McDermott set to shift focus in second offseason

Posted Jan 17, 2018

Bills head coach Sean McDermott's plan in year one yielded very positive results. Now he and GM Brandon Beane have to shift the priority list this offseason with a foundation effectively laid.

When he was hired as head coach a year ago, Sean McDermott had a very important list of priorities to effectively lay the foundation of how the Bills were going to operate on a daily basis, the kind of coaches he was going to hire and the character makeup of the players he wanted to acquire. His plan to address those priorities proved successful as Buffalo ended their 17-year playoff hiatus in 2017.

Now comes the task of shifting those priorities to build on the successes of year one in an effort to push the team another step forward in 2018.

Putting that priority list together begins with a lengthy evaluation of how effective the operation was this past season.

“It’s really about re-evaluating our processes and determining what we can do better,” McDermott said. “There are tight margins in this league and we need to make sure we’re picking up points in every part of what we do. That’s the way I see it.

“I’m anxious to build on what we did. The second year through it, for me as a head coach, there’s a lot I want to improve on as well and not only in what I do, but also our procedure [and] our approach. I’ve taken a lot of notes and we’re going to vet through those notes and make sure we’re doing everything at a certain type of level, a standard, and that’s a standard of winning.

“I think our team, the players, really personified that and helped us to establish a standard around here of what winning looks like.”

Although GM Brandon Beane didn’t arrive on the scene until May last year, he quickly immersed himself in the building plan and added his own methods to help get the new vision for the Bills off the ground.

“We were looking to set a foundation of what type of team we want [and] what type of players we want in such a short time,” said GM Brandon Beane, who enters his first full offseason with the Bills. “That’s the thing I thought we did even faster than I thought (was possible). Sean got these guys and his staff jelling and playing at a maximum level. That’s what we have to try and build going forward. We have to try and improve our roster in a lot of different areas, and we know that. We have to make sure we’re getting our type of guys that fit the culture as we build this into something bigger.”

McDermott doesn’t have to assemble a coaching staff from scratch. He has a firm working knowledge of what he has in terms of talent and character on his roster. But there’s no measure of certainty that the success his team experienced in 2017 will automatically carry over to the 2018 season.

“You see teams make it (to the playoffs) one year and they don’t make it the next year,” said McDermott. “One of the great lessons I learned from the Super Bowl year coming out of Carolina and going into the next season is culture from one year to another year and teams from one year to another year are almost separate entities.

“Even though you’d like to be able to say there’s carry over and you want there to be carry over, it’s not guaranteed that there’s carry over from a culture standpoint or a performance standpoint. That’s why what we do in this offseason, the roster moves we make or don’t make are so important to our future success in building upon what we’ve done in this first year. That’s kind of a science in and of itself right there.”

That’s why McDermott and Beane aren’t going to blink when faced with some challenging offseason personnel decisions, so long as they’re convinced their choices will benefit the team as a whole.

We’ve already witnessed one in the hiring of a new offensive coordinator in Brian Daboll.

“We evaluate everything. You don’t evaluate things just in a vacuum or one thing over another thing,” McDermott said. “In the end, you do what’s right for the team. That’s what we’ve done from the time that we’ve been here and will continue to do that responsibly moving forward. Making smart decisions is about making unemotional decisions and that’s what we’ve got to do.”

McDermott believes his team is right on schedule in some areas when it comes to achieving sustained success year over year. There are however, still deficiencies in other areas. Areas that will now get McDermott’s full attention.

“We’re further down the road as we start this second offseason,” McDermott said. “There are a lot of people who have plans for the first 90 days and then just as important, if not more important, is what your plan is between year one and year two. That’s something Brandon and myself spend a lot of time on, researching and putting in our due diligence and carrying forward all the lessons that we’ve learned over the years to put our team in a good position.

“We have to actively pursue the vision. We’re not there yet. There’s a whole other level.”