“For what it’s worth, I have been a cynic as long as I can remember. Everyone is always asking me to believe in things. Family, Gods, Kings and myself. It was often tempting, until I saw what belief got people. So, I said ‘no thank you’ to believe. And yet, here I am”
–Tyrion Lannister to Daeneyrs Stormborn-
And here we are Bills fans. Another year of football is just under a week away. Cheers to Tyrion Lannister for basically crystallizing what my life as a Bills fan is like right now.
For the last 8 months, I’ve heard many reasons as to why we should believe in McBeane. Being tougher. Being more organized. Being Smarter. It really is quite tempting to believe in this, but like Tyrion, I’ve seen what belief has gotten me:
- I believed the Bills were going to make the playoffs in 2003 because of the upgrades they made on defense.
- I believed the Bills were going to make the playoffs in 2005 because the running game and defense would carry the team.
- I believed the Bills were going to make the playoffs in 2009 because Terrell Owens was going to open up the offense.
- I believed the Bills were going to make the playoffs after starting 5-1 in 2008 and 5-2 in 2011.
- I believed the Bills were going to make the playoffs in 2012 after they signed Mario Williams and the defense was going to be much better.
And just like that, we saw what belief got me….Chaos. Sure, the Bills jettisoned a number of Ralph Wilson/Russ Brandon cronies into the sun and we have a new front office, but they are still the Bills. They are still a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs in 17 years. The 17 years of zero playoffs has become a bigger albatross around this franchise than losing 4 Super Bowls.
The Pegulas are the same ownership group that has presided over a hockey team that has gone 6 years without making the playoffs, which is the longest stretch in franchise history. Nothing is thought out without bringing up the drought. There’s zero patience to really trust the process because unlike McBeane, they haven’t been through the wreckage. It was a lot easier to take in a rebuild in 2001 when Donahoe/Williams took over as the Bills were only one year into the drought. Now that we’ve gone through 16 of these, our patience doesn’t exist and you need a lot of that if you want to trust the process. Excuse me if the baggage is a little much for me to be “All in” (Previous Bills slogan).
The truth…I have a full grasp on what the process is right now. The Bills are rebuilding. They are doing what every new hierarchy would do when they take over a shit franchise. Maybe the timing is a little strange since moves like trading Watkins/Darby would happen in the spring, but McBeane aren’t looking at the calendar when it comes to these moves. They are throwing out any player from the previous regime and building the football world with their OWN vision. It doesn’t matter if the players are good or not. If you are a Bills player and weren’t picked by McBeane, you should put your house up for sale. It is out with the old and in with the new.
And that’s where the rub lies when it comes to trusting the process. We know who the old players are, but who will be the new players? Right now, this roster kind of sucks and if you are reading this and think 8-8 or better is in their future, you need to have a drink because this team is going to suck this year. I’m ready for a mix of 2010 and 2001 seasons.
McBeane has basically blown up this roster and are putting their eggs into next year’s draft class basket and beyond. That draft class is going to be where “New people” will be coming from and we have zero idea if they will be any good. You can tell me all you want how they are serious about winning this year because they brought back McCoy/Williams/Tyrod, but you can’t cut everyone and I’m willing to bet those guys are gone next year. Brandon Beane can huff and puff all he wants about not wanting to tank, but he’s not stupid. He knows this team will try hard, but they are going to suck. Zero GMs in this league will admit that in public about being shitty or it being a rebuild.
There isn’t much of a foundation right now for the Bills aside from their GM/Coach.
Luckily for Tyrion, he had Daenerys, the Dothraki, the Unsullied, and her 3 dragons to finally make him into a believer. The Bills don’t have that at all. McBeane is Ser Jorah and Daenerys from season 2 when they were walking through the desert while dying of thirst and begging anyone to be a part of their army. They had a couple of baby dragons, but that’s it. It took going through hell for them to finally get the army they wanted.
Bills fans, brace yourselves, because trusting the process starts with going through hell and that’s your 2017 season. I’m not here to tell you if we should trust the process, because I really don’t know if we should yet. It is too early for me to say they are football gurus and since the Bills past is a bit of an abusive relationship, I am a bit of a jaded cynic still. But through the art of cynicism, I know when there’s a storm coming. I’m here to tell you to batten down the hatches because a 4-12 storm is coming.
And when that storm hits, it is going to get so bad that we’ll not only be asking ourselves if we trust the process, but if we can survive it.