The Buffalo Bills In Crisis Mode Yet Again

17 Sep

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If you’re reading this as a Bills fan, you may understand this bout of insomnia. You wake up, not believing the predicament your team is in. The difference this time is that it doesn’t nearly contain the anger it once did, moderated by the number of times this has happened.

But tonight (or this morning) is different. A thought kept permeating my mind. Maybe it’s the delusion of a guy lacking sleep. Or maybe it’s valid. But until it’s out, I won’t sleep. So here goes:

The Bills yet again sold us a bunch of hooey, but this time, not even their coaches have the stomachs to buy it.

The “bunch of hooey” is, yet again, that a mediocre quarterback is the leader of the future of this team.

Greg Roman is gone. Why? Clearly the firing is a way for Rex Ryan to deflect criticism to his Offensive Coordinator, a guy who definitely went overly cautious in the 1st 2 games of the season. Things were supremely vanilla in preseason, but you expected more once the games mattered. Tyrod Taylor got paid a relatively handsome sum to be that QB of the future, just a couple of weeks ago.

Instead, the offense has sputtered, and it’s left this guy wondering if Roman saw the writing on the wall. The play-calling seemed a step back from last year, for whatever reason. Of course, by now the All-22 analysts will have pointed out all the open receivers Taylor missed, and they’re probably right. But the scheming and play design were often repetitive, and the reaction of the opponent left you thinking they anticipated every move.

One has to wonder if Roman got to the point of damage control on his part. The “sell job” on Tyrod Taylor was strong, and yet again reeks of a marketing ploy managed from the top. They went from “Quarterback Purgatory” to “Our Guy” on the back of a 6th round pick, one whose game-testing was awfully premature to be garnering such high hopes.

If Roman knew in his gut that Taylor lacked a number of key elements necessary to progress, that might explain the first two weeks of this season. He tried his darnedest to keep Taylor from making mistakes, which was the recipe for a relatively successful 2015 campaign on offense. But the fan-base was sold on “Our Guy,” and that connotation insinuates a player who was ready to show he was developing skills he lacked previously – the intermediate throw over the middle, and the ability to read the defense.

And so Week 1 saw none of that. Taylor looked unspectacular, and the “Our Guy” bubble was burst just like that. The perpetual charade, the ever-existent Russ Brandon-style “Sell Those Season Tickets At Any Cost” Snake Oil Sales line had been exposed. Now, the crew who brought it to you needed the hapless fool to take the blame, while the guy who might just orchestrate a lot of this narrative construction slinks out of town behind the scenes.

I don’t find it a throwaway line that Rex Ryan told reporters that Russ Brandon was in on discussions to cut players. I also think Doug Whaley’s recent discussion of his philosophy as a General Manager and roster builder was calculated. His quote:

“We’ve got a list,” said Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley, “of six positions we’re going to pay.” The positions: quarterback, left tackle, and a playmaker on offense; a cornerback, a pass rusher, and a playmaker on defense. There are 22 starters on a football field, and the Bills’ strategy calls for paying big money to six of them.”

So how does this explain trading and paying top dollar for LeSean McCoy and giving a pricey offer sheet to Charles Clay?

These lines could be indicative of men who lack the autonomy to make moves themselves. Supposedly Brandon was going to remove himself from football decisions. Brandon said last summer:

“So I think this really delineates really more, in concrete, that we have a hockey department with [Sabres general manager] Tim [Murray] and Coach [Dan Bylsma], we have a football department with Doug and Coach [Ryan], and now we have a business department that I oversee: the business and culture within both organizations.”

Surprise, probably another charade. Brandon is a lightning rod for criticism, as his presence at One Bills Drive has been one of the few constants since the Bills last made the playoffs. It would make sense that a press conference proclaiming his removal from Football Operations  was not based in reality.

And it sure sounds like the Roman firing was a PR move, no matter what Rex says to the media. Vic Carucci from the Buffalo News puts the offensive dissatisfaction on Terry & Kim Pegula’s shoulders, and that may be true. But wouldn’t admitting that Brandon had influence on this decision expose the fallacy of him divesting himself from Football Operations?

There are so many PR-type moves that lack sound judgment from a football standpoint, The true manifestation of this was the Sammy Watkins trade-and pick, spending two valuable commodities on 1 player whose viability as the game-changer they need in completely dependent upon having a QB who can deliver the ball.

The entire coaching staff is likely now getting their resumés together. Against the Jets, Rex was already in bunker mode – abandoning his defensive playbook because his cornerbacks weren’t physical enough to handle 1-v-1 matchups against Jets WR’s Brandon Marshall and Kyle Decker. Rex abandoned the blitz, the pass rush became non-existent, and Ryan Fitzpatrick became Tom Brady’s bearded twin. It was ugly.

Expect more of the same, as far as coaching performance. I can’t see it getting too much better, save for a guy like Marcell Dareus to return. Maybe with him the defensive front will be generate pressure on a 3-man rush. But anyone expecting Anthony Lynn to miraculously convert Taylor into the QB they portrayed this offseason will likely be disappointed. If that happens, Lynn will have done something no Offensive Coordinator has been able to do under Rex Ryan – develop a winning franchise QB.

But to me, it’s pretty clear the coaches are toast. They’ve been pushed into a corner by a Front Office dead set on “winning the offseason.” The narrative is likely dead, barring some kind of extreme turnaround with Anthony Lynn calling plays. Maybe that’ll happen, but if not, the calls for a complete reset on the franchise will gain steam. And the true reconstruction must include Ralph Wilson’s right-hand man, Russ Brandon.

 

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