1 - McDermott: ‘Culture trumps strategy’
Throughout his time as Buffalo’s head coach, Sean McDermott has often talked about a “standard.”
McDermott not only expects his players to give it their all each and every time they’re on the field, he expects them to carry themselves with class off of it. McDermott feels as though this creates a positive environment, a culture in which players push themselves and each other to win.
Buffalo fans saw the impact that a positive culture can have on a team last season. The Bills weren’t looked at as a credible threat in the 2017 preseason. Some analysts even predicted that the team would be in the running for the first overall pick in the 2018 draft.
Propelled by a winning culture and atmosphere, Buffalo defied the odds in the 2017 season, sneaking into the postseason and putting an end to its 17-year playoff drought.
Through the first four games of the 2018 season, McDermott feels as though that culture is still there.
“The culture to me trumps strategy,” McDermott said. “That’s what I believe in whole heartedly. It doesn’t mean we have choir boys, it means we have guys that love football and do things the right way for the most part. I understand that. We’re trying to build something that does take time, but overall, guys have to be committed to the process.
“That means staying mentally tough in moments like this where we start a season 1-3 and it hasn’t always been easy. I’ve been through this before, I can tell them that. Those of us that have been around this league long enough have been through it before. If you do things the right way and continue to do things the right way, the long-term success when you make the right decisions, those things will take care of themselves.
2 - Allen thinks Mariota is one of ‘the coolest guys’
In today’s NFL, quarterbacks are often asked to play at an incredibly young age. Of the 32 current starting quarterbacks in the league, 13 of them were selected either in or after the 2015 draft. Four out of the five signal-callers selected in the first round of the 2018 draft are already starting for their respective teams.
Buffalo, led by rookie quarterback Josh Allen, will host another team led by a young passer this Sunday. Marcus Mariota will lead the Titans into New Era Field in search of their fourth win of the season. Allen has a great deal of respect for 24-year-old Mariota, who he met in the pre-draft process.
“I know Marcus,” Allen said. “I trained with him for a little bit in the offseason. Just a great dude and he’s a fantastic football player, so it’s going to fun to go out there and play against him.
“It was the offseason and I was getting draft prep and he was very helpful with me and Sam (Darnold) and Kyle (Allen). Just telling us little tidbits here and there. He didn’t give away anything too special for us to come out and play well. But I’m looking forward to playing against him because he’s one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met.”
Allen views Mariota as a player that he can look to for guidance, as the former second overall pick knows what it’s like to be a highly touted rookie quarterback.
“He was thrown into the fire early in his career too,” Allen said of Mariota. “I think any quarterback will say sometimes you need those mistakes and learn by trial and error. That’s what we’re doing right now. We’re getting better. I’m learning and growing. I feel like in that aspect we’re doing a really good job.”
3 - Dontae Johnson on what made Bills attractive
Dontae Johnson’s road to Buffalo was certainly a bumpy one.
After starting 16 games for San Francisco in 2017, the cornerback signed with the Seahawks in the 2018 offseason. Johnson was expected to win a starting job in Seattle’s secondary, but a number of injuries kept him on the sideline. The Seahawks placed him on injured reserve in September.
“It was a lot,” Johnson said. “Signed with Seattle during free agency, went up there, broke my foot, had to have surgery on my foot. So I missed a lot of time there, kind of fell behind the eight ball. But came back, performed well enough to be a starter. Unfortunately I had another injury, little setback, minor setback which put me on I-R. Kind of just taught me to be humble and appreciate all the opportunities that I do have and continue just to work hard.”
Johnson, who was ultimately released by the Seahawks in late September, signed with the Bills on Tuesday, joining a Buffalo secondary that’s currently depleted by injuries. The 26-year-old, who has recorded 158 tackles and 21 pass deflections throughout his career, is excited to join the Bills’ playmakers in the defensive backfield.
“Just more of the fact that there are so many moving pieces,” Johnson said. “You’ve got two great safeties in [Jordan] Poyer and [Micah] Hyde, I watched them play a lot. Tre’Davious [White], really good corner. Just kind of attracted me to come here and try to benefit and perform and help this team out.
“More so just the guys in the secondary, that’s what brought me here. Learning the scheme, it’s something new, but not completely new. Learning the terminology, again, I’ve always been able to handle that challenge.”