"Talk" Once Again Leading "Walk" in Race at OBD

Once again, the talk is leading the walk at One Bills Drive this offseason. Team statements are about how JP Losman is ready to lead the Bills and how Willis McGahee is now ready to bust out. But what has not been discussed is which line they will be playing behind as if makes no difference or is an afterthought. Then again, in the Commander Tom world of National Football League management by fantasy football league methods, this should come as no surprise to those following the Bills.

The lack of moves by the Bills this offseason thus far has left fans highly concerned about the status of the team heading into the season. While time still exists, plenty of very good value lineman playing at an above-average level have been signed leaving the cupboards there essentially bare. Players such as Mike Wahle, Casey Rabach, Cosey Coleman, and Rick DeMulling would have been just what the Bills needed and were signed for non-silly money, the Bills did not land any of them and only entered discussions with one.

Meanwhile, with a schedule this upcoming season that is not the dance through the tulips that last season's schedule was, and with an offensive line that is unquestionably worse than last season's, there is absolutely no concrete reason to believe that the Bills can match last season's 9-7 record barring some very strange occurrences roster wise in future weeks or months.

What the Bills braintrust is thinking is anyone's guess, but continually needing to point out that the skill position players are only as good as the line setting the plays up is, is tantamount to needing to remind someone to get dressed prior to leaving their home in the morning as they head out for work. Yet, this set of circumstances is the order-of-the-day in Buffalo during the Commander Tom era!

To date the Bills have not signed a single player that will make any sort of impact this season whatsoever. If one does, it likely will be Kelly Holcomb, but if that occurs, then it will mean that the downside regarding Losman, for one reason or another, will grossly outweigh any benefits to be attained from the enthusiasm of Holcomb's contributions. Meanwhile, Losman will not be able to fully focus on learning his position, rather he'll have to focus largely on staying healthy and alive due to grossly inadequate protection.

As well, the team has only a moderate amount of cap space yet has dire needs in several areas and which have pending looming needs to heap on top of that following this season. It would seem that Commander Tom has not effectively done a good job of managing the Bills cap as many would like to believe.

The offensive line is currently on the brink of chaos and this is the line behind which JP and McGahee are to shine??? The Bills are on the verge of not having a single average or better CB next season. Villarrial and Teague, two-thirds of the line that the front office and coaching staff are in denial on, are both on their last legs due to effectiveness, age, and/or contract status. The Bills need a replacement for Jeff Posey although they likely think he's just fine playing well below average at his position. Between Ron Edwards being a free agent following this season and Sam Adams being 33 heading into '06, who will the Bills' interior defensive linemen be in '06?

The bottom line is simple. The Bills had a schedule this past season that paved the way for them to reach nine wins in a very non-glorious fashion. Yet, they could not hold their own vs. any team on equal terms that was average or better. Not one! The Bills fortunes with injuries on the offensive line have been outstanding.

This upcoming season's schedule promises to be much more demanding and it almost cannot be given the ease of last season's schedule. There will be few if any "gimme" wins on it unlike last season's schedule which featured six or seven "gimme" games in spite of the fact that the Bills lost a few of those as well. With Villarrial at 32 and showing many minor injuries the past two seasons, and with Teague coming off of wrist surgery and turning 31 this season, and with not a single other lineman worthy of starting that Mike Williams, the Bills are more than playing with fire, they are walking into the crater of the volcano as it shows signs of erupting.

Given the situation inherited by GM Commander Tom entering the scene in 2001, it is shameful the current state of this team. Fans and media thought that perhaps this offseason would be the one where common sense gave the good commander a hard slap in the face on a nice cold January Buffalo morning. But alas, more of the same is at hand.

The Bills front office and coaching staff seem to believe that they can talk their way into things occurring as they say they will. While it works in Star Wars, this is the NFL. Why, after seasons of exactly that, they believe that anything has changed in that way is beyond comprehension.

The talk from the top has now turned to the draft, in which the Bills have only two selections among the first 115 picks at 55th and 86th. This is how desperate the situation has become. The Bills are now relying on 2nd and 3rd round rookie linemen to be instant and viable starters as their 4th and 5th starting linemen, which is predicated on the Bills even selecting two linemen with those selections. We can be reasonably sure that some "shiny trinket" will distract Commander Tom from that outcome on draft day! Disarray and ineffectiveness are two words that come to mind regarding the management of this team.

The Bills are neither in full blown rebuild mode nor on the verge of being competitive to the standard that Tom Donahoe himself set forth for his 2nd season, let alone the third or much less the fifth! Yet, he is the one who set those standards which were really not unachievable given proper moves and handling of this team. This is why the Bills find themselves in the situation that they are in today.

There have also been rumors of Trey Teague being moved over to Jennings' old spot at LT. Why anyone takes this seriously is also beyond reason. Teague, originally signed to play LT, and signed in his prime, could not play the position. So why now, out of his prime and on the downside of his career there is talk of him all of a sudden sliding over to LT and playing the position to a level that can be considered average or better is once again, beyond reason and common sense.

Yet, this is what fans in Buffalo these days are left with, pie-in-the-sky hopes and dreams predicated not on realities, but rather on pipe dreams and more lipservice from the media meister himself. Even the most ardent Donahoe supporters appear to be "asking some questions" these days however. The answers of course are the same as they've always been with the master showman holding aloft the magical "black box" and chiding fans for daring to ask the obvious while insisting that he knows what he is doing. The act is growing old and very rapidly however.

At present, the Bills will enter the season with only three-fifths of a viable line. This is not solid management, it is wanton disregard for the basis of good offense. Indeed there is time left, but the players available of the caliber that the Bills need are all but gone now. At present, the Bills have perhaps the line to place themselves in the 25th percentile offensively but no higher, just as they were last season. They are an injury or two away from vying for the last ranked offense in the league in many categories. They were ranked poorly, as previously documented, in most important offensive categories last season.

With a worse line, how this is supposed to offer fans any hope with a first-time starting QB is certainly beyond this analyst's comprehension. What is certain is that this analyst has grown infinitely weary of media mantras, talk, and other nonsense tailored to blind men and buffoons.

Somehow McGahee getting injured and Losman being carried out on a stretcher are visions that spring to mind when contemplating this upcoming season. Only time will tell at this point.

I stated in a prior piece that I would be patient with the Bills "plan of attack" this offseason. But enough of the caliber of players that the Bills need have been signed by other teams to have essentially ruled the pre-June 1st free agency period a complete bust! Four-and-a-half years of the Donahoe methodology have left this analyst pining for Bill Polian.

Comments: mweiler.billsreport@cox.net

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