Since taking over as head coach prior to the 2017 season, Sean McDermott has helped lead the Buffalo Bills to three playoff berths in four years.
Saturday's Wild Card Round matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, however, could feel little different than Buffalo's recent postseason games against the Houston Texans (2019) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2017).
First, it'll be the team's first playoff game in Orchard Park since December of 1996 - a long wait for Bills fans. Also, after a 13-3 regular season, tied for the franchise's best 16-game record, some expectations have reached "Super Bowl or Bust"-type levels.
With the playoffs returning to Buffalo, it was announced last week that fans will be making a return to Bills Stadium as well. Having fans back should be a nice boost for Bills players, who've truly embraced "Bills Mafia".
Despite all the excitement of the playoffs, and a possible second home playoff game within reach, McDermott is sticking with his even-keeled, one-game-at-a-time approach. Every team that's in the playoffs made it there for a reason.
The Colts finished the regular season 11-5 and are the No. 7 seed in the AFC. The road to representing the AFC in the Super Bowl is going to be a tough one, and for the Bills, it starts against Indianapolis.
The only big question mark for the Bills heading into Saturday is the status of wide receiver Cole Beasley, who missed the regular season finale against the Miami Dolphins after suffering a knee injury in Week 16 against the New England Patriots. Fellow receivers Stefon Diggs and Isaiah McKenzie were also limited in practice earlier this week with oblique and ankle injuries, respectively.
In light of the recent injuries to the receiving corps, the Bills added veteran Kenny Stills to the practice squad on Monday, along with Tanner Gentry, a college teammate of Josh Allen's at Wyoming.
McDermott took some time Wednesday morning to talk with Howard Simon and Jeremy White as part of his weekly visit on WGR. Buffalo's head coach provided an injury update (along with acknowledging the team has no current COVID-19-related issues) and shared some of his thoughts on the Colts ahead of Saturday's game.
Here is some of what he had to say:
McDermott on possibly playing Kenny Stills Saturday if needed:
"We'll see where we are in relation to the [wide receiver] injuries and where Kenny is in terms of his advancement in what we do here."
McDermott on what Allen learned in last year's playoff loss to Houston and how he can use that against Indianapolis:
"Take it one play at a time and put yourself in a position to make good decisions and to play your best football. Again, what it really comes back to is our individual quality of play, and then collectively as a team, did we do the things necessary to win the game; taking care of the football being one of them. This is a very good football team coming from Indianapolis here."
McDermott on Indianapolis' running game and rookie Jonathan Taylor:
"[Taylor] is playing at a high level. They've been running the ball extremely well, in some cases over 200 yards a game. He got drafted where he got drafted because he's one of the better running backs in the league. [The Colts] have invested a lot in that offensive line. That'll be a big challenge for us defensively."
McDermott on the Colts defense and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner:
"[The Colts] have invested a lot in their defensive line. It's one of the strengths of their team, probably the strength of their defense. Buckner's played at a high level. He's long, gets his hands up, he affects the game, run and pass. They've got Justin Houston on the outside, who's been an elite pass-rusher over his career. They're very talented on both sides of the ball and special teams."
McDermott on what it means for the players to have fans back in Bills Stadium:
"I think it'll be nice. We've been in other stadiums where they've had fans. But, at the end of the day we have to stay focused on the job that we have to do, and hopefully give the fans something to cheer about."
You can listen to the entire interview below: