Like the Perseid meteor shower, the latest bit of Bills news streaked in and, like the meteor shower, left many slack jawed and speechless. The Evans trade got me to thinking (more) about this front office and Buddy Nix, in particular.
The arguments in the form of comments on BR cover the gamut from fandemonium to abject anger. But ultimately, it comes down to right and wrong. And this seems to be a recurring theme in assessing the "CHIX" era and more specifically, Buddy Nix. Right move/ wrong result, wrong move/wrong result, rarely right move/right result.
The trade of Lee Evans is the latest "good" example. One poster posed the question, "What was Nix thinking?". Well, many made a case that it was the right move. A 30 year old receiver, a stable of young receivers, a chance for the youngsters to step up. All noble motives. But then there's the wrong. What about the team "psyche" over losing a team leader? What about the timing? And, then there's the issue of compensation. "A 4th?", many asked.
For some seemingly inexplicable reason, the Bills front office rarely does things that would be mistaken for conventional, within the norm, or standard procedure for an NFL front office.
Pick a topic:
Draft? We had a plethora of holes to fill on both sides of the ball last year and this year. So, of course, last year, the Bills take Spiller while having 2 serviceable, veteran running backs. "No one ever picks a running back that high"- except the Bills. This year, faced with unmeasurable lack of depth on the offensive line, the Bills go almost exclusively defense(again). Does any team play an entire game with just defense? Judging by last years time of possession and two years of drafting, one team is moving closer to trying.
Free Agency? Nix has preached "build through the draft" and, judging by his actions, he's a man of his word. Several candidates that would have seriously upgraded the talent on this team came and went elsewhere without so much as a hint that they might come to Buffalo. A case could be made that they didn't (or wouldn't) because of the air of dysfunction that the organization itself seems to propagate and almost nurture.
Contracts? Does any team pay a player a big roster bonus and then trade the player a week later. Of course not. Well, apparently one team does. Does anyone reward a player with a huge contract extension for being a "leader in the locker room", yet his play on the field is open to question? Well, one team does.
Salary Cap? Or maybe salary floor? Again, one of the top five teams with money to spend (needs to spend) trades a veteran team leader after apparently paying a roster bonus, in what some described as a "salary saving move". Huh? OK, they're going to spend it in free agency, right? See above.
Roster moves? How about a QB competition that really isn't a competition? And, first prize for the winner of the "competition" is a one way trip to the unemployment line two weeks later. What team staffs it's QB position with, not one, not two, but three backup QBs? Don't be silly. Oh, wait. What team knows better than the other 31 that those teams have "stars" on their practice squads just waiting to be discovered? Kind of like "American Idol, NFL style". Who needs to waste time drafting, trading, or signing free agents, when there's low hanging fruit on 31 trees?
Rebuilding plan? Surely, everyone needs one, everyone has one, everyone approaches it from both sides of the ball, building out from the trenches. Everyone uses a careful mix of draft, free agency, and rewarding veterans for their play, right? Not so fast Lombardi breath! One team has a "fresh approach". Keep 'em guessing by drafting positions you already have depth in. Don't draft players who will help the the other ones you drafted. Prove to free agents who come to visit that, yes, "we are what you think we are", Wait! Why are you leaving? OK, we know you can run, stop! Have a team motto like, "another team's trash, is our treasure" Catchy yes?
There's an old saying in the military, 'There's the right way, the wrong way, and the Army way". In the case of Buddy and the Bills, it's being re-written as, "The right way, the wrong way, and the Bills way" Ultimately, I think it will be proven the Bills way is synonymous with the wrong way. It's not just drafting, it's drafting the right people. It's not just being active in free agency, it's getting help at key positions. It's not just extending contracts, it's recognizing talent and rewarding it. It's not just a plan, it should be a plan that is quantifiable, measurable, palpable. It's not just being a GM, it's being an effective, knowledgeable, astute GM. Doing the right things is only part of it. Doing the right things, right, is what it's about. Doing the right things wrong, is what Nix has done so far. Trading Evans is the latest example. Trading Evans was right. What Nix traded for, when he did it, how he did it, was wrong.