If you, bold Buffalo Bills fan, braved the Internet after yesterday's 35-25 loss to the Washington Redskins that extended the Bills' playoff drought to 16 seasons, you probably ran across this post from Matthew Fairburn of Syracuse.com. In that article, Fairburn largely steps aside and lets quotes from Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins speak for themselves.
You see, Watkins went on a bit of a rant to reporters after the game about the state of affairs with the Bills. Watkins, as you may recall, is not afraid to voice his opinion through the media, but yesterday's comments took that to an entirely new level.
For a full grasp of what Watkins was trying to say, you are encouraged to read Fairburn's post in its entirety. For our purposes, here are the five most interesting quotes from No. 14.
"We need to forget about anybody's feelings. We need to call people out. If I'm doing something wrong, call me out. If the line is doing something wrong, messing up, call them out. If it's the defensive line, the secondary, we need to call that out, because at the end of the day, we're doing it to win, not to get on somebody and make them feel bad. We're grown men and this is our job. We get paid millions and hundreds of thousands of dollars. And forget the money. You've got to go out there each week and play for the guy next to you. I think when we get to that point and realize that you can get fired the next day and make it known, 'Hey, this is your job.' If you're not going to do your job, cut him. It needs to be a business. I think once we get to that, we need some nasty coaches. If they ain't doing their job, get them out of here. If I'm not doing my job, step to me and get me out of here."
That feels like a quote that's going to play well with fans, mostly because it comes from a frustrated mindset that fans have lived with for the better part of two decades. But how often do players drop "it needs to be a business" into their commentary? Folding the coaches into this tirade on accountability is an interesting move, as well.
"Tyrod's going to continue to get better as a player, as a QB, as a leader. I'm not worried about his play."
There was some speculation, as these comments were being tweeted for the first time, that Watkins was singling out quarterback Tyrod Taylor after the game. This should put that speculation to rest. Watkins seemed to be trying to talk about the entire football operation at once.
"Like I said, we need more leaders. I need to step up and lead a little bit more. I put that on myself. We just have to come out each week as a team."
Not mentioned here: Watkins' comments on needing better execution, and to clean up small issues like penalties. He seems to think that better leadership can help in that regard. Interpret that how you will.
"We've got to take over as players. We can't put everything on the coaches and blame whatever the situation is. We've got to go out and play every week and we've got to demand that from each other, and forget the coaches. It's not the coaches' team. It's the players' team. It's player-driven."
Some people will inevitably read this as excuse-making for Rex Ryan and the coaches, but Watkins wasn't shy about calling them out earlier in the year, and rolled them into his comments yesterday, as well. Watkins is right: the NFL is driven by players, not coaches. Ryan and his staff are the ones most under fire right now, but they haven't had much help from their players of late.
"I'm going to step up and talk. I'm going to make sure things get changed. I'm pretty sure the staff is, the organization, the coaches. We've got to address every problem."
Watkins is actually one of the maybe two or three players with enough clout in the organization, as it stands today, to actually effect a bit of change if he speaks up. (That's probably especially true if general manager Doug Whaley keeps his job.) Whether or not that comes to fruition is another matter entirely.
What did everyone else think of Watkins' post-game comments from Sunday?