Jerry Sullivan's Mailbag: McDermott needs to think long-term - The Buffalo News

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Jerry Sullivan's Mailbag: McDermott needs to think long-term

Well, we're into March, a great month for sports fans. College basketball tournaments have begun. So has baseball's spring training. The NBA and NHL playoff races are heading into the stretch run. Pro golfers are gearing up for the Masters.

So what's the biggest issue in the mail this week? The NFL Combine, of course.

People can't get enough of the NFL. They're obsessing over bench presses, 40-yard dash times and the critical psychological evaluations of these fine young men. It's amazing to me that people have so little going on in their lives that they watch the combine on television.

Seriously, listening to discussions about the workouts in Indianapolis had me pining for more of the interminable debate over Tyrod Taylor. The Mailbag:

Kyle005 asks: What do you think Coach McDermott's biggest challenge is next season?

Sully: Sean McDermott's main challenge is admitting the Bills aren't close to being a playoff contender and resisting the urge to make decisions that aren't in the long-term interest of the franchise. It's difficult for first-time NFL head coaches, who usually want to win right away to justify their football genius.

The signs aren't promising. According to a report by Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, there's a "chasm" between McDermott and the front office over whether to re-sign Taylor. Doug Whaley, Russ Brandon and Jim Overdorf supposedly want to move on from Tyrod. McDermott and his coaches feel Taylor is their best option.

That's troubling, because McDermott has been recently empowered by owner Terry Pegula and will have a big say in the matter. It shouldn't be about whether Taylor is their best chance to be .500 this year, but whether he's a genuine franchise quarterback who could lead them to the Super Bowl a few years from now.

I've said all along that Taylor isn't the answer. The Bills should be willing to take a step back and find a real franchise QB in the draft. If McDermott is such a smart guy, he should recognize that and want to build a real contender. If the report is true, he's just another ambitious new coach being driven by his own ego.

LaCanfora's report said Pegula and McDermott have become "close," so the new guy will have sway. Does that mean the owner has moved away from his old management guard and thrown his trust to his latest best buddy? It's scary to think that an unproven, first-time head coach could get that sort of power over an NFL team.

If McDermott thinks he can make the playoffs right away with Taylor, he's no better than Gregg Williams. A little humility might be in order, and it figures to come soon enough.
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@AaronHeritage3 asks: Why don't players at the combine do drills in their pads and helmet? If the draft is so important, why not have players in full gear?

Sully: Now there's an issue for our times, right up there with who is speaking with the Russians. As I said, I don't pay attention to the combine. So I've never contemplated why they don't have the players run and jump in pads.

But I can see both sides of it. Raw speed and football speed are two different things. Some guys are great without pads, but lose a little when they're loaded down. Others aren't blazers on the track, but great at separating in real games. Jerry Rice, who ran a 4.6 in the combine, was a great example.

On the other hand, NFL teams have plenty of tape to evaluate players in games. The combine gives them raw athletic data that becomes part of an overall evaluation. If they required pads, would they all the same size? And would the league want to go to the trouble of outfitting 300 players in full gear?

OK, that's more time than I ever care to expend on the subject.
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Chris McClaren asks: With Reuben Foster being sent home from the combine, how much will it affect his draft stock?

Sully: Not much, I suspect. The Alabama linebacker is expected to go in the top 10 of the draft. It's hard to imagine a team coveting his services, but passing him up because he had a heated argument with a hospital worker in Indianapolis.

Foster didn't assault a woman or get caught inhaling from a bong on social media -- not that I'm aware of, anyway. He got upset because of a long wait in a hospital. Anyone who has sat for hours in an emergency room could probably sympathize.

The NFL isn't searching for future orderlies or X-ray technicians. Teams are looking for linebackers who can hit, run and drop into coverage, swift young men with mayhem in their hearts. Some NFL scouts might even see it as a positive that Foster has a hair-trigger temper. Better for getting to the quarterback.
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Rick McGuire asks: If Sean McDermott wins the Super Bowl next season, does he automatically become the Bills greatest head coach of all time after only one season, or does Marv Levy retain the title?

Sully: If McDermott wins the Super Bowl in his first season, I will personally lobby to have the NFL re-name the Lombardi Trophy the McDermott Cup. Oh, and you could make an argument that Lou Saban, not Levy, is the best Bills coach ever.
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Joe Kurczewski asks: If you were in an AL-only fantasy baseball league to be named later, who are your favorite players to target for 2017?

Sully: It depends on what kind of league you're in, but I assume you're in a league that values young players and sleepers, so I'll give you some names of rising young AL guys and prospects to target in your draft.

Some rising young players: Jays starter Marcus Stroman, who finished strong last year and threw 200 innings; Alex Bregman, who was Houston's best hitter the last two months of the season; James Paxton, the Mariners' lefty starter who is ready to emerge; Jorge Soler, the young Royals slugger who came over from the Cubs. As a player new to the AL, Soler will definitely be available. Don't forget him.

A few prospects to grab for the future: White Sox infielder Yoan Moncada, who came from Boston in the Chris Sale trade; Rays starter Brent Honeywell, who throws a screwball he learned from his uncle Mike Marshall, the former Cy Young winner; and Francisco Mejia, stud catching prospect for the Indians.

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