Buffalo Bills: Fans are still learning to trust the process

Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills owners Terry Pegula and Kim Pegula during halftime against the New York Jets at New Era Field. The Jets beat the Bills 37 to 31. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills owners Terry Pegula and Kim Pegula during halftime against the New York Jets at New Era Field. The Jets beat the Bills 37 to 31. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

Terry and Kim Pegula saved the Buffalo Bills from skipping town, but can they make the Bills a winner?

It’s hard for me to say the Los Angeles Chargers, or the Los Angeles Rams, when I talk to friend about the NFL. It will be difficult to say the Las Vegas Raiders, too. As a fan, it’s a constant reminder of what almost was for the Buffalo Bills in 2014.

Terry and Kim Pegula purchased the Bills in October of 2014. Their ownership of the crosstown Sabres meant that the Bills weren’t going anywhere. It’s a feeling of relief that no Bills fan will ever be able to say ‘Thank You’ enough to both Terry and Kim Pegula.

Now that the Bills are securely in Buffalo, and we no longer have to endure a miserable home game in Toronto each season, the next step is winning. Ralph Wilson was owner for over 50 years and in that time there were ups and downs. Probably more downs than ups, but still there were ups.

The Pegulas want to win. There is no question or debate and they will spend the money to do it. In sports, there is rarely a parallel to spending equaling wins. Take baseball where there is no salary cap. The Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers don’t win every year, but they do spend every year.

With owners who will keep the franchise where it belongs, and the willingness to do whatever it takes to win, do you trust them to make the smart decisions that will lead to wins?

I struggle with this ‘trust’, because they are very new to sports ownership and they haven’t been fortunate enough to experience that winning feeling yet. Do they know how to create it?

In 2011, the Pegulas purchased the Buffalo Sabres, who themselves were in a rebuilding phase after a multi-year playoff run. Since the Pegulas took over, the Sabres have not made the playoffs. Since then, 4 Head Coaches and 2 General Managers have been fired.

Prior to the Pegulas arrival, the Sabres had an established coach in Lindy Ruff who had been with the franchise for 16 seasons.

The Buffalo Bills hadn’t made the playoffs for 15 years before the Pegulas arrived. Since their arrival, there are have been no playoffs, 1 fired head coach and 1 fired General Manager.

I don’t count the Marrone exit in this piece because he made an error that he does regret, or would do differently today.

So in 8 total years of being a sports owner (if you count each team separate), the Pegulas have fired 3 General Managers and 5 Head Coaches.

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What do you make of that? The teams aren’t very good? Or something else?

To me this comes down to where we are today in society. There is limited patience and if we don’t get the immediate results we want, changes are made. I don’t follow the Sabres as much and some firings are totally warranted if relationships aren’t working as they should.

The Pegulas didn’t hire Doug Whaley and I get that you want to bring your own guy in. I just look at the management of the Sabres and I can’t say I trust them to make the right hire.

Which is why I am extremely curious about the hire of Sean McDermott. McDermott has me feeling extremely optimistic about the Buffalo Bills future.

McDermott has installed the one voice culture and it goes perfectly with One Buffalo, which is a Pegula culture.

When Rex Ryan was hired, I remember reading all the reports about the Pegulas being involved in every interview. They wanted to learn the league and the people who were in it. I didn’t hear nearly as many reports this time about their involvement. Obviously, they had to be involved somewhat, because they make the final say.

If they hired McDermott, I give them some credit for maybe learning from past mistakes and finding a guy who fit what was missing in the Bills locker room. If they let Whaley make this hire, I don’t care, I just want wins. I just don’t want excuses in 2 years if this team struggles because Whaley made the decision.

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Sean McDermott isn’t trying to just win, he is trying to change the entire culture at One Bills Drive. I don’t know if it will work, nobody does. What I do know is that a full culture change like McDermott is installing will take longer than 2 years. I don’t trust the Pegulas to let the process marinate and grow, just yet.

The Buffalo Bills will experience peaks and valleys under McDermott and the GM To-Be-Named-Later. Barring something shocking, there will be a pre-existing relationship between the GM and McDermott.

Let’s assume there isn’t chaos in the front office and that the Coach and GM are in sync.

If the Buffalo Bills miss the playoffs the next 2 years, don’t burn the place to the ground. If they make the playoffs the next 2 years, don’t extend GM/McDermott for life. Let this process play out in full. I will be upset if the Bills stink the next 5 years, but I want to know for sure that McDermott is or isn’t the man for Buffalo.

The Pegulas have to avoid their itchy trigger fingers, and let the process happen.

Next: Tyrod Taylor nearing two career milestones this season

Do you trust the Pegula’s to turn the Buffalo Bills around? Leave your thoughts below!