Welcome to the 2023 offseason, everybody. With the Super Bowl behind us, we’ve entered the player acquisition phase of the NFL calendar, and it brings up a whole new set of questions to try to answer. In the regular season, we drill down into types of zone runs, coverage schemes, advanced statistics, hand fighting techniques, etc. Now we’re looking at identifying whether or not that college safety can be trusted in run fits, why does that free agent LB have such a high passer rating against, and how will the Bills create cap space through cuts and/or restructures.
Already in this young offseason, Bills Mafia appears to be struggling with the disappointment of unmet expectations. The loss to Cincinnati was hard, but it was the pain of feeling shortchanged of a Super Bowl berth that sent many spiraling. Cover 1 is trying to help you work through that dismay with deep analysis to try to fully grasp why the season went the way it did, but many folks just want to be mad.
Don’t worry though. There won’t be any emotional intelligence or maturity found in this article. Here, we’re searching out ways to stay mired in our misery. There are ways to keep your frustration fully maximized even in the offseason. Keep that despondency going by adhering to at least one of the following expectations. These assumptions are focused just on the draft, but once you get the feel for it, there are similar ways to ensure your dismay when it comes to free agency too.
Expect Beane to Draft to Meet Immediate Needs & Ignore Athletic Projects
Expect Brandon Beane to Avoid High-Value Positions
The Bills have spent so many resources on things like defensive linemen, so clearly they should be done caring about that position by now, right? Beane has drafted a couple of players on the DL who haven’t panned out as well as hoped to this point, so stop doing it, Brandon.
Beane has told us, in words and actions, that some positions are valued more highly than others, and he hits those positions in the draft because it is a more cost-effective approach. To make sure you’re good and lathered up, insist the Bills invest high-round picks in positions that have lower average salaries or take up lesser amounts of the cap league-wide.
Beane is adaptable and could very well prove this author wrong, but drafting a first-round guard would be a demonstrable alteration from the SOP Beane has laid down.
Expect Dual Role Players to be Readily Available & Easily Coached Up
It’s so frustrating that a roster bubble player who was a net-negative on special teams went to a talent-starved team, got an undue target share, and produced reasonably well. Why didn’t Beane just tell Sean McDermott to roster Isaiah Hodgins for 7 offensive snaps a game as WR6 and deactivate Kumerow, even though that would weaken special teams? Teams don’t really matter, and it’s the easiest part of football anyhow. Anybody could do it.
Especially for Day 3 picks, cement yourself in the belief that your draft crush, who never played a snap of Special Teams, will be the apple of the Bills’ eye over a marginally less talented player who led his team in return tackles for 3 years.
Ignore the Reality of a 6th or 7th Rounder as Your Backup Anything
The days of having a roster that could be fundamentally improved by players who last beyond 160 of their peers. This isn’t 2015, and you don’t need to cross your fingers that Dezmin Lewis can pan out as WR3. Year over year, Beane and the front office work to address holes through both free agency and the draft.
The thread below is a couple of years old, but it details how Beane has interwoven his approaches to free agency and the draft. Establish a floor for each position through free agency so there are no glaring holes on the 53-man roster.
Frankly, even without a ring, this method has been successful. The Bills are one of the best teams in the league with one of the best rosters. You could even argue that the 2022 offseason showed Beane deviating from this pattern with the big signing of Von Miller as CB was a flashing red light before the draft, but that exception proves the rule.
So, tell yourself they have to have that guard from Middle Tennessee State you saw one highlight of to backup Bates instead of another toolsy CB if you’re dead set on stewing in your own juices.
Get Your Heart Set on 1-2 Prospects & Consider the Draft a Failure Otherwise
This is the Judge Mathes Rule. Judge is great, loves virtually every prospect, and is a really solid evaluator. He is admittedly not good at keeping his cool. Usually, Judge will calm down in a couple of days (please do not ask him about Hodgins), and bring his skills to bear in assessing the draft. But the difficulty is obvious. There are too many variables in the draft to go full myopia and declare there is only 1 true love for you in the 2023 draft.
Too many fans have already identified O’Cyrus Torrence as the Bills’ only prince charming for the 1st round, and anyone else is an ogre. So please, create your photoshop edits of the Gator guard in a Bills’ uniform now, because that is a clear sign of emotional well-being.
Assume Anyone Knows Anything
They don’t. Neither do you. Neither do I.
Expect Your List of Team Needs is the Same as Beane’s
Beane is planning 3-5 years down the road, which is why I wrote pieces on contract stacking last year (Offense/Defense). Beane and the rest of the front office are evaluating players, contracts, and cap limits across multiple years, which means they see – or sometimes intentionally create – holes in future years. As much as you and I obsess over the Bills, it is literally the front office’s job to do so. They see things or plan for things those of us outside the building often don’t consider. This doesn’t make them infallible, but they have given this a great deal of thought.
So, of course, the list you jotted down in the notes app is the same as the Bills, champ. Yup. Keep telling yourself that.
And, just to make sure your draft-related disappointment last’s into the season,,,
Expect Sean McDermott to Play Any Rookies Full-Time Immediately
As much as we want McDermott to fully trust the rookies we love just coming out of camp, time and time again he’s shown you he won’t. He’s demanding. He must be fully convinced. Outside of injuries possibly necessitating it, McDermott will move slowly with rookie players. When the second-round tackle you just know is better than Spencer Brown still hasn’t supplanted him by Week 5, go ahead and blame me for not warning you.
There it is, ladies and gentlemen. If you can’t keep your anger kindled with these unreasonable expectations, then maybe you shouldn’t even bother being angry at all.