Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- So who is this man Doug Whaley? Both Russ Brandon and Buddy Nix spoke a lot about Whaley in their New Year’s Day press conference.
First, this is what Buddy Nix said about the Bills Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel, “The plan hasn't changed since we brought him in. We want somebody where the transition will be smooth"
What is the plan? I asked Brandon point blank if Whaley will be the Bills General Manager when Buddy Nix is gone. Brandon said, “We’re working on the parameters to keep him here long term, Doug’s not going anywhere.”
Whaley is just past his 40th birthday. Anytime I speak with football administrators around the NFL, they say to a man he’s very well thought of around the league.
What keeps a bright young talent like Whaley from leaving to be a GM with another organization? He said, “I accepted a challenge when I took this position to get this franchise to where we know it should be and that’s my focus.” Whaley added, “I’m a competitor and the challenge. There’s nothing that’s been promised me, but to give me the resources to do my job, to help those guys put this franchise on the right track and I love a challenge and that’s what I signed up for and I hope to be here long enough to see it completed.” I asked Whaley straight up if he’s been told that when Nix retires, it's his job and he said, “I look at it this way, it’s a results based business and if we don’t get the results, I may not even be here, so as long as the results turn out to be positive, everything else will take care of itself so I’m not worried about that.”
Before he came to Buffalo he spent 11 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whaley served as Pittsburgh’s Pro Scouting Coordinator where he was responsible for advance scouting of the team’s opponents and focused on breaking down opposing players for the team’s upcoming games. He evaluated unrestricted and restricted free agents throughout the season and into the free agent offseason period and making campus visits and scouting college players throughout the year. Prior to re-joining the Steelers in 1999, Whaley served as an East coast area scout for the Seattle Seahawks from 1996–1998. Whaley began his career as an assistant in the Steelers’ Pro Personnel department in 1995.
With what’s gone on in the Bills organization with Ralph Wilson and Brandon and with Whaley pretty much assured of being the Bills next GM, I thought it was important to get his thoughts, “I think change is good. I have high respect for Russ Brandon. Of course it’s business as usual on our side of the business and we’re focused on right now the evaluation of our roster from top to bottom, the same as we do every year after it’s completed and we’re excited about that. We’re getting ready for free agency and we’re getting ready for the draft.” The team hasn’t been relevant since Wade was here and Whaley knows that, “We’re going to have to do a thorough evaluation and right now we’re 6-10 and that’s the basis of it. We’re going to have to go from top to bottom with a new coach and see how far we are and get some moves to make us relevant.”
Whaley will be involved with Nix and Brandon when it comes to hiring a coach. Ken Whisenhunt and Ray Horton were in Pittsburgh when Whaley was there. Both have been reported to be on the Bills radar and the Bills have confirmed that Brandon and the crew are headed to Arizona. Whaley said, “We go way back, we won Super Bowls together so I have high regard for their coaching acumen. Personally, I know those guys and hopefully…we’ll see what happens. I know they’ve got a lot of opportunities, we haven’t decided, we’ve still got to figure out what we’re going to do and after that, I don’t think it’ll make a decision on if they’re going to be our coach, but I can shed some insight on how they performed while I was with them and as people.” Whaley added, “Everybody’s a candidate and we’re going to leave no stone unturned.”
This is what Whaley does according to him, “I try to give Buddy the most accurate information to what he needs to make his decisions, be it personnel wise or scout wise, or salary cap wise or anything. I’m here to filter information and give him the best options out there to make an educated decision.” His week breaks down like this, “In the beginning of the week I look at the talent for roster additions and subtractions for help with injury replacements. More towards the middle of the week I went and looked at the top college players and then at the end of the week I’d sit and evaluate our players.”
As far as what this team needs to make it into a winning team and no longer be what Brandon called ‘A tainted brand’ Whaley said, “It’s coach speak, we’re going to have to sit down an look at the film, grade it and come up with a collective agreement on what we need to improve, where we need to improve, where we’re solid and go from there.”