Bills brass must continue to practice what they preach

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BUFFALO, NY – NOVEMBER 25: Head coach Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills congratulates Tremaine Edmunds #49 after the defense stopped the Jacksonville Jaguars culminating on a missed field goal in the third quarter during NFL game action at New Era Field on November 25, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

The Buffalo Bills are set to embark on their postseason journey this Saturday against the Houston Texans. The team’s level of success moving forward will largely be dictated by how committed coaches and management are to practicing what they have preached in recent months.

After a one year hiatus, the Buffalo Bills are officially back to playing meaningful football games in January. Hallelujah.

Later this week, the team will fly 1,300 miles to take on the Houston Texans in the Wild Card Weekend chapter of the NFL Playoffs. Despite technically being underdogs (+2.5), most experts would not be the slightest bit surprised if the Bills were to walk out of NRG Stadium victorious on Saturday evening.

Fueled by an elite defense – which ranked third in the NFL this season – and a steadily improving offense, the AFC East runners up are well-positioned to make noise this postseason. However, as we know in professional sports, the playoffs are an entirely different ballgame.

The team will need to perform at the highest level on the field, but will also need coaches and management to hold up their end of the bargain in order for this to be a fruitful playoff journey.

Establishing Culture

A big part of being successful in professional sports is instilling a winning culture that people adopt and execute on, from top-to-bottom.  Alas, this does not always happen.

Prior to the 2016-17 NFL season, (then) Bills head coach, Rex Ryan attempted to galvanize his football team by adopting the slogan “All In”.  Ryan attempted to rationalize the motto, “Whether it’s our preparation, our dedication, our commitment to each other, in the classroom, all that’s got to be all in. For us to have the kind of season that we want to have, that gives us the best shot to be successful. The thing to me, it’s a challenge for every individual, starting with myself and everyone else, but it’s a huge challenge for a team.”

Well, we all know how that worked out.  The beleaguered coach stuck his foot in his mouth and failed to evolve in his craft. Despite his proclamation of the team “winning the offseason“, Ryan was consistently made to look like an amateur by brighter minds when it came to strategy – both pre-game and in-game.  Regardless of how the team’s new slogan resonated with players, the futility on the sidelines rendered yet another playoff-less season.

Spearheaded largely by head coach, Sean McDermott and general manager, Brandon Beane and supported by others in positions of power, the Buffalo Bills have done an admirable job in augmenting the team’s culture tenfold over the course of the past three seasons. Players that did not “Respect the Process” were shipped out of town, which, in turn, has given the team the flexibility to re-construct the roster accordingly.

Ryan’s “All In” was immediately replaced with “Playoff Caliber“, and the results were almost instantaneous. The players executed very meticulous gameplans on both sides of the ball which were aimed more so to eliminate mistakes rather than to dominate their opponent.

Like it or not, this approach was successful enough for the team to end their dubious 17-year playoff drought.

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