Breaking Down The Bills New Year’s Day Press Conference

I am going to get to the Bills coaching search later tonight but I wanted to share some thoughts on the much bally-hooed press conference at One Bills Drive on New Year’s Day.  One thing is for sure – I’ve never seen such a divide between the national media and the local media regarding a move as I did following the news of the Buffalo Bills re-structuring of their front office.

Russ Brandon took control of the Bills following his press conference yesterday

Russ Brandon took control of the Bills following his press conference yesterday

I can see both sides of the argument.  The local guys have a “I’ll believe it when I see it” mentality when it comes to any significant change within the organization and to be frank the Bills have earned that reputation in the area.  On the flip side the national guys are reacting very positively to the elevation of new Team President Russ Brandon as well as the pending elevation of current assistant GM Doug Whaley.  You can’t really criticize either side.  Russ Brandon is seen by many in the Buffalo area as a mainstay of the failed past decade – he’s been with the Bills for 17 years and had a stint as GM in 2009 before hiring Buddy Nix to do the job full-time.  There is also skepticism regarding how much will actually change.  National reporters see the other side of the coin – they see Brandon as an up-and-coming exec who is hungry to make his mark and is an intelligent and innovative mind.  Whaley has a great reputation around the league as well.  We’ll see which of them turns out to be right in the end.  Here are a few personal takeaways from the PC:

  • Russ Brandon was asked several times if things will be different with Ralph Wilson no longer needing to sign off on his decisions.  He deflected all those questions which could mean one of two things – either he doesn’t plan on changing up too much and didn’t want to admit it or he realizes the mistakes that Ralph was making and plans to change them yet didn’t want to throw the guy under the bus the sentence after he compared him to a father figure.  I’d lean toward the latter because the media gave him a chance to back away from the pointed comments about the lack of direction for the Bills for 13 years but he stood by him.  Then there is this…
  • Brandon announced a state of the art “analytical team” in the front office to try and take advantage of work done by the likes of web sites like Football Outsiders or Cold Hard Football Facts, football sabre-metrics if you will.  Are we to believe that it is coincidence that Brandon rolled this thing out the same day that Ralph handed him the keys to the car?  Questions – Who is running this new team?  Who has the front office added to contribute to this new team?  How will this new team be structured?  The answer is no one knows yet because Russ Brandon just rolled it out yesterday.  It has all the makings of something that Brandon had in his back pocket waiting for his opportunity to take over.  Let’s face it, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that Ralph Wilson is as old school a football guy as it gets.  He’s 94 years old.  He’s been involved in football operations since the advent of the AFL.  Just look at his last 3 personnel hires – Tom Donahoe, Marv Levy, Buddy Nix.  All old school football guys.  An innovative analytical team is the opposite of old-school football.  There will be big changes in the Bills’ personnel department.
  • Buddy Nix will relinquish his role as Bills GM in the near future

    Buddy Nix will relinquish his role as Bills GM in the near future

    Another question that went unanswered was when Buddy Nix will officially turn things over to Doug Whaley.  Nix played southern dumb, which he does well, and basically said eventually and didn’t give much more.  It’s clear that there is a plan in place and it will happen sooner than later.  It seems like it’s information that a head coaching candidate is going to hear before the media does.  Conventional wisdom says that he stays on through the draft which has always been his bread and butter.  I would not be shocked to see him go into semi-retirement and continue to work with the Bills through a few more drafts.

  • Brandon exuded aggressiveness during the PC and he and the football ops team have come out aggressive in their head coach search.  They headed right to Arizona where they will conducted at least 3 interviews before conducting another in Denver this weekend.  I’ll write more on the coaching candidates later tonight.

The future remains to be seen in Buffalo but one thing is certain – change is definitely coming.  People who are expecting the same old Bills will likely be disappointed.  Now let me be clear, I am not necessarily saying that the Bills will be better but it’s pretty clear from where I’m sitting that things are going to be different from here on out at One Bills Drive.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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