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How it started for the 2022 Buffalo Bills

How did the Buffalo Bills get here? It all began in the final 13 seconds of the 2021 AFC divisional round game.

There are 3,600 seconds in most NFL games, but the final 13 seconds of regulation in the last Buffalo Bills game stick out more than any in recent memory. The Bills took the lead in the AFC Divisional round with 13 seconds left, but allowed a last-second field goal to tie the game that they would eventually lose in overtime. Sadness ensued.

But that was then, and this is now. This offseason, the Bills took steps to address that loss—as well as the loss of their assistant general manager, Joe Schoen, and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Both of them are with the New York Giants now, along with assistant coaches Bobby Johnson (offensive line) and Shea Tierney (assistant quarterbacks). Buffalo promoted quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey to offensive coordinator and hired Joe Brady, the Carolina Panthers’ former offensive coordinator, to replace Dorsey in the QB room. Aaron Kromer is in as offensive line coach.

To (potentially) address one of the root causes of their final defeat in 2021, the Bills allowed special teams coordinator Heath Farwell to find a new job and promoted Matthew Smiley in his place.

Also in the coaching room, the team lost linebackers coach Bob Babich to retirement, promoting his son, Bobby, from safeties coach. John Butler was promoted from defensive backs coach to passing game coordinator, potentially positioning himself as the heir apparent to Leslie Frazier as defensive coordinator.

After the coaching changes, the Bills built the roster to address concerns with stopping the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals of the world. They re-signed starting guard Ryan Bates along with key depth/special teams players WR Isaiah McKenzie, WR Jake Kumerow, CB Siran Neal, LB Tyrel Dodson, and RB Taiwan Jones. Then they started adding.

Pass rusher Von Miller (who was acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in March 2022 in a six-year, $120 million deal) is the cornerstone of the offseason, improving the front four for big moments—like against the Chiefs in the playoffs. The Bills moved on from Star Lotulelei, signing defensive tackles DaQuan Jones, Tim Settle, and Jordan Phillips to apply more pressure and keep the linebackers clean. Buffalo signed several depth options plus guard Rodger Saffold to replace Jon Feliciano, continuing to tinker with the o-line to improve the running game and keep Josh Allen upright. Pass-catcher O.J. Howard (who was released on Aug. 30) and Jamison Crowder were added to the mix, replacing Cole Beasley. They added backup quarterback Case Keenum via trade after Mitch Trubisky departed in free agency.

Turning to the 2022 NFL Draft in April, the Bills had one starter they hadn’t yet replaced and drafted cornerback Kaiir Elam to replace Levi Wallace, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Running back James Cook was picked in the second round as a new chess piece for the offense along with fifth-round steal WR Khalil Shakir. In the third round, LB Terrel Bernard was picked to replace cap casualty A.J. Klein. CB Christian Benford is a sixth-round pick who is likely to see the field early in his career despite his transition from FCS Villanova.

Following the release of sixth-round pick Matt Araiza, the Bills added a veteran punter to get the job done, replacing Matt Haack, a 2021 liability. Sam Martin brings a Pro Bowl pedigree to one of the few holes on Buffalo’s roster.

That’s how this team was assembled to address shortcomings on special teams and on defense, but also to keep their fastball and continue fielding an explosive offense. This is what has made them the betting favorites to win Super Bowl 57 in Glendale, AZ, per our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook. Breathe it in, Bills fans. This could really be the year.