Tuesday was Bills general manager Brandon Beane’s turn in front of the microphone to recap the 2022 season, which ended with Sunday’s 27-10 second-round loss to the Cincinnati Bengals:
Five takeaways from Beane’s press conference, which lasted 54 minutes.
Weren’t in a groove late
The story: The Bills saved their worst overall game for the worst time (the playoffs). Period.
Beane said: “We’ve done a lot of good things (and) you have to be playing your best football at this time of year. This year, we weren’t when we hit the playoffs – we weren’t in a groove the way we were in 2020 and 2021 (entering the playoffs).”
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Comments: Beane added that he didn’t want to “overreact to one game,” which is probably a good course for the general manager. But Beane’s larger point – the Bills didn’t put together complete games down the stretch – should be his focus. Did the team not have the right depth to overcome key injuries? Did younger players not develop at the right pace and couldn’t be trusted? The struggles throughout the final month require a complete examination of The Bills Way.
The story: The Bills’ offense was held to a season-low 10 points by Cincinnati and had no first-quarter fourth downs in falling behind 14-0.
Beane said: “Statistically, we did a lot of good things this year, but the other day, 10 points is not going to win most playoff games. We know we have to score more than that. At least in the last three years, I can’t remember a game where we (were) kickoff, down 7-0, three-and-out, down 14-0. You get down 14-0 to a good program, you get out of your game plan a little bit.”
Comments: I will always go back to the first offensive plays for each team, a play the coaching staff scripts days before. Cincinnati – a pass to superstar receiver Ja’Marr Chase. The Bills – a bubble-screen type throw to receiver Isaiah McKenzie. It didn’t get any better from there.
Nothing about the outcome on a football field could even remotely touch the flesh-and-blood aftermath of such events, seared into the civic soul, Kirst writes.
Tight salary cap situation
The story: Beane said the Bills currently have “$240 (million) something” on the books for 2023 and executives are awaiting a projected range for the ’23 cap. But the cap won’t be $240 million so trims will need to be done just to do business in mid-March.
Beane said: “I’m hoping for a lot of dollars. It’s $208 (million this season), but I couldn’t tell you if it’s going to be $208 (million) or $230 (million). It’s not going to be 240-something. There’s not going to be a Von Miller signing. … We’re going to be creative. We’re going to try and win. It’s up to me to figure it out. We have to hit on draft picks, we have to find low-cost free agents that can find roles, whether it’s a key backup, solid starter, whatever it is.”
Jeff Wilber captured the mood of all of WNY after the Bills’ loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday with a Facebook post that has since gone viral.
Comment: Miller’s contract last March represents the Bills’ big-ticket free agent for 2022 and ’23. The ’22 draft class is mostly an unknown because none were full-time starters although cornerback Kaiir Elam and running back James Cook had moments. The Bills will need to spend the opening days of free agency looking to sign veterans to one-year contracts.
The story: Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and safety Jordan Poyer top the Bills’ list of unrestricted free agents. There are no ready-made, in-house replacements for either player.
Beane said: “Two guys that are true Buffalo Bills. Can’t say enough great things about them. (Poyer) is a pro and I know the whole contract thing, people can handle those in many different ways, but a lot of respect to Jordan for how he handled this. Man, he’s a great pro and did a lot of great things for us. Would love to have him back, for sure. … Tremaine, he’s been amazing to watch his growth. Very proud of who he is and you can just see his maturation.”
Comments: Beane said the franchise tag is a possibility for Edmunds, but did well to point out how the linebacker position includes the edge-rusher spot in a 3-4 scheme and that tag could be more than $20 million. The Bills’ decision – sign the younger player (Edmunds) or a player who ties things together for the whole defense (Poyer)? Poyer might cost less and thus, be the choice.
The story: The Bills’ leading receiver, Diggs had only one 100-yard game in the last eight and spent most of the final minutes of the Bengals game waiting on the sideline.
Beane said: “Stef is a competitor. (Carolina’s) Steve Smith was a lot like that. I would rather have guys I have to cool off. I can live with that vs. I’ve been around people I questioned (if) they are just here for the Monday paycheck. Stef wears his emotions on his sleeve, but that’s what makes him really, really good.”
Comments: The impassioned defense of Diggs among the Bills’ players, head coach and general manager has been unanimous… but that shouldn’t condone his behavior. On the flip side, why only one 100-yard game down the stretch? That should be a focus point, getting Diggs help so he doesn’t have the defensive spotlight on him.