It’s been just two weeks since the Buffalo Bills snapped the longest running playoff drought in North American pro sports. It only took Sean McDermott one year to do what no other Bills coach has done since 1999.
For the first time in a long time, Bills fans can feel like their team isn’t the laughing stock of the league. The question now is, “Where do we go from here?” Bills fans are used to disappointment and harsh criticisms at this point of the year, not excitement and optimism. Worry not, Bills fans, this is the definitive guide on how to handle the new expectations of the 2018 offseason.
March 11: Deadline for the Tyrod Taylor decision
April 26-28: NFL Draft
May 4-7 or May 11-14: Rookie Minicamp
May 28 – June 24: OTA and Minicamp window
Fans can point to any number of short-sighted moves in recent years that set back the long-term development of the team in hopes of a playoff appearance. With the drought over and the pressure off, this team can now continue to build for the future. Despite a playoff berth and a winning record, this is still a team with many holds up and down the roster. They lack top end talent at key positions, and depth at many others. Also, most pundits expect a lot of roster turnover for the Bills this offseason.
With that in mind, expect the team to consider building for the future. Don’t be surprised to see Brandon Beane acquire more future assets at the expenses of some fan favorites in the locker room. Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, and Cordy Glenn are all names to watch. These always tend to be controversial moves amongst fans, but it’s important to remember that this is a business and fans need to continue to trust the process.
Early Round QB is not Guaranteed
Most fans assume Buffalo will package those two first round draft picks to move up and select a quarterback. That might not be in the team’s best interest. This roster has too many holes to sacrifice a bunch of picks unless you are extremely confident in one of those guys. Fans won’t want to hear it, but this season has shown what teams can do with average quarterbacks. At least one of Blake Bortles, Case Keenum, and Nick Foles are going to play in the Super Bowl.
The Bills have five picks in the first three rounds. They need to come away with starting pieces on both sides of the ball. If the value is there to move up for the quarterback they want, then go for it. They probably won’t feel like they have to if the value isn’t right. Familiarize yourself with quarterbacks like Mason Rudolph, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Kurt Benkert, and Riley Ferguson.
Mock draft season is one of my favorite times of year. It’s fun to read and listen to all of the different opinions from people out there. Don’t get too wrapped up in all of the projections, especially those that are coming out right now. Instead, use these mocks to learn about some of the prospects whose names will be called on draft day. You’ll probably end up with a few draft crushes along the way (Matt Milano last year for me). It’s all in good fun as long as you don’t take it too seriously. The Pegulas pay Brandon Beane very well to do his job. He probably has a better grasp on this process than you do.
Trust the Process
Did you get enough process in 2017? Don’t expect Brandon Bean and Sean McDermott to deviate away from their plans. The Bills probably will not make many splashy free agent acquisitions this offseason. They may end up keeping Tyrod Taylor and even trusting him to start again in 2018.
It’s possible that they bring in a veteran quarterback to serve as a stop gap. Regardless of what the team does, they have a plan in mind and they are going to stick with it. The team has bought into the plan this past season, and it showed. Let these guys continue doing what they started in 2017. The rest of us can just focus on the, suddenly, bright future.
Editor’s babble: Thanks to Joe Geniti for his frequent contributions to our blog. You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeGeniti.
All contributions to the BillsMafia blog are solely the opinion of the writer.