ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — This Bills team has become familiar with playing the underdog card and building energy based on the belief that no one outside the building thinks they will succeed.
Well, this year is different. Coming off an AFC Championship game appearance and returning the majority of their starting lineup, everyone thinks they’ll succeed. Dealing with those positive expectations is just another challenge they have to face.
“We’ve got to be mentally tough in our approach and focus in on our process and insulate ourselves as much as we can from all that other noise that is outside the building,” said head coach Sean McDermott.
The majority of those expectations lie at the feet of Josh Allen, who signed a record-breaking extension this offseason and is coming off a year where he was runner-up for league MVP. But Allen feels as if they have the right guys to deal with any challenge.
“We’ve got guys that are professionals and care about their craft that come into work every day and they just put their hard hats on and go to work,” said Josh Allen. “It’s a cool environment we’ve got here. The locker room we’ve got is really unbelievable. I think it’s one of the tightest-knit groups in the league if not the tightest-knit group in the entire league. It’s just fun to get out here and work with the guys.”
“It’s easy being the underdog,” said wide receiver Stefon Diggs. “It’s harder when you’re playing well and people know that you can play well. Then you’ve got to live up to a standard of playing well each and every day, each and every day. So for us, last year is over.
“We can’t translate those wins but what we can do is take what we did from the good side and translate it to this year and the things that we didn’t do well, keep it in the forefront of your mind,” Diggs added.
Sean McDermott drew an analogy between his team succeeding amid positive expectations and PGA Tour pro Patrick Cantlay who led start to finish last week at the Tour Championship, pointing out that Cantlay had to go hole by hole and stay focused even though he had early success.
“If you focus on things outside this building, things you can’t control, you’re gonna get your tail kicked,” McDermott said.
They’ll get their first chance to prove themselves this Sunday against the Steelers.