Let's suppose that Tom Modrak is everything that Ralph Wilson says he is. Let's assume that Modrak, the Bills vice president of college scouting, has done an exemplary job along with his scouts of identifying players who would be of great benefit to the Buffalo Bills. Let's go one further and accept that Modrak would be regarded as one of the experts in his field if only the Bills had heeded the fruits of his work and drafted accordingly.
And then, having made that leap, let's ask ourselves this: If you're Modrak and your work, your life's passion, is continually undermined, do you stick with the same organization for the 11 years, all the while beating your head against the wall? Or somewhere along the way do you politely resign and maybe sit out a year until another team comes calling, because aren't football franchises always in the market for knowledgeable football people? Doesn't the NFL have a long history of recycling its own?
In defending Modrak, Wilson has, probably quite accidentally, identified the reason his team has been stuck in knee-deep mud for the last decade-plus. He has stumbled upon the cause of its repeated failures to draft and develop players who can help pull this franchise from the mire. What the Bills need -- and have needed for some time -- is an organizational philosophy that identifies where they are, where they need to be, how they're going to get there and how long the process should take.
And if a downtrodden franchise charts its course, designs a road map for success, I'll guarantee you this: It's not taking a luxury running back like C.J. Spiller in the first round of the draft while ignoring the many needs that comprise the foundation for success.
It's by more than sheer serendipity that the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the playoff mix most every year. When you think "Steelers" you think "defense." That's their calling card. There's little doubt they'll be good on that side of the ball year to year. And then, when a Ben Roethlisberger falls to them in the draft and excels, suddenly they're upgraded from perennial playoff contender to perennial Super Bowl contender.
The Indianapolis Colts, in realizing the unique attributes of Peyton Manning, identified wideouts and tight ends capable of maximizing his abilities. The Colts were all about offense until they were satisfied to the point that fielding a complementary defense became their focus. But is there any doubt that, at least until Manning retires, the Colts will be identified as an offensive-minded franchise?
And what are the Buffalo Bills? Or, more revealingly, what is it they've tried to be? They've drafted running backs (Willis McGahee and Spiller) when they've had running backs (Travis Henry and Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson). They've identified single-season college wonders (Aaron Maybin) as must-have players while conceding they wouldn't be every-down players for a franchise that's been in dire need of every-down players.
Now maybe Modrak wasn't an advocate for the likes of Spiller and Maybin and John McCargo, etc. And maybe he was. At the very least he and his scouts had to have held those players in high regard, yes? Does anyone believe the Bills decided to take a flier on a player simply on the judgment of, say, the marketing director?
What's scary, or maybe petrifying, is that the Bills have given no indication that they'll stop taking the wrong fork in the road. General Manager Buddy Nix says the Bills will draft the best player available No. 3 overall in April.
But how does that player fit into the organizational philosophy, the franchise playbook? Since there is no evidence one exists, wouldn't that be the smart place to start?