R: Come on Cline. Coaching can only accomplish so much. Besides, it's not like we have "second level" linemen in waiting. They are all well below average. I can aver quite honestly, that after Villarrial, Teague, and Williams, ALL three of whom are not a notch above average, and waning in the cases of Teague and Villarrial, we don't have a single lineman even capable of providing even average play for sixteen games. Throw in an injury or two to any of our current three starters, and this situation goes from the frying pan into the fire.
I appreciate your optimism, but let's be real, shall we. It's not even close to as potentially OK as you insist. TD has failed us this offseason already and so soon. When you factor in that he paid both overrated (by him) Teague and aging Villarrial more in past seasons than Coleman, Rabach, DeMulling, or Wahle got this year, and all of whom are at the starts of their primes, it's not doing him any favors.
Cline: If you look at the offensive lineman who changed teams most of them were guards. None were high draft picks. Lineman can be groomed.
R: "Groomed" is one thing. Turning them from well below average players questionable as to whether they should even be in the NFL to viable above average starters is another.
I know that you and other fans have been trained well that talent and physical characteristics do not matter, but they do. Sorry to say. We have no talent in 2/3 of our linemen and 2/3 of the remaining 1/3, or two of three guaranteed starters, are now are in the category of diminishing skills and physical attributes.
E: I've been screaming about the O-line for years, and when I heard DeMulling picked freakin Detroit over Buffalo the reality set in. While I don't know the details of the Bills discussions with DeMulling, it can't be a good sign when anyone picks Detroit over your team. I can't help but just feel that we're screwed.....and the odds of Donahoe taking linemen with the first two selections are exactly zero. That means we're screwed. I guess Gandy will start now, and he got cut by the Bears, the BEARS!!! last time I checked Chicago wasn't overflowing with quality anything. Maybe I'll gain 150 lbs. and I'll play on the line. Bottom line, we're screwed.
R: Yes, I believe as you say, we're screwed. This was not difficult to see coming as I've been proverbially screaming at the top of my lungs since the 2003 offseason. But as usual, Commander Tom has some utterly inane methodology that has only consistently brought us failure as a team.
There's still some time left in free agency, but even now, the players of the caliber that we need are gone and our cap space, due to poor cap management overspending for "names" and not talent/performance, has us with a below average team at a full cap resource. We have no first round draft choice and only two picks among the first 115 selections.
I agree that the chances of the real Elvis making an appearance at the Ralph this summer are greater than those of Commander Tom drafting two linemen with our first two selections in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Besides, it's a day late and a dollar short. The recent statements of the team seem to indicate that they're looking for two starters in the draft to compliment the three we have. As I stated in the piece, Teague and Villarrial will both be below average next season if not this season upcoming, so their future utility is severely limited.
This is what several seasons of tinkering with an overemphasis in the skill positions has left us with. Naturally Commander Tom has no clue as to why we are where we are, which as you say, has left us screwed.
For this, barring some amazing feat managerially speaking between now and the fall, I'm thinking 5-11 or 6-10 again, and if we have extended injuries to Teague, Villarrial, and/or Williams, we may very well be looking 4-12 or 3-13 in the face again. I simply fail to see how we can achieve .500 again with the line we have. I wouldn't even wager a dime that our luck with injuries on the OL holds out either. Sadly, this team is about as well off as the day Commander Tom took over. Perhaps he should have stayed a high school English teacher. He clearly lacks the quantitative skills to manage an NFL team as I see it.
E: I read you most recent column and have to say I have been pining for Bill Polian since the day he left. The offensive line of the Bills has been in steady decline since the early 90's. Every year getting a little worse. I don't like to speak ill of John Butler, generally speaking he was a very good GM, but he did not put the emphasis on the line that Polian did. Donahoe seems not to care at all.
There seems to be a lack of understanding that a great line can make a good running back great, and a great running back into a legend. It seems so strange that the long history of Buffalo having a dominant line, and the strength of our past teams is being completely ignored. It is such a fundamental concept, it shocks me that any football executive could possibly allow a line to fall into such a shambles.
This kind of pathetic management bothers me, but is not my ultimate fear. You mentioned when talking about a "shiny trinket" that my distract Donahoe from linemen in Rnd's 2 & 3 of the draft. There is one with a big name who will likely be available, and I have extra reason to fear that he will be our 3rd round selection.
Maurice Clarrett will be available. He has a big, big name and fits the pattern of stupidity that has be evident thus far from a drafting perspective. Additionally, Sports Center televised several members of the football community commenting on Clarrett just prior to the combine. They picked two people who spoke very highly of him and how he had matured. Those members of the football community were Mike Mularkey and Tom Donahoe.
This makes me absolutely sick and I truly fear that they will draft him and probably do it in the 3rd round since he is projected to go in the fourth or fifth. They will make some silly comment about having him 3rd or 4th on their depth chart and running back and say he was too good to pass up at this point in the draft. You know the "best available" that has been spewed out at us in the past.
At any rate, it is necessary to find a new GM. Although it was nice to see the Bills win a few games last year (even against awful opponents), the one positive outcome from a horrible season would have been the departure of Donahoe. Now, another year of misery.
R: Very nicely summated Scott! I might add that a poor line can make a very good RB (or QB) look below average too. I suppose we're hoping that our next GM understands the importance of solid line play.
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