I don’t know what to make of Buddy Nix stepping down as Bills’ general manager. As a native Buffalonian and long-suffering Bills fan, I can tell you that this was the first offseason that Western New York wasn’t calling for his gig.
In years past, it was the opposite. We had sat through too many drafts where we selected Aaron Maybins and Marcell Dareuses that didn’t meet expectations, and saw drafts where didn’t fill needs and instead picked luxury pieces (C.J. Spiller, despite his inspired 2012 play). We shelled out $ 24 million guaranteed dollars to a backup quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick). In a game that was modernizing at warp speed, ol’ Buddy and ol’ Chan Gailey sort of stood out as bumbling old dudes from a bygone era. It was frustrating.
But then came the 2013 offseason where Nix started cleaning house. He axed Gailey and brought in Doug Marrone, an intriguing candidate from Syracuse that is nothing if not modern. He cut Fitz’ and, in turn, swung for the fence in the 2013 draft, trading down from No. 8 to No. 16 for the high-risk, high-reward E.J. Manuel. Always operating with a great degree of freedom and co-signage from owner Ralph Wilson, Buddy seemed to be in a groove. Looked like he was picking up some mojo.
So this recent announcement, albeit not a complete surprise, is somewhat curiously timed. Nix sees it differently, though.
Here’s an excerpt from his press conference:
“I've made this decision to step away from the general manager's position because I feel it is the right time. By the 'right time' I mean I think we have a good, young roster, an excellent head coach with a good staff and it's time to let someone else handle these responsibilities and move forward together.”
Taking over for Nix is Doug Whaley, who came to the Bills in 2010 after spending ten years in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ personnel department. Whaley seems to be a sharp guy. For the past two seasons, he’s run the scouting department and put together the Bills’ draft board. He is notably young (only 40 years old) and black. And, although the number is increasing, you barely need one hand to count the number of black general managers in the league (Whaley makes six), so Whaley is a unique choice for his position.
Youth and race obviously won’t get the job done for Whaley. It’s show or prove time for him. Maybe this is Bills-fan optimism talking here, but, Nix seems to have set him up halfway decent.