I didn't get a chance to catch Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix during his weekly radio appearance on WGR 550 this morning, but thankfully, Tim Graham of The Buffalo News did. Nix, as he does every week, fielded questions about the Bills potentially drafting a quarterback - and his words this morning are sure to pique the interest of Bills fans everywhere.
"Let me say this: I think there's a time that in the era that you're in and the development of your team, there's a time when you can move up a round to take a quarterback," Nix said via Graham. "And I think the time's now for us."
"I mean, if a guy's there - I keep saying that, and there'll be one out there - if the guy's there, then I think we'll target, as I've said before, drafting a good quarterback," Nix continued. "We need a good, young quarterback, and we're going to do our best to get him."
Sounds good, right? Well, it certainly sounds a heck of a lot different than what Nix was saying about the quarterback position just a week ago.
"I know we've discussed the quarterback many times. The fans are so eager for us to make something happen and they're not any more eager than I am," Nix said last Friday, via Chris Brown. "They got the idea I think that we were automatically going to draft a quarterback in the first round. That's not necessarily true. We're going to always stay with the integrity of the board. We're going to try to find a quarterback. If one is there and he's rated at the right spot we're going to take him wherever that is. I don't want people to expect that no matter who is there in the first round we're going to take a quarterback because that's not true. We'll still take the best player."
Allow me, if you will, to point out the obvious. Here are two Nix quotes, both made within a week of each other:
Nix, 12/7: "They got the idea I think that we were automatically going to draft a quarterback in the first round. That's not necessarily true."
Nix, 12/14: "There's a time when you can move up a round to take a quarterback. And I think the time's now for us."
I can't possibly imagine where fans get the idea. Nix has been throwing the proverbial fishing lure out regarding quarterbacks since early November.
Nix, 11/2: "Listen, we have said from day one that we want to draft a good young quarterback. I don't want to leave here without a franchise guy for the future in place. I have not said that before, but I'm saying it now because it's fact."
Nix, 11/9: "Let me be as honest as I can. I think we really need to address it this year. The thing we can't do is you can't create one. You can't go out thinking I've got to make this guy a player. If you do then you're going to be in a bigger mess. We don't want to do that. We try to guard against that. But we do need another one and we need to do it this time."
Nix, 12/6: "I think the priority is the same. I think (fans) could take it to the bank every year. We had that intent (to draft a quarterback) every year, and we've got it again. Hopefully, they know me well enough that that's what we'll try to do if the guy's there."
Follow that up with his comments from the last two Fridays, and (here comes the opinion!) you're left with a GM that is clearly trying to placate fans, and is also muddling the presentation of his core philosophy (i.e. the stuff that actually matters) in the process. It does not behoove One Bills Drive to put out weekly headlines with radically different takeaways about the single biggest hot-button topic in the fan base. Fans have every right to be frustrated with the mixed signals; I've lost count of how many times I've heard or read "I wish Buddy would just shut up" in the last month or so.
There is, however, an underlying consistency to Nix's weekly quotes that fans miss out on because of the way the conversation is framed (or, perhaps, the way Nix is framing the conversation). Here's what we know, or can very safely assume, about the Bills and the quarterback position going into the 2013 off-season based on Nix's commentary:
- Ryan Fitzpatrick is still reasonably under contract, and the team still thinks they can win with him in the short term. He's not going anywhere.
- The team has wanted, all along, to draft a quarterback. Due to their perceived talent deficiencies at other positions and their unwillingness to gamble on a player given those deficiencies, they have not yet pulled the trigger.
- Now that the team has better, younger talent at other key positions, the Bills are in a spot where they are more likely to gamble (a word that could mean "trade up in the first round for") on a young quarterback they can develop - but not necessarily at the expense of a sure bet at another need area - than they have been in years past.
That's the message Nix should be sending on a weekly basis, because it's really what he's been saying all along. All you need to do is read between the lines. The problem is that we need to read between the lines to get there, and weather the ups and downs of these weekly radio spots to see the big picture.