It didn’t take long for Sean McDermott to indoctrinate the Buffalo Bills and their community of fans to his various mantras utilizing the concept of “process”. We are supposed to “honor the process”, “respect the process” and most of all “trust the process” in order to fully grasp his philosophy as a football coach.
While most marketing slogans and catchy phrases make our eyes roll for the most part, this one by McDermott actually means something more specific and is different with respect to how he is building a team. When McDermott is asked about what “trusting the process”, he often describes it as a strategy for breaking down goals and objectives into specific components and focusing solely on how one moves through achieving them.
However, there’s also another aspect of his approach that McDermott talks about, often separately, that I believe is integral to his early signs of success that his team is becoming more than the sum of its parts. Having spent the better part of my professional career as a psychotherapist, there are some principles McDermott prioritizes that I’ve not observed in many NFL coaches.
Intangibles > Physical skills
When McDermott talks about getting players with the right “fit” for his scheme, he’s not just talking about the physical skill set of any given player. First and foremost, this coach considers their personality, and possesses the natural instincts of an effective psychologist.
While I’m not certain how much formal training McDermott has in the field of psychology, it’s clear he embraces the study of human behavior and how it effects team chemistry. Many of you who’ve had the unfortunate experience of reading some of my long posts in the past about team chemistry know that I’m fascinated by how these intangible aspects of the game contribute to success or failure on the field of play.
In my experience, the ability to empathize is arguably one of the most important skills for psychotherapists to develop. For some, this comes naturally. McDermott is one of these individuals blessed with the ability to connect on an emotional and behavioral level almost instantly with people. You can see this quality and mannerisms during his press conferences.
Why should this matter one fig to Bills fans?
It matters because McDermott prioritizes… I would even suggest he cherishes… the development of team chemistry at least as much, if not more so than physical skill set. Why should we care?
Here’s why… because McDermott will run any possible addition/subtraction to the Bills roster through his template of team chemistry before he even BOTHERS to consider their physical skill set. It appears he might even choose to add a lesser skilled player to the team over a more physically gifted player that doesn’t fit his personality prototype.
Most of you know I’ve begged for a coach like this since Marv Levy retired, so it should come as no surprise I’m “all-in” on this coach and his approach. Time will tell if the focus on team chemistry will bear fruit, but early returns so far look very promising.
So for those of you who struggle with the type of players he brings in or how McDermott goes about building his team based on personality and attitude, get used to it. There will be a continual flow of available players this coach will NOT even consider adding to the roster no matter how physically talented they are.
Editor’s babble: Thanks for reading my meanderings. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can follow me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.