Donahoe and Bills must move into reality Pt. 3

Donahoe must realize, and consequently admit a serious mistake. Drew Bledsoe is not good for this team nor even a fraction of the player that Donahoe thought he was.

Secondly, the team and accompanying media must quit doing what it did for ten seasons in New England.

They must quit insisting that it is "everything around Drew" that is the "real" reason for why the offense is not performing up to snuff. The primary reason that the offense is under-performing is Drew Bledsoe! The Bills can easily waste the next ten seasons trying to figure out and adjust all the commutations and permutations of "players around Drew" in order to make this offense succeed. It would be a futile effort at best and a disaster at worst. But perhaps a better exercise might be trying to figure out why a second year first time starter was able to win the Super Bowl with a team that Bledsoe could not do the same with, and why in his second season Tom Brady bested Drew's best season ever with that same collection of talent for the most part.

The crux of the problem however does lie with Bledsoe himself. Whether or not those reading this agree with this assessment or not, there certainly can be no mistake that Bledsoe is in no way worthy of the $6 million that he is scheduled to make next season. I find even the slightest suggestion that he be extended beyond next season is a complete affront to any Bills fan with even the slightest bit of intelligence and common sense. It certainly stands to reason that if as I say, the Bills have no shot at winning a Super Bowl with Bledsoe at the helm, that no salary, including Bledsoe's playing for free would justify his staying here. After all, the issue is not simply money paid out, but the obvious goal of winning a Super Bowl, and if that cannot be done with the quarterback at present, then no salary justifies his retention. Nevertheless, a $1-2 million veteran quarterback with an additional $4-5 million for other team fixes would go much further towards putting a competitive product on the field next season.

And this is also very easily understood when approached from the appropriate perspective. Bledsoe's strength has always been his "strong arm."

Frankly, based on his play this season and all the underthrows and inaccurate throws, I am beginning to question this strength, but I will save that for another day. His strong arm explains why he amasses yardage totals along with the best of them.

His arm strength has always allowed him to facilitate the movement of the ball down to the opponent's red zone just fine. Combined with his struggles in the red zone, it also explains why most NFL quarterbacks produce a touchdown with an average of between 125 and 150 passing yards while Bledsoe's career TD production is one per every 185 yards or so.

As good as Bledsoe has been throughout his career with the deep ball however, is as poor, or fair, as he's been in the red zone. Once his teams get down inside the opponents' red zones, all of a sudden his biggest strength evaporates. Poof! It's gone.

Drew must now rely on something that has plagued him throughout his career and in a spot on the field where defenses all of a sudden tighten up, a dual combination that spells ineffectiveness for Bledsoe.

Perhaps he would fare better in the Canadian league where the end zones are 25 meters deep and where he would retain his patented 15-20 yard out as his primary weapon in goal-to-go situations. But alas, that option is nonexistent in the NFL.

Last season Drew had five red zone turnovers either due to interceptions or pressures by the defense.

On a side note, he also had another 6 that set opponents' up inside our own 35-yard line usually for opponent scores that the D was made responsible for. Bledsoe has difficulty reading defenses under such circumstances and if his primary receiver is covered or otherwise indisposed, then he also struggles to quickly ascertain secondary and third and/or fourth receivers who are open.

Talk of the Bills getting an improved offensive line to block for Drew is one of the potential fixes for this team. Talks of getting another speed receiver such as Peerless Price was last year to "bring back the passing game" is another.

However, we just saw that the passing game was not all that the media has made it out to be last year over the last ten games or so and that was with Price in the lineup and with a very good line. No, Bledsoe will be Bledsoe. He will post average or above average numbers vs. sub-.500 competition, average to fair or even poor numbers vs. playoff bound teams, and continue to perform poorly in the playoffs as has also beplagued his career in spite of the media onslaught for years to the contrary. All of this is plainly obvious to anyone who has followed Bledsoe's play throughout his career.

The real reasons for the offense performing poorly are Kevin Gilbride and his approach, which demonstrates a clear bias towards the passing game to the detriment of the interests of the team.

The play of Bledsoe only exasperates that and would not be any better given a correction of the Gilbride methodology. The best that the Bills can hope for is to pass less thereby limiting Bledsoe's errors due to sheer reduction of opportunities for making those same errors. But again, this is not the kind of play that any team would reasonably even pay much more than a million for.

The Bills do need interior offensive line help, however, not replacing Bledsoe would only correct matters so far and not replacing Gilbride would could potentially nullify any gains in pass blocking that would be realized during the offseason.

In order for Donahoe to correct things to the degree that they need to be corrected, he and other team coaches and officials that will be here next season will need to recognize what the real issues are vice what the "scapegoat" issues are.

Fans, media, and front office personnel beginning with Donahoe who continue to ignore those core issues only further the media hype that has errantly excused Bledsoe's play for far too long given the mostly average to below-average seasons that he has produced vice the few above average ones.

They also ignore a very overrated Kevin Gilbride and a very way-too-heavily pass oriented offensive coordinator throughout his career.

The catch in all of this is that Bledsoe and Gilbride are two of Tom Donahoe's "crowning achievements" and to admit that, they are also two of the team's biggest weaknesses.

Donahoe will have to admit two inherently very poor decisions. At stake is the welfare of the team, the Bills chances for success next season, and possibly even significant ticket sales next season. This offseason should be an interesting one to say the least.

Comments: E-Mail Mark Weiler at

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