Updated 1:50 p.m. ET, Sunday, Jan. 6
The Bills made a monumental move on New Year’s Day, when owner Ralph Wilson passed organizational control to president/CEO Russ Brandon. But how much had changed? It’s been unclear how much Wilson, 94, was involved in day-to-day activities to begin with, and Brandon — admittedly — is not a football guy, and he confirmed that GM Buddy Nix will make all football decisions, with Brandon getting the final say. As one observer pointed out, there is still the chance of new ownership coming in at some point, which likely would lead to more front-office changes.
The Bills were very organized and transparent in their moves following the season, though, and while there may be questions about the long-term impact of the change at the top, we hear one advantage the Bills do have going forward is Doug Whaley, the team’s GM-in-waiting.
Brandon and Nix wouldn’t say when the torch would be passed to Whaley, who was hired as the team’s assistant GM in February 2010, but they know the commodity they have in Whaley, a respected personnel man.
“Our plan hasn’t changed with Doug since the day we hired him. I said the same thing when we hired him, we are bringing in a guy that is very experienced,” Nix told reporters. “He has done some really good things on good teams. He is a smart guy. He has the kind of character we want and he has got better every day.”
Whaley joined Nix, Brandon and senior VP of football administration Jim Overdorf on the head-coaching hunt. The Bills chose former Syracuse coach Doug Marrone as their new head coach, and considering the fact that Whaley was one of two “football” guys in the Bills’ search team, Marrone is likely someone Whaley approves of, which is very important if Whaley takes over as the GM after the draft, as some outlets reported, because of the importance of the GM-head coach relationship.
The franchise made sweeping changes but, with Nix and Whaley, has better stability at the GM position than other teams in similar situations. Now it’s on Whaley and Marrone to bring the Bills the long-term stability they’ve lacked since the late 1990s.
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