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One Fan(n)’s Opinion by @rich_fann: Looking into Character on an Organizational Scale

While I enjoyed the Happiest Place on Earth ™, the Bills world kept a-turning, most notably with the hiring of several key people in the personnel side of the house. While I harangued the Bills for tooting their own horn as it were as it regards an “all-star” lineup, they have done an excellent job building their football ops side from the top down:

In fact, take a look at Dan Hatman’s Inside the Pylon page where he posted the changes:

 

A few things stood out to me, which I want to discuss here:

Character Commitment

I, like my esteemed partner-in-type Joe am always a bit cynical when it comes to new regimes talking “we’re going to do x, not y now!” and how eager folks are to forget how many other times that’s been said. However, for this crew, character seems to be the focal point of their decision-making, not ability. From the stories leaked of players being removed from the Whaley-and-crew made board, to statements after the draft, the Bills under McDermott (and Beane) seem to want more than “did you steal from a teammate” as the baseline.

Enter Lake Dawson, Assistant Director College Scouting:

Dawson’s role isn’t just to help grow his college scouts (I’ll say his, as the Bills haven’t formally hired a Director of College Scouting as of publishing) in terms of finding players that fit the scheme; it’s also to dive deep into their character to make sure it fits whatever the profile is that McDermott and Beane have for Buffalo Bills going forward.

Mostly, I’m interested with regard to this search for character where their line is. Do they go for the ultra-talented but troubled QB? Do they only continue to search for seniors – or underclassmen that graduate? Finding the areas where they’re hard and fast on what they want is as much “fun” as looking into the players themselves for me, so this self imposed project will bear watching.

Insulation in Case of Promotion/Departure

With the level of experience a lot of the new hires bring, they’ve also insulated themselves should folks depart. A lot has been made of the idea of “too many chiefs…” on social media while I was out, but to me it seems logical to have folks you trust to delegate development of your “shock troops” while you and your assistant GM and head coach work through the big stuff.

This also encourages a lot of younger/hungry execs that want that opportunity to consider Buffalo – particularly if the team starts to have success on field. Being associated with a comeback for the Western New York team would be a feather in the cap of any executive in an interview setting. And coupling that with the willingness to delegate that Beane seems to espouse, these employees can point to tangible situations where they had “the lead”, not just tangential ones.

Prior Staff wasn’t a “Ship of Fools”

Another Buffalo tradition seems to have emerged in the last 20 years: the extreme deviation away from the prior staff and lamenting they did “nothing” right.

Sure, if you have issues, as I had with may things done during Doug Whaley’s time as GM, air them and be heard. But seeing the tweets mount about how “different” the level of qualifications the new staff’s hires have compared to the old was silly. Kelvin Fisher and Jim Monos were two guys who weren’t hired off a turnip truck, they were qualified just as much as any of the hires made by Beane.

Also – when you look at Beane’s staff, by bringing back three former scouts (some in different roles) that is a testament to the qualified nature of their jobs. A cynic might argue the dearth of candidates, but I’d counter with the aforementioned lack of Director of College Scouting. There isn’t someone that Beane liked available, so he didn’t hire to hire. And in the interim, he has Dawson to work on the day-to-day stuff with him and perhaps get groomed to become that role in the year(s) to come.

As I state above, the moves made by Buffalo’s Brandon Beane are quite smart and belie the level of confidence he has in his ability to run the operation, as well as how comfortable he is in allowing Buffalo to be a fertile proving ground for emerging personnel staff – while they also help build the culture and organizational structure he seeks to make Buffalo on-field as much of a success as many have called them off it.

Shoot a hole in my theories? Got an opinion to add? Feel free to discuss with me anything on Twitter – @Rich_Fann!