There was a common line of thinking that the Bills new general manager had to be a football guy. A man who came up through the scouting side of the organization, knew how to identify talent and draft it or sign it accordingly. While there's no debate that expertise is beneficial for an NFL GM, managing the entire football operation was seen by the Pegulas as one of the most important skills needed in their next general manager. For Brandon Beane it's what separated him from the other candidates and made him the 13th GM in Bills history.
Photos of Buffalo Bills General Manager Brandon Beane.
Long before the Pegulas assumed ownership of the franchise, Buffalo was an NFL club that has experienced unprecedented change. Change at the head coaching level, the coordinator level, at quarterback and to a far lesser extent, the general manager chair. Over the years it hasn't been easy for all of the football departments of the Bills to work in unison.
New philosophies came with new head coaches, new schemes came in with new coordinators and that often led to new quarterbacks among a slew of other positions on offense and defense for the team. All that change also made the task that much harder for players to develop, improve and work off one another in a consistent and effective way to bring positive results on the field.
For the Pegulas, unifying all the departments on the football side of the house, through effective management, communication, preparation and execution was a must. Beane was the best man to accomplish that for the Bills.
Those who have worked closest with Beane in his rise to Assistant general manager with the Carolina Panthers believe he is eminently fit for that responsibility.
"The people up there should be excited about him walking in the building," said Carolina GM Dave Gettleman of Beane. "He's very approachable. He's a very good listener. We work collaboratively here. Brandon was a big part of that, so he's seen what that looks like. He understands in order to get the right answer you have to ask the right question. He's very mature and understands the power of 'we' as opposed to the power of 'me.' I think that's a great asset that he has."
Beane, who has gained experience is every part on the football side of the Panthers organization, has witnessed and participated in the interdepartmental communication critical to overall success.
"I think you're getting a guy that knows all facets of the organization and is an extremely competitive guy," said former Panthers GM Marty Hurney in an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. "He's a guy who can work with people. A guy who can manage. A guy who knows personnel. A guy who knows the salary cap, every aspect of football operations. He's a guy who has worked up every step along the way. He knows the way everything fits together in the salary cap system and how things can change. He knows how to communicate with the coaching staff."
Often times, through no fault of either department, the coaching staff and personnel department may differ on the kind of player to add to the roster when the need arises. As much as coaches want talent, they also value dependability and consistency. Personnel men focus more on skill set and projecting a player's ceiling.
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Beane understands the difference and has worked to bridge that gap in his time with the Panthers.
"We talk about looking at personnel, but these days you have to mesh your players with what your coaches want," Hurney said. "You're not going to have 22 Pro Bowlers. He knows how to communicate with the staff to get the strengths at each position. In August if you're looking for a right tackle, you might have five traits for that tackle, and you might be lucky to find a player with two of them, but you know what you're looking for that fits in that system. He knows how to spot players."
Bridging that natural personnel and coaching divide before, Beane demonstrated to Hurney and Gettelman in Carolina that he can provide coaches with what they're looking for on a consistent basis.
"Those two different looks require checks and balances," said Hurney. "You have to have two guys who can go behind closed doors and take different angles and disagree, but when they come out of the room they're in total agreement. And that's something that I think Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane will be able to do."
As much experience as Beane has with the daily happenings of an NFL football operation, Gettelman points to Beane's ability to adjust his approach when Gettleman arrived as GM in 2013.
"He was just obviously someone who adapted real well because I brought in some different ideas and concepts and he embraced them," Gettelman said.
"This job is a challenge every day," said Hurney of the GM role. "Every day there's something new to face. You just have to be able to handle it and I know he's got the skill set to do that. He's been in every spot he's going to oversee and manage. So for him it was a great way to come up."
Obviously hiring a pro and college scouting staff will be among his first orders of business in Buffalo, but Beane and head coach Sean McDermott have to make sure they're operating on the same wavelength. It's something that Gettleman sees happening organically between the two men.
"It's really important that Brandon and Sean get on the same page immediately, and I don't think that's going to be an issue at all," he said. "They have to develop a common vision and what types of players they're looking for.
"It's the responsibility and it's a question I ask myself every day, 'Am I giving Ron Rivera and his staff the players to win?' Brandon understands that and he'll work well with Sean. They developed a great relationship here over the last six years. They know each other well and it's a heck of a professional marriage."
"I'm telling you in Brandon Beane… I think the Buffalo fans are going to be very happy," said Hurney. "It all comes down to winning games, but in two or three years they're going to be looking at him and recognizing this guy is very, very good."