Spree pundits opine on the local
Jul 29, 2011
07:47 AMState of Play
Poz always miscast, overrated in Buffalo
Wow, that 2007 Buffalo Bills draft was chock full 'o keepers, huh?
Linebacker Paul Posluszny's decision to leave for the brownish-green pastures of Jacksonville leaves the Bills completely divested of their crapshots at that year's draft table.
And that's not necessarily a bad thing, although it underscores the type of bumbling the front office had mastered throughout that miserable first decade of the 2000s. At least now we're able to flush it all down the can and be affirmed that Tom Modrak's ouster from the front office was a necessity.
Of course, with this week's news came the fallout that Posluszny is a Bill no more. It upset several groups of folks, come to find out:
A. The fans who figured Poz would be Brian Urlacher 2.0, a tackling machine who could provide a depserately needed leader on a god-awful defense;
B. The hundreds of fans who had shelled out untold thousands of scratch on a No. 51 jersey;
C. Jokers on the call-in shows and watering holes who saw Poz as an exemplary young man from Penn State who was in no way
culpable for their team's punchline of a defense from 2007 onward; and
D. Time Warner execs now bereft of a local pitchman.
The rest of us who've watched Posluszny fail to live up to the expectations of a 34th-overall pick have countered with sardonic yawns. Let's think about this before we jump to irrational conclusions on how much the defense will be affected.
Poszlusny's game has warts aplenty, as any offensive coordinator has seen and taken advantage of. Is he a solid tackler with a decent nose for the ball? A good team guy who represented the franchise well on and off the field? An undersized white dude who played bigger than his frame, a la Shane Conlan? Yes, yes, and yes.
But was he a dominating, cornerstone inside linebacker around whom an elite defense can be constructed? A healthy player who showed durability and strength? A guy worth the $45 million the Jags payed him? No, no and ... heck no!
Yes, Poszlusny habitually led the Bills in tackles from year to year, but isn't that akin to being named valedictorian of summer school? What's worse is that Poz was revealed to be dreadful in pass coverage, mismatched by quicker running backs and tight ends alike. It's a shortcoming that a starting inside backer can't afford to have.
College players can win 500 Butkus Awards, but it obviously doesn't guarantee a successful NFL career.
Poszlusny is an above-average player who I'm sure gave everything he had to the organization. But it was a fool's paradise to think he was the ultimate answer at linebacker. Without the supporting cast in the defensive backfield, he and the Bills were always doomed to mediocrity or worse--hey, what would Conlan have accomplished if he wasn't riding shotgun as Darryl Talley and Cornelius Bennett took turns driving?
Unless the Jags have--or plan to sign--a dominating strongside linebacker who can free up time and space for Posluszny to make plays, they'll be wondering years from now what happened to their big, post-lockout free-agent investment.
No one's saying Posluszny's departure makes the Bills better. But does it make them really that much worse?