There are obvious differences between college and professional programs. But aside from the normal discussion about the level of competition, Mike Rodak had an interesting view of two programs at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of success and respect.
After spending six seasons covering the Buffalo Bills he became part of AL.com’s Alabama football beat. The Bills had already drafted Josh Allen, but he was not yet the player we saw finish as runner-up for the NFL MVP award in the 2020 season. He was still very much a raw talent, and while the team appeared to be on the upswing, the division still belonged to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Rodak immediately became submerged in a winning culture—a program that had 17 national championships at the time, and has since won another. What are the major differences?
Competence. That was the first word Mike used to answer that question. Nick Saban and his staff have done their jobs well. Efficient. And while Rex Ryan’s presence was entertaining, the team’s performance left a lot to be desired. And some very invested Bills fans still have nightmares when the name Doug Marrone is even mentioned. The fact is until Sean McDermott was hired, the competence of the Bills’ brass had been in question for some time. Can anyone forget when Buddy Nix was tricked into having trade and free-agency talks with a fake general manager? Or do we forget the type of contract structuring by Doug Whaley that put Buffalo in dead-cap purgatory when Brandon Beane first took over as general manager in 2018? Yes. Those are the stories that come to mind when you think of the competence in Orchard Park in years past. Heads up Buffalo. General manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott have righted the ship. With three playoff appearances in four years and a quarterback who has superstar oozing from him, the Bills are now set up for long-term success.
In Alabama, Mike also had a front-row seat to two of the quarterbacks who are now our division rivals. Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa and New England’s Mac Jones both have won national championships for Alabama. Despite critics, Tagovailoa has an impressive 6-3 record in nine starts. And Mac Jones appears to fit the mold of what Bill Belichick covets at the quarterback position. The story is still yet to be written on both players.
Bills fans can sit back and enjoy the feeling of a committed relationship with a quarterback who loves the city just as much as the city loves him. A young man with the arm talent and physical attributes to make it almost impossible to project what his true ceiling can be. Fans of New England have to hope Cam Newton’s shoulder is fully healed. Or that Mac Jones can expedite his development. And Miami fans still have concerns over their quarterback who wasn’t trusted for the biggest moments of the season.
Cheers Bills fans. Let's sit back and enjoy the ride.
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