In year one under head coach Sean McDermott in 2017, building a new Bills culture was a heavy lift. The previous regime was a loosely run operation and accountability to the coaches, let alone the guy lining up next to you was not a demanded thing.
Although a majority of the players bought in to what coach McDermott was selling that first season, there were hiccups along the way. There were some players who didn’t make the full purchase so to speak. They were only kind of in on what the organization was trying to build. Those players were eventually shown the exit in one way or another.
Still in that first year, there were reminders that had to be given regarding the daily process of how things were going to operate at One Bills Drive going forward.
“It was just something he’d keep saying,” said Pat DiMarco of McDermott’s ‘Playoff Caliber’ mantra. “Guys would hear it but wouldn’t always live it. Now it’s our nature. It’s like that saying. First you form the habit, then the habit forms you. So it’s a habit now. You come in here and ‘Playoff Caliber’ is the standard. Not only on the field, but in the weight room, the meeting room. Playoff caliber is what we’re doing every single day. Guys are working our tails off and we’re excited this year about where we’re going.”
Now entering year three under McDermott that team culture is ingrained as seen in episode four of Buffalo Bills: Embedded “Give All You’ve Got”. It’s an automatic thing that lives and breathes in every one of the players and coaches at One Bills Drive.
“We had OTA practices in May and we’re flying around out there,” said DiMarco. “It’s just a mentality coach is trying to set. We’re going to be smart. We’re going to be tough and we’re going to fly around and make plays.”
But beyond just working hard is a second element to McDermott’s coaching philosophy that isn’t talked about quite as much.
“Probably the second biggest thing that he preaches is your love for the guy next to you,” DiMarco said. “You’re going to sell out, not for yourself or your contract, but for the guy next to you and his family and his well-being. There’s just a lot to it. When you care and you love the guy you’re playing for you’re only going to play that much better.”
“Guys actually care about one another,” said Dion Dawkins.
“Guys come from different backgrounds and cultures, but when we’re all in here it’s just love and we’re all one big family,” said Shaq Lawson. “The things we’ve done in the past have helped us bond as a family. Some guys can relate to some of the stories and some guys can’t, but in the end when you’re putting a bunch of guys together and you’re on a mission to win a Super Bowl, love has to be a part of it. That’s what the great teams do.”