For the first time since 1995, the Buffalo Bills are AFC East division champions. Josh Allen is the 3rd QB to win the AFC East this century, joining the likes of Chad Pennington and some QB who lost his starting job to Drew Henson. The Bills have been on a steady rise the past 3 years and one man is the reason why: Sean McDermott
Before this season, there was many doubts about the Bills, most of them centered around 3rd year QB Josh Allen. Before this season, people thought Josh Allen would never amount to anything, focusing on the extremely misleading completion % stat to show that he is inaccurate and you can’t “teach” accuracy. They thought Sam Darnold (LOL) will be better than him this year and Josh Allen would be the reason the Bills miss the playoffs. Oh how the turn tables. Before the season people thought the Bills would have to make the playoffs in spite of Allen, but in reality, the Bills are making the playoffs because of Allen. If Allen was not the starting QB for the Bills, they would probably be finishing at 6-10 or 8-8. Allen went from a rough rookie start, to a mediocre sophomore year to becoming a top 5 QB in the NFL. Allen’s rise would not be possible without the belief of McDermott and a united front office and coaching staff built around making Allen the best QB he can be. McDermott probably saw how Mahomes was doing in Kansas City with an entire team built around him and wanted to emulate that success in Buffalo and boy has it worked this year.
Allen’s completion % went up by 10 points, his yards per attempt went up a whole point, his passer rating went up 20 points, and he already has 911 yards more passing than last year and 10 more total TDs. Allen is one of the most dynamic QBs in the NFL and a must watch, joining the likes of Mahomes, Wilson, Rodgers and Watson. Allen has become one of the top passers in the NFL, and it starts with Daboll adapting the offense to Allen’s strengths, McDermott moving away from his defense first tendencies, and Allen going all in improving his mechanics and footwork to be an elite QB.
While Allen ascending to a top tier QB contributed a lot to being division champs, the front office moves by the duo of McDermott and Beane also played a huge role in the success of the team. In 2019, the Bills made the first big leaps in building around Allen by firing OL coach Juan Castillo, getting an actual QB coach, and building a solid OL and receiving corp. They signed Mitch Morse to be the anchor of the OL, they got a bunch of cheap high floor low ceiling lineman to man the guard and tackle positions and hired an actual OL coach. This made the OL go from a weakness to a strength which greatly helped Allen have more time to throw. In the skill positions they first signed Cole Beasley and John Brown to decent deals and drafted Dawson Knox to have weapons for Allen. In 2020 they also drafted Gabriel Davis who I expect will be the #2 WR once Brown or Beasley’s deals expire. But the biggest move was not in free agency or the draft, but a big trade, for an underappreciated WR who was an under the radar stud who wanted to be in an offense that knew it was a passing league.
Trading for Stephon Diggs was the final piece of the puzzle of making the Bills offense go from good to great. Diggs was the #1 WR in Minnesota but he was becoming increasingly frustrated in the offensive philosophy shifting from a passing offense to one centered around the run. Diggs wanted out of Minnesota because the team was going to a Dalvin Cook centered offense because they needed to hide Kirk Cousins. Adam Thielen was ok with the reduced workload (which makes sense because he was a #2 and still is) but Diggs is a borderline top 5 WR and top WRs need to be fed if you want to win. So when the Bills came a knocking, the Vikings were glad to trade him away for a 1st and a few other picks and the Bills had an elite WR to give the offense the final spark it needed. Before the season started many questioned how useful Diggs would be in an offense with Josh Allen at QB. They thought he would not get enough targets and would become increasingly frustrated in Inaccurate Allen. Diggs is currently 1st in the NFL in receptions with 111, 3rd in the NFL in yards with 1314, tied for 1st in the NFL in targets with 147 and 3rd among receivers in first downs with 61. Diggs was the chain mover of the offense, the clutch master for the offense, the guy Allen went to every chance he gets and this has opened up other outlets too. Cole Beasley has had his best year ever and Gabriel Davis was looking like a solid #3 before hitting the rookie wall. The Bills passing game is top 5 in the NFL and Diggs and Allen is a top 5 duo in the NFL. Along with Allen, Diggs has been proving the doubters wrong in thinking this match will not work and he will be unhappy like he was in Minnesota.
All of this would not have happened without the vision of McDermott and the belief he had in Josh Allen and building a team around the QB, similar to what the Chiefs have done with Mahomes. McDermott also knew the defensive philosophy of 2019 will no longer work in 2020 and he had to let Daboll call an aggressive gameplan to score as much as possible since the defense was going to regress in 2020. Recently however the defense has been slowly figuring itself out and it has went from one of the worst defenses to middle of the pack…just in time for the playoffs. Levi Wallace who was terrible to start the season, is finally starting to look like a real #2 and Tre White is starting to heat up again. The defense looks like it can finally make some stops which will be key in the postseason where any stop matters.
In conclusion, the Bills this year have been a team of proving doubters wrong. People thought Allen would never amount to anything. Diggs would never get enough targets. Daboll needs to be fired. Tre White is not a top 5 CB. Tyler Bass is not a good kicker. Every one of these statements have been proved wrong and now you only got the small minority of Josh Allen deniers whose hatred of him makes them incapable of seeing anything else. But most of the people have seen the Bills are for real and they are ready to make a push for another Super Bowl loss because this is the way.