I'm sure Sean McDermott means it when he says the Buffalo Bills are taking a "50-50" approach to building a roster with short- and long-term decisions.
There's some hard evidence that supports short-term thinking with the decision to keep Tyrod Taylor at quarterback and hang onto veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams. The same goes for signing a pair of safeties in free agency -- Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer -- who can be plugged in as immediate starters.
There's also ample proof of a long-term vision as well, beginning with that 2018 first-round pick the Bills acquired from their draft-day trade with the Kansas City Chiefs ... and the fact their top three choices this year are likely to start or at least see significant action as rookies ... and the fact they resisted the temptation to restructure big-money contracts and push salary-cap cash down the line that would have extended unwanted commitments ... and the fact they chose not to commit to a fifth year on the contract of a wide receiver, Sammy Watkins, who struggles to stay healthy.
The reality is that "50-50" is probably more like "60-40," if not "70-30," in favor of a long-term approach.
Face it. The last thing McDermott is going to come out and say is that the Bills aren't interested in being competitive this year, that it will take at least two and perhaps even three seasons before they're ready to make the jump to being a contender. Or whatever a contender can truly be in the same division as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
But McDermott was hired to fix something that was badly broken, and it isn't simply a matter of instilling the discipline and accountability that was sorely lacking under Rex Ryan.
There are too many spots in need of upgrading and too many bloated salaries belonging to underachievers that have to be kept until dumping them won't have a crippling cap impact to expect rapid improvement. The Bills have said goodbye to half of the players who appeared in at least one game last season, and it's unrealistic to expect the replacements and the incumbents and the new coaches, with their new schemes, to all mesh in one year.
Does that mean McDermott won't be under any pressure to show positive results quickly? Hardly. Jaded fans and media, with patience worn to a nub by 17 years of futility, won't hesitate to be heard if there's little or no progress shown this season -- or things actually go in reverse.
"There’s always a pressure from a coach’s standpoint," McDermott acknowledged to reporters last week.
"I think most of the coaches out there would feel the pressure to get … the immediate fix, and sometimes that’s a Band-Aid, and I’m not in to," he said. "I’m not really into that approach."
That's because, by all indications, he doesn't have to be.
Terry and Kim Pegula have given McDermott the ability to work with the cleanest of slates. They allowed for the overhaul of the player-personnel department, which, along with McDermott, has been in the process of a top-to-bottom cleansing of all that the Bills had been doing that got them in the mess left behind by Doug Whaley and Ryan and other decision-makers.
The Bills didn't merely put two new faces at the top of their football operation in McDermott and Brandon Beane. They undertook as massive a transition as any they've made in recent memory.
And the change in direction the Bills are navigating is more like turning around an ocean liner than a subcompact car.
It will take some time.