Transcript of media sessions on Tuesday, May 19 with Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman. Provided by the Buffalo Bills.
OC Greg Roman
Opening Statement: Good afternoon. We’re working through our teaching phase. Guys are working really hard and really engaged and I really like what we’re seeing with this group from a lot of different angles. Starting on Tuesday though, that’s when we get into OTA’s under the new rules of OTA’s. It’ll give us a chance to really work through a lot of what we’re teaching now and kind of rehearsing against a defense so that’s the first step. The attitude’s great and that’s where it all starts. A really blue-collar attitude with this group and I can’t tell you how much fun it is to work with these guys. So any questions? Are you guys as much fun to work with as them? That’s a question I have.
Q: At this stage coach, knowing the limitations that you do have; no opposition and the like on the field. What is the stuff that you’re measuring progress in at this stage before you get to the OTA’s next week?
A: We’re throwing a lot at them. We’re throwing a lot at them and can guys get it? But we’re also not just evaluating. We’re also learning and figuring out how we as coaches can do our jobs better. “How can we communicate this to this guy?” Meanwhile we might want to communicate the same information a different way to that guy so we’re just trying to get everybody ready for OTA’s and that started with the rookies and the rookie camp. You just don’t know what they’re doing before the draft process and what not so that really becomes like a three day tutorial tutoring session just trying to get guys mentally, physically prepared to compete consistently day-in and day-out through OTA’s.
Q: Is tempo something that you introduce at this pace or does that wait until OTA’s?
A: I think tempo starts early but there are different tempo’s we’ll employ. More of a teaching tempo, walk it and talk it. Like when I started coaching in the NFL a long time ago in the mid-nineties, rookie camp came and guys got off the plane, you got them to the facility. They’re on the field. They’re practicing. They’re practicing. Three days later, they don’t know a thing. It was just a blur, so we try to really get them ready so when the veterans come back, get them ready to where they’re not a fish out of water and they’re physically more prepared.
Q: In case you didn’t have enough options, you’ve added two more full fashioned running backs.
A: Well, you can never have enough backs. You can’t. You just can’t and we’ve got some really good ones, so that’ll make for some interesting formations in the preseason for sure.
Q: Thirteen receivers…the decision making process. I know competition is valuable, but how difficult do you perceive this whole thing being given the amount of talent you have?
A: Well I think each guy’s going to be judged on his own merits and I think Rex runs the ultimate meritocracy and how everybody affords themselves will determine where they are and what their role is and what not but I tell you what, right now, the way everybody’s working and what not, it’s going to make for some really, really tight competition as we go because it’s not just going to be, “it’s this guy or that guy.” It’s going to be, “Well this guys does this a little bit better than him but he does that a little bit better than him,” so…but guys being on time. Being professionals. All that stuff. That factors in. Being a Bill and we have some good clay to mold.
Q: Is it possible to go from having a good problem and having too many good players to it just being a problem where maybe you feel like you’re not able to fairly evaluate all of them because there’s only so many touches and things like that?
A: That’s never a bad problem. Good players: bring them. More. More. More. Keep bringing them and there’ll be plenty of opportunity for everybody and a lot of guys are taking advantage of it right now as we speak.
Q: Rex talked about him being intrigued by Tyrod Taylor when he was with Baltimore. Do you have any history of eyeing him or scouting him and what have your impressions been of him so far?
A: My first contact with him was when I was at Stanford and we played him in the Orange Bowl and I’ve seen him grow as a professional to where when he got with us, I was very impressed with his football IQ, the way he commands the huddle, his understanding of the game and he’s been well-schooled up until this point so we are the benefactors of that and he is a pretty well-rounded player and he’s dynamic too. He can run.
Q: It’s been sort of maybe labeled a little bit by us or by fans as generally a two-man competition for the starting quarterback race. Is that being unfair to him? Is this truly a three man race?
A: Oh there’s no question. Honestly, it’s anybody’s job to take and…anybody. If you were the best player, I’d sign you and you’d win this competition but… I’m serious. The balls are out there. The opportunity’s presented and whoever wins it, wins it.
Q: There’s been a lot speculation that EJ Manuel has fallen out of favor. What’s your reaction to that speculation? Has he really taken a deep dive among the team’s brass?
A: Well, I’ll tell you, speculation’s the key word there. I don’t remember ever saying that and that’s the furthest thing from the truth. He’s busting his hump everyday and doing a very good job and there’s a lot of clay to mold there as well so whatever people are talking about…I don’t know where that’s coming from but no. The answer is no. He is doing a good job.
Q: What do you like about Nick O’Leary and having another tight-end in the fold?
A: Nick’s an interesting guy that on tape, all he did was produce and the measurables might not be sexy but then you see him and you’re like, “Whoa! This guy’s a football player,” and you get him out here and he’s a pretty impressive guy, good feel for things, and he’s pretty versatile. Sharp guy too.
Q: Is he a guy who you could foresee coming in right away and really trying to make an impact?
A: He’s going to have every opportunity to as is everybody else but he’s afforded himself very well up until this point. He just falls very well under that football player category. He’s going to get his job done. That’s what he’s done his whole life and I can tell now that he’s…he’s a rookie. There’s a curve there. There’s a learning curve but he’s on his way. He’s doing a good job.
DC Dennis Thurman
Q: Can you talk about Mario Williams and just how you define the role that you’ll have this year and how he’s been adjusting to maybe some of the differences?
A: First of all, we’ve been very pleased with Mario. Athletically: he can about anything he wants to so we’re going to try and take advantage of that. We’re going to ask him to do multiple things. He seems to be receptive to it, but we know his number one strength seems to be getting after a quarterback so we’re not going to get too far away from that.
Q: What is your comfort level with youngsters like Nigel Bradham…relative youngsters like Nigel and Preston Brown working the middle and how much faith that you guys put into them knowing them you traded away Kiko?
A: Well, we have a lot of faith in them. They’re taking to the defense. They’re learning. They’re willing. They’ve been here every day, they ask questions and we’re interested to see what they can do once the pads come on.
Q: Rex talked about the fact how Preston seems to be older than how young he is and noted the fact that his Dad was a coach. What struck you about him?
A: Well yeah. That helps that his dad’s a coach. Usually a coach’s kid is going to have that mental aptitude because he’s been around the game for a long time. He’s taken to the call. He seems very comfortable in the huddle. The guys have responded to him so yeah, he’s done a good job.
Q: What has impressed you about him?
A: He’s a smart guy and you very seldom have to repeat things to him. We haven’t had a chance to see a lot of physical, in terms of the way the game is played so far but we’re anxious to see that once we get to camp.
Q: With both Mario and Jerry in the way we think of them as guys who work with their hands down for the most part. How big of a deal is it from a coaching stand-point to find like you said taking advantage of what they do while still maintaining maybe what their physical assets say they can do?
A: Well yeah, we’re not going to get too far away from what they both do best and both of them get after the quarterback. The way this defense is split up is it’s one of multiplicity and we try to take advantage of our playmakers so we ask them to do a lot of different things. We try to put our best players in the best positions to make plays and sometimes you have to take them a little bit out of their comfort zone. Then there’s other times you have to make them decoys and if you can make them a decoy and allow somebody else to make a play, it makes the defense stronger.
Q: And out of their comfort zone, obviously means dropping into coverage I assume?
A: Some or contain rushing at times. Not necessarily chasing the quarterback.
Q: And your D-Line as it stands looking at it right now…Marcell: nose tackle. Kyle: End. Is there another…
A: All interchangeable parts. The beautiful thing about the guys that we’re dealing with: they’re interchangeable parts and that’s what’s going to make it so beautiful for us and make it more difficult for our opponents is that we can utilize those guys in a variety of ways and that’s what’s got us all excited because we don’t necessarily have to play a guy, “He has to play here” or “He has to play here,” in order for us to be successful. That’s not what we’re dealing with.
Q: That applies to Corbin Bryant, Stefan Charles, all of them?
A: All of them. Yes. Secondary. Linebackers. Doesn’t matter. This is a very talented group.
Q: At this stage in the offseason, knowing rule wise you can’t have any opposition on the field as your running stuff. How do you execute these plays and is evaluation on hold?
A: It’s just skeletal. What you’re evaluating now is their ability to pick things up from a mental stand-point. How many adjustments within each defense can you give them and how quickly are they picking them is really what you can evaluate. Other than that, you can’t evaluate much.
Q: What have your early impressions been of Ronald Darby?
A: Athletic, fast…that’s why we drafted him. Looks like a pretty good man-to-man cover guy from what we saw in rookie mini-camp. He hadn’t gone up against the “big time, NFL receiver” but usually if you can cover. Doesn’t matter who it is but he’s been pretty impressive so far.