During the previous two years ahead of Buffalo Bills training camp, fans had high expectations for the team that often fell on deaf ears to those in the national media. But coming off back-to-back playoff appearances, a 13-win season and an MVP runner-up campaign from Josh Allen, all eyes are on the Bills as they look to build upon their stellar 2020 performance.
For general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott, this change in expectations from the outside has no effect on how they approach the 2021 NFL season internally. On Wednesday, Beane addressed the media prior to the team’s first practice of training camp and explained that they’re starting from the bottom once again.
“I think our guys understand – we’ve stressed it all year and all offseason which is, what we did last year was really good, but it means nothing, we’re 0-0,” Beane said. “One of the coaches, I heard him talking to a couple of the players about re-climbing the mountain, we don’t get to start up here, we gotta start at the bottom. Everything we did, all the success we had, doesn’t mean anything. Everybody is 0-0. Everybody’s at the start line.”
Beane, McDermott, and the rest of the coaching staff and front office have made it clear to the players that last year’s success is far from guaranteed to continue. To “re-climb the mountain,” the team will need to reassess everything, including what went right and what went wrong in 2020.
“We have to reestablish the things we did well last year, because people have tape, they’re gonna watch how we did what we did,” Beane explained. “some of the things we did offensively, we put up a lot of numbers. Don’t think that teams have not studied that and are gonna have game plans to stop that. And then what can we do better? What are the things we struggled with that maybe didn’t help us get over the hump in that AFC championship game or maybe an earlier game in the season.”
Both Beane and McDermott have talked about the shortcomings of the team in 2020, most notably the run game and the pass rush. While that was the focus of the offseason discussion for many, it’s clear that inside the building, every aspect of the team is under a microscope in preparation for 2021. It can be hard to stay motivated after success, but fortunately for the Bills, McDermott is more than capable of keeping the team motivated.
‘That’s the great thing about Sean. He’s well-grounded and he keeps the coaches well-grounded and these guys all understand that 2021 is a new year, and nothing that we did in 2020 will affect this year.”
In years past, Bills fans would probably prefer to forget about the previous season due to disappointment. But this year fans, coaches, and players will have to resist the temptation to look back fondly, as to keep the focus on this year. In a league filled with parity, nothing is guaranteed, so Buffalo will need to buckle down and starting re-climbing the mountain that is the NFL.