BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Bills head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane had quite the reclamation project on their hands when they took over three years ago.
They had a vision of how they wanted to build the organization, tore it down to the studs and have re-built it in grand fashion.
The Bills clinched a spot in the postseason Sunday night with a 17-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, marking the earliest the franchise has locked up a playoff berth since the Super Bowl runs in the 90’s.
“Coming to Buffalo two years ago now, two and half years ago — whatever it’s been — a lot of people said, ‘Why are you going there? You’re not going to be able to get it turned around?’ Well, we got it turned around,” the head coach said. “We have a lot of work left to do. We haven’t arrived. We have a lot of work to do, but I’m just humbled by it.”
As the general manager chatted with the media, defensive tackle Jordan Phillips interrupted the scrum.
“This man right here, Brandon Beane, he doesn’t get enough credit,” Phillips said. “This is the man that put everything together and helped us out. He’s a helluva guy, helluva leader. Brandon Beane. That’s all I want to say.”
“You know, I love these guys,” Beane said as Phillips exited. “As I said I can’t thank these guys enough for what they put on the line and it’s not always easy. You know, Jordan, he’s been a fun story for a guy we claimed a year ago and had two more sacks tonight. I’m one of his biggest fans and it was fun to watch.”
Fun and football weren’t always mentioned in the same breath when talking about the Bills prior to the front office’s arrival in 2017.
For the longest time, the Bills were described as a dysfunctional franchise. They had failed to identify and select a franchise quarterback, there was a revolving door of head coaches led by an inept front office year-in-and-year-out with the same lackluster results.
The one constant: The most loyal fan base in sports.
There’s been extreme highs and lows over the last three years, but Beane and McDermott have established a strong culture in the community with fans and most importantly inside the facilities at One Bills Drive
It’s not a mistake the team is back in the postseason for the second time in three years.
“Coaching and the front office,” Hughes said. “They do a phenomenal job of bringing guys in and coaches do a great job of getting us ready.”
“It’s a huge accomplishment obviously,” added veteran Lorenzo Alexander who joined the team in 2016 as a free agent. “And, for this organization, to really start making a shift in mindset as far as who we are, what we’re capable of doing, year in and year out — to be the second time in three years after going 17 years with the playoff drought so we’ve really changed the mindset about being a winning organization.”
“We know this team is not connected to the past but we want to pretty much be the team that’ll break down those barriers and break those boundaries,” cornerback Tre’Davious White explained. “We’ve done a great job all year of responding to adversity and just playing total team football.”
White was the first cornerstone piece McDermott acquired, moving down in the draft in a trade with the Chiefs to select his franchise cornerback with the 27th overall pick.
One of the attributes McDermott focuses on in the draft process is selecting players that come from winning programs — players with a winning pedigree that want to win.
White, along with Matt Milano and Dion Dawkins, all made impacts in the win on Sunday.
“These things don’t come around often,” White said of the team’s return to the postseason. “The first year, Kyle (Williams) hadn’t been to the playoffs in his whole 14 year career and it happened one year. We are so blessed for fortunate to be able to do it two out of the three years. We’re going to cherish it, not take it lightly and get ready to go back to work.”