Fasten Your Seatbelts; It May Be a Bumpy Ride, if Buffalo Is Any Indication

Apologies to Bette Davis, All About Eve (1950): The actual quote is, "Fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy night."

With the Buffalo Bills looking like a juggernaut right now, Josh Allen looking like an all-world QB, Joe Schoen being one of the top candidates for the Giants' GM job, and the Giants' QB situation being unsettled, I was motivated by the link in today's BBV News to a story about the GM candidates' QB success rates to look back at the sequence of events that turned Buffalo into the powerhouse they are today. A lot of it I either never knew or had forgotten. But if the steps that lead to our new GM, new HC, and possibly a new QB are going to be anything like what happened in Buffalo, then things could be very interesting. A summary:

2000-2016: Buffalo has 2 winning seasons, 3 .500 seasons, and 12 losing seasons, including 9 in a row. The 2 winning seasons are 9-7. They cycle through 7 head coaches during this time (not counting 2 interim HCs). During the 2016 season they fired HC Rex Ryan, and in January 2017 they hired Sean McDermott as HC while retaining Doug Whaley as GM. But McDermott immediately became the public face of the franchise, while Whaley did not speak publicly leading up to the draft.

In the 2017 NFL draft, it's often forgotten that Buffalo, who had Tyrod Taylor as their starting QB, were the ones who traded down from the #10 slot to the #27 slot, allowing KC to move up and draft Patrick Mahomes. Buffalo did all right eventually in that trade, winding up either directly or indirectly via other trades with Tre'Davious White, Dion Dawkins, Zay Jones, Tremaine Edmunds, and Siran Neal. Buffalo did draft QB Nathan Peterman in round 5 that year; we know how that worked out. But they passed on Mahomes as well as Deshaun Watson to do it. It sounds like McDermott was involved in deciding to pass on Mahomes and Watson:

5 days after the draft, Whaley was fired and Brandon Beane was hired as GM. How's that for a dysfunctional organization? Great hires in retrospect, but you kick your GM out right AFTER the draft? Imagine the Giants letting Dave Gettleman conduct the 2022 draft and THEN announcing his "retirement." A few days later, Beane hired Joe Schoen as Assistant GM.

In 2018, Buffalo made not one but two trade-ups to get into position to draft Josh Allen. They had two round 1 picks, #21 and #22. They traded the #21 pick, a 5th round pick, and starting OL Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati to move up to #12 + a 6th round pick. (Side note: With the #21 pick Cincinnati took Billy Price. Other players drafted between #12 and #21 that Cincinnati could have had included Vita Vea, Daron Payne, Derwin James, Jaire Alexander, and Frank Ragnow.)

Then, with Tampa Bay on the clock at #7, they traded up again, giving up the #12, #53, and #56 picks to the Bucs for #7 and #255. (It's amazing to me that #255 was included in that trade; such a small detail considering the big stakes involved in the other picks. Would TB have said no if that wasn't included?) And Buffalo wound up with Josh Allen.

For those who think the Giants were foolish not to draft Allen at #7, there was absolutely no consensus at the time of the pick that Josh Allen would be a good QB. The reactions from professionals, not just amateur Twitter GMs, are very mixed:

We have no idea where the Giants' future lies. But if the 2021 Buffalo Bills are what we want to be in a couple of years, then it could be a bumpy ride, depending on who we hire as GM. We don't know how much Joe Schoen's outlook is influenced by, or contributed to, the wild sequence of events that got the Bills out of a 2-decade rut and put a championship-caliber core in place. But if he's hired, buckle up.

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