Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott’s top focus was changing the culture in Buffalo from their first days on the job.
That culture shift has resulted in playoffs berths in three of four seasons and culminated in their best season yet in 2020 with the Buffalo Bills. This past year, Buffalo went 13-3 in the regular season including a sweep over the AFC East for the first time in team history. In the playoffs, Beane and McDermott’s squad made it all the way to the AFC Championship game.
Beane and McDermott deserve plenty of credit for the Bills’ turnaround since 2017. Now, the duo is getting some credit for one team’s turnaround in the NFC East.
It turns out that Ron Rivera of the Washington Football Team leaned on the duo greatly in his first season as the team’s head coach. Rivera, of course, built relationships with the duo from their time together on the Carolina Panthers. Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post wrote about Rivera’s first season in Washington and how the head coach went to Beane and McDermott for advice.
“I asked Brandon and Sean, ‘When you guys came in, what was the idea?’” Rivera told Jhabvala. “It all starts with coming in and saying, ‘Hey, this is what we want to accomplish, this is what we want to do, this is what we want to be,’ and then finding out who shares that same vision.”’
Rivera’s team had some ups and downs in their first season. The team released their starting quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, in-season and started the year 2-7. Haskins’ maturity issues were a prime example of a player not sharing the vision of the team. As the season went on, the Football Team hit their stride. The team would go 5-2 down the stretch to win the division in Rivera’s first season.
The team would be one-and-done in the playoffs, but Washington pushed the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the brink in a 31-23 loss.
Making the playoffs was a great first step for Washington, but Rivera knows there is still plenty of work to me done. His hope is that by continuing to follow the Buffalo model, Washington can find the type of long-term success that Buffalo is currently having under Beane and McDermott.
“Even though in their first year they went to the playoffs, they knew they still weren’t done,” Rivera said of Beane and McDermott to Jhabvala. “They knew they still had more things they have to do. So that’s where we are. We still have more things we have to do.”
Part of the work to be done is finding a long-term answer at quarterback. The team will return Alex Smith and Taylor Heinicke in 2021, but no long term option is currently on the roster. With the No. 19 pick in this year’s draft class, the top three quarterbacks will likely be off the board but an option like Trey Lance or Mac Jones could be appealing to the team if they were to fall to the Football Team.
If Washington can find a franchise quarterback in the near future, Rivera’s rebuild could really mirror the one that Beane and McDermott put into place in Buffalo.
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