Donahoe Missing Prime Opportunity

Tom Donahoe, on the heels of announcing that Gregg Williams will not be offered an extension, had a prime opportunity to punctuate subsequent statements that he is interested in making the Bills competitive by firing Kevin Gilbride along with the announcement not to retain Gregg Williams.

Yet, he is passing up on a prime opportunity to make good to the fans some of the woes of this past season.

With Donahoe's effectiveness as the Bills' GM being questionable at best and tenuous at worst, he needs to approach this offseason with more than the mere lipservice and signings of overpaid veteran marquee players. The only player signed this past offseason either via the draft or free-agency that was worth the money paid him or that contributed nearly as much as touted prior to the season beginning was Takeo Spikes.

"There is not just one thing other than we did not win enough games. Obviously we have had our problems on offense. We looked at the rankings today and we were the number one team in the AFC in defense and number two in the NFL. I think we ended up 30th in offense. There was a tremendous drop-off with the offense this year. There is no question that contributed to some of our problems." Donahoe was quoted as saying.

Allow me to help you out Mr. Donahoe. After the first two weeks of the season and not including the points that the team scored in weeks one and two, the Bills averaged only 12.4 points-per-game over the remaining 14 weeks. This was the Arizona by a full 2 points-per-game.

In fact, if the points scored by the defense and special teams are backed out, the Bills offense averaged only 11.0 points-per-game over those 14 weeks. This is not good for 30th nor does it even approach 31st. To put this in perspective, consider that the bottom five teams were all within 2 points of one another in scoring. Again, the Bills were alone at a full two points-per-game below Arizona over the last 14 weeks, again, including the defensive contributions to team scoring.

The Bills played seven games, nearly half the season, unable to generate more than 6 points from the offense.

As well, contrary to all the media misperceptions and incomplete analyses of last season, the fact remains that the offense even last season averaged only 17.1 points-per-game over the last 10 games last year as well. Had the offense played that way all season long it would have resulted in the 28th overall scoring offense ranking last season.

What does this mean? One would think that it means that under no circumstances will Kevin Gilbride be retained. Something has to be blamed for the failure of the offense this season. While no one can argue that it is one thing or person solely, clearly the tandem of Gilbride/Bledsoe must bear the brunt of the heat.

I refuse to believe that the Bills have the worst offensive line in the league and know that not to have been the case this season by a long shot. The offensive line this season was very much average, however resulting offensive production was abysmal. Teams with such poor offensive lines also do not produce 1,300+ yard running backs. To emphasize this, not one team sharing "bottom 7 honors" for scoring offense produced a running back the caliber of Travis Henry. Therefore the burden must primarily fall to either Gilbride or Bledsoe.

While I am not a believer that Bledsoe is anything but one of the most overrated quarterbacks to ever have played in the NFL, I must clearly lay a bigger share of the reason for the failure of the offense this season at Gilbride's feet. I do not think that Gilbride has even a single supporter left in all of Upstate New York. It is unlikely that he will be coaching anywhere next season if not in Buffalo. So why the delay?

The problem is this Mr. Donahoe, while your comments seem to indicate that the coaches are in a "state of limbo" as it were, and that you will leave it "up to the new head coach to determine if they would fit into his new plans", there are no reasonable circumstances under which Gilbride should return regardless of who the coach is next season.

So given that, why not simply toss the fans a bone, the same fans that sell out the games, in order to demonstrate how serious you truly are towards building a winning team? It would help, trust me. It is also appropriate and justified.

And in the bizarre event that any new head coach should desire to retain Gilbride, I am certain that fans would question your decision to hire such a coach. Secondly, it would thereby also force you to override such a decision anyway if in fact you are serious about making this team more competitive. Such an occurrence would not be a good way to start off a GM/head coach relationship.

So why not remedy the situation now, immediately, and more than appropriately, by announcing Kevin Gilbride's firing before the New Year. It would do you and your credibility some good. Truly. For there are absolutely no circumstances under which the majority of the fan base would accept the return of Mr. Gilbride next season even as merely the QB coach.

In fact, I would estimate right now that if he were to be retained, you would see a resulting drop-off of somewhere between 10-15% in season ticket sales easily, likely more. As well, if anyone deserves to be let go more than Gregg Williams did, then it is Gilbride.

So take this opportunity Mr. Donahoe and make the tough decision and do not hedge your positions and force an incoming head coach to do it or worse yet, run the risk of an extremely unlikely Gilbride retention. If you are truly interested in improving this team, then you do it and do it now.

It must be done and waiting for the new head coach to do it is simply shifting the responsibility which will not earn points with anyone. Doing it now will demonstrate to the fans that your talents lie in more than merely pumping up the team with mere words and high-profile less-than-optimal player acquisitions in the interests of marketing it largely due to perceptions.

Given one of the absolute worst offensive seasonal performances in the history of the team as well as an absolutely abysmal offensive performance as NFL teams go under any circumstances, there is but one solution. Every day of hesitation in making this decision will merely hinder your credibility further. Do the right thing. Do it now.


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