The Bills were once again eliminated from the playoffs during the divisional round, following their 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon.
The day after the loss, the Bills cleaned out their lockers still trying to process another year of falling short of their ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl.
While disappointment was a common theme amongst the players on Monday, there was a delicate balance between still being proud of the team overall and expecting more out of it.
“You know, I don’t want to just discredit everything that we did this year,” Bills quarterback, Josh Allen told the media. “There was a lot of positives that we saw throughout the year. You know, the adversity that this team had been dealt. I’m still proud of our team for how we handled some of those really adverse situations. They weren’t all easy and that’s the NFL, man. There’s gonna be 31 unhappy teams and this is gonna be the feeling every year unless you win the Super Bowl. So, again obviously we wanna win our last game and we didn’t do that, so a lot to learn from, a lot to grow from, but we’re gonna stick together as a team and and an office and an organization and continue to try to figure things out.”
Figuring things out is something the Bills have tried to do the last several years after losing to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game two years ago, followed by back-to-back exits in the divisional round.
“Ya, I mean it’s a loaded question,” Allen continued. “We gotta play better in the later parts of the season. You know, we gotta find a way to peak at the right time, you know in the playoffs. So, a lot to look at. A lot to learn from and grow from. You know and we’re gonna continue to work on things.
Again, there’s a lot of love in this locker room for each other. But at the same time I’m sick to my stomach. I know a lot of guys in the locker room are as well. You know, we want to win a Super Bowl. That’s our goal and that’s our mindset every time we step out on the field and each and every year. That’ll never change. And it sucks feeling like you’re close and not being able to accomplish it. And I know it’s been the last three years with the very similar feeling and we gotta continue to push forward and you know find a way to get over this hump and set out to accomplish what we want.”
Getting over the hump, as Allen mentioned, is something that is easier said than done. Every year the team doesn’t win it all, they are left to face the question of, “why?” That is something not even the players can always answer.
“I think I’m gonna start asking the same question,” Bills wide receiver, Isaiah McKenzie said to reporters on Monday. “‘What’s it gonna take?’ You know, we got the guys. I feel like we got the right guys. Beane and McDermott they bring in the right guys. And great players at that. You know Von Miller, Stefon Diggs, we got Josh, Gabe is coming along and things like that. The defense is doing well. You know, I’m trying to figure that out. You know, what is it? You know, what do we have to do? And obviously, I mean, it ain’t up to me, but, you know, other than that I’ll ask that question just like you ask that question. I don’t know… I really don’t know. Cause everything… we got the players, we got the coaches, we got everything we wanted. We’re winning football games when we need to win them… well during the season then we get to the playoffs, it’s just like it’s not there. I’m still not understanding that.”
McKenzie was not the only one left with more questions than answers. Tight end, Dawson Knox, shared a similar sentiment during locker room clean out.
“I think that’s the golden question, you know?” Knox said. “I think everyone’s kind of asking themselves that. And that’s something we can evaluate over the next month, two months, all the way through until next season starts. We have incredible people in this building from top to bottom and they’re gonna do a great job figuring that out. Our locker room is super close. We love our coaches. We love the leadership of this team so I don’t think there’s any one thing that pops out immediately, but that’s why it’s an important question cause it’ll take some digging to get to the bottom of it. But I think I speak for the whole locker room when I say we have faith in the people trying to fix the problems.”
Bills linebacker, Von Miller, who wasn’t able to help his team on the field during the playoffs due to a season ending ACL injury, took a more optimistic approach when asked how the team takes that next step.
“My message to the guys was, as competitors, whenever you lose, you go back to the drawing board and you say, ‘Oh I’ve gotta make some changes, I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do that, I’ve got to work harder,'” Miller said during his media availability. “You should always debrief. But I honestly feel like we’re in a unique spot. We’ve got a great football team. We’ve got great coaches. We’ve got great staff, great players. Sometimes, more isn’t always the answer. Sometimes you’ve just got to keep playing. Sometimes you’ve got to line back up, give us another year, and just go through it again.”
“We lost four games… we lost four games this whole entire year,” Miller continued. “Four games out of the 19 games that we played? And we lost four of those games. We had a great season. We had a great year — Just because we lost to the Bengals, it doesn’t diminish the type of team that we know we have. It doesn’t diminish our team in this league. We have a really good team. Our window is still open and brighter days are definitely ahead for us.”
While the window may still be open, it isn’t quite as wide. With notable key players such as Tremaine Edmunds and Jordan Poyer due to become free agents this offseason and Josh Allen’s massive $258-million contract going into effect, it’ll be that much more difficult to right the wrongs of this season.
And while the players might not have all the answers of getting over the playoff hump, the Bills front office and coaching staff will be tasked with figuring it out as they enter yet another offseason falling short of their goal.
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