I’ve written quite a few pieces for the BillsMafia site over the past five months. I try to make most of them fact-based, using different statistics and measurables to help form opinions about the team and where they are headed. Most of the time, I try to look for the positive in all of it. This is not going to be one of those pieces. This is more from the heart.
The past two weeks of the Buffalo Bills season have been nothing short of an utter disappointment. Like Dumb and Dumber 2 promises to do, they have once again managed to ruin a good thing. Once. Again. Two weeks ago this time the Bills were 5-3. Two weeks ago there were playoff scenarios and important December games drifting through fans’ heads. Two weeks ago this team was finally escaping from the clutches of mediocrity. Two weeks ago.
Well, I’m not here to give you a recap of what the two games since all of that hope and optimism has brought. You’ve already lived it and it’s already been analyzed over and over again. Also, I’m trying to keep some level of sanity and if I have to re-hash the Doug Marrone decision to punt on 4th down, down 10 points with 9 minutes left in the game, one more time – I’m going to end up in a psych ward. Seriously.
Instead, lets look to the future a bit. Might as well at this point, right?
Speaking of Doug Marrone – he should be gone. No questions asked. Do not pass go, do not collect whatever bonuses may have been included in his contract had he coached it out. GONE. He has proven to be a completely incompetent in-game head coach in the National Football League. He misuses timeouts, he is almost always late or completely negligent in making in-game adjustments and, worst of all, he coaches fricken SCARED. Sorry, I just felt like that deserved both bold and caps because that is the biggest thing that infuriates me about the guy.
Marrone coaches not to lose. It’s as simple as that. That worked in the NFL of the 1980’s. It doesn’t work today. Offenses are too good to expect to punt on every questionable 4th down in the second half because you want your defense to win the field position battle. In this league, you need to coach to win the football game. Doug Marrone simply does not do that. He has also proven that he isn’t a great relationship builder in the locker room, either (see Williams, Mike and the training cap drama). That doesn’t help his cause.
As far as the rest of the coaching staff goes, the offensive staff can hop on the same bus out of town as Marrone is. They’re not as much of a problem, but they certainly haven’t proven to be part of the solution, either. Maybe Nathaniel Hackett will be a great offensive coordinator somewhere down the line. Who knows. But he isn’t ready for the job quite yet. His play designs are generally fine, but similar to Marrone, he has displayed an inability to consistently get a feel for game flow and call the right plays, particularly in the red zone. And that is an area that has absolutely killed the offense this season.
On the other hand, I have zero problem with anything Jim Schwartz and the rest of the defensive staff has done this year. They are directing one of the best defenses in the entire league, and it’s a damn shame that effort will ultimately be wasted. I would welcome them all back with open arms. They deserve it.
This brings us to the front office. As far as the majority of them go, I can hardly pretend to say that I know exactly how the inner workings of an NFL front office operate to know whether or not someone is doing a capable job. Nor do I know most of them by name. I just hope Terry Pegula and his people have a much firmer grasp on the lesser knowns than I do, and I’m betting that they will by the end of the season. However, there is one person that I am certain deserves to stay in the fold heading into 2015.
Doug Whaley deserves to stay at One Bills Drive as the General Manager of the Buffalo Bills. There is no doubt in my mind about this. Some will agree, some won’t – but I believe Whaley is one of the brightest and best young football minds in the game, and has been dating back to his days in Pittsburgh.
Since 2010, when Whaley has been among the hierarchy of the Buffalo Bills’ front office, the team has drafted C.J. Spiller, Marcell Dareus, Stephon Gilmore, E.J. Manuel and Sammy Watkins with their first round selections. Sure, one of these things is (probably) not like the others, but that is a pretty good list overall. Some other names of note that were drafted after the 1st round from 2010-2014 with Whaley in the fold: Kiko Alonso, Aaron Williams, Cordy Glenn, Robert Woods, Preston Brown, Seantrel Henderson, Nigel Bradham, Alex Carrington, Arthur Moats and Da’Norris Searcy. These are all good football players that have contributed significantly for the Bills early in their careers. Many were mid-round selections. Not easy to do.
There was also the time he traded away Kelvin Sheppard for the guy that has been, almost inarguably, the best player on the Buffalo defense throughout the past two years in Jerry Hughes. All Hughes has done over the past 26 games in Buffalo is start every one of them and rack up 17.5 sacks, 81 tackles and pressure the quarterback on seemingly every single passing play. Folks, that is the best trade that has been made throughout the entire league over the past two seasons, bar none. And you can thank Doug Whaley.
Lets talk about the Sammy Watkins trade for a minute. Most people loved it at first. At least some, if not many, of those people are souring on it because the Bills are beginning to nosedive into the latter part of the season and that absent 1st round pick in next May’s draft is looming large. I am not one of those people. Sammy Watkins was the most talented player in the 2014 draft, in my opinion. A generational talent. He has displayed much of this thus far in his rookie season despite battling a slew of injuries. I don’t care what the other rookie WRs are doing – many of them are very good – but Sammy is and will be better than all of them.
And the thing I loved most about that ‘bold’ move, and still do, is that Whaley had the guts to take matters into his own hands and try to make something big happen for this team and this city. He didn’t just sit on his hands and hope he guessed right on an Eric Ebron or Mike Evans, he made a conscious decision that the Bills were going to be the aggressor and made a play for who he thought was the clear-cut best player in the draft. No other Buffalo General Manager has had the (insert word here) to do that in years and I loved it. And I still do now. I don’t really care about the quarterback situation or anything else, Sammy Watkins is already one of the most talented wide receivers in the entire league, and he will continue to prove it for years to come. And we have him.
Now, has Whaley had some misses over the past five years in the Bills organization? Of course. What GM doesn’t over a period of time like that. I’m already willing to say E.J. Manuel was a miss – and a huge one. I get that. There are also names like T.J. Graham, Torrell Troup (ugh, Gronk) and Zebrie Sanders (remember him?) who simply never panned out. But, in my opinion, Whaley’s hits have far dwarfed his misses throughout his tenure in Buffalo. Look at that defense. Look at the skill position players on offense. Look at the young talent along the offensive line. It’s tangible.
I thought the Bills would finish the 2014 season at 10-6 and secure a wild card spot. While mathematically that is still possible, it is incredibly unlikely. I believe they will probably finish the season around 7-9 or 8-8 and that better cost Doug Marrone and some of the rest of the coaching staff their jobs. There is no way around that. But I do not think it should cost Doug Whaley his job as General Manager of this team. He has, for the most part, don’t his job in assembling a talented roster. Just look at the depth chart. Now we just need a quarterback and a coach. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
Those are my thoughts on why Dough Whaley should stay on as General Manager of the Buffalo Bills. And a couple guys who should be sent packing. What are your thoughts, fans? Let us know, and as always, go Bills!