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Vic Carucci's 3 Bills thoughts: Wise to extend Whaley's deal, assistant coach watch, health concerns

1. If, in fact, the Buffalo Bills do extend the contract of General Manager Doug Whaley, it would be a sensible move. The Bills cannot allow the man overseeing their draft and other offseason player acquisitions to be a lame duck. They need Whaley to feel fully invested in the team's long-term future so that he can function accordingly in the decisions he makes on the roster. WGR 550, the Bills' flagship station, first reported Tuesday and The Buffalo News confirmed that the Bills are working on an agreement to add multiple seasons to Whaley's contract. Contrary to what some might be quick to assume, however, extending Whaley's contract would not at all prohibit Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula from parting ways with Whaley and Ryan after the 2016 season if again their "expectations were not met," the words Terry used in a statement after the Bills again missed the playoffs in the 2015 campaign. That's why it also would make sense for Terry, as The News reported per a team source, to have no fiscal inhibitions about informing Whaley and Ryan after the playoff-eliminating loss at Washington that they had a year "to get it right." Ditto for Pegula, who denied the report, or anyone else in the team's hierarchy being unhappy that such an ultimatum leaked out of One Bills Drive in the first place.

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2. Rex Ryan spent Tuesday going through the process of meeting with his assistant coaches to determine if there should be any changes made to his staff. There has been plenty of speculation that the likely casualties would be defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman and special-teams coach Danny Crossman. Thurman is a popular target because of the dramatic decline in the Bills' defense, from fourth to 19th, since 2014. Crossman is thought by some to be a no-brainer because of special-teams breakdowns and the fact Ryan inherited him from the previous coaching staff. But there is talk in NFL circles that both could be safe -- especially Thurman, because Ryan feels considerable loyalty toward him and Thurman is essentially pushing the buttons on Ryan's scheme -- and that changes might be made in other areas of the defensive staff. Stay tuned!

3. The Bills had an inordinate number of health issues during their 8-8 finish this season. No one likes it when a coach plays the "injury card," but Ryan was entitled to do so and has done so on multiple occasions. Two of the biggest injuries that impacted the Bills were to defensive tackle Kyle Williams (knee) and safety Aaron Williams (neck). Assuming they're able to return and can function at a high enough level, they would figure to be important to whatever hopes the Bills to make dramatic improvement on defense. Another health matter to watch is the Crohn's Disease that plagued offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson during the season. Henderson is known to have lost about 20 pounds before the Bills decided to shut him down for the final three games of their schedule. He needs to be particularly disciplined in taking care of himself through proper diet and by making certain he follows through with regular medical treatment, something that could pose a greater challenge when he is on his own during the offseason.

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Correction: An post on Jan. 6 regarding the Buffalo Bills possibly extending Doug Whaley's contract incorrectly cited Bills owner Terry Pegula’s statement as saying the results of the 2015 Bills season were “unacceptable.” The statement did not use that word. Pegula stated “our expectations were not met.”

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