Prolonged, but Immediate Reactions: Bills season ends with win over Jets

Prolonged, but Immediate Reactions: Bills season ends with win over Jets

Football beat the crap out of me this year, and I didn’t play a snap. Not even on Madden.

My passion for the sport, and for watching the Buffalo Bills, took a hard hit over the course of this season, but it’s been building for years. Many of you noted the lack of Bills raps toward the second half of the season. Much of that is due to the insanity of my schedule, but there was more to it.

Fact is, the Bills had teams that had far worse records that gave us more to like. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s time here had the “Fitzmagic” angle and there were years we were rallying around Fred Jackson, Kyle Williams and other types to overcome a severe lack of talent.

All that said, there’s plenty to be hopeful when it comes to the 2015 Bills. There is going to be a world of change on this roster between now and Opening Day 2016, so here are some thoughts on the past season with an eye to next season (again).

Positivity/negativity — Both Rex Ryan and Mario Williams are among the Bills who’ve bristled at the mention of public perception, and there’s a troubling thought I’ve had with a connection to the Chicago Cubs.

There is certainly something to the idea that an entire culture — fan base, players, support staff, coaches, administrators — can carry the burden of years and years of losing. Ryan was given the burden of the longest playoff drought in football, and held to that standard as if he masterminded every year of it. Tyrod Taylor did an admirable job of conducting his first year as a starter, on a playoff-expecting team, and didn’t seem to wrestle with Bills fans’ unquenched thirst for a successor to Jim Kelly, who you may know as one of the best quarterbacks ever.

It’s part of what’s so interesting about the Pegula era. I don’t advocate anyone losing their jobs, and true leadership can overcome history and any negativity, but for both the Bills and Sabres perhaps as clean sweep of staff, top to bottom, would’ve been ideal. Either way, we are where we are now — I don’t begrudge anyone keeping jobs — but when a media is going to draw upon failure after failure, positivity and pragmatism takes on an even more important purpose.

Quarterback — The Bills certainly shouldn’t quit their search for a franchise quarterback, but the rush to condemn Tyrod Taylor as incapable of carrying the label was hilarious and, at times, infuriating for observers. The dual-threat model is far from unworkable, and Taylor was working with an extreme lack of depth once the injuries starting piling on. Those injuries will happen every year, but the Bills offense — and most of the time Taylor — had to deal with injuries to LeSean McCoy, Charles Clay, Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins and a quick end to a promising beginning from Percy Harvin.

Taylor might not be an exciting prospect because he was a No. 2 to someone else’s No. 1, but in a draft where the Bills will almost certainly address defense first, I’m fine with the Virginia Tech man looking to continue progressing from a season that saw some flat-out dirty traditional numbers.

Defense — What a tire fire, and Ryan bears a lot of the blame for the team’s drop-off. That said, there are few people I would trust more with a full offseason to plan an improvement. These were pieces that won’t work as well in a Ryan system as they did last year. And Ryan had to try to bridge a gap from Jim Schwartz’s defense into his own, which we’d ideally have seen by the end of the year but were more likely to catch next year.

Mario Williams quit on this team, and his consistent bickering over his role likely carried down the line from his veteran status to other young guys. Marcell Dareus was vocal about his displeasure with the system despite the fact that he was still a dominant player in the scheme. And if Williams is responsible for acrimony winning the day, then good riddance. He certainly did a heck of a job being manhandled by tight ends in the loss to Dallas.

While No. 94 tried to play nice after the game, consider this line from his postgame interview when discussing AJ Tarpley’s game-sealing interception of Ryan Fitzpatrick:

“The calls were definitely different in general, especially that last play. That was a call from the field. That was a call from myself and talking to the DBs. The play that was originally called, we had run that a few times before. Just getting input from the players on the field, cause we’re the ones who had to execute it, it turned out great.”

Don’t let the door hit you, Mario.

Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby will work as Nos. 1 & 2 corners, but Buffalo needs help at safety (especially in Ryan’s scheme, which needs a stud. Aaron Williams is adequate there, but may not return and if he does, will he be as good as before?). They also need massive amounts of help at linebacker. Manny Lawson was a stud, and both Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown are okay but aren’t heroes.

buffalobills.com
buffalobills.com

Top Five individual successes of 2015

1. Sammy Watkins

2. Tyrod Taylor

3. Richie Incognito

4. Manny Lawson

5. LeSean McCoy

Needed more from you, and it was your fault

1. Mario Williams

2. Rex Ryan/Dennis Thurman

3. Special teams coach Danny Crossman

4. Chris Hogan

5. Tight end No. 2

Needed more from you, and it was your body’s fault

  1. Percy Harvin
  2. Charles Clay
  3. John Miller

If you were able to move time back to the start of this season, what are the top things to fix? Health will never be a certainty in the NFL, and the fact is that Buffalo would’ve gone 9-7 easy with a healthy team. Tyrod Taylor in place of E.J. Manuel beats Jacksonville (Maybe E.J. beats them if Buffalo isn’t flying weapons to England, too). There you go.

Honestly, I find it difficult to argue this team wasn’t top-to-bottom better than last year. Yes, they went 9-7 under Doug Marrone, but also won a game where Detroit’s kicker refused to miss field goals and beat New England in an absolutely meaningless finale (though the Bills won their last two meaningless games this year, at least one came against a team that needed a win to move on).

So if we’re suddenly back in August, I’m cutting Danny Crossman. I’m cutting or trading Matt Cassel, too, but I’m finding a better option. Trading for him was world-class silly in the first place. I’m dialing up a few more blitzes, but also putting Mario Williams in his place a lot earlier.

CXQtYZXWkAAf9f4I’m designing more plays for Charles Clay, but much of that was health-related. The tight end depth was very disappointing, and Chris Hogan lost whatever bit of magic he head. We talked about the great depth of receiver before the season and that almost saw Hogan cut. Instead, injuries forced him to play. And, as much as this stings because it doesn’t put the blame on a coach or scapegoat player, the injuries are what killed the season. How was this team in a spot where undrafted rookie AJ Tarpley had to play an important role against Kansas City (where he was ritually abused)? Dudes getting hurt, that’s it.

Is it as simple as that? Maybe. Does that stink for your offseason debates? Yep. But Ryan will get this defense right, with his instruments playing his own composition as Whaley uses money freed by Williams — and maybe a pay cut to McKelvin — to improve this team in free agency (Rolando McClain reunited with old pal Dareus?).

And if Taylor can even replicate this season, the Bills will go back to the playoffs (especially with what Watkins did to Darrelle Revis today showing how much the student Watkins learns each week. Bonkers. Destroyed “the Island”). Does that mean the Bills have their answer at elite quarterback? Those are two very different things, but this is still a potential playoff team in 2016.

Follow @NicholasMendola

22 Responses to Prolonged, but Immediate Reactions: Bills season ends with win over Jets

  1. Great article Nick. I also share your concerns regarding safety…i just don’t think that Aaron Williams can ever return to form from such a serious injury…

    Two questions for you:

    1)Are you in support of moving Leodis to Safet

  2. 1)are you in support of moving Leodis to safety? With Rex’s scheme, in addition to switching to a completely different position, I can see a disaster in the making..
    2)do you think drafting a safety in round one is too high?

    Great article as always.

  3. Loved seeing the NMIRs reappearance and appreciate the optimism…we have kook-aid drinkers in our Bills circle too. I hope you’re right but given his overall record, how can you be bullish on Rex? Our Defense got significantly worse–especially in big moments, needing a stop. And his rap for being a poor game day tactician was obvious: how many second halves did we lose to better coaching adjustments? I fear we’re treading water with the current administration. Again.

  4. If Tyrod replicates this season, they’ll go 8-8. More seriously, he shows promise but is not good enough to beat the true contenders in the league, and is not likely to develop much more given the limitations of his mediocre coaching staff. Considering that a 10-6 record doesn’t even guarantee the playoffs in this league, it’s hard to contend how the Bills will manage to improve that much under a has-been like Ryan. Reality speaks far greater volumes than propaganda.

  5. The Buffalo Bills won a meaningless (for them) football game
    and finished the season at 8-8, just exactly as I predicted they would – back in August.

    End of Game Review. End of Season.

    Your detailed season review not without its merit, Nick, I must admit to being much less sanguine about the Bills next season. This team is much more likely to post a worse record, than a better one. (More on this later)

    P.S. The Bills still need a QB. (Again, more later)

    • I wholeheartedly disagree with your viewpoints sir. What makes you think we have a better chance at a worse record next year? This team has been absolutely decimated by injuries, we brought in a new head coach, who installed a completely new defense. Early in the season we were plagued by undisciplined play, that led to hundreds of yards of penalties. We left three games on the table that we should’ve won (Jags, Giants, Chiefs). While 8-8 is a disappointment in my eyes, for the first time in a long time, I’m looking forward to next year. The defense has begun to show glimpses of the dominant “bully” that Rex promised us, as evidenced in these last two games (and the 2nd New England game). We finally have a bona-fide stud at WR in Watkins, and Shady as well as Clay will be back! Tyrod Taylor to me has performed better than I expected him to. With a year under his belt, a healthy(and hopefully improved) offensive line, and the big three I mentioned, I see no reason we can’t win 10-11 games next year…

    • I guess I don’t feel optimistic as much as I feel pragmatic. I don’t have great worries about the personnel, and I do think that a “bought-in” Mario would’ve been a huge upgrade to this team’s unit if he grasped and understood his role. That isn’t to say the defense needed to change its identity as drastically to slide into its long-term plan, but they aren’t going to lose too much this year that can’t be adequately replaced.

  6. Good write up, thanks for another entry on the 2015 season. As I did not feel the Bills would be better than 8-8 this season what was disappointing the most was the downfall of the defense. After reading your write up here I actually feel better than previously as you make valid points of needing patience for things to fall into place. I know the defense is where the focus on the offseason will be but as injuries occurred I think it shows we definitely need more depth at WR and TEs. And I’d like Rex to stop picking up his guys. Percy Harvin had a great start to the season but when we signed him I was a little upset as I saw growth in Robert Woods and Chris Hogan in 2014 and though Woods was coming into being a good #2 or great #3 with Sammy. Hogan can go on or stay on for special teams duties but I would love to see a really good #2 to help this offense put out a good lineup all season long

  7. “There is going to be a world of change on this roster between now and Opening Day 2016”

    I don’t agree. Whaley truly went ‘all-in’ last year. He’s not lying when he says nothing is happening this free agency week, because they’re in the 2nd worst cap shape in the league behind the Saints. Mario’s $12M savings via cutting him just gets them in the black.

    This 2015 team is not going to be significantly improved on, at least via big signings, through 2017.

    The positives are Tyrod Taylor (who’s been discussed here plenty) and the defense should avoid the injury bug they faced this year.

    Does that mean I think the defense will improve? Mario Williams is a big loss. His sacks were down, but he was a very unique defensive line talent that offenses always had to address. His production will not be replaced. Aaron Williams was sorely missed since they were garbage at safety behind him, and who knows what his future is. Kyle Williams, it’s a near miracle he’s still performed at such a high level with his injury history, at 33 his time is going to run out soon.

    This team is probably going to be worse for at least the next two years. The hope is Tyrod.

    • I’ll respond to the “world of change” comment. After listening to the press conference and hearing Incognito say that the Bills priority is resigning Glenn and him — which isn’t wrong, depending on dollars — there will be less change that I suspected (especially if they pay Incognito how he performed without discount).

      But they’ll almost certainly add an upgrade in at least 1-2 linebacker spots, both safeties, and a Mario replacement. That is unless Ryan thing Nigel Bradham is irreplaceable and cuts someone else to pay him.

      You’ll see much more rotation next year at LB and DL, I think. Kicker probably changes. I might bet they will bring in a non-specialist returner who also plays WR. I’m not sure Rex is the sort of coach to dig as many specialists as Buffalo has. Easley gone doubles that (theoretically).

      A better back-up for Clay is big. Competition at RT, perhaps. World of change was probably a bit too dramatic, and I guess it depends how big the world. We don’t normally see the turnover we saw with the new coaching regime/ownership last year.

      • They’ll probably sign a LB like Demario Davis and some vet. Kicker and returner… who cares.

  8. The 2016 Buffalo Bills – Early Forecast

    As absurd as it may seem to forecast a football season that won’t even begin for 8 months, it doesn’t take any special clairvoyance to correctly predict the continuing misfortunes of our beloved Buffalo Bills. For, I’ve been doing just that, these past several years now – quite accurately, I must say.

    Anyway, to quote an awful song by an awful band, here I go again…

    I am not at all optimistic about next season.

    And it starts at the top. I have almost zero faith in the Brandon/Whaley/Ryan regime. Why should I? Why should anyone? These three men have a proven track record of abject failure, for multiple years.

    When Terry and Kim Pegula bought the team I had hoped that they would hire a truly competent football man, a “czar” if you will, to run things at OBD. That seems highly unlikely now. Terry Pegula loves “his guys” and will stand behind them. (Just as I predicted he would do, by the way.)

    Pegula broke his NFL cherry with Doug and Rex, and they remain his “first love”. And, as we all know, our “first loves” rarely result in successful relationships, but they are still very difficult to part with. Our first great “romance” usually lingers for far too long.

    The Bills are just one big “family” – You know the slogan…One Buffalo! So, let us briefly examine the key members of our dysfunctional family…

    Russ Brandon – Never has incompetence and failure been more unwisely rewarded than with this smarmy charlatan. Russ Brandon has been with the Bills for nearly two decades, in various leadership positions, and during the entirety of his tenure, the team has never improved. He has been directly responsible for numerous failed coaching and management and player signings. And yet, he was just given a promotion!

    And make no mistake: Russ is still THE boss in Orchard Park. Everyone answers to Russ, and Russ answers only to Terry Pegula. Some mistakenly believe that because Brandon is “just” the President now, he has no “football” power. This is dead wrong.

    It’s no mere coincidence that the name “Russ” was included in Terry Pegula’s recent press release. Or, that both Whaley and Rex made damn sure to say the name “Russ” numerous times in their year-end presser. They know the deal. Russ Brandon is Terry Pegula’s right-hand man, his eyes and ears, at OBD.

    A definitive case of the deaf leading the blind. Sigh.

    Doug Whaley – I have outlined many times on this site my misgivings about Whaley. I have given him credit for the few positive moves he has made. But, it is my view that his serious mistakes far outweigh any beneficial additions. Doug Whaley has hurt this team far more than he has helped it. He is no “genius” at anything. And, it is directly because of his bad decisions that the Bills find themselves in cap jail now.

    His errors are many, but to mention only a few:

    He helped to horribly overdraft a “franchise” QB (Manuel); he overspent in the draft (Watkins pick); he either paid badly (Chris Williams, Keith Rivers, Jerome Felton, etc.) or overpaid worse (Shady McCoy, Charles Clay, etc) for free agents; he missed badly on too many draft picks, and on the O-line in particular (Kouandjio, Richardson, Henderson, etc.); thus, his six years as assistant GM or GM, have failed to produce any progress.

    And yet, according to reports, instead of being justifiably fired, Doug Whaley is instead being given a juicy contract extension! So, contract-wise at least, it’s “four more years!, four more years!” for both Rex and Whaley, now. Sigh.

    And I will only believe any “ultimatum” when/if I see it actually executed. (Methinks that Vic Carucci at the News may need to reexamine his sources.)

    Rex Ryan – What can I say? I didn’t like the hire. I despised Ryan’s showmanship, his carnival barker routine, his bloviating, and all such nonsense that too many fans and media swooned over. He’s a career sub .500 coach whose teams have failed for 5 straight seasons; he has no concept of how to run a modern NFL offense; his teams are highly undisciplined and penalized; he is bad at both in-season, and in-game, management or adjustments; in short – he is not a smart, nor competent, nor successful, Head Coach.

    But, did you see his tattoo!? His pickup truck!? His commercials!?

    The Pegulas are preaching patience and continuity. But I’m much more inclined to believe in the wisdom of an old adage: The best indicator of future results is past performance.

    So, yes, I am far less hopeful about 2016 than I was about 2015. And I wasn’t even optimistic about last season – not at all. As I just said: Rather than jumping aboard the Rex Ryan circus train and lapping-up the ridiculous hype (as many fans and media did) instead – I predicted the Bills would go 8-8. And that they did.

    The difference this year is we are now dealing with a known quantity. We have now SEEN the team fielded by Whaley/Ryan, and thus their “formula” for winning in the modern NFL. It failed.

    And, as Miss Phoenix correctly states above, this year’s team will be next year’s team, essentially. (She’s almost always right too, folks, so you’d be wise to pay her words significant heed)

    The “plan” failed. And all the money spent to formulate that so-called “winning” plan (Shady, Clay, Harvin, Hughes, Dareus, etc..) is gone now. The Bills, even with upcoming cuts, are tapped. Broke. Empty pockets. And what I fail to grasp is how any of my fellow Bills fans can be optimistic about next year, when THIS year was the “all-in” year.

    AND IT DID NOT WORK. (Just as I predicted)

    How will it work any better next season? Less injuries? Yes, I’m quite sure they will be fully healthy all next year. Groan.

    The point is: this “plan” of run, run, run, play good defense, limit your flawed QB, and hope to win every game 20-17 – it was not good enough, and it will never be good enough to consistently win enough games to become a true playoff contender.

    This is 2016, and not 1973. And certainly not 1938.

    What do we hope for? The defense getting better? Well, I think it will. Slightly. But, so what? I’ve never been high on this defense even when it was considered “great”. When everyone else was hooraying it’s potential, I expected it to drop in the rankings (it did, even more than I thought) and I was pointing out its flaws TWO and THREE seasons ago.

    Absent a pass rush (and it was invisible this year) this team is bad at pass coverage. Mainly due to mediocre LB’s and DB’s. Except for Gilmore and Darby (both good, neither great) there are no other truly good coverage men. Will this be fixed in the off-season? Maybe. Will Rex improve the pass rush? Probably. And it still won’t matter, just as it did not matter when the Bills defense WAS ranked highly in the previous two seasons.

    Now, let’s talk about another element of the “plan”, which is: run, run, run that rock! Well, we did. In fact, we led the league in rushing! Wait, let me repeat that…

    WE LED THE ENTIRE NFL IN RUSHING THIS YEAR.

    Yay! Except, um, what exactly did THAT get us? Oh yeah, 8 wins, and no playoffs. So, I ask again, how will this part of the “plan” help us next year? Will we lead the league in rushing again? The galaxy? The universe? And if we do…

    So effing what?

    You don’t have to believe me. The results tell the story. Rex Ryan got exactly what he wanted out of his “plan” to run, run, run – he did it better than anyone else – and his team STILL fell way short of its goal.

    Run, run, run, and play good defense is NOT a winning “plan” in the modern NFL.

    Both this things help, of course, but only if – ONLY IF – you have the one big piece that’s mandatory in pro football in the 21st Century: a great Kicker. Lol. (Just some levity there, although we may need a kicker, too, after Carpenter’s very sketchy season.) No, of course, I speak of…

    A great QB.

    And the Bills, in my opinion, do not have one in Tyrod Taylor.

    My only hope (and it was slim) for this past season was the unknown of Tyrod. Nobody had ever seen the guy play, so anything was possible. Well, now, we all have seen him. And he’s not even close to a top-tier “franchise” guy.

    Can he improve? Maybe. But, I’m not betting on it. He was a 6th rounder, and 4 years on the Ravens bench, for a reason. If he was truly a “diamond in the rough” he would have been snapped up years earlier by other teams (they have scouts, too) and not rotting away until the “genius” of Rex Ryan told Whaley to grab him.

    As a pocket passer, he’s just not good enough. He wasn’t as good as Joe Flacco, and he’s not as good as any of the top-tier guys. Hell, he’s not even as good as several other middling-type guys. Passing numbers?

    Tyrod – 20td, 6int, 3000 yards. Compare…

    Cousins – 29td, 11int, 4000yards
    Bortles – 35td, 18int, 4500yards
    Carr – 32td, 13int, 4000yards
    Eli – 35td, 14int, 4500yards
    Tanny – 24td, 12int, 4200yards

    Except for maybe Eli Manning (two Super Bowls, of course) none of the QB’s on that list are considered great. Maybe some of them will be great, some day. And none of them (except Cousins, only barely) made the playoffs this year. But, at least with those kinds of numbers, the fans of those teams could have legitimate hope moving forward.

    Heck, even our old friend, Ryan Fitzpatrick (31td, 15int, 4000yards) had far better passing numbers, led his team to 10 wins, had a good defense, and it STILL was not good enough to get the Jets a playoff spot.

    Yet, Tyrod Taylor, with his vastly inferior stats (and yes, I know all about his high percentages in many categories) is going to lead the Bills to the playoffs (or, gasp, a championship) with his scrambling, and run, run, run, and limited passing (never throwing a single 300-yard game, or more than 30 times for a win) but hopefully a better defense and special teams and kicker?

    I just don’t see it happening. Tyrod is flawed, and so is the “plan”.

    I don’t mean to be so harsh to Taylor. He seems like a good kid. But, I have to be completely objective when assessing the Bills, and not look through “homer” beer goggles.

    I hated when the Bills overdrafted EJ Manuel (I said it would be a waste of time, and it was) but I waited to see him play his first season before I gave my OBJECTIVE opinion. He’s not good.

    I liked when the Bills obtained Tyrod Taylor. I felt he was the best option this past year, and I wanted him to start. He did, and I waited to see him play his first season (5th in the league) before I gave my OBJECTIVE opinion. He’s decent, but he’s not good enough.

    But, right now, he IS the best the Bills have, so it’s good he’s here, at least.

    Here, at his present salary with no more money/extension, I sincerely hope. In my opinion, it would be a huge mistake to fully commit to Tyrod this offseason. Thankfully, it seems from Doug Whaley’s recent remarks (and at the year-end presser) that the Bills are not going to make that error.

    Let Tyrod play out his last year, as is. That’s Part One of what would be my approach to the QB position. Looks like the Bills brass are in agreement. But, I fear, that Part Two of my approach will not be followed. That is…

    I would bring in true competition at QB.

    This, I think, the Bills will not do. They are already talking about Tyrod being the “guy” next year (extension or not) and he will get all the reps in the offseason.

    As if, running around in shorts and t-shirts in April and May will make a huge difference to a guy that will be in his SIXTH season. Yeah, that will surely transfer him into a “great” pocket passer. But he will “work hard” too, just like EJ Manuel, right? Sigh.

    Anyway, I want the Bills to look for (draft, trade, free agency) more QB’s. I want them brought-in to challenge Tyrod Taylor. I do not want to settle for Tyrod Taylor. He’s my default. He’s the guy I start if I can’t find anyone better.

    The moment I do find a better guy, Tyrod goes to the bench.

    That’s what smart teams do. Washington got RG3, and, Cousins. Seattle had two decent QB’s, and, got Wilson. Heck, even the Pats with perhaps the best QB ever – still drafted Mallett and Jimmy G.

    You don’t settle for mediocre. You try for greatness. But the Bills won’t. They will get a washed-up veteran, and a free agent scrub, and it will be Tyrod’s team next year.

    For that is the “plan”. And Tyrod Taylor will play decent football, and put up decent numbers, and scramble, scramble (and sadly get hurt again) and always throw outside the hashes (but not over 30 times) and toss a few nice bombs to Sammy Watkins, and it will all be such “fun” to watch, and the Bills will be mediocre…Again.

    Given the continuation of the flawed Doug Whaley/Rex Ryan “plan”, and given the fact the Bills schedule next year is far tougher (it’s quite brutal, really) I honestly do not see this team, as presently built, winning more than 7 games.

    Of course, it’s only January and anything can happen between now and September. But, right now, the points addressed herein represent my reasoning in thinking that…

    The 2016 Buffalo Bills will probably be worse, not better.

    P.S. I hope I’m wrong. I have to be wrong one of these years, right? :)

  9. Russ Brandon… that mention in Pegula’s press release stood out like a sore thumb. This stuff reminding us Russ is a part of football matters happens every year though, every year in the media guide. Russ must have some superhuman level of charisma to get billionaires to give him everything, because it surely hasn’t been due to his job performance. Yet, whenever he speaks publicly, the BS meter goes off the chart. What in the world is the deal with this guy?

    I’m not a big fan of Doug Whaley, but might as well let him stay to see this team he built until rebuilding is inevitable. Then, unless this Bills team is a true title contender, I want him gone. His QB decisions alone are enough.

    Oh, how they’ll brag about leading the league in rushing! It was so funny when Murphy impartially asked that hard-hitting question in the year end. This team has endless evidence that this strategy does not work. Sigh. It’s so frustrating.

    While I do think the Bills will degrade some next year, I don’t know about a worse record. 2015, 8-8 was a little unlucky. Their injuries did get really bad, and other than maybe the @Jets game, they didn’t get any of those really fluky wins they got in 2014. On the other side, they couldn’t ask for a better schedule, they played the two unquestionably easiest divisions in the league. I think the Bills are still in that hope everything goes right and maybe you can eke into the playoffs spot.

  10. “What in the world is the deal with this guy?”

    Ugh. But we both know the deal, Leelee. We know this guy. We knew him as children, we knew him in high school, and we’ve known him as adults. He is of a “type”. And his kind makes my skin crawl.

    If I could wave a magic wand and make one individual at OBD forever disappear – be it management, player, coach, anybody – it would be Russ Brandon. With his “inventory” and “regionalization” and “synergy” and other unctuous voicings, he is the epitome of repulsive imperiousness.

    But, sadly, I have no fairy godmother to arm me with such a wand, so I must concede that Brandon is here to stay – for a very long time. But, this I can assert: Should the Bills ever actually achieve success, it will not be because of, but rather despite, Russ Brandon.

    As for Whaley, I understand your point, but for me the idea of keeping him ultimately translates into one fact: a waste of a time. Why wait? Why wait until his “plan” bottoms out, and then rebuild? Once you identify a problem, you correct it.

    It’s like a cancer. (And given that I lost my own mother to that dreaded affliction, I feel that I can make the analogy without appearing too insensitive or hyperbolic.) If a doctor identifies a very small spot, you do not wait months or years, and then decide to excise it. You act. You waste no time. The quicker you act, the better chance you have to heal.

    That said, I realize that not everyone agrees with the prognosis of “Doctor” Scotty.

    Not everyone thinks, as I do, that the present Bills are in dire condition and in need of immediate corrective action. Only time will tell. But, it is my opinion, that we are only prolonging the inevitable. If I am proven wrong (and I hope I am) then I will happily relinquish my “medical” degree forthwith.

    ;)

    Ground & Pound! Yeah, baby! See, Rexy was right. It worked! Yep, it worked beyond his wildest dreams, and it got his team absolutely nothing. This one fact, more than anything else, should I think make people question the “plan” and competence of a dinosaur like Rex. When a “plan” works to perfection, but yields no positive results…

    The plan is flawed.

    Ah, yes, Murph. Sigh. I personally find it quite sad just how far Murphy has declined in my eyes. For years, I truly respected his work. Now, he’s no better than Chris Brown. (Or Sal Cap. – who I briefly liked when he first joined the local radio station.) Now, he’s just another shill. A paid mouthpiece. The upshot: There is officially nobody at WGR that I can stand to listen to anymore. So, I just don’t listen.

    Your point about the Bills record is well taken.

    I agree, they games they won, they mostly deserved. (Except, I would add to your Jets example, the Titans game – I mean, it did take some great heroics by Tyrod to pull that one out.) But, I would also add – the Bills likewise didn’t *lose* any games they should have won. They earned all of their losses, fair and square.

    So, to me, 8-8 is exactly what they *should* have been. And they were.

    And they probably still are. They only reason I am downgrading their wins next year is because of the schedule.

    They will face: the Pats(x2), Bengals, Steelers, Hawks, and Cards. That’s six games where they will almost certainly be underdogs, and rightly so. Can they steal one or two? Maybe. Still, they would need to win nearly 80% of the other games to have a legitimate chance at the playoffs.

    Among those others, they’ve got teams like the Jets(x2), Rams, Raiders, Ravens – which, notwithstanding how many delusional Bills fans may wish to dream – are certainly not “gimmes”. When you lose to the Jaguars in an “all-in” year, you should not look at any opponent as a walkover.

    For, as we both know, there are truly no “easy” games for a team like Buffalo, living on the razor’s edge, while hoping and praying (please, pretty please) to just sneak into the postseason.

    The Bills only hope is to find a great QB. This would make all my negativity about Brandon, or Whaley, or Rex, instantly moot. A true franchise guy makes a championship possible, no matter what. And, as I’ve argued, that guy is not named Tyrod Taylor.

    Now, I know you are still quite high on the kid, but I have seen enough of a sample to make my case.

    After 14 games I was able to make a judgment about EJ Manuel. And 14 games are enough for me to see what type of QB Tyrod Taylor is, and more importantly, is NOT. (He is better than Manuel, for sure. But, so what?)

    That said, I do hope that your faith in Tyrod proves accurate. Maybe he does make that big step forward, and proves me dead wrong. And you, right.

    As you know, that would make me very happy. :)

  11. Well, it’s official…

    Doug Whaley gets his contract extension. And the proof comes courtesy of a lovely picture of the Pegula’s yacht, in Florida, with the beaming faces of Terry, Doug, and, wait for it…

    Russ Brandon. Yep.

    But all is fine, since Terry believes that Doug Whaley has an “eye for talent”. Never mind that the evidence against this statement is overwhelming, both in the team’s performance, and the too many failed football players who were acquired by Whaley either through free agency or the draft.

    Far too many to mention. But off the top of the head, let’s see…

    EJ Manuel
    Marquise Goodwin
    Duke Williams
    Jonathan Meeks
    Dustin Hopkins
    Chris Gragg
    Kevin Kolb
    Anthony Dixon
    Chris Williams
    Corey Graham
    Keith Rivers
    Cyrus Kouandjio
    Preston Brown
    Ross Cockrell
    Cyril Richardson
    Randell Johnson
    Seantrel Henderson
    Tony Steward
    Nick O’Leary
    Jerome Felton

    In just 3 years, there are 20 players who caught Doug Whaley’s “eye”.

    But, wait, the news gets better!

    Now we have got BOTH of the Ryan brothers. Rob Ryan has joined the coaching staff. So, one more member (literally) added to the Bills Family. Rex and Rob! Twice the fun! Twice the bombast! Of course, twice the incompetence, as well.

    But, who cares? It will be a blast!

    Honestly, I feel nothing but pity for the Pegulas. They are clueless. But that’s not their fault. They are not supposed to know how to run a professional football team. It’s not their background.

    But, rather than heeding good advice from truly skilled and competent outside people, they are relying on the judgment of men who have continually failed in their jobs – Brandon, Whaley, and Rex. Sadly, they have put their trust in these men, and that trust has been horribly misplaced.

    I’m warming more and more to the opinion that, not only will this team take a step backward this year, but it will probably completely bottom-out over the next several seasons. Then, the whole thing will have to be torn down and rebuilt.

    But, that’s okay. Russ Brandon will have another great trick up his sleeve.

    After Kim and Terry are forced to fire Whaley/Ryan sooner rather than later, I can see Brandon whispering into Terry’s ear as they enjoy their cocktails on the yacht, and saying – Hey, boss, I know *just* the guys to bring-in as the next Coach and GM of our team…

    Thurman Thomas and Jim Kelly!

    That’s meant to be funny. And it would be, if there wasn’t a very good chance of Terry Pegula falling for it – always happy to freely spend his fracking money – and thus continuing to act like exactly what he truly is…

    A very wealthy fan.

    Anyway, in the here and now, at least with the Ryan Brothers together on the same team, the Bills probably have a very good chance of landing a spot on Hard Knocks this upcoming season.

    So, courtesy of the NFL and HBO, football fans across the nation will get an inside glimpse of our very own grotesque three-ring circus freak show.

    Sigh. :(

    • I expected the Rob Ryan hiring as soon as he was fired. While I want to believe Rex really cares about winning, the feeling that he came to Buffalo just because he saw an owner he could get a lot of power from and settle into a comfy life for his last job, as he said. Last year, there was the joke of hiring Tony Sparano Jr. and Bobby April III and now Rob Ryan. We’re all a family! Literally!

      Whatever happens, another rebuild is coming in a few years, maybe sooner if things go terribly.

      • Oh, I think Rex cares about winning – he’s just clueless as to how it’s done in the modern NFL. But, you’re right, those Pegula millions in his bank account will make losing more tolerable.

        Yeah, I know you’ve been rightly preaching for years about nepotism and patronage in the NFL. And here it is, again, with the Rob Ryan hire.

        But, many Bills fans will happily make peace with this hiring. And they will always love the Pegulas, no matter how inept their ownership, since we are not the poor Rams – and we get to keep our team!

        A dysfunctional family is, for some, better than none at all.

        I agree that the rebuild is coming. I honestly feel sooner, and not later. I can easily see this team regressing to 5 or 6 win seasons. And the really depressing part is…

        Every moment between now and then, every Bills thing we read and watch and write about here (as we must do) will be a complete waste of time.

        It will be just more of the same. Until it’s not.

  12. So, let’s see…

    The Bills grab some national headlines for what basically amounts to a PR stunt by hiring the first female “coach” in the NFL.

    Now, while I will always applaud (good for you, Ms. Smith) any advancement that promotes Women’s Rights (the single most important cause in the world – period) you will please excuse my cynicism with this move.

    For, meanwhile, this very same team still has no cheerleaders, because, you know, that issue involves much more serious problems, like: fair labor procedures, discrimination, money, etc.

    For, meanwhile, this very same team happily employs several men who have shown varying degrees of sexism, if not outright misogyny, in the recent past: McCoy, Incognito, Karlos, Darby – these come immediately to mind.

    But, this move, along with the hiring of Rob Ryan (and now Ed Reed) should help to ensure the our Bills will present a very “family” and “feel good” charade when they appear on Hard Knocks come August.

    Of course, the team itself will not be any better (likely worse) when they start to play real football games. No matter. Those bogus Three Wise Men (Brandon/Whaley/Rex) over at OBD are certainly doing what they do best…

    Selling.

    The only question that remains is: Just how many bottles of snake oil (season tickets) will the gullible, and blindly complicit, WNY citizenry gladly purchase this year?