After a day full of season-ending meetings where Bills head coach Sean McDermott set the tone for the offseason, McDermott met with media to look back on their final game of the season and look ahead to what will be a new team in 2023.
Here are five observations from McDermott's final press conference of the 2022 season.
1. How the Bengals loss forces the Bills to look in the mirror
The Bills faced a tough, 17-point loss to the Bengals on Sunday afternoon, which ended their hopes of making a Super Bowl run. It's the second straight season Buffalo has lost in the divisional round of the playoffs. McDermott will take his time looking back on the game because he believes it says a lot about what the Bills need to focus on during the offseason.
"I'm a big believer in you are who you are in the last game of the season, in terms of what you saw on the field," McDermott explained. "And that's what you have to address. So obviously, we weren't good enough yesterday, and we need to address those areas and do what's necessary to get this organization to the Super Bowl."
Even though it wasn't the outcome the Bills wanted, McDermott knows the game revealed things about this team that they can improve upon.
"Unfortunately, we didn't we didn't play a very good game yesterday and a good team beat us," McDermott said. "But again, it offers a look into or a lens that we can look through and say hey, these are some of the areas we have to get better at in order for us to win."
So where does it begin when looking at how the Bills can improve? McDermott wants to start in the trenches.
"It starts and ends at the line of scrimmage, and so we've got to look at that," McDermott acknowledged. "And then you look at the quarterback play, and I thought, we've got a quarterback that we feel really good about and should feel good about. But we all, myself included, Josh (Allen) and the leaders of this football team, we all have to improve in certain areas to move this organization forward."
As his sixth year wraps up as the coach of the Bills, McDermott is proud of how far they've come but knows they haven't accomplished their goal yet.
"We won't stop until we get there," McDermott said. "And that's the vision moving forward, and we're all frustrated on a day after loss in the division round, that's for sure. Extremely proud of how far this organization has come, but not satisfied."
2. Evaluating the roster will be a priority in the coming days and weeks
Before the Bills close the chapter on the 2022 season, McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane will take the time to evaluate how each player performed this year.
"Starting tomorrow, we'll get into our evaluations of the roster with the offense and defense, respectively," McDermott explained. "And then Brandon and I will follow up and meet on each one of those situations. And so, that's really how the next couple of days will look."
When evaluating each player, McDermott and Beane want to be meticulous with looking at the entire picture. They believe spending the time to look within first, will help reveal the holes they need to fill this offseason, especially with big goals in mind.
"The goal is to win a world championship. So for us to have a true evaluation of where we're at, we have to be objective with ourselves and say, `Hey, where are we?'" McDermott explained. "And then go through each player and each coach, that's what you do. You evaluate the whole thing, the injuries, all that, you evaluate everything, and we have to do that."
Even though it was their third straight year winning the division, the staff will also take the time to evaluate the state of the AFC East.
"The division is improving, right? The gap is closing as far as that's concerned," McDermott said. "So if we didn't do that, we wouldn't be doing it the right way. I know that's going to be my challenge to everyone in the organization is starting with ourselves, starting with myself, let's go back and look at everything and make sure we're just not doing it just because we did it that way last year because the gap in some cases is closing in terms of in the division in particular."
With a slew of free agents and a new salary cap, McDermott and Beane will also focus on positional value when determining what the roster will look like in 2023.
"It's whoever we value," McDermott said. "The positions that we value, because you can't pay everyone and you can't go get all elite players at every position. It's unrealistic in the modern, salary-cap era. We have to place proper value on the positions that we feel will help us win the Super Bowl and then find those players at those positions."
One thing that's for sure, this team will start to look different in the coming weeks.
"It'll be a new roster and a new start to a new roster in the next couple of days here and we have to reset things," McDermott shared. "And you guys have heard me say before, you don't just pick up where you've left off the season before. That's why that postseason evaluation is so important that we're honest with that evaluation, and objective with who we are and what we must become in order to get there."
3. Evaluating Ken Dorsey's first season as Bills OC
Statistically, the Bills offensive ranked atop several important categories this season. They finished second in points per game (28.4), second in total yards per game (397.6), fourth in first down percentage (36.9) and ninth in red zone TD scoring (60%).
Still, there were stretches where the offensive wasn't at its best, including in the divisional round.
After Brian Daboll went to take the Giants' head coaching position last offseason, the Bills turned to QB coach Ken Dorsey to be the team's offensive coordinator in 2022-23 — the first full-time play-calling duty for Dorsey in the NFL.
When asked about his assessment of Dorsey as the team's OC this year, McDermott shared that it's a learning process for everyone when it's your first year in a different position.
"There's a first year for everyone. And I thought Dorsey really did some good things, and there's some things that he can learn from as well. And I know this: when you're committed to a cause, and you work hard at things, and you put the team first, that you learn from experiences. And so, like all of us, we have to learn from the experience," he said.
McDermott also said that he has not made any decisions regarding what next year's staff will look like as Monday was an exit interview day with the players.
4. McDermott praises Tremaine Edmunds' season
LB Tremaine Edmunds just finished his fifth season in the NFL and as a Buffalo Bill. His performance from his standout 2022 season as well as his overall growth earned positive recognition from his head coach.
"I thought he had his best year," McDermott said. "I really believe that I think you saw him grow from a leadership standpoint. You saw him grow from a performance standpoint. And I know he's just got that attitude that he wants to continue to improve."
Edmunds ended the regular season with 102 combined tackles, one sack, six tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, and one interception. The linebacker was also highly ranked in a handful of categories in the postseason with 17 combined tackles, one tackle for loss, and five passes defended.
5. New season, new potential positions for players
The overall offseason evaluation includes the performance of individual players and the position they hold on the roster, which is something McDermott and Beane will look into in the coming weeks. The head coach addressed two players who could potentially see a new opportunity in a new position for the 2023 season.
With a handful of available options to slot in at different positions throughout the secondary, the head coach was asked about possibly moving CB Christian Benford to safety next year. McDermott said that will be talked about in the evaluation process starting on Tuesday.
"That's been talked about way back when we first picked up Christian and we'll just see where it goes," McDermott said.
Another name that was mentioned surrounding the question of moving positions was OT Spencer Brown. After assessing Brown's performance this season, McDermott was asked if the OT could be moved inside and he responded with, "we'll see."
"I don't think anything's off the table at this point," McDermott said. "He's a young player and he's very athletic. That being said, you would like to get a young player in one position and let them go and let them grow. You know, in terms of development."
"He, and we in this case, have to continually reinvent ourselves and grow in the offseason. I think he had some moments when he was really good and you could say 'hey, that was really strong play against a good pass rusher' and then some other ones where you'd say, 'hey, you know, do we need to add a chip to help out here?'. And you don't want to have to do that all the time."
Bills players wrapped up the 2022 season by addressing the media before leaving One Bills Drive before the start of the 2023 offseason program.