Bills Lose A “Snoozer” To The Browns. What’s Next?

By PFC Bills Writer Jay Kommuru

Another week, yet another Bills loss against a team they “should have” beat. The offense was inept; the defense got shredded by an aging Jamal Lewis despite allowing only 2 completions through the air; the special teams lost another crucial fumble which resulted in a last minute FG for the Browns. Frankly, talking about the Bills these days is starting to sound very depressing and redundant. The Bills have been looking for a head coach and a Franchise QB ever since the Marv Levy-Jim Kelly era ended in Buffalo. The current team has a lot of talent but is still very green in certain areas and still needs a major overhaul in other areas. Instead of going thru the usual discussion of how and why the Bills lost, I intend to talk about the type of organizational culture this team is severely lacking and should be aiming towards as the Dick Jauron era inevitably comes to an end, and what the Bills should do for the rest of the season in preparation for 2010.

Lets just get it out of the way – Dick Jauron is probably not getting fired during the season. If by some miracle the Bills win 10 of the next 11 games and make it to the playoffs then he may even stay on for an additional year or two. But outside of that hail mary, Jauron is probably going to be relieved of his duties at the end of 2009. Terrell Owens is probably gone after this year as well.  Truth be told there just aren’t any qualified individuals on the Buffalo coaching staff that could keep this team from imploding even if Jauron were to be fired in-season. The best way to go about this for Mr. Ralph Wilson is to simply let Jauron ride out this season and then start looking for a replacement. 

But this team needs more than just a head coach – it needs an identity on and off the field. There seems to be no organizational structure, or anything resembling a system or culture at One Bills Drive. Do we have a GM? Is Brandon the GM? Who makes the final decision when it comes to the draft? Free agency? Hiring/firing of coaches? Furthermore, what is the identity of this team? Are the Bills a power-running team? Finesse team? Vertical passing? On defense do we look for size over speed, or vice versa (except for in those rare occasions when we find someone that has both elite size and speed at his position)? Are the coaches too soft on the players? Or are they just being professional? Why do we keep having these injuries year in and out? (Note: As I write this article, there are reports that the Bills are scrapping the no-huddle offense and they are overhauling their offensive philosophy – which begs the question: What was their offensive philosophy to begin with?)

While all of these questions want consideration, only some of them can be answered. The best way to go about acquiring the afore-mentioned organizational culture is to start evaluating the organization top-down. Ralph Wilson is a pioneer in the sport of football and an icon in Western New York. He has kept his team in Buffalo for decades despite a dwindling local economy, all the while trying to compete with the Jerry Jones’ of the NFL. For someone in his position, his interests have to be as much about football as they do about the finances. In other words, he cannot afford to gamble on high-prized front-office personnel or head coaches. Sure he might sell some tickets immediately, but in the long run if the team fails he’ll find himself having shelled out millions of dollars more to end up the same position he is in right now.

Brian Galliford from the SB Nation Buffalo Rumblings community suggests an approach that curtails to Wilson’s current love for consensus and also to real change coming from an outsider who will bring his own organizational culture. It is an interesting piece that any NFL fan should want to read.  Yet another option is to overhaul the entire organization from top to bottom and let the new GM figure out who stays and who goes. The Bills already tried this once with former GM Tom Donohue and ended up at the bottom of the league, so chances are Wilson probably won’t be willing to do this again.

The players on this team are true professionals and as far as they are concerned they are still in the hunt for the playoffs. But that doesn’t mean we have to “Billieve”, at least for the rest of this year. Look, I’m one of the most diehard Bills fans you’ll find and I will never ever root for them to lose a game. But winning 9 or 10 games out of the remaining 11 is nearly impossible given the state of the offense and the injuries on this team. Am I rooting for them to turn it around and turn in a winning season? Absolutely! Nothing would make me happier as a fan. But realistically that is not going to happen and so I’d like to see the Bills set themselves up for success in 2010.

First lets look at the big injuries and what impact they have on the roster going forward. LBs Kawika Mitchell and Marcus Buggs have both been put on IR which puts the grand total to 10 players on IR, 3 starters – RT Brad Butler, CB Leodis McKelvin, and TE Derek Schouman. In response to this I’d love to see some of the younger players being put in a position to show what they have and hopefully at least become solid depth players next year when the starter returns. At OLB I’d like to see what Nic Harris can do; at CB Drayton Florence or Ashton Youboty; at RT Jamon Meredith (he may start this weekend’s game against the Jets); at TE Shawn Nelson (he’s already splitting reps with Derek Fine. The common theme with all these players are that they are green but also that many scouts have praised their potential coming into the league.

Secondly, I’d like to see the Bills trade Roscoe Parrish. He has almost no value to this team right now and better to get something for him now than nothing next year when he will probably be cut. Its unfortunate that his market value is probably at an all-time low right now as well as every other team knows that the Bills have not been utilizing him well and he just lost the game last week with a costly special teams fumble. That being said, if the Bills can find a team that is desperate for a slot WR and needs a good returner and is willing to give up a mid-round pick for Parrish, then they should run with it.

Third, I’d like to see the Bills stick it out with Trent Edwards. Find out for sure whether he has any chance of being a franchise QB that the Bills are looking for. Its not like Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the answer in 2010, but Edwards might be. Fourth, I’d like to see Steve Johnson and James Hardy get more reps on offense to see whether either of them have what it takes to be a #2 WR in the NFL. And finally I’d like to see Jairus Byrd get more reps at FS.

While this is a proposed plan for 2010, there is a lot of football to be played in 2009 and it is probably entirely too early to be talking about next year. Keeping that in mind, the goal – first and foremost – is to win the game on any given week. However as we start getting towards 7-8 losses (and I would to see the Bills not get to that point), the team needs to start making personnel decisions for next year by evaluating their on-field play this year. That being said, I’d like to reiterate that every single player and coach on this football team is a true professional and certainly they will be focused on their weekly opponent whether they are 1-12 or 8-5.  I wouldn’t expect anything less.