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Karlos Williams is latest questionable decision to hurt Bills’ image

Three hours before the Bills issued a statement Friday announcing Karlos Williams’ four-game suspension, the running back sent a tweet using a heart emoji saying he loved doubters. If that’s the case, Williams must be smitten with an incredulous fan base that’s losing faith by the minute.

Now that we’ve learned Williams was banned for violating the NFL’s drug policy, it all makes sense. Williams claimed he showed up to organized team activities grossly overweight after emptying the snack cupboard with his pregnant fiancée, but it seems certain that he lost the battle of the bulge to a severe case of the munchies.

What happens once, ahem, the smoke clears?

It’s a valid question, but Williams’ suspension was the last thing Rex Ryan needed after proclaiming, in yet another mental misstep, that the Bills won the offseason. Imagine how bad the Bills would look if they actually lost the offseason. For an idea, look up the 2014 New York Jets.

Williams was the latest example of the Bills taking chances on players and having dubious decisions blow up in their faces. Rookie back Jonathan Williams also could be slapped with a suspension after he was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated early Thursday in Fayetteville, Ark.

Not only are the Bills running out of Williamses with training camp two weeks away, they’re also running out of backs.

It’s a good thing LeSean McCoy was cleared in the barroom brawl with the Philly cops or they would be relying on Mike Gillislee and Boom Herron to carry a heavy load into the regular season.

Making recent matters worse, there’s been concern along One Bills Drive that McCoy’s lingering hamstring problems that began last season, and which limited him in OTAs last month, may prevent him from being ready for the start of training camp July 30.

Suddenly, the Bills’ vaunted running game, the one that led the league in rushing last season but failed to carry them into the playoffs, looks like it’s on the fast track to nowhere and could be going in reverse. It’s a good thing the Bills grabbed Shaq Lawson in the first round to help the defense.

Oh, wait …

Lawson, who GM Doug Whaley said was a starter in Buffalo the moment he stepped off the bus, was dropped off in the operating room. He could be sidelined until November after undergoing shoulder surgery the organization initially said wasn’t needed. But I’m sure everything will be fine with the defense now that Rob Ryan is aboard.

The first priority is replacing Karlos Williams. Thurman Thomas sent out a cryptic message via Twitter on Friday regarding a conversation he had about Fred Jackson that hinted toward a possible solution. Jackson was a consummate professional and leader before he unceremoniously was shown the door last August.

Jackson is still looking for work. There was talk Friday that the Bills could be interested in Reggie Bush, who is coming off season-ending knee surgery. If you’ve been paying attention, the Bills love big names. They need someone who would help restore order in an organization that bordered on dysfunction.

Rex Ryan and Whaley weren’t exactly blood brothers last season no matter what they portrayed in public. The two share this much, however: Both could be looking for work if another season winds up in ashes. It looks far less promising now than it did when Ryan injected optimism into a gullible community.

Karlos and Jonathan Williams deserve whatever punishments they have coming for their own stupidity, but it doesn’t absolve Whaley. In 2015, Whaley selected Karlos Williams in the fifth round even though the back was connected to domestic violence, drug use and other accusations of bad behavior at Florida State.

All was forgotten last season when Williams averaged 5.6 yards per carry and scored nine touchdowns. He had two games in which he rushed for 110 yards.

He gained 517 yards in 11 games and missed five others with a concussion. He was their second-most effective back and best value.

Still, it seemed a matter of time before he stumbled. The Bills questioned his commitment when he showed up to offseason workouts carrying excessive baggage around his belly. If they didn’t get his attention, the suspension certainly should. In fact, I wouldn’t blame the Bills if they released him.

The Bills had high hopes for Jonathan Williams, and perhaps they still do, but the rookie didn’t help his cause when he landed in a patrol car before landing a roster spot. It’s not a good sign, as it stands now, when a rookie back has more arrests than he has carries in the NFL.

What’s next?

In recent years, there’s a sense desperate Bills fans have become more tolerant of indecent behavior. The general message from Bills Nation: Nobody cares about character. What matters is how players perform on the field. People should care. Character matters when these characters can’t stay on the field.

Whaley has gambled with mixed results. Richie Incognito worked out after the bullying controversy. IK Enemkpali failed to justify grabbing him off waivers after he slugged Jets teammate Geno Smith. Seantrel Henderson was a pothead in college who has been average at best.

EJ Manuel’s character was never an issue, but his ability has been a continuous source of distress. Whaley traded a first-round pick to move up for Sammy Watkins, a very good receiver but hardly the best one available in the draft. He took a flier on Percy Harvin, known as a bad teammate in Seattle, that didn’t work out.

Am I forgetting anyone?

In this offseason alone, Stephon Gilmore threatened to hold out unless he was given a new contract, Dri Archer refused to report for offseason activities after the Bills plucked him off waivers and Henderson’s agent complained about the Bills’ failure to reach out to the tackle while he recovered from a serious illness.

Don’t count me among the doubters. I fully expect the Bills to miss the playoff yet again.


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