This season has not gone according to plan for the 2015 Buffalo Bills. A team that expected to contend is 6-8 and set to to play two meaningless games.
But it hasn't necessarily been the fault of general manager Doug Whaley and the team, apparently, realizes that.
One source tells The News that Whaley is likely "safe" this off-season. The general manager has one year left on his contract and, right now, it's unlikely the team would let him go. Earlier on Sunday, NFL Network reported that Whaley is more apt to be extended than fired. Maybe there are "drastic" changes coming to this team, as coach Rex Ryan said after last week's loss at Washington, but there probably won't be drastic changes to the front office.
Whaley, who has one more year on his deal, has been the general manager of the Bills since Buddy Nix stepped down in May 2013. Since then, the roster has undergone seismic changes. In his first draft as the GM the following year, Whaley traded up to take wide receiver Sammy Watkins, a risky move considering the talent pool was already deep at the position. While he has battled several injuries, Watkins has emerged as one of the NFL's best wideouts since the bye week this season.
He has 44 receptions for 827 yards and four touchdowns, producing after speaking up.
Last off-season, the Bills acquired guard Richie Incognito, running back LeSean McCoy, tight end Charles Clay, wide receiver Percy Harvin and quarterback Tyrod Taylor in a flurry of off-season moves to improve a mediocre offense. The verdict is still out on such moves, but Ryan's defense --- not the offense --- has been the main problem this year. A unit ranked in the Top 5 across many categories has not adjusted well to Ryan's 3-4 scheme.
How much say Whaley had in Buffalo drafting Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel is unknown. At the time, he was working with Nix. And trading up for Watkins was an act of doubling down on Manuel. Also, this year, the Bills' handling of the back-up quarterback position was odd at best, hinting at a disconnect between the coaches and the GM. The decision to release Fred Jackson might not have backfired much on the field, but his presence could've certainly helped in the locker room.
Overall, Whaley helped add talent to a 9-7 team. There's still two games to go at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but painting him as the scapegoat doesn't seem to make much sense. Expect the GM to get more time, working with Ryan to turn the Bills around.