First, These ideas of mine are formed from gleaning public information about people and players, specifically Bills people and players. I have no other sources other than media and internet accessible sources. I've been following the Bills as a fan since I was 10, in 1980. That's the year my Uncle (who lived in RI.) gave me Joe Namath's hard cover biography, and I was so revolted, I have since hated the Jets, no small undertaking being from Pleasant Valley, N.Y.
Success for this year in the Bills latest rebuild is defined, by me, to be the playoffs, whether wild-card berth or Division title.
PRO FOOTBALL player Doug Whaley's career is not an afterthought in his life. He is intelligent enough to have planned for every contingency, including our beloved owners passing. I am SURE he had contingencies dating back years for the sad event. He is very successful and plans to remain so. For media and fans to suggest trading up for Watkins was a knee-jerk reaction to save his job, would imply that his is past success has hinged more on luck and less on intelligence and ability. In general, media and fan reaction to this trade imply somewhat of their own shallowness and lack of foresight and try to impune this upon Whaley. Do you guys get my point here?
When the regime, including Whaley, chose Marrone as HC they saw a raw but talented PRO FOOTBALL player, and selected him as a long term chess piece for the Bills. To think that they chose Pettine as a long-term chess piece for the Bills would again suggest short sightedness on their part. I do believe Schwartz to be the long term answer as DC. He played for Georgetown and graduated w/ a degree in economics. As an understudy to Belichick, he wasn't given his shot. I am forming my opinion along the lines of great poaching move by Whaley and Marrone. This gentleman I am sure, has a career path, and is quite motivated. That said, I find it interesting that Pettine used, ahem, "existing talent" to achieve such relative success, yet media and fans cannot string together the idea that a coordinator steeped in the nuances of perhaps the greatest defensive mind (ever?) in all of football, lets give Belichick his due, under whom he learned from the ultimate "make your scheme fit your talent" coaches, will have similar relative success. In other words, if Belichick can do it, Pettine can do it, why not Schwartz? Why would this idea be so alien? Is Whaley's recruiting talent limited to college football players and the NFL Draft?
The QB situation in Buffalo last season had more twists and turns than my mother-in laws character, and for those of you who are not married, that is a considerable sum. For such, or similar, events to repeat themselves at the same position would be reason to allow the team to be bought and moved, my immediate divorce from the woman I love, and my becoming a rabid, though necessarily illogical, Miami Dolphins fan for the rest of my lonely days. I digress...
I believe Whaley and Marrone's philosophy on the offensive side of the ball to be exactly the opposite as the defensive side. I believe they have a clear 1,3,5 year plan to build this offense, of which we are in year two. Hackett is Marrone's guy, and is here to stay, for this reason. In getting EJ Manuel, they sourced a player with carefully selected "intangibles" like cold weather proof, mentality (character,) elusiveness, strong arm, history of success etc. They certainly didn't go after guys like G. Smith, Nassib, or even one of the guys this year. This cannot be an accident, or chance, not with Brandon, Whaley, Marrone and Hackett, no way. The six-win season reflects upon the digression above, not the plans or even EJ. Manuel doesn't have to make a "huge leap" this year, because of the plan and scheme of the offense. He does have to get better, and he will given the investments made this off-season. Marrone's building around a " solid" QB. They aren't going after an "elite" guy, I'm sure, for many reasons. First, what is the cost to get an elite QB these days? IF you can get one? What are the chances and costs of keeping one? An average to above average QB would be a great success to the Bills organization even though the fans are always looking for the next Kelly. It is a far more likely plan for success to build around an easier to find, keep and replace QB like Manuel, than a once in a generation player like Kelly. It's good smarts. This is certainly not going to keep them from getting an elite guy in the future, it just doesn't make for a good plan to build the franchise upon such a rare commodity. I feel the need to remind everyone here that a receivers' primary skill is to catch the damn ball! Getting open, YAC, elusiveness, speed are all nice to have, but secondary to good hands. As the #1 WR, mediocrity at one's primary skill is not to be tolerated when building around a guy like EJ. We must have the exact opposite, human flypaper-Watson, with all the other goodies (in ridiculous quantities) thrown in.
This conjecture on my part is bolstered by the recent draft and associated trades. Gaining Watson, very talented linemen and a very specific running back, while losing SJ. Whether the current regime has the 2015 season to look forward to or not, it would be a shame not to be able to see the third year of this plan come to fruition. I haven't seen such deliberative, careful albeit controversial moves from the Bills organization since Levy, Polian, or Butler. This time its the absence of RW that might derail the impending success.
Have some faith guys, remember the anxiety of building this team, it's sure gonna be satisfying when the wins start to pile up.