In today’s connected world, people have instant access to practically any information they choose.
Whether you want to see how much money Mark Zuckerberg lost since you last checked 10 minutes ago, you want to know how many touchdowns Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen tossed while wearing shorts, or you are at Disney World and check your app to see the wait time on rides, we have unlimited access to information and we want it yesterday.
In the sports world, this is a double-edged sword. For fantasy buffs and those who like to put green on games, having up-to-the-second information is invaluable. At the same time, fans tend to overreact to everything, especially when it comes to analyzing training camp practices.
Now that the Bills are deep into their training camp practices, it is a good time to remind fans of how to keep things in perspective.
1.) Practice is only one part of the process
This is probably the easiest thing to forget. The players are visible to the fans for about 2 hours at a time during practice. Seeing as that is the only time for fans to view the players, they tend to think the on-field portion is the end-all.
That would be a fallacy.
The behind the scenes portion of training camp is where a lot of the real action is. Can’t understand why your favorite underdog can’t crack the rotation? Odds are he isn’t showing it in the classroom. Coaches, and ultimately teammates, need to be able to trust who they play with.
What happens on the field is an extension of the classroom, and while players may pop, what fans can’t determine simply by watching is whether the players are doing their job on a particular play. Those who can’t be trusted will likely find themselves on the chopping block.
2.) Let mistakes happen
During and after the first practice, fans were all over Josh Allen after some less-than-ideal passes to close his evening. Of course it would be fantastic if he completed 95 percent of his passes and hit underneath routes with ease, but thinking that is going to be the result is unrealistic even for future Hall of Fame players like Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.
Let’s not forget, however, that it was Allen’s first practice, this is his first training camp, and there is obviously room to grow. Mistakes happen from veterans during camp, let alone rookies. Throw in the fact that it is a new offense for everyone, and growing pains should be expected.
So let mistakes slide. It is better to have them happen now, which allows coaches and players to teach and learn, than in a situation that matters.
With that said, if the same mistakes creep up day after day, then criticism is warranted. So long as the mistakes are decreasing each day, the team is headed in the right direction.
3.) Enjoy it!
While I am by no means a Kool-Aid drinker, I recommend that you try to enjoy the fresh start and excitement that comes at the start of camp. The long, dark offseason where there is no on-field action is over. Instead of nit-picking everything and trying to find things to complain about, find the joy in each practice.
Watch undrafted players give their all every day as they try to wedge into the 53-man conversation.
Look at players like Kyle Williams in what may be his final training camp and be thankful he has stayed loyal to Buffalo.
Try to catch Tremaine Edmunds as he flies around the field, and remember that, at only 20 years old, he should be a blur and impact player well into the next decade.
There will be plenty of time to complain once the season is in full gear. At the start of camp and the preseason, make a concerted effort to stay positive and you won’t be sorry.