This is Part Two of (probably) a four-part series babbling about my recent trip to WNY for training camp and how BillsMafia took care of me every step of the way.
The adventure was just beginning. After finally landing in Buffalo on Sunday morning Aug. 5, I had less than 30 minutes get to my suitcase (safely waiting for me at Celeste Albone’s home), change clothes and get on the road for training camp practice at 2:15 p.m. ET.
Thankfully, Celeste took pity out on me and drove my rental car the 70 miles trek to Pittsford because by then my aging brain was already completely fried. Her awesome fiance, Mike Cline, also drove her car along to practice because I was leaving afterward for the next leg of my journey to Canandaigua, and… ‘Travels with Tammy’.
More on that fabulous adventure in Part Three!
Temperatures were in the 90s by the time practice started. The stands were packed, and the Bills did not disappoint. Having attended training camp practices under three different head coaches, it wasn’t hard not to notice the difference in a Sean McDermott training camp practice.
Gone are the days of standing around with a few drills mixed in here and there. McDermott runs training camp exactly as one would expect from a former high school state wrestling champion. Think more ‘drill sargeant’ than ‘Club Marv’ or ‘relaxed Rex’. McDermott wastes zero time getting the most out of CBA limited practice sessions.
My personal mission that day was to find ‘Dr.’ Dean Kindig, the ‘King of Astro-Notes’ and all things draft-related to thank him personally for all the incredible content he posts on our BillsMafia blog. Of course it took Celeste to point him out in the crowd to me because I was so overstimulated by practice and the heat, I couldn’t see straight.
How could I miss this guy with a clipboard?
Dean is another excellent resource for anyone wanting to know more about evaluating talent (college and pros) and the game of football itself. We are blessed with many fans/reporters like Dean who are willing to share their knowledge with anyone eager to learn more about the game.
Barely able to hydrate enough to maintain adequate brain function that day, the only thing I was focused on was Josh Allen’s footwork. It was my biggest complaint about him when he played at the University of Wyoming.
This Allen dude is so big and powerful he never had to refine his footwork to lob the ball 70 yards down the field in a good old Laramie crosswind. Allen’s footwork and mechanics in college were hideous.
Admittedly obsessed with watching Allen’s feet, my eyeballs nearly popped out of my head as I watched him toss effortless passes with vastly improved footwork at that training camp practice. I often used to compare Allen’s feet to “lead footed” Drew Bledsoe and it was my number one concern about the Bills drafting him.
Jordan Palmer and others have worked wonders with Allen’s overall mechanics and his footwork has dramatically improved. If you look at Nathan Peterman, for example, he developed near perfect body mechanics because he lacks the arm strength to just chuck it like Allen does.
So when my eyeballs retreated back into my head, I took a deep breath and began to see what the care and nurturing of an NFL quarterback looked like under the McDermott regime. My obsessive concern about Allen’s raw but undeniable skills melted away.
My nearly ‘Rex Ryan’ level of obsession with Josh Allen’s feet was finally put to rest! Now if Allen succeeds or fails, it’s not likely to be due to his footwork or mechanics. My view about his ability to succeed in the NFL if he could work through those problems was still theoretically intact.
I left after practice for Canandaigua with a smile on my face.
Editor’s babble: Next up, part three and ‘Travels with Tammy’. There was no place along the way where BillsMafia wasn’t riding shotgun with me on this trip. Defined by graciousness and compassion, thank you BillsMafia.