The Beloved Sully Mailbag returns for the Maven


The thing Ive missed most since leaving the News aside from writing about my golf game is putting together the weekly Mailbag, which became my favorite feature in recent years. Engaging with readers sparked ideas, it kept me on my toes, and most of all, it was fun. Anywhere, heres my debut Mailbag for the Maven:

Brian Cummings asks: How many times will the Bills allow more than 17 points and win in 2018?

Sully: I love this question. It seems Brian knows his history and how hard its been for the Bills to win in such situations. Ill put the over/under at one, and theres a lot of recent history to back me up.

Ill admit, I was surprised by how infrequently they won during the drought when they gave up more than 17 points. There didnt win a lot of shootouts, lets put it that way.

More than half of the years during the 17-year playoff drought, the Bills failed to win multiple games in which they allowed more than 17 points. Eight times (in 2015, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2005, 2004 and 2001), they won exactly one game in which the opposition scored more than 17. In 2003, they won six and limited teams to 17 or fewer every time.

This reminds me how dreary and repetitive the drought was at times. The Bills rose up and blew teams out now and then. They won the occasional shootout (a couple of memorable ones with Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2011, two overtime wins with Drew Bledsoe in 2002). But there were a lot more of those discouraging days when the popgun passing attack couldnt keep up.

Considering the state of the current offense, its hard to see them winning very often without the defense carrying the day. Last year, they won nine games, but only one in which they allowed more than 17 points. The offensive line is bad, the quarterback situation is uncertain, and their wide receivers are inferior. They might not score 20 points more than three or four times all season.


@Srothenburg asks: Did Beane and McDermott fail Bills by not addressing WR or OL? Was there any point given dead money and QB situation?

Sully: They certainly didnt do Josh Allen or the other quarterbacks any favors by failing to make substantial additions to the inferior offensive line or wide receiver rooms. Bengals insiders told me Russell Bodine wasnt an NFL starting center. Marshall Newhouse has been a disappointment at tackle. Corey Coleman was a waste of money at wideout. Andre Holmes is uninspiring.

If they truly want to win now, as they insist, you wouldnt know it from the players they brought in to Buffalo. Its enough to make you think Beane knew they would be bad this year and didnt want to invest in any players worthy of long-term investments. Its understandable. As you point out, they have $50 million in dead cap and arent going anywhere this season.

Its too soon to judge Beane. He was saddled with a bad cap situation (which he added to this offseason). Its clear that he wanted to clear out old contracts and rebuild with his own guys. They got lucky and made the playoffs last season, but they were bottoming out. Beane will be ultimately judged by his first three drafts and Allen better be the real thing.


@badmoon716 asks: Which current Bills player do you find yourself rooting for the most? Outside of Kyle Williams. That would be too easy.

Sully: Lorenzo Alexander. Hes actually a bit older than Kyle Williams and is a terrific leader and family man. I call him one of the adults in the room. He was the teams most eloquent spokesman during the controversy over the anthem and has been an active force in the community during his three years in Buffalo.

Zo walks the walk. Hes also a willing and insightful interview, though youll never find him taking shots at a teammate. Hes good on the general themes and identifying where the media are going with their questions. I can see him being a head coach some day, or an announcer if he chooses to go that route. He has that senatorial quality I liked in George Wilson back in the day.

I only wish Alexander were younger and in the early stages of his career. This might be it for him in an NFL uniform.


Paul Catalano asks: I respect and love your work and honesty. But for people that call you a Buffalo sports hater, what is your reply?

Sully: I appreciate the passion of Buffalo sports fans. I can see how they wouldnt like to hear harsh criticism of their teams. But I wish more of them understood the difference between a hater and an objective, skeptical voice. The Bills went 17 years without making the playoffs. The Sabres have been dead last three of the last five years. What did people expect? Pom poms and parades?

I dont get emotionally involved with the teams, so how could I hate them? I love a good story. I wrote a lot of glowing stories about the Super Bowl teams and the Sabres teams that made playoff runs. But when the teams are being poorly run and making major decisions for the wrong reasons as the Bills did time and again during the drought I feel an obligation to call them out.

I think good fans realize the role of a critical columnist. Sadly, the major daily newspaper in Buffalo has decided theyre no longer necessary. Smart Buffalo fans should be insulted by the notion that they cant handle the sort of tough, unflinching criticism that sports columnists have always provided.


Steve Urbanski asks: Will Pegula look to add NBA or even WNBA team to utilize KeyBank Center and increase traffic to the new bars/restaurants?

Sully: I get this question a lot. Theres no way an NBA team is coming to Buffalo, and I doubt the Pegulas have any interest in the WNBA (or a minor-league men's league). Aside from the occasional NCAA Tournament subregional, they seem to have no appetite for basketball. Theres been a clamor for years to put up banners honoring the Braves time in the NBA, and it falls on deaf ears down at the Arena.

Comments (3)
No. 1-3

Glad to see you back Jerry! Tell it like it is. So refreshing! Objective commentary... what a novelty


good to see you resurface,.,.getting rid of all their receivers last year then being desperate for receivers,,replacing mediocre coaches with more mediocrity,.losing key OL and replacing with nobodys.,. its an insult to fans who for almost 20 years have put up with this crap. how about pricing tickets based on performance,,


Jerry thanks for returning the mailbag. Hit it long and straight.