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For the Bills, Joe Schoen's Exit Underscores Winning Culture at Every Level

Because they've done it the right way, they anticipate more will follow Schoen out the door.

Losing assistant general manager Joe Schoen to the New York Giants on Friday was just the latest happening to validate what were controversial decisions by Sean McDermott to start from scratch five years ago.

McDermott did stick with general manager Doug Whaley and the scouting staff through that first NFL Draft as Bills coach in 2017, but then jettisoned everyone and replaced them with, among others, Schoen and general manager Brandon Beane.

Over the course of the next five seasons, the Bills entered a period of success not seen since their four straight trips to the Super Bowl in the early 1990s.

The Bills have had four winning seasons and four trips to the playoffs. They've won the AFC East two years in a row and will play the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday night for the right to go to the AFC Championship Game two years in a row.

McDermott has compiled a 52-35 record in his career, including 3-3 in the playoffs. He's almost certain to lose at least one of his top two assistants, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier during this year's head-coaching hiring cycle.

On the executive side, Schoen isn't even the first member of the front office to be cherry picked by another franchise. Before this season began, director of player personnel Dan Morgan was poached by the Panthers to be their assistant GM. 

Although Schoen had instantly become a trusted right-hand man, Beane is happy to see him go because he believes Schoen was such a fabulous choice by the Giants.

"He's a great evaluator, he's a great communicator," Beane said. "He's ... a really good leader. He can talk to the owner, he can talk to anybody -- sponsors, fans, whoever. He just knows how to relate. Very personable. Family Guy, and I could go on and on.

"You don't replace people like that right away. We have a good staff and people will try and fill this role, but you know, he'll definitely be missed."

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More important than Schoen's ability to talk is his willingness to listen, Beane pointed out.

"He's not going to walk in to those offices and act like he's got all the answers, whether he's talking to scouts, whether he's talking to the PR department, the training room," Beane said. "It's an all-encompassing job.

"You know, I let Joe be involved in everything. ... Joe has dealt with agents, he's recruited players here when it comes down to after the draft or a time when, you know, in free agency when it's not about the money anymore. He understand all that stuff. Again, he's got great relationships with with other GMs, assistant GMs, personnel directors, coaches around the league. Those are all the reasons I think he's going to be very successful when he gets himself planted there in New York."

For the Bills, seeing Schoen depart is simply the cost of success.

As far as that goes, the mentality in the front office is the same as the one on the field. It's next man (or woman) up.

Beane pointed to a few who are on the rise, like assistant director of player personnel Terrance Gray, senior director of pro scouting Malik Boyd and senior personnel adviser Brian Gaine.

"We've got some young guys underneath them and a couple of young ladies that are grooming themselves as well," Beane said.

One thing is for certain: The more the Bills keep winning, the more qualified people they'll keep losing.

But the reason they're in this position in the first place is being able to identify them, so there is no concern as long as the pipeline keeps flowing.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to