January 2, 2015 Leave a comment
Just a few short months ago the Buffalo Bills’ fan base was over the moon. They had a new owner and finally had long term stability in Western New York. The team was moving in the right direction with a winning attitude and they were in the playoff hunt the latest that they had been in years. For the first time since 1996 the Bills never fell under .500 during the entire season. While a late season loss to the Oakland Raiders in the black hole knocked them out of playoff contention they finished with their best record in a decade. It seemed like the Bills were heading for an optimistic off-season in which the Pegula regime was ready to turn the corner of the most down-trodden franchise in the NFL over the past 20 years.
It’s been 5 days since the Bills’ season ended on a high note with their first ever win at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. In those five days their starting quarterback has abruptly called it quits, their head coach walked out the door with $4 million of Pegula’s money due to a clause in his contract that was written by another ownership group and the man that Pegula had wanted to be his “football czar” decided that he was all set after the former all had happened. Now you can surely question whether or not Kyle Orton was the correct long term answer at quarterback or Doug Marrone was the long term answer at head coach. Was Bill Polian really the right guy to lead football operations for the Bills over two decades after he was fired from that job the first time? I’m not sure that the answer to all of the above is yes but I can tell you that’s it’s quite clear right now that Terry Pegula’s initial plan involved all 3 of those men. Now he will move forward with none of them.
So what’s plan B? I certainly hope that Pegula has one because he is going to have to act fast on it. The team has already missed out on interviewing one coordinator, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, since they were only able to start scheduling interviews with a two-day window to see those coaches that were on their respective playoff byes. Further, if you’ve lost your top pick to head football operations who is going to head the search now? All signs point to GM Doug Whaley who, until today, seemed like he was on the outs in Buffalo. It really is a weird situation and what makes it sad is that all the momentum that the franchise had picked up in the last few months has seemingly all gone up in smoke.
Now the question is how do they get back on track? I’m not sure if it’s that Pegula doesn’t think too highly of Whaley or he just trusted other people more but right now he’s his best option. He’s young, smart and he’s already laid the ground work on the current roster. I’ll get into who was more to blame between the two Dougs for some personnel failures at another time but I think anyone who doesn’t think that Whaley has put together a fine roster of players in the less than 2 years on the job is extremely short-sighted. Even if Pegula was angling to replace Whaley the right thing to do now is to tell him to let bygones be bygones and to go find him a coach that can get the 53 guys on his roster into the playoffs. Give him a chance with his own guy this time around.
The apple cart has already been upset but this Bills’ situation is screaming for some type of continuity. Doug Whaley is the last best hope for that and Pegula would be wise to give him the keys now and let him lose the training wheels on his own.