BBD Staff Writer: Glenn Gifford
As a dedicated Bills fan, I have found myself to be very reflective over the past 13 years. As the season concluded last year, I wrote down a few thoughts on what I thought would be important steps for the Buffalo Bills to once again become relevant in the NFL.
Let’s take a look at the list, and compare it with the moves that the Bills have made since then. Please feel free to comment on what you had on your wish list, and whether or not the Bills checked those items off!
1. Cut Ryan Fitzpatrick and Draft a Quarterback — Fitzpatrick proved two things while he was the Bills quarterback. He proved that he was a “serviceable” quarterback. He also proved that while he had the smarts, he lacked elite NFL quarterback skills. The Bills were never going to win a Super Bowl with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm. Fitzpatrick was a great teammate and a good community guy who could not throw the ball downfield.
The move to draft EJ Manuel in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft and cut Fitzpatrick outright was a bold, high-risk, high-reward move.
There is a famous quote that defines insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Buffalo has stopped the Ryan Fitzpatrick insanity. Wish No. 1: granted.
2. Give C.J. Spiller the Ball – Have the Bills been sitting on a winning lottery ticket for three years and been too afraid to cash it in? C.J. Spiller ran for 1,244 yards last season — but only received 207 carries.
Spiller proved he can run between the tackles and that he is an instant game changer. Was C.J. Spiller not properly utilized? When the Bills would get into the red zone last season, they often brought in Tashard Choice. Chan Gailey, then-coach of the Buffalo Bills, claimed Spiller was “winded.” At the end of the day, we need to give Spiller the ball.
There is no way to determine yet if this wish will be granted. We can only hope that coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett have a keen eye for talent. Wish No. 2: TBD
3. Fire Dave Wannstedt! – Good riddance to the vanilla, non-blitzing 4-3 defensive scheme employed by Dave Wannstedt as Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator last season.
At this time last year, we were hopeful for the Bills defense. The Bills spent an awful lot of money — $117 million over six years, according to Spotrac — on pass-rushers Mario Williams and Mark Anderson.
Wannstedt may not have put his defensive talent in the right scheme to succeed. Personally, I feel new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s defense will be far more successful in getting the best out of the Bills’ defensive talent.
The Bills gave up 362.9 yards per game defensively last season. That group should have been considerably better.
At the end of last year, I felt it was Wannstedt who really needed to go. The Bills decided to clean house when it came to their coaching staff. In Chan Gailey’s case as coach, a 16-32 record will do that to your job security. The NFL really boils down to wins and losses: the Gailey regime’s 1:2 ratio of wins to losses is not acceptable. Wish No. 3: granted.