Riding up the escalator at the airport early Saturday morning, I took my customary gaze to the right, where the smiling mural of Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor welcomed me to the second floor and the departure gate. I wondered how soon Taylor would be departing Buffalo, as Sammy Watkins, whose image had once adorned that airport wall, had done several months earlier. Who would be the next Bill to merit the honor? Maybe someone more secure, like head coach Sean McDermott? It occurred to me how few legitimate young stars there are on this Bills team, and how remarkable it is that on Sunday against the Dolphins they will be playing a regular-season finale with a playoff spot on the line for the first time since the 2004 season. That year, they made a late run from 3-6, winning six in a row under first-year head man Mike Mularkey before faltering at home in the finale against a Steelers team that had clinched home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs and played a lot of backups. The hope and promise of that '04 squad proved to be illusory. After the season, Tom Donahoe cut quarterback Drew Bledsoe and moved on to J.P. Losman, whom he had traded up for in the previous draft. It was 10 years before the Bills finished with a .500 record again. The experience taught me not to overreact to a single playoff push, or any temporary run of competence in a dysfunctional franchise. That 9-7 season proved to be just a momentary surge in what became the longest playoff drought in American professional sports.
Jerry Sullivan: Playoffs are part of the process, but challenge is building sustained success
Buffalo News | Dec 31