2011 and Beyond: 5 Controversial Changes to Improve the Buffalo Bills
As the Super Bowl approaches, Buffalo Bills fans do not feel disappointed after an early playoff exit (see the Philadelphia Eagles) or encouraged after unexpected success (see the Seattle Seahawks). No, Buffalo Bills fans feel a bit of angst mixed with apathy.
A feeling to which an old married couple might be able to relate when they gauge whether to argue with their spouse about something they know will not change.
It seems the Bills have been on a rebuilding treadmill for over 10 years now, and, in order to make a real change, they have to do something new, perhaps even controversial. These five suggested changes could dramatically improve the future for the Buffalo Bills and their fans.
1. Sell the Buffalo Bills to the City of Buffalo
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In a move that would have some precedence, Ralph Wilson could make a gesture of goodwill by offering the team up for sale to the city of Buffalo, in a similar fashion to how Green Bay owns the Packers.
More recent rule changes no longer allow a city to be the sole owner of a team, but perhaps the majority of stake in the team could be owned by Bills fans, with the other portion owned by a group led by Jim Kelly. A move like this would excite and stimulate the beleaguered fan base as well as take away fears of the Bills ever leaving Buffalo.
2. Go After Key Free Agents
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The Bills must go after Cullen Jenkins or Paul Soliai and Lamar Woodley for their 3-4 defense and Caleb Hanie, Mike Tolbert, Malcolm Floyd and Jared Gaither or Marshall Yanda for offense.
Buffalo needs to adopt the Jets/Patriots model of winning in the AFC East and get a dominant defense through the draft and free agency. Jenkins or Soliai and Woodley would make the Bills much more formidable on that side of the ball.
The choices for offense could challenge or supplant current starters and would move Buffalo from just being a competitive team to a winning team. With his San Diego ties, it's not too unlikely that Buddy Nix could take some talents back east again.
3. Let Go of the Past and Contract Year All-Stars
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Let Donte Whitner, Akin Ayodele, Drayton Florence and other expensive or older players walk as free agents. Make a move to trade Lee Evans away for a second round pick. The Bills must also bring back Paul Posluszny and George Wilson to be projected starters in a new look defense that will be disclosed later in this article.
4. Focus on Defense and Playmakers in the Draft
If he is there he must be their guy
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Buffalo has faced a talent drain throughout the past 11 years.
In addition to many draft busts in the early rounds (Mike Williams, Erik Flowers, Aaron Maybin, James Hardy etc), their rare hits (Clements, Winfield) often leave the team as soon as their rookie contract is up. For this reason, every time Buffalo starts to fill a hole at one position, they lose another key player and seem to never get ahead.
This year they need to go after LSU's Patrick Peterson, OSU's Cameron Heyward or Wisconsin's J.J. Watts, and Iowa's Tyler Sash in the first three rounds. They should use the new 2nd round pick, from the departure of Lee Evans, to draft Arkansas' D.J. Williams or another highly rated tight end.
It is vitally important for Buffalo to get quality players at key positions rather than try to get by with developmental projects at these positions. This works for the Patriots and the Colts on offense where they have an elite player at quarterback—not us.
5. Continue Hitting on Undrafted and Late Round Prospects
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While Buffalo has had its share of flops in the earlier rounds of the draft, we can point to many examples of late round finds and practice squad players that have been making an impact for the Bills in recent years.
Great teams become adept at finding these hidden gems, but, most importantly, they also do well earlier in the draft. Great teams also don't have late round finds and practice squad players starting at every other position.
Projected Lineup Results
A Line-up like this could give Chan Gailey something to get excited about on Sundays
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With the projected lineup changes, the Bills could look like this for 2011: * This does not include players that could be drafted with all the picks the Bills will have in the upcoming draft, just the ones discussed in this article.
QB: Fitzpatrick / Hanie
HB: Jackson / Tolbert / Spiller
FB: Tolbert / McIntyre
WR1: Johnson / Parrish
WR2: Floyd / D.Nelson
TE: Williams / S.Nelson
RG Blalock / Rineheart
RT: Gaither / Yanda
DE: Heyward / Stroud
NT: Williams / Troup
DE: Edwards / Johnson
OLB: Woodley / Kelsay
OLB: Merriman / Moats
CB: Peterson / McKlevin
CB: McGee / Corner
FS:Byrd / Wilson
SS: Sash / Wilson