It feels a lot like football season in Orchard Park.
There’s a buzz around the Bills’ building, and fans have already begun showing their support for the hometown team in advance of Sunday’s Week 1 matchup with the New York Jets.
“I already see some campers out there,” first-year head coach Sean McDermott said with a smile, shortly before heading out to practice Friday. “Which is just awesome. I love it.”
He tried to watch the Thursday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, but only made it through the first quarter — “if that,” admitted McDermott, who was fast asleep before Alex Smith and the Chiefs routed the Patriots, 42-27, at Gillette Stadium.
“It was fun to watch,” he said. “It’s always fun to watch the opening of the season and the electricity in the air. That was neat to see.”
The final score means that, for now, the Patriots are dead-last in the AFC East and the Bills (who are 0-0, along with the Jets and the Miami Dolphins) have a chance to distance themselves from the defending Super Bowl Champions in the standings.
At least for now.
“I acknowledge that,” Mcdermott said, before downplaying the Patriots’ loss being added motivation to win their home opener. “… But that’s not what we look at. We’re really focused on, obviously, the New York Jets and ourselves. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got a lot of time to refine our preparation. We’re just really focused on ourselves and our game.”
True to form, McDermott preached the importance of staying true to the “process” and cautioned against looking too far ahead, too early in the season. Asked how critical it is for any team to start the season 1-0, he said: “I’m sure every coach would say the same thing. You want to come out and play well. It’s an important step. That said, there is a process that you go through in terms of growing. Our goal is, yes, to win games but between here and there, though, there’s a process in place of getting better every day. And that’s no different on the practice field, in our building or on the game field. We want to get better every day.”
Less than 48 hours stand between McDermott and his first taste of being an NFL head coach in a game that finally matters. And while he isn’t yet sure how he’ll feel walking out of the tunnel at New Era Field, McDermott said he could feel the excitement and intensity of a new season just from watching the Chiefs and Patriots.
“You saw the game last night and that’s really the start of our season in the NFL,” he said. “I’m very thankful, very thankful for the opportunity, thankful for the support from my family to everyone. Thankful for this building, thankful for the opportunity to lead these players onto the field, and these coaches. Just a long journey. That said, excited about the opportunity. Excited to get in front of our fans. First game of the year, first home game of the season.
"It should be a great weekend.”
* * *
In their Friday injury report, the Bills declared linebacker Tanner Vallejo (knee) and defensive tackle Jerel Worthy (concussion) as out for the game. They were the only two Bills who did not practice.
Listed as full practice members: Safety Colt Anderson (foot), defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (hip), tackle Cordy Glenn (foot), wide receiver Jordan Matthews (chest), running back LeSean McCoy (illness), quarterback Tyrod Taylor (concussion).