Bills fans, give this team time to jell and you may be rewarded


Staff member

Was it really only 53 days ago the Buffalo Bills started a franchise-rattling roster transformation, going out with the old and disgruntled (literally) and in with the young (literally)?

March 6 seems like 53 weeks ago. On that afternoon, General Manager Brandon Beane delivered three thunderbolts by releasing center Mitch Morse, safety Jordan Poyer and cornerback Tre’Davious White and one clear message: The Bills were changing gears.

Winning the AFC East title and at least one playoff game in four consecutive years wasn’t enough. Disappointment equals a pivot. Underachieving means remodeling. There was no reason to run it back.

Sandwiching the trade of receiver Stefon Diggs to Houston (Beane’s best move of the offseason) was the signing of 10 veterans and construction of a 10-player draft class. Make sure you have a roster when visiting training camp in late July.

The draft is the last major milepost of a general manager’s team-assembly effort. The heavy lifting is complete. The team is the team, save for minor additions.

Fans should be happy with the boxes that Bills General Manager Brandon Beane checked given the cap constraints. Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News

“Position by position, you’re never happy. You’re never content and like, ‘We’ve got it figured out,’ ” Beane said early Saturday evening.
But …

“If you’re expecting something big or anything like that, there’s no trade coming,” he added.

That established, is Mr. GM at least semi-satisfied with the organization’s work over the last 53 days?

“I wish I could say I checked everything and just go on vacation,” Beane quipped.

Bills fans should be happy with the boxes Beane was able to check, given the cap constraints.

Beane revamped the receiver position with Curtis Samuel and Keon Coleman. Things had run their course with the in-decline Diggs and a plateaued Gabe Davis. Get fired up to see tight end Dalton Kincaid in his second season.

Beane started over at safety by retaining Taylor Rapp, signing Mike Edwards and drafting Cole Bishop. The days of counting on Poyer and Micah Hyde to last 17 effective games (or more) were over. The defense could provide more multiple looks with a versatile safety corps.

And Beane re-tooled the defensive tackle spot by re-upping DaQuan Jones, signing Austin Johnson and DeShawn Williams and drafting DeWayne Carter. This group is already an upgrade over 2023 back-ups Tim Settle, Poona Ford and Jordan Phillips. Jones, who was playing at an All-Pro level when he was injured in October, is the ideal starting partner next to Ed Oliver.

Add it all up and the Bills will end April the same way they entered February – as the no-doubt favorite in their division and one of the conference’s superpowers with Kansas City, Baltimore and Cincinnati.

Through all the moves, the Bills held serve in the AFC. I would have liked to see a move up for LSU receiver Brian Thomas Jr. in Thursday’s first round, and still would like to see a run at free-agent safety Justin Simmons next month, but Beane squashed even any remotely pricey additions.

The Chiefs top my power poll because they have the league’s best play-caller and quarterback in Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, respectively.

The Bengals are next because quarterback Joe Burrow will be healthy, receiver Ja’Marr Chase is awesome, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo is a maestro and the entire team is a bad matchup for the Bills. At least the Bills won’t have to see them in the regular season.

The Bills and Ravens are third and fourth, respectively. Baltimore lost a bunch of free agents, and I can’t forget about that AFC title game stinker-of-a-loss to the Chiefs. The Bills are better.

More and more as I talk to people around the league, the more the 2024 Bills could be the 2006 Indianapolis Colts.

From 2003-05, the Peyton Manning Colts went 12-4, 12-4 and 14-2, but didn’t make the Super Bowl, losing at New England (AFC title), at New England (second round) and home to Pittsburgh (second round).

In 2006, the Colts went 12-4, won at Kansas City in the second round, finally beat New England (AFC title) and won the Super Bowl over Chicago.

See the correlation to the Bills, don’t you?

From 2021-23, the Josh Allen Bills went 13-3, 11-6 and 13-3, but didn’t make the Super Bowl, losing at Kansas City (second round), home to Cincinnati (second round) and home to Kansas City (second round).

Every NFL season is hard – the schedule, the slumps, the injuries, the parity. And this Bills season will have some head-scratching moments, common when you rely on youth or new veterans.

Be patient. Give this new group of Bills time to come together. They may lose a game or two in September-October that the previous core wouldn’t have lost.
But now, the bright side: This group will be calloused-up by mid-January and ready to roll, even if they have to go on the road like the 2006 Colts. In fact, I expect them to have to travel to the Chiefs or Bengals for the second round of the playoffs.

Allen sounded liberated last week in his first post-Diggs trade comments – he’s ready to lead this young roster. The defense will be paced by emerging middle linebacker/impressive leader Terrel Bernard. And new coordinators Joe Brady (offense) and Bobby Babich (defense) will add some juice.
Buckle up, Bills fans. The names have changed, but the times may be getting more fun.