As a coach, it is rare to get the opportunity to coach for the team you grew up watching. When Sean Kugler was hired as the Bills assistant offensive line coach this past spring he was going to work for his hometown team.
Kugler makes up one half of the Bills' Buffalo area offensive line staff. Kugler hails from Lockport and head offensive line coach, Jim McNally, is a Kenmore native. As a Western New York native Kugler's position with the Bills holds a special place in his heart.
"You grow up and you love the Bills there is that pride inside you being from here that you want to do the best for them," said Kugler.
Kugler left the Buffalo area for college where he was a four-year letter winner at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP). Following college Kugler played a season for the Sacramento Surge of the now defunct World League of American football.
Even though Kugler never made it back to Buffalo as a player he has a clear understanding of the dos and don'ts of coaching. His time as a player allows him to have an insight to what players do and don't respond to and that has led to a greater bond with his lineman.
"Coach Kug is definitely my guy," said second-year tackle Terrance Pennington. "He makes it so that it makes sense. If you follow what he tells you it transfers onto the field and puts you in a good position. I'm all for Kugler if I could I would have him for the rest of my career."
Although this is Kugler's first season with the Bills he comes to Buffalo with a familiar face on the roster. Following a five-year stint with the Detroit Lions Kugler went back to the NCAA to coach the offensive line at Boise State. While Kugler did not draw up the statue of liberty play that won the Fiesta Bowl he has a bond with Bills rookie tight end Derek Schoman both on and off the field.
"I spent a little time with Kugs. We always saw him in and out of the offices. He is a great guy and really smart," said Schouman. "It is nice to have one familiar face."
Schouman and Kugler have had the opportunity to speak off the field. Having a history with a member of the staff has helped Schouman adjust to his new home.
"I have seen him off the field a little bit and just talked to him a little bit just a lot about work and staying focused on doing the right things," said Schouman.
When watching him coach or listening to players talk about Kugler it is obvious that he has quickly bonded with the players he is coaching.
"There is time where we can joke around and play and then we know when we have got to go to work," said Pennington.
While Kugler did not let on to any sort of joking attitude, he attributed the bond between him and the players to a strong working relationship.
"I think the bond between a coach and a player is just developing trust with each other and going out there and trying to do your best every week," said Kugler.
As a technique conscious coach Kugler has made an immediate impact on the offensive tackles. He often works with them specifically in the practice setting while McNally handles the centers and guards. Being able to work with the tackles on the field or in a meeting has allowed Kugler to make a greater impact in shoring up players' deficiencies.
"He keeps us more motivated when we are separated. He really focuses on your weaknesses and focuses on making you better," said Pennington.
The positive attitude that Kugler brings to the table, combined with his expertise should serve to benefit the offensive line of his hometown team.