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Tim Graham: A rare Bills occurrence – football ops might finally be in lockstep

OK, fellas. You're in this together.

One doesn't escape if the other one fails. One can't leave the other behind.

And the owners can't wash their hands by rationalizing somebody else hired these people.

Bills rookie head coach Sean McDermott and rookie GM Brandon Beane will win as a pair, lose as a pair. Terry and Kim Pegula are on the hook for both.

One Bills.

For the first time since Tom Donahoe and Gregg Williams in 2001, the Bills intentionally have paired their GM-coach combo.

The Bills in 2006 hired Dick Jauron 18 days after Marv Levy returned to be GM, but that wasn't planned. Mike Mularkey, retained as head coach for 2006 after Ralph Wilson fired Donahoe, had quit rather than stay.

With McDermott and Beane, we shouldn't get any finger-pointing. Each should be privy to what the other is so much as thinking, let alone actually doing.

They worked together for six years with the Carolina Panthers.

Through the GM interview process, the Pegulas were impressed enough with Beane's readiness for the next step – and presumably aware McDermott would like working with him – that they fastened together their two most important football ops men.

Again, the coach and GM will report to the owners individually.

Beane's initial task isn't so much building a roster as it is conjuring a scouting staff from scratch.

At least he will know and care what McDermott wants. Doug Whaley was known to go against the coaching staff's wishes on players such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Cassel and Fred Jackson. Whaley politicked for a quarterback, EJ Manuel, neither Doug Marrone nor Rex Ryan wanted.

From all accounts, McDermott's long-range vision has struck One Bills Drive as truly remarkable. If that's the case, then having a trusted mind alongside him to help execute that plan is crucial.

The other three interviewees – Texans assistant GM Brian Gaine, Eagles college scouting director Trey Brown and Packers player personnel director Brian Gutekunst – have deeper experience than Beane when it comes to evaluating players and overseeing staffs.

Beane, however, might be the better fit. We aren't in position to criticize yet.

Russ Brandon, the Bills' managing partner and president, has had a fondness for declaring the football ops folks are in "lockstep" when it comes to making decisions.

When Whaley was elevated to GM in May 2013, Brandon said, "We will be in lockstep on everything that we do, Coach Marrone, Doug, J.O. [Jim Overdorf] and I on everything that we do. It will be a collective effort at the end of the day."

When Ryan was introduced as coach in January 2015, Brandon said, "It's not only one direction, it's one mindset, and we'll be in lockstep in everything that we do as an organization."

Alas, Buffalo's football operations have been fractured for years.

The front office seemed to find turmoil even while things were going great, when Wilson fired Bill Polian in 1992 and John Butler in 2000. They tried to do things right by empowering Donahoe -- until Wilson felt violated by whoknowswhat and brought back Levy and nothing ever got on track.

So here we go again.

This time, though, could be different.

Lockstep looks likelier than ever. Let's just hope McDermott's vision points them marching in the correct direction.

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