What They Said: Bills coordinators on loss, play-calling, Tyrod Taylor injury, facing Tom Brady - The Buffalo News

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What They Said: Bills coordinators on loss, play-calling, Tyrod Taylor injury, facing Tom Brady

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR RICK DENNISON

Q: You seemed pretty creative early on, especially on that opening drive, is it more something an evolution to be more creative and diversify things, especially out the gate?

A: I just tried to use all the resources we have, I guess is the way to put it - especially against a group that I’ve played over the years, and they have a tendency to take away things that you do quite often. We were just trying to create some thought process on their side of the all, let the defense see some different things, and use all the resources that we have.

Q: After you get off the script, the adjustments need to be made, is it difficult staying creative and doing things out of your comfort zone?

A: I was off the script after about two plays because we had a couple things go wrong, so I had to change some things up early, then went back to the script. That’s all give and take as you go through. I tried the script the first 15 [minutes] just to get formations and get some information for us, as we go through and we make adjustments through the game. Things happen, different down and distances change your script. Whatever happens, we had to make some adjustments pretty early, so I got off, I bounced around, and then ended up getting back to what I wanted to do near the end. Ultimately, you try and figure out what they’re doing, what they’re trying to takeaway, especially with this group. Each week is a little bit different, but [we] tried to get to the matchups. No, it’s not that difficult to be creative at the end of the game, it’s just what position are you in the game to make something happen. We didn’t even have that throw that Joe [Webb] made [planned], that wasn’t even a part of it; when we got to that field position, that’s one of the plays I wanted to go to.

Q: When were you aware that Tyrod [Taylor] was hurt?

A: When I saw him limping around after the first play. Certainly, I had a couple things that I didn’t know if I really wanted to put him at risk, and then he took off in the second drive, and [I] felt like his wheels were pretty good.

Q: You’ve had eight games this year of less than 200 yards passing. It’s tough to win in the league with that, how do you rectify this?

A: Well, we just get back and find some opportunities for guys to get open. If we have to stack some people up or use some of those – which we were trying to do yesterday, we just weren’t very efficient at doing that. We have to throw and catch better. It starts on today after I get done here, I’ll be up there studying the Colts, figuring out what they present defensively coverage-wise, and how to get our guys in the right spots to make plays. It’s on us to develop a plan, it’s on our players to execute the plan.

Q: You had your chances to score seven on a couple of drives, how do you balance the fact that you came close, including [Joe] Webb’s pass to Travaris [Cadet] that just missed, how do you balance those almost to the fact that you only scored three points?

A: Obviously, we try to point out the positives, right? We made some plays, we had our opportunities, we make them. Against a very good team, obviously, they’ve won a lot of ball games, championship last year, you have to take advantage of those opportunities. We use it as a teaching lesson also, right? Certainly, we’re not where we want to be, and [we’ll] try and use everything we can to get better. [We’ll] use the film and use it as a learning tool for us.

Q: In the locker room, Nathan [Peterman] said the fourth and goal play was a double-call, what could have been a quarterback draw depending on what he took a look at – can you just walk us through that scenario?

A: Well we had a played called because we were trying to go fast, and they called timeout. Then, they substituted, and actually had six d-linemen in. That took us into a certain set of plays also. We tried to do something to give us the best of all worlds in that situation and win a matchup. We didn’t get it done.

Q: In that scenario, does it go right to – Zay [Jones] is the guy? Is that what he [Peterman] sees at the line where he thinks the best matchup would be?

A: Yes, and it’s a discussion we had today - what’s your best matchup, what’s your best leverage here? Nathan is a young guy and he’ll learn from that too. We’ll get that right.

Q: The first half of the season, third quarter was a good quarter for you guys point-differential wise, first seven games or so. I know defensive takeaways played a role in that. What’s happened here, because the third quarter has kind of gone sideways for you guys in a couple of games here?

A: We’re working on that, we’re trying to rectify that. We had a good set of calls, I think, coming out of the locker room. Obviously, the first play was a big play that got taken back. We have to take advantage of our opportunities and make sure we’re efficient. Flags have gotten us out of a few of those situations, so we have to reduce our mistakes, that way.

Q: Would you say you were aware that Tyrod was hurt the first play, but you don’t think the injury held you back at all with your play calling?

A: No, I don’t. Initially, for that first bit of [the] drive, I had a couple things, different calls. I kept asking David Culley, ‘are you sure he’s okay’? He looks okay. Once he got to the sideline, then we went back to those. He moved pretty well in the pocket and at the end, got banged up pretty good on that one play.

Q: Sean McDermott said that Tyrod’s going to be our starter if he’s healthy enough to play this weekend. If in the event he can’t, what confidence do you have in Nathan?

A: We haven’t even started game planning yet. I have confidence in both of our guys, obviously. Then, we threw Joe Webb in there for a cameo role, if you will. I have confidence that we’ll be able to do whatever we need to do to move the ball and win the game. We just have to be efficient at what we’re doing.

Q: What have you seen from Nathan since what happened against the Chargers? In the meeting rooms and on the practice field?

A: He’s obviously a tough-minded – I said that a couple weeks ago – he’s a tough-minded kid. He came back, and he’s prepared, he’s in his book. We went through that film and talked that one through. Certainly, yesterday he operated in a couple no huddle situations, did some really good things, and then made some mistakes that we corrected. He sees what he does right and what he does wrong, and then goes from there.

Q: That Joe Webb package, how long have you had that in?

A: We just started developing it the last couple of weeks. He’s just a unique athlete, obviously, being out there and running around. We’ll just see week-to-week, I can’t say that we’ll have a whole bunch in or we will - that’s a competitive edge. But he does a good job, Joe has a different kind of skillset.

Q: Do you want to slam your head set down when you set that play up, the pass by Joe by running those three previous – and it was there and you missed, and that was something you probably worked on all week to set that up and it didn’t come through–?

A: I want to slam my headset when we miss a whole run in too, but it’s just one of those things that, you prepare, and work your guys to get it right. If it doesn’t happen, you have to move on to the next one, right? At that point in time, we were just on that border line, so we had to make sure we had enough for a first down, but make sure we get enough for Stephen [Hauschka] to knock it through, which we did.

Q: In regards to in-game adjustments, I know during the week you talk with Tyrod about what he sees and what he likes. During the game, who all is involved in the conversations in regards to adjustments?

A: Everybody is. When we’re in between series, and the defense is on the field, we don’t watch the game. We’re talking, we’re going through each of the photos, each of the position coaches, and talking about adjustments. ‘What kind of leverage are we getting on this, what do you see?’ I’m always on with Juan [Castillo] and Andrew [Dees], ‘where we’re going in the run game, do you like this, why do you like this?’ And the same for each position; David [Culley] with the quarterbacks with Mark [Lubick]; tight ends with Rob [Boras]; Phil [McGeoghan] with the wideouts; and obviously Kelly [Skipper] with the running backs. ‘Where do we like to go, what’re we looking at, I like this, what do you guys think?’ We’ve always done that, try to get that, and certainly get the players input. Not so much as coaches, because I’m on with all the coaches, making sure I go through the pictures, making sure we’re set with what kind of pressures we’re getting, and what kind of coverage we’re getting.

Q: Knowing how much Tyrod’s status is up in the air now, and you reach Wednesday and you’re in a similar situation, do you have to take a different approach to practice reps knowing your backup is inexperienced and you’re not sure who the main QB will be?

A: I think we’ll figure that out as we go, that’s something that’s pretty fluid as far as practice. I think we’ll be fine. We’ll let that situation take care of itself, and [we] count on Sean [McDermott] to take care of what he needs to take care of, and give us the information we need.

Q: A colleague of mine is working on indispensable players, how valuable is LeSean McCoy to somebody’s offense?

A: Well, certainly, he’s a dynamic guy with the ball in his hands. We lean on him a lot, and maybe, some people have said too much, but the guy gets yards, what’re you going to do. We have to get yards. I like what our other guys have done, Mike [Tolbert] early in the year, and Travaris obviously has done a good job the last few weeks. We’re going to run the football the best we can, because that sets up the rest of it. As any running back would be, they would be valuable to the offense.

Q: What has led in your explanation to the lack of production, and even the lack of targets too, to Jordan Matthews?

A: Well, he was inactive, was it two weeks ago, San Diego? He was inactive because he was a little nicked [up]. Yesterday, he had his chances, and the ball didn’t come that way. It’s all progression, it’s all based on coverage. I couldn’t really speak to that other than he’s a part of the game plan, just like any other ‘X’ or ‘Z’. We’re trying to get whoever is open the ball, and see what kind of coverage we have.

Q: In regards to the position though, do you want to see more separation?

A: Certainly, you’d always love to see great separation, but it’s a league of contested throws also. There’s going to be some tight coverage, especially with this group. The Patriots have a good secondary, they’ve spent their money well. They do a good job of being on you, so we have to separate. That’s what we spent the week [doing], trying to give them some opportunities to shake some of those guys, and we didn’t quite get it done.

Q: I saw Zay [Jones] played almost 100% of the snaps for you guys. He’s usually around 80[%], around there. To play that many, you obviously have faith in him?

A: We do, we have faith in all of them. Certainly, we’ll just go back and see who we can get open and who we can move the ball with. That’s our job. We have to do a better job for our team.

Q: What does it mean of possibly having Kelvin [Benjamin] available?

A: Well, it’d be great. I don’t know his status, I know he’s supposed to start getting back into there, but certainly, his skill set is a little bit different with his size and his ability. We certainly had a great plan for him at San Diego, and after the one catch, he was unavailable. It’d be good to have him back in there, but, like I said, we’ll mix and match, we’ll get them all out there.

Q: I’m curious, over the course of the year installing the offense and getting sort of a full chance at calling plays, what you’ve learned about your identity as a play caller and how it’s sort of evolved?

A: I don’t think I’m much different than I’ve been in the past. I tend to lean a little bit on the run. I tried to change up a little bit yesterday just like I said. Sometimes I do a little bit too much, particularly down low, getting close to the end zone. I tried to change that up a little bit, right or wrong. I don’t think much of that has changed, creating the plays. Over the years, I’ve had somebody else help create some of those plays; I have a staff that helps me here, but it’s just a little bit different that way. We carried quite a few more plays, so I think that’s about the only difference.

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LESLIE FRAZIER

Opening Statement: Good afternoon everybody. Tough ball game yesterday. Wish things had worked out a little bit differently for us, but in this league, it’s a new season with another game coming up that’s very, very important to us. We’ll play at home and got to figure out a way to take advantage of it at home from a defensive standpoint and play better than we played yesterday as a group.

Q: What worked about the game-plan against Tom Brady – he didn’t have his usual day that he has against this team?

A: Yeah, we did some things well at times against some of the things they were trying to get accomplished, but obviously, we didn’t do enough things well, because they were able to get their run game going. That was a big difference for us, especially when they had two big runs in the first half. In that third quarter, they had a couple runs that kind of kept some drives going. We did some good things at moments, but we’ve got to get to the point where we [are] consistently doing things well and get ready for the next one.

Q: How tough is that when you probably put all this energy into making sure you slow down Brady and that part works, but then the whole picture…

A: That’s part of playing a complete game from a defensive standpoint, where you have a plan to take certain things away and you don’t want to neglect other things. With a team like this, they’re multifaceted; they can beat you in a bunch of different ways, and we knew that going in. You feel like you got some things shored up, and sure enough, they found a way to exploit whatever weaknesses you may have. That’s what good teams do, and we’ve got to get to a point defensively where we can play well in all phases consistently. We’ve done that at times this season, we’ve just got to be able to do it down in and down out over the course of four quarters against really, really good teams.

Q: Does it encourage you that at least after the second, the first drive, Tom [Brady] kind of had a bit of a shouting match on the sidelines, expressed his frustrations?

A: I wasn’t aware of that. Wasn’t aware of that. I do know that that first half, we were doing a pretty good job of keeping him out of the end zone and that was encouraging. We needed to build on that over the course of the rest of the ball game, and that third quarter we didn’t play as well as we needed to in the third quarter. The good thing was the way our guys finished in the fourth quarter. There were some opportunities to let that game get away from us. They kept battling right down to the point where Tre’Davious [White] gets that interception on the third and, I think, seven. That was one of the positives, the fact that they just continued to fight throughout that ball game and not let it completely get away from us.

Q: On that 3rd-and-11 that you had where Gronk [Rob Gronkowski] makes the catch where he beats the blitz, was there an alignment error there? It almost looked like more guys pressuring than you wanted; six or seven man pressure.  Was somebody supposed to drop there?

A: You’re exactly right. It turned out to be, I won’t say, more guys coming than we wanted. We wanted to come from different places than they were. There was a sequence that happened before that play. Leonard Johnson got banged up with his knee and ended up having to come out of the game. The play before that, he got banged up, so he comes out of the situation, he’s checking his knee out, they’re back on the line of scrimmage. He’s not where we needed him to be for that pressure; part of it was he was trying [to] gather together for the next play because of his knee. So, guys are trying to align off of him and he’s not where he ordinarily would be. We end up not getting what we wanted out of the pressure. We felt like we went against that protection and like good teams do, good quarterbacks, they took advantage of it. That was a big play because we would’ve been off the field at the start of the third quarter. Instead they get a drive on it.  That was a huge play.

Q: Was that a small example, it just seems like the third quarter used to be, I was asking Rick [Dennison] this too, the third quarter was a really good quarter for you guys through seven weeks. I think you had seven of your takeaways in the first seven weeks in that third quarter. It just seems like games have gone a little sideways on you guys when you come out of the locker room after halftime. Can you put finger on what’s happening?

A: No, not exactly, but it’s something, as we get ready for Indianapolis, that we definitely want to try to figure out and try to be better at when we come out of the half. Really, it’s four quarters. You’ve got to play well over the course of four quarters. If they get something coming out of the half, you don’t want it to happen, but you’ve got to keep playing. You don’t win games on the first drive of the game or the first drive of the half, in this league, it’s four quarters. You’ve got to just be consistently good over the course of four quarters.

Q: How much do you feel for Tre’Davious?

A: I feel bad for him, especially if it ends up where he has to miss a game because of what happened yesterday. He’s been playing so well for us, and you hate to see something like that happen. He’s a tough guy; he’ll do whatever he can to get back, but when you’re in that concussion protocol, it’s pretty serious.

Q: You played this game – just having somebody come at you like that?

A: It’s a tough game for sure. Tackle football, but it’s one of those plays you move on from and, in our case, you line up and you get ready for the next ball game. Hopefully, we don’t lose Tre’Davious; he’s so important to what we’re trying to get accomplished. Hopefully, we’ll get him back for this next ball game, but we’ll wait and see.

Q: Leslie, how much of their success in the running game yesterday was you guys falling back into those bad habits of that three-game stretch or more than what they were doing?

A: I think part of what happened on the two long runs – I could’ve helped our guys a little bit better with maybe putting a little better position on one of them. The other one, we just have to do what we did like a week ago when we were in Kansas City; just be where we’re supposed to be and one gap defense being your gap and then make a tackle when you’re there. Fortunate for us on both of those long runs, our safeties made the tackle. We were able to hold them to field goals in the red zone, which is a big deal. You’d like for those runs not to happen because it creates other issues for you, but when it does, you’ve got to be able to recover, and our guys did. It’s something we have to go back to when we come back on Wednesday, continue to work on and don’t want it to happen against Indianapolis.

Q: 191 yards on the ground, I mean it wasn’t just the two runs. Was it more – was it tackling, gap integrity, or was it, because those were the issues previous weeks when the yardage totals were right around the same?

A: Not so much the tackling, but more gap integrity on some of those runs. Just being where we needed to be. Being in the right gaps. It’s been a recurring theme on some of those long runs and it’s something we’ll continue to work on. The tackling – I thought our tackling was pretty good for the most part of the day. Guys were running to the ball, evidenced by saving those long runs from being touchdowns. Just being in your gaps and when you’re there, just making a play when you’re there.

Q: Leslie, what went into the reason for the switch from the base defense being three linebackers to three cornerbacks?

A: More just trying to adjust to what the team is doing on offense and how to use their personnel. Just trying to get our best personnel to match up with theirs as much as anything.

Q: On cornerbacks, where are you at with the depth in your group that you have. Tre may be injured, Leonard [Johnson] got banged up -

A: Well, we were pretty thin going into the ball game. I think we dressed four corners yesterday, and then you have two of them go down. So, you probably saw in that last sequence when they went three wide receivers, we just kept our base defense on the field. We were that short. So, hopefully, we will get Leonard back, and hopefully Tre’Davious will come back as well. Otherwise, then you’ve got to look to Shareece Wright [and] get him up and at least go into the game with three – which is very, very thin. Four is thin, but we like to have at least four corners dressed.

Q: Why was Shareece inactive?

A: Made a decision to get Lafayette Pitts up and he’s given us something on special teams, as well as being a fourth corner on defense. Shareece has handled it very well.

Q: Coach, to the naked eye, Matt Milano, when he’s in there, he makes plays. He kind of shows up; he flashes a little bit. He still has a relatively low snap count overall. I think only 31% this week. Is the reason more because he’s not quite ready for a full load or is it more because of what’s happening in front of him?

A: I think in those games earlier when he had the start, he showed that he could handle a pretty good workload. He did some good things in those ballgames and we’ve continuously got him in games. We’ll look at it this week and just see if we can get him in more. He’s done a good job when he’s been out there. Nothing to do with Matt, he’s done a good job.

Q: Is the pass rush in your opinion improving, you’ve had a couple games now with multi sacks?

A: Yeah, I mean it’s something we’re always working on and trying to improve. It’s hard to play good defense, good pass defense in particular without a rush. Our guys did a good job yesterday. That’s not an easy guy to sack, he gets the ball out even when people have free runners at times. To come away with those sacks yesterday was big, but it’s something we’re working on and we want to get better at it as we go along. Glad to see it come together yesterday.

Q: Where are you at with Shaq’s [Lawson] contributions to the pass rush? Sean [McDermott] listed him as week to week so he might miss some time, but you said, some improvements. So how big of a loss would he be?

A: Well, he’s our starting defensive end, starting left defensive end, so it would be a loss for us for sure. It also means that gives other guys opportunities like Eddie Yarbrough, he’d have more opportunities. Ryan Davis, he’d get more opportunities. You’d hate to lose Shaq Lawson; he’s done a really good job for us. He’s improving and he needs those snaps. In a lot of ways, this is new territory in some ways in our defense, so you want him to get as many snaps as he can get. Hopefully, we’ll get him back soon.

Q: After not getting the start a couple weeks from Shaq, have you seen the improvement from him that maybe lit a fire under him at all?

A: I think he’s always been working hard; that’s never been an issue. It’s just being in position and making some plays, and yesterday he had – I think they credited him with a sack yesterday when Brady ran around a little bit. He ended up hustling to get in position to come away with a sack. He’s given us the effort, the opportunities haven’t always been there, but he’s doing everything he can to put himself in a position to get those sacks for us. His contribution to our defense goes beyond the sacks. So many offenses are right handed when it comes to running the football, so we count on him to really be stout when people try to run on the edge of our defense and for the most part, he has.

Q: Leslie, having now had Kyle Williams for 12 games and training camp and mini-camp, what have you learned about him up-close that you didn’t know about him before you got here?

A: Well, he is the consummate pro, without question. And congratulations to him, too; being the defensive tackle with the most starts in Bills history, which is quite an achievement to say the least. His preparation, his leadership, and then of course, he’s an excellent football player. He’s a dream from a coaching standpoint. To have a guy like that with his talent, to be the type of leader that he is makes our job a whole lot easier, having a person like that. It’s not always that case when you have a star player who’s also a solid person in the locker room, a leader in the meeting rooms, not afraid to speak his mind and challenge his teammates, but doesn’t just talk the talk. He walks the walk. He’s everything you could ask for if you get a chance to coach defensive football players. He’s what you look for.

Q: And then when you see the game he played yesterday -

A: Yeah, he was fired up throughout the week and it was evident in the way he played. He had a terrific game, and that sack – you saw the emotion after he got that sack. That was important to him, and important for our defense at that movement. He came prepared like he always does, and he had a heck of a football game. Unfortunately, we didn’t come out on the winning side. It wasn’t because of the way he played; he played very well for us.

Q: Leslie, coming back to the tackling, Preston Brown, he always seems like a sure tackler with you guys. Can you just talk about that ability of his?

A: Yeah, that’s one of the things you look for in your middle linebacker in a four-three scheme, a guy who can, when he has a chance to make tackles directly at him, he can do it, but yet can make plays from tackle to tackle as well from sideline to sideline. Preston’s one of those guys. He can run, and when he gets there, he knows how to finish plays. He’s a smart football player, and he’s helped us so much in this first year of introducing this scheme to everybody on our defense. He’s been everything we want at that position, at the middle linebacker position from a tackling standpoint. We’ve got some other games to go, and you just want to see him continue to improve as we go along.

Q: How’d you find the player’s reaction to what happened to Tre -

A: Can you repeat that for me?

Q: When Tre was down, he got hit, you obviously know what I’m referring to, the reaction from everybody else on the field – your thoughts on it? It was said that guys should’ve gotten into his face a little bit more, that sort of thing.

A: I know Coach McDermott probably has addressed that, and whatever he said when that question came up is probably what we’ll go by regarding our players.

 

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