USA TODAY Sports
There's a healthy amount of skepticism surrounding the new-look Bills - headlined by Russ Brandon, Buddy Nix and Doug Marrone - but skepticism is a huge improvement over where we were three years ago.
It's hardly the most scientific way to go about proving it - nor do you really need science to understand it - but this time around, major organizational moves by the Buffalo Bills have been much better received by the team's long-suffering fans.
Let's take you back to December 31, 2009, when out of left field team owner Ralph Wilson plucked Buddy Nix out of the team's scouting department and made him the team's general manager. On that day, 36 percent of Buffalo Rumblings readers found it within themselves to approve of that decision, while nearly as many (30 percent) flat-out disapproved. That left 34 percent begging for more time to try to wrap their minds around the decision.
Nearly three weeks later, Nix had hand-picked his head coach: Chan Gailey. That decision came after very public courtships of bigger-name coaching candidates (chiefly Mike Shanahan), and the letdown factor was obvious, as just 24 percent of Rumblings readers approved of the hire, while a whopping 51 percent disapproved.
Three years later, in Gailey's final approval poll here, the needle hadn't moved much: 22 percent of readers approved of the job he was doing (apparently 22 percent of our audience is fans in New England, New York and Miami), while 58 percent disapproved. Clearly, it was the right time to make a head coaching change.
On January 1, 2013, Mr. Wilson ceded final authority on organizational matters to team President and CEO Russ Brandon, who immediately embarked on finding the next head coach. He kept Nix as the GM and skirted around rumors that a plan was in place to transition to Doug Whaley in that role for the foreseeable future. After a week of interviews in Arizona, the Bills emerged with a new head coach in former Syracuse head man Doug Marrone.
In the approval polls for all three men (Brandon, Nix and Marrone) since that went down, the numbers have been consistent across the board: 65 percent approve of Brandon's work so far; 65 percent approve of Nix's role in the new-look organization; and 60 percent approved of the Marrone hire. There's still plenty of skepticism out there - that's a given for fans of a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs in 13 years - but the levels are much lower, and skepticism is much better than full bore negativity.
Approval rates are up. Disapproval rates (14, 18 and 16 percent, respectively) are down. We'll chart the progress along the way, and we're hoping for much higher scores after a three-year window than what Gailey was able to produce.
What about you, personally, dear reader? Are you more skeptical and less overtly negative this time around? Did your voting for Nix change at all once the Brandon and Marrone changes came down? Has your overall mood improved since the end of the season?