Monday, March 9, 2009

The Curious Case of Russ Brandon

He's the Buffalo Bills GM if anyone is wondering.

The reaction is the same with every friend I talk to. First it's "The Bills? Why the Bills?" followed by "well, I guess it makes sense now that I think about it."

I agree with part of that thought process. Mine goes: "The Bills? Why the Bills?" followed by "that doesn't make any sense."

You're telling me that Buffalo head coach/ cadaver impersonator Dick Jauron thinks it's a good idea to bring the circus to town?

The 'logical' part of this deal is that T.O. will take away double coverage from Lee Evans and will be able to open the field up for the rest of the offense. On paper, that looks like what will happen, so this will be a good move.

On paper. Now let's bring reality into this signing:

-Dick Jauron is so conservative, he makes Dick Cheney look like a hippie love child (let's say Wavy Gravy for this post.) He wakes up in cold sweats when he dreams of a wide open offense. This will not mesh with T.O. for very long.

-Even if Mike Martz coached the Bills, Buffalo's late season weather will limit the offensive play calling. T.O. has never dealt with this kind of weather on a regular basis. He was either hurt or deactivated for late season games in Philadelphia. We saw T.O. in a bad weather game this year against Pittsburgh and he didn't look real happy at the end of that nonsense.

-Owens says that Buffalo QB Trent Edwards "has tremendous upside". That implies patience, something T.O. doesn't have. Edwards is a talented, but young QB. He will make some bad mistakes. I know he's from Stanford, but I doubt they had a course called "how to avoid getting eaten alive by T.O. if you're a young QB." Well, maybe Stanford does have a course like. The school is right down the road from the 49ers facility.

The point is that T.O. is on his best behavior right now. Just like he was in Philadelphia. Just like he was in Dallas. But when Edwards misses a read and doesn't get the ball to Owens late in the season, the wide receiver will have some incisive words for the quarterback which will no doubt be expressed quite vocally.

-T.O. is old. He takes good care of himself, but age will eventually catch up. Soon. The Bills are on the way up, but they aren't Super Bowl contenders yet. Owens isn't going to be around when they are.

- What do you remember the most about the Bills franchise besides the losing? I contend that most football fans remember a scene from one of the Buffalo Super Bowl losses. The cocky Dallas Cowboys were killing the Bills in Super Bowl 27. Dallas had already hung 52 points on the board and had just caused another fumble which Leon Lett picked up and ran back for a sure touchdown. During the final 10 yards of his return, Lett decided he was going to showboat and began strutting while holding the ball out for every one to see. Meanwhile, Buffalo receiver Don Beebe had run nearly the entire field to catch up to Lett and knocked the ball free before Lett crossed the goalline. Buffalo ball.

It didn't change the outcome of the game, but it gave the Buffalo fan a chance to swell their chest. The team may have lost the Super Bowl again, but they showed their character. Every working class fan in America could point to that moment and say "that's how I want my team to behave. It's about work ethic and class etc."

Now the Bills are in the same camp with the Patriots, Cowboys, Bengals and a host of other NFL teams who believe character is important. Sort of. For a Bills fan, there isn't much else to be prideful about.

I know the Bills are desperate for money and attention. The team might be moving to Canada soon and the city isn't attracting any new residents. Adding T.O. will generate excitement and direct national attention to Buffalo. For this reason, the move was made. But don't confuse marketing decisions with football decisions. On the field, this move is a stretch at best.

Welcome to obscurity T.O. And welcome to hell, Trent Edwards.

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