Long distance observations from Bills’ Training Camp

Photo of DT Ed Oliver from clutchpoints.com.

With the first four open practices for the Bills in the books, I thought it might be time to take a look at some of the intangible aspects of how the Buffalo Bills are faring after their first four practices at St. John Fisher College at PIttsford.

Unable to attend camp in person this year, so I’ve relied upon pictures/videos and trusted camp reporters (fans and professionals) to keep me up to speed on how players are faring mentally and emotionally throughout camp. There’s so much one can patch together from gathering all the observations and connecting the dots.

That’s another reason I like to produce the collation of camp tweets for the blog. I never cease to be amazed at the variation in reporting about the same play. In fact, I probably learn more from the observations of others than when I’m physically at camp with all the distractions and inability to be in more than one place at a time.

Here’s three issues that stood out after the first week of training camp practice:

The Ed Oliver Mystery

The whispering on Twitter grew to an all-out question about why Ed Oliver started out training camp working with the 2s. I literally chuckled when it was announced. This is SO Sean McDermott the psychologist.

Going into my third year observing Sean McDermott and some aspects of his personality and approach to coaching are becoming clear. Most of the clarity involves the recognition of just how much McDermott emphasizes the spiritual aspect of human behavior.

McDermott has an individualized mental strategy with each player. For example, let’s look at what he’s done by starting Ed Oliver on the 2s at the start of training camp. Why would he do this instead of throwing Oliver into the fire like he did Tremaine Edmunds?

Ahhhhh, that’s where understanding the temperament and mindset of each player is different and thus the plan should reflect this. McDermott likely ascertained the best strategy to welcome Ed Oliver to life in the NFL was to overwhelm him and humble him.

Each player comes into the NFL with a mindset reflecting their basic personality traits. In Ed’s case, he drips of ‘alpha dawg’ and McDermott would want to rein that in a bit right from the get-go. Let Oliver burn a bit and then see what the big dawg does when you do move him to the 1s.

I love this move. It’s also contrary to what McDermott did with Tremaine Edmunds. If you think about it, it makes sense. Tremaine’s personality is completely different. Stoic, quiet, and very cerebral. McDermott obviously realized the best strategy was to put Edmunds right in the line up and letting him learn how to quarterback a defense on the fly.

Defensive line play also requires a different mindset of working in rhythm with your line-mates more so than roaming the middle and running the show like a middle linebacker in McDermott’s defense.

Leadership is not just lip-service for Sean McDermott

Photo of HC Sean ‘The Clapper’ McDermott from WKBW.com.

It’s been mentioned a couple times there are leadership meetings with Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds that McDermott is conducting on a regular basis. From there it also appears there’s designated leaders for each position group… and that’s how the informal chain of command of leadership works.

Let me go on record declaring the addition of Frank Gore to the running back room as being a totally genius move by McDermott and Beane. There aren’t many people who intimidate LeSean McCoy, but I think Frank Gore might be one of them.

Gore is the clear alpha dawg and McCoy knows it. Gore is also the adult in the room and we all know leadership is not strongly represented inside Shady’s innate personality. Gore sweats leadership and commands respect. This was a good move and demonstrates just how far McDermott and Beane will go when constructing a team. I’m in wyobabble heaven :)

Josh Allen is going to be OK

Photo of QB Josh Allen from Forbes.com.

It’s been very interesting to read the apology tweets and lengthy explanations from ‘Josh negativists’ before the 2018 draft and how they are adjusting their opinions after four practices at training camp.

Josh still has such a long way to go! Every interception he throws in practice isn’t an indictment of the trajectory of his growth as an NFL quarterback. Just like he’s not ready for the Hall of Fame because he threw a couple of 50 yard touchdown passes to Smoky Brown.

One of the more overlooked reasons Josh Allen wasn’t heavily recruited in high school was because he is a late bloomer. If you look at photographs of Josh from last year to this year, you can still see he’s STILL growing into his body.

Allen remains very much a work in progress. The leap to the NFL from Laramie is as big as Allen’s leap over Anthony Barr. What I see compared to the guy who showed up at Wyoming is a kid who was beloved in Laramie for the same reasons he will end up being beloved in Buffalo as a man and an NFL quarterback.

The NFL stage is not too big for Josh Allen. His personality formed around being raised in a rural community by two very wise parents who will help keep him from getting overwhelmed by celebrity. You can see Allen making an effort to practice what he promised himself he would do if he became famous; never forget where you came from and be grateful wherever you go.

My message to fellow Bills fans about Josh is to be patient. Let him grow into his role as face of the franchise and you will see what we saw from him at Laramie. He’s special.

Editor’s babble: This camp is fascinating because it’s all about the all-important 3rd year for McBeane. Time for some of fruits of their labor to manifest itself at New Era Field. this fall. Huzzah. If you can stand the drippy optimism, you can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.

About Robyn Mundy

Robyn Mundy is Editor-in-Chief of the BillsMafia blog at BillsMafia.com. She's a retired oncology nurse & psychotherapist who loves to write about her life-long passion for the Buffalo Bills, and occasionally something of clinical or social relevance. Robyn lives with her husband Gary and their dogs in the foothills of the glorious Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Robyn is also a proud founding sponsor. Follow her on Twitter at @robynmundyWYO.

2 Replies to “Long distance observations from Bills’ Training Camp”

  1. Love your posts…probably because you see Josh as I do (that raw kid who showed up in Laramie and won our hearts.) I find it special that the Bills Mafia is coming to support him. Feel like I was part of a special secret! I can’t wait for the season to begin.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Sharla! I’ve been preaching the Josh Allen story since his junior year at Laramie. Living in Wyoming allowed us the opportunity to get a glimpse of what is to come for Josh. I can’t wait to watch him develop into the quarterback we knew he could become if given a chance. Have a great day!