The Buffalo Bills ended their 17-year playoff drought this season but bowed out in the wild-card round. Now GM Brandon Beane is out to ensure the playoffs become a regular occurrence, and the Bills drive deeper than one game.
Beane's offseason focus is clearly on the quarterback heading into free agency and the draft.
"It's a quarterback league, and until you know you have the guy that you're definitely going to build this team around and the offense around, you're constantly searching," Beane said with on WGR 550 AM in Buffalo earlier this week. "The teams that maked the runs in the playoffs consistently have a franchise guy that they lean on year in and year out. We're still in the process of getting that accomplished."
Beane was hired last May, after the decision was made to keep Tyrod Taylor and draft Nathan Peterman by the previous brass. Instead of blowing up the QB situation upon his arrival, Beane road the wave to a playoff berth. Now it's clear he's ready to put his stamp on the position.
"I'm going to get one that I think is the right guy for our team, for this organization, and skill set-wise that we're looking for," Beane said, noting that the search will be a collaborative effort with coach Sean McDermott. "Good coaches will take whatever this quarterback's strengths are and work it into the offense. We all know if you draft a guy for a certain coordinator or certain system, that guy goes on and does well and becomes a head coach, and a new guy comes in here and has a different system that doesn't fit the quarterback, that doesn't make sense. We'll draft a guy with a skill set that we think fits, and it will be up to the offensive coordinator and the offensive staff to accentuate whatever his strengths are and hide the weaknesses."
Beane's assessment of the QB situation (you can hear the full discussion at WGR's website) makes it sound like he's ready to move on from Taylor. The 28-year-old QB owns an $18.1 million salary-cap number. The Bills would save roughly $10 million by cutting or trading Taylor.
While Taylor is a capable signal-caller who rarely turns the ball over, Sunday's dismal outing typified the enigmatic offense built around the veteran QB. CBS analyst Tony Romo pointed out several times versus the Jaguars where Taylor missed open receivers or was reluctant to pull the trigger on passes in rhythm. Those are the same frustrations the Bills' two offensive coaching staffs under Taylor have had with the QB. While the pieces surrounding Taylor in the passing game have been suspect, it seems clear that coaches put at least part of the inconsistencies on the quarterback.
Buffalo signaled their plans to move on from Taylor by inserting Peterman into the starting lineup in Week 11 versus the L.A. Chargers while still in the playoff hunt. That move blew up in the team's face, and Taylor returned to lead it to the playoffs.
With two first-round picks (No. 21 and No. 22), the Bills own the ammo to trade up to snag their QB of the future or hope one falls past the QB-needy squads high up in the draft. Outside of possibly Kirk Cousins there aren't any surefire long-term upgrades hitting the open market.
Beane is ready to shape the team more to his liking in his first full offseason under control. That starts with upgrading football's most important position.