Every season, the Buffalo Bills have a marketing slogan. But it really goes beyond marketing. It’s a slogan for their team. A theme for the players and coaches, as well as the fans.
That’s especially been the case in the Sean McDermott era.
McDermott uses these slogans and themes to send messages to his own organization, and especially the players. Of course we know “Trust the Process”, or what’s now become more known as “Respect the Process”. That’s been true since the day he got here, and will always be.
But on a year-to-year basis, these slogans and messages change.
When McDermott first got to Buffalo in 2017, it was “Playoff Caliber”. People laughed at the notion that a team that traded wide receiver Sammy Watkins and cornerback Ronald Darby, turned over about half of their roster, with a new head coach and general manager, clearly rebuilding, could even be thinking about being in the playoffs.
But that was McDermott‘s message - that everything they did on a daily basis was going to be to a certain standard. A standard that reflects, resembles, and rises to what a playoff team looks like. The message was that, despite what anyone on the outside thought, many who even said the team was “tanking”. They were still going to prepare like, and ultimately, expect to be a playoff team.
Then in 2018, after a much more massive roster turnover, which saw hardly anyone left over from the Rex Ryan regime, the slogan was “One Heart. Beat Louder”. So with all of the new faces, McDermott wanted to send a message that they have to come together to be a team, with one goal, all pulling in the same direction.
Of course, they didn’t make the playoffs that season, and to be honest, I think that was sort of expected, even inside One Bills Drive. The rebuild many thought was going to happen in 2017 actually took place in 2018.
So when they came back in 2019, there was a much different feel, and certainly higher expectations. They may not have been fully formed yet, but there was no more rebuilding end waiting around. It was time.
The team’s slogan and message last season was “Band Together. Press Play”. Think about that. “Press Play”. It’s what you do when you’re ready to go. Go forward. No more waiting.
That’s what they did, and back to the playoffs they went. But we all know what happened. They lost of the Houston Texans, blowing a 16-3 lead in the second half.
I’ve said many times that that particular game shaped a lot of decisions the organization made in the offseason. That included the trade to acquire wide receiver Stefon Diggs to give quarterback Josh Allen a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. It even including drafting Tyler Bass to have a stronger-legged kicker.
The personnel additions spoke to it, but as the offseason went on and we got close to training camp, even not knowing what that would look like, so did the messaging on the walls at One Bills Drive.
As media, we can’t go in the building this year because of the pandemic and everything going on. But ever since the offseason, we started hearing Bills players say three words. When you walk on their practice facility just outside the fieldhouse, there’s a huge banner hanging from goal line-to-goal line on one of the fields that has those same three words written in big block letters:
“FIND A WAY.”
That’s what this season has been about. Finding a way.
- "Find A Way" to workout back in the spring when you can’t travel to Buffalo, or maybe even get to a gym in your hometown.
- "Find A Way" to get together in Florida and throw footballs despite all of the challenges.
- "Find A Way" to navigate through COVID-19 tests and quarantining, and even losing multiple players for games.
- "Find A Way" to punching the ball out of Cam Newton‘s hands before he gets into the end zone to beat you back in Week 8.
- "Find A Way" to bounce back from a loss on a Hail Mary to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10 that could have derailed the season.
- "Find A Way" to beat a really good, really well-coached Indianapolis Colts team that had an answer for everything you threw at them on Saturday.
- "Find A Way" to still do that, and win, despite not even having your own A-Game.
You’ve heard me so many times that every game has its own DNA. Every situation and matchup is different.
Saturday’s win was one game. It doesn’t matter how it happened or what the final score was. The Bills found a way.
Now they’ll reset and have to do it again this Saturday against a very good, and again, another very well-coached Baltimore Ravens squad in Orchard Park.
It’s going to be a challenge. Winning a championship in sports is really, really hard. It’s supposed to be. But the Bills will be ready and prepared. They just have to continue to "Find A Way".
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