Bills were wise to wait until after draft to clean out front office

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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.

37 responses to “Bills were wise to wait until after draft to clean out front office

  1. I’m guessing the new coach already knows who the new GM will be, and probably someone he knows, and works with well.

  2. “It was that outfit he wore. Geez, who mixes a purple tie with a brown sports jacket? I mean, c’mon, we were becoming the laughing stock of the league…”

  3. At least Buffalo recognizes they need a new GM, the same can’t be said for Minnesota where fans actually think he is some sort of magician.

    Actually Speilman is a magician, in putting a team together, he is able to make any chance of a Superbowl appearance disappear.

  4. >>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.

    This is nonsense. If someone isn’t mature enough to handle their ego then don’t apply. A new GM goes into this situation with their eyes open. It’s up to them and the HC to work it out. So what if the HC isn’t hired by the GM? Is the GM not going to try and get good players?

    Does a GM who hired his HC, tell the HC how to coach? No.
    They discuss player needs and the GM gets them.

    The GM and HC need to work together.
    How many private businesses would allow employee feuds to sink the firm? The owner would step in and set down the law and everyone better follow it.

    I don’t agree with all the hiring decisions of my manager, but I say nothing, and don’t try and hinder them. I do my job.

  5. The comparisons to the Browns need to stop, the Browns have finally righted the ship and are way ahead of the Bills.

  6. That makes no sense to me. If your front office is so bad at getting players that you want to fire them, why do you let them get more players before you fire them?

  7. It really depends on why the individual is being fired.

    In 2017… Washington will still be better than Buffalo.

    So… I don’t agree that it was a wise move.

  8. The dysfunction will not go away from the Bills or Sabres until russ brandon is gone. He cheats the fans out of their money and a winning team.

  9. You see it all the time in sports with a new GM – scouting departments are cleaned out after the draft. It always makes me wonder what those few months are like when people know they’re time is ticking down and they still have a draft to prepare for.
    It’s even worse in college sports when assistants deliver a recruiting class then head elsewhere as soon as the ink is dry on the LOIs.

  10. Seeing “Bills” and “wise” in the same sentence is something hard to fathom. Something fishy is going on.

  11. This was a smart move by the Pegulas and/or McDermott.

    The new GM won’t be judged by a draft scouted by the former GM’s scouts, and now we know how Sean McDermott drafts in case the next GM fails. This also instills more trust in McDermott to take control of this team and go in the direction he needs to win.

  12. Any team that thinks they can win with Tyrod Taylor as the QB is a loser – this clown is not NFL caliber and whoever stands by him should be fired.

  13. I believe Pegula is going to give Sean McDermott some say on who they bring in as his boss… maybe the Panthers Assistant GM?

  14. Ummmm….let me understand this. You have no confidence in the staff (you firing them aren’t you?) but your going to let them make the decisions on your draft? If this draft is a bust it is on you because you let them do it.
    As to Washington and other situations like that, if you pay the individual thru the draft they cannot talk to others. As an attorney you should know this, Mike. It appears Washington “cut off their nose to spite their face”, probably to save a buck.

  15. No they weren’t! If you don’t like the job they’re doing you get rid of them ASAP, as in in January, before they do another bad job. 4 months is plenty of time to have new scouts and GM to get up to speed. I see the Colts did the same thing.
    If Bills fans feel comfortable with the Bills copying the Colts strategy, they are suckers!

  16. “” i, flounder says:
    Apr 30, 2017 5:30 PM
    buddy nix was the gm when they drafted manuel.””

    – Nix knew he was ‘retiring’right after that draft (yes, they were smart enough to keep him thru the draft), everyone knows that that draft was actually run by Whaley with Nix just advising.

  17. I still can’t believe they brought in Rex Ryan thinking he’d improve things, and then let him hire his sad sack of a brother to boot.

    Whoever allowed that to happen is the one who should be fired, and I don’t think it was Whaley.

  18. They all should of been fired a couple of years ago! To hire wrecks and have a scrub starting QB, they all should of been terminated immediately!

  19. This screams something a bit more than football related. If I had to guess, since the owner refuses to talk (maybe he legally cannot) about why, that maybe Whaley was involved in something inappropriate with another Bills employee. Maybe sexual harassment, etc. Just speculating.

  20. There’s a new sheriff in town…and his name is Sean McDermott. McDermott ran the draft 100%. As the article states, Whaley and the scouts were kept around so not to advise other teams who the Bills were interested in. For the first time in a long time, the Bills drafted players who were immediate needs. The needed a CB, WR, OT, LB and QB. They drafted a CB, WR, OT, LB and QB in that order. McDermott made one dynamic trade by obtaining KC’s 3rd round pick this year and their first next year to drop 17 spots in the first where they still got a solid CB in Tre’Davious White.

    I guarantee you that whoever becomes the new GM will be told first and foremost that this is McDermott’s team.

  21. As others have pointed out, the mistake wasn’t firing Whaley after the draft, it was hiring the new coach first. If you weren’t planning on keeping Whaley anyway, why would you hire a coach and wind up giving the appearance that the coach won a power struggle against the GM?

    What GM will want to go there now knowing that the coach has all of the real power?

  22. “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.”

    “You’re right. Hiring a new GM after you have a head coach in place never works. You can never get to a Super Bowl that way.”

    Ron Rivera & Dave Gettleman

  23. It’s opportunity cost though…

    The Sammy Watkins deal on the day of the draft meant that we spent one first round pick to draft him (opportunity cost of 1 pick that could have been spent on someone else) PLUS one first round pick in 2015 that went to another team (opportunity cost of selecting a player in first round of 2015)

    Therefore Sammy Watkins cost the Bills the opportunity to draft two other players in the first round of TWO drafts.

    Two picks NOT one.

  24. “Giving up 2 first round picks and a fourth”. Yes they gave up 2 first round picks but received one back which they used to draft Sammy Watkins, therefore they gave up one first round pick. -2+1=1. Sammy is not the problem although he needs to stay healthy. The real problem is that the Bills are in the Pats division. Say no more

  25. The brown haven’t righted anything !
    Both these teams are a dumpster fire and should be sold and moved to real cities .

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