McDermott promises “leadership counsel”

NFL Buffalo
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Rex Ryan used the need for “captains” at the coin toss as a vehicle for his players to re-unite pregame or to send a message or even just make a joke. 

Leadership, apparently, will be no joking matter under Sean McDermott. 

McDermott said on Monday he is the process of constructing a “leadership council” for the Bills. 

“Every ship needs a rudder,” McDermott said. He’ll be a part of that for sure, but the players need a big role as well.

“I’m a big believer in leadership, and player-driven leadership,” McDermott said. “The players having a part of this and empowering those guys. That leadership council will help me with that.”

Off the bat, Kyle Williams, Lorenzo Alexander and Eric Wood all come to mind as obvious candidates. The old guys. 

However, McDermott says being old doesn’t equate to being a leader. 

“I think you look for a range of characteristics. Age is one of them,” McDermott said. “You want representation from the cross-section of the team and guys that represent the whole team, not just certain parts of the team.”

This system was used at McDermott’s last two coaching stops with the Panthers and Eagles. Likely, there’s no football player unfamiliar with the idea. 

“I’ve been on teams where we’ve had that in the past and seeing how players responded to that, it’s a way to get the message from the coach to the players’ locker room,” Tyrod Taylor said. “I think that’s definitely something that’s beneficial.”

Even if the old guys aren’t shoo-in’s for the leadership council, they still want the job. Especially Alexander, who backed away a bit last year despite over a decade in the NFL.

“I probably had the clout to do it last year just because of my longevity, but I am about building relationships and making sure what I come from is genuine,” Alexander said. “I represent what I am saying and I am not just saying it because it sounds good. I think I was able to develop that relationship and that status last year. Obviously from working hard and then going out there and producing on the field which backed it up.”

This season will be different.  

“I think will exert myself a little bit more vocally. Be more than just a lead by example guy,” Alexander said. “Last year, I did talk to guys and take them to the side, but I think I will kind of step to the forefront.”

Alexander compares his goal to what he saw Williams do last year. He won’t wait until a private moment to correct a guy. He’ll do it in front of the group, if necessary, because he might avoid having to do it again.”

“If I correct one guy, or help one guy, everybody else sees it and maybe will learn from that same correction,” he said.

Williams will also likely end up on the council. He’s been on any type of Bills leadership “council” for years and doesn’t want to bother waiting around for someone else to do it. 

“Who knows how long you can play? You never know and there is no time to waste with the little things and not getting it right,” Williams said. “I am not going to let feelings, or anything like that get in the way what I see could be a hurdle for us to be a winning football team, really never have.”

In fact, Williams has been a part of a Bills leadership council before. While it shows him that the idea can work, the coach involve proves organized leadership is not necessarily a shortcut to the playoffs. 

“I think Doug Marrone had one,” Williams said. “It can be helpful if you get the right guys in the room and you have a coach that’s willing to bend an ear to guys that have observations or have suggestions. There has to be a give and take there, but I think it can work very well if everyone approaches it the right way.”

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