Unique challenges for Bills in midst of pandemic

Photo of Sean McDermott from chautauguatoday.com.

If I close my eyes, I can almost see energy beams coming off Sean McDermott’s bald head as he prepares for the Buffalo Bills first training camp during a pandemic. Anyone as rigid and disciplined as McDermott must be experiencing a constant mental battle with themselves with all the changing parameters going on.

One can only imagine McDermott driving himself crazy trying to find the magic formula to get the most out of development and assessing young players in a year without preseason games to evaluate talent, as well as a markedly altered training camp. What a monumental task!

However, this is what separates elite, forward thinking coaches from their less creative counterparts across the NFL. McDermott preaches it to himself and his players… adapt or die.

This season’s mantra by McDermott’ is “FIND A WAY”. It’s strong evidence supporting how he constantly strives for improvement with respect to both personal and professional development. He’s obviously done a lot of studying in the area of cognitive messaging. His slogans are extremely well crafted because they are action oriented and simple.

Among the many factors impeding the ability of NFL coaches and general managers to get the most out of evaluating talent during training camp this season will be the effect of fear on performance by players because of COVID-19.

It’s totally understandable why players would be returning to the NFL with a great sense of trepidation moving forward. We really have no data to grasp the longer term consequences of COVID-19, nor as in the case with the Wilson family… any kind of understanding about the effect of COVID-19 on pregnancy or other health related issues or conditions.

But… one thing I am very sure of is that McDermott will have a contingency for every conceivable permutation about how to get one step ahead of the competition in terms of preparation for this training camp. He and his staff will understand how to get the most out of every minute. BillsMafia has every reason to put faith in the hands of this coaching staff to rise above their peers in terms of putting together the most effective and creative program in the NFL.

Photo of Bill Belichick from sportingnews.com.

That type of praise only came from me when describing (to my utter despair) the incredible front office the Patriots have developed over the last two decades. For years they were always at least one step ahead of the rest of the NFL when it came to analytics.

But the Bills are not far behind now in terms of putting together a winning front office formula for success. They have to win the the Lombardi to cement it, but I feel more confidence about it happening for Buffalo than I have since the 90s. That stated, they still need to play the games “better than all the rest” to hoist that trophy… and that’s no easy feat.

The biggest question from my babble perspective is how team chemistry will be affected by COVID-19 restrictions. We know society as a whole is just beginning to learn about some of the psychological effect of long-term social isolation. How it will play out in the locker room is anybody’s guess in term of the effect of this pandemic on locker room culture. It’s really fascinating study of human behavior.

We’re about to (maybe) start an NFL season like no other. We should take comfort in knowing Sean McDermott and his staff will be relentless in doing whatever it takes to create a winning season for the Bills.

Editor’s babble: It’s been so hard to begin an NFL with so much uncertainty. I’m having trouble controlling my emotions just as a fan. I cannot imagine the stress of trying to put an entire NFL training camp together under these circumstances. If you’re looking for me, 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.