Three quick Bills thoughts this A.M...
1. Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan are staying put. No czars, no shake-ups, no structural front office upheaval. Owner Terry Pegula confirmed on Wednesday through a statement that the Bills would be sticking with their GM and head coach. More change isn't necessarily a good thing and the owners were in a tricky situation. Ryan is only one year into a five-year, $27.5 million contract. And Whaley has one year left on his contract, but would be an odd scapegoat for the Bills' 7-8 season. Last off-season, he helped add offensive talent to a 9-7 team in the form of LeSean McCoy, Charles Clay, Richie Incognito, Percy Harvin and the Bills' draft surpassed most expectations. And while the EJ Manuel pick (whatever Whaley's involvement), doubling down on Manuel and the Cyrus Kouandjio pick don't help the GM's cause, he's had his share of hits, too. Time will tell if the Pegulas are delaying the inevitable or are displaying strength in continuity. For now, here's thinking such continuity is a good thing.
2. There's still motivation. The vibe in the Bills' locker room Wednesday was more upbeat than expected. Players seem to be genuinely excited, amped even for this Week 17 game against the New York Jets and the opportunity to play spoiler. They don't want to see old pal Ryan Fitzpatrick punch a playoff ticket on their turf. Said CB Leodis McKelvin, the longest-tenured Bill: “It’s definitely not meaningless when somebody’s trying to come in here and clinch a playoff spot in the same division. It’s definitely not a meaningless game." McKelvin also added "I’m definitely not going to let him come in and get a victory.” Admirable. The Bills also expect to have chances at interceptions on the back end against Fitzpatrick. A handful played with the old gunslinger here in Buffalo after all. Postseason expectations extinguished, players need something, anything to cling to. They couldn't ask for a next best thing. Taking down the Jets, at home, would be a jolt of positive energy to take into the off-season after a month-long malaise. "It gives it a little extra meaning," guard Richie Incognito said. "We’re out of it right now and you kind of look for anything that can motivate you at this point of the season and that’s a huge motivating factor. They’re a division rival, they’re a very good team, they’re playing very well, and it’d be great to beat them out."
3. Injuries complicate things. For as motivated as the Bills are, however, they're also extremely banged up. Everywhere. On paper, they simply do not match up with the Jets at all. Running back LeSean McCoy (knee) is likely out again. The Bills scrambled to sign another wide receiver (Leonard Hankerson). On defense, safety Jonathan Meeks is expected to replace Bacarri Rambo, who Ryan said was playing with one shoulder last week. Ronald Darby's status is up in the air at cornerback --- the team signed Sammy Seamster and Bud Noel on Wednesday. Nigel Bradham (high ankle sprain) may or may not play. Marcell Dareus is recovering from a Week 16 neck injury. Last week, Buffalo faced a team riddled by injuries itself in Dallas. But New York? Fitzpatrick is piloting the NFL's eighth-ranked offense (375 yards per game), throwing to Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Maybe that's why Rex Ryan sounded so subdued on Wednesday, too. He gets the reality of this predicament. Despite his historic success against Chan Gailey and Fitzpatrick, his group is very, very undermanned.