Time to win?

July 18, 2019 - 7:39 am

The way I remember it, the summer of 2012 was thought of as "time to win" by the Buffalo Bills.

I don't recall if there were t-shirts printed up and posters in the work out room. I just remember talking with numerous players that summer and especially then general manager Buddy Nix and hearing the phrase repeatedly.

Looking back on it now, I think I can see that "time to win" was used at least partially as a way to deflect the attention and credit that Nix was getting for managing to pull off a whopper of a free agent signing in Mario Williams. Not to mention that Nix had also doubled down on free agent pass rushers by signing Mark Anderson (remember him?) a week after landing Williams.

The courting of Williams that March was about as much fun as you can have with the NFL in the spring. Oooh he's still here! Hey, his fianc?e is here now too! That has to be a good sign.

So amidst all the back slapping and high-fiving of Nix, he'd slip in that it didn't really matter how many stars he signed, they needed to get a result. Eventually, a summer of promise and hope ended and the games began. An offensive lineman no one ever heard of easily handled Mario in the opener at the New York Jets, and afterwards Williams complained that the guy hadn't played fair and we were off on a journey to 6-10, a coaching change, eventually the drafting of E.J. Manuel and the retirement of Nix.

So much for time to win.

Between then and now, we've had Marrone and Whaley, then Rex and Whaley with Rex's twin Rob thrown in on a tandem bicycle for good measure. Now here we are, staring down Year 3 of Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane.

Yes, of course, the drought ended, but honestly, if the Bills don't get really good really soon, that drink of playoffs is going to end up feeling more and more like a sip from trickling water fountain.

The coach and general manager have made their moves to clean up the culture and fill the locker room with what they view as the right kinds of guys. The salary cap mess caused by some of those departures, notably Sammy Watkins and Marcell Dareus, has been eradicated. McDermott has been here through three drafts. The Bills identified Josh Allen as their franchise quarterback and moved aggressively in the spring of 2018 to draft him seventh overall.

Furthermore, the NFL has three recent examples of teams moving up to draft "their guy" at quarterback, adding support for that quarterback heading into Year 2, and winning. The Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams did it for Jared Goff and Carson Wentz three years ago, and then the Chicago Bears followed a similar blueprint with Mitch Trubisky one year later. While all three of those teams made splashier moves, the Rams and Eagles on offense and the Bears more so by adding stud pass rusher Khalil Mack, the Bills have done what might be considered their best imitation of that this off season.

So, is it time to win?

I get why McDermott and Beane might want to avoid the direct declaration Nix made back in 2012. Nix was at the end of his career either way, McDermott and Beane are still relatively new to their gigs. Mostly what we get are references to building a championship team and consistent contender.

That's fine and, of course, something worth investing in. But put bluntly, here's the way it falls...

They've cleaned up the locker room. They've spent their time in salary cap jail and came out of it with a massive haul of free agent bodies this offseason. There are highly drafted studs at each level of the defense in Ed Oliver, Tremaine Edmunds and Tre'Davious White. Most importantly, they identified Allen as their guy at quarterback and have him rolling into his second year with the same offensive system and coach in place.

I mean, let's go already. It's time to win. Even if they don't want to say it.

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