Notice what new Bills leaders aren't saying

When it comes to Taylor, Beane and McDermott stop at a line

Mike Schopp
May 16, 2017 - 8:45 am

Photo: Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports

The Bills hired a rookie general manager to go with their rookie coach. Sometimes people use rookie as an adjective to be critical. I'm not. I much prefer fresh faces than the idea of a wrinkled "czar" imparting so-called truths on his own disciples.

I'm optimistic for the Bills, which I haven't been often in the last decade.

What's more important than experience are intelligence, drive and a willingness to adapt. Give me young and smart.

There are things new guys need to learn though, and one of them came to the fore Monday.

Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott will get plenty of questions about Tyrod Taylor, their thoughts on him in both the present and future. As Taylor is the reigning starting quarterback, they won't want to go too far talking about needing to be better at that position. As they don't appear to think Taylor great, they won't either want to go too far talking about his talents.

There's a line.

Together, on a conference call with Peter King of, McDermott and Beane took turns on the balance beam.

The question was "Is Buffalo's quarterback of the future on the roster now?".

McDermott: "He is, in Tyrod Taylor." McDermott then proceeded to talk about the other Bills QBs, and how they're looking for Taylor to "develop" in a new offense.

Then Beane's first words: "We have open competition everywhere. ... (Taylor) has some tools, his speed ... He has some strengths. ... It is going to be a competition for every position."

Back to McDermott: "Going back to your question, Can we guarantee (the QB of the future) is on our roster right now? That remains to be seen."

Here's the exchange under my translation:

Is Buffalo's quarterback of the future on the roster now?

McDermott: "Uh, sure. Yeah. You bet."

Beane: "Well ..."

McDermott: "Right."

As teams have incentive not to run down current players in public, Beane and McDermott will have a challenge this summer in making Taylor sound good enough for them -- but between the lines signs point to his not being that, at least in their eyes. They don't want to be critical of Taylor, and they also don't want later to be called on a lie. The Bills can make a clean break from Taylor after 2017 and I think so far they sound like doing that is where they're putting their chips.

If Taylor is great this season, if the new offense works for him, if Sammy Watkins is healthy and productive, if LeSean McCoy at another year older stays strong, if Zay Jones contributes, things will be good and they can opt to keep Taylor for years to come. If, if, if, if, if. 

They didn't pick up the option year of Watkins' rookie deal though, which in my mind is a bet against him. McCoy turns 29 in July. Taylor has one 300-yard passing game in his career, and that happened only because the game (12/24/16 vs. Miami) went to overtime.

I wonder if veteran Bills players as they meet the new management will inquire about what their expectations for this season really are. If Beane, etc., tell vets what I think is the truth -- that playoffs this year are possible but not, per se, the goal -- will any of them ask to play somewhere else? The Vegas over-under line for the 2017 Bills is six wins, and for all the talking over the years the Bills have done about their internal expectations, this line regularly has been right on. A team predicted for 8-8 can sneak its way into 10 or 11 wins; a team predicted for 6-10, well that's a different story.

Beane and McDermott appear bright and motivated. I like what I see, and hear. But when you're taking stock of what they're saying, also make a note of what they're not.

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