With reports swirling that the Buffalo Bills are likely to fire Rex Ryan and let general manager Doug Whaley run another coaching search, there are folks who are justifiably asking why the Bills don’t just start over from the top down. No one is making that case as forcefully as TheMMQB’s Gary Gramling and he’s doing it without a horse in the race. He’s not quoting unnamed sources inside One Bills Drive or connected to the team’s head coach.
“There’s literally one excuse for Ryan, and it’s a very good one: This Bills roster is what folks in Western New York would call ‘crappy.’ It was crappy at the beginning of the year. Not to point fingers at other folks in the industry, but I didn’t think there was enough peyote in the southwest to cause this many “the Bills are a 10-win team” hallucinations. Back in August, [Albert] Breer and I did the season preview podcast and agreed that this might be a 4-12 team considering the roster limitations.”
Gramling lays the blame squarely at Doug Whaley’s feet in building a subpar Bills roster with little depth on defense. We’ve seen that this year as the safety position has been decimated with injuries. Gramling says his sharpest barbs for Tyrod Taylor, though.
“They don’t have a quarterback,” writes Gamling. “I think Tyrod Taylor is a swell guy and I think he’s a fine fantasy football player. He brings value to the run game. He can extend plays and occasionally make things happen late in the down. But schematically in the passing game, opposing defenses play chess while the Bills are also playing chess but have never played before and stall in hopes that their opponent has a medical emergency and is unable to finish the game. This is not an offense that can move the ball in 2016, especially not without Sammy Watkins (who has missed eight games).”
The most damning evidence against Whaley comes from the first round draft picks, though. Whaley has always been good finding diamonds in the rough but hitting on top picks has not been his specialty.
“Their first-round picks over the last four years—EJ Manuel, Watkins, the pick they traded to get Watkins, and Lawson—have combined to start six games in 2016.”
In his support of Rex, Gramling is correct in noting the Bills haven’t given up. They weren’t running through the motions on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They were getting whooped because they weren’t good enough. He also says a coach coming in and changing everything about the team needs more than two years. (Also something Terry Pegula said like, seven weeks ago.)
“The point is that if you’re going to hire a head coach, one who runs a drastically different system than the one your team had run previously, and on a team with no answer at quarterback, you have to give him more than two years to get his players and build his program,” concludes Gramling.
Looking ahead at this offseason, the Bills have holes to fill at wide receiver 2 and wide receiver 3, right tackle, maybe right guard, cornerback, safety, backup safety, maybe kicker, and quite possibly quarterback. Do you have faith in Doug Whaley to do that while he’s bringing in his second coach in three seasons?