With the firing of the entire scouting staff and GM, the Bills are in uncharted territory: this will be the first year they have a completely overhauled football ops side since what, the late 90s? Even my sainted Uncle, Buddy Nix, is no longer
Before I get to the candidates, I want to also mention something about the ownership and going forward with decisionmaking. And defense of one Jerry Sullivan. Yep. THAT JERRY SULLIVAN. I may not like the slant with which he takes most of his editorials, but I did enjoy his piece on Tre’Davious (staying strong with the full name) and his work on the Olympics a while back. I want more of that guy and less of the dog-whistles and grit specials.
But back to the press conference. Jerry and the other reporters had to get Terry Pegula on record about stringing his former GM out to dry, as well as constantly allowing leaks to precede his decisions by weeks and months and not days as the NFL media cycle is wont to do. When the difficult questions came, sure, Jerry is a bit of a load. But – and here’s why I have to defend the questioning of Sullivan with Pegula – look at how Terry answered when the questions kept coming.
“I’m not here to talk about the past.”
Say what now? You cannot call a press conference to explain why you fired someone an hour ago and declare it in the past. Sully on draft night asked the question – “do you think it’s right that Doug Whaley is hanging out to dry” and got an answer. So when you put the timeline together it forces Terry to explain why someone he so glowingly praised I half-thought Pegula would announce he’d moved to Sabres GM got fired? If Terry didn’t want to talk about it – the time and place were poor for that. Way to speak truth to power, sir.
– Thus ends my defense of Sully. –
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention this aspect, which I touched on in our Buffalo Wins Pod up later this evening – the way the folks asked questions to Terry was far different than Doug Whaley. No snark, no flippant – “do you know what you’re doing as owner?”. Instead, it was couched as, “have you found that there’s a learning curve to owning teams?”
If it’s good enough to do with Terry, how about that be the standard for the “help” too?
Back to ownership. Here’re some handy dandy ways you can prevent what happened Sunday:
Own it, please – Don’t send your interim head coach out to explain why you and your GM didn’t want to risk playing a QB you both agreed to give an extension that had an injury guarantee in the contract. Doug Whaley and Jim Overdorf didn’t just wish that contract out of ether – Terry and Kim were all about it as well.
Reality will not shift because you deign it – The “I’m not here to talk about the past” line I mentioned above has been used by Terry Pegula or one of his leadership at least 6 times to my memory – the firing of Whaley, the firing of Ryan, the firing of Bylsma and Murray, the decision to bench Tyrod Taylor after the fact, the departure of Doug Whaley after the fact and the (fair) refusal to accept anything drought-related other than the years he and his wife have owned the team. Of those times, the drought is the fairest of them. You cannot make a decision, and when asked about the decision in real-time declare that’s in the past. Unless you’ve got a 3-second Steve type disorder no one can operate that way – nor should the local reporters get treated like children being told “that’s enough” at the dinner table. I could also have fit this under “own it” but you see my point.
No Polians – You’ve done so well, Terry and Kim. No Chad Kelly temptation. Resisting overtures (or having the HOF / ESPN rock the boat enough to stop it) from Bill Polian to be the czar must continue. You just wiped out all of the vestiges of the Ralph Wilson-run football ops side. Bringing in Bill Polian, or any of his kids would be at best a nostalgia tour and at worst the nepotistic birthright that’s been somehow assumed by some of the SB year members to demand their progeny also get to run/play for the Bills. I get the NFL is far from a meritocracy, but at least make my squint a little to find it, ja?
And now, finally, I can look at some of the candidates tied to the opening – or at least a role in the McDermott regime. Yes, McDermott regime – if you fire your football ops to make sure he’s got the people he needs over there, it’s his show. That should also mean he serves every year in that contract come hell or high water, but that’s an article for another day.
With that said, on with the review!
Scot McCloughan, Unemployed:
Troubled. Genius with player evaluation. Scapegoat of the Washington mess.
To that point, McCloughan was scapegoated in two cities where the owners wanted credit (SF and Washington) and is beloved in Seattle.
As General Manager, there would be a lot of stress that could feed into his issues with alcohol, so I’m not pushing for that. I’m pushing, should Benjamin’s tweet have truth to it for McCloughan to be give a national scout or advising role to the new GM. McCloughan’s skills used in that fashion would be far less stressful and gives the Bills a qualified mind to help shape the draft boards of the future.
Don Gregory and Brandon Beane, Carolina:
Gregory and Beane (below) make sense because of their Carolina connection. With the clout McDermott had as defensive coordinator, working with his head coach to get players that fit their scheme, both executives know what McDermott’s needs are. Instead of players being removed from the board as Albert Breer mentioned in his scathing take of organizational issues in Buffalo, those players will not be on the board to begin with. That sort of understanding takes time – time that McDermott did not want to waste with Whaley.
I’d be fine with either candidate from Carolina as they know McDermott’s quirks and what he needs on defense – and character wise knows what he wants his team makeup to be.
Brett Veach, Kansas City
Veach also makes sense to me because he cut his teeth in football the same way that McDermott did – as the assistant to Andy Reid. Learning Reid’s ways, how he evaluates player fits for his team and then transitioning to the personnel side the the other side of the coin of McDermott’s move to coaching. Again, given my absolute adoration of Andy Reid and his style of coach and player development (up there with the esteemed Bill Belichick – stop booing, it’s true!) and McDermott’s adherence to “The Process” would be very well served with Veach.
One note before I close – I don’t think, despite the fact McDermott will have the final call – that this will be a “Ricktatorship” if I can borrow The Walking Dead line. I truly believe that McDermott wants people he can trust to make the best decisions and that includes disagreement. The issue, as it’s been for ages in the NFL is – much like life outside of sport – it’s far easier to argue with someone you know than someone you don’t.
Thoughts? Am I off my rocker? Let me know on Twitter (@Rich_Fann) or on our BW Facebook!