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Buffalo Bills give Russ Brandon control; how much has changed?

Ralph Wilson has given full control of the Buffalo Bills to team President and CEO Russ Brandon. Buddy Nix is staying on board as general manager, and will continue to make final football decisions. More details within.


Buffalo Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon and GM Buddy Nix met with reporters on New Year's Day to discuss what's being billed as a major change in the direction of the front office. Here's everything you need to know about the Bills' organizational transition, with a few opinions sprinkled in:

  • Brandon inherits the title of president from team owner Ralph Wilson, and now has - to quote the team's press release - "full authority over the entire organization's operations." In essence, this means that Brandon is the team's de facto owner, with Wilson removing himself from the organization's decision-making process. Wilson owns the team; Brandon runs it.
  • Nix will remain as general manager, and Brandon was emphatic that the 73-year-old will not lose any power in the wake of the big promotion. Nix has full autonomy to run the operation as he sees fit; the only change will be in who he reports to.
  • Nix addressed reports that a transition plan is in place to give GM responsibilities to Assistant GM Doug Whaley in the very near future - perhaps as soon as May. Without providing a timeline on when that might occur, Nix admitted that that's been the idea all along. For now, both men will remain in the roles they've held for the last three years. Nix said that when the time comes, they'll make an announcement about the transition.
  • Brandon announced that the team will be building a "robust department of analytics" focused on progressive statistical analysis of the game - much like what is seen in professional baseball, exemplified most popularly by the Oakland Athletics.
  • Four men - Brandon, Nix, Whaley and Jim Overdorf, the team's chief negotiator - will be involved in the search for the team's next head coach. They will begin that search immediately.

Reading between some well-delivered, (mostly) well met and emotional lines from Brandon, not a lot has functionally changed today. In fact, the only change is that Brandon, and not Wilson, is the organization's final authority. Everything else - from the autonomy of Nix atop the football operation, to the succession plan for Whaley, to the organization of the front office - will remain exactly as it was yesterday.

That's important to note, because while a significant shift - the organization can now be reasonably pitched as much younger and more progressive, particularly to top-end coaching candidates - all of the same people from the 16-32 outfit we've seen over the last three years are in place. It's fair to question how much has really changed; the next coaching hire will go a long way toward formulating fan opinions on that very question.

Russ Brandon is now in charge of the Buffalo Bills. The organization can be considered younger and more forward-thinking as a result, but the entire personnel operation remains unchanged. The goal, of course, is to build a world-class organization and a perennial contender. That's easier said than done, and hiring the right head coach is where the Bills' "new-look" front office will start. Time will tell how much has really changed in Orchard Park; on the surface, it doesn't look like much has been altered today.