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Posted May 14, 2010
NFL Mailbag: C.J. Spiller and Buffalo Bills Reaction
I received numerous e-mails (some supportive, more not supportive - shocker) from Bills fans yesterday regarding my criticism of the Bills plans for ninth-overall pick C.J. Spiller.
They all generally said the same things, so I am here to offer up my responses to the FMCs - Frequently Made Criticisms (read the WalterFootball.com Forums for more information).
You are not in the NFL. Who are you to criticize what people who actually work in the NFL do?
Outstanding logic. By saying I have no clue what I am talking about because I am not in the NFL, you are inferring that everybody in the NFL is smart and makes good decisions. Since I am not in the NFL, I don't know anything about football or how to build a team, while NFL front offices are perfect and never make mistakes.
Of course, this is completely wrong. Teams do really stupid things. They sign overspend on mediocre free agents. They draft complete busts. They do make bad decisions, sometimes.
Am I right all the time? No, I am not. I can't be because I'm not perfect and nobody is. However, when I criticized the Bills heavily last year for drafting a 245-pound defensive end at No. 11 overall, I was quite accurate in my words. We will see if Aaron Maybin pans out in the 3-4, but drafting him for the 4-3 defense was moronic.
The thing many people don't know about coaches and front office executives is some of them are heavily arrogant and they sometimes over-think things. They want to prove to everyone how smart they are and sometimes deviate from what makes the most sense because of their giant egos.
There are a lot of smart teams in the NFL that don't overpay and they win consistently: Tennessee, Pittsburgh, New England, Baltimore, Indianapolis, San Diego and Philadelphia (other than Jason Peters).
There are also a lot of teams that lose consistently and don't have a clue what they are doing: Cleveland, Buffalo, Kansas City, Oakland (up until this offseason when they have been stellar), and St. Louis (credit given for a very good 2010 NFL Draft).
These teams that lose consistently aren't losing because they are smart and making good decisions in the NFL Draft. They have made really bad decisions, which leads to losing. However, according to many people, if you are in the NFL then you are better than everyone else not in the NFL - which couldn't be further from the truth.
I'm not in the NFL, but you don't have to be in the NFL to understand how to build a team in regards to positional value, scouting talent and decision-making.
The first-round picks whom I hated the most in 2009 right after the first round was over was Jason Smith, Andre Smith, Darius Heyward-Bey, Aaron Maybin, Brian Cushing, Alex Mack and Peria Jerry. I was dead-wrong on Cushing, but all of the other guys made minimal impacts on their teams as rookies (I hated Alex Mack because Cleveland needed a playmaker; not a center, and that's why they selected No. 7 overall the following season).
There are quite a few Draftniks out there on the Internet who are really smart, comprehend how a team should be built and understand the value of a franchise quarterback. Drafting isn't that hard - teams just make it look really hard because they make really dumb decisions.
Next year's quarterback class is a lot better, and it was smart to pass on Jimmy Clausen.
To each his own on how you evaluate Jimmy Clausen, but the bottom line is relying on next year's NFL Draft class is one of the dumbest, most illogical moves a front office can make. There is absolutely no certainty in 2010. What if Jake Locker goes the Drew Henson route and takes up baseball? What if Ryan Mallett has a Jevan Snead-type season? What if Andrew Luck returns to school as a redshirt sophomore - which is likely? What if Christian Ponder/Luck/Mallett/Locker has a bad year? What if Ponder/Luck/Mallett/Locker suffers a serious injury?
You can't depend on the next year's quarterback class. What if the Bills finish out of the range in the 2011 NFL Draft order of finding a legitimate franchise quarterback, like they felt they did in 2010?
Granted, I think Clausen will be a GREAT quarterback in Carolina, but the bottom line is nobody is debating whether Clausen is a first-round talent. It all comes down to his intangibles, which I am sorry, but they were being blown out of proportion.
Carolina quarterback Matt Moore, who is battling Clausen to be the starting quarterback this year, agrees with me.
"I thought he was great," Moore said. "I also had heard a lot of things, of course, like anybody else does and really after meeting the guy and spending a weekend with him, none of those things I heard really hold any water. The guy was quiet. He came in and asked all the right questions. Very advanced in just his thought process of the game. And then he comes out and he can spin it and put it right in there. So I was really impressed with the guy. All the things I'd heard, he was everything opposite, I think, so that was good."
Of course, Moore is lying because if he was really impressed with Clausen then he has to be scared about losing his job. Therefore, it isn't good.
My point is that you don't pass up on a potential top-15 quarterback in the NFL and take a massive gamble on next year's draft class.
Not only this, but if you bring a rookie quarterback in now, then he has the 2010 season as a learning curve. If you bring in a top-notch rookie in 2011, then you have to use the 2011 season as a learning curve as opposed to using the 2010 season instead of just throwing it away with nothing to gain for the future.
Go ahead and ask the Lions fans, Buccaneer fans and Jets fans if drafting a franchise quarterback in the first round is a good move - especially the ones who disagreed with those decisions at the time they were made. Drafting a franchise quarterback makes everything easier as opposed to procrastinating like a college student on a final exam (self-reference).
The Bills drafted the best player available. Look at how Bryan Bulaga, Dan Williams and Jimmy Clausen all fell. This means taking Spiller at 9 was obviously the better move.
I agree that in general, the higher a player gets drafted, the more likely he is to succeed, but we all know this isn't always the case. Let's take Michael Oher for example. Of course, NFL teams must have been right about him, since Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe and Andre Smith all went ahead of Oher. Not that Baltimore has enough faith in Oher to make him their starting left tackle in a season that should have gotten recognition for Offensive Rookie of the Year in leading the Baltimore Ravens' offensive line.
Or what about DeSean Jackson falling to the second round? Did the NFL properly scout Jackson? Are you saying Donnie Avery, Devin Thomas, Jordy Nelson, James Hardy, Eddie Royal and Jerome Simpson are all better NFL players since Jackson fell?
It's really stupid logic. Spiller is a very talented player, but it doesn't matter because he isn't going to do squat against eight men in the box. Spiller also doesn't have Chris Johnson's blazing speed. Spiller is fast, but he isn't as fast as Johnson.
So should you draft a punter at No. 9 overall and claim he is the BPA as opposed to drafting a franchise quarterback or left tackle? The Buffalo Bills already have a change-of-pace back in Fred Jackson. They are also in a division with three very good defenses that will have no problem stopping Spiller. Spiller is also going to a cold-weather team where his speed won't be as effective.
You can argue he was the most talented player on the board, but many believe Spiller is nothing more than a very good backup - think Reggie Bush. Would Bush be good enough to get the Bills to the playoffs? Of course he wouldn't.
Just because players fall in the NFL Draft doesn't dictate how good their NFL careers will be necessarily. I could go back and find hundreds and hundreds of examples to prove my point, and just because Spiller went No. 9 overall doesn't mean he was the best pick for the Buffalo Bills.
How can any human being think Spiller is going to be effective with a garbage quarterback like Trent Edwards/Brian Brohm or a seventh-round rookie? Not to mention the Bills don't have much to speak of at offensive tackle, and their two rookies (Andy Levitre and Eric Wood) didn't play very well last season.
You are a terrible journalist.
I completely disagree. I am not a journalist at all. I don't have a degree in journalism, and I don't write for a newspaper or news Web site. Of course, if I said I loved the Bills' draft, I am sure you would have no problem with what I am writing.
You just hate the Buffalo Bills. No matter whom they picked, you would have bashed them.
Please ask the Oakland Raider fans who visit this site how much I criticized their drafts over the past three years. I thought they were terrible and I spoke my mind. This year, they drafted Rolando McClain at No. 8 overall, took Lamaarr Houston in the second round, then made some smart gambles on offensive tackles in Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell in the mid-rounds. They made one of the best trades in the offseason for Jason Campbell, and I am seriously considering predicting Oakland to win the AFC West.
If I inherently hated Oakland, then I wouldn't have said what I said. I just speak my mind.
The fact of the matter is the Buffalo Bills are one of the teams I am secretly rooting for every year. I don't like seeing the same team win the division over and over and over (Patriots). That isn't fun for me as a die-hard football fan.
The Bills are one of the best underdogs to root for in the NFL. They have amazing fans, a lot of tradition, and I'm a sucker for Chris Berman's "Nobody circles the wagons" line. Plus, I've always thought their helmets have been one of those NFL classics.
The Bills fans are some of the most underrated in the NFL along with Oakland fans, Houston fans, Cleveland fans and Seattle fans (of course you can argue that they are not underrated, but if you asked the casual fans to name one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL, they wouldn't say Seattle). I think these fan bases are underrated because not only do they pack the stadiums for their teams, but at games they are loud and proud. They stand up and yell for four quarters instead of sitting down and being quiet like many stadiums in the NFL, plus they do it in freezing weather - you gotta love that.
Saying I hate the Bills couldn't be further from the truth. I would love to see the Bills be a contender, just like I would love to see Cleveland be a contender or Oakland. When I watch a football game on television, I realize that a great home crowd makes the game more exciting for me as a fan watching the broadcast - it adds to the experience.
However, if a team makes really stupid decisions, then I am going to absolutely grill them for it. I'm not going to be a kiss a** like 95 percent of the NFL analysts on television. I'm going to say there are some general managers and coaches who just have no clue what they are doing because it is true.
I don't hate any teams in the NFL. I'm a Tampa Bay Buccaneer fan, but I gave a ton of praise to Carolina and Atlanta for their first picks this season, and quite frankly I'm a little mad they drafted well. I don't hate those teams, and my team is in the NFC South.
I understand as a fan that other fans want to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. They don't want to hear negativity and they want to believe that their dreams of their team winning simply aren't logical. They don't want to hear that their front office has no clue.
However, I'm not here to sugarcoat ANYTHING. If I said I loved every team, every player, and every coach (which would mean I worked for ESPN) then nothing I'd say would hold any water. Let's take Jon Gruden for example. He thinks every player is an All-Pro, every team is a playoff contender, and every coach is incredible. Gruden's analysis doesn't mean anything. I don't care that he was a former head coach because my opinion should have more credibility than his does. Words come out of Gruden's mouth, but he doesn't have an opinion.
I believe the best sports analysts are the most critical ones because if you are critical, then when you praise a team it means something, and when you bash a team it means something.
I'm really sorry to all Bills fans that your front office doesn't have a clue what they are doing. You don't deserve it, but I'm not going to pretend like the world is made of gingerbread and taking C.J. Spiller at No. 9 overall was a good move.
If you want praise, and you're looking for analysts who think every single player on your team is amazing, watch ESPN. If you want real analysis, keep visiting WalterFootball.com.