I’m getting seasick. After two horrible losses, most Bills fans were understandably upset. After one good win, the pendulum seemed to swing entirely the other way. I actually read posts on social media that said things like “I thought this was a 2-14 team, but now [after the Vikings win] I think they could get into the Wild Card.” After another bad loss, fans are ready to fire everyone.
I can’t keep up with the back and forth.
It’s so important to be realistic about this team and the season they’re going to have. Sure, some things haven’t gone to plan, like Nathan Peterman being a complete tire fire and trading AJ McCarron forcing Josh Allen to start before he was ready. (More on this later.) Guys like Kelvin Benjamin are clearly not interested in playing hard and other players are quitting at halftime. Although it’s less than ideal, all of this is okay.
This team was never predicted to be good. They have huge deficiencies at key positions, not the least of which is a decimated offensive line that no one could’ve predicted. I hear that the team didn’t do enough to fix the offensive line, but they tried. They brought in Russell Bodine this offseason along with a few other free agents as stop gaps. They can’t get their best offensive player in LeSean McCoy going with any consistency. In fact, it appears they can’t even get him the ball.
This is all okay because this is the process. This is the process we signed on for last year. The team just struck gold and squeaked into the playoffs. This is 100% the rebuild that One Bills Drive had in mind when McBeane took over.
The Bills have an unbelievable amount of cap space this offseason. They have plenty of draft picks. They’ll also have a second year QB with 14 games of NFL experience.
This brings me to the crux of my opinion today. It’s a good idea to have Allen playing now.
I realize Allen could be learning on the sidelines versus being sacked and picked off on the field. As long as he’s committed to learning from his mistakes instead of being derailed by them, this is great for his development. There are no expectations for this year for fans like me. Even if they never win another game all year, as long as Allen is developing positively this season is a success. The Bills can build around Allen this offseason and use next season to gauge is he’s the franchise QB going forward or not.
If the narrative on Allen is that he had the highest ceiling, but needed the most work, is true, then let’s have him shake out the cobwebs this year while the team isn’t ready to win anyway. Let me phrase it this way: Would you rather go through the growing pains now or next season when the team has more talent and is, in theory, more ready to win? If Allen needed time to grow and develop regardless, let’s get him the real time reps now so there’s a better chance he’s learned what he needs to before Week 1 next season.
Temper your expectations. A bad loss doesn’t mean this team is doomed and it’s time to fire the front office. A nice win doesn’t make this a competitive team for years to come. As much as we hate to read this, it’s going to take time to develop Allen and be a perennial competitor. It’s going to take time to build the team that McBeane has in mind.
Disclaimer: If by the end of next season Allen hasn’t developed and they’re still starving for talent, let’s push the panic button together.