Release of Veterans Does Not Signal Tank

by Paul Peck, Buffalo Sports Page

Just when I thought Bills fans couldn’t get any crazier, desperate, reactionary, unrealistic…or just plain stupid.  Sunday came.  A trio of mediocre, mostly unknown veterans are released by the team, and there is more references to tanks than any World War II documentary.

Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that the releases of Jonathan Williams, Philly Brown and Gerald Hodges surprised me.  Especially Williams.  But to connect the roster maneuverings regarding these anonymous, untested or journeyman players to an overall effort to destroy the season…is just plain wrong.

But then again, if the Bills changed equipment managers (sorry, Woody), some fans would equate that to a predetermined effort to lose as much as possible.

Tank Template

I get it.  We’ve seen the Sabres make an unspoken effort to be as bad as possible.  It worked, and got them Jack Eichel, a player that they’ll lock up for a long time.

But it doesn’t work that way in football.  There are more players, too many variables, too few games, too many uncertainties in the draft (I see you slipping Josh Allen) to control a season this way.

Here’s what the new regime of Beane and McDermott are doing.  The Sunday sweep was part of it.  They are building a team that fits their model of success.  The Sunday sweep was part of that.  That means younger, faster, quicker, cheaper, and more athletic.  The players brought in on waivers to replace Williams and Company are exactly that.  Even if they aren’t all ready to be big contributors this season, they are part of an overall effort to shape this team in image and style of the new front office. Keeping mediocre talents like Hodges and Brown don’t achieve that.  Developing a Connor McDermott or Deon Lacey might do that.

No Names No More

Hodges and Brown were originally brought in here because they were veterans.  But I sense they were only signed to fill spots that the team hoped they could fill with better players.  Or maybe they don’t want to have to pay them for the season as veterans.  They must feel like they have, so both are gone.  Williams’ release surprised me, because he has been impressive this summer and had a good resume.  Maybe there’s another reason that we may soon find out.  Or maybe Williams didn’t buy in to the McDermott process.  If not, now is the time to get rid of him.  Williams hadn’t done enough in one season to earn any benefit of the doubt. Plus, running backs are easy to find.  Maybe Joe Banyard is just as good, or better.  But because he wasn’t a draft pick and didn’t play in the SEC, Bills fans think he’s a bum.

All any Bills fans wants is to see this team have a plan for success.  We all want to see that happen this year, so the drought scoreboard doesn’t add another year.  But that’s unrealistic.  Beane and McDermott have clearly made an assessment of the garbage they were left with, and they’ve decided to take out the trash. That’s why there are only six Doug Whaley draft picks still on the team.  It can’t be fixed in one year, no matter how much people want it to be.  If it could, guys like Brown and Hodges would still be here.

Park the Tank

I don’t know if Beane and McDermott are the right guys to turn it around.  But they’re our guys, and they’ve been given the freedom to do it the way they believe.  I’m not saying you have to have patience.  I’m just suggesting that all Bills fans give these guys a chance, and don’t over-react to every move they make.

Park the Tank, and let’s see how this season plays out.


Paul Peck

Paul Peck is sports broadcaster with over 25 years experience in TV and Radio. He served as sports anchor, reporter, and producer at WIVB for 24 years. In that role, he covered all four Buffalo Bills Super Bowls, the Buffalo Sabres in the Stanley Cup Finals, the NCAA Basketball Tournament and the Daytona 500. He has been the Voice of the UB Bulls Football for 17 seasons, in addition to host of Bulls Athletics TV & Radio shows. Peck also served as the sideline reporter for the Buffalo Bills Football Network, host of the bowling show "Beat The Champ" and announces college basketball for ESPN 3 and Time Warner Cable Sports Channel. He has also been the Master of Ceremonies for the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, one of the largest sports banquets in WNY.

Paul is also involved in the local business community, having been a financial advisor at AXA Advisors, and is currently the Vice President of Sports Development at VSP Graphics Group.

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