The Bills are coming off their third overtime loss of the season as they head to Minnesota this week and as disappointing as that might be to the team, one thing they have to do is be aware of the progress that they've made here in the second half of the season. Their focus now has to be about continually getting better despite injuries and other setbacks.
They have to continue to build on what they've done so far. Even though the playoffs are out of the picture they still have to focus on getting better. Most of these players will be back next year. All of the coaches will be back next year and so you want to build your knowledge of the schemes that the staff is implementing each and every week.
It's not like this is an offense or a defense that the players have ingrained in their heads from playing it for four or five seasons. They have to continue to learn and get better in the execution of the offensive and defensive systems.
With about three quarters of the season in the books you can see Chan Gailey having a great familiarity with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback and the weapons he has at his disposal. Early on you're not sure what chances you can take. Sometimes as a coaching staff you'll try something and really learn from your mistakes, not only from the players, but from a coaching perspective also.
It's clear that he has a grasp on what type of players he has and what plays he can call. To be honest I think Chan Gailey is at a point where he's very comfortable having Ryan Fitzpatrick in there and that he can pretty much go into the game calling whatever plays they both feel comfortable with.
Heading into the final five weeks of the season there's often talk about finishing strong so there's positive carry over to the next season. That all comes from within. It all comes from the locker room and the attitudes that players and coaches have in the building every day. The coaches and players need to keep working and remain positive. Even though you might not be winning there are positives to pull from the way the Bills are playing right now.
That mental approach to practice during the week and how you prepare that will carry over to the game. Even though you might have lost a heartbreaker, it's how you prepare mentally during the course of the next week. You can't have last week's game lingering. There has to be a positive atmosphere in the locker room.
Mental approach for a football game, especially when you're not winning a lot is so important.
Looking at Sunday's game, I know playing in the Metrodome can be difficult for an offense in terms of communication. I don't know what the Bills do specifically with respect to a silent count, but different teams have the center pop his head up and then he puts it down and snaps it. I see some teams that have their guard and tackle hold hands and the guard sees when the ball is snapped and he lets go of the tackle's hand so he knows when to go.
Sometimes it's predicated on the quickness of the opponent's pass rush. Minnesota has a pretty good pass rush. It's going to be interesting to see how they adjust to it. I know Indianapolis does things a bit different. They keep the defense on their toes when they pretend to do it on the first leg lift by the quarterback and then other times they'll go on the second leg lift.
On another topic I just wanted to express how honored I was to be asked by the NFL to take part in an overseas tour to visit the troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. I was asked if I could go over on a USO tour a couple of years ago and my schedule just wouldn't allow it to happen. This time I was able to go and I'm really looking forward to going over there.
These troops are the reason we enjoy the freedoms that we have and I thank God for them every day. I'm one of those guys that walks up to men and women in uniform and thank them personally for their service. I'm excited about it and my wife is excited because she knows how much it means to me and how important our troops are and the role they play.
We'll do what we can to boost the spirits of the troops. Plus Thurman (Thomas) and Andre (Reed) are also taking part in the tour. So we'll get out there and play a little flag football, sign some autographs and talk to as many of them as we can and just thank them personally for all the sacrifices they've made for the rest of us.