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Sean McDermott: 'You have to start with being honest with yourself'

In the wee hours of Friday morning, Sean McDermott had three things he could have done while sitting on the Buffalo Bills' chartered flight back home from New Jersey.

One was sleep. Two was sit and stew over the 34-21 Thursday Night Football loss against the New York Jets. Three was relive the horror he had just witnessed from the sidelines of MetLife Stadium on the screen of his laptop computer.

For the Bills' coach, there really was only one choice.

"I know, if I just sit there and stare off into the seat in front of me, I'll beat myself up," McDermott said. "That's what we do as coaches, that's the process that goes on. Our video guys do a really good job of getting the copy of the game on the Surface. I'm able to start into it pretty quickly."

He saw it all again. Forward, reverse. Forward, reverse.

Frame after agonizing frame, it added up to three turnovers, seven sacks and 11 penalties.

Physical dominance and mostly sharp execution by the guys in green. Blown assignments and mainly poor effort by the guys in white.

Did any part of it make McDermott feel better?

"On some areas, it did," he said. "And then, other areas, you just kick yourself because there's a lot we could have done better and that's my responsibility."

McDermott and his assistant coaches had planned to take their time to review the video of the Bills' ugliest loss of the season with the players and then "revisit it as a coaching staff" before everyone took off for the weekend.

"You have to start by being honest with yourself and looking at it," the coach said. "And that starts with me looking at what we did well and what we didn't do well so that we can try and copy what we did well and get more of it and, obviously, make the proper adjustments with what didn't go well."

What He Said: Bills coach Sean McDermott in aftermath of Jets' loss

Suffice it to say the "didn't-go-well" list is a bit longer. The Bills were sloppy and listless. They couldn't run. They couldn't tackle. They couldn't pressure.

Take away the garbage yards and points their offense produced, and this would have looked every bit like the thorough beat-down it actually was.

McDermott had plenty of cause to pose some hard questions to himself. This was, after all, only his eighth game as an NFL head coach and first for a game on Thursday night.

Longtime veteran Richie Incognito probably vented for a number of his fellow players in the league about the difficulties of having almost no time to prepare due to the quick post-Sunday turnaround.

As a rookie coach, McDermott doesn't have that luxury. All he can do is pore over everything he did — and didn't do — before a game for which his team hardly looked prepared to play its best.

"The very first thing I did after the game was say, 'Hey, what can I do differently?' " he said. "And that starts with our process of, 'What was our schedule? Did we have the right schedule? Did we work out enough times? Did we work out too much?'

"Those are the things that you inventory and you go back and you do some self-check and self-analysis on my part of it in terms of the schedule, and all the things that happen before the game and what we can learn from this — if we have this Thursday game or a short week that comes up another time, how can we get better in our process of our operation?"

Sully's Mailbag: Thursday night NFL games have to go

McDermott understands he can't afford to overreact.

Making radical changes after such an ugly loss isn't sound. The outcome doesn't mean that he and his team should disregard all of the good from the previous seven games, especially last Sunday's lopsided win against the Oakland Raiders.

"A consistent approach is the best approach," McDermott said. "I know what we did just five days ago. This was somewhat uncharacteristic, I would say, overall of our football team to this point in time. That said, we have to make the proper adjusments from this game.

"We have to continue to learn and grow and use this to make us into a better, stronger football team moving forward."

For McDermott, step one came while sitting on an airplane and choosing to stare at his computer screen rather than at the back of a seat.

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