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What They Said: McDermott, Taylor, Watkins, Williams on Bills' loss

Coach Sean McDermott

Opening Statement: Okay, just to start off with injuries. Jonathan Williams missing time with a hamstring; Tanner Vallejo with a shoulder [injury], so really just two right there. With that, I’ll open it up to questions.

Q: Why did LeSean McCoy not play today?

A: You know, I’ve been around LeSean, as you guys have heard me say, for a long time and I like where he is at this point in training camp in terms of getting himself ready to play for the season. I wanted to get a good look at the other backs and I was impressed with the way some of those running backs performed.

Q: Sean, was the clear intention early to get Sammy [Watkins] involved as his first game being back healthy or was that just something that evolved through the play call?

A: Really, I thought we got off to a good start on offense. Really, the offense was just in a rhythm. Tyrod [Taylor] was going through the progressions and Sammy was the open receiver so it was good to see.

Q: How concerned were you when Tyrod went down and did you consider just not putting him back in after?

A: You know, they were just checking him a bit and [I am] always concerned any time a player goes down, in particular a quarterback in this case. He’s a tough young man and I love the fact that he bounced back and lead the team a little bit and showed some mental toughness.

Q: What part of his body were they looking at?

A: They were just looking at his knee.

Q: Before [Jonathan] Williams got hurt, he seemed to be running pretty well for you. How happy were you with his performance with the starters and do you have any more of a timeframe on this injury that he suffered?

A: I don’t know at this point, with respect to the injury. I was impressed. He ran hard, secured the ball, and – we have to evaluate the whole game, though, [like] what happens in pass protection and we’ll get a better chance to do that tomorrow. That said, I thought he did some good things with the ball in his hand.

Q: Did you like [Nate] Peterman? I know it was at the end of the game there, but it seemed like he had some command of some plays out there.

A: He did. He moved the offense. Had a couple chances to win the game at the end, which I would’ve liked to see us convert in those situations. That being said, for Nate – in his first experience, first chance to get out there in an NFL game – I thought he handled himself well, was poised, showed great composure, did face some pressure – which was expected – and he did a nice job.

Q: What was your general impression of the game? Your first outing as a head coach and the way the whole operation worked. You had some penalties on special teams – just what were some of your overall thoughts?

A: Well, number one, it was good to see the fans come out and support the football team. It’s always good to play at home. We look forward to making this a tough place to play and embracing that. After that, or in addition to that, I thought there [were] a lot of good things on the football field, a lot of good moments. That said, good teams don’t beat themselves and we beat ourselves numerous times tonight and we’ve got to get that corrected in order to go where we want to go.

Q: You’re been thinking about this day for a long time. While it’s not the regular season, you were doing all the communicating up to the booth, everything goes through you, you’re the CEO, challenge flag, whatever. What was that experience like and how does that project with your expectations?

A: We’ve got a long list of things to improve on. That starts with me and our football team and we’re going to get together tomorrow, look at the tape. There’s a lot to learn from, there’s a lot of good moments. There were a lot of good moments this evening. That’s what you do. Good coaches make the jump between game one and game two. Good teams make the jump between game one and game two. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us this week, and we’ll start up tomorrow with that.

Q: Did you see anything that was unusual? Maybe the speed of it or the decision making process to make these snap decisions? Was it different as a head coach versus being a coordinator?

A: Well, you’re thinking along the lines of big picture. Obviously, with the different situations, we spent a lot of time, I spent a lot of time with my staff going through those types of situations. Every situation’s a little bit different. Next week’s game may come up with different situations. [We’ve] got a good staff. The communication flowed rather well, I thought, throughout the game. The substitutions, sometimes, in the first preseason game can be challenging when we’re trying to play all of the players so I thought that, for the most part, went well.

Q: You talked about the evaluation of guys from spring to training camp and now the next step. That being said, what did you think of Eddie Yarbrough and his performance today?

A: [Eddie is] a young player that has worked extremely hard. This wasn’t the first time that he has flashed. He earns it, he really does. That’s going to personify or typify our football team. He’s one of the first ones in the team meeting every morning. He’s got flash cards, he’s drilling himself mentally, so his success on the field tonight was not a surprise to those that know him and I’m really happy for him.

Q: Sean, the first-string defense pretty much shut down the first-string Vikings offense. Did you specifically game plan for Minnesota’s offense for this game or was it traditional preseason basic level?

A: We’re going to respect every opponent. That said, we are focused truly on ourselves right now. We have to develop fundamentals and I’m not really big on game-planning a whole lot for our first preseason game, if you will, in this case. We’ve got such a long way to go as a football team that we need to keep our focus on ourselves. That said, as I led off with, we certainly have a lot of respect for the Minnesota Vikings.

Q: With Cordy [Glenn] and Shaq [Lawson] [sitting out], was that just a matter of playing it safe in the first preseason game?

A: Well, they had the injuries going on and we just wanted to be smart with the play time this evening. [We] just don’t want injuries like that to linger, as they tend to, with the groin [injury] that Shaq has.

Three up, three down following Bills' first preseason game

Q: What would you make out of T.J. Yates’s performance this evening?

A: He did some good things. He got us in and out of some plays at the line of scrimmage. I certainly would’ve liked to see us get into a better rhythm offensively at times. T.J.’s had a great camp to this point in time and so, as an offense, we can do some things better, but I thought he had good command at times.

Q: What factors led to Gerald Hodges getting second team reps over Reggie Ragland, not only tonight but in practice this week?

A: Well, you know, Gerald has done some good things. He’s shown an ability to handle more than one position on the defense and in our base packages and also our sub-packages, third down packages and whatnot, I love his toughness. He communicates well [and] he’s a veteran player. Reggie’s a young player who’s coming off of an injury and is only going to continue to get better. He’s working extremely hard. I thought he did some good things in the game tonight. Played downhill, played physical, so that will be a fun position to watch moving forward.

Q: Is there any thought to trying him at one of the outside [linebacker] spots because we’ve only seen him at middle linebacker so far?

A: Sure. We’re multiple that way. We are a versatile defense and we’re going to put players, Reggie in this case, but really all of our players in a position [to succeed]. If they have [the] skills that they can play other positions, we will look at that. Right now, it’s in Reggie’s best interests and our best interests that he continues to work at that inside position.

Q: What’s the message you give to a guy like [Rashad] Ross or [Taiwan] Jones after they drop balls in key situations when they come off? They are fighting to make the team and you know, what’s the kind of message you give to them?

A: Well you know, listen, I want the players to play not afraid to make a mistake and there’s a way, I believe in that mindset. You go out there and you’re aggressive. I can deal with, at times, aggressive penalties. That said, the pre-snap and the post-whistle penalties, I can’t handle.  Those are not a part of a winning formula for a football team. All the penalties, you know, obviously limited us offensively, and sometimes defensively, special teams-wise to what we were trying to get done. When you look at it, we had a chance to get off the field on a third down and we hit the quarterback. You can’t do that. [It was] a seven-point game at the end, and it ends up being the difference, potentially, in the football game.

Q: How do you weigh what is a big deal and what isn’t a big deal in the preseason, with things being unacceptable or what have you, I guess for Bills fans who are still learning about what is acceptable and what isn’t?

A: Well, there is a process. We’ve talked a lot about process. There’s a process of developing a football team, of evaluating our football players, and then our schemes. That said, penalties are not a part of the process in terms of winning football [games] and our players and our team, we continue to stress and will stress all throughout the season that there’s a way to win football games and there’s, you don’t beat yourselves. You take care of the football on offense, you take the ball away on defense, and then you don’t shoot yourself in the foot with penalties.

Q: How pleased were you with the performance of that first team defense?

A: I thought they did a good job. I really did. We went out and put them on the field first and we were looking to flip the field. I thought we did a pretty good job of that. Throughout the game, they were in some situations that may not be ideal and that’s going to happen throughout the season. I was proud of the way they played overall. Still a lot of work to do and we’re going to work to continue to get better.

'We beat ourselves numerous times tonight': Bills open preseason with loss

QB Tyrod Taylor

 Q: You came out with a lot of crisp passes to Sammy (Watkins) early on. Was that just the game plan, you wanted to establish that right from the get-go?

A: I always say this coverage definitely dictates where the ball goes. Sammy has done a good job winning his matchups early on. He had a couple coverages where they were press, he’s going to win most of those. So, it was a good thing to get him going early. Preseason of course you want to go out there a little longer. So, I think we built some good chemistry in the couple plays we had. Definitely got to build from that.

Q: I’m sure you would have liked to get in the end zone, but what are some good takeaways you have from today?

A: Feel like I got the ball out on time. As an offense, we moved the ball up and down the field. One of the penalties hurt us on one of the drives, but I think we ran the ball well and I think we were efficient as far as passing the ball, too.

Q: Without LeSean (McCoy) out there you were able to run the ball, still a couple of backs were able to move the ball. Do feel you feel it gives you a little bit of depth and options as the season goes on? 

A: Oh, absolutely. Those guys have been great throughout camp. We know the type of guy Shady is, the type of talent he brings in the backfield. But those other guys have stepped up, taken the challenge to go out there and make plays head on. Those guys are going out there and competing and making plays.

Q: In particular, Jonathan Williams looked pretty good tonight. What did you see with where he attacked the most?

A: He has always been a patient runner. That’s one of things I told him when I first met last year, was that I love his patience in the backfield. He’s a shifty runner. Once he sees a hole, he gets downfield pretty fast. So, it’s definitely good to see him go out there and creating plays in the running game. That’ll definitely be big for us.

Q: Tyrod, I know you said that coverage dictates where the ball goes. Those were some quick timing patterns with Sammy (Watkins) out there. How good does it feel to go out the gate and feel like your timing is in sync already?

A: It’s definitely good. Like I said, we just have to build from that. That’s something that me and him worked on this offseason on our own, as well as stuff we’ve been doing throughout camp. Just getting on the same page. Like I said, that was a start, we just got to continue to keep building from that. There’s definitely ways that we can get better – me and him – as a team, me personally. Just got to look at the film, got to correct and get better.

Q: Got hit in that first series, came up a little limpy. Anything about it? I know you were dying to get back out there I saw it.

A: Absolutely, absolutely. I haven’t been hit I a while. Nothing in particular. Got checked out everything was fine.

Q: So, it finally felt good to get hit a little bit?          

A: No. It never feels good to get hit, but it’s part of football. As a quarterback, you’re protected throughout camp and through practices, so you don’t get a chance to get that contact. But we play football for a living, so it definitely feels good to go out there and get bounced around every now and then.

Q: Is that a real thing to have to worry about getting that first hit out of the way each year?

A: Nah, I don’t think so. It just comes with football. The way that I was tackled was kind of weird. It’s not a thing to worry about.

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WR Sammy Watkins

 Q: Do you feel like that was a mental hurdle had to clear with the injury getting into game action?

A: I think that’s all it took for me to keep tackled, (catch) a couple balls. I mean, first game is like flying bullets out here, so I had to just get acclimated.

Q: Is that something you guys discussed beforehand, getting you involved early? It seemed like Tyrod was looking your way almost every play.

A: Not at all, I mean I think we just got the perfect reads, they played a certain look, and I was open. Tyrod did a great job getting the ball out to me.

Q: Any butterflies coming into this one?

A: Nah, like I said, I get butterflies in practices, but the game, for some reason, I just was out there and I felt free and I was running all out--so I felt good, blocking, and everything’s trying to come together.

Q: I know it’s just preseason, but to come out of the gate and have such good timing, the quick short passes like you do with Tyrod, how good does that make you feel moving forward that this is the base in which you started?

A: It felt great, like I said I think that, that’s the hump I need to get over, get tackled, get busted up a couple plays, that’s football, so I feel great, and just to start a legacy with Tyrod and moving on, it felt great.

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RB Jonathan Williams

Q: You got some work in there, especially with the first team, how do you think it went out there?

A: I think it went well, those guys have blocked well. Ran well behind those guys. Uh, doing pretty well.

Q: Coach has said there were some things you needed to work on, you’ve been working on. Do you feel like you are getting where you need to be?

A: Definitely. Every day we go out there as a team and we go out there and grind. The running backs we have coach to get there. You know always coaching us up. Day in and day out you know always coaching and stuff. Day in and day out. So, um, them running back boys, running behind LeSean McCoy, we are right behind him. They do a great job in practice.

Q: How much of this is a confidence thing? Just getting some reps consecutively?        

A: That is definitely a big part of it. You know I was out of football for a while and I didn’t play a whole lot last year so it’s just you know like you said, getting those reps and that confidence back. Definitely big, you know, definitely real big.

Q: You leave for camp, finally get to play a game, what were you looking to accomplish and what did you actually accomplish?

A: It was just fun going out there and playing against somebody else. You know, you see these guys, we’ve been in OTAs, mini camp, and then camp, so we’ve been playing each other for a long time. So it is just fun to go out there and beat up on somebody else.

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