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Donte Whitner 'drafted into the wrong system' and 'a bad situation'

By Tim Graham

NEW ORLEANS -- Donte Whitner is one game away from comprehensive vindication.

The Buffalo Bills' polarizing 2006 first-round draft pick was voted to his first Pro Bowl and will win a world championship Sunday if the San Francisco 49ers beat the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.

Whitner claimed he's the same player he was with Buffalo.

"I think sometimes players just get drafted into the wrong system and come into a bad situation," Whitner said, "and there's really nothing you can do about it except go out and work hard, let everybody talk and let the chips fall where they may."

Whitner said Bills coach Dick Jauron's Tampa 2-style defense limited his ability to make plays. Although playing with All-Pro linebackers Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith and safety DaShon Goldson is easier than Keith Ellison, Chris Kelsay and Ko Simpson.

Whitner left Buffalo with five interceptions, 19 breakups, 1.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and one recovery in 69 games.

In 31 regular-season games for San Francisco he has three interceptions, 15 pass breakups, three forced fumbles and four recoveries.

"I wish I was drafted into a system like this," Whitner said, "a 3-4 system, where you play quarters, you play Cover 2, you play Cover 3, you play fire zone, you allow the players to make the calls on the field and you don't make it all about coaching.

"When you get drafted into a 4-3 system without a pass rush and playing just Cover 3, Cover 2, Cover 1 each and every snap, it's tough for anybody to go out there and make plays. I don't care who you have out there because most of the time you're guessing, and if you guess wrong it'll be for a touchdown. And if you play it by the book, you're like a robot. You play stiff.

"I wish I was drafted into a system like this, but I think it'll all be worth it Sunday night if we win the ring and confetti is coming down."


Dick Jauron | Donte Whitner | Super Bowl XLVII
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |