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Quick Hits: How the Bills maintain their focus as the national attention and playoff stakes increase

Buffalo Bills strong safety Micah Hyde (23) and cornerback Taron Johnson (24) Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins, October 20, 2019 at New Era Field. Photo by Bill Wippert
Buffalo Bills strong safety Micah Hyde (23) and cornerback Taron Johnson (24) Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins, October 20, 2019 at New Era Field. Photo by Bill Wippert

1. Sean McDermott on how the team maintains success as the attention and stakes increase

The Bills in their only game thus far on the national stage, looked more than comfortable in their own skin, and performed admirably on Thanksgiving. When asked why that was the case, head coach Sean McDermott explained why there is a measure of comfort with his team and how that allows the players to execute and play fast.

"We're being us," he said. "Our guys understand what's being asked of them. Everyone understands their role. We may not be fancy, but we believe in what we do. I think the guys when you do that and give them great clarity there is a lot of power in that. That was our message and will continue to be our message. Let's do what we do."

That wouldn't be possible without a roster of team-first players, something McDermott believes their team has in great supply.

"We've been through some things as a team," McDermott said. "We've got a good group of guys who work hard. Smart players, tough players. What I've found is every week these guys put all they have into every week from a preparation standpoint, regardless of the opponent. A lot can be said for that."

2. Why Josh Allen was the pick for the Bills instead of Lamar Jackson

This Sunday, two members of the 2018 quarterback class square off in Buffalo in Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson. The Bills had the seventh pick after a couple of trades were made to move up and selected Allen with other prospects like Josh Rosen and Jackson still on the board.

Coach McDermott explained why Allen was Buffalo's pick at seven even though a player of Jackson's caliber was available as well at the time.

"We spent some time with Lamar and went through the (pre-draft) process with him," said McDermott. "He was a fantastic player then and he remains a fantastic player. A great young man just judging from my interactions with him.

"It wasn't so much about Lamar, so much as it was we wanted Josh Allen and everything that Josh brought to Buffalo. That was the right fit for us. It was no disrespect at all (to Lamar). Obviously the Ravens got a fantastic player and credit to them for that and we feel good about where Josh is."

Both Allen and Jackson have blossomed in their second seasons as starters. With respect to the strides that Allen has made, McDermott points to his quarterback's work ethic.

"Josh is playing good football and continues to grow," McDermott said. "He works at it. Some guys come in and they expect their second year to be better just because it's their second year. Josh Allen works his tail off."

McDermott said some of his most noticeable improvements have come in his understanding NFL-style defenses, his mechanics and his command of the overall offense.

**3. Ed Oliver's upward trajectory

**The improvement in Ed Oliver's personal game has been evident for those that observe his play every week. But even outside observers could see how his game has taken steps forward following his two-sack, forced fumble performance at Dallas last week.

Coach McDermott shed some light on why he believes the team's first-round pick has improved in the second half of his rookie season.

"There's an adaptation period where you take your game from what it was to where it has to be at this level. It takes some time to adjust," said McDermott. "That's true for anyone including Ed in this case.

"I think Ed has displayed that he is about the team. That's what we want," McDermott said. "That's who we are and part of our culture. He has stayed hungry. That's been a part of the reason for his growth of late. He played fast last week in Dallas and started to do some things that he had been working on. As he continues to work and put time in, he'll continue to get those results. Those two things are connected. Habits and results."

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