If you were looking for in depth film breakdown, or one of my opponent scouting reports, or even a Colts-centric article, you’ve arrived at the wrong article. Welcome to the weekly conspiracy report where I, Chris Shepherd, will examine nefarious plots around the league and expose them for what they are. Now sure, I won’t be able to provide you any “proof” and no I don’t have any sources (that you know of). What follows should be treated purely as entertainment that include plausible (and not so plausible) scenarios that no one employed by NFL teams would ever admit to, I accept no responsibility for anything you do with the information I’m about to give you. In fact I accept no responsibility for anything you’re about to read, at all.
In this week five exposé of NFL conspiratorial glory we’re going to take a look at the 2018 Buffalo Bills campaign to actively tank the season away and why only two men needed to know about the losing campaign.
Normally tanking accusations drive me nuts. After all, in most cases more than 50 men (and women) most of whom are trying to pay mortgages and support families, have to willingly sacrifice their jobs so that the team that will fire them at the end of the year will be able to take a better prospect in the coming draft. And that’s silly talk.
Here’s the thing; that’s not true for the 2018 Buffalo Bills.
In October of 2014 Terrence and Kim Pegula were approved by the league to purchase the Buffalo Bills. The Pegula’s inherited general manager Doug Whaley, who during the 2015 off season made the decision to fire Doug Marrone and hire former Jets coach, Rex Ryan.
Rex Ryan was Doug Whaley’s guy. Whaley liked Ryan and clearly believed in him. Terry Pegula, not so much. If you remember Rex Ryan was fired late in the 2016 season, famously he was filmed leaving the Bills facility, getting into his huge Ford truck (outfitted with a full Buffalo Bills vinyl wrap) before driving away from the facility for the last time:
What followed was one of the most bizarre displays of an owner and general manager disagreeing in the media, that I can remember. When asked about Ryan’s firing Whaley, responded by saying:
We just finished our weekly phone conversation with Terry, myself and Rex,” Whaley said of Ryan’s firing last Tuesday. “Rex asked to speak to [Pegula] privately. After that, I was informed that Rex would no longer be our coach. I wasn’t privy to the conversation, so I cannot get into those details.
I look at it this way: I’m the GM of the football operation. I was told by my boss that I would no longer be working with a certain person. My role is not to figure out why. My role is to take that information and go forward and put this organization in the best possible way to win football games. So for me, I did not ask.
In a day and age where owners and general managers generally try to appear as a united front, “I wasn’t privy to the conversation” and “I was told I would no longer be working with a certain person” isn’t the same as “we decided as an organization it was time to go in a different direction.” Had that been his answer, there is no controversy. Instead he is telling the world the guy he believed in and hired was fired without him being involved in the decision.
On January 11th 2017, Terry Pegula hired Sean McDermott to be the next head coach of the Buffalo Bills, Three months later, one day after the 2017 NFL draft, Terry Pegula fired Doug Whaley.
Sean McDermott, suddenly found himself in a very interesting position. Without a general manager, Sean McDermott, only had Terry Pegula to answer to and McDermott had already sold himself during the interview process.
Soon after firing Whaley, Pegula hired Brandon Beane as general manager. In a move that should sound familiar to most Colts fans, Terry Pegula effectively tied his new general manager and head coach together, making it known they both had the same contract length, implying that the two men were now tied together.
Colts fans know how that story went for their favorite team but things didn’t go the same way for the Bills. Instead in his first season as the head coach, Sean McDermott took the Bills to the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades. Terry Pegula was proven right to fire Rex Ryan, he was right to hire McDermott, at least that’s probably what he’s convinced himself of after all the turmoil that has taken place in his first few seasons as owner of the Bills.
So why would Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane want to tank the season away?
For starters Beane really likes to manipulate the draft, the 2018 draft saw Beane trade up in the first round, not once but twice. In doing so Beane believes he has a franchise quarterback and a franchise inside linebacker for the next 10 to 15 years. Most teams would be willing to mortgage their future to do so, but Beane didn’t need to. Instead he sent 2018 picks in order to make his moves. Beane clearly likes to have leverage and use it and there aren’t many better ways to gain leverage than to have a top pick.
Once again, this would still require a large group of people to be implicit and convincing players to throw games will be a tall task, unless there was a better way to do it. In the year following a playoff berth, what if you trade away your starting left tackle, your starting quarterback and make almost no effort to upgrade any part of your offensive line? Even if he knew he would be taking his franchise quarterback he traded Tyrod Taylor before the draft! Beane didn’t know what would happen but they were linked to Josh Allen heavily.
Even if they believed they would have a shot at their guy, Josh Allen was considered by many to be the most raw of the first round quarterback prospects, a year behind an experienced starter could have been helpful as Allen adjusted to NFL life. Instead Sean McDermott named Nathan Peterman the starting QB for week one and he did it with a straight face. Peterman has two touchdowns and seven interceptions in his two year career. The Bills traded Tyrod Taylor for an extra 3rd round pick, everyone is different but if you asked me if I would rather have a quarterback who led me to the playoffs or a 3rd round pick, I’m choosing the quarterback every time.
The Bills (McDermott and Beane) wanted to lose and they wanted to lose to have leverage but what about this draft would interest them so much that they would be willing to sacrifice so much?
All of this for a single pass rusher? Well no, Nick Bosa isn’t just a pass rusher he’s one of the best pass rushing prospects in recent history. Still though, he’s just a single player. Except for the fact that there is a rumor that has leaked that the first chance the other Bosa brother can hit free agency Joey Bosa plans to join his brother and provide some lucky NFL team with the best defensive end combo in the NFL. 2020 will be Joey Bosa’s contract year, I assume he’ll receive at least one franchise tag so by 2021 I expect Joey Bosa will be joining his brother and the Buffalo Bills are trying to make sure they’re in prime position to make both Bosa’s very rich men.
As long as it doesn’t become apparent that McDermott is throwing games and he shouldn’t have to, he has almost no talent, there is no way Terry Pegula will fire his head coach a year after the Bills first playoff season in nearly two decades. Especially given the fact that they’re now starting a rookie quarterback. Even if Pegula woke up and wanted to fire McDermott, he’s not going to. Terry Pegula owes Rex Ryan something like $11 million over the next two seasons, he might be willing to pay two head coaches, but there’s no way he’s willing to pay three.
The Colts play these tanking Bills in week seven in Lucas Oil Stadium. I’m not confident about much of the Colts season, but I feel good about the fact that the Bills won’t want the Colts to get the Bosa brothers and a loss on October 21st could make the difference.
Congratulations to the Buffalo Bills for having the number one overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft and Joey Bosa in 2021. It would be tough to say you haven’t earned it.
*Once again, please note this article is purely meant for entertainment and the conversation it can create. Chris Shepherd may or may not actually believe anything above. By looking at current events through alternative viewpoints we hope to come away with a better understanding of what we’re seeing by considering something we’ve never considered. Worst case? We have a lot of fun with conspiracy theories and turn on old episodes of the X-Files while wearing our tin-foil hats.
Links to the previous weeks conspiracies: