Before the 2017 season started, most national pundits predicted that the Buffalo Bills would once again miss out on the playoffs and run their streak to 18 seasons since their last playoff appearance. But Buffalo exceeded expectations, posting a 9-7 record that included a 6-2 mark at New Era Field as the Bills returned to the postseason before falling to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 10-3 in the Wild Card round.
Knowing that every year teams go from playing postseason football to watching from home, McDermott recently told reporters during a pre-draft press conference that the team still has plenty of work to do in order to build that winning culture at One Bills Drive. He said his goal remains the same: to develop into a perennial playoff team.
“Yeah, I think really the biggest thing we tried to cover was, other than normal logistics and what-not the first day, was just really, the reality of our situation is such that eight of the twelve teams that made the playoffs in 2016 didn’t make the playoffs in 2017,” McDermott said of his message to players. “We have to turn the page from what happened last year and understand that this is a new team; it’s a new year, new personalities, and so we’ve got our work cut out for us. We’ve got a long way to go; that really hasn’t changed. We’re excited about the guys that we’ve added to the roster and the work that, apparently, has been put in since the players have left us X amount of months ago. Really, we’ve got to earn the right, and that starts today.”
Since the loss to the Jaguars, Buffalo has traded away its starting quarterback (Tyrod Taylor) and starting left tackle (Cordy Glenn). Starting center Eric Wood revealed he suffered a career-ending neck injury, while starting left guard Richie Incognito did a flip-flop and is now on the reserve/retired list after restructuring the final year of his three-year deal.
AJ McCarron was signed to a team-friendly two-year deal to compete for the starting QB job, while Russell Bodine and Marshall Newhouse were signed to provide depth on the offensive line.
The wide receiver corps, one of the worst in the league last year, remains thin after the departures of Deonte Thompson, Jordan Matthews, but Jeremy Kerley should be a nice addition.
Defensively, there was just as much offseason turnover as the Bills lost starting middle linebacker Preston Brown, the NFL leader in tackles and cornerback E.J. Gaines, who produced but suffered through a litany of injuries in 2017.
Buffalo brought back Kyle Williams and signed free agents Trent Murphy and Star Lotulelei to bolster the defensive line, and inked Vontae Davis to replace Gaines at cornerback.