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Bills have long road ahead

On Tuesday, the Buffalo Bills announced the hiring of Brandon Beane as their new general manager. Beane, who comes over from the Carolina Panthers, has one of the most challenging tasks in professional sports ahead of him; turn the Bills into a winner.

Buffalo has famously not made it to the playoffs since 1999, the longest streak in the NFL by a considerable margin. How has this happened? A consistent ability to miss on the quarterback position, coupled with dysfunction. There have been countless attempts at finding the next Jim Kelly, but all of those men have ended up being busts. There has been J.P. Losman and Trent Edwards, Drew Bledsoe and Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rob Johnson and EJ Manuel.

Today, it is Tyrod Taylor under center, but even he seems to be on a very short leash. Taylor has been decent in his two years with the team, but has yet to throw for either 25 touchdowns or 4,000 yards in a season. He agreed to a reduced and restructured contract this offseason, but time could be ticking. Former general manager Doug Whaley was in his corner, as was head coach Rex Ryan. Both are history now, and perhaps due in large part to their feelings on that matter.

Speaking of Whaley, his dismissal points to the dysfunction that was aforementioned. After finishing out of the playoff chase once more in 2016, there would have been ample reasoning to fire Whaley a day after the season, moving on from the regime entirely.

Instead, owner Terry Pegula sat around for months. The Bills hired a new head coach in Scott McDermott, replacing Ryan, who was fired before the Week 17 game against the New York Jets. With McDermott in tow, Buffalo went through another offseason, including the free agency period and draft. Then, a day after the draft concluded, Pegula fired Whaley and the entire scouting department, in a move that shocked anybody within NFL circles.

Whether Beane can get this team turned around remains to be seen. Buffalo needs to upgrade on both sides of the ball, currently sitting without a true superstar on either side. Marcell Dareus would be the closest thing to that description, but his off-field issues that have impacted on his on-field product linger like a dark rain cloud.

Nobody expects the Bills to make much noise in the AFC East this season. Anything other than a third-place finish would be news, so at least Beane has the gift of low expectations and time that comes with them. Still, time is fleeting in the NFL. The Bills need to rebuild and fast, otherwise that playoff drought will be hitting 20 years, and Beane will be another in a long line who tried, but ultimately failed.

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