On Wednesday, Bill Polian told the Buffalo News that he’d be willing to work with the team as a consultant. Polian acknowledged that he owed a lot to the Bills for his career:
“Listen, I owe this franchise virtually everything I have in the National Football League,” said Polian. “A good reason why a yellow jacket’s on my shoulder is because of the Buffalo Bills. The bottom line is, I want this team to succeed.”
Polian did a terrific job of building the Bills back in their heyday but is hiring the former GM as consultant a good move? Perhaps, but if he were hired, it would feel like a nostalgia move. We’ve seen this done before with another Pegula owned franchise, the Buffalo Sabres. It wasn’t that long ago that Pegula hired former Sabres player Pat LaFontaine as president of team operations back in November of 2013. On March 1, 2014, LaFontaine resigned. The nostalgia move did not pay off for the Sabres and while that doesn’t mean Polian would be a failure with the Bills, he made some questionable comments about the team last night. Here’s a look at some of the comments made by Polian.
Offensive line is “aging and unathletic”
In his comments to the Buffalo News, Polian said he’d fix Buffalo’s “aging and unathletic” offensive line. The team’s starters, when healthy, are Cordy Glenn (26), Richie Incognito (32), Eric Wood (29), John Miller (22) and Seantrel Henderson (23).
The aging comment is questionable considering Incognito is the only starter over 30. Wood is close as well, but he is having one of his best seasons in years. In fact, the older duo are still quite athletic, so the unathletic comment really doesn’t pertain to them. Incognito will be a free agent at the end of the season but he’s a player that Buffalo should be trying to bring back, not move away from.
At left tackle, Cordy Glenn is arguably having the best season of his career. He’s a free agent that the Bills need to lockup long-term and if an agreement cannot be made, the franchise tag should be used on Glenn.
Could the right side of Buffalo’s line use some upgrades? Absolutely. It’s too early to give up on John Miller, an athletic rookie guard, but the right tackle spot is a mess. Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio (22) and Jordan Mills (25) have all struggled at right tackle this season. All three are young, especially Kouandjio, but upgrading this spot in free agency or the draft would make sense for Buffalo going forward.
There’s nothing wrong with eyeing potential replacements for older players like Incognito and Wood but they are two of the reasons why the team is running with great success this season.
Find a complement for Sammy Watkins
This was one comment where I agree with Polian but it’s an obvious statement. Buffalo came into the 2015 season believing that Percy Harvin could be Watkins’ complement. Early in the season, it looked like a decent move as Harvin caught 16 passes in the first three weeks for 192 yards and a touchdown. However, Buffalo’s biggest flaw in signing Harvin was believing that he could stay healthy. Harvin’s hip and knee acted up on him and it wasn’t long before he was placed on the injured reserve. Harvin hadn’t played a full season since 2011 so it was foolish of Buffalo to believe he’d be able to do so this year.
Adding a legitimate complement for Watkins will probably have to come in the draft.
Tyrod Taylor isn’t the quarterback of the future
This comment really rubbed me the wrong way. Here is what Polian had to say:
“You can win with Tyrod if the other pieces are good,” Polian said. “If there are six or seven Pro Bowlers at other positions, you can win with Tyrod. But he’s not the quarterback of the future. He’s not Jim Kelly, and, although he doesn’t have the same track record, he’s probably comparable to Frank Reich. But he’s not 6-feet-4 like Frank Reich. He’s small and he’s going to get hurt, and he did. Now, you have to find his backup and the quarterback of the future.”
If there is one reason you can’t bring Polian aboard as a consultant, this is it. He’s already thrown Buffalo’s current quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, under the bus by saying he’s not the answer at quarterback for Buffalo.
Taylor hasn’t held the Bills back in his first season as a starter. In fact, he’s kept the team in most games due to his athleticism, accuracy and deep ball passing. Of course Taylor isn’t Jim Kelly, a foolish comparison to make, but there is no reason to believe that Taylor can’t grow as a quarterback in the NFL. He has areas to work upon but there is no reason for Polian, or anyone, to say that he isn’t the quarterback of the future.
In 12 games, Taylor has been responsible for 23 total touchdowns and just five interceptions. Taylor can be the answer at quarterback despite Polian’s comments.
Polian seems concerned about Taylor’s size and durability and the fact that Taylor has missed time this season gives his comment merit. However, look around the league at the quarterback injuries this season. Quarterbacks, both big and small, have been injured this season. Taylor has only missed two games this season so Polian’s “he’s going to get hurt” comment really isn’t fair to the quarterback.
Polian is correct about the backup situation. The team needs to jettison EJ Manuel and josh Johnson in the offseason and replace them with a reliable backup. As for drafting a quarterback, it’s my personal belief that you draft a QB yearly until you feel you’ve found the guy. If Taylor has a strong sophomore season with the Bills, there’s even more reason to believe that he’s the guy. At that point, drafting a QB yearly is no longer necessary.
Taylor will hear about Polian’s comments, if he hasn’t already, and if the Bills bring Polian in as a consultant, he’ll know that the former GM isn’t in his corner.
Polian isn’t the answer
Polian earned his spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He did a terrific job back in the day with the Bills but this is a “what have you done for me lately” league and lately Polian has done nothing to believe that he can fix Buffalo’s problems. He hung around with the Colts in his last job for quite a while simply because he drafted Peyton Manning. There's no reason to think that Polian can be a savior of sorts for Buffalo in 2016 and beyond.
One year ago, Polian flirted on and off with the Bills about a football czar role within the organization. This time, the Bills should politely say thanks, but no thanks to Polian. The team needs to move forward as an organization and hiring Polian would be a nod to the past.