Bills should cry Wolf

Enough talk about head coaches. Before Buffalo does anything, it needs a new GM. First and foremost. Who's the right guy? BFR's Tyler Dunne explains that former Packers architect Ron Wolf may be exactly what this Bills team needs...

Any head-coaching rumor from here on out is for moot. Hear it, store it, forget about it.

For the Buffalo Bills, rebuilding must go beyond the guy with the headset. Before doing anything, the team must hire a general manager. Makes no sense to ink a head coach before a G.M. That's backwards. Or as Larry the Cable Guy so prophetically once said, "That's like wiping before you poop!"

Finding the right football czar is easier said than done. The future of the franchise is fragile at best. The Bills, from a football and a business standpoint, are an extremely tough sell. Whenever Ralph Wilson passes, a bidding war will ensure. It'll get messy. It'll cause riots. And quite possibly, the Bills — pinch yourself — will relocate to another city. You hope a billionaire swoops in and/or that Wilson gets a clue. But neither seems imminent.

Finding a bright mind to inherit this Aud of a mess will be tricky. That being said, there is one man tailor-made for such rubble — Ron Wolf i.e. the architect of the great Green Bay Packers of the 90's.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Wolf is interested in returning to the NFL. If so, Buffalo must pounce.

The Bills' situation is nothing new to Wolf. In fact, it's eerily similar. Back in 1992, skeptics said the same thing about Green Bay that they were about Buffalo — small-market, black hole for free agents, at least three years away, blah, blah, blah. When free agency began that year, the Packers were quickly pegged the first team to crumble, the first victim of the modern game.

Kind of like woe-is-me Wilson moaning after NFL Owners meetings.

Enough, Ralph. Wolf is living proof that any idea of a small-market disadvantage is garbage. Instead of whining, take action. Capitalism ain't such a bad thing.

After working for multiple teams through the 70s and 80s, Wolf's Packers went 92-52 during his tenure — the second-best record in the NFL during that time. In Green Bay, he reversed a quarter-century of losing. A decade of losing in Buffalo? That's cake.

The Packers team Wolf inherited in 1991 isn't much different than this Bills bunch. Decent core. No star power. No stability at head coach. No long-term quarterback. So Wolf acted immediately. He canned Lindy Infante and hired Mike Holmgren. He traded a first-round draft pick for Brett Favre. And he lured prize free agent Reggie White.

Just like that, 4-12 Green Bay was a playoff contender.

Wolf turned 71 on Wednesday. He may not be the up-and-comer many want. But for this team, it makes sense. The Bills need a proven commodity. No more guessing games. Wolf is most equipped to turn this team around in a hurry — while it's still in Western New York. Establish his precedent, replenish from within and an eventual successor will naturally develop. Wolf is proven.

You can't say that about any GM-in-waiting in Indianapolis or New England.

Every G.M. needs a style, go-to methods that differentiate them from Joe Personnel Man. Tom Donahoe sure did — stockpiling on veterans, impromptu gambling — and it failed. Marv Levy sure didn't — stumbling into dumb contracts to Derrick Dockery and Langston Walker — and it failed.

Before committing the franchise to someone, Wilson must be cognizant to the potential GM's tendencies. With Wolf, what you've seen is what you'll get.

Wolfisms abound in the 90s.


Signing Reggie White set a tone in Green Bay.
Getty Images

--- One big-splash signing set a tone. By signing Reggie White in 1993, Wolf created a valuable trickle-down effect. Suddenly, Green Bay was not Siberia. Suddenly, get this, free agents wanted to come to Green Bay. The Packers' back-to-back Super Bowl teams were loaded with smart free-agent acquisitions. Not the half/marketing, half/football T.O. variety. Wolf's best example? The defensive line. Sean Jones, Santana Dotson and Gilbert Brown joined White to form one of one of the best defensive lines ever.

--- Wolf drafted a quarterback every year. Didn't matter that Brett Favre was in the midst of a 284-game (and counting) starting streak. Wolf realized the value of stockpiling young arms. Much like a baseball team loading up its pitching staff, Green Bay became Quarterback Central. Ty Detmer, Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Brooks all worked under Favre before starting elsewhere — three of which became juicy trade bait. Wolf always thought ahead. And he was never complacent at any position.

--- Wolf made bold, midseason adjustments. With his teams in contention annually, Wolf was not immune to last-minute tweaks. In 1996, as Green Bay's wide receivers dropped like flies, Wolf signed troubled wideout Andre Rison. Two months later, Rison caught the first touchdown of Super Bowl XXXI. Favre ripped off his helmet and sprinted across the field, a signature moment in Super Bowl history. That's all Wolf. Just excuse Rison for not realizing his place in history.

--- Above all, Wolf re-instilled pride. Somehow, Wolf rekindled the aura of Vince Lombardi and the 12-time World Champion Green Bay Packers. Perennial losers became perennial winners. Wolf hired the right people in every aspect of his operation. Same thing here. The Bills must re-tap into its rich history after 10 futile seasons.

In days, the race is on.

Unfortunately for Buffalo, it'll be one step behind everyone else in the annual surge for head coaches. Several have already said no. But that's OK. Before doing anything, Buffalo must entrust the team to a new G.M. — not this who's-in-charge web of destruction.

Ron Wolf could be the GPS this lost franchise needs. Mainly because he has seen all of this before.

thdunne@gmail.com

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