Bills coach Sean McDermott reacted to another disappointing playoff loss the only way he could. He said that the team will keep knocking on the door.
At some point, however, it’s fair to wonder whether McDermott will continue to be the one who knocks.
Before the 2022 season began, we addressed the intense pressure the Bills were facing in 2022. The expectations were crippling. It wasn’t fair to the Bills, not with so many great teams in the AFC.
And now that the Bills have exited in the divisional round for the second straight year, losing only their second ever home playoff game, it’s fair to wonder what may be happening behind the scenes, as McDermott contemplates potential changes to the coaching staff — and as ownership potentially contemplates potential changes to key positions like head coach and General Manager.
That’s not to say changes should be made. The point is that only ownership has the power to make those decisions, and that it’s possible for ownership to conclude that, as quarterback Josh Allen enters the front end of his prime, the team’s current power structure has taken the team as far as it can.
At the same time that ownership ponders (if it is) the future of coach Sean McDermott, McDermott ponders (if he is) the future of offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Ownership possibly will be placated by a half measure, similar to what the Chargers did after losing in the wild-card round.
But ownership also may decide that it needs a head coach who is an offensive expert. An offensive expert who can be joined at the hip with Josh Allen.
As it stands, the Bills have started to become an incubator for head coaches. A year after Brian Daboll went from being offensive coordinator to head coach of the Giants, his replacement (Ken Dorsey) had an interview with the Panthers. (Whether the rules should have allowed Dorsey to be distracted while preparing for the Bengals is a very different — but very real — issue.)
Dorsey could get the job in Carolina. Or he could be fired. Or everyone could be fired. Or everyone, including Dorsey, could get another year.
At this point, no one knows. And what anyone outside the organization thinks doesn’t matter.
Only ownership makes that call. And like owners of past teams that consistently got onto the porch but couldn’t kick in the front door, it’s possible that the owners of the Bills will decide that, in order to get over the top, changes need to be made.