1 - McDermott’s similar Week 17 scenario
In his first year with the Bills, head coach Sean McDermott is in a tight playoff race. It’s not uncharted territory for McDermott, as he was in a similar situation nearly 10 years ago.
Flashback to Week 17 of the 2008 NFL season, where McDermott was the linebackers coach in Philadelphia. The Eagles (8-6-1) were playing the Cowboys (8-7). Both teams needed to win and get help to make the playoffs. Philadelphia beat Dallas 44-6 and finished the season 9-6-1. The Eagles got the help they needed, with both the Bears and Bucs losing to finish the season 9-7, half a game behind Philly.
Buffalo’s in nearly an identical situation as McDermott was in during the 2008 season. His team prevailed then, and almost 10 years later his new team will benefit from those experiences.
“Scoreboard watching, those types of things. Being able to stay disciplined and focus on what we control,” said McDermott. “That’s the big take away from that experience in Philadelphia.”
It was an impressive feat making the playoffs with the Eagles, but the run didn’t stop there. As the second Wild Card team, Philly won their first two playoff games to make it to the NFC Championship game. They fell short 32-25 to the Arizona Cardinals, finishing the season as runner-ups in the NFC.
Bills fans would be more than happy with a run similar to McDermott’s in 2008, but I’m sure a postseason berth would suffice. McDermott’s aware his team needs help to make the playoffs, but he knows better than anyone that a win is the most important part.
“Just putting in a great week’s worth of preparation so that you can put your best foot forward,” said McDermott of what’s needed this week. “You get too distracted on some of the other things going on and all of a sudden you don’t take care of the things we need to take care of, which is win the football game this weekend against a good team.”
2 - Marcus Murphy newest RB on 53-man roster
On Sunday, Buffalo’s backup running back Travaris Cadet suffered a season-ending ankle injury. On Tuesday, the team elevated RB Marcus Murphy to the 53-man roster in wake of Cadet’s injury.
“He’s comfortable. Based on what I’ve seen and we’ve seen in his time here so far on the practice squad,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “He’s done a phenomenal job.”
Murphy was signed to the practice squad on Nov. 6th. This is his first action on the active roster.
“Here’s a young man who has shown up every day and puts his best foot forward,” said McDermott. “He gives us a great effort. He gives us a great effort on scout team.”
Prior to coming to Buffalo, he spent two seasons in New Orleans. In 16 games played, his highlight moment was a 74-yard punt return touchdown. He predominantly served as a return man on special teams with the Saints. As a RB, he only tallied one carry for no gain and one reception for three yards.
Murphy was a seventh-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Saints. He was drafted after playing four seasons at Missouri. With Mizzou, he played in 52 games and scored in a variety of ways. On the ground, he recorded 337 carries for 1,957 yards and 16 touchdowns. Through the air, he reeled in 50 receptions for 318 yards and two TDs. In the return game, he also added three kick return TDs and four punt return TDs.
With Cadet on I-R, Murphy’s likely to play a role in Sunday’s must-win game against the Dolphins.
“He’s played before and gotten real, live action before. I’m anxious to take a look and see what he brings to the table,” said McDermott. “He’s done a good job and he’s earned it.”
3 - Penalties not a problem in previous games
This season the Bills have ranked in the top half of the NFL in penalties assessed against them. Though, in the past month they’ve been as well disciplined as they’ve been all year long.
“Well that’s important,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “Negative plays, hurting your team, it’s important to [get into] rhythm. Also field position.”
Buffalo ranks 11th in the league with 92 penalties against them. That’s just over six penalties per game. Though, the past four games that number has been cut in half. The team’s averaged three penalties per game in Weeks 13-16.
It’s been an encouraging stretch, as the Bills were penalized a lot in the middle of the season. In Weeks 8-11, the team was flagged 36 times. That’s three times more than the team saw this month, as the Bills were only penalized 12 times in Weeks 13-16.
“It’s important that we can play discipline football and when tempers sometimes flair that we can keep composure and poise,” said McDermott. “I think we’ve done a pretty good with that.”
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