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Judge the Bills by their actions, not their words

Marcell Dareus deserved some credit last week after he was suspended for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. During his half-baked mea culpa, he wanted everyone to know that he thought talk was cheap. Actually, it was the only two cents he offered that was worth repeating.

“Words don’t mean anything now,” Dareus said. “It’s all actions.”

It has been my mantra since the Bills came back last season from London, where it became clear they weren’t worthy of their own hype. People grew wise to their nonsense and began turning off their ears and opening their eyes. There’s been enough babbling from the organization, starting with the head coach.

The Bills finally took some action Saturday when they took Dareus by the ear and led him to rehabilitation. They had less use for second-year running back Karlos Williams, so he was drop-kicked to the curb. Williams was suspended for violating the same policy and not, as someone cracked, his addiction to Doritos.

Rex Ryan was sure to talk about how “excited” he was for Dareus now that he’s getting help. He mentioned how the Bills supported him “100 percent” and how they “came together as a family.” Williams? Evidently, he was excommunicated from the family because he was overweight and expendable.

“Every decision that’s made on three factors,” Ryan said after the Bills’ 21-0 win over the Giants before a Kids Day crowd at New Era Field. “Those three things are the team first, the team second and the team third.”

Just so we’re straight: The Bills are a family, but only when it’s convenient to the Bills. It was more convenient and considerably cheaper to dump Williams and make an example of him than it was Dareus. Rather than send a strong message about accountability, they sent a mixed message about ability.

My advice hasn’t changed since last year. Ignore what the Bills say, watch what the Bills do.

And to think the Bills almost made it through an entire weekend without making national headlines for the wrong reasons. The biggest controversy last week was whether New Era Field would adopt a nickname, such as The Cap. Maybe fans can pay homage to the suspended potheads and call it The Bowl.

The Bills want their fan base, which is losing faith by the day, to believe that they’re getting tough on crime. They ripped Dareus in a heavy-handed statement after he was slapped with the suspension. They released Williams, who had nine touchdowns last season and looked like a promising young back.

Of course, it came a year after they kept assistant coach Aaron Kromer after he punched a teenager over a beach chair. And it came six months after LeSean McCoy was involved in a barroom brawl with off-duty cops. After a while, you wonder if the Bills can get through a summer of golf without breaking the rules.

We’ll see how they respond if Manny Lawson gets suspended after the NFL completes its investigation into his alleged transgressions. Lawson acted flabbergasted last week when he was asked whether he was in trouble. His response – who-me? – came one day before the Bills acknowledged he was under investigation.

Buffalo fans, desperate for success after 16 years of failure, have become more lenient when it comes to player behavior, as if character doesn’t matter compared to production on the field. I’ll say it again: It matters big time when dubious characters can’t get on the field because they’re smoking pot or causing trouble.

Yeah, I know Dareus was suspended for missing a drug test and not because he tested positive. People need to stop apologizing for him. It’s not like he was kicked out of school for a month because he skipped study hall. He already was under close watch after a one-game suspension last year for possessing synthetic weed.

While it’s ridiculous that the NFL tests for marijuana when it’s legal in some states, it also doesn’t matter. Rules are rules. If the league bans Snickers, stop eating Snickers. Dareus knew the rules. He broke the rules. Now, he can deal with the consequences, not to mention the $3 million hole in his bank account.

The most mind-boggling fact about his situation is that the Bills didn’t have an escape clause, based on his conduct, for the length of his contract. They can only get back guaranteed money for one year on his $96 million deal. It was signed, by the way, after the synthetic-pot ordeal and his moronic street-racing incident.

Ryan can’t be blamed for the sins of his players, but this is what happens when a coach with loose lips runs a loose ship. Certain players will take advantage. You hear players say how much they respect Ryan, but their actions prove otherwise. If they respected their coach and the organization, everyone would follow basic rules.

It’s all talk, and their lack of discipline has shown up on the field.

Ryan might have fooled fans before last season, but people have come to dismiss him as a blowhard. A growing number want him dismissed, period. His brief tenure has been a continuation of previous failures. Given all that happened since Buffalo played a game that mattered, it’s likely to get worse.

Through injuries, attrition and addiction, their roster has more holes than Ryan Lochte’s robbery story. Any advantage they might have had over the Patriots with Tom Brady suspended for four games, or whatever gap they closed, was compromised before the Bills finished training camp.

You would need to delve back into the monotonous days under Dick Jauron, when they canned offensive coordinator Turk Schoenert two weeks before the opener, for a time in which the outlook was this bleak. Nobody should be surprised if the Bills won five games or fewer this season.

It hasn’t stopped Ryan from mouthing off about his defense, which he insists has improved. Then again, if the 20th-rated unit in the NFL moves to No. 19, he wouldn’t be wrong. Get back to me when the defense is back in the top five, the way it was before the supposed defensive whiz arrived.

He couldn’t resist the urge to make a snide remark Saturday when asked about Jerry Hughes, who managed to contain himself against the Giants and played well.

“Well,” Ryan said, “I’m sure he would do better in a 4-3 defense.”

It would be nice if the Bills did their talking on the field when it actually mattered. Their record speaks for itself over the last 16 seasons. They need to prove the critics wrong and validate Ryan’s optimism in the face of reality. If they make the playoffs, I’ll be the first one praising them for overcoming adversity.

Until then, I’m going with what I see. As it stands now, no matter what happened in the game Saturday, no matter what they say, it doesn’t look pretty. Remember, talk is cheap. You might even say it’s worth two cents.


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