Stupid Russ Brandon! I pretty much had it in my head for at least the last few years that Buddy Nix would be retiring soon. Of course, he comes out and says Buddy would be the GM for a long time coming and I pretty much expect to see him in a wheelchair, picking players and having a nurse move guys off the draft board. All these guys do is lie! LIE! LIE! LIE!
However, if you take out Russ Brandon's declaration, this isn't too shocking.
If you want the pros about Whaley (I'll shit my pants if they don't name him the GM), he's exactly what you'd probably want in a GM who is overtaking a rebuilding operation. Don't kid yourself, kids, the Bills are rebuilding. They have a lot of young guys who are unproven on their squad and because of that, this plan that Russ Brandon keeps pointing to will probably take a good two years.
Youth to me seems to be be the biggest attribute for Whaley. Also, coming from a winning organization previously certainly helps. The Bills haven't hired a young GM since Polian (44) and Butler (46), and have been on the senior circuit with the likes of hiring Marv Levy (80) and Buddy Nix (69).
It also represents a big culture change within the organization in getting younger with Brandon, Marrone, and Whaley. To me, this feels like a bigger move than when Brandon was appointed as the head of the franchise, mainly because I kind of think he was in charge prior to it. This will obviously make fans pretty optimistic going forward, especially since this offseason seems to be big on "a youth being served" movement that everyone wants.
Now, I'm going to play a bit of a conspiracy theorist here, but how different did this draft class look from the previous Buddy Nix ones? Sure, Nix has said forever that he wants a franchise QB, but he also kind of swing a diss towards Manuel at the draft luncheon when it came to his inconsistencies? Could it be a smokescreen? Of course.
There's a basis in saying that the mobility and arm strength of EJ is what Buddy likes in a QB. However, I go to Whaley's connections in Pittsburgh and to me, EJ Manuel kind of fits exactly what Big Ben looks like as a QB. Elusive, big arm, and leader in the locker room.
On top of that, the Bills picked a LB in the 2nd round, which they never seemed to do under Nix, and yet, what is Pittsburgh known for? LBs. How about going WRs in the 2nd and 3rd round? Did the coaching staff or Whaley not like TJ Graham? What about Buddy always talking about wanting 2-3 CBs and not having enough of the position? The Bills selected zero this past draft. From 2005-2012, the Steelers only selected one CB within the first two rounds.
Also, going back to Russ Brandon's quote from a few weeks ago about Nix staying put, I'd like to throw out the interview Nix had with Joe B. and Coach Sal in which Buddy was heated after the assumption that Whaley was the GM in waiting was brought up. Could it have been something they cooked up and were lying all along? I guess. But Buddy was pretty defiant about it.
I think the biggest question going forward for Nix is whether he was forced to quit or if he really decided to leave? I mean the whole "Spending more time with your family" has always been used as a way to finagle "being forced to quit" to "riding off into the sunset." Not to mention he did "retire" when he had a falling out with management in SD.
I think if the Bills were 8-8 and kept Gailey, Nix is still here. Buddy has always said he wanted to see the thing through. I wouldn't say this is the case as there's surely some unfinished business. However, since this is a rebuild, it probably wouldn't make sense for him to oversee it yet again. I think he's being a good soldier and he was forced to bounce because of the changes with Brandon and Marrone.
Of course, there's always an evil underbelly with me. A few things stick out if Whaley is the guy…Maybe I read too much into history, but once you leave the Pittsburgh Steelers organization, you kind of fall on your face..
Examples: Tom Donahoe, Tom Modrak, Mike Mularkey, Ken Whisenhunt, Chan Gailey, Dick LeBeau, Jim Haslett, and Dom Capers.
The Steelers have always been an organization that just plugs in new coaches and new personnel guys while never missing a beat. Yet, the guys who leave don't exactly place a great imprint on their new stomping grounds. All of the guys I've mentioned with Pittsburgh roots have been fired multiple times.
The other underbelly is what exactly was Whaley's input on the team over the last few years? Let's not forget this team won 16 games in three years and he was 2nd in command to Nix. I know being a pro personnel guy means he was involved with free agent signings, and to put it mildly, I'm not exactly blown away by most of the guys they have picked up via free agency.
Look, I just don't want it to be a situation where two years from now, if the Bills are struggling, we give Whaley carte blanche when it comes to the team's drafts from 2010-2013.
I remember when Marv Levy and Tom Donahoe left, Tom Modrak was brought into the inner circle, and folks placed the draft messes of Levy and Donahoe onto their shoulders and acted like Modrak was just an innocent bystander, even though he was in that draft room. When Dick Jauron got fired, there were rumors that he was the one who spearheaded the Bills in taking Aaron Maybin and not Tom Modrak or Russ Brandon.
Ugh. I don't want that again.
Whaley has been here since Buddy said he wasn't the smartest man in the room 3 years ago and if the Bills keep on struggling, Whaley should be held to the same standard as Buddy had here based on previous drafts.
In other words, if Mark Anderson blows, I don't want to just absolve Whaley in saying that it was all on Nix, who was just an old senile fart. If EJ Manuel is a bum, I don't want it to fall just on Buddy. You win and you lose as an organization. Period.
I'm not about to say Buddy Nix was great for us or is pointing the team in the right direction. I know we are still in our honeymoon period when it comes to being excited about the draft, a possible franchise QB and Doug Marrone, but the team lost 32 games in 3 years (The 2nd most in the NFL over that span) with him picking the players. I mean, you can't blame everything on Chan Gailey, can you? His draft classes have been alright with the first round picks, but terrible beyond that (Exception being Glenn).
Did those congratulating and thanking Buddy forget that he passed on Wilson, Kaepernick, Gronk and Andy Dalton for Troup, Aaron Williams and TJ Graham? Or that of the top 9 picks in 2011, only Dareus has not been to a pro bowl? Or that the 2009 team already had Stevie Johnson, Byrd, Levitre, Wood and Fred Jackson on it before Buddy came into power? How about Brad Smith? The Chan Gailey hiring? Kelsay's unlimited extensions? Shawne Merriman? People, I can keep going on if you'd like..
At best or after drinking 7 beers, it is an incomplete grade.
I remember when Marv Levy retired after the 2007 season, people were saying the same thing about him steering the team in the right direction because the team surprised everyone by finishing 7-9 with a bunch of injuries and then the pointing of Trent Edwards and Marshawn Lynch being franchise guys. Obviously, they were wrong.
Now, can Buddy's legacy be saved? Of course. EJ Manuel could kick ass and Robert Woods could be the next Stevie Johnson. Stephon Gilmore may become a shutdown CB and Marcell Dareus could be the next Warren Sapp.
However, winning seasons aren't won in the offseason and shouldn't be based on your happy mood. While a lot of folks want to act like all these young guys selected this year are going to become stellar players before they step on the field, let's back the truck up a bit. These holes might be filled with just a Wile E. Coyote painted on sidewalk and not actual cement.
Also, I'm not soon going to forget the anguish and disappointment we went through the last 3 years, which makes it a bit harder for me to give Buddy roses on his way out.
I know I sound like a bit of a curmudgeon, but I'm getting way too many "Thank You Buddy!" in my Twitter feed right now that are pissing me off. My God, let's wait to put him on the wall of fame after the Bills win 10 fricken games, please?
Overall, I am happy that we can finally close the chapter on Buddy's time here. I wasn't exactly on board with it when it started and although he's quick with a joke, I was a bit underwhelmed by his stay here. If you want to say the Bills are more talented than the remnants of their 2009 roster? I guess you can go that way, although the Bills won 20 games during the final three years of Jauron/Modrak/Levy while Buddy is sitting ugly at sweet 16.
But seriously, what kind of standards are you setting yourself up for? I heard this crap when the Sabres extended Darcy Regier in February and how much better their roster was than 2010's squad. Spare me.
You could look at the Bills' 2008 squad and see how much better it was than that shit storm team under Donahoe/Mularkey in 2005. What about the 2003 team that finished 6-10? Well, obviously that was better than the Gregg Williams 2001 squad? Just stop with that. It is up in the air and as of right now, I'm giving his tenure a shrug/scoff while revisiting it later.
As for the possibility that Whaley may be the guy? I'm cautiously optimistic, but as I've repeated previously, this regime won't get a clean slate from me until they turn it around on the field and not by PR spin or fans wanting to believe for the sake of not going insane. I've gone through 13 years of this crap and I can be an asshole if I want to.