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Madden's influence on the Bills + other things we learned from the locker room


The NFL world was rocked on Tuesday when it was announced that John Madden had passed away at the age of 85.

From Hall of Fame head coach to NFL broadcaster to the person behind the successful Madden NFL video game franchise, Madden made his mark on the NFL and changed the way that we enjoy the game of football.

Madden was an inspiration to many. As a coach, he never had a losing season, and his winning percentage (.759) is second in NFL history. In his 10 seasons as a coach, Madden led his team to six AFL/AFC championship appearances and brought the Raiders their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott started his Wednesday press conference with this statement.

"I just wanted to express our sympathies and condolences to the family of John Madden," McDermott stated. "A true ambassador of the NFL. When you look up the word coach in the dictionary, I think what you would find is a picture of John Madden. A guy that did it right. I had a chance to meet him in the earlier stages of my career here in this league and I know he had big-time relationships with the two head coaches I've been with prior to coming here. I just want to let his family know that we're thinking of them. It's a loss, obviously, and an unfortunate situation."

As a broadcaster, he explained the game of football better than anyone and entertained viewers for 29 years. Madden won 16 sports Emmy Awards and is the only sportscaster to commentate on all four major networks.

It is what he started in 1988 that will cement his legacy for generations. Madden teamed up with EA Sports to create an educational tool for all football fans at home and created Madden NFL. People of all ages have played that video game for decades and will continue to do so in the future. For most NFL players, Madden NFL is the way they learned about how to play the game.

"Everyone's talking about the Madden game," Bills quarterback Josh Allen said. "That's how I learned football, playing that game as a kid, learning the rules, learning the penalties. So that game has had a huge impact on me. And my heart goes out to his family because he affected so many people throughout his life for the better and he was one of the good ones."

From the Madden Cruiser to the turducken on Thanksgiving, to the use of the telestrator, Madden has given so much to the game of football and made it what it is today. On Wednesday, Stefon Diggs shared that he's planning a special tribute for Madden for this Sunday's game.

"I mean to me, that's how football all started," Diggs said. "I started out playing Madden before I could actually play football. So, I feel like it's something that we'll never forget – he's somebody that you're going to put on the pedestal forever. One of the greatest guys, and I'll never forget his voice. That's just normal. Everybody's gonna have that voice in the back of your mind, and it's something that hopefully we can – I was planning on doing something with my cleats for him this weekend, just to show him a little bit of love, just because he meant so much to the game of football. We've just got to keep it going. And hopefully, the league can do something for him every year, because he was one of those pillars in this football league.

Stefon Diggs gives high praise to former teammate Cordarrelle Patterson

After a thrilling win in Foxborough against the Patriots in Week 16, the Bills now turn the page and are preparing for the Atlanta Falcons who come to Buffalo on Sunday. One of Atlanta's most talented weapons is Cordarrelle Patterson. He plays a variety of positions including running back, wide receiver and kick returner.

Stefon Diggs played with Patterson for two seasons in Minnesota and he knows just how special of a player he is.

"He's probably the most talented person I've ever seen with the ball in his hand besides Adrian Peterson," Diggs said. "He's up there – in my opinion, because I played with him – with guys like Dalvin Cook – and even those running backs. He's like 6-2, 225 but he looks a little stronger than that. Our old coach, George Stewart, our receivers coach, used to say he's too strong, too fast and too big. He's one of those guys that's extremely talented, can play all around the field and really just a generational talent."

Being named in the same sentence as future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson is a high honor but this season Patterson has shown consistent play on the field. The Atlanta coaching staff has unlocked his potential and through 16 weeks of the NFL season, he has 140 rushing attempts for 579 yards, 6 rushing touchdowns along with 49 receptions for 523 yards and 5 receiving touchdowns – all career highs.

Patterson is a versatile offensive weapon for the Falcons and can move around anywhere on the field in any given play. He has more yards from scrimmage (1,102) than he's had the previous three seasons combined. With Patterson's ability to rack up yards, locating him on the field and shutting him down will be of utmost importance for this Bills defense.

"He's a guy who lines up really everywhere, and gets the ball in every sort of way," Jordan Poyer said. "He's very, very elite with the ball in his hands, guy runs hard, he's big, tough to bring down. So, we're going to have to play well and get guys to run to the football. It's gonna be a tough task and we're going to have to execute well."

Meet Ryan Bates, the Bills' 'jack of all trades' offensive lineman

The Bills' offensive line played one of their best games of the season as a unit last Sunday against the Patriots. Even with all the moving and shifting that the players had to do, they stuck together and didn't allow Josh Allen to be sacked. One of the key pieces to the success they had was Ryan Bates, who considers himself a do it all offensive lineman.

"They always tell you the more you can do the longer you stay around," Bates said. "And quite frankly, I consider myself one of those people that can play all five positions whether it's center, left guard, right guard, right guard, right tackle, jumbo tight end and I can play a little fullback, so no, I don't look at it as frustrating, I'm just grateful for the situation I'm in."

The Bills were already down some linemen to start the game which pushed Bates into a starting role. Bates hasn't started a meaningful football game since he was in college. The Bills started him at right guard but then after an injury to Ike Boettger in the second quarter he moved to left guard. Even with how versatile Bates is, he explained the difficulties of switching from one side of the line to the other.

"A lot of people don't understand going from right to left or left to right," Bates said. "I explain to other people that it's almost like I'm a righty, so I write with my right hand. So, it's almost like me trying to write with my left hand. That's how different it is and the feel of it switching over from one or the other. But thankfully I feel a little bit more comfortable on the left. It wasn't too much of a transition for me going from right to left, just because I feel a little more comfortable at left from the beginning just through practicing it and doing all that throughout the season. It wasn't too much to be able to switch off."