Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
Q: Coach, what went into the decision for you to go upstairs yesterday, as opposed to being on the field?
A: Just [wanted] to try a different perspective. When we were watching film the previous game on Monday, we talked as a staff. Both David [Culley] and Kelly [Skipper] wanted to be on the field to work with those [guys]. Thought about it, thought I’d get a different perspective, then went up.
Q: As the offensive coordinator and devising game plans, how does the uncertainty around the quarterback position affect your week right now?
A: Usually, we spend a lot of time seeing what our team does well against their defense. Certainly, the quarterback position is a part of it, but schematically, it’s [us] trying to get our guys in the right position; one of them is the quarterback. We’re taking a look at Kansas City, good football team. Obviously, I’m familiar with them from my time in Denver over the years. I know what they can do and what they can’t do. We’re looking at what they do defensively, what they’ve done over this year, they changed just a hair, and see how we fit in offensively. I think it incorporates both skill sets.
Q: When making the switch at quarterback last week, how much of a challenge is it to the offensive line to adapt to a scrambling kind of guy in Tyrod [Taylor] versus Nate Peterman? How much does that play into how much pressure he got?
A: I don’t think it’s that big [of] a deal. Certainly, they do things a little bit differently in the pocket. As an offensive lineman there, having coached the position, they’re focused on their assignment and the guy they’re trying to block. I think we try to do everything team-wise, as far as each position so that we’re interchangeable, because you never know; somebody could go down and your starting with a different guy anyways. We try to make them as interchangeable as possible.
Q: What then do you pin the pressure that they were able to apply on Nathan?
A: They have two really good football players on the edge. We inhale that, and certainly, there’s a few things that we need to focus on and get better at, and that’s what we’re evaluating now.
Q: How much have you advised Sean [McDermott] with the decision you have to make at quarterback specifically?
A: I haven’t talked to him yet today. We talked on the plane last night. He made the decision last week and I support everything that he’s ever tried to do; ‘Playoff Caliber’, on down, hiring people. I’m supporting Sean.
Q: What did you see, or maybe what went wrong for Nathan in that first half?
A: He made some bad decisions with the football — some of those were under duress. That’s experience, sometimes you have to take a sack, can’t put the ball at risk. I think he’ll learn from that process, he’s a very intelligent guy, works with the game plan at ease the night before. He understood where the ball was supposed to go, what was supposed to happen, so he’ll learn from this.
Q: Taking yourself back to maybe Saturday night or Friday, how ready did you feel like he was?
A: Well I always think that we do a good job of preparing our guys, as far as information, knowledge, where the ball is supposed to go, what formations [to use], he was as ready as you’re going to be. But, it’s seeing it from a fast pace, certainly, with guys running down at you, is a bit of a different story.
Q: You talked about what you had learned from the other day, is the best way to continue learning is to keep playing, or are those things you can correct while you’re sitting out watching? What is the best way?
A: I’m not sure, I think Nathan will learn no matter what. I think he’ll be in good shape, I think he’s got a bright future, I really do.
Q: Do you worry about the potential damage of a half like that could have done to him long term?
A: I think he’s a mentally tough young man, too. He’s had to switch schools, in college he did a lot of different things. I think most people in our industry have [had] some bad things happen to them. Sometimes you get kicked around a couple of times, and you get better at it. I have faith that Nathan will do a good job as he progresses.
Q: Do you believe your offense can be competitive if Nathan is indeed going to be the starter?
A: I think our offense can be competitive with the people we have in our building, how’s that? That fair?
Q: With losing Kelvin [Benjamin] so early, how did that change the game plan?
A: Well, certainly, we were trying to target him. That was the first time he had a chance, we had about four or five plays in the first 15 that were trying to get him the ball. We just kept calling plays, just kept trying to get the ball to certain situations. He is a difference with his size. Yes and no, I think it did, just not having him out there. We have faith in our other wideouts in our building.
Q: When did Sean first approach you about the quarterback change last week?
Q: What did you see when Tyrod Taylor went into the game? How did you feel like he responded?
A: I thought he did a good job, I thought he led the group. Obviously, we had to move in a hurry, at manner, and I thought he handled that very well. He’s had a lot of time on task on that. We started doing some of that stuff in April, and I think he did a good job with that. He operated, kept out of harm’s way, moved the ball and scored some points.
Q: How have you seen Tyrod grow as a pocket passer under your tutelage?
A: I think his timing is better, much better, he certainly needs to work on it, still. But, there’s a lot of people in this building that need to work on certain things. I think his timing is better, I think he understands what’s supposed to happen. I think there’s a variety of things that he can do in a game now.
Q: With all the infamous noise in Kansas City, you’ve had more experience with it than most people, do you have things you do there, in terms of silence or whatever that maybe even more than you do in other places?
A: Certainly, you do. I think you have to understand the intensity of the noise; acoustics are really good there. You have to limit what you do in certain things, and make sure that you can handle the noise. We’ve been in a couple of loud places this year. Atlanta had some noise in there, and we handled that pretty well.
Q: Have you ever had more people use the wrist-things?
A: I’ve never been a part of that. [Actually], one year I was a part of that. It’s not something that I’ve done a whole lot.
Q: After Tyrod said he was obviously disappointed in the decision last week, he’s a competitor. You talk a lot about how it could affect the room, what about your relationship with him? What is your relationship like with Tyrod?
A: It’s the same as it was prior.
Q: How would you characterize that?
A: It was good. We interacted all week, [he] had some suggestions on plays and how we read it. The interaction was fine. [We] went through the meetings, just like we always do. Obviously, Nathan was doing most of the answering, but he had a great part of a lot of the discussions.
Q: How does this team regain focus after these three games have had their fair share of problems?
A: Usually when you have a lot of adversity, you go back to what you know best; try to do the basic things which we were trying to do going into here. Obviously, we ran the ball in situations pretty well. We have to make sure that we’re taking care of the football, that was the biggest thing yesterday. Six turnovers, it’s difficult to do much to help your team with six turnovers, and that led to, I believe, 34 points. That’s a tough deal. I’ve had some five turnover games before, we won one, lost one. We just have to focus on our fundamentals, get back to the basics and do those things as well as we can.
Q: How was it going from Mike Tolbert to Travaris Cadet, and what you were doing out of the backfield?
A: Certainly, No. 39’s [Travaris Cadet] skill set is closer to No. 25 [LeSean McCoy]; he catches the ball real well. I think he did a fine job. I think he did a good job. As I stated a couple weeks ago, he seems bright, he caught on really fast, and they interchange. Mike has value to our team, I really trust Mike, and obviously, it helps to have another one.
Q: How smooth would you say it went from being upstairs as opposed to being down on the field?
A: I had a couple of issues with the headset for whatever reason. That’s a bit of a panic because you’re two stories high; you can’t just yell or signal to the quarterback. [I] had to relay it to coach on the field, to David [Culley] and have him get the call down. We had to call one timeout on the first third down because my thing went out. [It’s] something I’m looking into, and seeing if we want to continue that or go back on the field. I’ll work [with] my coaches and see what we think is best.
Q: Going back to Tyrod quick, there’s an idea maybe that he’s not a terrific fit for your offense, has there been anything that you’ve asked of him that he has not done?
A: I don’t believe so, I think there’s nothing that I ask him that he hasn’t tried really hard to get better at and to do.
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Opening Statement: Alright, good afternoon. Good to be back here in Buffalo. Long flight back from a tough football game yesterday. New opponent, got a lot of work to do to try and fix some ills. It seems like almost a repeat of last week in so many ways, going back and trying to correct some problems. It’s something [that] we have to do; there’s a lot of football left to be played and this should be a good week to get things turned around.
Q: Coach, why did Keenan Allen have such a successful day with this secondary? Did they do anything that was a little bit different, maybe you didn’t plan for?
A: They had a couple wrinkles along the way, but he’s a good receiver without question, and he caught a lot of balls, for sure. We could’ve done some things better than we did, but he’s a good receiver, good quarterback, and they made some plays and we didn’t make enough plays with him.
Q: Is that growing concern a little bit, amongst other things? Michael Thomas last week, too? He was the top target, the number one guys, are getting some yards on this secondary.
A: Right. Yeah, with Keenan Allen, who’s a very good receiver, you like to limit his catches. Not going to always limit the targets, but the opportunities to catch the football, you like to limit those. We’ve got to get tighter coverage on the top guys and just try to do a better job all the way around.
Q: How do turnovers magically reappear? And when they don’t appear, how do you compensate for the lack when your defense can’s turn the ball over? How can you compensate for that for when that doesn’t happen?
A: For them to magically reappear, you keep working on it, you keep talking about it like we do, you keep working on it in practice like we do. They sometimes come in bunches. We’ve seen that happen, but when they don’t occur, you’ve got to find other ways to help the football team win; whether it be getting more three and outs, or win in other areas on the field. You have to find a way to help the team. We know statistically, when you get takeaways what it does for your team, it increases your percentage of chances to win, no matter how many yards you give up, it just helps in so many areas. If you don’t, you have to find other ways to help the team.
Q: Where is your general level of frustration with this team given that since week five, you rank last in the NFL in points allowed and second to last in yards allowed?
A: Yeah, I think you can just go back to these last two, three weeks and just see where those numbers have dramatically changed. You don’t even have to go back to week five. For us, because there’s still so much football to be played, and there’s another game to be played this week, there’s a chance for us to really work on the things we’ve got to get better at and I do believe we will get better. We’ve got some work to get done. It’s a very good offense [that] we’re going to face this coming Sunday, but I think we have the guys in the room to get it done and myself and the coaches, we’ve got to put together a good plan and let the guys go out and execute that plan. We’ve done it before; we’ve just got to figure out how do we get back to doing the things we were doing so well for a period of time.
Q: What does it do to a defense when you’re on the sideline and then you’re right back out because of turnovers and then you’re in bad field position as well?
A: You have to, defensively, you have to have the mentality that we’re going to go out and force this team to kick a field goal, or take the football away. That has to be the mentality. A couple times we were able to get that done; couple times we weren’t. It was good to see us in that first series that we were on the field, it was an adverse situation, we went three and out, forced the field goal, so you’re feeling like, ‘okay, this’ll be a good start for us and we can build off of this’. You like to see that. That has to be the mentality on defense. If you’re on the short field, or wherever it happens at a sudden change situation, you have to go out and get a stop or get a takeaway.
Q: Where do you see Shaq Lawson in his development right now?
A: I think he’s coming along. He had a real nice pass rush on one occasion where he was able to get his hands on the quarterback’s hand, basically, and get a deflection, although he ended up catching the ball. That was good to see; good to see him turn the corner, finally get to the quarterback. It’s something that we want to see more of in him. He’s done a really good job when people do try to run to the rush, try to run to him. A lot of runs are more interior than on the edge, but he’s done a pretty good job for us, as far as helping us with the run game. Now, we need to get a little bit more when it comes to rushing the passer. He’s coming in that area; that’s an area that he wants to get better at and we want him to get better at.
Q: How embarrassing is it to look at Jerry [Hughes] and Shaq and then look at the sack numbers, how they’re relatively low when you point to those guys as opposed to other players across the d-line?
A: It’s a cumulative effort. It’s not just the ends, sometimes it’s a matter of what’s happening on the backend. Sometimes it’s what’s happening with our backers and their drops or are we putting them in enough situations where they have to pass the football, where they’re forced to pass. There are a lot of things that go into it. It’s not always just the two end guys when it comes to pass rushing.
Q: What’s the challenge for you to keep [them] upbeat knowing that they were put in a tough situation last weekend, and then knowing what happened the week before that?
A: We have some real good leaders; Kyle Williams being one of those guys, Lorenzo Alexander being another. Talked to Lorenzo a little bit after the game, and Kyle some after the game as well; the big thing for us coming back on Wednesday, when they’re back in the building is really focusing on the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s the most important game of our season because it’s the next game in our season. Whatever happened previously, and whatever possibly happens in the future, is irrelevant. What’s most relevant is the Kansas City Chiefs. [If] we can focus on this ball game, don’t get caught up in any statistic, but this team and this offense, and figure out how can we play better on defense. If we can get every guy on defense thinking that way and we can stay focused throughout the week and not look to the left or the right, then we’ll have a chance to improve. But that has to be the focus, you really can’t get caught up in anything other than that. [There’s] still a lot of football left to be played, and if we can get some things corrected, we have a chance to help our team down the stretch coming up.
Q: What do you think the game means for Sean, being one of Andy Reid’s guys?
A: I think it’s be pretty important. Andy’s like a mentor to Sean, for sure, like he is to many [other] guys that have worked for him previously. It’s an important game. The thing that makes him so important is where it is in our schedule and where we are as a team; the importance of it is raised by that. We need to get a win, it really wouldn’t matter if it was the Chiefs or anyone else, just the net opponent. The fact that Andy’s on the other sideline, that means a lot, for sure.
Q: Leadership qualities aside, where do you see Lorenzo and Kyle’s level of play at this point in their careers?
A: Both of those guys have had great NFL careers. They’ve played for a long time, and [have] had a lot of success in our league. They’re at a point now where they provide not only good play for us on the field, but what they do in the locker room, what they do in our practice habits, how they handle meetings, is almost as important as what they do on the field. [We] have some young guys around them still learning how to participate in the National Football League. They’re still guys that can make plays for us, but they’re relevance in the locker room, in the meeting rooms, how they practice, means a lot to us as well.
Q: Do you think at all that on your side of the ball, that once the guys get down by more than one score, I don’t want to say given up, but lost a little hope? And if so, how do you correct that if that happens this Sunday, if you guys get down by more than one score, how do you keep the guys positive on your side of the ball?
A: I haven’t witnessed that. I haven’t witnessed guys hanging their heads or not coming back and competing after we get down. We’ve proven that we can come back in ball games, so I think that’s still etched in guys memories, that we can come back. You can go back as recent as the Raiders ball game. I don’t think we’re at that point where guys give up if we fall behind. They know that we’re capable of getting back in the ball game and winning fourth quarter games. We just have to get some consistent play along the way where our confidence begins to grow as the game goes on. That comes with success. We have to get that done. But to answer your question, I don’t see guys hanging their heads because we get down by a touchdown or whatever.
Q: With the quarterback situation going on right now – you’re a defensive coordinator, not your side of the ball – but is that a level of distraction for your side at all? How does the defensive coordinator look at that particular situation?
A: No, we have our own issues to focus on and deal with. [I] really don’t get caught up in what happens with our offense. I know, and we talk to our guys about this, is you really have to stay focused on what we have to get done. We have enough to keep us busy, believe me, to get our side right.