Out of the mouth of babes. In this case, it’s a relative term. Shaq Lawson, who missed six games as a rookie out of Clemson, is a relative babe in NFL circles. He called out his Buffalo Bills teammates and called for a change of culture in an organization that has, in his mind, gotten comfortable with losing.
After watching his team get absolutely mauled on Sunday by none other than the New York Jets, Lawson’s mood is dark heading into the offseason. He spoke with reporters about his first year as a pro and didn’t hold back from criticizing his teammates and the organization as a whole.
“We really need a change of culture around here,” Lawson said after the Bills lost to the Jets at MetLife Stadium in their season finale Sunday (h/t Matthew Fairburn of NewYorkUpstate.com). “I ain’t used to losing. We just need to come in and change the culture. Next year, we have to be on the same page and end this drought. We can’t go no 18, 19 years of not making the playoffs.”
Lawson played for Dabo Swinney at Clemson, spending three years with the program before being drafted in Round 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft last April. Swinney has turned Clemson into a perennial championship contender and instilled a culture in the locker room where losing isn’t something anyone takes lightly.
This is something Lawson touched on, elaborating on what needs to happen next year in Buffalo.
“It was tough for me. I’m not really used to losing. I come from a program that ain’t losing. It just feels different. Some guys, when you lose, guys don’t take it serious. I feel like in college, you lose a game, everybody was quiet, mad and things like that. That’s what it’s about. You just have to get serious. Next year has to be big for us. That starts in the offseason.”
Then, the rookie said something that might ruffle a few feathers but that needed to be said, nevertheless.
“It was kind of tough,” Lawson said. “Coach Lynn preached all week to come out here and play tough, play hard. I feel like some guys didn’t do that and things like that. I mean, this is like a wake-up call for me. Next year, some stuff has to change. It has to be right.”
Based on what we saw watching the Bills get trounced by the Jets (more on that here), Lawson’s comments here are spot on. The Bills, at least a good portion of them, appeared to be already gone on vacation on Sunday instead of finishing the season strong. It was an embarrassing performance against a team that has been much worse than Buffalo most of the year.
Hopefully the franchise can bring in a coach who can inspire greatness on every play. That’s something that’s been lacking for a long time. Thankfully at least one player isn’t going to take anything less than excellence, even if he is a rookie.