1. Playoff game showed the areas where the Bills need to improve
The Buffalo Bills are still feeling the effects of their playoff loss to the Houston Texans. As Brandon Beane and the front office get into the first steps of evaluating the 2019 season, the areas they need to improve on became especially apparent last Saturday.
"A lot of times if you make the playoffs your last game is kind of emblematic of how your season went and where you're good and where you have to get better," Beane said. "I thought that you saw we didn't score enough points."
For Beane and the rest of the staff it also showed where the Bills are already good. Defensively, the Bills allowed just 19 points in regulation against Houston. The unit returns nine starters in 2020 after a season in which the defense ranked second in the NFL in points allowed per game (16.2).
Still, Buffalo's goal is to be strong under all three phases.
"We want to be better on special teams. I did think it improved from a year ago but we're not happy with that," Beane said. "Offensively, we did show some improvements statistically and Josh [Allen] did improve and we scored more points. But at the end of the day we didn't score enough."
2. Areas where Beane believes the personnel department can help
Beane takes the faults and struggles of the Bills offense and special teams on his own shoulders. The Bills improved statistically in each phase with second-year offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and first-year special teams coordinator Heath Farwell.
Beane said he needs to improve to help Buffalo's offense make strides.
"I'm going to look in the mirror," Beane said. "To be honest with you, there's things that I always ask myself like 'what can I do better to get our roster better'."
Looking back on the past three seasons as general manager Beane discussed how in his first year he came in with a different quarterback and offensive coordinator and at that point made a decision to draft a new quarterback in 2018. Still, Buffalo exceeded expectations and made the playoffs.
In his second year, with a rookie quarterback, Beane said he did not do a good job handling the salary cap restrictions and regrets not getting better protection upfront. The Bills also did not plan on having Allen start as soon as he did.
Year three the Bills offense dealt with nine new starters and needed time for it to all gel together. Beane called it a "not ideal" situation.
"Year two in Brian Daboll's system I saw improvement, but Brian would be the first to tell you that there's things he would want to do as well to take a step forward," Beane said.
In 2019, the Buffalo Bills celebrated their 60th season as a franchise by going 10-6 in the regular season and clinching the AFC's fifth seed. It is the second time in three seasons under Sean McDermott that the Bills have qualified for the playoffs, and was a great way to celebrate the 60th season of the Buffalo Bills and the 100th season of the NFL. Scroll through to view the top photos and moments from the season.
3. Wide receiver? Defensive end? The Bills are more than just one player away
The Buffalo Bills are not one player away from competing for a Super Bowl said Brandon Beane.
"You lose in the first round of the playoffs, that doesn't say to me that you're one player away from being exactly where you want to be," Beane said.
Bills fans have been clamoring for more help at the wide receiver position and Beane has already put a plan in place to act on it. It's one of the main positions that the team needs to improve on.
"We're not going to go in and just throw a bunch of money and everything at receivers but we're going to try and find one," Beane said. "Obviously the first place we'll look at will be these college all-star games and seeing what's there. Free agency is first on the calendar, so we'll take a look there as well. It's a fair question."
Another area of concern for next season will be the defensive line. The Bills have two veteran edge rushers in Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy, along with two key contributors who will be free agents in Shaq Lawson and Jordan Phillips.
"We've got a lot to clean up or answer whether it's re-signing our free agents or the guys that are aging," Beane said. "We do want to continue to get young and we added some young guys last year."
Beane specifically brought up the youth on the defensive line like Harrison Phillips, Ed Oliver, and Darryl Johnson as players who will continue to improve.
But, the Bills would "love" to have a dominant edge rusher, Beane said.
"There's not even 32, one for every team, and I promise you we're looking for those guys," Beane said. "Good luck pressuring the quarterback on his backside. We want to be strong and stop the run but at the end of the day there's only so many Von Millers and that type of player."
4. Tre'Davious White and Josh Allen continue to impress
Beane saw noticeable improvement from both Tre'Davious White and Josh Allen this season.
"I'm very proud of Tre'Davious," Beane said. "He's a guy we want here for the long term. He has developed and is still developing and I think he can be better than he was this year. The thing I was real proud of this year was his steady play the whole time and he took the ball away."
Beane did not comment on the possibility of signing White to a long term deal this offseason. But he reiterated that his primary goal in general is to be able to draft, develop, then re-sign those players.
Beane was complimentary of Allen's mindset in 2019 and feels he will improve when he comes back in the spring.
"We had our exit meeting with him and he's the first to know the areas of improvement," Beane said. "He's very aware of what the things he does well are and what he needs to be better at. It you take it back to when he walked out a year ago and when he came back in the spring, all that work carried over into games this year."
"We don't win 10 games without Josh," Beane said.
5. Time to expect everyone's best
After making the playoffs two of the last three years, Beane acknowledges that the Bills will no longer sneak up on opponents. And he told the team that they will need to adjust their mindset in 2020.
"You're going to get everyone's best next season and you have to be prepared for it. There's no sneaking up on anyone or people underestimating the Buffalo Bills," Beane said. "That'll be a different test and we didn't always answer that in Carolina. Sean and I talked about that and will be something that we'll definitely focus on this offseaon."