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What Exactly Is Wrong With The Buffalo Bills Franchise?

Ben AshunContributor IOctober 2, 2010

Dark clouds hover above a once great franchise.
Dark clouds hover above a once great franchise.

An 0-3 start is less than shocking for an NFL franchise which has gone 27-37 in the past four years (excluding the 0-3 start). Fans are just used to mediocrity, a string of sub-par seasons from 2000 onwards, including three straight 7-9 seasons.

Older fans recount and think back to the glory days, when they won four straight AFC titles from 1990-1993, although they couldn’t bring a Super Bowl home.

So what’s wrong with the Buffalo Bills? As a Bills fan, I'm inclined to ask this question.

Look no further than the front office. Owner Ralph Wilson Jr. is approaching his 92nd birthday, and he is proof that wisdom starts to deteriorate at a certain age. In 2009, he re-hired Buddy Nix to be the GM of Bills, a former regional scout from 1993-2000.

It’s no coincidence that the Bills started to decline from 1994 onward. The man who held Nix’s position from 1986-1993? Bill Polian, current GM of the Indianapolis Colts and six-time winner of the NFL’s executive of the year award.

This year, the Buffalo Bills hired their 15th head coach of all time, Chan Gailey. If you’ve never heard of him, don’t worry. He’s had a very mediocre NFL head coaching career that lasted two seasons in which he went 18-14 and lost both wild-card playoff games.

He was also the offensive coordinator for the 2008 Kansas City Chiefs, a team that went 2-14 and finished 25th in the NFL in scoring and 22nd in yards per game.

I can’t even blame the Bills entirely for hiring this guy, since they were looking for big names like Mike Shanahan and Bill Cowher to come coach the team. Shanahan and Cowher obviously had no interest dealing with a franchise which is going nowhere and has a very bleak outlook for the future.

Everyone knows in order to build a successful franchise that is always contending for the title, you have to have strong drafts. Let’s look at the Bills first round draft picks over the last 10 years:

2000- Erik Flowers (DE): released in 2001, currently out of football entirely

2001- Nate Clements (CB): left in free agency in 2007, plays for the 49ers

2002- Mike Williams (T): released in 2006, plays for the Redskins

2003- Willis McGahee (RB): traded in 2007, plays for the Ravens

2004- Lee Evans (WR): still with the team, JP Losman (QB): contract expired in 2008, current free agent

2005- No first round pick

2006- Donte Whitner (S): still with the team, John McCargo (DT): still with the team

2007- Marshawn Lynch (RB): still with the team

2008- Leodis McKelvin (CB): still with the team

2009- Aaron Maybin (DE): still with the team, Eric Wood (C): still with the team

2010- CJ Spiller (RB): still with the team

Of those 13 first round picks over the past decade, eight are still with the team, and of those eight, one has made the Pro Bowl. The Bills are also notoriously known for drafting players way earlier than projected, with players like John McCargo (projected second to third round) and Leodis McKelvin (third ranked corner, was taken first).

This list excludes missed drafting opportunities such as quarterback Jimmy Clausen (second round, 2010) and flamed-out prospects such as Trent Edwards (third round, 2007)

It all comes back to the front office. Bad personnel hiring decisions, poor scouting and drafting, and poor player management has led the Buffalo Bills down this path of mediocrity.

If the Bills want to be able to contend, the franchise can’t be run by Ralph Wilson Jr.  This is coming from a Bills fan.

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