Bills GM Buddy Nix knew full well that the task of turning the fortunes around of a franchise that was not a postseason participant in 10 years was going to take time. Though an 0-4 start might have been something even he did not anticipate, Buffalo's personnel boss knew that the climb to respectability and eventually playoff contender was going to be a methodical one.
"Obviously I'm frustrated just like the fans and everybody else," said Nix. "We didn't expect to be here, but we are where we are and we've got to deal with it. We've got to dig our way out and that's what we try to do every day."
Nix and head coach Chan Gailey, who meet with one another three to four times a day, have a defined plan as to how to make the Bills into a winning franchise again. That plan however, contains no quick fixes.
"We didn't get in this situation overnight and we're not going to get out overnight," said Nix. "We knew it wouldn't be easy. If there were not the problems that we've got, I wouldn't be here, Chan wouldn't be here."
What's been lost in the team's lack of success is the double-edged task Gailey is faced with in improving the team's win total. Not only does Gailey have to increase the efficiency of play on the field week to week, he also has the added burden of changing a losing culture that has existed in Buffalo's locker room for the better part of the last 10 years.
"I'm not sure it's a secondary task," said Nix of changing the losing culture. "I think it might be the first and hardest task. I don't care whether you want to admit it or not, but losing gets to be a habit and it gets to be something you accept and we're not going to do that. We're going to demand that we get the proper attention to getting it done. To be honest with you it's the hardest thing you have to do."
Over the past two weeks the Bills have made some significant roster changes parting ways with quarterback Trent Edwards and trading RB Marshawn Lynch for a pair of draft choices. Nix explained why the decision on Edwards came when it did.
"We wanted to see for ourselves what Trent could do," he said. "We knew he had the ability. He's willing. He's intelligent. He did all the things we asked. We went through OTAs. We went through preseason, camp the whole deal and he did everything we asked him to do, and there was promise there.
"Buffalo has got people all over the league that have been here that are playing good for other people. I didn't want to come in here and cut guys that could help us win. So then we got into the regular season and it didn't work out. We didn't have the production that we wanted. We decided that wasn't the answer for us or for him so we made the change."
Nix indicated that future changes are possible and that no one on Buffalo's roster is untouchable as long as it leads to improving the team.
"If a guy is not producing we're not going to keep doing the same thing and keep losing with the same people doing the same thing," Nix said. "We're not going to do that. After a point it doesn't change. To be honest with you, nobody is safe, you've got to produce. If it gets to the point where we need to make other changes, it won't matter who it is. If it will help us, we'll do it."
The Lynch trade was one where a very committed stance to keep the running back changed. Nix explained what altered their plans with the former first-round pick.
"Three backs, obviously when we kept him and went through camp and got two guys hurt in the first six plays of preseason it felt really good to have three backs," he said. "Now once we got them all healthy and they're not getting the number of touches then we decided it was time. There's no need in me trying to say we would've been better off to have done it then or now or whatever. I don't understand what good it does to go through the summer or preseason with a draft pick in your pocket that you can't use until April. Why not do it when we did it? It's the same draft pick. It's in our pocket and we can't use it until April."
Nix understands after waiting for 10 years for things to change for the better with the franchise that fans are lacking for patience. Unfortunately Buffalo's GM has a plan that doesn't fix things with the wave of his hand, but it's a proven approach which is why Nix is committed to it.
"We've got a plan," he said. "I know we get questioned about that at times, but I promise you this. We're going to stay the course. So what we set out to do and the way we set out to do it is not the speedy way. It's painful, but you're just going to have to have patience because as long as I'm here we're going to stay the course and do it the way we planned because I know it works."
That plan according to Nix is to build the team through the draft. He stated that they will try to accumulate as many draft picks as possible, while also being very careful in parting with any picks moving forward knowing they represent the team's future. Nix also reiterated that there will be a daily evaluation of the roster and that production will be a requirement for a player to remain on it.
The Bills GM can sympathize with the fans that are spending their money to support a team that's not getting results on the field right now. But Nix is confident in being able to deliver the desired results in time.
"The only thing I would say is I know they're frustrated," said Nix. "They're not any more frustrated than we are. They're putting their money into tickets and we're putting seven days a week into trying to get it turned around. It'll be fun when it happens and trust me it'll happen."