Bills Media has Fallen a long way

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As a teenager in the 1990s when it came to quality sports coverage in Western New York, WGR 550’s Chuck Dickerson, who was a former Bills Defensive Line coach until after Super Bowl XXVI, and Art Wander, who was known as “The Tiny Tot of the Kilowatt,” ruled the air. It’s been over a decade since the two were on air at the station together and it’s obvious the station has fallen a long way since then.

In the summer of 2006 I interned at WGR and worked in the news room along with former WNSA and WGR reporter Jeff Morrison and then WGR Program Director Andy Roth. It was well known within WGR’s staff that Roth was a hothead that blew up on anyone that made a mistake. I know learned that personally as Morrison asked me to write an article on the contract extension of Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jason Peters, who at the time was the Buffalo Bills right tackle and rookie contract ran out.

I was subsequently called in to Roth’s office and ripped for the quality of it. For those at home journalism writing is different than regular English writing, which I wrote the article like.

However, that wasn’t the end of it as while the station was off air Roth ripped me a second time for it, which I will swear on the bible in a court of law as true.

The one thing that I will complement WGR is the quality of coverage by Sabres studio host John Koziel and Sabres beat reporter Paul Hamilton. Hamilton knows his hockey as he played for the University of Iowa and actually tried out for the Miracle on Ice U.S.A. Team hockey team, according to a comment by him that won the Gold Medal during the Winter Olympics in February of 1980.

 

The fact of the matter is the people at WGR don’t know their football. Their life could depend on it and they still wouldn’t. The proof is in an email exchange between me and WGR’s Jeremy White based on his All-22 Review Bills/Titans White wrote this.

“In the next clip ( Bills defensive tackle Marcell) Dareus is lined up over the guard, but taken by the center,” White wrote.  “Dareus has the ability to maintain his blocker, with head up to see the runner.  Running backs occasionally read a block or lane based on the helmet of the defensive lineman.  Watch as Dareus holds left side, and then darts back right to make the play.:

Anyone who has ever played a down of organized football in high school knows that this is completely wrong. On the play the Titans right guard, number 79 pulls to trap Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams, but for whatever reason the left guard, number 76, didn’t release straight to the linebacker like the play is supposed to and block Williams. The running back recognized this right away and cut to his right immediately.

That leads me to the game against the Cincinatti Bengals.

The one thing that bugged me going into this game was the Bills inability to do anything outside of their first scripted drive. For those who haven’t played, typically the first 15-20 plays are predetermined on what coaches see in their opponent’s game film. The Bills are good at this, but have been terrible adjusting after.

The evidence are in the stats at NFL.com,  prior to the Bengals game the Bills lost games where they passed more and won where they ran more. That was the case against the Bengals as the Bills passed more than ran.

So, what does it mean?

What it means is that Bills head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Gregg Roman isn’t good when it comes to offense. Also, it means that Roman’s reputations is due to former San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbuagh’s offensive prowess as he was formerly a quarterback in the NFL as Roman was the offensive coordinator under Harbaugh. All one has to do is look at current 49ers starting quarterback Colin Kapernick.

Under Harbaugh and Roman, Kaepernick had a 2:1touchdown to interception ratio, but without them Kaepernick is 1:1 as it’s his first year without the pair. Also, his predecessor Alex Smith, who starts for the Kansas City Chiefs, had a 1:1 touchdown to interception ration until Harbaugh was hired by the 49ers in 2011.

I didn’t like the hire of Ryan from the very start.

In fact, I totally hate it to this day. The Bills, prior to hiring Ryan, had Jim Schwartz as a defensive coordinator that proved he still had it defensively in 2014. Also, they had the ability to hire the former Bills backup quarterback to Jim Kelly in Frank Reich who led the team to the “Greatest Comeback” on January 3rd, 1993.

On most other bad teams, Riech would’ve started, but due to the fact that he was drafted by the Bills in the NFL where there was no free agency, Reich was relegated to backup behind Kelly, but the fans knew they had two special quarterbacks. The reason being in 1989, Reich filled in for an injured Kelly and led the Bills to two straight wins, one of which was against the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.

My first year of watching and studying football was Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas rookie year in 1988. That was the year in an overtime win against the Houston Oilers the behind the Bills offensive Hall of Famers trio in Kelly, Thomas and wide receiver Andre Reed, perfected the “No Huddle Offense” which is a staple today and used by current NFL greats like Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and New England Patriots Tom Brady.

Don’t get me wrong, because the quarterback position is changing according to The Wall Street Journal.

 “Bills general manager Doug Whaley said he had the same results when he asked prospects a question about defenses shifting from a common scheme called “cover 2” to an equally mundane tactic called “cover 3,” the Wall Street Journal wrote.  “Hue Jackson, the offensive coordinator from the Bengals, said he had to dumb down his questions, while Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said some QBs failed to grasp things as basic as understanding a common play call. “You have to teach these kids the absolute basics,” he said.”

For those who never played, “Cover Whatever” simply refers to the deepest line to the defense, which are typically the safeties. Cover Zero means all the defensive backs are locked up in man coverage, Cover one means that there is one safety covering the deepest parts of the field and Cover two means there are two safeties back deep.

The sad part to me is this is stuff I learned in seventh grade modified football on defense.

In the end, most of the outside of the Buffalo News don’t know their football as some reporters like Mark Gaughan sits with players and break down film with them. This is in spite to the fact that he has an ailing child. I know this personally as in September 2012, while my son was in the last months of his life at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, I saw Gaughan in the PICU there and talked to him outside of Tim Horton’s in the hospital lobby.

The evidence is in the clamoring of current Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor who makes plays with his legs. Previous Bills quarterbacks like J.P. Losman and Ryan Fitzpatrick could run as well, but flamed out due to their inability to pass, but that has been lost by the media cause of WGR’s corporate stance, which they took when Dickerson was still there.

That being saying enough criticism while not aggravating the powers to be on the Bills and Buffalo Sabres.

At Cheektowaga Central there is a saying that everyone says entering the locker room after practice that I take to heart today. “Cheektowaga Central Football; a commitment to excellence.” WGR has shown their committed to pleasing corporations and the Bills coaching staff to their and their players egos.

 

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