1. Sean McDermott would welcome head coaching opportunities for his coordinators
Since last season, coordinators Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier have had their names floating around as potential head coaching candidates and interviewed with other teams following the 2020 season. With a new rule implemented this year, teams with a head coaching vacancy can interview prospective candidates in the last two weeks of the regular season.
That rule will go into effect on Tuesday, Dec. 28 and McDermott explained how he'd approach it if he got those requests.
"I would welcome those opportunities for those men," McDermott shared. "They've done a phenomenal job for us here in Buffalo. I would give them my highest recommendations. I want nothing but the best for those guys."
Last season, Daboll was highly considered for the Los Angeles Chargers head coaching job and Frazier for the Houston Texans opening. Frazier opened up on Monday and talked about how he approaches every potential head coaching opportunity.
"I think you have to move on and really focus on the now," Frazier said. "So if an opportunity were to present itself, you want to assess it and just make a good decision, but you really don't want things that have happened in the past to hold you back in the future. You've really got to move forward and just want to assess each situation, but for me, as you mentioned, the focus is on what we've got to get done here in this ball game against Atlanta, which is huge for what we're trying to accomplish as a team."
2. Team leadership was a big factor in Sunday's win
With the continuity throughout this Bills roster, many of the players have had the luxury of playing next to one another for up to five seasons. Many of the players that joined the team in the first two years that Sean McDermott became head coach are now veteran leaders of the franchise.
Buffalo has 10 players that are currently a team captain or have been in the past three seasons. McDermott leans on the player leadership to help guide the team through adverse moments. It was especially important last week leading up to the Patriots game because of how much was on the line. His players didn't make too much of it and instead focused on the little details and played complementary football on Sunday.
Team leaders Josh Allen, Micah Hyde, Dion Dawkins and Stefon Diggs stepped up and had stellar performances against the Patriots which helped the rest of the team match their energy and fire on all cylinders. Sean McDermott is proud of what his leadership group has been able to do for this team as of late and he knows it will help them down the stretch.
"Leadership is, some of it I think is innate, and that thread of DNA is in someone but the other side of it is I believe it's developed," McDermott shared via Zoom. "Being in a leadership role for some people is new and you get better at it hopefully with experience, age and everything. So, I just feel like overall our leadership group has continued to grow just like I do quite honestly, and we do as a team. I think an important part of developing players, is developing the leadership of the team as well. And I've been very impressed over the last few weeks by the way those guys have led."
3. Brian Daboll has a lot of respect for Isaiah McKenzie
After what was a breakout season for Isaiah McKenzie last year, his time on the field has been limited in 2021. After fumbling on a kick return against the Colts in Week 11, McKenzie was inactive for the next two games.
After Sunday's game, McKenzie went through what he learned from the benching - he kept it short and sweet.
"Never mess up again," McKenzie said.
McKenzie knows his role on the team and is willing to do whatever is needed to help the team win. Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has appreciated McKenzie's mindset through the rough parts of his season.
"You've got to be resilient in this business whoever you are," Daboll said. "And he certainly showed good resiliency and a great mental toughness when things weren't going his way. That's really what I respect and appreciate him more than anything. Look, he's quick. He's got some good speed. He's a glue guy just in terms of building, of how he interacts with people. He always brings a great attitude."
McKenzie stepped up in a big spot for the Bills offense with Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He had the best game of his career with 11 receptions for 125 yards and one touchdown. McKenzie's speed brings another element to this Bills offense and Daboll couldn't be happier for him.
"I know that we all have trust in Little Man here," Daboll added. "I'm just very happy for him. He's a guy that means a lot to me. He's been through a lot and I'm very appreciative for his hard work, his determination and his resolve."
4. Assistant coaches step up in win against New England
COVID-19 has been an obstacle for teams around the NFL with the chance for players to be out of the weekly lineup at a moment's notice. This adversity is tough for any coach, but it's an added difficulty when a fellow coach gets put on the list.
In the week leading up to the rematch against the Patriots, special teams coordinator Heath Farwell and defensive line coach Eric Washington both tested positive for Covid-19. Assistant special teams coach Matthew Smiley stepped up and coached the special teams unit, and assistant defensive line coach Jacques Cesaire did the same for the Bills defensive linemen.
Leslie Frazier spoke in detail about what it was like without his defensive line coach.
"Without a doubt, it was a challenge without Eric," Frazier stated. "He's been such a big part of our defense over the last two seasons. To not have him, I called him early in the day of the ballgame, and even the night before and told him just his presence on the airplane, his presence in the hotel, just missing him, and having some of those conversations that we would have during the course of the day. … But kudos to Jacques (Cesaire). Jacques did a great job of being an understudy of Eric and then having to step in and fill those shoes. Those are big shoes, but he did a really good job. The guys responded to his coaching and his leadership, which was really, really good to see. Hopefully we'll get Eric back soon, but Jacques did a terrific job yesterday."