 1964 (13, 12, 6) | Led League in Yds/G 1962, 1964 (78.3, 70.1) | 3x Pro-Bowl (62, 63, 64) | 1x All-Pro (62, 64) | 1962 AFL MVP | AFL All-1960s Team

  3. Joe Cribbs (1980-1983, 1985) | 4.1 Yds/A | 4,445 Yds | 21 TD | 180 Rec | 1,783 Rec Yds | 15 Rec TD | Led League Yds/G 1982 (90.4) | 3x Pro-Bowl (80, 81, 83)

  4. Fred Jackson (2007-2014) | 4.4 Yds/A | 5,646 Yds | 30 TD | 322 Rec | 2,640 Rec Yds | 7 Rec TD

  5. C.J. Spiller (2010-2014) | 5.0 Yds/A | 3,321 Yds | 12 TD | 158 Rec | 1,195 Rec Yds | 6 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (12)

  6. LeSean McCoy (2015-2018) | 4.3 Yds/A | 3,814 Yds | 25 TD | 175 Rec | 1,334 Rec Yds | 5 Rec TD | 3x Pro-Bowl (15, 16, 17) | Hall of Fame All-2010s Team


WR: Andre Reed (1985-1999)

941 Rec | 13,095 Yds | 86 TD | Led League Yds/R 1994 (13.9) | 7x Pro-Bowl (88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94) | Hall of Fame Class 2014


Andre Reed is the third member of one of the best "triplets" in NFL history, the others being Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas. Reed holds franchise records in catches, yards and touchdowns. He was a key member of the Bills four straight AFC Championship teams. Andre Reed surprised the NFL world, as he was selected from Kutztown University, a division II university in PA. He went on to seven straight Pro-Bowls from 1988-1994 and retired with the fourth most receiving yards in NFL history. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.


WR: Eric Moulds (1996-2005)

675 Rec | 9,096 Yds | 48 TD | Led League in Yds/Touch 2002 (12.9) | 3x Pro-Bowl (98, 00, 02)

Eric Moulds is the next wide receiver for the All-Time Bills. Moulds ranks second in yards and touchdowns in Bills history, behind only Reed. He had over 1,000 yards in four different seasons and over 10 touchdowns once. He was voted to the Pro-Bowl three separate times and led the league in yards per touch in 2002. He was a very solid wide receiver in the post Kelly and Reed era for the Bills.

WR: Elbert Dubenion (1960-1968)

294 Rec | 5,294 Yds | 35 TD | Led League in Yds/R 1964 (27.1) | 1x Pro-Bowl (64)


Elbert Dubenion is the final member of this trio of wide receivers for the All-Time Bills. He is a lesser-known name, but he held franchise records in yards and touchdowns before Andre Reed broke them some 30 years later. He was the key receiver for the Bills two AFL Championship teams in the early 1960s and was named to the Pro-Bowl once in 1964. James Lofton was a very good receiver for the Super Bowl runs in the early 1990s, but he spent most of his career with the Packers.