On his first Black Monday, the day after the regular season finale when underperforming NFL coaches are often fired, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen took a moment to appreciate his franchise’s stability, a situation not afforded many of his rookie counterparts around the league.
It begins with Bills coach Sean McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane being under contract through the 2021 season. And unless offensive coordinator Brian Daboll gets a head coaching opportunity, he’s expected to return, too.
The Bills made sure that stability extends to the quarterback room, as well, after backups Matt Barkley and Derek Anderson each signed contract extensions this season, the latter agreeing to terms on a one-year deal Monday. That consistency should only help Allen reach his full potential.
“Consistency is key, especially in this league,” Allen said. “Being able to have the same terminology, the same playbook, the same guys around you, that increases trust, it increases the knowledge that you have within the system, allows you to go out there and kind of not think about it too much and kind of just play the game.
“Coach Daboll has been awesome for me. I love the guy. He’s got some good stuff planned for us and I’m ready to follow what him and Coach McDermott want us to do and the direction that Coach McDermott set for this team. I’m excited to see where it can go.”
Many of his contemporaries aren’t so fortunate.
Six head coaches were fired Monday morning, and eight so far this season.
Of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round in 2018, at least three appear set to operate in a different system in 2019, starting over with new head coaches, new coordinators and a new playbook.
That includes first overall pick Baker Mayfield, after the Cleveland Browns fired Hue Jackson midseason. Interim coach Gregg Williams and offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens are interviewing for the job, but the Browns will look outside the organization, as well.
The group also includes Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen, after the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals fired head coaches Todd Bowles and Steve Wilks, respectively, on Monday.
Lamar Jackson, like Allen, appears in position to enjoy a degree of stability. But even Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh dealt with questions about his job security before the team won six of its final seven games to claim the AFC North title.
And Jackson can’t count on stability in the QB room, with former starter Joe Flacco a potential trade candidate and Robert Griffin III on an expiring contract.
“There is an element of continuity that is important, both on the staff and with the roster, so I keep that in mind as we look and we evaluate,” McDermott said.
McDermott also addressed the cutthroat nature of the NFL, with 25 percent of the league’s head coaching jobs vacant.
“That’s the reality of our business,” McDermott said. “It’s a results-driven business, and I think we all, when we sign up for it, whether you’re a head coach or a position coach, when you’re in this business, you understand it. It doesn’t make it right, but at the same time, we’re paid to move things in the right direction.”
Allen said the Bills’ decision to re-sign Anderson is “great news for me.”
And Anderson expanded on the benefits of consistency and his decision to return for another season.
“I think it’s good just in our room, just so we’re all on the same page, hearing the same message … and keeping that going and the energy that we have in there,” Anderson said. “The strides that we’ve made within the room have been great. That’s a huge part of it. And obviously (to be able to) build on what we just finished off the last eight weeks.”
Beane said he considers Anderson an extension of the coaching staff, in addition to serving as a mentor for Allen.
“Derek was invaluable to what he brought, another set of eyes and ears that’s lived that position,” Beane said. “There’s many coaches in this league that never played at this level and between the white lines, and there’s no replacement for a guy who has done it, seen it, and not only has Derek been great for Josh and for Matt, but he’s also been great for Brian Daboll.”
Beane provided an example of the type of feedback Anderson provides.
“ 'Sometimes, you know what, that sounds great, that’s drawn up well, but the problem is when you do this. Or in Carolina, we were able to use this play with Cam (Newton) and it really is effective because of X,’ ” Beane said. “Derek has not only helped Josh, but he’s helped our coaches in game planning, as well.”
Beane and McDermott both acknowledged a need to add talent around Allen, particularly to bolster the offensive line and receiving threats. But that’s adding to the system already in place, rather than tearing it down and starting anew.
The Bills enter the offseason with more than $90 million in salary cap space, 10 draft picks, a young franchise quarterback and organizational stability that extends through the QB room.
That’s an enviable situation.