It’s time once again for my annual what-crazy-thing-have-the-Buffalo-Bills-done-now  offseason post. But first, the good news: they made Kathryn Smith the first female full-time coach in NFL history. That is pretty cool–I meant to blog about it at the time, but was too busy.  When I heard the news, it was the proudest I’ve been to call myself a Bills fan since we beat New England 31-0 in 2003.

Being Buffalo Bills fans, we half-expect all positives to be immediately negated by something horrible, and sure enough, the running back they stupidly traded for last year is now being investigated for getting into a fight at a nightclub. So it goes.

That aside, what should the Bills do this offseason?  My answer: get defensive linemen.  Lots of them. The Broncos and Giants have shown that this is the blueprint for winning Super Bowls, even when you have absolutely nothing else going for you.  It is especially effective against the evil Patriots.

“But we already have good defensive linemen!” you cry. I know.  Doesn’t matter.  Get more, because you know the ones we have will get hurt/arrested/suspended/demand to be paid more or be traded.  I’ve been a Bills fan long enough to know that you can’t just do a few things right and hope we get the good breaks.

[To the tune of “When Britain Really Ruled The Waves”, by Gilbert and Sullivan.]

Miami really ruled the league

In good Coach Shula’s reign;

They won with dominant defense,

And a run-based, ground pound offense;

And got to pop champagne.

Yes, they ran the perfect campaign

In old Coach Shula’s glorious reign!


When Belichick beat Martz’s Rams

And the Greatest Turf Show fell–

The Patriot receiving corps

Did nothing too spectaculor

But did it very well.

The Pats, they built a dynasty

Thanks to their strong, hard-hitting “D”.


And when the Bills of Buffalo

Learn from league history;

And their front office does not trade

For wide receivers overpaid

Or some has-been RB–

The Bills can be a dynasty

With good Coach Ryan’s awesome “D”!

Every year around this time, I end up writing a bit about mistakes the Buffalo Bills are making, or have made, or are about to make. It’s an inexhaustible source of material, it seems.  This Alonso-for-McCoy trade is not quite as stupid as trading a first round pick for a wide receiver, but it’s close.

A good linebacker is worth more than a great running back.  Good running backs are cheap, and the value increase from a good running back to a great one is small when compared to the price.  Look at New England.  Their running backs are all later draft picks or guys they got cheap in free agency.  Anybody who is halfway competent at running the ball will be more than sufficient, provided he has a good line and a good quarterback.

Add to this the fact that McCoy is on the downswing of his career, and showed signs of decline last season, and it makes the trade look completely insane.

I do like the Cassel trade, though.  He is not the quarterback of the future, but I think he’s better than Manuel.  You can win with a game manager quarterback and a strong defense–Baltimore proved that in 2000.  Rex Ryan almost did with the Jets in ’09-’10.  If they had just traded for Cassel and kept Alonso, I would have felt much better about it.

Oh, and speaking of the Jets: I see they just traded for Brandon Marshall. They think they are so clever because they are giving Geno Smith “weapons”. I have no doubt Smith will squander Marshall’s talents just as he did those of his previously acquired weapons, Eric Decker and Percy Harvin.  Meanwhile, New England has been criticized for years for not giving Brady enough “weapons” at receiver–but I’d have to say it’s working out OK for them.

A Disaster



The only thing worse than drafting a wide-receiver in the first round is trading up to do so. Buffalo mortgaged the future in order to get someone who won’t help them win now.  Then they picked a lineman from Alabama, and linemen from Alabama generally don’t work out in the pros. But at least they did pick some linemen–that is the one and only good thing to say about this draft.

Really, it all goes back to the fact that I am not sold on E.J. Manuel as the quarterback.  I don’t care how good Sammy Watkins is; it’s not going to matter if they can’t get him the ball.  They would have been so much better off drafting University of Buffalo’s Khalil Mack, but I guess they saw no value in having a hometown star who plays a key position on the team.

But ok; so they decided to go the “build the offense by getting good receivers” route. I have seen no evidence that this plan will work, (look at Arizona for the past decade to see the best outcome of this scheme) but apparently, that was their strategy.

So, if that really is their idea, why would they then go and trade the best (or second-best, if you buy the Watkins hype) receiver on the roster?  I mean, do they want to have a strong receiving corps or not?

And of course they failed to draft Michael Sam, which I really thought they should have.  That’s not a disaster, but it would have been smart.  (By the way, how is it that the Defensive Player of the Year in the best college conference falls to the late seventh-round, especially when the latest any previous recipient of that honor went was in the fifth round?)

To my mind, the clear winner of this draft was Cleveland. They strengthened their defense, got someone who has the potential to be the next Colin Kaepernick or Cam Newton, and got Buffalo’s first-round pick next year (I expect it will be a very high one) to boot.

This is normally the time of year when I urge them to get Tebow.  But I’ve given up on that.  I think they should draft Sam for much the same reason I thought they should add Tebow: he gets attention. Well, that and he has an awesome football name. ‘Mike” traditionally designates middle linebacker, and “Sam” designates the strongside linebacker.

The press will be interested in the first season of the first openly gay NFL player.  It’s something novel to report on, and so probably his games will get more coverage.  This is exactly what Buffalo needs, as they generally are ignored except when they are playing [read: getting beaten by] New England.

Besides, I have a hunch that, in the wake of the Ritchie Incognito scandal, the league wants to prove its not a place filled by angry people who are intolerant of anyone who is different in any way.  So, again, they’ll want to give more attention and more favorable marketing to the team that drafts him.

Now, it still wouldn’t be worthwhile if he played some position like wide receiver or running back, where there’s a lot of cheap talent to be had.  But linebackers are valuable, and it can’t hurt to have depth at the position. Moreover, I suspect a lot of teams will miss out on him because they are worried he will be a “distraction”, meaning Buffalo may be able to get him for a lower draft pick than they otherwise would for a player of his talents.

He may not be first-round pick material.  But he’s probably worth spending the second rounder on, if they are really worried some other team is trying to get him.  At the least, I would say they should draft him before they draft any receivers or running backs.

Ok, this really is getting ridiculous.  I thought Tebow was an odd signing for New England.  He doesn’t really fit their system.  But, when a team is as loaded as they are, they can afford to experiment.

But what if there were a team that had signed a running quarterback, and was all geared up to run a read-option offense, but he was injured for week one?  And their backup was also injured for the rest of the season? And they were in a position where they were being forced to start an undrafted free-agent?

Wouldn’t it be worth it to give a quarterback with a playoff win and a 75.3 career rating a try?

To Whom It May Concern:

Well, here we are again. No playoffs, yet again.  Not even a winning record, yet again. Rebuilding, yet again.

I believed in 2010 that you ought to draft Tim Tebow. I also believed you should trade for him last year when Denver was trying to get rid of him.

It’s not like it can get any worse with him on the team, and his value will never be lower than it is right now.  Sure, he can’t throw a ball correctly.  But he has won a postseason game in the last decade, which is way more than can be said for our side.

Over at the Buffalo Bills fanblog “Buffalo Rumblings“, Aaron Lowinger wrote a counter-factual season preview/review of past Bills seasons; that is, a kind of historical fiction or “alternate reality” type of post.  I thought it was a cool idea, but the reaction from most of the site’s readers was pretty negative.  I can sort of see why, too, because even in Lowinger’s fantastic universe, the Bills are still seeking their first championship.  Enhanced misery is not what people want in their daydreams.

I really like the idea, though. I’d like to try it myself in fact.  Allow me, if I may, to borrow Lowinger’s (and Buffalo Rumblings editor Brian Galliford’s) idea, and try to make it into a happier one.  What follows is purely fictional–although it may be factual somewhere in the multiverse…


When the ball slipped through the fingers of their most reliable receiver this past January, it shattered many Bills fans’ hopes of doing something done only twice before: three championships in four years.  The Bills, coming off a franchise-best 14-2 regular-season record, had marched down the field for a touchdown to cut the upstart Jaguars’ lead to 31-29, but the two-point conversion fell short with only seconds remaining.

It was a rare miscue for a team accustomed to winning.  After their thrilling 31-28 O.T. win over Arizona in SB 43, the Bills had established a reputation as clutch winners.  Their improbable run to a 34-15 shellacking of that same Arizona team in SB 45 only cemented that reputation, with a thrilling 17-point rally to beat Indy in the divisional round, followed by Trent Edwards’ clutch drive to down favored Baltimore 27-24 in the conference final being the most notable examples.

January’s disappointment aside, the Bills remain a young team with all the major pieces in place for another championship run.  Although they lost star running back Steven Jackson in free-agency, they are confident that Spiller can fill his shoes.  The receiving corps remains intact, as does the offensive line. The addition of Asante Samuel to a strong secondary makes them arguably even more powerful than the #2 defensive unit that led them to their first championship.


Well, that was fun, right?  Or maybe not.  Is it just a sad reminder of how bad things are, or an uplifting diversion?  For, after all, sports themselves are meant to be an uplifting diversion.  They really aren’t much good if you let them make you sad.

P.S. Lowinger and Galliford–should you happen to read this, I hope you don’t mind me reworking your idea.  If you do, I’ll gladly take it down.  It’s not exactly Goethe reworking Marlowe’s stuff, but sometimes it pays to take more than one crack at an idea.

To whom it may concern:

I have followed this team for years, and I will continue to do so. In all my years of following, I have never seen you make even one playoff appearance. I remember all the attempts at rebuilding, the subsequent tearing down and rebuilding again.

I believed in 2010 that you ought to draft Tim Tebow. Instead, you drafted a running back who you almost never use. Whatever. But rejoice, for Fate has granted you a second chance! For some reason, John Elway doesn’t like Tebow, and is trying to get Peyton Manning or Brandon Weeden.

While I have long thought that Tebow is highly overrated as a quarterback, and the phony religious war that the press tries to create around him is quite tiresome, I nonetheless think he is exactly who the team needs.

This is because he has an indefinable quality–charisma, you might call it–that attracts attention. And attention is what you desperately need as a ball club. Nobody even talks about Buffalo, or if they do, it’s to talk about how lacking it is, both as a city and a place of sporting success.

So, that’s why you ought to trade for Tebow. Trade them the first-round pick if they want it. You probably were planning to use it on yet another running back, anyway. Or, even worse, some overrated wide-receiver. And if they still won’t make with the Chosen One, give them C.J. Spiller. He was effective at warming the bench behind Jackson, so he’s more than qualified to warm it behind Moreno.

It is true that Tim Tebow cannot throw a football correctly. (Personally, I have long suspected that he isn’t really left-handed.) But he has some sort of miraculous ability to excite people beyond reason, and besides that, he has a knack for winning in the 4th quarter, which is something that this team hasn’t had since Frank Reich left.

If Denver signs Manning, get Tebow. If they don’t sign Manning, get Tebow anyway, since they’ve demonstrated they don’t have faith in him. You say you’re committed to Fitzpatrick, but a little competition never hurt anyone. Well, except the loser, but do you really want to be a haven for losers?

Get Tebow. I don’t know if he’ll continue his habit of pulling out miraculous victories, but at least he’s theoretically capable of it. And even if he doesn’t, people will at least pay attention to the team again.