Share this article

print logo

Vic Carucci's Bills Wake-Up Call: Whaley should be no safer than Ryan

If the Buffalo Bills do the expected and move on from Rex Ryan as their head coach, it would make zero sense for them to stick with Doug Whaley as their general manager.

By most accounts earlier in the week, Whaley's job appeared safe and, perhaps, it still is.

Yet, with the season unraveling as it has with particularly ugly losses the past two weeks and five in the last seven games, there's nothing to suggest the "expectations" Bills owner Terry Pegula said were not met in publicly declaring Ryan and Whaley would stay in place late last year are any closer to being met now.

In fact, a strong case can be made that the distance between the team and those "expectations" is as great as it has ever been during the soon-to-be-17-year playoff drought.

It's well known within the Bills that Terry and Kim Pegula have a great affinity for Whaley. They enjoy his company in social settings, and there have been almost no instances when Terry is on the sidelines before a game or at training camp when you don't see Whaley right by his side. One franchise insider told me Whaley "walks on hallowed grounds" with the Bills' owners, and that was at least partly why it took little convincing from team president Russ Brandon to give Whaley a contract extension after last season.

Still, in the cold world of business, football or otherwise, liking someone isn't a reason to avoid making a change that you think will make your product better. A contract extension shouldn't get in the way of that, either, especially when it was as much about bringing Whaley financially up to speed with others in the front office who were left with contract extensions as a parting gift from late owner Ralph Wilson.

The Pegulas aren't happy with what they're seeing from their football team, and poor coaching isn't the only reason. An equally strong case can be made for well-documented player-personnel decisions resulting in some major misses that overshadow the hits.

However, that isn't the only reason that Whaley should exit with Ryan.

There are two that should be glaring whenever the Pegulas sit down to review where it has all gone wrong for the Bills during their first two full seasons of ownership.

One, they turned to Whaley and Brandon to oversee the coaching search that led them to Ryan. The Pegulas leaned on Whaley's and Brandon's extensive NFL experience to manage the process that included a lengthy list of interviews all over the country.

It's fair to say Whaley mainly liked the choice because he knew Ryan, unlike his predecessor, Doug Marrone, would pretty much stay out of Whaley's way. Ryan would let him know what positions he wanted addressed and Whaley would find them and there would be nothing approaching the hands-on involvement that Marrone insisted on having in areas beyond coaching.

It's also fair to say that Brandon mainly liked the choice of Ryan because he knew that, at least in his first season, he would have a significantly positive impact on the sale of tickets. And he did. The Bills set a franchise record with 60,000 season-tickets sold in 2015.

The other obvious reason Whaley can't be allowed to stick around if the Pegulas proceed with another coaching search is that his presence would be a handicap. No top-level candidate is going to want to be forced to work with a GM whose track record is spotty, at best, and who has proven to have issues working successfully with not one but two head coaches.

Besides, as the Pegulas have already demonstrated with their $5.5-million-per contract for Ryan, they will pay top dollar for a coach, and there is likely to be multiple high-end candidates who will seek more control of the football operation than Ryan has -- the sort of control that would not work with Whaley as GM.

Face it, to get someone of that ilk, the Pegulas will have to not only spend competitively with the half-dozen or so other NFL teams that will be seeking new coaches but also offer a more attractive job structure.

To do so, they would have to show Whaley the door.

There are no comments - be the first to comment