Last off season you, yes you, were very close to a tumultuous celebration. We were winning the offseason so far according to the head coach Rex Ryan. I know I had a difficult time containing my excitement with the hiring of brother Rob Ryan last year by Rex. After I looked up the results of his more recent defenses that he coordinated I suddenly somehow was able to control my desire for jollification. It was not just his good looks that ‘had me at hello.’
Now seriously, I did not really care one way or another about the hire. If more coaches being an extra set of eyes and ears was what Rex needed, sign me up. It did not matter to me how poorly things went in New Orleans because at the end of the day, it was Rex who made decisions on the defense. That would be one of the reasons that many average Bills fans did not even know who Dennis Thurman was and those who did wondered what he did.
I was not aware until recent insiders let it be known that Rex was the kind of leader that was one of the last ones in come morning and the first one out the door come afternoon. He was not Jon Gruden sleeping at the office studying film and having anxiety about the next offense they were to face.
Some good things happened last offseason even though it felt like things were starting to implode when first round pick Shaq Lawson announced his surgery followed by Sammy Watkins health related question marks. All of this was added into the fact that multiple players including Marcell Dareus would be serving suspensions before the season began.
Then it was announced that he was checking himself into rehab upon departing the team facilities for his suspension only to catch a shot of him on the local news hanging out with the ladies in the Buffalo party district known as Chippewa Street. I guess he did not go straight to rehab. What do I know?
I did not realize when they announced the signing of Lorenzo Alexander that they had just signed a 12 plus sack machine who not only would go to his first Pro Bowl, but win the Defensive MVP for that all important game down in luminous Orlando. They also signed a guy you may have heard of named Zach Brown. Pro Bowler! Give Doug Whaley a raise for finding those two keepers. Oh wait, they are both free agents shortly. He nailed it with those two findings.
Sarcasm aside, he did provide enough talent on the roster to at least qualify for a wild card position last season. Injuries to rookies and veteran players alike in addition to the team just not being ready for their opponent on certain weeks were not forecasted. So both sides have a good argument if presented well were this a college debate on the job performance of Doug Whaley.
Since he still is the general manager and knowing how many free agents the Bills have, how many holes they already have, the unfriendly salary cap situation the Bills are in and the career altering decision he has to make on the quarterback situation, we do not need to worry about if we loved his performance the past several seasons or if we are still upset how much he gave up for Sammy Watkins.
He will be held accountable for this offseason’s results including the hiring of the new head coach. I hope everything Whaley touches turns to gold and this embarrassing playoff drought comes to an end. The problem is if Whaley does what is needed to win right now and maybe squeak out a playoff spot, we will be suffering for years after that in salary cap prison.
On the opposite side, if Whaley does what he thinks is best for the long haul we probably look at either Cardale Jones or a rookie starting quarterback with no depth at the backup position. Doug Whaley going this direction would be a rebuild at least at a certain level. The problem with that is the Bills could be then looking at a new GM because Whaley is not surviving another failed quarterback and head coach he hired personally.
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Things we know about the Buffalo Bills this Week:
V = Vacillating about the number of Victories
The Bills new coaching staff does have various levels of experience — but some are extremely seasoned at their trade — but do have the win now approach from how they come across verbally. I do not see a head coach or experienced coordinators coming in and going through a bottom out rebuild or to wait for a rookie quarterback, not Andrew Luck ready, to develop.
They can’t afford the time it takes to do that without jobs being on the line. Rex was not producing 2-14 seasons justifying his termination. He was basically .500. So unless you come in Bill Parcells style with total control over the 53 man roster as a head coach, your test run as head coach these days could be as short as one season, but two seems average for a non-winner. Victories are what the Bills need. A variety of close game victories and vast amounts of one sided blowout victories would be adequate to this guy!
W = Win Baby Win!
Doug Whaley could have hired Bill Cowher or dragged in Joe Gibbs, if of course they agreed to come here. That being said,if they miss the playoffs with that head coach or they convince Tony Romo to come here, it really comes down to winning at this point of such a long absence from postseason play. Signing Stephon Gilmore or letting him walk similar to bringing back Tyrod for all of that bread or sending him elsewhere really gets immediate positive or negative reactions, but Whaley only becomes a real success at his position or a hero in the Queen City by getting the Bills to play meaningful games in January.
If Tyrod stays and improves slightly and the running game dominates again while the defense improves to above average, you are looking at 11 wins and postseason football. The same thing goes for the head coaching hire. Win, become the next big thing at the head coach position like others have many times on different teams over the years.
Continue mediocrity or worse and the next coach becomes a bust and Whaley works at Sonic Burgers. So many times the perfect coach does not work out. Mike Shanahan in Washington comes to mind as does Mike Ditka down in “The Big Easy” and George Seifert for the Panthers. It is not always the one person that everyone thinks as they may have been in a totally different culture where they had success.
I always think of Scotty Bowman in the NHL. He coached a newly expansion St. Louis Blues to the Stanley Cup Finals, actually won many Stanley Cups with Montreal at his second opportunity as the main guy. He then goes to Buffalo and after a couple playoff runs cut short and some trades and draft picks possibly pointing out being coach and general manager was too much for one person to handle.
After he was fired — YES FIRED — by the Buffalo Sabres, he proceeded to win Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh and then Detroit. Yes he had talent in place with those teams — something he lacked in Buffalo — but he still won cups in three stops, almost won a cup in the fourth stop and was not real close in Buffalo, so that’s success at 4 out of 5 stops.
It just was not lined up in Buffalo and he could not change the entire culture, talent and staff perfect by himself. Every time he stepped down from coaching to focus on the general manager duties, he eventually fired the coach and went back temporarily behind the bench because no one could do it quite like him and he knew it and could not watch someone else make mistakes or have limited success.
It goes back to the last couple of playoff games the Bills made it to in the late 90’s. Everyone was so excited about this big tall athletic quarterback that the Bills traded a first round pick to Jacksonville for — resulting in Fred Taylor — named Rob Johnson. He was going to be that next big thing in Buffalo because he was so talented but could not start in Florida being they had their starting quarterback in Mark Brunel.
Rob Johnson comes in and is mediocre, not horrible like Todd Collins before him, and gets injured. Running off the bench is the short guy who was run out of the NFL a decade earlier where he learned to read defenses and take total control of a huddle doing all of the intangible things a good professional experienced quarterback does, things he did not do when he was fresh out of college playing in Chicago and New England.
He came in and immediately showed leadership and the ability to move the ball. He ran a last minute winning drive against Rob Johnson’s old team in Jacksonville. Even though Wade Phillips said numerous times that you do not lose your starting job to an injury, he was forced to go back on that statement because he could not go back to an unproven Rob Johnson when a Mr. Doug Flutie really took ownership of the team’s offense and results were in the win column even if you did not like the actual stats that got the wins. So Joe Montana can come and play for Buffalo and get run out of town if we do not win and some no name seveth rounder could step in and be the next big deal.
I guess all of this comes down to one thing and it is really not about Whaley. After all, who needs a Big Johnson when you have a little Flutie?