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Pollock: Beane and McDermott discuss the Buffalo Bills’ season

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By CHUCK POLLOCK, Sun Senior Sports Columnist

It’s likely Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane weren’t looking forward to Tuesday.

That’s when the Bills’ head coach and general manager, respectively, scheduled their end-of-season press conference.

It turned out to be mostly unenlightening on McDermott’s part and somewhat informative from Beane.

Buffalo’s seventh-year coach took questions for 41 minutes, the GM for 63.

In fairness, much of that time was spent on queries about individual players, but only two days after the Bills lost a 27-24 divisional playoff game to Kansas City at Highmark Stadium, such questions, whether they be about injuries, contract status or future with the team are way too premature.

McDermott, 5-6 in playoff games with Buffalo, offered the same word salad he’s run out after his team’s previous five postseason defeats … long on optimistically looking ahead, short on what has to change to alter those outcomes.

Bills fans have heard it all before and are growing weary of the repetitive narrative.

But Beane’s responsibilities can’t be erased with upbeat rhetoric.

He’s the general manager in charge of a team $43 million over the salary cap with 22 players on expiring contracts.

It’s a vexing conundrum for a team which hasn’t been able to take the next step despite having one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.

Beane didn’t have many answers but he was as forthcoming as he could be under the circumstances.

“I DON’T get into that (Super Bowl) window’s closed mindset,” he said. “Your team is always changing and evolving with each draft class … free agents, whether they’re one-year deals or multi-year deals. Some guys age out, some guys play themselves to where you can’t afford them. You’re constantly changing the roster.

“It’s a quarterback league and I believe in the guy we’ve got under center. Look at who’s playing in the conference championship Lamar (Jackson) versus (Patrick) Mahomes. Josh (Allen QB) has played in that game.”

Beane continued, “Obviously, we’ve come up short … we wish we were still playing. It starts there (at quarterback) … but we have other players that have to help, he can’t do it by himself. I don’t subscribe to the window is closing or is closed. Every team is a new team … sometimes a team clicks at different parts of the year. We had to figure out who we were and what we did best and we did it in time to secure another division (title) and give ourselves two home games.”

SO WHAT’S required to take the next step?

“There’s no perfect solution here,” Beane maintained. “You have to keep working, you have to learn every year and you’re constantly making decisions off of what you learn … learn about yourself,  learn about certain players, learn about situations in games.

The Chiefs, have been in the AFC Championship (games) six straight years and they’re not going anywhere … Baltimore, Cincinnati, which lost (QB) Joe Burrow and was hurt by that. Teams in our own division, Miami, we had to beat them on the road in the last week to get the division back, they’re not going anywhere. There are a lot of (very good) teams in the AFC.” 

He continued, “Not everybody can make it and we’re going to keep fighting. I can’t sit up here and guarantee you we’re going to win the AFC championship next year or going to the Super Bowl, but I can tell you we know what it takes. We have to execute. When you lose games, and our worst was by six points, unless you’re getting blown out, when you lose a one-score game, you can really narrow it down to three, four, five plays that they made and you didn’t. You have to make those.”

Beane concluded, “We didn’t play our best game defensively the other night. First, you have to give Kansas City credit, that’s a proven team … when it’s gut-check time they can make a lot of plays and they’re going to be hard to handle with Mahomes, (coach) Andy Reid, (tight end, Travis) Kelce and that whole crew. Were there some plays we’d like back, yes. But we had the ball at the two-minute warning in field goal range to tie and a chance to take the lead … we were right there.

“So while we’re extremely disappointed, I’m just not going to throw the whole season out and say, ‘Let’s tear this thing up and start over.’ We will be in that situation again and you hope with experience and time-on-task, that in more opportunities those three-to-five plays, we’ll make ‘em and we’ll advance to the next level.”

(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at cpollock@wnynet.net.)

Read more from Chuck:

• Don’t blame Bass for the playoff loss

• St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt was right about the Atlantic 10 and the Bonnies

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