Trust the Process

Thoughts on “Trust the Process” and how it will shape the Buffalo Bills for years to come.

The Buffalo Bills are at the halfway mark, sitting at 5-3 and own the 3rd best record in the AFC, tied with the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bills also are 1 game back in the AFC East and currently hold the 6th seed in the playoffs. Not a bad start for a team that was expected to tank for a top pick next season. As this season has progressed, “Trust the Process” has been regularly brought up. Today’s article will attempt to define what I believe “Trust the Process” is and how it will shape the Buffalo Bills for this season and potentially years to come.

This season is already looking to be different from seasons past as they prepare for a showdown at home against the New Orleans Saints. Time will tell how the rest of the season plays out, but I believe there is already a vast improvement from last year. The reason behind this is Sean McDermott. He may be the answer that Buffalo has been looking for these past 17 years. This isn’t to say that the other coaches during The Drought have been bad, but McDermott is different in a very significant way.

Much has been said regarding McDermott’s rise to the top, starting with the Eagles, then making his mark with the Panthers as a defensive coordinator. It has been mentioned often that he was a successful wrestler in high school, forgoing a possibly successful wrestling career in college to play football at William and Mary. It is is wrestling background that sets him apart. It is why I believe he will deliver the Bills to heights not seen since Marv Levy.

Why am I so high on McDermott? Well, it is because I can relate as I dedicated 12 years of my life to the sport of wrestling. I was FAR FAR FAR less successful than McDermott, but I still understand where he comes from. He comes from a sport where there are no schemes, there are no time outs, there are no teammates to help during the match. It is just you and your opponent in the center of the mat. You control the match, the tempo, the outcome. After surviving in that mindset for as long as he did, you begin to think differently when in the heat of competition.

In wrestling, each member of the wrestling team needs to wrestle their individual match in order for the team to succeed. However, this doesn’t mean that every wrestler has to win. Sometimes a wrestler has to go out and just not get pinned to keep the score close. Sometimes a wrestler needs to get bonus points or get the pin instead of the win. At the end of the day, the wrestler has a job to do. This is the same in football, everyone has a job to do. Without each player doing their job, the team can’t win.

After seeing McDermott coach these past 8 games, watching his demeanor during the press conferences, the culture he is beginning to build, it is evident that something is taking hold. Do I expect McDermott to lead us to the playoffs this year? In a weaker AFC conference, it’s possible, but I am not expecting it. It took Marv Levy a season and a half to even get to the playoffs, starting 9-13 during his tenure in Buffalo. It takes time to build a culture, McDermott is on his way there. But what does that culture consist of?

That culture is defined as “Trust the Process”. McDermott wants a player who is determined, disciplined, and driven, among other things. McDermott wants a player who will understand their role on the team, do their individual job, and someone who realizes that those individual contributions will add up to team success. He is looking for players who can recognize that they are building towards something great. He wants a player who is not self serving and not willing to play for only stats. Every player has a role, vital to team success, and without them, they cannot achieve their goals. Trust the Process means that the Bills can trust in their coach to make the right decisions which in turn allows them to trust in their own abilities.

Trusting the Process also allows players to realize there is room for growth during this process. If this team was excellent, they wouldn’t be dropping games to the Jets and Bengals. They would be beating teams soundly, they would be winning games that they are expected to win, and frankly, we wouldn’t be discussing most of this stuff. This discussion allows the Bills to determine how they can grow as a team and realize that they always can continue to improve. It starts with having people who want to be there. The next step is fostering competition and letting the best players rise to the top. The final step is setting realistic goals and achieving them, then setting higher and more achievable goals after that.

The goal of each NFL team is to win the Super Bowl every year. One team achieves that goal, 11 other teams take steps towards that goal, and 20 teams outright fall short. To have a long term goal, there must be many short term goals. McDermott is slowly achieving that with building culture. I believe he will get there because there are many players in the NFL that are talented, that can understand the bigger picture, and understand their job. Stars will emerge, but these players will have the determination, drive, and dedication required to win. With a solid game plan, cap flexibility, and some luck, McDermott will find these players.

The Sean McDermott Buffalo Bills will have this look in the next several years if given the chance. This will be a team that will know their job, not be statistic driven, and looking to achieve the ultimate goal. This won’t be our father’s Bickering Bills either. Those teams ultimately achieved success not seen before or since. I believe this version of the Buffalo Bills will have success without sacrificing who they are. I am highly looking forward to this regardless the results of this season. Understanding the culture that he is building restores my faith in the Bills despite 17 years of poor football. Will he win a Super Bowl? Only God knows. This will take many different things to occur, but with a strong culture, there is a better shot than before.

I know this post was lengthy, I appreciate you reading this in its entirety. I did my best to educate what I believe the culture is and how this will set the team up for long term success. I believe the past coaches came in looking to win football games and expect the football players to play. McDermott is still in the business to win football games, but he realizes that there is more to football wins than player performance. Marv Levy took many years to achieve his greatest success. His autobiography details that through his years of WWII and decades of coaching at the various levels. Though he was not a wrestler, he came in with an unique set of experiences which allowed him to inspire his players to perform to the best of their abilities. McDermott brings that to the table in spades. He’s going to get it done. If he doesn’t get it done, he’s going to get the team farther than others have and will exhaust every option before then.

As always, continue to check back regularly for new articles and updates regarding my thoughts and Buffalo Bills injuries. Thank you for your time and GO BILLS!!

Kelvin Benjamin Injury History

Analyzing the injury history of newly acquired WR Kelvin Benjamin and expectations for the rest of the season.

The Bills continue to shock and astound this fan base! Right before the trade deadline, the Buffalo Bills traded 2018 3rd and 7th round picks for WR Kelvin Benjamin from the Carolina Panthers! Brandon Beane continues to make moves to contend for a playoff spot, which is more than any recent Bills GM has done over the past 17 years. We have had splashy free agents such as Terrell Owens, Mario Williams, Shawne Merriman, and Nick Barnett, but have had to overpaid for aging talent or not gotten the money’s worth out of the talent. One constant remains, no playoff appearances. Time will tell if this Bills team will change that, but there is already greater chance than before.

With the Bills trading for Kelvin Benjamin, this does bring questions. Questions including how he will fit into a Rick Dennison offense, what kind of impact he will have, and what his injury history/risk is. Today’s post will review Benjamin’s injury history and attempt to determine whether he will be the play maker that the Bills expect of him. Or will Benjamin be the 2017 version of Sammy Watkins/Percy Harvin; supremely talented, but oft injured.

According to sportsinjurypredictor.com, Kelvin Benjamin has sustained a series of injuries over his 4 year playing career. Injuries include concussions, hamstring strains, ACL tear, AC joint sprain, and knee sprain. Starting in order, Benjamin’s concussion occurred during the 2014 season from a hit from Vontaze Burfict which knocked him out of the game but was able to return the following week. While concussion are a hot topic among today’s NFL players, the fact that he was able to return quickly indicate that it was mild at best and did not have long term effect. Having a history of concussions does predispose a player to future concussions, but so far Benjamin has avoided a recurrence of this injury.

During the 2015 offseason, Benjamin suffered two Grade 1-2 hamstring strains to both of his legs which kept him out briefly during OTA’s. Hamstrings can be chronic if not managed correctly, but considering the offseason is less strenuous, he was able to heal up with greater ease. Unfortunately, Benjamin’s 2015 season took a turn for the worse as he tore his left ACL during a non-contact drill during training camp which sidelined him for the entire season.

There is a higher risk for ACL re-tear once suffering an initial tear, but depending on surfaces, strength, and conditioning, this can affect rates. According to the MOON study, following two years after initial tear, 4.3% of patients re-tore the surgical graft and 3.6% tore the opposite ACL. This study comprised of more than 2,700 patients who had initially tore an ACL. While there is a risk, it is far from a guarantee that they re-tear. In another study that studied tears from ages 10-25 years, there was a 6 times greater chance that an athlete tore their ACL when compared to a healthy population. This study did factor females in which may skew results as there are no females in the NFL, but does demonstrate a higher risk for re-injury.

Through my personal research found at my previous article, I found that during the 2017 preseason, most injuries occurred to players 3 years and less in league. A majority of the ACL tears also occurred in this age group which can infer several things. This suggests that even though a player may be supremely talented, their bodies are still not physically ready for the NFL game right away. This also indicates that there is a higher risk for agility players to suffer major injury early in their career. Finally, consider that new NFL players coming out of school are 21-23 years old, this falls in line with the trend of ACL tears in young NFL players and in the previously mentioned study.

It was thought that during this season that Benjamin potentially re-tore his ACL during the New Orleans Saints game, but it was later diagnosed that he suffered a knee sprain which appears that he has fully recovered from. Fortunately, Benjamin did not suffer any further damage greater than a sprain and was able to return relatively quickly. Trying to predict the possibility of a prior ACL tear to re-tear or tear in the other knee is still like winning whack-a-mole. The risk is higher, but not absolute. Finally, the only other major injury he sustained came in the 2016 season in which he sprained his AC joint but did not miss any games as a result.

Looking back at all of this, it appears that while there is risk for injury, there is no greater risk than other players at his position. There also does not appear to be chronic injuries that he is coming to Buffalo with which may affect his production. I also pray that he does not suffer a Billsy injury a la Jordan Matthews did in his first practice with the team this season.

Kelvin Benjamin brings a new dimension to the passing game that was lost when Sammy Watkins was traded. He will be able to get the 50/50 balls that Tyrod Taylor throws up, he will be a red zone threat, and take pressure off Zay Jones so that he can continue to learn and grow as a rookie. Further analysis can be found by my friends at The Rockpile Report; I know for a fact that Drew and Chris have some HOT takes regarding the recent moves over the past week. Check out their podcast, you will not be disappointed!

Overall, I like this trade. Kelvin Benjamin does come with some injury baggage, but so has nearly every other player in NFL history. There are hardly any players that miss any time, unless their name is Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, or Joe Thomas. All eventually had serious injuries which affected their career in one way or another which puts into perspective when looking at Kelvin’s injury history. Though the Bills did give up some draft capital, they still have 5 picks within the top 90 picks and cap flexibility to get the players they covet and not sacrifice the future.

This is a true application of “Trust the Process”. Will it end in playoff appearances, division championships, or even dare I say it, a Super Bowl? Who knows. These Buffalo Bills are winning and still in far better position than the Browns or Colts who have tanked in order to get picks; their process has not worked in their advantage when building a championship team.

Continue to check back for further updates including the injury breakdown prior to the Jets game Thursday, post game analysis, and my thoughts on Sean McDermott during the long break before the Saints game. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!