Making sense of most of what Doug Whaley said/tried to say during the 40 minutes of blathering he did at One Bills Drive Monday is an exercise in futility.
Here are a couple of, shall we say, gems that need to be addressed beyond the silliness of him attempting to sell the idea he had zero involvement in the firing of coach Rex Ryan.
In Whaley's opening remarks, he said the Bills' 7-9 finish was "not good enough. From ownership, to players, to this whole organization, not good enough. And I’ll say this much, it starts with me and I have to do a better job."
Then, moments later, while responding to the first question about an overriding sense the franchise is "plummeting into dysfunction" (actually, that deep dive happened long ago, but let's not digress), Whaley said, "We're 7-9, we're close, we just got to get over the hump."
This was one of multiple contradictions from the man who carries the title of general manager, a role that means he's supposed to be able to see the big picture of where the team is, where it's going, and how it will get there.
He defined 7-9 as "not good enough." That strongly implies he and team owners Terry and Kim Pegula expected a better record. Yet when I pressed Whaley on whether he and the player-personnel staff provided a good enough roster for the Bills to reach the playoffs, he responded, "You are what your record says you are. We weren’t good enough."
It isn't complicated.
If you believe you have the talent that should have delivered better than 7-9, then you put the blame squarely on coaching. But Whaley unbelievably insisted he had no idea why Ryan was fired and that he didn't give it a thought; Terry Pegula didn't shed much light on the topic, either, in his comments to the Associated Press.
If you don't believe you have the talent that should have delivered better than 7-9, then it falls on those picking the players.
And if, by "close," Whaley meant close to something besides an utter train wreck, then the Bills fired the coach who helped get them there.
Presumably, he's talking about the Bills being close to playoff contention. However, beyond a shameless, self-serving plug for his skills in evaluating and selecting the players and a not-so-subtle dig at how coaching failed them, Whaley offered nothing that would seem to qualify him as someone with any sort of handle on where the team is and where it's going.
You can start with the first giant question mark: Who will coach the team? Who, from what appears to be a pretty thin field of candidates, has the ability to far surpass the work of his predecessor, which the GM said was part of what allowed the Bills to be "close?" Who is going to be willing to work with a GM who contributed heavily to what has become a national embarrassment? Remember, Whaley told us, this time he is truly leading the search.
Then, there is the second giant question mark: Are they sticking with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback or not? If they do, is he really the long-term answer at the position and will they follow through with such a large financial commitment to him that they'll be unable to provide him with sufficient help? EJ Manuel, Whaley's pet project, finally played his way off the roster, and Cardale Jones is a long way from meriting even No. 2 status.
It is fair to say that if the Bills generated even the smallest amount of hope, it came from their offense. Yet questions linger there beyond the biggest one at quarterback. How will Sammy Watkins come back from a second foot surgery? What sort of depth is going to be found, particularly after the likely free-agent departure of Robert Woods?
Once you get past the uncertain future of veteran Kyle Williams and perpetual unreliability of Marcell Dareus on the line, there are massive questions on defense at cornerback and safety.
On second thought, Whaley was smart to dodge the question about whether he felt he had put together a playoff roster.
The Bills are close, all right. The light from that on-coming train is brighter than ever.