Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- It's been quite a stretch over the past 24-plus hours.
The Buffalo Bills went from a state of hopelessness and despair following another disappointing season, to making major changes throughout the organization.
Let's just go over what's been done:
- Chan Gailey is fired as head coach.
- His entire staff have also been let go.
- Russ Brandon traveled to Michigan, solo, to meet with Ralph Wilson.
- Wilson has effectively "passed the torch" to Brandon and removed himself from decision making at One Bills Drive.
- Buddy Nix is retained as GM, but the plan to have Doug Whaley succeed him is reaffirmed.
- The Bills are jetting off to Arizona to start the head coaching search.
Fans clamoring for change got exactly that, but some weren't happy with the initial news of 2013. The conversation revolved more around giving Brandon the keys to the franchise and what he did as the Bills de facto GM.
Was that a failed experiment? In many ways, yes.
You can't expect a business aficionado to transfer over in to the football-heavy, roster building side of the organization and expect great returns.
It was a foolish move back then, and it still is to this day.
The most shocking part about the overall reactions to Tuesday's news was that the most critical and essential part was seemingly overlooked by many. Not by all, but many.
An overall dissatisfaction for making Brandon the team president in addition to his duties as CEO completely took away from the most important fact relayed.
Ralph Wilson no longer has the final say in organizational decisions. That is humongous news to Bills fans, and very important to the outlook of the franchise moving forward.
Brandon talked about the brand and overall relevance of the Bills being tarnished basically since 1996, and the common link during that 16-year stretch is that the team's owner always had the last word on all decisions.
When he told Brandon that he would step aside and let the CEO handle everything from the employment status of the GM to the head coaching search, it signaled a shift in the very paradigm that the Bills have operated under for years.
It also, in my opinion, potentially rejuvenated the league-wide reputation of the organization.
Over the course of two days, the Bills have shed the label of old, stale and stodgy in their core principles and have made a significant step in to today's NFL. It took a while, but they're here.
For the past three years, and even many before that, the Bills operated in a way that would have worked in the glory years. It's a different game. It's a different NFL. Heck, it's a different world, and the Bills were slow to recognize it.
Now instead of the aged charm that has greeted Bills fans for years on end, the organization is getting younger, fresher and more aggressive. At least that's the way that they're talking.
Take this in to consideration:
Last year, the three main decision makers of the Buffalo Bills were Ralph Wilson, Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey. Their average age?
Heading in to 2013, the Bills will be led by Brandon, Doug Whaley (eventually) and whoever the new head coach might be. For the sake of being complete, I averaged the age of the eight coaches that have been linked to Buffalo by different outlets.
The list includes Ken Whisenhunt, Ray Horton, Russ Grimm, Chip Kelly, Lovie Smith, Doug Marrone, Mike McCoy and Hue Jackson. Their average age is 49.
Taking that number in to account along with the age of Brandon and Whaley, what might the average age of the new Bills be?
So yes, it matters that Russ Brandon is the man making the calls now. It matters that the person ultimately in charge is open to the idea of using advanced statistics to determine a player's real value. It matters that the person is around for the day-to-day operations.
And it certainly matters that the average age of the team's key decision makers is over 30 years younger.
Russ Brandon talked a big game on Tuesday in terms of the future of the franchise. He left little doubt about that fact, and not much room for misinterpretation.
He spoke of leaving no stone unturned to find a new head coach. He said he'll bring in world class people to the organization. He even went as far as saying that he will take this organization to another level.
As we've learned in the past with the Bills, talking big is not always indicative of future returns. Despite coming off quite well at Tuesday's press conference, the only way he can prove his words can be trusted is with results on the field.
Which is why, despite all the positive traction gained in two days, a cautious optimism is the play. It looks good on paper, but we've seen this song and dance before.
The coming weeks will be critical to Brandon's claims to start the new year. Until he can establish a new culture in Buffalo, people will look at the organization in the same way as they have over the past 13 years.
The hope, is that a youthful core of decision makers will encourage progressive thinking coaches to give Buffalo a chance. It was a problem in the last search for a head coach, and now the Bills think they have that repaired.
It certainly is an encouraging shift of thinking in the normally conservative building at One Bills Drive. The time to prove that it's worth it starts right now.
Bills fans have waited far too long. Until Brandon turns this organization around and makes it relevant once again, the tarnishing he referred to will only multiply with every missed opportunity.
It's a step in the right direction, but there have been enough of those already.