Buffalo shakeup could result in Polian reunion

The silence has become deafening in Buffalo regarding the intentions of new owners Terry and Kim Pegula regarding the future of the franchise.  There’s growing speculation and rumor in league circles that the team’s immediate future could include a blast from the past.

Some in league circles firmly believe that, as soon as Monday, former Bills G.M. Bill Polian could be returning to the team.  It’s unclear what his role and duties would be; Polian and the Bills could try to engineer the job title and description in a way that doesn’t re-set the clock on his looming election to the Hall of Fame.  Nominated for the first time in the new contributor category, Polian’s candidacy will be debated and determined on January 31.

It’s also unclear what would happen after Polian’s return, if that indeed occurs.  Some think that G.M. Doug Whaley and CEO Russ Brandon would be in jeopardy, based on factors such as the ill-advised decision to use a first-round pick on quarterback EJ Manuel in 2013 and the surrender of a first-round pick and fourth-round pick in 2015 to move up five spots in the 2014 draft for receiver Sammy Watkins. Some saw the trade as a way to get to the postseason right away, increasing the chances of sticking with the franchise under new ownership.

Brandon, who was hired by the team in 1997 and who rose to a key level of influence in 2006, doesn’t have much to show for his time in Buffalo.  More importantly, he has no pre-existing connection to or allegiance with the Pegulas, who may want their own people to run the team.

The wild card moving forward is coach Doug Marrone.  Polian recently praised the second-year coach, which could be a sign that, if Polian gets the reins in Buffalo, Marrone won’t get the boot.

“Doug Marrone, the Bills’ head coach, should be very much in the running for coach of the year,” Polian said on ESPN earlier this month.  “The Packers are a much better team, but they weren’t yesterday in Ralph Wilson Stadium, and that’s to Doug Marrone’s credit, that’s to [defensive coordinator] Jim Schwartz’s credit and that team’s credit.”

Some think Polian would find a role in Buffalo for his son, Chris, who currently serves as the director of pro personnel in Jacksonville.  At one point, it was believed that Bill Polian was trying to set the table for Chris to become the G.M. of the Colts.  Then came the disastrous 2011 season, which resulted in owner Jim Irsay cleaning the decks.

While 2014 was hardly a disaster for the Bills, it’s been 15 years since the franchise last qualified for the postseason.  Which means that whatever they’ve been doing hasn’t been working.  Which means that a guy whose work helped the team to four straight Super Bowl appearances could soon be back in the fold.

UPDATE 6:07 p.m. ET:  Joe Horrigan, the Executive V.P. of Museums, Selection Process & Chief Communications Officer for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, tells PFT that the clock does not reset for contributors.  So Polian can return to the NFL and be elected to the Hall of Fame.  Which would make 2015 a pretty good year for Polian.

55 responses to “Buffalo shakeup could result in Polian reunion

  1. Marronne and Schwartz deserve to stay. Way better season than people anticipated and I only see them getting better. Probably a playoff team with a QB like Alex Smith on the team

  2. The one, single and most glaring common thread of Buffalo’s losing tradition is President Russ Brandon.

    Brandon’s the son Ralph Wilson never had. Ralph loved him, and operated under Wilson’s formula of being cheap on coaches, and cheaper on scouts.

    If Polian comes, I would keep Marrone.

  3. If this is about trying to get his son a GM job, then it’s ridiculous. The amount of nepotism in sports is out of control. Just saw today the Baylor coach promoted his son to OC…..Virginia Tech’s coach is upstairs because of a surgery and his son is the coach on the sidelines……Norv Turner’s son is the QB coach for the Vikings…..and it just never ends.

  4. Its been amazing to me that guys like Idzik and Emery can be in charge of decision making for NFL teams while Polian hasn’t even gotten a sniff around the league.

    The guy may be a supreme jerk, and there is no doubt his tenure in Indy ended with some bad decisions, but this is a guy who has been the GM of playoff teams going all the way back to the early 90s.

    Surely a team like the Bills could do worse than looking to Polian to turn things around. I think its a smart move.

  5. Absolutely FANTASTIC news—there is NO WAY Brandon should continue to be involved in any “way, shape or form” in the future of the Bills–he is nothing but a “Yes Man” for the former owner Wilson–in order for the Bills to move forward they need to jettison every last vestige of Wilson’s crummy legacy–and that should include Whaley and Marrone too!! The downward decline of the Bills can be traced to when Wilson fired Polian (1993) because he couldn’t get along with the former treasurer (Littman)–Bring Polian back ASAP–he knows how to build winners (Bills, Panthers, Colts)

  6. Sammy Watkins is a great player, but the trade price was too high. It’s easier to win at football if you make value transactions as opposed to paying a premium. With a field of 32 competitors it just is not practical to expect to be the very best sans strategic swaps.

  7. Polian desperately searching for a job by leaking stuff to his reporter buddies again. That guy is done

  8. While I disagree that Marrone should be considered for coach of the year, I think Polian does think highly of him. I suspect though that Marrone would have to fire Hackett to stay, should Polian become team president or similar.

  9. Bill’s a good football mind; it’s his methods that get him in trouble. To say he’s not a people person would be an understatement. That said, his son Chris certainly is not deserving of any job title above assistant to the water boy. The classic case of being born on third and convinced he hit a triple.

    I’d hire Bill. But not if he suggests bringing his son along for the ride…

  10. This is interesting but with a couple of caveats:
    Polian built the Super Bowl Bills pre-salary cap, and the Colts had a superior QB in Manning. I’d be very interested to see what he could do with the foundation in Buffalo right now.

  11. This guys said Chris Borland would be a scrub special teams player and that Rey Malaluga ways a “type A” free agent

    The game has passed him by

  12. Polian’s last few years/drafts with the Colts didn’t exactly pad his HoF resume. Some said because of Little Polian; some said because time had passed Bill by. Whatever the reason, Buffalo ought to be aware they wouldn’t be getting Polian at the peak of perfection.

  13. Whaley/Nix missed on E.J. but hit on Kiko,preston Brown Robert Wooda and a hunch of free agents.cant hit on everyone.Belicheck missed on Ryan Mallett and many others

  14. If Marrone stays, he needs to be told that if he DOESN’t make the playoffs next season, he is gone. Hackett needs to go and they need a much better line, obviously, plus of course a QB.
    Whaley, OUT. What he paid for Watkins AND drafting EJ, a huge bust, shows he can’t do the job.
    Give Schwartz a raise to keep him here. Make him Assistant Head Coach as well.

  15. Polian was the brains the built the Bills teams in the late 80’s/early 90’s. He is a hall af gamer. With that said he isn’t the guy today. Whaley needs to go. Gave up a ransom for the 3rd best receiver in the draft. Second round pick never saw the field. EJ, well enough said. I don’t know who the next great is, but it’s not Polian today.

  16. Definitely Schwartz is one the best defensive coaches, I thought that Pettine’s shoes were going to be hard to fill but he has done a remarkable job. The Bills owe this coach and the fans a good QB, I mean a good QB that would have been good enough for a couple of wins this year. The Bills have a great defense and in the next couple of years this unit can reach incredible greatness. I have good memories of Bill Polian and I watch his astute comments on the circuit, coming on board to the Bill could provide an invaluable wealth of knowledge on future players and the ideal QB for the team. Let’s go Buffalo.

  17. Not the time to blow things up in Buffalo. They missed with Manuel (probably a little fooled because he interviews very well and is very good person, someone you want to be a great QB) but once this team gets a QB and some youth at RB which is easy enough to find they will be very good. Put Rodgers or even Drew Brees on that team and they contending for the Super Bowl.

  18. “Doug Marrone, the Bills’ head coach, should be very much in the running for coach of the year,”

    ——————————————————–

    Since the Bills only had a 1-2 game improvement from 2013, that statement alone should get Polian nullified for any job with the team!

  19. A QB that’s what we need… Plain and simple. A decent QB and the Bills are a playoff team with the current roster. As much as I disagree with some of Marrone and Whaleys decisions the team has improved over the past couple seasons. If it takes Polian to find us the QB we need then so be it.
    realnflmaster are you still here? You jets fans are gutsy.. Still talking smack on Bills threads after they smacked around that mess of a team twice. No matter where the Bills stand now the future is way brighter and then the YETS.

  20. Article correction: Chris Polian was the GM of the Indianapolis Colts while his father, Bill listed as Vice Chairman of the organization the last couple of years and failed drafts.

    True story: Bill Polian tried to draft Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning. Story originates inside the West 56th Colts Complex from an employee of nearly 20 years (not on the football side of the business). That’s one thing Irsay didn’t blab about on Twitter!

    Bill would be a consultant while Chris will hold the title of GM.

    I don’t dislike Polian, he is a nice guy according to people that personally know him. He sat next to my company’s dir of sales at a Red Sox game. One of the players gave his grandson a baseball and Bill offered it to my boss’ daughter because his grandson already had a ball. Class act – just too bad his son isn’t as talented and Bill will never admit Irsay drafted Manning while he lobbied for Leaf.

    As a Colts fan, I hope that any involvement from the Polian’s gets draft results like Harrison, Wayne, Freeney, Manning, Edgerin James, and not the last 6 drafts executed under the Polian mgmt. They won’t sign free agents either. It wasn’t until Grigson entered the picture that the Colts were players in free agency. I can’t pretend that has worked out the best, but our D is better than it used to be (although that’s not saying too much right now).

    Good luck Bills – hope Polians don’t hamper some promising progression of your franchise the last couple of years…

  21. Before we go celebrating the return of Polian we should ask if Polian was such a great GM in Indy then why does everyone defend Manning with the ‘He never had a defense’ argument?’ because Polian drafted those defensive players. Or was Manning an underachiever? It has to be one or the other, right?

  22. C’mon PFT, unshackle the reply function like basketball and baseball did! It might generate discussion with a few of the actual football fans, not just let us sit here slack jawed at trolls or the casual fans who can’t see a team being developed. With that, there shouldn’t be a problem bringing in Polian as an advisor and keeping the coaching staff. Apparently the GM did something right because the team has improved personnel and coaching-wise. The Colts floundered for a year because they lost one of the greatest QBs of all time who had been entrenched in the organization for over a decade. They didn’t clean the front office and suddenly revamp the roster, no it was the same team now with Luck. Seems to me Polian did an ok job with the roster there. You folks are impatient. Four years ago there was a stadium in Seattle filled with people with bags on their heads, now look. Patience. Build on this bit of success.

  23. Maybe he can hire Lovie Smith away from Tampa since he gets starry eyed every time they talk about Lovie.

  24. Polian said on ESPN earlier this month. “The Packers are a much better team, but they weren’t yesterday in Ralph Wilson Stadium, and that’s to Doug Marrone’s credit, that’s to [defensive coordinator] Jim Schwartz’s credit and that team’s credit.”
    ———————————
    I’d credit that Receiving Corp dropping passes, Bill Levy’s crew, and Olivia Munn for that bill’s “Victory” more than the bill’s pathetic coaching staff.

  25. Axespray…
    Get over it.. GB lost because they were outdone physically. They are soft. Rogers is a great QB. But the team as a whole especially the D is soft that’s why they have no chance to get to the bowl if they play the Hawks or any other physical team in the playoffs.

  26. It wasn’t the pick of Watkins that has Whaley on thin ice, it was selecting EJ Manuel with a 1st rounder the year before, when we are desperate on the o-line. Could of gotten EJ in the 4th or 5th round. Nice kid, but not for the NFL.

    Pollen has built two SB Teams with Buffalo and Indy, he knows what he is doing.

    I think the next major announcement in the NFL is of Michael Shanahan returning to SF to coach the Niners.

  27. Bill Polian’s football mind is still sharp. I remember he did a local interview show out here in The Bay Area and he was all over the Khalil Mack draft prospect. He was adamant. If he had the Raiders pick he would pick Khalil Mack way before anybody else. Turned out to be the right pick for the Raiders.

  28. Polian is known to start rumors to get his name out there. When Jacksonville was GM searching, initially rumors were Chris Polian was being considered. He did not even get an interview.

    Polian has just enough “friends” to start rumors.

    Can’t tell you how many times Irsay was told that Chris will be hired away if we don’t promote him. Sometimes he got a GM interview, sometimes he didn’t.

  29. Look at Jacksonvilles first round pick this year: you don’t think Chris Polian (and Caldwell for that matter) didn’t consult with Bill Polian?

  30. Marrone is fortunate Jim Schwartz was able to get the same production from the defense that Pettine did or else he’d be out of a job next year. Doug’s specialty is offense, which has regressed across the board during his time in Buffalo.

    Funny how Chan Gailey had Spiller producing at an all pro level yet Marrone has no clue how to get CJ involved aside from running him up the middle.

  31. Hall of fame eligibility needs to be modified from 5 years from retirement , to be 5 years from retirement or 20 years at an eligible position. Why run a great coach, like Belichek, out of the business so he can live to attend his own induction?

  32. Trying to catch lighting in a bottle after that ship has sailed 25 years ago (to grossly mix a metaphor).
    Go forward, not back.
    “The one, single and most glaring common thread of Buffalo’s losing tradition is President Russ Brandon.”
    Who will you blame after Russ is gone? The fans are the only ones left. I’ll blame them. If they call for a new Coach/GM every 2 years they would deserve it.

  33. Dear long-suffering Bills fan (yes, I am one),
    This is NOT 1988
    Leave Polian retired. Most of his good work was good fortune with the Bills concerns a 3-way trade (yes, that was a good move) a couple years of high draft picks bc the team sucked so bad and the disbanding of the USFL (Kelly had no choice if he wanted to play somewhere). Things turned out for the good, but he’s no genius.
    Stay away from his son.
    Keep Doug Whaley. Dump Marone if there is conflict between the two.
    Move fwd, not backwards!

  34. Mr wny49er,
    If you are from western new york, then you should know drafting EJ Manuel was all Buddy Nix and not Whaley.
    Good luck with Shanny….another dinosaur. Sure to doom your Niners just as he has the Redskins

    wny49er says: Dec 27, 2014 9:00 PM
    It wasn’t the pick of Watkins that has Whaley on thin ice, it was selecting EJ Manuel with a 1st rounder the year before, when we are desperate on the o-line. Could of gotten EJ in the 4th or 5th round. Nice kid, but not for the NFL.
    Pollen has built two SB Teams with Buffalo and Indy, he knows what he is doing.
    I think the next major announcement in the NFL is of Michael Shanahan returning to SF to coach the Niners.

  35. RELAX, Buffalo. You were only a few games from making the playoffs, and you’ve one of the best defenses in the league.

    I’d not hire Pollian….but I don’t care for anyone who sung the praises of Goodell soon after the NFL’s Rice fiasco. Too old guard for my tastes.

    Hire a younger man with fresh eyes for the things that ill your team.

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