Orchard Park, NY – As the Buffalo Bills offense struggled in the first half against the Cleveland Browns last week, Sean McDermott barely remembered the exchange he had with wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
It happened in the heat of the moment for McDermott. Diggs, clearly frustrated that the offense managed just a pair of field goals in its first four possessions, went to the coach to gain perspective. After the two finished their conversation, Diggs took a deep breath, wiped the sweat from his brow, and refocused.
On the next drive, quarterback Josh Allen hit Diggs in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Diggs said McDermott knew exactly what he needed to hear at that moment.
Getting Diggs closer to help relieve his frustration was a small part of McDermott’s coaching last Sunday. Diggs said he knows his head coach has more than 50 players to practice every game day. But those 20 seconds helped relieve Diggs for the rest of the game.
“I am a very charismatic, high-energy person. He knows that sometimes I just need to breathe,” Diggs said. “I always expect perfection from myself. And I always want to be dominant. I feel like if I’m not dominant, sometimes I’m not doing my job. He knows I’m a competitor, and he always kind of, you know, brings it full circle.
The Bills offense has been working through a few issues over the past few games. Allen was struggling to play through an elbow injury, the run game was non-existent at times and defenses forced Buffalo to turn the ball over.
Allen had some bad incompletions in the first half against the Browns, and McDermott said he wants to talk to Diggs because he knows he’s a leader on the team.
“I just wanted to say a few words of encouragement and put everyone at ease,” McDermott said. “I thought Steph did a great job of taking that message, working with it and putting his signature on it. … You don’t want people to put pressure on you and that’s why you go to your captains or your leaders, and not just the captains, but just the guys in our locker room that make an impact on our team.”
Buffalo’s offense has just two touchdowns on its last 17 possessions dating back to the second half of the Minnesota Vikings game. Allen said the Bills shot themselves in the foot with mistakes. Diggs said Allen is back in the swing of things and looks great.
“Keeping (Josh) in a good spot is all that matters. That’s our guy and we’re rolling with him,” Diggs said. “He’s playing well and he’s trying to keep it going. Keep that good thing rolling like a snowball effect. When you get down the right path, more good things happen.”
The frustration for Diggs and the Bills offense stems from how they started the season. The touchdowns were coming in the first two weeks of the season when Buffalo scored just eight touchdowns against the Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans. Aside from a five-touchdown game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5, the Bills have not had more than three touchdowns in a game in any of their other seven games.
Diggs said it’s frustrating at times, but working through those struggles is part of the game.
“I feel like an offense, the opponent and the team you’re playing, they’re nameless and faceless,” Diggs said. “Most of the games we lost were self-inflicted wounds. … But mastering the basics and doing everything right from your unit will bring success. Always that high ceiling, forward thinking, that’s what separates the good from the great, because you want to be perfect. You always want to score 100 points. It’s not realistic, but I want to perform at a high level and I take it seriously.”
Since McDermott arrived in 2017, even when the team was struggling to win as the rebuild was at its most difficult, he found a way to connect with his players. Diggs said McDermott always had a knack for finding the words to keep him in the right frame of mind.
“As a head coach, he’s our leader,” Diggs said. “I think he just does an amazing job of keeping everyone on an even keel. He knows his players. Everyone needs to be managed in different ways.”
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