It’s been a bizarre offseason for Sean McDermott and most everybody associated with the National Football League.
For the Bills’ coach, the effects of Covid-19 have totally disrupted his preparation for the coming season and indeed even raised questions whether there will be pro football come September.
At least now, he and his staff are back gathering at the team facilities in Orchard Park but the players remain away, any interaction pretty much restricted to Zoom calls or similar virtual communication.
But, to his credit, McDermott has kept in contact with the team media via the occasional conference call.
The trouble is, with nothing really going on – training camp and the return of the players is over a month away – the line of questioning tends to be repetitious with each Zoom session.
However, in Wednesday’s exchange, he did offer several fresh insights.
WHAT IF the season is shortened or even canceled?
“I’m a positive guy by nature and the way all signs right now are pointing is for us playing and having a full season and that’s the information I’m going off of right now,” McDermott said. “That said, if things happen, then we’ll adjust ... we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Could there be a shortened preseason?
“Whatever the league decides, it’s what we’ll roll with,” he added. “I’ve been in this league long enough to know that you’ve got to be adaptable. Adaptive teams and individuals win and we’ll be adaptive to whatever they roll out.”
McDERMOTT was asked about Tuesday’s purge by the Sabres that cost general manager Jason Botterill and 21 other front office employees their jobs.
“We’re all human and it’s unfortunate,” he said. “I have a relationship with Jason and hate to see things like that happen. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision for Terry and Kim (Pegula, owners of both teams) and I think, more than anything, I want to show my support for Ralph (Krueger, coach).
“In my relationship with Ralph I have a lot of respect for him. As much as I’m focused over here (with the Bills) I still support wholeheartedly what goes on over there and root for the Sabres and want to see them do well.”
Indeed, during the Pegulas’ conference call to announce the firings, Terry indicated that the Sabres would become “leaner” expense-wise which led to a question about financials for the Bills, an issue that he totally dismissed.
“Terry and Kim have, to me, modeled that they are committed to winning,” McDermott said. “I can’t comment on what goes on at the Sabres (but) I can comment on what goes on here and that is, I see every day, not only from what they communicate to me and Brandon (Beane, general manager) but also what they do ... their investment here in the Bills (is unquestioned). They are committed to winning and that’s really all I can go off of is my experience.”
HE WAS also questioned on whether the Bills might have an advantage in what’s been a compressed preparation time in that all but two of 22 starters return.
“Continuity is good to have, a good ingredient, a good start,” McDermott conceded. “(But) the thing we have to be aware of is games aren’t won this time of year. Games aren’t going to be won just because of continuity. “We’ve got to make sure that we take that continuity and build on it ... that’s what we’ve got to do when we can come back together.
“There’s still a gap (in preparation) that we’re not able to replace at this point. But you also go into it knowing that all the teams are on the same level playing field ... no one’s been able to get together. We’re all starting around the same place.”
(Chuck Pollock, a Times Herald senior sports columnist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)