It feels like the Buffalo Bills only go backward, but under the guidance of new head coach Sean McDermott, there’s reason for optimism once again.

McDermott’s imprint was all over the hiring of general manager Brandon Beane, who was appointed to the role Tuesday. The pair developed an excellent rapport, by all accounts, during their shared tenures with the Carolina Panthers, and it’s clear that Buffalo is now embarking on a sharp departure from the convoluted Rex Ryan-Doug Whaley regime.

Beane previously worked as the Panthers’ assistant general manager, while McDermott – who made it clear that Buffalo’s new philosophy will rely on speed and ingenuity – served as Carolina’s defensive coordinator last year. Although Bills owner Terry Pegula was ostensibly involved with the general manager search, McDermott has been granted unilateral power in the vein of Bill Belichick. The Bills certainly have a little-brother complex with the New England Patriots, but they’re emulating the best professional team that football has to offer while starting a new chapter.

McDermott – and to a lesser extent, Beane – are now solely responsible for the prospects of the franchise. There is no escape route if Beane proves to be a failure, and should the Bills remain hopelessly suspended in no-man’s land. There is no recourse for Beane if McDermott fails, either, and he can’t avoid complicity if Buffalo fails to perform under its new head coach. Beane’s predecessor, Doug Whaley, ceded control of the team while admitting he wasn’t involved in Rex Ryan’s firing. The new administration is now responsible for the trajectory of the franchise, for better or worse, with a tired, rabid fan base pleading for an end to the longest active playoff drought in North American sports.

The new leadership group is also responsible for hiring an entirely new scouting staff, with the previous cohort jettisoned immediately after the NFL draft concluded. McDermott, who reached out to a number of esteemed Bills legends for their input, needs to continue being lucid about the team’s goals, as opposed to Ryan, who relied more on buzzwords than a frazzled mid-tier marketing executive. Beane was part of a Panthers personnel staff that selected Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Trai Turner, and Kawann Short, among numerous other stars, and he’s now expected to implement his successful approach in Buffalo.

The Bills have been perennially in second gear, but that simply won’t do anymore. Enough is enough, as Beane gets his much-deserved chance to operate as a general manager, and will have the full confidence of McDermott, who in turn will be afforded a rare chance to become the franchise’s savior. Delusions of grandeur, toxic masculinity, convoluted strategy, and unrestrained nepotism haunted the Ryan regime. Now, with McDermott’s stamp of approval, being lackluster won’t suffice.

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