For now, we'll have to take the coaches and multiple players at their word regarding how good the communicating has been within the Buffalo Bills' defense.
Our eyes can't tell us very much. With no pads or contact, the practices that were open to the media during OTAs and minicamp showed little in the way of how the defense is actually performing and whether, in fact, it truly is better than it was last season.
We could all hear the considerable pre-snap conversation.
We could all sense that linebackers Preston Brown and Manny Lawson and members of the secondary were recognizing what they needed to based on the formations and shifting of the offense and sharing it with each other and members of the defensive line.
We could see when free-running defenders buzzed into the backfield for what assuredly would have been sacks in games. That happened quite a few times, actually.
And it means something when Marcell Dareus, who ranked among the bigger critics of Rex Ryan's scheme last year this side of Mario Williams, offers the happy talk about it that he did on SiriusXM NFL Radio earlier this week.
"It feels good to know I can just do what I need to do and I don’t have to think as much. I don’t have to spend so much time trying to help this guy, help that guy or them doing the same with me," Dareus said. "It feels good to be a D-lineman and looking back and looking at your defensive backs. They’re young, they’re talking, they’re talking to each other. They’re like, ‘Man, you know you’ve got this, you know you’ve got that.’ They’re coming down, talking to us and just having that camaraderie, we have that relationship now."
It means something when Corey Graham tells our Tyler Dunne, "Everybody knows what they're doing. And we've got some new pieces in there that are looking really good. I feel like we'll be very good."
But what do we actually know?
The answer is still a few months away.
And one of the bigger questions that needs answering is just how long are the Bills going to be without their top draft pick, Shaq Lawson? He's supposed to be the most critical of those "new pieces." Will his rookie year end up being a wash? If so, it's hard to see exactly where all of the improvement will come.
Communication is important, yes. But it isn't nearly as vital as having outstanding players make outstanding plays.