Some random thoughts on the Bills plus Saints-Vikings and Colts-Jets:
THE CONSENSUS among Buffalo fans is that general manager Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey stir not a whit of excitement or enthusiasm.
Indeed, the 70-year-old Nix, out of football for most of 2008 before being talked into a return to the Bills as a national scout, seems to be overmatched against the Bill Parcellses, Ozzie Newsomes, Bill Polians, Scott Piolis and AJ. Smiths of the league.
And both hires smack of “Good Ole Boy” searches.
That said, just because the people selected to fill those positions aren’t popular, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad choices.
Both Nix and Gailey deserve the opportunity to succeed … or fail.
And lost amidst the complaining about their hiring was a significant front-office move.
Last week, John Guy, the team’s vice president of pro personnel, was summarily sent packing.
His exit was on merit as, in nine seasons, Guy had logged a dubious record for acquiring pro talent. His low-light was the 2007 signings of three offensive linemen for over $70 million: guard Derrick Dockery, tackle Langston Walker (Raider fans called him “The Human Turnstile”) and swingman Jason Whittle, none of whom were with the team this season.
Still, owner Ralph Wilson thought enough of Guy to interview him for the general manager’s job
That he was ousted after failing to beat out Nix, seems to say upper management wants to take a new direction.
Meanwhile, it would seem that vice president of college scouting Tom Modrak has survived. His drafting record is stronger than Guy’s veteran signings.
And he picked a perfect year to have a good lottery. First-round pick Aaron Maybin looks more-and-more like the ‘B’ word, as in bust, but both second rounders were great picks. Safety Jairus Byrd tied for the NFL lead in interceptions and was tabbed to the Pro Bowl while guard Andy Levitre made most All-Rookie teams.
Fellow guard Eric Wood, taken with Buffalo’s second pick in the first round, is an emerging talent while fourth rounder Shawn Nelson looms as the starting tight end.
Even the three late picks — linebacker Nic Harris and cornerbacls Cary Harris and Ellis Lankster — were contributors.
One draft does not a scouting guru make, but if one of the two had to go, Guy was the, er, guy.
A FRIEND of mine stopped me yesterday and conceded, “I used to like Brett Favre … but now I’ve had enough.”
For most of his first 17 seasons, I loved the guy … the player the NFL was all about, a millionaire a hundred times over who would have played for free.
Then came the waffling, “Yes, I’m retiring … no I’m not.”
A crash-and-burn year with the Jets and the late-season revelation of an undisclosed shoulder injury was next, followed by another retirement, then a resurface with the Vikings … an ill-disguised opportunity for him to “show” the Packers.
Sure enough, at age 40, he steered Minnesota into the NFC Championship Game against the Saints in New Orleans.
It was a great story and there were the Vikings, on the verge of victory and a berth in Super Bowl XLIV. Then Favre, evoking memories of his killer pick against the Giants at Green Bay in the 2007 conference title game and the second-round defeat at Philadelphia in 2003, fired a bullet into the stomach of Saints’ cornerback Tracy Porter.
It was an egregious rookie mistake that violated one of football’s most basic tenets: Don’t throw late over the middle.
There’s more than a little irony in the fact that, with the season on the line, it wasn’t Favre’s battered body, but rather his brain that let him down.
He might have put the Vikings in position to make it to the Super Bowl … but Favre’s also the reason they didn’t make it. If he merely pulls the ball down and runs as far as he can get, Ryan Longwell is probably looking at a 45-yard field goal. Not a gimme given the dismal record of NFL kickers this post-season, but you have to like his chances.
As of yesterday, Favre (surprise) was waffling on retirement.
Clearly, as with Willie Mays and Michael Jordan before him, Favre doesn’t know when to say good-bye and clearly can’t bear the thought of not being “the man.”
But Brett, here’s some unsolicited advice … call it a career.
As my friend, once one of your biggest fans said yesterday, “Enough!”
JETS’ HATERS are having a ball at Rex Ryan’s expense, delighted that his team’s season was ended by Indianapolis’ second-half rally, shutting up his season-long bravado.
But fans are funny, they want it both ways.
They prefer their own coaches and players to be outwardly confident, almost cocky, yet they can’t stand opponents who are anything less than totally respectful of the team they follow.
After our first conference call with Ryan, before the initial game against Buffalo, we in the Bills’ media were lamenting, “If only we had a coach who was so colorful.”
And even though his Jets were struggling (5-6) before the second game against the Bills, this one at Toronto, Ryan was still outspoken.
Six wins in seven games later his team was in the AFC Championship Game and leading by 11 late in the first half at Indianapolis.
Just a thought, if I’m a Bills’ fan, I’d much prefer to have my coach talking like Rex Ryan, rather than Dick Jauron.
(Chuck Pollock, the Times Heald sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com)