With two moves, the Bills have confused the hell out of their fanbase. For months, every indication was that the team wanted to win now. They have a coach who clearly must win this year or he's fired. They signed Terrell Owens. They drafted guys who they thought could play right away.
For a while, it certainly felt like they were doing everything they could to let Trent Edwards take this team to the playoffs this year.
Then, within the last week, we got some serious mixed signals. They fired the architect of their new, exciting No-pointsHuddle offense just days before the first game of the season. Then a few days later, they cut their only real veteran on the offensive line, a guy many felt was the best performer on the unit a year before. In his stead they stuck a 7th-rounder from a year ago. Demetrius Bell has not only never taken an NFL snap, the last meaningful game he played was in the Southland Conference. And we haven't even addressed the fact that he never played high school football.
This has been taken by many to be discouraging, a proverbial white flag. I've come up with a few reasons (after the jump), why these are good signs for the year ahead.
1. Could the Offensive Line be worse?
This team won 7 games last year. I don't think there was a single moment during the season where any of us thought, "Gosh, we have a heck of an offensive line." I mean, come on, these guys stunk! Can we honestly say we think the line will be worse this year?
G. I bet Wood will be as good as Butler was last year, but he'll improve as the year goes on, and again, if they thought it would've been better, they'd have moved Butler to RG and Walker to RT and benched Wood or Levitre. But they didn't, and because DJ is coaching for his life, I think we can safely assume that he did what he gave him the best possible offensive line this year, not in the future.
C. I think Hang will be better than Preston or Fowler, because you couldn't be worse than Preston or Fowler.
G. Dock got cut. He was horrible. Levitre has struggled but played much better of late, and it'd be tough for him to be less effective than Dock.
LT. Bell is worse than Jason Peters. I feel pretty confident about this. But let's not forget that we didn't have athletic bulldozer probowl Jason Peters on this team last year. We had out of shape sleep walking Jason Peters. I think Bell can be as good as that Jason Peters at some point this season.
Even if Bell does not get to the point Peters was at last year, can we really say the offensive line will be worse? Yes the release of Walker was weird, but Jauron is the one at practice everyday, and if he thinks that Bell is a better player right now, then he probably is. Let's not forget, Jauron can't afford to wave the white flag. He's trying to win now, and believes Bell gives him a better chance to do this. He has no ulterior motive. Maybe he's wrong, but if he is, then releasing Langston Walker is the least of our worries.
2. Could the Offensive Playcalling be worse?
Does anyone else remember the game where the Bills didn't call a single play-action pass? Does anyone remember that they were the only team in the entire league to do that, even just once, the entire season? I also vaguely remember someone pulling out the stat that the bills threw the ball virtually every time out of the gun, and ran it virtually every time Trent was under center? This is before we get to the fact that they still haven't figured out a way to use a guy with Roscoe Parrish's skills effectively even once a game on offense. The reality, in my opinion, was that Schonert was as unimaginative a playcaller as I've ever seen. I've heard him described as the architect of the offense. If we take that metaphor one of more level, if Schonert is the architect, then this is the offense he built.
Is Alex Van Pelt inexperienced? Obviously, he doesn't even have a preseason game's worth of experience. But does that mean he'll be worse than Turk Schonert at calling plays? I highly doubt it.
So while the timing of the two moves has not been ideal, the question is, do they really make the Bills worse than they were last year? I don't think they do.
I think the reality is that these moves are bursting bubbles. It's not that we're upset about them releasing Langston Walker, we're upset because it turns out that Langston Walker is not a competent Left Tackle. We're not upset that they fired Schonert, we're upset to find out that Turk Schonert was probably really bad at his job.
That being said, I do still think it's conceivable that this team can be good. We released a guy who wasn't good enough to start on the offensive line, and gave the playcalling duties to another coach. These things happen. They don't matter all that much. Neither affects the longterm of the team negatively (Was Langston Walker really going to be on the next Bills playoff team?), and neither one makes us appreciably worse than we were last year.
Just some thoughts.