Clearly, when Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane were hired by the Bills, they didn’t think the roster was close to being playoff caliber. More importantly, they likely set forth a…

Clearly, when Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane were hired by the Bills, they didn’t think the roster was close to being playoff caliber. More importantly, they likely set forth a three or four year plan as to how the team would be built to make the playoffs and, ultimately win a Super Bowl, as I assume is the case with most GMs and head coaches.

While I don’t believe any of the before-the-season personnel decisions were based in an idea to tank, I do think the long-term plan was always the central goal, trumping just about everything else the new Bills regime would do with the 2017 iteration of its team.

Still, not anything out of the ordinary.

However — and this is where I think things are unique for Buffalo’s current situation — they got out to a 5-2 start during a year in which the AFC is wildly mediocre.

Yes, the Bills beat some bad teams en route to five wins in their first seven games, but guess what, so has every other team. That’s the nature of the beast in the NFL this season.

There Buffalo was, well-above .500 with only three teams in their conference with more wins at the half-way point of the season. Holy shit.

Suddenly, there was reason to place more of a priority on the short-term goal.

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As Sports Illustrated’s Gary Gramling wrote in more words over the weekend, the Bills realized their good fortune of minimal injuries and a high turnover-creation rate likely wouldn’t continue — and I applaud the shrewdness there — so they made an assortment of moves they believed would impact both the short-term goal and the long-term plan.

They traded Marcell Dareus (long-term move) and acquired Kelvin Benjamin, (a perfect short and long term move), and after two ginormous wake-up calls against the Jets and Saints, decided to bench their starting quarterback.

Do I think the Tyrod Taylor decision move was racially motivated? Hell no. Do I think there’s — as Gramling wrote — an “unconscious bias” regarding black quarterbacks in the NFL? Hell yes. That’s beyond the point here though. And, remember, McDermott and Beane came from Carolina, an organization that’s been riding Cam Newton on offense for seven years now.

Anyway, the defensive-minded McDermott was probably more pissed than anyone on planet Earth that the Bills defense was gashed by the Jets and Saints and theoretically wanted to bench every defensive player on his team… but obviously that wasn’t an option. So he went with the next best thing that could positively impact his defense… making a switch at quarterback, a move similar to the Benjamin acquisition that, McDermott believed, had benefits for the short-term goal and long-term plan.

With Nathan Peterman at quarterback, the Bills could get a head start with their due diligence on the future of the game’s most vital position while also possibly helping the offense and thereby benefiting the defense.

That decision was ultimately wrong.

(By the way, saying he doesn’t regret the decision is, to me, the most sensible way to not pile on Peterman and not distance himself from a decision he made, both of which would look really bad for a head coach.)

I don’t think McDermott and Beane want to lose this season, but I do have an inkling that the long-term plan is still much more important to them, and it should be for two men in the first years at the pinnacle of their respective professions, especially given Buffalo’s inherent flaws that’ve been unmasked since Halloween.

But that’s the catch 22 with the Bills job(s) though. Fans are fed up with playoff-less years and would be totally fine with an absolute sellout if it meant a severely flawed team would make the playoffs and lose in the first round. Any GM (especially a first-timer) or HC will always be about long-term, sustained success and a Super Bowl title. Today’s Bills fans don’t fathom winning the Super Bowl.

But rarely are teams that believe the future is brighter than the present find themselves sitting in the No. 5 spot at the mid-way point of the season.

It’s almost as if either McDermott, Beane (or both) realized the implosion was coming.

And now that it’s happened, thoughts of “next year” are running rampant in Western New York households. And Bills fans can’t be blamed for having those thoughts.

But there’s a catch… the AFC is atrocious, and relation is the foundational aspect of analysis.

There are a handful of fan bases of teams “in playoff contention” having the exact same thoughts right now — the Dolphins, the Raiders, the Titans etc.

The Ravens jumped the Bills in the wild-card standings in Week 11, but if this Baltimore team is the hurdle you need to cross to get into the playoffs for the first time since 2000, then you, as McDermott or Beane, proooobably want to try like hell to momentarily postpone the long-term plan to emphasize the short-term goal, particularly with how quickly head coaches and GMs are judged in today’s instant gratification NFL (see: society).

It’ll be interesting to see how McDermott and Beane handle this conundrum over the final six games. The Bills aren’t a very good team, and they’re undoubtedly not close to even being a “deep playoff run” club either. If I know that, McDermott and Beane know that.

Because with the long-term plan (winning the Super Bowl) in mind, Peterman will see the field again in 2017. He probably can’t start against Kansas City almost purely due to public relations, but Taylor would be given a short leash as the starter.

If the short-term goal (making the playoffs this season) is in mind, Taylor plays every offensive snap until one of two things happen: the Bills are eliminated from playoff contention or the Bills clinch a playoff spot.

And, no, Taylor isn’t a future Hall of Famer. He’s a capable yet limited quarterback who can be running the show of a playoff team with quality complementary parts.

And that sentence is true of many quarterbacks in the evolving NFL. Touching briefly on this… based on my understanding of it, long ago, the NFL was a “running back league.” Then, starting with the Bill Walsh era, it shifted to being a “quarterback league.” And while I still think quarterbacks rule pro football, it’s becoming a “offensive play-maker” league with all the screens, defensive pass interference calls and immense emphasis on yards after the catch.

Why I mention all that is… the need for a Hall of Fame quarterback to consistently win in the NFL is becoming less and less.

What’s harder? Finding a legit franchise-saving quarterback or building a quality team around a flawed but capable quarterback who’s much easier to find?

But that’s all for another column, another time.

Right now, this Bills team, which is very much alive in the watered-down AFC playoff race, needs to find a way to marry the short-term goal with the long-term plan.