BUFFALO BILLS HEAD COACH SEAN MCDERMOTT
Opening Statement: Beautiful day in Western New York, wasn’t it? We’ll go ahead and open it up to questions.
Q: Well, they had a great start in the passing game and you knew it, but you had a lot of success in the pass defense, and [with] a depleted secondary. Why do you think you guys succeeded the way you did?
A: Well, I thought Leslie Frazier and the defensive staff put a good game plan together. It starts there, and then the players put the time in during the week. We really embrace the ‘next man up’ approach. You saw that with [Matt] Milano making another big play or two [and] Trae Elston making another big play, so it was good team defense, I thought, throughout the game. You know, they do have weapons. This is a tough offense to slow down. You saw that against Kansas City, you’ve seen it basically for a year and a half now, if not more. Good, quality quarterback so I thought we played good team defense overall for four quarters.
Q: Coach, it looked like after the first possession by them, you started having Tre [White] follow [Amari] Cooper a little bit, with the exception of when he lined up in the slot. Can you talk about how he did today?
A: Yeah, he did a good job. That’s a Pro Bowl receiver. Good matchup for Tre and good challenge for any corner in this league. So, there were some things. We made some adjustments. They had success on the first drive, like you said Chris. I thought the takeaways were big in the game, obviously. I think it was 4-0, so that was big, and we got some on special teams as well.
Q: Did Tre communicate to you anything at all about his familiarity with Amari? I know he faced him for two years at school. Does that make a difference in your thinking when you know a guy is not in awe of a player, so to speak?
A: Yeah, I think familiarity certainly helps.
Q: Sean, you’re 5-2 and again, you’re not used to this, but this area always wonders about if this team is for real. There have been starts like this [and] they’ve failed. Why do you think this team, again you don’t know the history, but why do you think this team could be different than anything beyond what we’ve seen here in years past?
A: Yeah, you know, I’m going to talk about this team. I don’t know what’s been here in the past, with all due respect Sal. I just know that we come out every week, the guys work hard, they respect the process and put the time in. When you put the time in and you care about one another [and] you detail your work, you give yourself a chance and that’s what the whole ‘earning the right, earning the right,’ you fill in the blank. For us, it’s about earning the right to have a chance to win on Sundays by doing things the right way on the field and doing things right off the field on Monday through Saturday.
Q: Coach, if I could ask you about Marcell [Dareus], too. We haven’t talked to you since the trade. Just kind of give us your thoughts on what went down there.
A: Yeah, look, I really appreciate all the time and effort that Marcell put into this team, and really, we wish him well. Those things are never easy, especially the timing and everything. The players, I thought, handled it extremely well and came out with the right mindset today to take care of what they needed to take care of. But we wish Marcell nothing but the best.
Q: Coach, what made you feel good on the fourth-and-goal and to go for it there? Just, your thought process?
A: Just confidence in the offensive line; confidence in our quarterback. Really, that’s it.
Q: With respect to the takeaway run, in your time in the league, do you remember a stretch that’s lasted this long? I mean, it’s not just one a week. It’s multiple takeaways per week for a good stretch.
A: Yeah, those tend to come in bunches sometimes and we’re doing a really good job in both special teams and also defensively, and then on the other side of the ball, the respect for the football that we have that we get to the ball and we secure it and cover it up when we need to cover it up. I think that goes a long way, to your point.
Q: How long do you spend teaching your kickers to strip the ball?
A: [laughs] That was a great play, wasn’t it? [Stephen Hauschka] is an athlete. That was a great play. I don’t think we came up with that one, though. But, great play and I wish we would’ve come up with that one too. There’s some things we can do better though, at the same time. This will be a quick turnaround and trying to get ourselves ready for the next game.
Q: Sean, the [Matt] Milano play? How big was that. That seemed to turn the game in your favor with that late-in-the-half turnover touchdown.
A: Yeah, it got some momentum going for us. Got the crowd into the game and this crowd was awesome. It is special to play in Western New York and the guys feel that and they appreciate it, as do I and the staff. These fans were awesome. It’s hard to come in here with an offense like that. That factors in, and when you have that 12th man, man I love it.
Q: Can you talk about Colton Schmidt, especially that one punt that went down at the half-yard line?
A: Big. Huge. I mean, we knew the challenge of their special teams unit. They’re built that way, with 84 [Cordarrelle Patterson] and 30 [Jalen Richard] and what they do. Both [are] dangerous. We were able, the guys took it to heart. That was a big challenge for us, they took it personal, and I thought they set the tone at times with the coverage units. Both Colton [Schmidt] and Stephen [Hauschka] had a phenomenal day, as well as Reid Ferguson. I’ll mention him as well because nothing happens without Reid, as we all know.
Q: Sean, how did the Marcell Dareus trade affect your game plan, given that it happened on a Friday night, regarding how you would use your defensive linemen?
A: You know, these guys are resilient. The look in their eye was, “Coach, we’re getting ready to play a football game on Sunday,” and that’s what they had going on. I appreciate that. They put in so much time during the week that they weren’t going to be denied and that’s the true essence of respecting the process. When you do that, you’re going to give yourself a chance.
Q: That touchdown drive at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter, was that the most confident that Tyrod [Taylor] has been?
A: Well, that’s a question probably for Tyrod, honestly. I thought we moved the ball well when we needed to move it well. I like the adjustments we made. Rick Dennison and the offensive staff, and the communication was great on the sideline with the players coming off the field, sharing with the coaching staff what they were seeing and vice versa, so the adjustments were key and they will continue to be key and that communication will be big for us moving forward. I thought we had some key drives when we needed it and I like how we ran the football late in the game there. That was important.
Q: Sean, right there, two weeks in a row you’ve run the ball much better than you had the previous four weeks. What has changed? What do you think Rick [Dennison] is doing to get the running game going?
A: Well, probably, if I could take my answer from last week and pull it up and I’ll just recite that, that would be my answer again this week, honestly Sal. Not to be disrespectful, I just feel like that’s the honest truth that it’s just about hard work [and] the communication we had over the bye [week]. The coaches do a good job and the players take the game plan and take ownership of it and that’s part of it as well.
Q: The ‘next man up’ mentality, how do you get from point A in preaching that to point B in having the players embrace that?
A: You know, I want to go back to Sal’s question if I could real quick. The offensive line, I thought, did a great job not only in the run game, but also protecting Tyrod. Tyrod made some big-time throws and they gave him time. He stepped up in the pocket, did some good things there, found some open receivers that got separation. You’re going against Khalil Mack, and we all know he can wreck a game, as well as 51 [Bruce] Irvin. Going back to the run game, it wasn’t just the run game for the offensive line, but the pass game also. I’m sorry, Mike.
Q: In terms of preaching the message of the ‘next man up’ mentality to actually having the players embrace it and perform on the field.
A: Yeah, the great thing about it is that these guys, every one of them prepare. There [are] 63 guys on the team. That’s the way we look at it. That’s our approach. You’re watching guys work out even though they’re not going to play. They’re out working out, they’re trying to get better, they’re embracing that growth mindset. When you’re doing that, they know that you’re a play away, potentially, from playing and now they’ve seen guys step up. Brandon Tate, Matt Milano, Trae Elston, Andre Holmes, I mean those names really personify what you just said in terms of the ‘next man up’ mentality and they’re ready. Take Taiwan [Jones] last week. He was ready for his opportunity. Who’s it going to be next week? That’s the exciting part about it.
Q: During the week, you had said that when Ramon Humber was healthy, he was going to start. Matt Milano is not going to make it easy to take him out of the lineup, is he?
A: Matt looked like, at least on the surface, he had a big game. Like I had mentioned before, the great part about Matt is he continues to learn and make big-time jumps in between one outing to another outing. He’s made the most of his opportunity and that’s, you know, I love those hard decisions. Ramon’s a good football player. It’s a good thing for us, a good problem to have, and when you’re developing young players that are getting significant playing time experience, that’s big.
Q: Sean, Brandon Tate made one big play in the game, really, but the bench went nuts for him. How much fun is it for you guys to have a different guy, almost, to cheer for every week?
A: Yeah, that’s cool. That was really cool. You know, I think the officials were worried that there was something else going on in there but it was straight up just pure, raw, guys just happy for Brandon and knowing how big of a play that was too. All effort, we got some key blocks late in the play, just guys finishing plays, just grit in their teeth. It was a lot of fun to watch.
BUFFALO BILLS QUARTERBACK TYROD TAYLOR
Q: Tyrod you’re 4-0 at home now. Would you stamp this as a tough place for opponents to play?
A: I don’t think it’s definitely an easy place to come in and play. Our fans do a great job of creating a hostile environment. The weather isn’t always what opposing teams want it to be, but its stuff that we practice in, day in and day out. We embrace it. Of course we want to defend our turf, it’s something we preach throughout the week and just going into the season. Home games are definitely important to us and we’ve shown that throughout this season thus far.
Q: The 12 play 80 yard drive takes seven minutes off the clock and then stick it in the end zone. Just looking at them on the other side of the line of scrimmage, how much did it crush their spirit when you put that drive together?
A: Those guys fought for it hard the entire game but there definitely were a couple times throughout the drives, especially that one, where you could see they were gassed. That is more so the leadership on our offense, me talking to the O-line and the skill guys and just telling them we have to punch it in and finish with 7. That’s what we were able to do.
Q: Is this the best game you’ve seen the O-line play this year?
A: It’s hard to compare their games. I will say across the board they’ve done a great job of pass pro as well as creating lanes for the running backs as well too. So I tip my hat off to those guys week in and week out because it’s different challenges that they have in front of them and they take those challenges head on and go out and play well.
Q: I know Holmes didn’t play a whole lot today but he helped you out in a couple of situations. Maybe just talk about your touchdown play and then converting a long down distance play along the right side.
A: Andre was definitely pumped up for this one, playing against his former team. As far as the touchdown pass, remember him when we broke the huddle that he told me if I don’t have Shady cause Shady is first on that play. He told me if I don’t have him that he’ll be working in the back of the end zone. I was able to buy some time and he is one of our taller receivers so he is definitely one I can find when I am moving around. He did a great job. Focused, being able to keep two feet in and securing the catch to the ground.
Q: Can you take about the sideline play?
A: In the sideline play as well. There was some communication problems between me and Rick Dennison. Still trying to get that play in but they ended up giving up covers that we were able to take advantage of. I originally wanted to give Logan up the seam of safety squeeze, the corner was sitting outside so we were able to get the ball up the field.
Q: Tyrod, last week it was Deonte (Thompson) and Taiwan Jones, this week it’s Andre and Brandon Tate. How much fun is it for you guys when someone different keeps making the big, game changing plays?
A: It’s awesome. It keeps everyone accountable. Like I said I have tremendous confidence in those guys. They do a great job of preparing throughout the week. All of us on the same page and we need to continue to keep growing as a unit. For sure an offense, and as a receiver, quarterback combo.
Q: What is it like for you as a quarterback watching your defense make this many plays and get the ball back?
A: It’s awesome. Our defense does a great job of getting us the ball back. We know as long as they’re on the field we have the opportunity of getting a short field. They create turnovers week in and week out. It’s our job to compliment them and put the ball in. We’ve been able to do that thus far. Can be better in certain areas for sure, excited to change things that we haven’t capitalized over this year. But it’s great playing with those guys and it’s fun watching them. It’s a bunch of guys going and believing in the process.
Q: Shady said this might be the strongest willed team he’s ever been on. You’ve been on a Super Bowl winning team that probably has a strong will to do that, but where does this team rank maybe on that scale for mental toughness, strong will?
A: It’s definitely up there. Nothing phases this team, I heard Shady up here talking about even the Logan Thomas situation this week. I think just showing his mental toughness and being able to continue to come out and prepare throughout the week and still play on Sunday. I think that just shows, shows you guys, and it shows us as well how this team is built. We support him and this team definitely has a strong will. Nothing that can phase us and I think Coach does a great job of putting us in different situations and also learning from different situations across the league.
Q: Tyrod, you extend plays so often and so well. Throughout the week, how much goes into that, how much talking about, maybe even repping the actual extending of plays and what those guys need to be doing?
A: Don’t really get a chance to rep it. Some of those plays happen. Some of the off schedule plays happen. You can’t really predict those in practice. It’s more so just talking to guys as far as if I get outside the pocket on this play, every route has a rule as far as if it’s a broken down play where to break it off. Guys are doing a great job. We can continue to get better at that area as well too. So far we’ve made some plays as far as moving around, whether it’s me converting for a first down and finding the running backs or receiver working back for me to the ball as well.
Q: How excited were you for Matt Milano to have that fumble return?
A: That’s big. Big for him, big for the team. He hasn’t played in many games in his career but he’s made a great impact in the games he’s played in. Definitely a confidence booster for him. Like I said, just our defense for them to go out there and continue to force turnovers week in and week out is definitely big.
Q: What’s been different in the running game the last two weeks? LeSean’s done pretty well the last couple of weeks.
A: Can’t really pinpoint where what’s going right in it. I will say in the earlier games, we were just one or two people off where something wasn’t executed down to the t. I think as an offensive unit, as an offensive line and running backs, we just dialed in more so in the focus of our execution of the running game. It’s showed throughout the past two weeks.
Q: It was Andre Holmes former team. Did he say anything throughout the week like this is a big one for me?
A: He didn’t say it but I’ve been in that situation and a number of guys have been in that situation in this league. You can just get the feel for it and you can see it in his eyes in pregame. Of course he wants to go out and show those coaches and also the players he played with last year and in previous years that he can come out here and continue to keep competing. I mean this team has a bunch of free agents, a bunch of people that weren’t necessarily drafted to this organization. In the big sense this is a kind of team built around guys that maybe have been turned down from other players and other organizations so he had the opportunity to prove that organization wrong and he did it.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about what you saw on the first touchdown you threw to him? Obviously you bought yourself some time, he was open originally then made it a little tougher for you to hit that throw on the sidelines.
A: I wanted to get it to Shady in the corner of the end zone but he ran into the collision. The linebacker had to step up into the pocket and that’s when I found Andre moving along the backside.
BUFFALO BILLS RUNNING BACK LESEAN MCCOY
Q: In terms of yards, this is your second best game since you’ve come to Buffalo. Does this reverse some of the troubles you’ve had earlier this season?
A: I think last week was a starting point of us rolling, of us getting going. Since the bye, we’ve been sprinkling different schemes, different runs, stuff that we’ve been successful within the past and this year also. The guys up front, we’ve talked about just letting them dominate the line of scrimmage. You know, giving me some one-on-one opportunities, giving me some lanes, and they did that today. They blocked well on the passing game and they blocked extremely well on the running game.
Q: Can you talk about the 12 play, 80 yard drive? You guys were up, you had a couple field goals, you pushed it deep, but then it seemed like that drive really crushed their spirits.
A: Yeah it did. We talk about just trying to finish the game up. Let’s put plays together, you know, first down, second down. Okay, let’s convert on third downs. Let’s keep it moving. And that’s something we’ve been trying to get better at. We’ve done it before in different games and today we went and did that today. Coach dialed up some good plays for us. Rico [Rick Dennison] did a great job.
Q: When you talk about the mental toughness of this team, there were a couple times where you guys were really behind the sticks, whether is 2nd and 20, 3rd and 20, and you guys come up with the plays to keep the drives alive. Can you just maybe comment on that?
A: Well we don’t want to be in situations like that in the future, but hey, things happen. Guys, they make plays and they have to minimize just the turnovers and the penalties. We don’t want to be in those situations. But if it happens, we have plays for that. If we get behind the sticks, you know 2nd and 13 or 15, we’ve got to convert. I think with the play making ability of Tyrod [Taylor] it makes it a lot easier because he can kind of scramble and get some guys up to throw it or he can normally just throw it or scramble. We have different plays but I think that makes him special. When a 3rd and long situation like you talked about, I think with a guy like him it’s reasonable that he can probably get it.
Q: You guys are 4-0 at home now. Can we stamp this as a tough place to play?
A: I don’t want to stamp anything. I just want to stamp that we work hard, we’re a family. With Logan Thomas battling things out with his family and to just see how the guys rallied around him, you know, we support one another. This is a close family, it really is. And some guys that I might have known for a year or two years, or I might have known them for two weeks or two months, we kind of have that bond. I don’t want to let the guy next to me down. An example like that with Logan just shows you the type of commitment we make to each other. We play together, we fight. Defense is out there fighting for turnovers. Last week, I fumbled at a critical time in the game. Boom, what happens? Defense goes out there, a rookie gets the fumble for me and then we score. So this team just shows you the heart. It’s hard to go against the eye of the tiger, a team that will claw and fight until the end. You know it’s hard to beat a team like that. I think the talent kind of goes out the window, the athletic ability from players goes out the window, and you have that big heart. And here guys bleed and guys want to win. It just shows you the type of coach that Sean [McDermott] is really kind of bringing here.
Q: Is this the strongest willed team you’ve ever been a part of?
A: I can say that. I’ve been around some super talented group of guys, so I won’t say that as far as one of the most talented teams. But as one of the most strong-hearted, fight until the end, I think so.
Q: What sort of impact did trading Marcell [Dareus] on Friday have on this team in the long run?
A: A guy like that is so talented and such a good player that you kind of let the front office deal with it. I think the Sammy [Watkins] trade kind of helped that out because we’ve seen it before, of a player of that magnitude, of that talent level; so it wasn’t like a big blow. You know a lot of guys, we like Marcell, but it’s the business. Things like that happen all the time. I went through it. So, you’ve just got to move on. I think it’s a stepping stone for guys who have opportunity. I mean you’ve got to look at the guys who had chances to play.
Q: You brought up Logan Thomas, and a reporter said that he got the game ball afterwards. What was that –
A: It was big for him. As I said before, as a team we have a special bond. When a player is going through something so serious, we’re going through it also. I feel what he feels and obviously he’s first hand with it but I don’t want to see my brother hurt. We just want to make him feel comfortable because it’s a lot to go out there and still play. You know, you’ve got so many things on your mind, you want this football field to feel like your sanctuary. You’ve just got out there and let loose. So, prayers for him and his family and he knows that we’re behind him, 110%.
Q: [To Tyrod Taylor]
A: That’s a nice suit Tyrod. Hey, give it up for him. He’s always well dressed, right? Not to talk about anybody here but you guys could take some tips. Seriously.
Q: Speaking of emotion lifts, did you get an extra emotion lift with the way the Pegula’s embraced Officer Lehner’s family before the game?
A: Yeah, that was a big time, too. That’s the cool thing about our owners. They are really good people. They want the best for us and this organization and as players, we want the same thing. That kind of definitely boosted us up. Overall, it’s just the highs and lows of the game and things like that, you know, kind of make you want to play this game. Today we played well as a team together, not just the players on the field, but like you said, it’s the organization, it’s the owners and the media, who give us what we need to be a successful team on Sunday.
BUFFALO BILLS CENTER ERIC WOOD
Q: First off, your reaction to Marcell [Dareus] getting traded on Friday?
A: You know, Marcell is a great football player. I wish him the best. Great dude. I think our organization wanted to go in a different direction, obviously, and I stand behind all our decisions.
Q: Are you surprised?
A: Uh, you know, I’d seen a bunch of chatter about it so there had been lot of rumors on Twitter and stuff. It didn’t catch me as quite as surprised like it would’ve if there wasn’t those rumors. But, yeah, I mean, it’s a big player. Big move.
Q: At this point in the year of your career, too often it’s been two wins [or] three wins. Now you’re at five wins. How good does that feel for you to kind of be in this position because, I mean, 2011 I know you guys were here but you haven’t had that much, Eric.
A: Right. It feels good. We’ve got a long way to go, though. We got, what? Nine more games of the regular season, so we’ve got to keep stacking wins.
BUFFALO BILLS WIDE RECIEVER JORDAN MATTHEWS
Q: Your team had four takeaways today, so your offense didn’t have to be supercharged today, can you speak on the defensive performance?
A: That’s huge. I think the biggest thing is off those turnovers we need to start getting points, like early on in the year we were getting turnovers and we weren’t scoring. We weren’t capitalizing. I think we were able to today, for the most part, off turnovers at least get three points. That’s huge. It’s one thing for the other offense, its demoralizing to have a turnover, it’s another thing to go down and put up points. Now they also feel that weight of the fact that not only did we give the ball away, but our defense got scored on. Being able to build that type of momentum off the defensive play is huge for us, but it’s a full three stage game. Our special teams, offense, and defense all coincides. We don’t look at it like the offense we need you to drop thirty-five points and the defense will be good, no everybody all in one is trying to go out there and put up points and try and get takeaways. We were able to do that today, and we were proud of that.
Q: Tyrod [Taylor] seems to extend plays pretty well, but today it seemed like he extended them even a little bit more from the pocket. How important is that for you guys to improvise out there, and how much do you talk about things you can do if that happens?
A: Tyrod’s got a crazy ability to escape the pocket. Honestly, I think between him and Russell Wilson, I think they are the best two escape artists in the league. Tyrod does a great job of just getting everybody the ball. Teams don’t really know who we are because you don’t know who is going to have a big game that day. Throughout the week I can’t tell you if Andre (Holmes) got five catches in practice, but he comes out here and gets fifty-one yards and a touchdown. That kind of game and that kind of team play, we actually embrace. As far as extending plays, all of us are on high alert. Between him and Shady [LeSean McCoy], you can never just do the first six seconds of a play, you’ve got to play the full twelve, and I think that has been helping us out.
Q: You guys talk about how you’re the underdogs and how you embrace that underdog mentality. Now that you’re 5-2, where do you think you guys will stop being looked at as the underdogs?
A: You all know that it’s still just you guys here, so it’s not like all of the other big stations, just the Buffalo guys. Nobody really cares about us. Even when they do come they don’t really care, they are just here until something bad goes down. At our core and in our heart, we understand that we are the guys in league that are fighting from the bottom. All of us had to scrap. Even our starting quarterback, who is playing phenomenal, he was at a place that said, “you know we are going to go with somebody else.” LeSean McCoy, who I think is an All-World running back, was told by someone, “hey, we want to go in a different direction,” which is crazy to me. That’s the story of a lot of these guys here, including me. We just embrace it and we play for each other. When you hit that point in your career when you see that side of the NFL, I just want to play for my brothers and an organization that cares about me. I think everybody here has that feeling, everybody appreciates that, and that’s why we love to go play for that logo.
BUFFALO BILLS WR ANDRE HOLMES
Q: Did it feel different for you, obviously being a former team and everything else like that, coming into today, did you kind of feel that?
A: Yeah, for sure. When they came out with the schedule and I saw that we were playing Oakland, I had it on my calendar, of course. I was excited to compete with them, all of them are like family to me, I spent four years there. It felt good to be able to play well against them and get a win.
Q: You talked to the guys during the week and kind of tell them ‘hey, this is my week, these are the guys I want to get back at,’ or anything like that?
A: Yeah, I mean, before the game I talked to a lot of the guys and I was just telling them how I couldn’t wait to compete with them today inside those lines. Out of respect, and everything, respect for them, and [I] was excited we got the job done.
Q: You might have answered this, but on the touchdown, obviously your guy falls down, so you’re open at the goal post, Tyrod [Taylor] couldn’t pull the trigger at that point. Give it to me, [because] you’re open all the way across?
A: I honestly didn’t even know he fell down. I was just telling him if everything [else] is not open, I’ll be across the field late. He found me, credit to him, on putting a great ball out there for me to be able to make a play.
BUFFALO BILLS WR ZAY JONES
Q: Speak about the play of Tyrod Taylor thus far? He made plays on the move, outside of the pocket, extended plays a lot too, so [that’s] something you have to adjust to and be ready for?
A: Yeah, I mean, you never know what happens with No. 5 [Tyrod Taylor] back there. He’s one of the most dominant players in the National Football League. When he escapes the pocket, or when things seem to break down, he makes broken plays complete. [It’s] just something that he’s blessed with, and why’s he at this level. You always have to be ready, always have to stay on your toes, and we’ll make those plays. Andre Holmes did a great job of that today too.
Q: Confidence standpoint? Clearly that was a good day for you, not a huge day, but a solid, get your confidence back kind of day. Would you agree with that? Not that you were lacking–
A: Yeah, I know what you’re saying. Sure, if that’s how people see it. For me, it’s just going out, playing and enjoying it. Coach [McDermott] calls it time on task, that’s what rookies need, is time on task. Things are going to open up, things are going to develop, so just keep working, keep catching. It was a great team win today, excited to be a part of it.
Q: The first one goes to you, is that good for you, to get that one early, right away?
A: Yeah, I mean, always feels good to contribute early, whether that’s catching the first pass or springing someone for the big run. I really believe in team football. I believe in whatever I’m called to do, or whatever the coaches put me in position to do, just go out and execute.
BUFFALO BILLS LB LORENZO ALEXANDER
Q: It’s tough to be a skeptic, you have not been here for 17 years, the previous 17 years, and to see this team fall apart at every moment, [to think] that it could rise?
A: Well I understand that, and I think that’s the biggest thing from being a fan and being a part of the team internally because everybody hasn’t been a part of that. Most of these guys don’t even know, the only people you could really say is Kyle [Williams] and E. Wood [Eric Wood] who have been here for a long, extended period of time. Even though the fans and the media have been a part of that, this team is totally different, and we don’t hold that on, that whole 17 years on us.
Q: This is a team that put 29 on you, last year, when you had a big lead. Did that come up at all?
A: No, we’re not looking in the past. This is a new team, half of the team, or the majority of the team wasn’t even there for it, for that loss. I think that’s a great job of leadership, not looking back in the past. We’ve continued to show that we can win in these situations, where we’re playing with a lead, or behind, or [in] a tight game, we’ve been put in all types of situations. We just want to continue to grow from this process, continue to learn how to win in whatever situation we find ourselves in, [in] the fourth quarter, and just continue to get better as we’ve been doing. Our offense has been rolling, it’s been awesome to see them get Shady [LeSean McCoy] going and the pass game going, so it’s fun to watch on the sidelines.
Q: Going back to the first quarter, you guys allowed that long drive to start, was there anything you did differently?
A: No. Actually, on that fourth down, we got the ball out, we got a fumble, he just happened to fall and it bounced right back into him, and they were able to continue. The same guy recovered it, if somebody else recovered it, they would have been off the field. That happens, they were able to drive the field, but I think after that you saw the defense stand up, and [there were] two or three possessions before they were able to get back down there again.
Q: But no specific adjustment you guys made [that] you saw on the first drive?
A: No, just continued to tighten up. They come and do some things. Obviously, they’re a very high-powered offense that’s really been finding their rhythm here of late, and they were able to drive the ball on us. We came back and just played tighter, got some rushes, got some plays on the back end, guys continued to stand up and we found a way to take the ball away, and that’s what it came down to.
BUFFALO BILLS LB PRESTON BROWN
Q: Why do rookie players set up the scheme where they all thrive immediately? Tre White is one example, Matt Milano has stepped up the last two weeks, how does that work for them?
A: Like I said, it’s [the] coaches. The coaches do a great job of getting them prepared, and they’re good players. If you’re not a good player, you’re not going to make plays. They’re going out there and doing their job, and making great plays on the offense.
Q: How important are those role players when it comes to this kind of scheme? A lot of snap counts, [they] switch players in and out, how important is that, for when you step aside, you know the player backing up, you, is going to succeed?
A: Yeah, I mean, they’re prepared. Everybody prepares like a starter, no matter who you are. The d-line rotates like a basketball team, so they’re always in and out. Everybody else is ready to step up if need be.
Q: What does it say about the mentality of this defense that, you guys have a little bit of give here or there, third straight week where a quarterback’s thrown for 300-plus yards on you guys, but you kind of have that bend but don’t break mentality. What allows you guys to thrive in that sense, where you’re maybe giving up some yards, but then stopping them when it matters most?
A: It sounds weird, but we really don’t care about yards, we care about points. That’s what you try and do, limit the opponent to the least amount of points as we can, and we did a great job of that. [If] they get down in the red zone, find ways to make plays, get picks, fumbles, and then [they did] a great job [with] guys scoring with the ball.
BUFFALO BILLS SAFETY MICAH HYDE
Q: What was the communication like with you and Trae Elston today, he said that he was leaning on you at times? How did it go?
A: Awesome. There wasn’t one time out there where I thought Trae didn’t do this or hesitate, he didn’t flinch at all. He went out there, he was hitting, he got a pick at the end of the game, he should have went down but he’ll learn his lesson from that.
Q: As one of the defensive leaders on this team, how did your guys respond to the trade of Marcell Dareus?
A: Obviously being with the past three months I got to learn a lot about him, and how great of a player he is. Good dude off the field. When stuff like that happens, we saw some stuff earlier in the season that happened, and it sucked, but it’s a business. We understand that and I went through my own stuff last offseason that I don’t hope anybody goes through, but it’s a business and it is what is it is. We have trust in the guys upstairs and Sean (McDermott), simple as that. Whatever moves he makes, and whatever decisions he wants to take, we are behind him. We know that he have the guys in this locker room to get stuff done and like you mentioned next man up. Guys are stepping in and we’re thankful for that.
Q: Micah what does it say about this team, you guys were without Jordan Poyer and without E. J. Gaines, and you’re still able to force four turnovers today and have the performance that you did?
A: Give it up to the coaches, they did a good job of getting everyone lined up, leaders on this team are being vocal and same thing just getting guys lined up and keeping the confidence up. As a guy that can step in, especially as a young player, you tend to go out there and be a little shook, but we are not seeing that. We are just teaching next man up and these guys are going out there to ball.
BUFFALO BILLS CB LEONARD JOHNSON
Q: A lot of people, once again, were counting out the Bills because they were banged up on the back end and Marcell Dareus gets traded and all of a sudden, you guys forced four turnovers and shut down this Raiders offense.
A: I mean, the thing that we stress on our team is being 1/11th, to be completely honest. Each week different guys step up, but every week there [are] guys just doing their jobs, which helps everyone else on the back end. Even on the front end, we stress complimentary football [in] rush and coverage. It doesn’t matter if you’re first string, second string or you just get here like [Lafayette] Pitts, when it’s really your time to go, just make sure you just do your job.
Q: It seemed like this team was going to be flattened down after the Dareus trade. Was that–
A: No, you know, we love him. He was a great part of this organization for a while. But it’s a part of the business. We understand what we signed up for so it can happen to any of us and that’s the reality of the business that we’re in. We can’t get so caught up on that moves that [are] made when they’re coming from above us. All we can do is really go out and compete and control what we can control.
Q: You’ve heard all of the talk, after Sammy [Watkins] got traded and all that other stuff, that this team is supposedly tanking, 5-2, it doesn’t seem like–
A: I was with Coach [McDermott] in Carolina last year, and if there’s one person I believe in, and I believed in, is him. I had another opportunity to sign back with Carolina, but I called coach personally and told coach ‘hey man, I want to be a part of what you got going on, I know it’s going to be special, and I want another shot to play for you.’ That’s what’s happening, I’m proud of the success we’ve had as a team. It doesn’t surprise me one bit, where we stand, just knowing the moves that were made for the better of the team. A lot of people [are] caught up in stuff, the star players, but it takes a team, for us really to be successful at the end of the day.
BUFFALO BILLS LINEBACKER MATT MILANO
Q: The last touchdown you’ve had?
A: I had one against Utah my senior year on an interception return.
Q: What is it about this defense, just so opportunistic, and have a knack for forcing turnovers?
A: It just goes back to the way we practice. Coach Frazier and all of our coaches do a great job of really putting us in positions and emphasizing that throughout the week.
Q: How impressive is it that you guys were able to do this without three starters in the line up? You’re filling out for Ramon (Humber), Jordan (Poyer) didn’t play today, and E.J. Gaines out as well.
A: Everybody’s got to be ready. I think it’s the way we practice, like I said before, it all comes back to that. Everybody’s practicing hard, everybody’s getting reps, and if you’re not in, you’re taking mental reps.
Q: Do you feel like the game has slowed down for you on a weekly basis every time you’re out there?
A: A little bit, but I made some plays and I also missed some plays. I’ve got to get those corrected as well.
Q: Describe your play over the past few weeks, last week you had the interception, and now this.
A: I think the bigger plays kind of trump the plays that I did miss, but we see them in the film room and get them corrected.
BUFFALO BILLS DT KYLE WILLIAMS
Q: Kyle, you were as close to Marcell [Dareus], maybe as anybody on the team given the time you guys spent together. What was your reaction to the trade, and how do you feel the team as a whole reacted to it?
A: I think we responded well. We had talked about it. I went and saw Marcell the night that everything went down. First thing, I think it’s best for both sides, with kind of where everything was landed or headed. I think it’s good for him to have a change of scenery and I think to kind of move on from here. I love the guy, wish nothing but the best for him. Obviously, it’s still tough for me because I poured a lot of myself into him over the last seven years. It’s tough to see him go, but he’ll always be a friend, and I’ll always pull for him.
Q: Why do you think it didn’t work out here for him? Why do you think he needed that change of scenery?
A: I just think the way some of the things were happening and going on around here, that the change of scenery is good for him. I’m not going to go into any specific details about anything that’s happened in this locker room or anywhere else, but I think it’s going to be a good thing.
Q: It seemed like management was saying, ‘we can do it without Marcell,’ and you guys seem to be backing that up today?
A: Well we can do it without any of us. That’s the great thing about us, we’re a team.
A: Yeah, sure, why not? I mean, if I go down, somebody steps up [and] we win a football game. You have a safety go down, guy steps up, gets a pick to win the game, [and] we win a football game. It’s the next guy up.
OAKLAND RAIDERS HEAD COACH JACK DEL RIO
Opening Statement: We talked about coming into this ballgame about their ability to feast on turnovers; it’s a big part of what they’ve done to start the year. Definitely one of the ‘must’ coming in is to protect the ball [and] take it away ourselves, we end up minus four today. Clearly, that was one of the biggest factors of the game; I mean, usually is. Minus fours, not many people winning with minus four. We had two guys: one didn’t finish, one didn’t ever make it. Jamize [Olawale] with the hamstring on the long run that got called back and Seth [Roberts] [who is] sick. Found that out on the bus ride over. Left him active with hopes we can get some fluids in him and have him appear, but he never was able to make it. Those are the only things that were brought to my attention. Got off to a great start. Looked like we were going to have a good day, but offensively, it came out right down the field, had a fourth down attempt and got it, and went ahead and finished off the drive and got a touchdown there. Then, defensively went out and did a nice job of getting them stopped, and we had a good start to the game. Then we continued to play, and the end of the day, we look up, and we’re only 3 of 13 on third down. I would imagine a couple of those came on that first drive, so that’s not real good. Shady [LeSean McCoy] got loose in the fourth quarter a little bit. I thought we were decent on him most of the day, but he got loose in the fourth quarter. [He is a] good [running] back, good player. So, all in all, disappointed. We really expected to play better today, and it didn’t quite happen. Questions?
Q: You mentioned early on, you took some shots down the field early on and you kind of stopped. Why do you think you stopped taking shots down the field?
A: I can’t answer to that. I wasn’t--nobody was saying ‘don’t take a shot’. I can’t speak to that right now.
Q: Is that more of a question of the Bills defense disrupting the entire offensive look?
A: Well, I think, at the end of the day, the biggest detriment, or factor, was minus four in turnovers. We end up with a bunch of yards, but, other than the first drive, it was largely ineffective with the lost turnovers. So I think that’s really the biggest factor. It’s hard to go minus four and have the game go the way you’re looking.
Q: Tyrod Taylor had a lot of time to throw on third downs. He hasn’t been that dangerous of a passer on third downs before today. Was your plan defensively to just try to corral it in the pocket and see what you can do, rather than worry about…
A: Plan was definitely to corral him in the pocket, make him throw out of the pocket. We had opportunities to get him down and left our feet; that was not part of the plan. He’s a good player, bought some time, made some plays. I mean, I didn’t feel like that was their big factor for them. I really think - defensively, I thought we hung in pretty well with some tough situations. Fortunately, the kicked field goals there to start the second half, those turnovers, make them kick field goals there was a good thing. Neither team got sacked today, if I’m correct on that. I’m sure both teams would’ve liked to have a little more pressure.
Q: I’m sure nobody in that locker room expected to be 3-5 at the midway point in this season. How do you approach this trip to Florida and then the rest of the season?
A: Got to man up, I mean you have to recognize that’s what it is. It’s what we’ve earned to this point, the halfway mark 3-5, clearly not what we’re looking for, but it’s what we’ve earned to this point. We’ve got a second half, we need to get hot in this second half.
Q: After the turnovers, did you want to see a little more urgency on offense? I mean, there were still a lot of short passes after you guys were down two or three scores.
A: I can’t--I’m not sure where you’re going with this. I feel like, you know, don’t have four turnovers. It think it would probably look a little better.
Q: How do you take these men at 3-5 and get them turned into that hot start? I mean, [you had a] big game against Kansas City, let down after 10 days, now you’re going into Miami and then the bye week. How important is that?
A: I’m not sure, I think the way I’d look at it, the way I do look at it, is that you get these opportunities to go compete and the idea is to prepare us as well as possible prior to these competitive games that we’re going to be in. You lay it on the line. You put it all out there. You live with the results, that’s what it is. I need to recognize where the execution was short, where we came up short, look at it at every which way we can, put together a plan, and go compete again. That’s what we do. We need to get the second half of the season started right, we’re in Miami next week; that’s where it starts. That’s what we’ve got to do.
Q: Field position, part of the turnovers and field positon was an issue all game. For Marquette [King], I know he was limited this week with the groin. Did that have some impact [with] some of those punts not being played to form?
A: I’m sure, you know, being limited throughout the week didn’t help him be at his best. He’s been a really strong punter this year for us. I would think that it may have had something to do with it. I don’t think that anybody’s looking to make excuses as to why something occurred. Obviously, he’s been very strong for us this year.
Q: What were the Bills doing to take away [Khalil] Mack? Khalil Mack didn’t have much of an impact today. What were they doing? Anything special that you saw on the field?
A: No, nothing that I can speak to.
OAKLAND RAIDERS QUARTERBACK DEREK CARR
Q: You guys took some shots down the field early on, but then you kind of stopped. What was the reason for that?
A: They definitely changed up the way they were covering some things. This was something we talked about after the game last week, where sometimes they’re going to give you things and they have good plans. They could take some of that away if they started hitting on some, and they did. You’ve got to aggressively just keep taking what they give you, which at times is frustrating, especially when you’re trailing. You especially want to get your chunk throws and things like that. We’re on the sidelines seeing what they were doing and still putting our team in a good position, but hey, if we can get this here, maybe it will turn into something. They did a good job in the second half of coming out and just chucking it over our head.
Q: Nobody in the locker room expected to be 3-5. How do you go on from here and rectify the situation?
A: No one thought that, especially with the kind of guys we have and how we work. Where do we go from here? We do the same thing that we always do. We work. We grind. It seemed like two weeks ago everyone was all done with us, and then aw man, no, we’re back. We can’t get high and low with this game, because it’s this close. The margin is too close to get high with it or get too low with it. We need to go back when we get down to Florida and we need to work. Each man needs to look and it and say, “what can I do better? You know that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to sit there and see what kind of throws I could make better, was there a better option, and were there better things to do.” Each man just needs to look at it and keep working, because that’s the only way you get out of this. When it falls apart is when people start turning on each other, and I don’t believe that we have that.
Q: Is it frustrating that you have ten days to get ready and you’re coming off of a really inspirational win against Kansas City, and then come out here and have that?
A: Absolutely. We felt like as an offense we were moving good, we had a good plan and things like that, but then we turned it over. I can think of the two long offenses, and then the last one I was trying to score. You’ve got to force it in there. That’s the one that I wish I had back, because Coop (Amari Cooper) did a good job, but I felt like we were moving good. It wasn’t like schematically they took everything away. We were able to hit some things and do some certain things, and I felt like we had a really good plan. When we turn the ball over and when we’re trailing, they’re able to play softer and then we can’t take those chunk throws that we really want.
Q: You’re down two or three scores and then you have the chance to take some more deep tries. Do you think taking some would be the best way to go when you’re down two or three scores?
A: Yes. You have to, or else you’re throwing to double or triple coverage. It’s something that each time when you’re down, it’s in that zone of “hey man, we have to score on every drive.” In my mindset, the way I play is that I’m looking vertical. I’m looking for the big one. I’m trying to take it, and if it’s not there I have to get it out quick and let our guys run with it and go get what we can. It’s something that we talked about before the last drive. They’re going to play soft and we’ve got to take what they give us, but let’s play fast. We’ve got to get in a lot of plays before that two minute warning. That’s kind of how you have to play when the defense has decided to play that way. I wish we could do something different, but we’d keep on falling in harm’s way a lot.
Q: Has your injury taken away some of your skills?
A: No, I feel good.
Q: What can you do to turn this locker room around and get everything going forward for the next eight games?
A: Me? I’m going to be me. I know how to lead, I know how to work, and I know how to play this game. I’m going to continue to be me. I’m obviously going to make my corrections. I’m never one to just say that this, this, and this needs to be fixed and I just go off and do whatever. I’m going to make my corrections. I’m going to get better. There won’t be a day when I stop working to be a better version of myself, so I’m going to keep working and I will get better. That’s what our team needs to do. They need to continue to be a better version of themselves every week. The results are the results, but as long as you’re staying with the process of recovering, preparing, and competing, that process works. It’s changed the culture here. We’ve got to get back to it a little bit with the little details of things, and we will. Hopefully this is a slap on the face to a lot of the guys in the locker room. We can finally say, “okay, let’s take a look at things seriously,” if that’s what is missing in the preparation.
Q: Obviously you guys like the two young running backs that you have, but do you guys miss Marshawn (Lynch) a little bit today?
A: Yeah. Any time you don’t have a teammate, you miss them, especially a starter. Any time you don’t have a starter at any spot it hurts, because you want your brother there. You want to play with them. Obviously we have a lot of faith in those guys. They had a couple mistakes that they wish they hadn’t made, and that’s going to happen in games. The thing that I like to see is that they kept playing. Sometimes it sucks out there. Sometimes it’s going to be hard and sometimes it’s going to be a little bit embarrassing, but they kept their eyes good in protection. They kept their check-down rules very well, they did a great job there. They did a great job after the catch. Again, they (the Bills) played really soft, and they (Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington) have pretty much got to be heroes. They’ve got to go get us what they can. I thought they did a really good job with that. We have all the faith in the world with those guys, but any time you miss a starter, you obviously miss the guy.
Q: You mentioned the team getting back to that Raider toughness. Does this mean that it’s lacking just a little bit?
A: No, I just said the little things. We’ve got to get back to doing the little things right, because that is the difference in this league. Everybody is talented, everybody has good players and good plans. The thing that separates people is all of the little things leading up to Sunday. Then when you get to Sunday, just turn the switch on and go, just react to the play. I think that’s the missing piece - the little things of taking care of the body, of the way we prepare, and the way we compete in practice. We’re going to get after it in practice. I probably won’t shut up all week about how hard we need to go in practice. We’re at that point, and obviously the way that we’ve been doing it hasn’t been good enough, so let’s try and wrap it up a little bit.
OAKLAND RAIDERS WIDE RECEIVER AMARI COOPER
Q: Tough to sugarcoat this one: four turnovers, was that pretty much the difference in the game?
A: Yeah, any time you have a lot of turnovers, you’re bound to lose. As an offense, you have to attack, you can’t give the ball away. That’s not what an offense is supposed to do.
Q: You guys seemed to play pretty aggressive on the first drive, obviously moved the ball really well. What changed after that?
A: You have to give the credit to the team we played against. They came to play and made more plays than we did.
Q: What kinds of things did they take away from your attack? You were targeted 10 times, caught five balls. 10 days ago, you were targeted 19 times and we know the monster game you had then.
A: Each game is different. They just came out, they made more plays than we did, like I said before. We just have get back in the swing of things.
Q: When you look at a youngster like Tre(‘Davious) White, what do you see in him?
A: He’s a really good player, I played him in college as well. Quick guy, instinctive, and he’s a ball hawk, so he definitely has a bright future.
Q: Jack (Del Rio) talked about the turnovers and just how they vital were and how big they were in opportune times. Can you talk about that in this league and how important turnovers are and taking care of the ball?
A: That’s usually one of the biggest factors that determines whether you’re going to win or lose the game. You look at the turnover column and if you’re minus on the day, then you’re bound to lose.
OAKLAND RAIDERS DEFENSIVE END KHALIL MACK
Q: There were people who felt slighted a little bit because you didn’t say anything about Buffalo last week, they knew you were coming back, what was that all about?
A: Buffalo is just part of who I am, went here for college and all that different stuff. I don’t want to talk about it too much, I want to come here and play a football game.
Q: Were you just more tired of answering questions about Buffalo?
A: Wasn’t so much tired, it’s just the same thing over and over. I get the same questions about Buffalo over and over again.
Q: I understand that, but you have a chance to shine light on that university (University at Buffalo).
A: Yeah, I understand that, but I have the chance to shine light on a lot of different other things too … But at the same time, nobody asks about that.
Q: What were your impressions with Buffalo?
A: They came out and played a hell of a game.
Q: Nobody in this locker room expected to be 3-5 at this point in the season. How do you guys rectify this first half?
A: We have to look at the film, get it corrected and come out and get ready for next week.