I’m keeping you guys on your toes. I usually am writing about the NFC East or the NFC North. Because it’s the playoffs, I decided to switch it up and venture to the AFC side of the League, to talk about the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts Wild Card game.
After quarterback Tom Brady left the division in the offseason, I don’t think anyone was happier than the Buffalo Bills to see him leave. With Brady out of the division, it was pretty much a given that they would win the AFC East, at least on paper.
Despite the Miami Dolphins having a pretty successful year, the Bills finished 13-3 and got to host their first playoff game in 25 years. They were even given permission to allow a “small” amount of fans to come and cheer on their Bills. The Colts, on the other hand, finished their division tied with the Tennessee Titans with an 11-5 record. Quietly, rookie running back Jonathan Taylor lead the way with over 1,000 rushing yards.
Last Friday, following a season where the offense finished 29th in total yards and 31st in passing yards, the Bills fired offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. On Sunday, before the ink was dry on the list of possible replacements, the team announced they’d hired University of Alabama’s OC, and long-time Western New Yorker, Brian Daboll, to succeed him.
We have hired Brian Daboll as our Offensive Coordinator.
Head Coach Sean McDermott stunned everyone at his morning press conference announcing he was making a change at quarterback, benching quarterback Tyrod Taylor for rookie Nathan Peterman. McDermott said it’s about “becoming a better team.”
Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander is one of five team captains that make up what Coach Sean McDermott calls his“Leadership Council.” Alexander, along with quarterback Tyrod Taylor, kicker Stephen Hauschka, defensive tackle Kyle Williams, and center Eric Wood, are the players that McDermott says he depends on to be a “sounding board … in terms of what’s going on, how the team’s reacting to things.”
This sounding board was particularly valuable when the team was sorting out its response to the anthem protests going on around the league. Prior to the Bills-Broncos game in Week 3, a long meeting was held in which McDermott, all the Bills players, general manager Brandon Beane, and team owners Kim and Terry Pegula were able to respectfully discuss their viewpoints and work out a mutually agreeable solution. On Game Day, Alexander was one of 12 Bills players who knelt during the anthem, while McDermott and the remaining players linked arms along the sidelines in a display of solidarity.
Alexander commented on his reasons for taking a knee that day. “We have great privileges here but as … a U.S. citizen I [wanted] to call or bring attention to things that need change. With that, today I kneeled but I won’t continue to kneel. [Today] I kneeled to show those guys …that I am with them.”
Since taking over the leadership of the Bills, General Manager Brandon Beane and Head Coach Sean McDermott have begged both players and the fan base to “Trust the process.” Trust them during the NFL draft, when they swapped their No. 10 spot with Kansas City and dropped 16 places in exchange for the Chief’s 2018 first-round pick. Trust them when they traded starting cornerback Ronald Darby to the Eagles for wide receiver Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round pick. Trust them when they absolutely stunned both the fans and even the Bills players by trading wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback E. J. Gaines and a 2018 second-round draft pick.
Beane assured Bills fans that their plan was to do everything necessary to get to the playoffs this year. But, at the same time, they traded away established players for future draft picks. Confused? Just trust us, they say.
The first two games of the 2017 season were a shaky win over a “tanking” Jets team, and an abysmal offensive showing in a loss to Carolina. These did little to inspire confidence in the new regime. Fans were quickly resigned to the idea that the 17-year playoff drought would eventually turn 18.