Have the Buffalo Bills hit the Snooze Button?

Buffalo Bills General Manager, Buddy Nix

March 12th, 2013.  I stroll through a mall in Omaha, Nebraska.  It’s almost time start NFL free agency, and the Bills have a lot to address.  I stare at my smart phone.  Refresh…. nothing.  Refresh again.  Hmmmm, Buffalo released Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Time to grab a hot pretzel.  Alright, refresh once more.  Nothing.  No rumors of “meeting with players,” no buzz of hot free agents at the Buffalo airport; just the mourning of letting their former lackluster QB go.  Okay.  Deep breath.  Nothing right out of the gate, but maybe the Bills will do something today.  Will they grab a linebacker or two?  How will they bolster their wide receivers? They’ve made no effort to resign Andy Levitre.  How about signing some guards?

One week later: Yes, Ryan Fitzpatrick is gone (now a member of the Tennessee Titans). Andy Levitre signs with the Tennessee Titans.  Fellow starting guard Chad Rinehart signs with the Chargers.  The only addition at this point:  former Bengals linebacker Manny Lawson.

After the Bills made a great effort last off season, and signed former top draft pick Mario Williams,  I had a sense of optimism going into this off season.  A hope that their aggressive effort was a trend that would continue.  Yet, here were are.  One week after free agency has opened up, with only one new addition.

Although I like the Lawson signing, there’s still a lot more this team needs to do.  The holes at wide receiver are concerning.  Did Buffalo make a play for Greg Jennings or maybe Wes Welker?  If so, it wasn’t leaked to the media, like a Buddy Nix phone conversation.  What about their gaping holes at guard?  Maybe Bills fans just need to be patient.  However, it’s hard to be patient when the Bills haven’t made the playoffs since 1999, had a winning season since 2003, or finished more than 2 games below .500 since 2008.

I’m going to operate under the assumption that Bills GM, Buddy Nix, and his staff know what their doing.  They must have a master plan in mind.  Maybe they will load up at the draft?  Maybe there’s a wild card move we have yet to see.   New England has had a typically strong off season.  The Dolphins made a big splash signing Ellerbe and Wallace on day one.  If the Bills don’t wake up soon, they may continue to sit in the AFC East basement.

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  • NWBill

    I think that the issue driving a lot of what you’re seeing (and NOT seeing) out of Buffalo so far this offseason has to do with the transition of the philosophy of the GM position from Buddy Nix, to his heir apparent Doug Whaley. Buddy’s from the old school (newer guys wouldn’t have let themselves get their phone conversations punked on-air, because they have much closer ties to modern communications) and Whaley’s an up-and-coming guy who represents the youth movement among Bills hierarchy. We saw it when Russ Brandon assumed the reins of the team as President after VERY elderly Ralph Wilson gave up day-to-day power. Next, we saw them bring in a younger college-oriented coach to run the staff. And now, we’re seeing signs that Whaley may emerge as GM quicker than people realize. The other thing going on here is that – earned, or not – Buffalo has a rep around the league of not being a favored place to play. The Bills these days have to throw 100 million at someone in order to have a chance to snag a prominent player – which may explain why free agents haven’t exactly been heating up the phone lines into One Bills Drive. Until the Bills start winning – and winning CONSISTENTLY – this is going to be the case. For a while, they were hiring coaching retread after retread; but now that philosophy has apparently changed, with the hiring of Marrone. I for one think that’s a very positive step in the right direction. I was afraid for a while, after it looked like they would let Chan Gailey go, that they would simply elevate Dave Wannstedt. I’ve got nothing against the guy, but he’s from a different generation …. and the Bills need to get with the times.

    These days, more and more college staffs are running pro offenses and building their teams that way – so, it’s logical to bring that philosophy to the NFL. The Bills have done that. Now, they need to draft a QB – and do it quick. Fitz had obviously reached his ceiling in Buffalo; whatever Buddy had to say about him over a phone line, or not. Throwing almost 40 picks over the last two seasons will do that to a guy – AND a team. So, the #1 goal, now that the position has been opened, and there’s a new staff in place, became finding the best QB to fill it and lead this team. Personally, I think the Bills will have a chance to do that in this year’s draft. How it will eventually work out is anybody’s guess. To my knowledge, the NFL doesn’t employ fortune tellers – not even the Patriots. But that doesn’t mean that the Bills can do anything EXCEPT stick with and follow the plan – which is to find a QB that can succeed …. and, in succeeding, carry the team back to winning – and winning CONSISTENTLY.

    We’ll see what happens after the draft.

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