Many have criticized the Bills for waiting until after the draft to fire G.M. Doug Whaley and the entire scouting department. While the franchise has done plenty of things in recent years that merit criticism, this wasn’t one of them.
The end of the season is the best time to fire a coach, and the conclusion of the draft is the best time to move on from a G.M. Plenty of teams fire the G.M. at the end of the season due in part to an effort to appease the fans and quiet the media. This overlooks the fact that the G.M. has done plenty of work in preparation for free agency and the draft, and that a new G.M. would in some respects be starting from scratch.
Sure, if the team regards the G.M. as worthy of being fired, his work isn’t worthy of being trusted. But what’s the alternative, especially when the entire scouting department is going to be gutted?
The Bills could have done what the Colts did, hiring a new G.M. while keeping the scouts in place through the draft. But that could have made a dysfunctional situation even more dysfunctional in Buffalo, especially if the scouts realized that the hammer eventually would fall. (And, obviously, they knew it was coming as of last week.)
It seems that, ultimately, the Bills have decided to press the reset button on the front office not because of skill but to clean out the dysfunction. The team itself isn’t horrible, which is a testament to the people who built it. While Whaley indeed whiffed on big decisions like drafting EJ Manuel and giving up two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick for Sammy Watkins, the roster isn’t lacking for talent.
The circumstances suggest that something beyond substantive football decisions was going on. The refusal of owner Terry Pegula to discuss the reasons for the decision to fire Whaley bolsters that perception.
So if it’s not about the work, why not let Whaley keep working until the work related to free agency and the draft is done?
Compare that approach to what Washington did with G.M. Scot McCloughan, dumping him before free agency and allowing him to carry away his research and evaluations, which then were used to assist other teams as a consultant. By keeping Whaley around, the Bills kept Whaley and his scouts from assisting other teams.
Now that the draft has ended, the Bills can move on. The only problem is that the new G.M. may not have hired the fairly new head coach. Which could eventually set the stage for even more dysfunction, culminating in the new G.M. wanting his own coach — unless the new coach ends up being stronger than the usual G.M.