What’s Wrong With the Bills

Estimated reading time: 7 minute(s)

Funny how there is so much more to say when the team is not doing well! One good thing for the Bills is that they actually have quite a few talented players and even if this season is a bust, with new coaching could have a great year next year. The common theory that a coaching change mandates 2-3 years of rebuilding is really not accurate (it has been with the Bills but…). Jon Gruden took the Bucs to the SuperBowl in his first season. Mangini made the playoffs in his first season, So did Tony Dungy, Parcels, etc. There are many more than you might think. Even Tony Sparano has had immediate success with the Dolphins and has a real chance to get the team into the playoffs 1 year after 1-15. Parcels may be the GM but he is not coaching the team, Sparano is and he’s doing a great job. Singletary came in mid season and is already making a difference for the 49ers. I guess my point is that, if the Bills actually hire a good coach who calls plays and game plans to the strength of the players on the team rather than forcing the players to try to play in a pre-invented “system”, the team can see success quickly. The Bills have a lot of young talent on the team that could make the team very competitive quickly if properly used. What kind of Coach gives Lynch so few carries? Uses his inexperienced (somewhat unproven) QB to throw on critical plays rather than going to their proven ground game? Forcing guys like Leodis McKelvin, who is a strong man to man guy, to play lots of zone in the Tampa Two? You don’t need to completely rebuild a team if you know how to take advantage of the players you already have. Dick Jauron and friends scour the draft class for guys that might fit in their system while the best teams take great players and find a way to adjust the system to include them. Put Bobby April at the helm and the Bills would likely win their last 4 games and have a shot. With Jauron in there they really don’t have a chance.

It has become abundantly clear to me that this staff does not know how to get the most out of the talent they have on the team. There are two types of coaches, the ones who develop game plans based on the players they have and develop plays and strategies that maximize the potential of the players they have, and there are the type who develop a “Scheme” and try to force their players to fit in the “Scheme”. There are always going to be times when a player doesn’t work with the style of football you play (ditching a good linebacker because he is a 3-4 guy and you run a 4-3) but those situations should be the exception. It is easy to come up with a list of coaches who develop game plans based on the players they already have, they are the ones that consistently win football games.

As a Bills fan, how many times have you said something to this effect: “That play would have worked great if we had a better Tight End” or maybe “If we had a tall receiver we could have coem down with that catch”? The problem is that, if you don’t have a tight end who can make that play, you shouldn’t be calling the play. These are classic symptoms of inflexible “scheme” coaching. The Bills haven’t had a guy that knew how to utilize his players since Wade Phillips. Wade almost took it too far by trying to change players from week to week in order to come up with a better attack. A good idea with receivers etc, not with QBs.

So the Bills top priority is to find a good coach who knows how to make the most of his players (seems especially key in Buffalo where sometimes the team is a little cheap with player acquisitions). But the second priority is to find a new Quarterback. Sorry Trent Supporters, but this kid is just not tough enough for this league. At this point I have trouble making excuses for his totally inept play whenever the weather isn’t perfect. He’s sloppy, seems to have trouble with the cold (he’s really quick to get in his cape and seems to really be uncomfortable in the cold weather, just looks miserable on the sideline, like a Miami player in town for a visit, not a Bills player). Trent’s a nice guy, a good media man, seems to inspire his players and apparently the fans (its the only explaination for the undying support for a guy with really unimpressive career numbers) Trent has a 78.4 Career rating while Losman has a 77.9. If this is your idea of dramatic improvement over Losman, I guess everything is fine. Personally I think the Bills need a new starting QB. Losman is really not part of the discussion as he will most certainly leave as soon as the season is over and his commitment to Buffalo is finished. So even if the Bills want to stick with Edwards (a bad move I think) they will still need to acquire either a veteran free agent or draft another Quarterback to fill in the roster. Ideally they will do both.

Its hard to say which current QBs will hit the free agent market, but the Bills will probably take some mid-level guy, rather than spending big money for an older veteran. I’m ok with this, because the team needs to address the quarterback properly in the draft. Edwards may or may not have been a steal, but the team shouldn’t be banking on him being a success. Tom Brady was not drafted to be the starter. Bledsoe was their starter and was not even phased when they drafted Brady to be his backup. Belichick has said publicly, that they chose Brady because he was an inch taller than the other quarterback who was still available that late in the draft. It was dumb luck. The majority of the top quarterbacks in the league are taken early in the first round and come from one of the top football schools. The key difference being that only a dozen or so teams in College football use NFL style offenses.

The vast majority of college teams use simpler offensive systems where receivers are not expected to modify their routes according to reads. In the NFL, most teams encourage their players to adjust their routes according to the defense they encounter. The result should be more open receivers, but things become a lot trickier for the quarterback because the receivers are not where he expects them to be all the time. NFL quarterbacks need to be able to quickly read the field and instantly adjust to changed routes and find their open receivers. Coming out of college, players like Losman and Edwards who went to schools like Tulane and Stanford don’t get the benefit of coming into the NFL with experience operating a Pro Offense. (who knows what to call the mess that was Stanford football while Trent was there). So unless the QB is coming from a school like Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Boston College etc. there is a greater learning curve to be expected and a much greater chance the guy just won’t be able to handle an NFL style offense. The Bills need to stop being cute and go after a proven quarterback in the draft like Colt McCoy (although not necessarily him) who has essentially already had expeience in a Pro system. Then they need to start him right away rather than leaving him on the bench to lose all the momentum and excitement he had coming out of college and the draft.

The Bills also need to pick up at least three defensive ends and another linebacker or two. At defensive end they should look to free agency and pick up a proven talent as well as a project guy then also take the best guy they can get in the draft. They need to spend their top pick on quarterback, so probably a 2nd rounder.

The biggest question is wether the Bills brain trust has the guts to make the big moves. I think at least, they will fire Jauron. Ralph Wilson skipped out on the press conference after Sunday’s embarassing loss and seems to be thoroughly displeased with Jauron. NFL teams are not responsible for voided coaching contracts so there is really no reason to keep Dick Jauron around, regardless of wether there was an extension signed or proposed or whatever. Coaching contracts are little more than a show of intent. Lets just hope the Bills bring in the right guy to replace him. If they make the right choice, there won’t be any rebuilding to worry about.

One reply on “What’s Wrong With the Bills”

Hey Ben, good thoughts. You may be right on Trent, but I’m thinking that the struggles you’re seeing fit more with your assessment of how the coaches use their players more than some lack of talent or ability by Edwards. He has shown flashes of greatness… and even in the “bad” games… he has never looked as incompetent as Losman. Perhaps that is where people’s confidence in Edwards originates? We’re comparing him to recent Bills QBs? 🙂

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