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Hi. I’m Your Best Chance To Win!

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We Want Marangi is not here to debate the decision to bench E.J. Manuel, but simply to say this:

 
If you are depending on Kyle Orton to save your job, or your favorite team’s season, you are in very, very deep shit.
 
Which is where Buffalo general manager Doug Whaley and head coach Doug Marrone find themselves a month into their second, and almost certainly last, seasons in their present positions—in over their heads.
 
No question, four games into Manuel’s first injury-free season, the 16th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft has regressed more quickly than even the most optimistic Bills fan could have thought he might improve.
 
A week ago in San Diego, he dumped the ball off with receivers running free in the secondary. On Sunday in Houston, visually unnerved by the destructive presence of Texans wrecking machine J.J. Watt, he looked beyond open targets to spray downfield throws that his receivers could not (or, in the case of Sammy Watkins on at least one seemingly catchable ball, would not) get near.
 
When Manuel did get the ball to a check-down receiver, they inevitably had to reach up or back for the ball, ensuring a minimal gain. The only guy he hit in full stride all day was Watt, whose 79-yard return of the most disastrous swing pass in Bills history put Houston ahead to stay just after halftime.
 
Manuel did make a couple of nice plays. There was the strike to Watkins for Buffalo’s first touchdown. He also gets credit for escaping the Houston rush in the fourth quarter, seeing Mike Williams running free and not throwing it 10 yards over the Buffalo native’s head.
 
But on a day when Buffalo’s defense completely eradicated Houston’s running game and forced three turnovers, while Ryan Fitzpatrick showed no reason to regret cutting him loose last spring, Manuel still managed to get his team beat.

Manuel’s overthrown final pass finalized a come-from-ahead loss that pivoted on his first interception. Watt’s touchdown (which you can watch again and again below, if you like) displayed the hyper-awareness and stunning athletic ability that make him the NFL’s most destructive defensive player, but could not have happened without the dumbest throw by a Bills quarterback since Jeff Tuel’s horrific goal-line decision against Kansas City last year.

The desperation on display from Marrone and Whaley is understandable, with the Pegulas poised to assume ownership of the Bills as early as next week. A 15th straight miss of the postseason would almost certainly mean a complete tear-down of the front office and coaching staff. Terry and Kim may have stuck with Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff too long after buying the Sabres, but at least their resumes included a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals and another to the semis.
 
Benching Manuel, though, serves as an admission by Whaley and Marrone that they not only botched their first No. 1 draft choice, but also squandered what would be their third top pick next spring by trading it away to get in position to take Watkins with their second. That decision only makes sense if they had accurately assessed Manuel’s potential and progress. Which, quite clearly, they did not.
 
Nor did they manage to come up with a viable Plan B. Only lucking out with Thaddeus Lewis after whiffing on Kevin Kolb and Matt Leinart kept last season’s 6-10 mark from being even worse. Not that the Buffalo hierarchy learned anything from the experience, as they failed to draft or sign another potential backup until picking up Orton days before the regular season opened.
 
Instead, they convinced themselves that Manuel would stay healthy AND blossom into a playoff-level quarterback and, if something were to go wrong there, that Lewis could replicate his brief flash of competence AND that Tuel belongs anywhere near an NFL roster.
 
Wrong again, guys. And again. And again.

Marrone’s insistence he only shared his decision on Manuel with his boss after making it does not suggest the strongest of working relationships, either. Power struggles usually take place when one or both parties have at least minimal credibility, which this moves strips from both men.

 
Which brings us to Orton, who, like Fitzpatrick, is on his fifth chance as a professional.
 
“I went to Doug, I said, ‘Look, this gives us the best opportunity to win,'” Marrone said while announcing his decision on Monday.
 
Lovie Smith, Josh McDaniel, Todd Haley, Romeo Crennel and Jason Garrett have all come to a different conclusion at some point during Orton’s 10-year NFL odyssey.

To be fair, Orton did start 15 games for Smith in Chicago as a rookie, but was so unimpressive that Lovie benched him once the Bears reached the playoffs thanks almost entirely to the league’s stingiest scoring defense and five returns of turnovers or kicks for touchdowns.

Orton mostly sat behind Rex Grossman and Brian Griese for the next couple years, not throwing a single pass in 2006, when Chicago reached the Super Bowl.

In 2008, Orton had his best season to date, starting 15 games as Chicago went 9-7, but lost the finale to a Houston team with nothing to play for and missed the postseason. The Orton-led Bears ranked 26th in total yards and 27th in yards per pass attempt.

By that point, the Bears were so eager to get rid of Orton that they sent him with two first-round picks and a third-rounder to get Jay Cutler. It looked like a great deal for Denver when the Broncos started out 6-0. Orton went on to join Daunte Culpepper as the only starting quarterbacks since 1990 whose teams managed to miss the playoffs after opening with six straight wins.

A year later, Orton — saddled with an historically awful defense and non-existent running game — was benched in favor of Tim Tebow with three games remaining in a 4-12 season.

An injured Orton was replaced by Tebow again early in 2012 and subsequently traded to Kansas City, where he started the last three games of the season, winning two. His performance did not help Crennell, who took over as interim coach when the Chiefs fired Haley the week before Orton’s debut.

Orton’s only significant action in two years in Dallas came in last season’s finale. With the Cowboys needing a win against Philadelphia on Sunday Night Football to reach the playoffs and Tony Romo sidelined with a back injury, Orton put up one of the best statistical games of his career, going 30-of-46 for 358 yards and two scores.

Then, with nearly two minutes left and his team down by two points, he did this.

So, in nine NFL seasons, Orton has been found wanting by four other franchises, proven himself as the only professional quarterback who could not keep Tim Tebow on the bench and misfired, badly, on the biggest throw of his career. Then he quit, or at least pretended to in order to get out of his contract in Dallas, failing to show up for offseason workouts or much of anything else related to the Cowboys until they released him. He signed with Buffalo a month later, missing any chance to get practice time with the first-team offense during training camp.

Yet, according to Marrone, he gives the Bills their “best chance to win,” a notion shared by a fair portion of the populace, judging from social media and talk radio. That improvement seems to stem from a belief that Orton is significantly more accurate and/or less mistake-prone than Manuel, neither of which is borne out by the historical record, either. In 75 career appearances, Orton has completed 58.5 percent of his passes to his teammates, with 2.6 percent going to the other guys. Manuel’s numbers in the same categories: 58.6 and 2.7.

In his defense, Orton does seem like a fun guy. He was an inaugural member of the Deadspin Hall of Fame, thanks to a propensity for partying around people willing to take and publish photographs of the proceedings and their aftermath.

He is also, according to the WWM Research Department, the only quarterback in National Football League history of whom a picture exists involving him pretending to perform oral sex in a limousine. (Editor’s note: We will let you use your favorite search engine to find that one, as well as a seemingly infinite array of Orton enjoying his time off on your own, if you wish.)

We will not hold Orton’s past off-field conduct against him. After all, Jim Kelly liked to cut loose once in a while, too, though he was fortunate enough to do so before such modern marvels as Deadspin, TMZ and Twitter came along.

So Orton does immediately give the Bills an improved social media presence, even if the most popular Twitter presence bearing his name, which we will also allow you to locate yourself, is a parody account playing off the hard-drinking frat-boy image of his early years with the Bears.

The idea that Orton gives Buffalo a “better chance to win,” though, can not be based on anything other than forced optimism, a strategic Hail Mary by a coach frantically trying to avoid the shortest non-interim Buffalo coaching tenure since Mike Mularkey’s.

On behalf of everyone else dreading the thought of spending the next three months watching a less-mobile version of Fitzpatrick flummox his new team to another 5-11 finish, followed by another front-office demolition, I hope that I am wrong about Orton. But I can’t come up with a single reason to think that I am.


Weppner and the Parenthetical Hitler

Hey, the candidates are replying to questionnaires. Let’s take a look! 

Kathy Weppner appears to be the only candidate vain enough to list “Patriot” as a qualification-slash-experience for public office.  That’s just breathtaking. I mean, Harvard Shmarvard. Being a “Patriot” is basically a silent pre-requisite for running for any public office in the U.S., like “sentient being” or “has central nervous system” or “skeleton”. 

Let’s compare the candidates’ “community involvement”, and watch Higgins mop the floor with Weppner’s “hey, I show up when people ask me to” slacktivism. 

Well, well, well. There are so many issues that the government should be addressing, and Higgins focuses on some key ones that fit neatly within a Congressional backbencher’s wheelhouse. But Weppner – she identifies the debt as “our top challenge”, and that if interest rates – that the Fed sets – go up, we won’t make the payments? The US has never defaulted, even in the 80s under Reagan’s debt and double-digit interest rates. People like Weppner who conflate public debt with family debt don’t really understand what they’re talking about. 

First, families have to pay back their debt. Governments don’t — all they need to do is ensure that debt grows more slowly than their tax base. The debt from World War II was never repaid; it just became increasingly irrelevant as the U.S. economy grew, and with it the income subject to taxation.

Second — and this is the point almost nobody seems to get — an over-borrowed family owes money to someone else; U.S. debt is, to a large extent, money we owe to ourselves…

…It’s true that foreigners now hold large claims on the United States, including a fair amount of government debt. But every dollar’s worth of foreign claims on America is matched by 89 cents’ worth of U.S. claims on foreigners. And because foreigners tend to put their U.S. investments into safe, low-yield assets, America actually earns morefrom its assets abroad than it pays to foreign investors. If your image is of a nation that’s already deep in hock to the Chinese, you’ve been misinformed. Nor are we heading rapidly in that direction.

Now, the fact that federal debt isn’t at all like a mortgage on America’s future doesn’t mean that the debt is harmless. Taxes must be levied to pay the interest, and you don’t have to be a right-wing ideologue to concede that taxes impose some cost on the economy, if nothing else by causing a diversion of resources away from productive activities into tax avoidance and evasion. But these costs are a lot less dramatic than the analogy with an overindebted family might suggest.

I don’t know what Congress is going to do about “leadership” in a “dangerous world”, but whatever. She’s running a chain-email campaign

Now, on to income inequality. If you haven’t, you should read Monday’s Krugman, and then look at this: 

Every time an increase in the minimum wage is proposed, the wealthy egotists who think themselves ‘job creators” and their minions whine about how the jobs will all be lost! They do this, of course, while simultaneously denigrating the jobs and their occupants as losers, slackers, teens, or all of the above.

But the loss of jobs doesn’t happen. At all. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation over the last 40 years, it would be $10.90/hour.  Instead, the federal rate is $7.25. No one’s talking about making everyone earn the same – this isn’t some Stalinist march to the kolkhoz, but ensuring that people who work earn enough to live, and that we halt policies that disproportionately enrich the already rich at the expense of the poor and middle class. You know, to stop this

But note the rhetoric about how “immigrants…started with nothing, did anything, and ended up great! About that

So, on the one hand, immigrants do just great! But on the other hand, they’re all lawbreaking terrorist welfare queens who want to bankrupt the republic. 

See? It’s your own fault that we don’t know who’s funding campaigns. The word salad that Weppner sharts out here is utter nonsense. 

LOLWUT? First of all, I’d like someone to ask Weppner about the science of global climate change and see if she says the same thing. She completely fails to answer the question posed in any meaningful way, and just punts, adding that we like totally really need to be able to transport her phantom resources “based on science”. 

Common Core is not a federal program, isn’t administered or run from Washington, and was not a federal government initiative. Other than that, awesome!

So, on the one hand, she brings up a separation of powers issue that’s been pretty much resolved for some time – the Commander in Chief does not need a declaration of war to commit US troops. But the last time Congress declared war was World War 2, to combat, among others, Hitler – who appears here parenthetically.

We didn’t fight Hitler because of his crimes against humanity – we fought him because he declared war on the US on Pearl Harbor Day, and because the Nazis had overrun Europe and North Africa. Germany, Italy, and Japan were imposing militarist fascist totalitarian dictatorships all over the place, and we fought Nazi Germany because it had to be done. Weppner alludes to ISIS and its vicious reign of terror, but why isn’t the beheading and crucifixion of adults also a “crime against humanity” justifying American action? 

“Why do we deliver humanitarian food and shelter when humanity is threatened but we do not see the same need when life itself is threatened”.  What on Earth does that mean? We fought crimes against humanity in Bosnia and Kosovo in the last 20 years. What is she saying? 

She started her recent career as a caller to ultra-right-wing hate radio. She graduated from there to being a host on ultra-right-wing hate radio. Now, she feels entitled to a title, and in so doing is simply regurgitating nonsense she hears on ultra-right-wing hate radio. She’ll be lucky to hit 20% because the vast majority of WNY voters are not fascist idiots.


YAK Car Pic of the Day

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

This 1961 Buick LeSabre four-door sedan would look great in my garage — mainly because from the street no one would notice that the front clip is missing! Buick roof designers were working overtime on the 1961 models, with two different designs each for the two- and four-door hardtops and the four-door sedan, plus one two-door sedan, a convertible, and a station wagon. You can see them all in the brochure by clicking here. This red and white example was seen some ago in North Tonawanda.

Jim Corbran • You Auto Know • jim@artvoice.com


YAK Car Pic of the Day

55 stude yel nt copy

When do you ever drive up Payne Avenue in North Tonawanda and see a Studebaker out of the corner of your eye? Well, yesterday, if you’re me. And it’s not just a Studebaker; the original brochure officially listed this as a 1955 Studebaker President V-8 State Ultra Vista 4-door Sedan for 6 Passengers. Another case of someone in marketing getting paid by the word? The interior shots of the Ultra Vista make the seating area look larger than my living room. The wild green and brown “…Crestweave nylon upholstery attractively combined with cushions and caps of nylon twill” shown below is actually from the slightly less-expensive President V-8 Deluxe Ultra Vista 4-door Sedan for 6 Passengers, but it sure beats the light and dark tan two-tone cloth in the YAKmobile.

Jim Corbran • You Auto Know • jim@artvoice.com

1955 Studebaker-02


YAK Car Pic of the Day

67 mg grn blkrck  copy

The German brochure described it as: “Eleganz, Kraft, Komfort, und Geräumigkeit…” I’ll let you decide for yourself. At any rate, this 1967 MG was spotted last evening in Black Rock as we made our way up Amherst Street during the River Rocktoberfest. Defintitely a top-down convertible evening here in Buffalo.

Jim Corbran • You Auto Know • jim@artvoice.com


YAK Car Pic of the Day

ford gt40 replicar copy

Well, that was rather a disappointment. As I rounded a corner yesterday near Steve Baldo Ford in Niagara Falls, I spotted what I thought was a Ford GT parked at the curb. Pulled over, took photo, continued on. Got home, looked at photo, and nearly deleted it after closer inspection revealed it was a GT40 MkII replicar, sold by a company called Superformance in Irvine, California. The more I look at this thing the hideous-er it becomes. I realize that there weren’t that many real Ford GTs to go around for everybody who wanted one (only 4,038 were built in 2005-2006 at around $150,000 per), but if I had the kind of dough that this replicar cost I’m sure I would have bought something better-looking than this. Sorry.

Jim Corbran • You Auto Know • jim@artvoice.com


Rally to Save Times Beach Nature Preserve Tomorrow

There’s a rally tomorrow (12/27) to preserve Times Beach Nature Preserve. 12:30-1:30pm. 10628876_10203724415643745_7348965542498525021_o


YAK Car Pic of the Day

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

This 1979 AMC Pacer DL wagon was seen in the spectators’ parking lot at the 2013 Grand Nashionals car show in Batavia. This is the facelifted version of the Pacer, literally, as the center area of the hood was raised for the 1978 model year to accommodate a V-8 engine for the vastly under-powered (or maybe, overweight) compact, which up to then had been available only with a six-cylinder powerplant. The V-8 didn’t help sales much, and the Pacer was gone after the 1980 model year, which saw a whopping 1,746 cars go out the door.

Jim Corbran • You Auto Know • jim@artvoice.com




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