Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (file photo)

Buffalo Bills: What went right, what went wrong

— The Sports Xchange —

Losing is never a good thing, but the Buffalo Bills really couldn’t be disappointed by their first-round knockout in the AFC wild-card game at Jacksonville because, in this rare instance, getting to the playoffs was just as important as winning the game.

The Bills desperately needed to end the franchise’s 17-year playoff drought because it was hanging over the team, even though most of the players had very little to do with it as only a handful have been in Buffalo three years or more. It was a blight on the organization, and now they can put it behind them and move forward with a front-office structure and coaching staff that all seems to be aligned.

There are big decisions to come, most notably at quarterback where the Bills have to figure out what to do with Tyrod Taylor — bring him back or release him and find his successor, be it in the draft or free agency. The popular theory is that he will be cut, the Bills will try to pick a quarterback in the first round, and also acquire a veteran who could perhaps be the placeholder until the rookie is ready.

Offensively, the Bills have been held back by their remedial passing game, and Taylor had a large role in that for three years. However, he’s not solely to blame because, particularly this year, he had almost no help from a lackluster group of wide receivers, and an offensive coordinator who didn’t always put him in the best situations to succeed.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: The Bills turned almost their entire front office and coaching staff over, and with everyone working from the same playbook, the Bills finally looked like a cohesive organization, with a true vision for the future. Head coach Sean McDermott changed the culture, general manager Brandon Beane made several moves to clean up the roster, and he also positioned the Bills for a critical 2018 draft. The bonus was that the Bills ended their playoff drought while planning for the future.

WHAT WENT WRONG: After a 5-2 start, the Bills suffered through a damaging three-game midseason losing streak when the defense was utterly horrible. Beyond those three games, what held the Bills back the most was an offense that could not finish drives, and never scared anyone in the passing game. Buffalo ranked 31st in passing, after ranking 28th and 30th the previous two years. The common denominator was Tyrod Taylor.