Full Offseason Can Do Wonders For Bills

Coach Sean McDermott knows the team has a much greater opportunity to improve than it did during last year's pandemic.
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Even with the COVID-19 vaccination issue looming large over his team, coach Sean McDermott couldn't hide his smile.

The opening of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) at their headquarters marked the beginning of a return to normal for a team that found a way to go 13-3 even without any offseason camps in 2020, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

Without OTAs and mandatory minicamp, the Bills thrived.

With them?

The benefits for the many young players still finding their way can't properly be quantified.

"If you think back even to the draft class before [last year], you go back two or three draft classes," McDermott said. "Your first offseason is not really an offseason, and then you have the COVID. So some of these guys, this is their first true look at an offseason, or at least on the surface what an offseason looks like. Last year's class didn't have any offseason. They had it from home. And now this year's class has a little bit of what's called an adjusted offseason or bridged offseason.

"So it's good to have the guys in here to get to work on their craft and develop our players. There's nowhere else they can develop the way they can here. You've got first-class staff, you've got a first-class facility, a state-of-the-art facility. And this, to me, is a beautiful time of year in Western New York to be here for weather. So where else you rather be?"

Even more encouraging is the rare continutity the Bills have been afforded after such a successful season. Neither offensive coordinator Brian Daboll nor defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier were poached by other teams to be head coaches, which might be lousy for them but great for everyone else in the Bills' organization.

"It creates a very good space," quarterback Josh Allen said in his news conference on Tuesday. "Just being able to talk with guys in a very comfortable fashion, being in the same system now going on the fourth year and having that rapport that I have with Daboll and [quarterbacks coach] Dorsey and really understanding our offense in and out and being able to relay that to my teammates.

"I've always said that the job of the quarterback is to be an extension of the offensive coordinator and have to understand what he wants in certain situations. And by me knowing that I get to relay that to my teammates and allow us to try to have better success on the field, it's a blessing to be in this situation. Not many people have that luxury of being in the same system and understanding and knowing guys on a personal level for as long as I have. So definitely blessed here."

Without an offseason in 2020, Allen still was able to take a quantum leap from the year before and lead a Bills offensive juggernaut that averaged 31 points per game.

Now that he has the ability to come in and get on the field with his teammates in May and June, he may be able to fine-tune like he couldn't the year before.

Which means taking his game to another level.

"To take that next step, I've got to re-evaluate what I'm doing on the field and be very honest with myself," Allen said. "And I think that's one thing I feel I can brag about is I'm very honest, first with myself. I'm very realistic when it comes to my play on the field and what I can do better and what I need to do better and approaching how to do that -- finding ways I can be more efficient in the pocket and moving, better with ball security, running within the pocket and then making decisions and not trying to force things, no matter what the situation may call for.

"That's where trusting your teammates, trusting the plan, trusting your coaching ... and trusting the process in what coach McDermott is preaching to the team. That's what I'm trying to do."

Who knows? They might even get a resolution on this vaccine thing before long as well.

"What the right answer is and how to go about it, we're not sure and we're trying to get to a conclusion," Allen said. "But at the same time we're letting everybody make their own personal decision on this matter, and that's really all I have to say about that."

Good enough.

For now.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro.