Friday, January 06, 2006

Right here, right now!

I'm quite a bit late here, but yesterday saw the introduction of Marv Levy as the new General Manager of the Buffalo Bills. I honestly don't know what to make of this: on the one hand, it seems very odd that changing just one position, and leaving the rest of the organization's management intact, is expected to be the difference-making maneuver between a foundering franchise and a soon-competitive one, but then again, I've worked in places (restaurants, mostly) where the entire feel of the place changed when the restaurant manager changed, despite the presence of the exact same people who'd worked for the old guy underneath the new one.

So the idea at One Bills Drive seems to be that Tom Donahoe brought in good people but didn't create the kind of atmosphere those people needed in order for their work to produce a competitive team. Maybe Levy can bring that; I don't know.

I'm glad to see that Mike Mularkey is reworking his coaching staff, although I'm not sure what to make of Mularkey himself. I was a lot more supportive of Mularkey before I found out halfway through this season that he's the one who's been calling the offensive plays, which means that among other things continuing to throw to Damon Shelton is his idea.

What I most hope to see from the Levy-led Bills is good drafting. The Bills seem to have selected pretty well at the top of the draft the last few years, but any decent observer of the NFL knows that the really good teams tend to be the ones who find contributing players, or even outright stars, in the lower rounds of the draft. That's an area where the Bills have been less than impressive over the Donahoe era, but they were very good at it during the Polian/Butler eras. In those days, the Bills always seemed to draft good athletes who were smart in the lower rounds, and this often produced decent players who, if they didn't become stars, at least became productive roll-players.

Everyone is commenting that at least the Bills' media relations are bound to improve, since Levy is a pretty open and gregarious guy, as opposed to Donahoe, who seemed lacking in warmth to a Cheneyesque degree. Levy is, of course, a very articulate man -- well, except for on the sideline, when he was apparently one of the foulest-mouthed men in football. But it's always nice to be able to dust off the standby classic, "You over-officious jerk!"

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