Here at Steven James, we’re all about helping people write a new story to help describe them, define them, and distinguish them. And like so many Western New Yorkers, we are thrilled that our beloved Buffalo Bills have started 2018 by beginning to write the next chapter of their story. On the very last day of the calendar, the Buffalo Bills not only closed the door on the year 2017, they also closed the door on 17 longs years of a playoff drought! This will be a season to remember, regardless of what happens now.
The 2017 season was a new story just for the sheer number of the new faces on the scene. Out was Rex The Mouth and in was the comparatively calm, cool, and calculating Sean McDermott. McDermott and new GM Brandon Beane were both assistants in their respective roles of coach and GM in the Carolina Panthers’ organization. These leaders also brought some former Panther players with them like fullback Mike Tolbert, and then obtained the outstanding receiver Kelvin Benjamin via a mid-season trade. Players who were thought to be future Bills building blocks like Sammy Watkins were jettisoned. These changes in and of themselves made for an interesting new chapter in Bills’ history.
But the season consisted of more than just personnel changes. There was the hot start followed by the lag that almost fell into a full-blown sag. After a horrible mid-season stretch of games, Coach McDermott even decided to try young backup Nate Peterman under center. It seemed like the bottom really fell out when the unfortunate rookie threw five first-half interceptions – an NFL record and a story that made national news. (A couple of the picks were more the receivers’ faults than Peterman’s.) But then came a very important road win against Kansas City that produced a little bit of life. But a defeat by the Pats and a dirty shot by Orchard Park native Rob Gronkowski replaced the good feeling of the KC win with a bitter taste. However, the script flipped once more and they finished strong, taking three of four – their only loss being another defeat to the Patriots. One of the three wins was the epic Snow Bowl against the Colts that will forever be remembered as one of the all-time harshest weather games in the history of ANY sport.
Something strange began to happen as the season went on: the breaks the Buffalo Bills were always on the short end of began to go their way. The phantom penalty at the end of the Colts game. The fact that they held a conference record tiebreaker over the Chargers even though they lost to them head-to-head (in the horrible Peterman game). And of course the epic Bengals’ drive against the Ravens that propelled the Bills into the playoffs for the first time in the 21st century.
Yes, it was a season of memories. Now kids who not only don’t remember the glory years of constantly vying for the top prize, but have never even seen the Bills play a game in post-season, have that chance. The veteran fans of two long stretches of ineptitude that bookend the middle golden era finally have legit hope to see their team return to relevancy. Team President Russ Brandon no longer has to see the playoff-drought graphic he said he was so sick of seeing on ESPN. Kyle Williams doesn’t have to wonder if he’ll ever play in a post-season game. The Miami game could possibly have been Williams’ final game as a Bill or even a professional player – but now odds are he’ll be back. He even scored a touchdown as a running back in the season finale! And there was the final memory of fans on New Year’s Eve waiting at the airport in frigid temperatures for the Bills to return from Miami so they could thank them for not giving up.
From here, who knows? The first wild-card game against the Jaguars is definitely winnable. The Jags have a great defense, but Buffalo can hang with them in every aspect of the game. It won’t be easy with Shady McCoy injured, but the Bills have more than a decent chance. And then it would be New England for the third time in about six weeks. The game in Foxboro: the land of Belichick, Brady, and the classless Gronkowski. If the Bills win that game, it will be a season to start more than a new story. It will be a season to start a new legend! Well, it’s called New Era Field for a reason! Like Steven James always says: Your Story Has Power! It’s time for the Buffalo Bills to tell theirs!