We are about 2 months into the McDermott era here and everything seems to be on the up and up. The Bills have been kind of active in free agency, although I wouldn’t say the signings are sexy like they had two seasons ago. Of course, I think having a new sheriff in town puts a new shine on any move.
This is what always happens whenever a new coach takes over a team. In Buffalo sports, something new always equals something hopeful. I’ve been through a bunch of these and I know the cycle by now. I’ve seen the honeymoon for Rex because he was a player’s coach and was adored by the media until he had to start coaching. I saw when Marrone came in with his “straight shooting approach” and putting up banners in the field house. I saw Chan Gailey’s “You dog one of us, you dog all of us” to fans. I saw Gregg Williams blow horn act register because it wasn’t the “aloof” approach that Wade Phillips (Who has me blocked on Twitter!! GRRR) had.
Basically, whenever a new coach comes in and does something different as innocuous as moving a pool table out of a locker room, it gets over-analyzed to death and high-five by fans/media alike. It is funny, but I heard Sal on WGR say that no one ever used the pool table, so, maybe they just moved it cause no one was using it and McDermott and the media took it as a sign of “Culture change” which is the new buzz phrase around these parts. I mean, he did keep the ping pong table which was used a lot, albeit, he said it was for “hand-eye coordination”…yeah, sure.
So, while McDermott is building confidence with some, I’d like to know who exactly is building this roster?
Full disclosure, this piece was started on Tuesday and ready to go, but every day there seems to be a new story or circumstantial evidence geared towards Whaley losing power that I had to keep updating the piece.
I wrote before how I felt Bills management didn’t want Tyrod Taylor back and how it had been reported by Jason LaCalifornia that was the case a few weeks back, but he also added the caveat about how the coaching staff seemed to think they could do something with Tyrod. If we are to believe Jason, then McDermott won the battle for Tyrod. Of course, Whaley can bullshit his way out of this by saying or leaking that he didn’t want Tyrod at that price, NOT because he thought he was terrible. I mean, that’s basically what happened. Did I forget to mention how it is on record that Whaley has final say on the roster? Maybe he has final say before McDermott has his say.
I think most fans would love to think McDermott is running the show because fans are not enthralled with Doug Whaley. Still, that’s a lot of responsibility to put on someone who hasn’t been a head coach before. This past weekend, Vic Carucci said that by his understanding, McDermott is the one who is in charge. If he’s in charge, what does that make Whaley? Is Whaley just a sounding board who will tell McDermott who the top players at certain positions and then the coach will pick from the board?
I digress, this might not be the breaking news as some would like to make it, as I always felt Rex Ryan had tremendous clout in shaping this roster. I doubt the fixation of bringing on former Jets players here was Doug Whaley’s call. Additionally, we know Tyrod was Rex’s guy and the drafts seemed to be more geared towards Rex’s liking (See: Shaq Lawson). Remember when Chan Gailey said he wanted a waterbug back and they drafted Spiller? How about Brad Smith which was a gadget player Chan always liked? There was also the rumor that Aaron Maybin was all Dick Jauron. So, maybe this sharing is caring with building the roster isn’t new.
On the other hand, if you want to believe the Bills want One Voice at One Bills Drive, then realize Whaley did talk at the combine last year, while this year he was a no-show at the podium. To go back and I’m spit-balling here, but I kind of think Whaley was more of your traditional GM under Marrone where he just brought in the players and Marrone was supposed to coach them, but Whaley may have lost that power to Rex and now to McDermott. Consider how Marrone basically benched Mike Williams, EJ, and Cyrus. Maybe after that shit pile of a relationship blew up in the Bills faces, the Pegulas adapted a more “inner-circle” democracy.
There’s an evil underbelly with the “Inner-circle” here which is we may once again have to figure out where the buck stops with this roster. Is Whaley picking the players while McDermott is golfing, or is McDermott telling Whaley what to do, or does everyone take turns? This is what I’ve always despised with the Bills. I don’t need an emperor or czar, but I’d like what the Sabres have which is you know who coaches the players (Disco Dan) and you know who picks the players (Tim Murray). None of this sharing duties crap.
Now, if you want to believe Whaley has lost power, there’s some evidence to it. Maybe the Bills fire him after the draft. Hey, the Pegulas canned Darcy Regier and Pat LaFontaine during the same season. Buddy Nix “left” the Bills after the 2013 draft and Tom Modrak was fired as his partner after the 2011 draft. So, firing people at odd times seems to happen with PSE. Additionally, we get LaCalifornia saying the Bills or in this case, McDermott, may be looking for new pro personnel guys and how the Whaley/McDermott partnership is short term.
Let’s also not forget how Anthony Lynn seemed to be the clear-cut favorite when the season ended to be the next head coach. I’d bet dollars to donuts Whaley wanted him and he was his first choice, but then the Pegulas were smitten by McDermott and his wrestling abilities. This wouldn’t be the first time that happened as rumor has it how Whaley wanted Hue Jackson, but Pegulas/Brandonfinger wanted Rex.
Then you can get into the whole “Privy” discussion that Whaley pulled off about firing Rex at his year end press conference. At first, I believed Whaley was just lying about the whole thing, but maybe the Pegulas were the ones who lead that crusade and left their general out of the discussion. And to further this, the Bills aren’t going to have their normal draft luncheon where the GM and scouts talk about college players while the press scarfs down and steal a bunch of free sandwiches. Now, this could be how Derek Boyko (Former PR of the Eagles) wants it to be with the Bills. This was the norm in Philly where Reid ran every press conference and their GM basically didn’t speak cause Reid was the de-facto ruler of the football ops. Plus, it is not like these draft luncheons are a firing line of accountability. Normally, Whaley did well in the previous draft lunches because the questions were about the draft and the GM basically bullshitted it.
Still, all of these stories seem to be falling pretty closely together. Keep in mind the Pegulas love/are envious of what Bob Kraft created in NE and if we are reading the rumors and innuendos correctly, they may want the Patriot power structure of Kraft/Bill and everyone else follow in line.
Of course, this could all be my own contrived death knell situation I’m structuring.
Hey, I’ve based a lot of this on history and how the Bills always seem to be crafty with who pulls the trigger on player selection and how the Pegulas work sometime. So, while everyone might enjoy the McDermott honeymoon, I’m already trying to figure out who may get the house in a divorce.