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Take it to bank: Bills wrote off '09

The offensive coordinator one day, the starting left tackle a few days hence. What do you think? Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback for the opener? Ralph Wilson drawing up plays on suite napkins? Where, oh where, does it end?

Somewhere between 4-12 and 0-16, I'd gather.

Yes, by all means get your popcorn ready. The paper bag will come in handy.

Tuesday's release of left tackle Langston Walker is the last drop in the water barrel of proof that the Buffalo Bills are writing off this season and committing to the future yet again.

They signed Terrell Owens in the spring, reaping an immediate profit on their $6.5 million when ticket and merchandise sales soared. And now they continue to make like Bernie Madoff, moving your investment into their pockets after leading you to believe that everything was cool, that maybe, this time finally, you'd realize a playoff payback in the end. (It's sound business if you're skipping town, which, come to think of it, maybe they are.)

Look. Walker's a marginal tackle. At best. He was marginal in Oakland before the Bills lured him from the clutches of imaginary competition for $25 million over five years. Just like Derrick Dockery was a marginal guard before the Bills tugged him away from phantom suitors with $49 million over seven years. Just like center Melvin Fowler was nothing special before he came aboard in free agency and . . .

Those signings were hailed by the organization as the end of the team's long-standing woes on the offensive line. But here they are, a few years later, in more fragile condition than when they decided the pro scouts would bail out the college scouts by identifying honest-to-goodness line talent. Nobody circles old ground like the Buffalo Bills.

A scam is what this is. Trading tackle Jason Peters, the only Pro Bowl lineman they've had in forever, saved them some $11 million. The release of Walker, Peters' anointed replacement, spares them $3 million cash. Subtract the $6.5 million to T.O. and the Bills saved themselves $7.5 million and boosted their revenues while getting worse.

You have to say this about Russ Brandon & Co., they are master illusionists, if somewhat devoid of a conscience.

As it stands at the moment -- a necessary caveat when discussing the Bills -- the offensive line will include rookie guards Eric Wood and Andy Levitre and second-year, yet-to-play-a-down Demetrius Bell at left tackle, unless they opt for Kirk Chambers, who they, ahem, sneaked through waivers.

From the draft the Bills surmised they could afford to start Levitre and Wood because of their experience at the other line spots. Obviously they rethought that position, going so far as to conclude that their very best team is one where Jonathan Scott, who saw declining playing time in Detroit of all places, provides better depth than the Langston Walker they'd once so dearly coveted.

Any truth to the rumor that Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi will be delaying his retirement until after the season opener? I mean, can he pass this up?

Enough about the players, their degrees of experience and capability. The front office is the reason the organization lacks any sense of defined purpose. What? Wilson, Brandon and Dick Jauron -- or any combination of the three -- didn't know until Tuesday that Walker has his limitations? No one knew until last week that offensive coordinator Turk Schonert was running roughshod through the organization, steadfastly dictating his views while closing his mind to suggestion?

Has any other team in NFL history dumped its offensive coordinator and starting left tackle within 10 days of the season's start?

So, what do you think? Fitzpatrick in the opener? It might be Trent Edwards' best chance of seeing Week Two.


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