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What They Said: Bills coordinators on dealing with the snow

Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison

Q: Coach, how much of the playbook did you have available to you once you had to go to Joe [Webb] yesterday?

A: Well, the game-plan got diminished when we started the game. It was a little harder to do some of the things footing wise, and just execution wise. We started with some motions, we even tried to throw those out because [of the] timing of that. With Joe, it really did kind of the same thing. He knows the concepts that we were running and David [Culley] had him abreast while Nathan [Peterman] was out there anyway. He was working with David, so he wasn’t so much reducing it anymore. We have trust in Joe.

Q: Can you take anything meaningful from either how you called the game, how your players performed given that the situation with the weather was unlikely to be repeated and you’ll never face the scenario where the weather is that bad again?

A: Well, you never know. I’ve been in about three or four of those - snow, rain, something like that. You always take something from the game. Obviously, the experience of adjusting on the move – we had to make some adjustments as we went, not only just cutting plays down, but selection of plays as far as concepts. We’re trying to get double teams, but it was hard for lineman to pull. We had to reduce that even more than we wanted. Whether we’re going wide or tight with our runs, what kind of passes can we call? Can wide-outs break? We take that into consideration [and] use that for another bad weather game and then we take, actually the positive of our players’ mindset. They didn’t care what we called, they were going to get it done. I also want to thank whoever picked the red jerseys. [It was] a lot easier for me to see them up there in the box. Man, it was tough to see the white.

Q: So, you were in the box?

A: Yes, I was.

Q: How was it sight-wise? Early in the game, I know we couldn’t really see a lot [in the press box].

A: You know what, when they first started the game, it wasn’t too bad. Sometime in the second quarter, it got really blurry. We basically – you couldn’t see any numbers of their team. We kind of got to figure out who they were by the way they ran. By the time we got to that point, we kind of understood who the defensive players were and knew they weren’t subbing. They were staying with their base defense and that kind of reduced our calls even more. [We were] trying to make sure we didn’t match or didn’t put our guys in a tough situation.

Q: Did you consider maybe going down on the field at all?

A: I would’ve if I would’ve known what I had to do getting up there at half-time. We had to go through the concourse with all the fans. It was a rough deal, because the golf carts couldn’t go. Once you make a decision, I don’t think you can change the sideline to quarterback. I think I had to go back up no matter what. I missed the kick-off in the first play of the defense because we were kind of stuck going up there.

Q: Were you happy to be upstairs?

A: No, it didn’t matter. That really didn’t matter. We had some things that we wanted to do where I wanted to see overall and obviously we didn’t get to those. It was good to be – I would’ve been happy to be on the field, just as long as we got a good win there.

Q: What was the discussion to determine to be aggressive late in the first half, get the ball back [with] less than two minutes left? You hadn’t had much going on offensively, but you guys actually got aggressive to get it to Kelvin, obviously, in the end-zone.

A: Well, once LeSean [McCoy] broke out and we were trying to see if we could get in, run a couple times, see if we can break one out and Juan [Castillo] had talked about wanting to get to this one scheme he thought LeSean could do, and once he busted a couple of those out and got us into position, you certainly want to take advantage of that. Gave us a chance one-on-one with Kelvin [Benjamin] and Nathan made two good throws.

Q: Rick, how much were you involved in the decision to punt on fourth and one?

A: Just normal, normal deal. The head coach said that’s what we’re going to do, so I set up my plays for the next time.

Q: Assuming good health at receiver, how much do you see and continuing where Deonte [Thompson] is getting more snaps than Zay Jones?

A: I think it’ll be split. I think certainly, when Kelvin went out and Zay [Jones] and Andre [Holmes] kind of split some time, so that’ll be based on game, play-by-play, game-by-game. I think it’ll be split. Obviously, D.T. does a great job. He made the big play at the end. We trust him, but we trust all of them.

Q: What do you, I mean you want to be aggressive when the game is on the line, but what gave you the confidence that that play was going to work with Deonte and with Joe Webb, knowing that you probably didn’t have a lot of time practicing the play with Joe and Deonte together?

A: He actually does take some time, and then he threw, he throws with those guys after practice and does the individual. D.T. had run by the kid earlier when we tried it on the other side, so we had a good feel that he could do something in that particular route and Joe, to his credit, [said] ‘I want that,’ and we’ll go with it.

Q: What happened at the sequence at the end of regulation when Joe was intercepted there?

A: We tried to be aggressive and win the game. Tried one out with Kelvin and [it] didn’t work out, so I was trying to get Charles [Clay] one-on-one with the safety crossing the field, get him isolated, and Joe was a little late with the ball.

Q: Sean [McDermott] mentioned that Logan Thomas was the emergency quarterback if anything happened to Webb. Has he taken a snap at quarterback?

A: He’s taken, just like I said, after and obviously he’s in every meeting. He understands - he has played quarterback in the NFL before. [We’ve] had several meetings with him and felt like we could use something in a limited basis, obviously. He’s got a big arm, I know that, having evaluated [him] when he came out. I was a quarterback coach with Baltimore when he came out.

Q: If Tyrod [Taylor] or Peterman aren’t available early this week, do you expect him to -

A: I think that’s a little bit early to be saying anything. We’re just working on, just started working on Miami right now.

Q: Is it kind of wonder and amazement with LeSean in the snow? This is the second time he’s done this in this type of weather.

A: I’ll tell you what, he – that is remarkable. Guys couldn’t stay up and he hurdled a guy and stayed up and kept running. He did a phenomenal job, excellent job, obviously.

Q: The first fourth down decision on the opening drive, Joe threw, I think, to Clay. What was that? Was that the designed play?

A: Yeah, it was. We kind of set it up, didn’t quite get exactly the look we were looking for. He got out there, didn’t make a great throw, we didn’t make the play. Didn’t execute it as well as we did in practice the three, four times we executed it.

 

Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier

Opening Statement: Good afternoon everyone. What a day yesterday, I’ve been through a lot of cold weather games in my career, both as a player and coach, but that was pretty unique with the snow consistently coming down throughout the day. Hats off to our fans, they were terrific; as we’re fighting, scratching and clawing on every single snap trying to make a play, our fans are just cheering us on and pushing us. It was a great atmosphere. [I] was really excited about the way our guys battled, and we came away with a win which is no easy task, yesterday. A good effort all the way around.

Q: What can you say about overtime and Sean McDermott’s decision that he’s going to punt on fourth and one to pin them back? Certainly, it falls squarely on you, and essentially the game, and maybe the season is on the line. What were your thoughts going into that series that the Colts had?

A: Well we talked to our guys at the beginning of overtime about the rules, just to make sure everybody was clear. Once our offense went out and didn’t score, we couldn’t let them get any points because that would essentially win the game. We were looking forward, as a defense, to getting on the field and getting the ball back to our offense, giving our offense a chance to score and win the game. I think our guys embraced the moment, we were able to get off the field, our offense took the football and of course, LeSean [McCoy] did a terrific job with the finish, and that catch by D.T. [Deonte Thompson] was incredible. It worked out perfect, from our standpoint.

Q: Having been a head coach, and being in those situations where Sean had to make a decision to punt, what goes through your mind in those briefs seconds that you had to make a decision that could ultimately impact your team?

A: You’re right, those are briefs seconds; a lot of different scenarios are going through your mind and you’re probably consulting with your, in this case, the offensive coordinator and talking through some of the scenarios. Then, you have to make a final decision. You have to trust your gut, sometimes in those situations, and it worked out perfectly for us, to be able to get that win. I think Sean made a great decision, it really worked out well.

Q: Is Matt Milano now the starter at linebacker? He started and played 51 snaps yesterday.

A: Yeah, we inserted him in the starting lineup yesterday, and he did a terrific job. We plan on, barring anything happening this week in practice, him starting again against our next opponent, Miami.

Q: And that would be in place of Ramon’s [Humber] spot, correct?

A: Correct.

Q: Ramon would be his backup?

A: Sure, yeah.

Q: Do you think it’s easier to play offense or defense in a game like that?

A: That’s a tough one, it wasn’t easy. Everything you work on in practice, you can’t simulate what happened yesterday, so I think it’s tough on either side of the ball. You’re just trying to figure out a way to make a play, keep your footing, and stay square as long as you can. You know one slip here, or one false step could be the difference in the ball game. I think it’s tough on both sides.

Q: How do you adapt to the conditions when you see what they are and what they’re like? Is there additional communication that’s going on along the sideline because you really can’t change cleats, there’s no cleat made for that?

A: No, it was a lot of talking amongst our players about how to change their strides, the movements, the importance of just staying where they needed to be and not getting out of their positions. There was a lot of conversation on the sideline in being able to adjust to the situation. I thought the guys did a pretty good job of adjusting. It was not, obviously, a natural situation, and you had to adjust to everything that you were doing. I thought our guys did a good job of that.

Q: That penalty that was called on that two-point conversion, do you think it should have been called one play earlier?

A: I think the officials got it right when they did call it. I’m glad that they called it when they did, obviously. It’s a clever play, but I think they got it right when they called it, I think they got it right.

Q: How difficult was it to be on the sideline – I’m not sure if you’ve ever been a part of 19-play drive?

A: Yeah you know we got them into some fourth downs in that situation; I think three times we had them in fourth down and couldn’t make a play. It was frustrating how we couldn’t find a way to make a play to end that drive. It was difficult. Fortunately, we were able to get back on the field in overtime and help our team. After playing so well throughout that game, and really getting off the field many of times on third down; I think they were [around] 25%. In that situation, to not come up with a play, it was definitely frustrating.

Q: Did you have any déjà vu yesterday by seeing Joe Webb back there at quarterback?

A: [Laughs] I told Joe after the game, I said ‘a lot of people are surprised that you could step in and do that, but we’ve seen this before, huh Joe?’ We both laughed. It’s good to see Joe come through for our team, and not surprised, he has the ability to make some plays in some key moments, and he did.

Q: How wild is it that all these years later, you guys are not only back in the same locker room, but that overtime came down to your defense and him at quarterback, which [is] same thing as five years ago?

A: Yeah, it’s kind of weird in some ways. Excited for Joe, excited for our team; he’s a terrific guy as your probably know, and to see him come through in the clutch, it was really big, big for our team, big for him.

Q: How difficult do you think it was on guys’ legs, with the snow? Does that change how you work players at all this week?

A: Going into it, we get the weather forecast throughout the week. We have a person in charge of that, and he’s given us a report, even on Saturday. But nobody really talked about preparing for that type of snow throughout the ball game. When we got our in pregame and we talked about it, you start realizing that some of the things that we had talked about during the week, are going to kind of be out the window. Fortunately for us, the way our players responded and the way they played, it almost seemed like they embraced the snow. They adapted pretty well; nobody complained, nobody said [anything wrong], they enjoyed it. You saw the celebration after the game, [they were] out there doing all kinds of things to show their enjoyment. It worked out fine.

Q: You have Tre’Davious White who has never seen snow and he’s doing jumping jacks and dancing around, then on the other end you have a vet like Kyle Williams who’s out there pregame with just his pants on and no socks. What did you make of those two things from your guys?

A: Well it just shows you the contrast, probably on every team, but in particular our team because we have a number of guys who have never been in a snow game. I think D.T. [Deonte Thompson] was one of those, he talked about it after the game. It’s just the nature of our business when you have so many guys from so many different parts of the country. Then Kyle of course, who’s played in many of cold weather games, it’s nothing new for him. The reaction is going to be different than a Tre’Davious who’s from LSU, but has never played in this type of condition. It’s probably a natural thing to see the reaction by a Tre’Davious versus a Kyle.

Q: How tough is it to grade or evaluate individual players’ performances given the conditions they were in because they may have been trying to do the right thing, but maybe the conditions just didn’t allow it?

A: That’s a great question. When we put on the tape this morning, we were looking at it going ‘how’re you going to give a guy minus on this play, and you can barely make out who it is on this play?’ We were talking about that, yet, you still want to grade them correctly, don’t want to give them any false positives. It was not an easy game to look at, grade, and determine whether guys should get a minus or a plus on this particular play because sometimes, you could barely make out who was who. It was challenging, but we still are going to put together a few plays for our guys to look at, and try to improve on some areas. It was not easy grading this game, for sure.

Q: If you could dial up the same forecast Sunday against Miami would you do it?

A: Whatever it takes for us to win, that’s what we’ll do, whatever it takes. If we get the same results, of course. The results are what matter.

Q: Was that Ryan Davis’ best game that he’s played so far for you?

A: The last couple of weeks he has really stepped it up. We had a conversation about two, three weeks ago; it’s really encouraging to see his performance pick up again. He was dealing with some things about two, three weeks ago, and his performance has picked up and that’s helped us on defense. He’s a guy who’s shown that he’s more than capable of getting it done for us. Last week was really good too, he did a good job last week as well. He’s come along, that’s going to help us in the long run, especially with losing Shaq [Lawson].

Q: On defense, you’ve had various ups and downs; run defense, whatever things that are happening, losing Marcell [Dareus], and all that stuff. Then, to persevere, for this team, that unit to persevere to the point where it stood when it needed to yesterday, and then to find this team still in the playoff hunt after all that’s gone on?

A: Well, we talked on Saturday night, we were talking with our players about how resilient they’ve been throughout the season just for the reasons you mentioned. There’s been so many ups and downs over the course of the year, but we’re not unlike a lot of teams in our league who have faced some similar situations, maybe not to the same degree. But, one of the things you have to recognize when you’re in this league, the National Football League, there’s going to be some highs, going to be some lows. Now, we’re at a point in December, where things really, really matter to a great degree. And part of why these games are as important as they are to us now, is because of what happened in September and October, with our team. We set up ourselves up to be in this position where we can be in the playoff hunt. Kuddos to our players for battling through some difficult moments where they could have easily said ‘our season is over, we’re not going to turn it around, we’re not going to improve,’ but they are fighting, scratching and clawing, trying to get better. To battle the way they did yesterday in those conditions, and not give in to the elements, that’s a big deal. It’s a credit to our leadership on our team, we have some tremendous leaders; Kyle being one of those guys, even Jerry [Hughes] and other guys on our defense and on our team that are keeping that locker room together. I think Sean deserves a lot of credit as well, he’s done a terrific job of just keeping the guys focused and not getting caught up in some of the other things that could distract you from being focused on the next opponent.

Q: Is it a little bit unique or, I’m not sure rare is the right word, but given the amount of new guys to have come together that quickly and to – it’s easy for a veteran team not to hang its hat and say ‘okay, we’re done’. But for a bunch of new guys that don’t know each other to have gone through this and persevere-?

A: Yeah, and part of that speaks to the culture that’s being created here by Sean. It’s unique in that way, just like you said. There have been a number of times, if you look back at our season, where you could say [that] these guys are done. Here we are with three games left and we’re right in the thick of it. Who knows what’s going to happen in these final three weeks, but I think everybody in this room would agree [that] you expect this team just to continue to fight, and fight, and fight and not give in. It just speaks to the culture that Sean has created here on our football team.

Q: Coach, what did you think of the fans yesterday?

A: Our fans were, like I said earlier, they were just terrific. I looked up in pregame and then as the game went on and saw the bowls filled and I’m going like ‘wow’. The noise, I mean we had some noise out there as well, which made it difficult for the opponent. Our fans were terrific to stick it out through, as we all know, some tough conditions. To be there cheering us on, pushing us, it’s a big deal when you’re the home team. We need to keep giving them something to shout about and we’re going to try and do that again this weekend.

Q: Was your car snowed in when you got to it in the parking lot?

A: It was, it was. It was hard to get out, but I enjoyed getting the snow off, because after a win, nothing gets you down.  It was all good, all good.

Q: Somebody said that it’s tough to look at the film and really analyze it, but what is one of the things that were positive that happened for guys? And what’s that a sign of? Is that the strength of being able to push through the snow? Is it footwork? Is there anything that you’re kind of seeing there as you’re looking at film?

A: Well, there’s some things that we can pull from that tape that should help us if we find ourselves in a similar game in the future, and we very well could. We talked about that; just jotting down some notes about what things we would do differently, how we would approach it going into the game if we knew that the situation was going to be like it was yesterday. So, there’s definitely some things we can pull from it that should help us in the future if we end up in a similar situation.

 

 

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