There’s something about lake effect snowstorms that seems to bring out the best in the Buffalo Bills and their fan base. Sunday’s 13-7 snow-filled overtime victory by the Bills over the Indianapolis Colts was memorable for many reasons – not the least of which was how close the Bills came to blowing the 7-0 lead they held throughout most of the game.
But I’ll leave the details of how it all went down to the folks who write up fabulous comprehensive game summaries. I’d like to focus on a bit of wyobabble regarding the play call when the Bills were in overtime facing a 4th and one at their own 41 yard line.
Before I launch into my thoughts on the matter, let me begin by stating I completely understand why virtually the entire fan base turned as white as the field was on Sunday when Sean McDermott decided to punt the ball. It was a reaction I fully expected when it was made.
How many coaches have we seen over the last 18 years make these kind of conservative decisions only to have them blow up in their faces? Fans have become so sensitized to these calls they have almost a post-traumatic response to them when they happen at this point.
However, the absolute worst comparison any Bills fan can make is to compare any coach to Richard Jauron. That’s like the kiss of death in Buffalo.
McDermott's gameday management reminds me of Dick Jauron. To be clear. That's not at all a compliment.
— Martin E (@hoser33) December 11, 2017
what do you think about McD's inability to acknowledge clear coaching errors? i need some wyobabble on that point.
— Bills_Chick (@Bills_Chick) December 11, 2017
Well, here we are, and here it is, though I can already see the rolling eyeballs from my little perch in Wyoming.
So why does Sean McDermott adamantly stick to his rationale despite being repeatedly fried by a sizable majority of the media and fan base?
The simple answer may lie in how McDermott is mentally wired.
Despite the guffaws after Mr. Pegula answered a reporter’s question about why he hired McDermott – the answer in part was because McDermott was a state wrestling champion in high school – there is something significant in this comment that many people aren’t considering with respect how McDermott thinks.
Why on earth would Mr. Pegula focus so much attention on McDermott’s wrestling championship and what the heck does that have to do with coaching? And what on earth does any of this have to do with McDermott’s stubborn resistance to admitting an error in judgement?
Please consider this:
As an elderly woman who never wrestled a day in my life, I can only surmise the kind of mindset it takes to take someone down repeatedly all the way to a state championship in a populated state like Pennsylvania. You have to be at the top of your game.
And, exactly what kind of game is that?
I hope someone who was involved in the sport of wrestling will comment here, but it would seem that in order to excel in a sport where you must use your mind as well as your physical attributes to take down an opponent – there’s only a certain mindset you can have to succeed at the level required to be a champion.
Just a guess, but I would think under ANY circumstances you must train your mind to NEVER doubt yourself, ever.
Not long ago I had a Twitter debate with someone who tried to claim Sean McDermott was similar to Rex Ryan in terms of being egotistical. Oh my, from this old vantage point nothing could be further from the truth.
Rex Ryan’s ego is built upon false assumptions about himself. His bloviated opinion of himself is evident to anyone who listens to him for more than a minute.
Exactly what has Rex Ryan ever accomplished that affords him the privilege of bragging about himself? Two AFC Championship games and a Super Bowl ring as a defensive assistant coach for the Baltimore Ravens?
Those were not his personal accomplishments, they were acquired by a team.
McDermott does not walk around pounding his chest and making empty proclamations about himself to anyone within hearing distance. He’s a humble man who goes about his business and deflects attention away from himself. That’s his nature.
When it comes to admitting a mistake, I don’t believe McDermott’s refusal to acknowledge his decision as an error comes from a place of ego. In his case, I honestly believe it’s how he trained his mind to work in order to achieve the level of success he accomplished in wrestling.
Admitting an error implies regret, which is something I don’t think a champion wrestler can do without losing their mental edge.
Also, let’s remember McDermott is a first year head coach. His clever response when asked – “I don’t regret the decision, I regret the outcome” – reeks of a guy who has trained his mind to respond to adverse outcomes this way. It’s not that he won’t admit he was wrong, it’s more about his unwillingness to acknowledge a weakness within himself in terms of how it sets him up to being vulnerable.
And again, although I’ve never been a wrestler, I can’t imagine that allowing ANY vulnerability to sneak into your mind could be a good approach to the sport.
So, in my long-winded wyobabble way – I think McDermott’s inability to admit errors may come from the fact that he’s not necessarily secure in his job yet (someone like Belichick can feel free to chastise himself publicly because he has the jewelry that proves his worth).
I believe in time McDermott will likely become more comfortable with being open with the media when he makes dubious calls on the field. Right now he’s relying on what got him where he is today – a man with a solid history of success through the policy of never letting them see you sweat.
Editor’s babble: If you made it this far through my winding wyobabble, thanks. You can also find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.