Buffalo Bills’ local media coverage still painting a horrific image

Jan 13, 2017; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott speaks during a press conference at AdPro Sports Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 13, 2017; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott speaks during a press conference at AdPro Sports Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /
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buffalo bills tyrod taylor
Dec 4, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) reacts after the Bills rushed for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

This offseason has brought a lot of changes to the Buffalo Bills, but changes that needed to be made. Unfortunately, the media portrays it in a negative way.

These have been much needed changes for a Buffalo Bills team that is going through tough times, but if you let the media tell the story, they paint a picture equivalent to a horror film.

Many national and local stories covering the Buffalo Bills have keyed on words like “dysfunction” and phrases like “dumpster fire” repeatedly when covering the Bills. If that’s the case, then there are a lot of “dumpster fires” across the league.

Hiring and firing of staff takes place after every season. It has become so routine that the Monday after Week 17 is referred to as “Black Monday,” yet I rarely ever see these types of articles posted about other teams.

Take the San Francisco 49ers for example. Since head coach Jim Harbaugh left the 49ers to go back to coaching college football at Michigan, the 49ers have been in a downward spiral. Many rumors of actual dysfunction in the front office, several young players retired out of nowhere and there have been multiple hirings and firings of staff. Even the Cleveland Browns seem to hire and fire staff almost every year.

The difference with their coverage is that phrases like ‘re-building’ have been used to describe them — not ‘dysfunction.’

Why has a much different picture been portrayed in Buffalo? Is it because they have new owners who are just three years into their tenure as owners of a professional football franchise?

Not a day goes by that we are not remind of the 17 year playoff drought. Ever since purchasing the Bills in 2014, the playoff drought has been placed firmly at the feet of Terry and Kim Pegula.

They were never truly given a clean slate. The sale of the Buffalo Bills was finalized during the 2014 season and almost immediately the pressure shifted to the Pegulas to bring a winning franchise back to a city that hadn’t seen the post-season since 1999.

Immediately following that season, head coach Doug Marrone jumped on an opportunity to leave with a $4 million bonus due to a change of ownership clause in his contract.

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The Pegulas were tasked with finding a replacement, as well as getting to know the rest of their staff. They could have cleaned house right then, but they chose to give the current personnel a chance. It might not have been the right move, but I understand why they did so.

Imagine becoming the owner of a professional franchise with no previous background and immediately having to fill a front office and coaching staff. It may seem easy to just “clean house,” but in a cutthroat league it is not easy and any wrong decision made could set your franchise back several years.

The Pegulas chose to lean on their inherited staff, mainly Russ Brandon and Doug Whaley, to fill the head coach vacancy. At the time, Rex Ryan was the hot commodity on the market. With pressure from the Atlanta Falcons, who were also interested in Ryan, the Bills chose to take action and hire the most experienced candidate available.

Ryan brought the appeal of a dominant defense and a “bully” as he described in his opening press conference. The Pegulas, as well as the majority of the fan base, bought in.

Rex Ryan smooth talked his way into Buffalo. There was skepticism with the hire due to his last couple seasons with the New York Jets, but he was given the benefit of the doubt because the Jets were also going through their own turmoil at the time. I personally was not a fan of the hire, but being a life-long Bills fan I hoped for the best.

We all know how that turned out. The defense regressed severely as well as leadership and accountability.

It shouldn’t have been difficult to see the writing on the wall, but when Rex Ryan was relieved of his duty as head coach, a lot of criticism came along with the move. Reports started coming out in regards to dysfunction in the franchise and made Buffalo seem like an undesirable place to work.

With the reports coming out, how could anyone want to inherit the situation at One Bills Drive?

During that time span there was also turmoil surrounding Bills’ quarterback, Tyrod Taylor. Taylor was benched for the regular season finale against the New York Jets and the media went crazy over the decision.

Taylor had a lot to say about how the local media portrays his team, criticizing them for their misuse of information.

"“It was more so just the media in Buffalo. I feel it’s a very negative group. For their reasons, winning hasn’t been a tradition around there. I understand they(‘re) fed up with it, they want a team to get to the playoffs,” Taylor said “But I also felt that they were attacking the wrong things at the wrong time. It wasn’t fair to me at the time, but this game isn’t fair. I could have carried it a different way looking back on it, but I think that also sparked some things as far as my teammates, to see me react the way I did, I definitely think it made them look at me a different way too.”"

Tyrod continued:

"“I think more so just that attacking the offense, I would say, I mean the offense played well at times. The defense played well at times, too. We just couldn’t get on the same page. I was more so questioning, were they really watching the film, or were they just trying to put numbers together and taking questions from those numbers, versus actually just breaking down the film? Like I said I was without Sammy. That’s not an excuse. Guys go without their top receivers a lot. But also take that into consideration as well, too. But it’s behind us. Just learn from it and continue to get better."

There were many questions surrounding the decision to bench Taylor. Was it injury related? Were the Bills worried about having to pay a $27 million tab if Taylor’s groin injury lingered through the off-season? Was Doug Whaley still trying to get another look at EJ Manuel in an attempt to prove drafting Manuel in the first round of 2013 wasn’t a bust?

The blame on drafting EJ Manuel may be placed on Buddy Nix, but I firmly believe it was just as much on Whaley.

So the Buffalo Bills went into the offseason surrounded in turmoil and the dysfunctional reports spread like wildfire. How could the Bills turn things around as well as replace yet another head coach?

Despite the picture being painted, the Bills were able to find a highly respected replacement in Sean McDermott. McDermott came with high praise from everyone. like former bosses, colleagues and players he coached.

So now that they hired McDermott, things would calm down right? Wrong.