BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Payments imagine they will be again.
The Payments are younger; most of their core gamers are both signed to multiyear extensions or nonetheless on their rookie offers. Their teaching workers, whereas not utterly away from uncertainty with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey drawing curiosity from different groups, ought to stay largely intact for the fourth straight 12 months subsequent season.
And now, they’re skilled — even when that have is the ache of falling in need of one thing the franchise has no means achieved.
“It stings to get this far. Typically the additional you go, the tougher it’s to lose,” Payments coach Sean McDermott mentioned. “It is a studying expertise for us as a corporation. We have to clearly get again to work.”
Buffalo has little to be ashamed of after profitable its first AFC East title since 1995 and its first two playoff video games for the reason that flip of the century. The Payments entered the playoffs arguably the most popular workforce within the NFL, profitable 9 of their final 10 video games en path to the AFC’s No. 2 seed.
Quarterback Josh Allen, though he had his lowlights in Sunday’s recreation, blossomed into the franchise quarterback normal supervisor Brandon Beane hoped for when he traded as much as draft him in 2018. Allen set single-season franchise data in each main passing class and earned his first Professional Bowl choice and presumably an MVP vote or two. Vast receiver Stefon Diggs couldn’t have envisioned a greater Buffalo debut season as he completed because the NFL’s chief in receptions and receiving yards.
However the league’s subsequent nice quarterback-wide receiver duo wasn’t sufficient. The Payments aren’t at Kansas Metropolis’s degree fairly but.
“They’re the reigning Tremendous Bowl champs for a motive they usually had been the higher workforce tonight,” Allen mentioned.
Final season’s playoff loss felt completely different. A blown 16-point lead in opposition to the Houston Texans caught within the Payments’ minds all offseason and was a part of the explanation for the workforce’s offensive renaissance. It was apparent Buffalo wanted reconstruction on that aspect of the ball, and till it occurred no one may say to any diploma of certainty that the Payments would win the AFC East in 2020.
However now, barring a significant commerce — Houston’s Deshaun Watson to the Miami Dolphins, maybe? — the Payments ought to enter the 2021 season as favorites to defend their division title. They do not want main development on both aspect of the ball; however that is to not say they’re able to run it again subsequent season.
The backfield duo of Devin Singletary and Zack Moss was not efficient sufficient in 2020. Beane might want to give the pair one other go subsequent season or deal with the place this offseason. Cody Ford‘s return from a torn meniscus ought to assist solidify the offensive line, however Beane will probably need to resolve between re-signing Jon Feliciano or Daryl Williams, each of whom can grow to be free brokers quickly.
Linebacker Matt Milano is Buffalo’s greatest pending free agent and ought to be excessive on Beane’s precedence record. The Payments may take into account adjustments in an effort to tailor their protection to stopping Kansas Metropolis, which is clearly the looming impediment standing in the best way of any AFC workforce’s hopes of reaching the Tremendous Bowl.
“On the finish of the day, that is our measuring stick,” McDermott mentioned. “For those who lose within the AFC Championship Sport, that is the workforce we have to beat. So, we have to do all the things with that in thoughts this offseason.”
It received them this far — Beane traded for Diggs and drafted two large receivers final offseason in an effort to maintain up with the AFC’s different high-scoring groups. Perhaps which means including much more weapons and velocity on offense. Buffalo tied with the Tennessee Titans for the league’s second-best offense behind Kansas Metropolis this season, however nonetheless appeared prefer it was on a totally completely different tier.
Chiefs tight finish Travis Kelce and large receiver Tyreek Hill, specifically, did no matter they needed all through Sunday’s AFC title recreation, combining for 290 yards and two touchdowns on 24 catches.
“They’re an awesome soccer workforce for a motive, they’re defending champs for a motive,” Payments security Micah Hyde mentioned. “They have weapons everywhere in the area. Clearly, lots of people attempt to restrict them, ]]giving up explosive performs up prime so they only run the ball. We tried to cease the run they usually’ve received guys on the skin [Kelce) and [Hill] who can kill you.
“You noticed tonight, [Kelce] was open, [Hill] was simply catching these little quick balls or no matter and going off. It was tough.”
Beane in all probability did not sleep a lot Sunday evening; the concept he hasn’t given McDermott and his teaching workers sufficient to work with retains him up at evening, and the Payments actually did not appear like that they had sufficient in opposition to one of many NFL’s finest groups.
However they’re shut.
Stefon Diggs is on the sphere after the Payments’ AFC championship loss to look at the Chiefs’ trophy presentation.
And as Diggs stood himself after the sport, watching the Chiefs have a good time their second consecutive convention title, it isn’t tough to think about pink and blue confetti surrounding an elated Payments workforce at the moment subsequent 12 months.
“It will gas us. I’ve little question in my thoughts that we are going to be again,” Allen mentioned. “We’re nonetheless younger and we’re solely going to get higher. That is one factor I take from this. We’re shut. The outcomes weren’t good tonight, however I am tremendous pleased with how our workforce fought all season and the way we bonded collectively.”