Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley faced a tough line of questioning in his end-of season news conference Monday, after yet another season in which the team failed to make the playoffs.
The Bills ended the season with a record of 7-9, extending their playoff drought to 17 years. That is the longest such drought among all four major North American professional sports leagues.
The organization has a number of key decisions to make during the offseason, including hiring a new head coach. Whaley said unlike the hiring of Rex Ryan, the coach decision this time around is his call.
"This search will be different. The first one, I was an assistant GM. The second one, we did by a committee approach. This one will fall squarely on my shoulders," Whaley said. "I have full confidence in myself and the plan that we have in place that we're going to go out and get the best guy for the Buffalo Bills."
Ryan was fired following the team's Week 16 loss to Miami. Whaley said the move was made in a conversation between Ryan and owner Terry Pegula, the details of which Whaley said he was "not privy to." He said he was not aware Ryan was on the hot seat.
Interim head coach Anthony Lynn is among those expected to be interviewed for the job. Reports have called Lynn the front-runner for the job, though Whaley said it will be an "open search." Whaley added the Pegulas will have final say in the hire.
Another key question facing the team is the fate of quarterback Tyrod Taylor and whether to pick up a contract option that would pay him $27.5 million next season. Taylor was benched for Sunday's loss to the New York Jets in what Whaley called a "business decision" in a meaningless game.
"It's going to be a decision by myself and ownership, along with the new head coach," Whaley said. "It's going to be part of the evaluation process, along with everybody else on the team."
Despite facing a grilling by reporters in the 40-minute session, with a number of questioned focused on the organization's chain of command, Whaley tried to put a positive spin on another disappointing season.
"If you look at the season in totality, we did some good things. We did some really good things. We weren't consistent," Whaley said. "We're not a 4-12 team. We're a 7-9 team. Do we need to get better? Absolutely. But we're not that far away, we don't believe."