It’s hard to improve when you’re as bad as the current Bills.
And Sunday’s embarrassing 50-17 pasting by Seattle at the Rogers Centre pointed out the chasm between one of the NFL’s fast-rising teams and one stuck in a cycle of mediocrity-or-worse for 13 seasons.
Most Buffalo fans have lost interest in the team and have long-since tired of the excuses.
Starting at the top where 73-year-old general manager Buddy Nix is a throwback to another football era who has done a below-average job of drafting.
Since the third-round selection of Trent Edwards in 2007, the quarterback-challenged Bills have drafted only one QB, get-another-arm-for-training-camp` Levi Brown in 2010’s lottery.
That was the first of the three drafts conducted by Nix.
In that trio of lotteries he has picked 27 players and nine are no longer with the team ... a galling failure rate of 33 percent.
In fairness, all of those misses were in the fifth round or later but tackle Zerbie Sanders (fifth round, 2012) and defensive tackle Torrell Troup (second round, 2010) have questionable futures with the team,
Of the other 18 players Nix selected, there are three with star potential: running back C.J. Spiller (’10), defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (‘11) and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn (’12).
That’s two first-rounders and a second ... it’s too soon to know the future of starting cornerback Sterphon Gilmore, last April’s first-rounder.
Defensive tackle Alex Carrington and wide receiver Marcus Easley (both 2010), linebacker Chris White (’11) and wide receiver T.J. Graham (’12) are all role players, though not busts,. The same is true of linebackers Arthur Moats (’10) and Chris White (’11) and defensive backs Justin Rogers (’11) and Ron Brooks (’12).
THAT RECORD is hardly impressive with Buffalo picking ninth, third and 10th in the last three drafts.
Still, the Bills took Aaron Williams, a bust at cornerback, in 2011’s second round, rather that choosing quarterback Andy Dalton, snapped up by the Bengals, and opted for Graham in the third round this year rather than grabbing Russell Wilson, taken by Seattle six picks later ... and on Sunday afternoon in Toronto, he showed the Bills the volume of their mistake.
The only Nix picks who start are Spiller, Dareus and, incredibly Williams, when he’s healthy, middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, safety DaNorris Searcy who shares times with George Wilson, tackle Chris Hairston, now on injured reserve, Gilmore and linebacker Nigel Bradham.
But there’s more to this mess than Nix.
How about coach Chan Gailey?
Through two seasons and 14 games, he’s won 15 games and lost 31. If you need perspective, Gailey has to win his last two games to EQUAL Gregg Williams three-year mark, which bought him an immediate ticket out of Buffalo.
And finally, there’s Ryan Fitzpatrick who has won less than a third of his Buffalo starts but still has the comfort of a six-year, $59 million contract.
He’s a likable guy but a journeyman QB ... at best. But Gailey defends him as staunchly as Nix does his coach.
But all three could be safe for a return because of owner Ralph Wilson’s seemingly diminished involvement with the team’s day-to-day operations ... a contention dismissed by the Bills’ upper administration.
Still it seems that Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Littman, listed No. 2 behind Ralph in the teams hierarchy, might well be the decision-maker. But he’s a money guy, not a football expert.
Don’t expect any shocking football decisions from him.
And that front office disarray might just bode well for Nix, Gailey and Fitzpatrick ... a particularly frightening thought for Bills’ fans.
(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)