Just a day removed from a 30-23 victory over the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson spoke about the future of his franchise. Head coach Dick Jauron, his front office and his players, obviously, were the three main topics of discussion.
The key points are below, with a few random thoughts/pleas of my own added on... to say I'm not happy is putting it lightly.
On Dick Jauron's future
Obviously the hot-button topic in Buffalo remains the tentative job status of Jauron. According to Ralph, he'll make a decision on his coach's future in the next couple of weeks.
Bills owner Ralph Wilson told The Associated Press on Monday he still hasn't made up his mind, but he will use a series of end-of-season meetings with his top executives to come to a conclusion.
The meetings will take place between Wilson, Vice President of College Scouting Tom Modrak and COO Russ Brandon. Oh, and a fourth party will be present at the meetings - Jauron himself. Yes, you read that correctly - as bizarre as it sounds, Jauron will be an active participant in the meetings that conceivably will determine his immediate future with this franchise.
If that doesn't scream "Jauron is staying!", I don't know what does. Ralph has given hints all along that he's leaning toward retaining Jauron, but this development in itself is our biggest clue yet. No, we still haven't heard anything about his supposed contract extension. But if Jauron is part of the meetings that will shape the club's future, you have to imagine that he's a part of said future.
Moving on to much more disturbing items on the agenda.
On the front office structure
Surprise! Ralph is tinkering with his front office power structure again.
Wilson is also preparing to tinker with the power structure within his front office by providing Modrak a larger voice in football decisions by adding him to what the owner called, "the inner circle."
Great. Fine. The Bills want another football voice involved in the decision-making process. Clearly, something had to change after Buffalo's collapse, and since Jauron essentially had final say over all things personnel, he's apparently having some of those rights stripped as his "punishment" for his team's demise. Fantastic. Modrak's the most deserving in-house candidate; he's got 32 years of NFL experience, has a good relationship with Ralph and with Jauron, and has a solid team of scouts. Clearly, Brandon can't shoulder more responsibilities, so Modrak fits the bill.
But if you're going to tinker, Ralph, DO IT RIGHT! The following line makes me want to rip the hair from my skull - and let's just say that at the tender age of 23, I can't afford to lose much more hair...
Wilson foresees a small committee of executives overseeing the franchise's daily operation.
"We're going to have a lot more communication between the top people," Wilson said. "One man's not going to be calling the shots."
When has this EVER worked at the NFL level? Ralph is buying a bit too heavily into the "consensus" approach instilled by Marv Levy when he was hired as the team's "GM" in 2006. Marv wanted a team effort in putting a team on the field; Wilson's aim is a council of elders making decisions. There's a fundamental difference between the two approaches; Levy's plan features leadership, and Wilson's plan is devoid of it. It's not what Levy had in mind, and it's a recipe for disaster.
Ralph is part of this "inner circle". So is Brandon. Jauron's been the decision-maker for three years now. Negotiator extraordinaire Jim Overdorf is very likely closely associated with this circle as well. Now Modrak is being added to the equation. Pirate ships don't have five co-captains, folks, they have one captain who'll rip your head off if you cause him to miss out on some loot.
The Bills NEED "one man calling the shots". You can have consensus without a group of elders. This isn't a cult, Ralph, it's an NFL franchise. Who's the head coach supposed to turn to when he's got to talk to the boss? A roundtable? That's absurd. Get over the Tom Donahoe crap, Mr. Wilson - yes, he screwed your franchise for years, but you had the right idea giving him the type of power you gave him. You just need to find the right Donahoe this time around - and there are several outstanding candidates (Scott Pioli, anyone?!).
This crap drives me nuts. If this is Ralph's plan in terms of front office structure, then the Buffalo Bills are screwed until he figures out he's going on Year Two of his biggest mistake ever. That's really the long and short of it. Forget the coach, forget the quarterback, forget everything - this team isn't winning anything until Ralph gets this horse-pucky idea out of his head.
On the players
Ralph likes the fact that his players don't quit, and he especially likes QB Trent Edwards:
"He took a heck of a lot of shots in that cold weather and really played well, I thought," Wilson said. "I think we have a big future at quarterback."
That's great. But wait... wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago, after an epic fail in Toronto, that Ralph proclaimed his team had no talent? Now I'm confused. I'm glad he likes Trent, but I'm getting mixed signals.
Long story short
Boy, I'll tell you what - Wilson's got impeccable timing. The Bills just pulled off a huge upset win in Denver, and - surprise! - guess what fans were talking about? A potential upset of New England in the season finale to spoil the Pats' season, and you know, other positive things. It was a refreshing change, but now Wilson has thrown the shadow of doubt that hung with the team for three months back over the franchise with one fateful phone call from the AP.
I liked hearing very little of what I've gleaned from this report. The front office situation is a joke, even though I'm a fan of Modrak getting more say in football decisions. What's the problem with just making him the full-blown GM, Ralph? The elders approach is absurd, and with people like VP of Pro Personnel John Guy supposedly OUT of the "inner circle", this menagerie of a front office is primed for a seismic power struggle.
If I'm guessing right about Jauron and his being here in 2009, I almost feel bad for him. I feel bad for this young team. Our front office lacks leadership and direction, and it's affecting the team in terms of coaching and on-field performance. We don't have an organizational leader. WE NEED A LEADER. I like consensus, but not at the expense of organizational leadership. No matter who the coach of this team is and no matter what players we bring in, the Buffalo Bills are doomed to Detroit Lion-esque mediocrity until that front office leadership is found. The menagerie isn't going to cut it.