Bills drought could get over 20-years-old

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Many Buffalo Bills fans are about to come to the age where they are legally eligible to vote. At the same time they have never seen their team in the playoffs as it’s been 17 seasons since they last were. The way things are going they will be legally able to drink before they do.

Things change in the National Football every year, but one thing remains the same. In order to win in the NFL you need a franchise quarterback.

The Bills haven’t had one since Jim Kelly retired.

They don’t have one from lack of trying. In the first round of the 2003 and 2013 NFL Draft the Bills took J.P. Losman and E.J. Manuel. Both have turned out to be major busts.

That leads up to their current dilemma.

For the past two seasons their starter has been Tyrod Taylor. A quarterback that has been their best since the drought started as he thrown for 3,058 yds, 37 tds, 12 int and rush for 1,148 yds and 10 tds. That is beside the fact that his best wide receiver Sammy Watkins was out half the year!

The problem is the team is built for right now. Many of their star player like defensive end/outside linebacker Jerry Hughes is in the their upper 20s. So, what it means is this.

The Bills have a three year window with their current roster. I say that based that Bills General Manager Doug Whaley is on his last chance. So, if the coach he hires in the coming weeks don’t work out three years then the team will have to go through a major rebuild.

A major rebuild happens whenever a new general manager comes aboard.

From there he hires a head coach has similar ideals as he has in a roster. Then the head coach fills out his staff based on his ideals.

From there the GM will purge the roster of players he doesn’t want. In the Bills case it will be players like Hughes, left tackle Cordy Glenn and defensive tackle Marcel Dareus. That will fetch draft picks in return that they will need to fill the roster.

From there the GM conducts the draft and right after hires a new scouting staff. The reason is the Draft is the end of their year for the scouting staff and it would be too much work to hire a new one midway through the year.

In the end, the Bills have a three year window to get to the playoffs with their current roster. So, pray they make the playoffs in the next three years. Cause if they don’t god knows when they will after a major rebuild.

The truth of Whaley’s comments

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Pretty much all of Western New York was upset over the fact that the Buffalo Bills cut running back Fred Jackson. All over social media there were videos of children breaking down and crying over their favorite player no longer with their favorite team.

Since then Tim Graham of The Buffalo News reported that two sources told him that Bills General Manager Doug Whaley went “Rogue” when cutting Jackson. However, some have criticized Graham over the validity of the report. So, here is my insight into the whole situation.

As a person with a Master’s of Science in Public Relations, the first thing that they teach is whatever comes up in the press it’s your job to handle it and defuse it. In the National Football League the job starts the minute that the news breaks.

When I was an undergraduate at Buffalo State College, I had the pleasure of hearing three speakers in my sports reporting course, which was taught by The Buffalo News’ Alan Pergament.  Two of the three were  The Buffalo News’ Tim Graham and Mark Gaughan. The third was Buffalo Bills Senior Vice President of Communication Scott Berchtold.

Before I go on I must tell you this. In the world of journalism you typically do what the source asks you. So, what I’m about to tell you is breaking that cardinal rule, but considering all the circumstances lately, I feel it’s well worth it.

It was the summer of 2011 and I just finished last fulltime semester as an undergraduate. I had only two courses to go to complete my Bachelors of Arts in journalism and media production.  One of the course offerings that summer was sports reporting, which to my surprise in the course catalog it said Alan Pergament.

Like many of you reading, my knowledge of Mr. Pergament came from reading The Buffalo New. In the news typically he wrote columns about the media, so the first thing that came into my mind was why he’s teaching a sports reporting course. The answer came within the very first days as he revealed that at Tbe Buffalo News he was first a sports reporter and transferred to his current position at the request of his superiors.

Of course that immediately got my attention and I wondered to myself if he would bring in some of his connections or colleagues to guest speak at my classes.

A few weeks later those questions proved to be right.  The first and third was Graham and Gaughan, who provided great insight to the industry.  However, it was the second speaker in Berchtold that provided to me the most insight into the NFL.

The one thing that I was surprised at was what he during the final stages of the game and just after.

During the final stages of a game he would go up to the media and confirm who they would want to speak to.  This gave him the necessary knowledge and insight to what was come as a longtime veteran of the NFL he knew how the media operated and how to diffuse a situation before the player ever stepped up to the podium.

Once Berchtold confirmed who the media wanted to talk to, he would grab the player. It was in this short period of time from the player’s locker to the podium that he works his magic.

“Every time that I walk with a player up to the podium I always go over things,” Berchtold said. “I would remind him to thank his teammates, the coaching staff and others. I did this in order to get the player to snap and sound off  before they ever reached the podium, because the media asks the same question five different ways to aggravate a player and get what they really are thinking.”

One of the most memorable moments to Berchtold came in the 1990s after a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. On one of the key plays there seemed to be pass interference, which Kelly vehemently thought.  Of course Berchtold did his usual spiel to elicit a response from Kelly, who he knew before hand was upset about, and worked as Kelly snapped and replied he knew what he was doing.

However, on that fateful day Berchtold’s tactics failed.

“On my way up to the podium I did my usual thing,” Berchtold said. “I told Jim to thank his offensive line, his coaches and not to say anything about the referees. I knew he would snap, which he did, but that day things didn’t work.”

One of the media’s tactics is to ask the same question in various forms to elicit a emotional response from a player in order to get his true feelings.  With the Bills under Berchtold that is very rare as Berchtold is good at what he does.  However, that day was one of the few to have failed him.

“After I got a response from Jim he went up to the podium,” Berchtold continued. ‘ He answered all the media’s questions, but they came back to the play that there should have been a pass interference.  Eventually, Jim gave me a look he had enough and then snapped and criticized the officials and get a fine from the NFL.”

So why am I saying this? Berchtold is a veteran of the NFL of over 25 years.  His tenure starts before the Bills even went to four straight Superbowls. In other words he is very good at his job.

Why do you think when Graham reported Whaley went “Rogue” that the Bills in the media would show a unified front?

The answer is simply because Berchtold knows how to handle the media and more importantly how to make a scandal slip through the media cycle with very little coming back to the team. The evidence is what Whaley said yesterday.

“Let’s put it this way,” Whaley said. “I gather information from everybody, from the running backs coach to the offensive coordinator to the head coach and the owners. I wouldn’t be in this position – especially with new ownership – I’m going to include them. That’s my boss. We wouldn’t make a decision without them.”

In other words, Whaley gathered information from his roster and came to a decision that the team would be better off with Jackson cut and the money spent elsewhere.

D-Days for Marrone

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Bills head coach Doug Marrone is on the hot seat this year

Bills head coach Doug Marrone is on the hot seat this year

Last Sunday the Buffalo Bills suffered a huge loss at the hands of the New England Patriots which made their record 3-3 and on the outside looking in at the NFL Playoffs. That means the next two weeks are D-Days for Marrone.

The two wild card teams right now are the Denver Broncos with a 4-1 record and the Baltimore Ravens with a 4-2 record. Marrone has to lead his team to victory the next two weeks for one reason. The Bills bye week is week nine which is midway through the season.

Changes are typically made during the bye week, so if the Bills don’t have 5-3 record going into their bye week you can expect some.

The reason is that Bills President Russ Brandon and General Manager Doug Whaley have both stated that they feel that the current roster is capable of making the playoffs.  That statement can be argued to be true as the defense is currently 11th overall in the NFL and the team last year was second in the NFL in rushing.

So, what is the problem?

That is simple which is the offensive line. Marrone for some reason hates guard Kraig Urbik who was last year’s starting right guard. Instead they moved Eric Pears from right tackle to right guard and made Sentrel Henderson the starting right tackle which hasn’t worked out very well.

The evidence is the fact that the Bills last year average 144.2 yards rushing a game. This year they are averaging 101.0 yards per a game.

Don’t think the front office hasn’t noticed this. There were reports that Marrone and front office personnel got into a heated exchange over player use. Now, just this week Bills wide receiver Mike Williams’ agent asked to seek a trade for his player due to the way they are using him.

So, Marrone definitely knows that if he doesn’t win the next two weeks he will be fired on Monday October 20th.

Pegula may have no choice

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With Terry and Kim Pegula officially taking over the team, the whole organization from top to bottom is going to be evaluated. However, with the way the season is going the Pegulas may have no choice but to clean house.

Word is that the Pegulas have come to form a close relationship with Buffalo Bills President Russ Brandon and will keep him on. Many fans won’t care how much he likes Brandon they will want him gone for one reason. The reason is that Brandon and General Manager Doug Whaley stated that they believe they are going to be a playoff team.

“They should. We haven’t done anything. We’ve got a lot to prove,” Whaley said back in July. “It is what it is. Like Russ said, ‘We won’t hide from it.’ We haven’t been in the playoffs in a long time and we owe it to the fans, our late Hall of Fame owner and everybody in this business to show that we’re not the Bills anymore. We want to be a playoff team. We’re planning to be a playoff team and that’s our goal.”

Buffalo isn’t a town that will tolerate people in power not delivering on promises. We heard former Buffalo Sabres owner John Rigas state that he was going to give the team the tools to finish the job after they lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Dallas Stars. Rigas never delivered on that promise and fans haven’t forgotten it.

There are two other reasons that will make it hard to keep people on which is the team’s inability to find a franchise quarterback and the terrible drafting in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Brandon has been with the Bills since 1997 and every year since then the team hasn’t had a franchise quarterback. Of the 19 first round draft picks taken by the Bills since 1997, only four players have made the Pro Bowl as a Bill. More than half of those have been while he has been the main person in charge since 2006 which is 11.

Now, of those 11 only two have made the Pro Bowl in running back C.J. Spiller and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Spiller’s play since making the Pro Bowl has gone downhill to the point where the Bills will unlikely resign him.

So, if the Bills don’t win both of the next two games you can expect some drastic measures to be taken by the front office in order to save their jobs.