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Brandon Beane; We've Got To Win The division’

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Brandon Beane on expectations for Bills: ‘Talk is cheap ... We've got to win the division’

 

McDermott Beane

Bills coach Sean McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane.

Brandon Beane never relaxes. It’s against his nature to simply kick back and feel the Buffalo Bills, the team he’s in charge of putting together and keeping at the highest competitive level, is every bit as strong as many observers believe.

Beane’s conversations with his staff in the team’s player-personnel department make that abundantly clear.

“I’ll say, ‘Hey, guys, if we lose one guy here, that could still hurt us a little bit here or there,’” the general manager said. “I do think our depth is the best we've had it to this point. But I don't know if I'm ever going to say, ‘Man, we check all the boxes.’ I don't even know if that's possible.

“Probably the one area that's really hard to gauge right now is special teams, and we put a lot of emphasis on that. We've done live stuff with offense and defense, but we haven't truly gone live-live covering kicks or blocking for kicks. So, that will be interesting. (Special teams coordinator) Heath Farwell's probably got the toughest job of any to know what it's going to look like come Sunday, based off limited – what I call truly live reps – blocking, tackling to the ground.”

What about the notion the Bills are set up perfectly to take over the AFC East now that the New England Patriots no longer have Tom Brady at quarterback? What about the belief the Bills’ offense, thanks to the addition of receiver Stefon Diggs and the assumption Josh Allen will elevate his game in his third season under center, will finally have some sustainable firepower? What about that top-tier defense?

What about all the hype that this team, beginning with Sunday’s season-opener against the New York Jets, is on a journey that will produce a deep postseason run?

“While we appreciate that we're being respected and people think we may have a good season, Sean (McDermott) and I know and our message is, ‘Talk is cheap. We’ve got to go out and prove it,’ ” Beane said. “We’ve got to go win the division. That's the goal here. We haven't had a home playoff game and the only way you're going to do that is if you won your division.

“That is our focus here at One Bills Drive. We’ve got to be better than those three teams. We know that the Patriots have ruled this thing forever. I'm sure the Dolphins and the Jets are thinking the same thing, and we’ve got to go try and wrestle this away from them.”

In the latest edition of One-on-One Coverage, The Buffalo News spoke with Beane on a video call about the recent contract extensions for McDermott, cornerback Tre’Davious White and offensive tackle Dion Dawkins; the prospect of fans eventually being allowed to watch games at Bills Stadium; and the change the pandemic has caused in scouting college talent this fall.

Buffalo News: How struck were you by Tre'Davious White's emotional video call with media after signing that extension? Your job is to do what's best for the team and there's a bottom-line element to that, but how much did his expression of the depth of what this newfound wealth meant to him and his family register with you on a personal level?

Brandon Beane: That's part of what makes Tre so special. And it's not like this is the first time that I've seen how much this means to him and how much he cares about being able to do things for his family – things that he wasn't able to necessarily do or some of his siblings. Of all of his family, I know that he was one of the first ones to go to college and get a degree and things like that. So, we had the agreement in place for a few hours, and then Tre came to the office and, one of the first things that I like to do with a player is ask him, "Are you happy?" This needs to be a win-win. You don't ever want someone signing when they're not sure, because I've seen that before.

So, I asked Tre, "Are you happy? Are you relieved?" His eyes were still very watery, and he struggled to talk about it. I said, "It's OK, man." He said, "Yeah, man, just talking to my dad a while ago, it really got emotional for me and just what I've come from, small town Shreveport, La., area.’ Believe me, I felt a couple of tears in my eyes just for being so proud of him and happy for him. We see stories all the time about athletes. They get paid and they lose their money, blow it or whatever. Tre White is not going to do that. He is going to put this for the good of himself, his family; he'll secure them. And he's going to help as many people as he can, and that's what makes it special.

BN: What does it say about the Bills, as an organization, that you were able to get those huge contract extensions with two of your best players from the 2017 draft done this summer?

BB: The first thing it shows is Terry and Kim (Pegula), their commitment. I mean, these are big-time resources and so players are going to look for the top. “What is ownership's commitment to winning?” And when you see Sean and I talk about draft, develop and re-sign your own, talk is cheap and we were able to back that up. And that's kind of been our message to Terry and Kim, how we want to build things and this is just another acknowledgement to our fans how committed they are.

Even in uncertain economic times that we're all in right now, they're not batting an eyelash to reward some of our young talent that we want to build this thing around. You're talking about a premium corner. Left tackle's one of the premium positions, and Dion is an up-and-comer there and on his way. We want to continue to do that. Now, will we be able to do them all? I don't know, with the (lower salary) cap (due to lost revenue in the pandemic) and things like that. But it's a great start to that 2017 (draft) class, and hopefully we'll be able to continue that with either others in that class or, starting next year, maybe some of the 2018 class.

BN: What is your level of confidence/comfort about Josh Allen’s game entering the season?

BB: Josh is still a young player, but I'm very confident in him. The thing I'm most pleased about is I see confidence in his teammates, definitely on the offensive side, but I think the defensive guys see it, too. And I see them challenging him in practice, whether it's the DBs trying to get an interception or if Sean blows a play dead that he thinks would have been a sack and Josh is like, “No, I’d have gotten away from him.” And Jerry Hughes is like, “No, I had him.” But I think the team is very confident, I'm confident and I’ll speak for Sean, as well. He's confident.

It's Year Three, though. We're not talking about an eight-, nine-, 10-year vet. So, he still has metrics that he’s got to improve on and many of those have been talked about. We know them, starting with just hitting some more of those deep balls. But we don't want to hit the deep balls and miss the layups, so to speak. I think (quarterbacks coach) Ken Dorsey and (offensive coordinator) Brian Daboll have stressed that. “Don't just go work on a deep ball. Now, we're missing these 10-yard crossers or comebacks.” He really improved his intermediate balls, the accuracy, last year, so continuing to grow off of that and then adding the deep-ball element, hopefully, in Diggs. He can do a lot of things, but he tracks the ball supremely well, as good as you can ask for.

BN: How much was the trade with the Minnesota Vikings for Stefon Diggs fueled by a sense of being, if not where you want to be to make that Super Bowl push, at least close to it?

BB: It goes back to what I said at the end of last season, that we just didn't score enough points. And the first guy to look at is the guy I see in the mirror. I was aggressively trying to pursue a wide receiver at the trade deadline last year, but it had to make sense for the Bills. Either, there was another deal where someone would send an AFC player to an NFC team or even Stefon. I did check in with the Vikings and they were not willing to move him at that time. So, we couldn't make it happen.

My opinion that we needed someone opposite John (Brown), and to have (Cole) Beasley (inside), didn't change in that Houston (wild-card) game. That really showed me where we were. We moved the ball. We just settled for three instead of seven too much. And there was a lot of pressure on our defense, which played so well for most of that game. But that was the impetus of the move and I just felt, for this offense to take another step, I needed to do my part.

BN: How important is the stability that this team seems to have with Sean getting the contract extension, and the sense that many of us have that you're going to be getting one in the foreseeable future?

BB: I thought that was a great move by Terry and Kim to tie up Sean. He's done a heck of a job and, other than winning postseason games, he's checked every other box. And I have no doubt that that will happen in due time. I think it's important for our organization to see that, at the top, there's alignment, there's vision, and that there's a plan for the long-term vision.

If the head coach and the GM are constantly changing, or they're in and out, or you don't know they're going to be there long-term, then people have got to wonder, “How does this affect me?” I guarantee you, every one of those coaches went home a little more fired up after Sean got his extension, knowing that helps me and we do have stability here.

And that was the biggest thing going back to my interview with Terry and Kim, was that the teams in the AFC East were probably doing the Patriots a little bit of a favor by not sticking it out with head coaches and GMs, and that if it's ever going to flip, then stability is probably going to be the No. 1 thing to make that happen. And they recognized it and they back that up to this point with getting Sean extended.

BN: Now that you’ve been working together going on four seasons in your current roles, what's your relationship been like with Sean, especially dealing with all the challenges from the coronavirus pandemic?

BB: Yeah, I'm glad was Year Four and not Year One or Two, because you're drinking out of a firehose, as it is, in these new positions (at the time). And so, being confident and comfortable at what we're doing is helpful because this is a whole new set of daily problems, let's just call it that. Daily issues. Before I walk in, you know, there’s communication with (head athletic trainer) Nate Breske, whether it's a phone call or text or whatever, what may be coming down the pike if someone is positive. We even get sometimes where tests are invalid, which means we’ve got to hold (those individuals) out of the building until we can get the (valid) tests in. Those things don't come out in the press, but those things happen every week.

But I think Sean and I both respect each other. The thing that he knows about me and I know about him is, even when we disagree, we're trying to make the best decision for the Buffalo Bills. And as long as both of us always do that, and I have no doubt we will, I think we'll always be able to stay on the same page. I think, when egos get involved, that's where relationships can fracture.

And, again, we don't agree on everything. We’ve got a 53 cut, and if you think that he's going to have the same 53 that I do, you're crazy. It just doesn't work that way. But we'll talk through it, we'll listen, everyone will make points. We'll let our coaches make points. We'll let (director of player personnel) Dan Morgan, (assistant GM) Joe Schoen make points. And then the decision’s got to be made. He's done a great job. I really enjoy working with him, and I think he's a heck of a coach.

BN: Roger Goodell said he sees no competitive advantage to some stadiums with fans and some, like yours, without. We know how Sean McDermott feels about this. How do you feel about this?

BB: There is some disadvantage if you've got no fans versus some. Players enjoy playing in front of fans. Don't even talk about the crowd noise, because I don't know what it'll sound like in some of these things with 13,000 or 20,000, or whatever. But that's the biggest thing in talking to our guys that they're disappointed about, is not being able to play in front of the fans.

Even if it's the fans (at road games), there's nothing better than winning on the road in a hostile environment. You feel like it's you against the world going into Foxborough or the Dolphins or wherever and winning. It's fun to win at home, no doubt, but you feel like you really accomplished something in this league when you go win on the road. And it's just going to be different. And, so, I think, playing in front of our home fans, helping you get up – the defense needs to get a stop just to change the momentum or the offense needs to make a play – I do think there is an advantage to having people in the stands because players really enjoy playing for fans.

BN: What are your feelings about artificial crowd noise being pumped into stadiums throughout the league?

BB: I do think it's important to do that. Otherwise, every (play) call can be (heard) on TV. And they can get on there anyway, with these mics that the centers and guards wear. But I think it's going to only be worse if there's no noise and you're playing in an empty stadium. Coaches across the field will be hearing potential calls and things like that. So, I think the best thing for the game is to make sure there's at least enough noise so that only the 11-on-11 could potentially hear things, not a lot of stuff being picked up on TV or from sideline to sideline.

BN: What’s happening with the behind-the-scenes efforts of members of your organization in dealing with state officials in hopes of eventually allowing fans to attend games at some point this season?

BB: Gregg Brandon, who heads up our legal team, is heading it up and he has some help along the way. But he's been our main contact with the New York State government. They're on calls several times a week. They've submitted plans for how they could do it. They've walked through the whole stadium. I don't know every intricate detail, but I spoke to Gregg (last week) just asking him where things were, and he's done a great job. I know that the Pegulas have been involved as well, kind of staying in touch with Gregg. And, so, we'll see.

The goal here is, as soon as the governor and his people within the government will allow it, we want to be ready for that, just like we wanted to be ready when the league and the union passed (the agreement) on how we could start camp with the IDER (infectious disease emergency response) plan. This is kind of their version of that to open it up. We're cautiously optimistic, but at the end of the day, until it happens, we'll see. But Gregg deserves a great amount of credit. He's put a lot of hours into it.

BN: Do you anticipate that players on your team will protest in some fashion or sit out games, like has happened in other leagues? And what’s your feeling on that?

BB: That's a tough subject. I think what Sean and I have tried to do is have some open forums with our guys. We've had some with players only, we've had some with some staff included and just letting guys talk about how they were raised, experiences they've dealt with, and just listening and respecting everyone's views. And I think that's the tone that Terry and Kim have with us, and Sean and I would echo it as well that we don't have all the answers, first off. And our job is to listen, and we all respect each other. If we can do that, then we can be a team. If you can't respect the guy you're working next to – you don't have to agree – but if you can't respect them, it's going to be a struggle to be a successful team.

With regards to guys that would kneel or stand or protest by sitting out, I don't have those numbers. There may be guys in this league and on our team that are thinking about some of those decisions and maybe they haven't even made a final decision yet.

BN: With limited college football, because of some conferences and schools not playing, some players opting out, and restrictions when it comes to on-campus scouting, what is your scouting plan for this fall?

BB: Right now, we're able to do some Zooms with the schools, but we're not allowed to attend any schools at this point. The league has a rule in place, from an equity standpoint, even if the school is allowing it, no one can do that to this point. Hopefully, once they start playing games, that will open up and we'll see. I know that, right now, the rule seems to be that it'll be up to the school how many scouts are allowed at a game and it will be no more than one scout per club.

Sometimes, you end up there with another scout or two, so that will be possible. One of the other options would be to buy a ticket to the game, or something like that, if available, depending on how many and what the rules are there. So, it's going to be different. There are guys that have opted out that I would have loved to have seen in person. To this point, that won't happen unless they somehow have a bowl game or if they're eligible for those, if it's a senior.

But it's going to be different, for sure. If a player’s team doesn't play or they opt out, we're going to have to rely on their previous couple of years of film. And some of these guys may only have one true year, if it's an underclassman that was a one-year starter and had a heck of a year and has been advised to come out. So, it will make it a little tougher, but it's equitable across the board. It's our job to weed out the ones that don't belong and make sure we select the ones that fit us and will really help this team next season.

 


“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

 

Twitter: @HKTheResistance

 

HipKat, on *** other h***, is genuine, unapoli***tically nasty, and w**** his hea** on his ******. jc856

I’ll just forward them to Bridgett. comssvet11

Seek help. soflabillsfan

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