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The real Buffalo Bills MVP didn’t step on the field vs. Rams

Buffalo Bills, Brandon Beane, Bills general manager, Sean McDermott, Bills Rams

The first game of the 2022 NFL season was an exciting one … for a half. After being deadlocked 10-10 at halftime, the Buffalo Bills pulled away from the defending Super Bowl champ Los Angeles Rams and scored 21 unanswered points to win the game comfortably, 31-10. There are a lot of people on the Bills sideline who could take home the MVP award after the victory. Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and Von Miller all played like the superstars they are. Sean McDermott, Leslie Frazier, and Ken Dorsey all coached excellent games and should be in the running, too. However, the real MVP of the Bills vs. Rams game is general manager Brandon Beane, the man who put it all together.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane put together a Super Bowl-level squad

There were 21 NFL seasons between Jim Kelly’s retirement in 1996 and the Bills drafting Josh Allen in 2018. In that time, the franchise had five winning seasons and three playoff appearances.

In 2017, Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula hired Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, the team’s seventh head coach since Marv Levy retired the year after Kelly. Three months after McDermott came to Western New York and just two weeks after the 2017 NFL Draft, the organization fired Bills general manager Doug Whaley and hired Panthers assistant GM Brandon Beane.

That’s when Beane and McDermott went to work overhauling the Buffalo franchise.

In 2017, Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott cut as much dead weight and contract mistakes as they could. The dead cap hit that season was $28.9 million, the third-biggest in the league that year. The next season, Beane and McDermott went nuclear clearing out unneeded players and took the single biggest dead cap hit in NFL history, $70.3 million.

During the 2018 offseason, Brandon Beane made another franchise-altering decision. That’s when he picked a talented but incredibly raw quarterback out of Wyoming at No. 7 overall.

With Josh Allen in the fold and $70 million in bad contracts out of it, the Bills were ready to rebuild.

In 2019, the Bills’ draft brought in key players like defensive tackle Ed Oliver, running back Devin Singletary, and tight end Dawson Knox. Against the Rams, Oliver had two tackles and a QB hit in a dominant defensive line effort, Singletary had 62 all-purpose yards, and Knox caught one ball for five yards. playing 86% of the team’s offensive snaps.

The 2020 NFL Draft brought in a massive haul of talent who shined in the Bills vs. Rams opener. This list includes DE A.J. Epenesa (four QB hits, 1.5 sacks), RB Zach Moss (36 all-purpose yards), WR Gabriel Davis (four catches, 48 yards, one TD), K Tyler Bass (41-yard field goal, three extra points), and CB Dane Jackson (five tackles, one interception).

And this class is even more impressive when you consider the fact that the Bills didn’t have a first-round pick. That’s because Brandon Beane made the bold move of trading it to the Minnesota Vikings for then-controversial WR Stefon Diggs. Diggs lead the league in receptions and yards in his first season with the Bills and had eight catches for 122 yards and a TD in the Bills, Rams opener.

The Class of 2021 produced 2022 starting RT Spencer Brown as well as DEs Gregory Rousseau (1.0 sack) and Boogie Basham (1.0 sack, one interception).

As Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott have built this team from the ground up, the results have started to rise to levels not seen in Buffalo since the mid-1990s. The 2020 season ended with the Bills making it all the way to the AFC Championship Game, and 2021 finished with a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round.

This offseason, Beane continued to improve the team in ways both big and small. His draft this year brought in a number of talented prospects, including cornerbacks Kaiir Elam (Round 1) and Christian Benford (Round 6) who played 45% and 58% of the team’s snaps in the Bills, Rams Week 1 matchup, respectively.

Beane’s moves this offseason weren’t just under-the-radar draft picks, though. He also made a major splash, plucking future Hall of Fame pass-rusher Von Miller from the Super Bowl champion Rams and giving him a six-year, $120 million deal with $51.4 million guaranteed.

Miller showed his worth to the Bills right away, sacking his teammate from last season, Matthew Stafford, twice on Thursday.

Everywhere you looked on the field during the Bills’ decisive 31-10 victory in Week 1, you could see Brandon Beane’s imprint on the team. The 46-year-old North Carolina native may not have stepped on the field in LA during the Bills’ first step toward 2022 glory, but he was still the MVP of the game for Buffalo.