Transcript of interviews with Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone and several players from Tuesday's media availability. Provided by the Buffalo Bills.
Head Coach Doug Marrone
Q: Is there an update on Marcell Dareus and Stephon Gilmore?
A: Yeah. Stephon is in the concussion protocol and Marcell, right now, we’re resting him and we’ll see where he is later in the week.
Q: Is the plan still to start Kyle Orton?
Q: Explain the merits of possibly starting EJ Manuel?
A: Well, I can understand the question, but the game means a lot to me. We’re going to play the players who we feel give us the best chance to win. That’s just the way that I’m wired and that’s what my responsibility is to the team. We all have a responsibility to each other and I have to make those decisions each week. Again, we’re going to play the players that give us the best chance to win on Sunday.
Q: You do feel that there is still plenty on the line on Sunday, right?
A: Oh, there’s no doubt. We talked about it today. We didn’t get into all the details, but during the season we’ve fought our way into things, we’ve fought our way out of things and we’ve got a chance to play one more game coming off of a very disappointing loss. We want to get that taste out of our mouth and be ready to go. I’m expecting the best from our football team. That’s what I told them today.
Q: Is there any thought to getting some time for some of the young players?
A: I have not thought of that because my focus, unfortunately or fortunately, is on winning the game and doing everything we can to possibly win this game.
Q: What’s EJ’s future on this team?
A: I think those things are for after the season is over, when you look back and you evaluate those things. I don’t think that, right now, I’ve put a lot of time into it because we went right to the tape. It’s not a cliché. I mean it. We’re doing everything we possibly can to win this game.
Q: Are you prepared to go into the offseason with EJ and Jeff Tuel as your only quarterbacks if Kyle Orton was to opt out of his deal?
A: Those questions are things that will be discussed in the offseason. I have not discussed that with Doug [Whaley] or Russ [Brandon] or anyone yet. It’d be hard for me to say and I haven’t put much thought into it. I know you guys don’t like those answers, but I’m just being honest with you.
Q: Can you pinpoint why the running game has struggled for consistency?
A: It’s been inconsistent. I went today and I talked to the five linemen that have been playing. I went in there today, because we are what we put on tape. We did not play well and, during the year, we’ve been inconsistent. I told those guys that my experience being around that position for a long period is that it’s one of the few positions where you’re judged on how poorly the worst player plays; meaning that four guys can play great, one player doesn’t play well and then you’re overall performance will be judged on that. There are other things that get into it: running backs, tight ends, receivers on the perimeter blocking. Make not mistake about it. That group has been inconsistent and I told them that. I said, ‘That’s on tape and we can’t deny that, but there have times where each of you have played well during the course of the year. Our challenge is that, come Sunday, we’re going to need the best performance of the year out of all five of you. If you do that, we’ll have an opportunity to win the game.’ That’s what I talked to those five guys about. I met with those five guys today collectively.
Q: What does it say about EJ that you don’t view him as a better option than Kyle?
A: It’s the same thing. We just took a step back to take a look at him, get him prepared and get him ready. In the same sense, Kyle has gone in there. There have been times that he’s done an outstanding job. He’s done a good job managing. He’s done a good job of being a leader for things that need to be done off the field, as well as on the field during practice. I think those things are going to help him in the long run. Right now, we still feel like Kyle gives us the best chance to win from the standpoint of efficiency, control and things of that nature.
Q: How much does it disappoint you that the offense has had season-long struggles?
A: It’s the same thing. I’m responsible for all of the things that go on. It’s been inconsistent. It’s been inconsistent for a while and it’s my responsibility to fix it. You can’t hide from that. You do the best job you can and you try to put them in the best position and, at the end of the day, they have to go. I feel very comfortable when time comes. Obviously, notes have been taken. I feel comfortable when the time comes and I need to sit down, whether it be with everyone on offense or whether it be with Doug or Russ or Mr. Pegula. I feel confident in what we have to do and where we have to go in order for us to be better. We’ve got to develop some guys and see where we go from there.
Q: How much does getting better revolve around the quarterback position?
A: When you look at an organization that hasn’t won for a long period of time, you’re going to look at that position. It’d be interested to go back and look at that position in the 14 years and see what the production has been out of it. In this league, in my opinion, you can have an opportunity to win 10 or maybe 11 if you’re really good in a lot of other areas, but at the end of the day, what makes those teams the elite teams is the play they get out of that position. That’s not a secret. I don’t think that what I’m telling you, you don’t already know.
Q: Have you received any assurances about your job for next year?
A: No. And I say that knowing that now is really not the time for that in our profession. Maybe some other people would do that. I’m probably not the best person to talk to because I’m wired a little bit differently. Like I said, my focus is just on this game and winning. I don’t want to focus on the other stuff. The things that you can’t control, you don’t worry about. Those things will happen, I’m sure, when the season is over. I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in doing the best job I can for the Buffalo Bills.
Q: Have you noticed that downward trend in offensive line play across the NFL?
A: I can’t speak for other teams. That would be wrong of me. I would get in trouble with the rest of the O-Line guys. It’s tough. It’s a tough deal. There’s a lot of things that I believe in that I think are difficult. There’s some things that I believe in that are important. I’ve been fortunate. I really have. You look at my background and the places I’ve been and I’ve had a lot of good football players. I’m talking about a lot of good football players. We’re developing our guys to be in the same type of mentality. I don’t want to get into a lot of the after season stuff, but we have some notes that have been taken and we’d kind of like to retrain them a little bit. Start again. Start from the foundation and build it up and retrain them differently. Those are the things I’m looking forward to.
Q: Have there been some factors over the past few years that have made it more difficult for offensive lineman?
A: I haven’t coached that position for six years and when I left, I probably left the best group in the NFL, statistically. So it’s difficult for me to know what’s gone on in the last six years. We went to college and we put a damn good group together over that period of time. [Justin] Pugh went in the first round and we had a couple other guys that went to some camps. I don’t know. I think the teams that don’t win consistently will struggle up front, whether it be on the offensive or defensive line. That’s an important part of how the game is played. The closer you are to the ball, the harder it is to play early.
Q: Eric Wood mentioned a lack of padded practices a reason for why it takes longer for younger guys to develop now. Do you buy into that?
A: Well, we had more padded practices than anybody in the league. I think that you have to get your work done during that period of time. I do agree with that. I think that happens is during the year it becomes difficult when you have to manage where you are, from a standpoint of the schedule and of health. It’s not only developing them, but it’s also who you’re going against and who you’re pounding on. There’s probably a happy medium with all of that that you have to do a good job of. Does it make it a little more difficult? I’m not going to deny that. I’d argue either way.
Q: Is there part of the reason why it’s hard to get guys Richardson and Kouandjio in once the season starts?
A: I think you have to think a little bit outside the box and figure out a way to do that. Whether you’re cutting practice time and spending some time on development, but I think that’s a big phase. I think that’s something that we, as a staff, can do a better job of. There is a longer period of time now between. When the players come back I think that they have to do a good job coming back in-shape and ready to go. Whereas before, you come back in and you get yourself in-shape and you get ready to go. When that happens, you’re able to do a little bit more. What happened is we messed it up. Coaches took advantage of some things and now we have all these rules in place. It’s a little bit more challenging, but it’s not, by any means, doable.
Q: Should people be able to expect more out of your rookies going into next year?
A: Absolutely. I think that you can say that about any position that comes out. The way the schedule is for them is they go through college and they come out and then the go right into a camp, go right into rookie symposiums and things like that. All of the sudden, you’re in camp and preseason fighting for your life and trying to acclimate yourself to the NFL. Now, you’ve got a longer offseason, you have an understanding of what you have to do to be a pro, you understand what the seasons like and you see people going through it. More importantly, it puts a greater sense of accountability on the players to come back in better shape than what it’s been like before.
LB Preston Brown
Q: How important is it to finish the season strong?
A: It’s very important to finish the season off on a good note. We can’t look back on it. We’re not making the playoffs. We put that on ourselves, so we’ve got to come out this Sunday and play hard. Play for our team, play for our organization and finish strong.
Q: Is there something to be said about sending a message to the Patriots and the NFL by going in and getting a win?
A: It’ll send a message to ourselves. We’ll show ourselves that we’ve got confidence in ourselves to go play with anybody. It would be a big win for our organization. We’ve just got to finish this season strong and not look at the fact that we’re not making the playoffs. We could still finish 9-7. Finishing strong is all we can do at this point.
WR Chris Hogan
Q: You’ve got to be on point against a team like New England, right?
A: Yeah. Anytime you play a team that has Tom Brady, who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, you have to make sure that you don’t hurt yourself. Turnovers and stuff like that, you really have to avoid just to take the ball out of his hands. It’ll be crucial for us to be on top of our game on offense; execution, making big plays and whatever it is to keep us on the field and keep him on the bench.
Q: How tough is it to outsmart a team like this?
A: Anytime we go into a game, we’re going to have certain game plans for certain individuals. We watch film and we see how certain guys play defensively. As a receiver, you’re going to have that stuff mapped out in your head; how you’re going to run certain routes. Especially with a game like this, going up there, I think it’s more about being able to make big plays to give a little spark to our offense. I feel like when we do have those plays, we’re able to build off of those very well.
Q: How important will it be this week to be balanced on offense?
A: I think we’ve done a pretty good job this whole year. We struggled last week. That’s going to happen. We’re just going to have to get back to how we play and hopefully we can get the run game going this week. It’s tough to throw when they’re dropping so many into coverage. If we’re able to get those guys going this week – which I’m sure we’ll be able to – it’ll make our passing game that much better.
RB Fred Jackson
Q: Can you reflect on the year thus far?
A: A lot of different adversities that you don’t normally see throughout a season. I think that speaks a lot in this locker room. When you have to deal with ownership being a situation and then having a major snowstorm that keeps you from practicing and you have to go play in a different environment; guys just continue to come to work, continue to do their things, continue to prepare to play a game week in and week out. I think that just speaks to how good this locker room is. We had a coaching staff that kept us in it. It speaks to what they’re trying to do. I think you’ve got to tip your hat to everybody in here.
Q: It seems like you guys where at your best in those circumstances?
A: I definitely think so. I think there was a point where we had to lean on each other to get through it. When we did that, we played some of our best ball. Like I said, you’ve got to respect what the guys in the locker room were doing and how the coaching staff prepared us to deal with those adversities. As a player, this is definitely something I wasn’t accustomed to and something we all had to adjust to.
Q: Any explanation to how you lost?
A: I don’t know. You’ve just got to give those guys credit. They played a good game. Bottom line is that we got beat by a team that came out and played well. I said it all last week. You look at what they did on film and look at a lot of their games; they were in a lot of their games. They weren’t a team that got blown out by everyone they faced. Everyone wants to talk about them being a two-win team going into the game. They were in a lot of games and they were playing great football. They beat Kansas City, they beat San Francisco and they played well enough to beat us. You’ve just got to tip your hat to those guys and say they did a tremendous job. We didn’t get the job done and that’s the reason we got eliminated from the playoffs.
CB Nickell Robey
Q: Do you feel like your communication has been tight lately?
A: Our communication has been great. We saw that against Peyton [Manning] and Aaron [Rodgers]. This past Sunday, the communication wasn’t as crisp as it was supposed to be and it kind of cost us down the line. We just have to do a better job of that. We’ve got to make sure, in the back end, everything is clear and concise, so that everybody is on the same page. We just have to be more cognizant of that.
Q: Are you confident you guys can correct that for this week?
A: Oh yeah. Yes we can. It will be done. We will come back with better communication this week. That is a guarantee.
Q: How do you approach this one, knowing their firepower?
A: We’ve just got to go back to the old ways that we’ve been doing things. We just have to be physical, take it to their offense, challenge them and not give anything to them easy.
C Eric Wood
Q: Can you reflect on the craziness of this year?
A: Yeah, it’s been a very unique year. We’ve a lot of adversity, as far as the snow, the ownership change, the quarterback change and everything. I thought guys responded and kept a very mature attitude through it all. Probably our best game we played was heading into Detroit on a crazy week, when we’d been sitting at home for five days. That showed a lot of maturity from the team. Ultimately, we fell short of our goals. We’ve got one more chance to try to prove who we are as a team and create some momentum for next year.
Q: What could the game this week prove?
A: One, it would prove that we don’t have any quit, because it’d be real easy to fold up your tent and focus on next year. It’s a big opportunity against a really good team that’s had our number for years. I’ve personally never won in Gillette. That’s six times and no luck. A couple of times we almost had them on the ropes. To go in there and get that monkey off our back would be big; go and prove that, in the AFC East, we’re not that bottom feeder whipping boy. We’re here to stay.
Q: There’s no real mystique about the place is there?
A: There’s nothing crazy, but they have a good fan base. They’re selling out and all that, but it’s not the most daunting stadium in the league. They have great players, great coaches and they’ve had our number.