By now, all of Bills Mafia is very well informed that the Buffalo Bills are engaged in mandatory minicamp this week. While in years past, much of the news out of minicamp would entail how the latest editions to the team look or an update on the progression of injury rehab for any player(s), this week has been all things Stefon Diggs.
It seems we’ve been locked in a black hole of sorts, confined beyond the event horizon and forced to relive the team’s sideline drama that unfolded when the Bills last took the field. Recall, of course, that Buffalo lost in deflating fashion during the Divisional Round of the playoffs on its home turf to the Cincinnati Bengals. They were cast aside like the snow being shoveled off hash marks.
It took some time for most of us to move on from the 2022 NFL season, especially when considering the amount of trauma that the Bills were both directly and indirectly part of all season long. But we’ve moved on, for the most part. About that sideline drama? It appears things may have gone unresolved up until this week. Diggs was visibly frustrated and animated while talking with Josh Allen during the playoff loss, and he abruptly left the building before being encouraged to return by running back Duke Johnson. While Diggs did return, he wouldn’t speak with media in the locker room.
Josh Allen stated that while he and Diggs continued to stay in touch, it was perhaps less than in prior offseasons due to their busy schedules. Certainly, if there’s an important issue to address it makes the most sense to address it when the time is right. It’s fair to wonder if time wasn’t right until this week. And then it all came to a boil.
Head coach Sean McDermott was asked on Tuesday if he was concerned about Stefon Diggs not being at practice. His response was to say that he was “very concerned...very concerned.” Suddenly the internet ran with the headline that all things weren’t well between Diggs and One Bills Drive. Speculation and accusations dominated social media and many news outlets.
Then today, Diggs was in attendance and on the field with his teammates for Day 2 of minicamp. Following practice, McDermott wanted to take the opportunity to follow up on the comments he made Tuesday in, as tweeted by Bills team reporter Maddy Glab, an effort “to provide a better understanding of the situation.”
Given McDermott’s decision to clarify comments made yesterday, contained below is a transcript of his presser following’s today’s minicamp session.
The video is embedded below the transcript. Roughly the final minute of the press conference is not transcribed here as the conversation began to take a different path.
Sean McDermott: “I wanted to follow up on my comments regarding Stef’s situation from yesterday and in doing so hope to provide better clarity for all. Right? And a better understanding of the situation. There’s a lot of things out there that aren’t accurate. Let me be clear: Stef did everything that we — that he was asked to do. He was here Monday and executed his physical on time. Stef reported yesterday, Tuesday, and reported for meetings, at which time we had a good conversation, great communication, and we got to a point yesterday where I just felt like — we just felt like we all needed a break... and some space. So, I gave Stef permission to get some space and head out, and then picked up those conversations after practice. So let me make it clear it was not Stef leaving unexcused. He was excused, by me. And so those conversations have got us to a... to what I think is a great spot. And sometimes you’ve gotta have conversations, you need to communicate, and I appreciate Stef being willing to communicate. I thought he did a great job. And you guys need to understand, Stef’s a valuable member of this football team. He’s one of our captains and a leader on this football team. He works extremely, extremely hard — as hard as any player I’ve been around to be elite in this league, and that’s what he is. And I love him. So, I’m just — I wanna make sure you guys understand what, really, the situation was and is. Because there’s something things that’ve been said that I don’t think are fair, so I wanted to provide clarity to those situ — to that situation.”
Reporter: “Sean we’re all probably gonna want to know the answer to this, why yesterday at around 11:45 in the morning you said ‘very concerned.’ What prompted you — that’s what really spun... I hate to pin it on you, but that’s what spun the whole ‘alright, what’s going on here.’ Why did you use those words?”
McDermott: “Well, this is not your first press conference with me. Whenever a player has something going on, or misses — not misses, but he’s not here for some reason — I am concerned. That’s my, my sentiment with any player. In particular a player as important to us as Stef. And so, I get concerned when players miss for reasons off the field, for reasons on the field. Whether it be they’re injured or whatever it is, that’s just how I am. So when I say very concerned, I’m very concerned because it’s a situation with one of our players, and it was something that we needed to work through. And it’s — those are healthy conversations that happen, and I’m extremely appreciative of those conversations. It gets us — when you have those healthy conversations — it gets you to a better spot. And I feel good about that. I feel like we’re in that spot.”
Reporter: “Josh characterized it initially when he spoke yesterday as kinda non-football related and then talked about the need to integrate him more in the game plan, get him the ball more. It seemed in listening to him you could see the tension building at the end of last season or whatever. Is it related to that, and did it blossom into something more or evolve into something beyond football?”
McDermott: “Yeah, I respect your question Adam. I’m gonna keep those conversations internal. Just out of respect for the situation and again, I’m extremely impressed and appreciative of the communication that we’ve had. We all want the same thing and that’s what we kept coming back to. We all want to win. And so, umm, I think we’re in a good spot.”
Reporter: “The fact that Stefon was on the field today and after all these series of talks do you find yourself reaching or approaching a resolution where you are on the same page, you know, heading into training camp.”
McDermott: “I feel like we’re in a real good spot. So, the rest of it though, the details of it — again, I wanna respectfully answer your questions but at the same time keep those conversations in-house.”
Reporter: “In general, you know nothing to do with the situation at hand but when personalities do clash, what is the antidote you have to try to rectify that?”
McDermott: “Well, again, you know I think generally speaking you’re talking about a team, and you’re trying every year to get a team headed in the right direction and you got people from all different backgrounds and situations and whatnot. And that’s one of the challenges as you hear me talk about every year is to get everyone going in the same direction — and Stef has been a big part of that. And he’ll continue to be a big part of that, and he’ll lead that. Right? He’s one of our big leaders, so that’s part of the challenge every year is to get everyone basically you know on the same page and then the same cadence. Right? The same heartbeat. And you guys have heard me talk about that before.”
Reporter: “Are you able to clarify who was in the conversations, if it was you and Stef or a larger group?”
McDermott: “No, I’d rather just keep it like it is, umm... so, yeah, we’ll just keep those in-house.”
Reporter: “Are those conversations on-going? How do you see this now going forward in terms of continuing to have those conversations — like what do that look like after today?”
McDermott: “Yeah, I just think overall communication is good. You never shut communication down. So, I believe we’re in a good spot. I feel confident about that. But whether it’s Stef or another player or coach, communication’s important — just like it is in our homes. So, those conversations are healthy and I don’t think you ever say that’s a hard stop. Right? So you’re always talking, always working through things schematically or whatever it is — those are good things.”
Reporter: “Would you consider this matter resolved at this point, or do you still feel like there’s a little ground you need?”
McDermott: “No, I feel like it’s resolved.”
Reporter: “Some of the assumption, I think, with us even Josh pointed to it, maybe last year at the end of the year particularly the last month, you know Stef wasn’t as involved as he was early in the year. His numbers did drop. Did you in your review of the season come to that conclusion that you guys did not get him the ball as much as maybe you needed to down the stretch?”
McDermott: “Well again, I’m not gonna get into what we did or didn’t do. I felt — feel overall that we take a hard hard look at the season in review and we come out of those meetings with some real truths about what we could’ve done better. Whether it’s getting Stef the ball in this case — and listen, getting Stef the ball’s an important part of our offense. Right? Let’s not — there’s no reason to say it isn’t. I mean he’s the big focal point of our offense in addition to Josh. So, you know it’s important to get him going and the more production he has the more production we have as an offense. Those usually work hand in hand. And I’ve said it before: He provides great energy to our football team overall — not just offensively, but defensively and special teams. And that’s big for us.”
Reporter: “Sean, is this something you’re confident obviously won’t be a distraction going forward? I know this organization prides itself on having good people to be able to communicate and work through any issue that comes up . Are you confident that’s the case heading into training camp?”
With that, Sean McDermott closed out what may best be characterized as a very stressful minicamp session for him and the Buffalo Bills as an organization. There’s much work to do, both on the field and outside the lines.