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What He Said: Bills coach McDermott on the OT punt, crazy weather, playoffs

Opening Statement: Alright, we’ll open it up to questions.

Q: Where are you with the quarterback situation, starting with Tyrod [Taylor] and then where Nathan [Peterman] is?

A: I’ll start it with Tyrod: Tyrod has made progress over the last couple of days. That’ll be a day-to-day thing as we move forward into this week. Anything more than that right now would be premature. Then with Nate, as you’d mentioned, Nate is currently in the concussion protocol.

Q: Was Tyrod reasonably close to being able to play [on] Sunday, this past Sunday?

A: I’m not a doctor, so there was a chance that he was going to play, that’s why we listed him the way we did. At the end of the day, he wasn’t able to.

Q: How much of the field conditions went into your decision with the Tyrod situation? Did you go purely on having – did the field conditions weigh into not having him dress?

A: A little bit of both; mostly how he was feeling. Certainly, the field conditions were a part of that equation as well, but mostly how he was feeling.

Q: You said last week that if Tyrod’s healthy, he will be your starter. I’m assuming that still applies going into this weekend.

A: It does. I’ll just take the time to mention [that] I thought Nate played a solid game. He was, for a young player in the game, control, had good control and command of the huddle and the situations. I thought he did some good things that were baked into our win; some of those seen, some unseen. I thought he played a solid game overall. But yes, when healthy, Tyrod will be our starter.

Q: With the uncertainty with Nathan, Tyrod, any plans on bringing in another quarterback this week?

A: Brandon [Beane] and I talk a lot throughout every week and this week will be no different. We will talk more about that later on, but the way things stand right now, we feel confident with the guys we have on our roster.

Q: To that end, it actually came down to this – I mean, if you have an emergency again next week, is Logan Thomas the guy who would have to do those things?

A: Right, yeah, he was a third quarterback yesterday, correct. He’d be the guy that would take snaps, right.

Q: When you say that you’re confident, part of that would have to deal with health then, right? Or would you be confident going into a game with Joe Webb and possibly Logan Thomas as your backup?

A: Yeah, it’s too early right now to tell all that. I feel, with the medical reports that we’ve gotten to this point, which is still early, and Brandon and I still coming off the game from yesterday, we’re still going through our process. But for right now, where we are in our week, I feel confident with what we’ve got.

Q: Are you getting a little tired of these quarterback questions week, after week, after week?

A: It’s part of the job, right?

Q: I mean, obviously the perfect scenario would be [that] you’ve got one guy. You really haven’t been in that position much lately for sure, right? Is that kind of like – do you wish it wasn’t like that?

A: Well, I like the fact that we’ve got a team overall that, when one guy goes down, other guys step up, whether it’s the quarterback position or other positions on this team. The latest example was yesterday: Joe Webb; Kelvin [Benjamin] goes down, you see Deonte [Thompson] catch a big pass in the fourth quarter and overtime. The list goes on of guys that have done that throughout this season. I think the character of the men on our football team was on display yesterday and I’m extremely proud of that.

Q: Is there an update on Kelvin?

A: Still too early to tell right now. He’s being evaluated as we speak.

Q: With all the ups and downs you’ve faced, I mean, you’ve brought up the whole tank talk, you’ve had quarterback questions, and now it’s the big snow storm. You’ve always talked about just how this whole season is how long a group of guys can stick together and maintain focus. What have you learned more about your team after what happened yesterday?

A: I’ll start off just overall our building and our fans. I’ll start there, if I could. I mean, the game ball really needs to go the everyone, all the staff involved in getting that building ready to play, so let’s start there. Then, to keep that thing playable through that snowstorm yesterday, [I] can’t say enough about the hard-work that went into that and the teamwork. The fans, like I mentioned after the game yesterday, and I know Kyle [Williams] made a mention of it, too, to stick around. Sal, I think it was you who asked me the question, I couldn’t even see the fans on the other side of the lower bowl until about the second quarter. I could hear them, but I couldn’t see them. Then, in the second quarter when things slowed down for a window of time, just that type of environment was a great environment to be a part of. Then, to your question, the players and the staff and the way that they’ve stuck together, the resiliency, the character like I mentioned earlier, it says a lot about the direction [that] we’re going.

Q: Because there’s so many times a team could have folded, whether it was when Marcell [Dareus] was traded, going back to Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby, or even when Nathan Peterman threw the five interceptions, or yesterday when it looked like you were down and out in the final minute of the game. You must be impressed?

A: Yeah, there’s still a lot of work to do, so keeping things in perspective; a lot of work to do. A lot of building to be had yet, in terms of where we’re trying to go and the foundation [that] we’re building, but I do. I’m proud of what the guys accomplished yesterday and the way they accomplished it to this point. Still a lot of work to do.

Q: With the conditions the team dealt with and how difficult it is to move through snow, I’m guessing there’s a lot of heavy legs today. Does that change the recovery process at all this week?

A: We always, this time of year, always look at our schedule, making sure we’re putting the players in position from a physical standpoint to be as fresh as possible. I think most teams this part of the season are, you’d say, a little weary just in terms of the grind on the season. We always take a hard look at that. Our strength and conditioning staff does a great job with giving me the valuable information so that we can put a good practice plan together to get them back in this case as well.

Q: Now that you’ve watched the game again and maybe played the scenario out in your mind, would you have still punted in overtime on fourth and one when you did?

A: Well, look, those are hard situations. Those are challenging situations, but decisions I have to make as a head coach. Yesterday, look, it worked yesterday, right, to our benefit? When you look at those type of equations, there’s a lot of different variables that go into making those decisions. It’s never just one thing or another. Field position, I felt like when you look at how the game was trending with both offenses trying to come out from the shadows of their own goal post at times, leading up to that point in the game. You look at where we were on the field and how overtime works with points, and deciding a game. A lot of things went into that decision. In this case, it worked out, and I would do it again. But understand this, every situation’s different; no two situations are exactly the same. I felt confident that we could get the ball back with four minutes-and-change to go. We talked about it, [and] I wanted to make sure we used the timeout to talk about it, because I knew it was at a pivotal point in the game. Those were good discussions. Then, today, we come back, even though it worked out, [and] we continue to learn and focus on the process of growing from it, even though it worked out this time. So that if you say ‘hey, if this variable was different, would we do something differently? Would I do something differently?’ Those are all good valuable lessons for us, and we’ll continue to move forward with that, and grow. That was a great, I thought, situational-game yesterday when you look at: when we took the field what the conditions were, and then we ended the game what the conditions were. I go back to our preparation as a staff, and the way the players prepared during the week; we were in some of those situations during the week, and we had a plan going into the game of how we wanted to play the game. We did a good job of handling those situations.

Q: How comfortable would you have been in that situation if it had ended in a tie?

A: Well, when you look at it, you’re saying there’s three possible results: a tie, a loss or a win. I’ve been in those situations before where you want to win the game. Once in Philadelphia, and once in Carolina we ended up with a tie, that tie ended up helping us later on down the road of the season, in terms of where we were trying to get to. You’d rather it be a win. Certainly, those ties happen once in a while in overtime games.

Q: Were you aware of what a tie would’ve done to your playoff chances when you were making that call?

A: Those are all part of the variables that I take into consideration. That’s all the computation that’s going on in my mind; whether it’s this situation or another situation that you try and go from big picture to very minute details as quickly as you can in a span of what, 15 seconds?

Q: Did the coaches in the booth have to hustle, with golf carts not available, from what I understand? Did everybody get down and did everybody get back in the necessary allotted amount of time?

A: Are you referring to halftime?

Q: Yes.

A: Yeah, there was a challenge a little bit, with getting down, then getting back up because of the weather. The staff around the building did a phenomenal job. It was a little tighter than we’re used to, but we were in fact up there in time.

Q: Usually in a game like that, you see a few fumbled snaps and things like that, especially on long snaps. The job that Reid [Ferguson] did, especially with Colton [Schmidt], he had a big punt yesterday, can you just walk us through what that takes, because if you don’t hear from the long snapper, that’s usually a good thing?

A: Right, I thought Reid, and really, our specialists overall, and I’ll put Reid into that category; with what Colton did with the punting job, and then what Hausch [Stephen Hauschka] did with the kicking. They executed at an extremely high level for those type of conditions, which you don’t normally see in that type of weather. You go back and you look at how they tried a field goal early in the game, it didn’t work. We came in for the extra point, and we handled that, I thought well; got a nice clean surface, got the kick off. Those types of things going on through the game were – like I said, we handled some situations extremely well.

Q: You said you were in some of those situations during the week, does that mean you guys went outside at some point for practice?

A: No, no, but we tried to manufacture situations that had come up, that we learned from the week before; just like we always do. We’re always learning, always growing, and building off of experiences that we go through from one week to the next.

Q: What made you comfortable throwing the ball when you got it back on the Colts’ side with about a minute left?

A: At that point, we knew time was running out basically, to try and go win the game. We felt like we had to go on the attack to try and go win the game.

Q: The plays leading up to LeSean’s [McCoy] touchdown, the one or two plays leading up to it, how much were you just trying to get set up into a field goal spot, and then of course, LeSean runs a touchdown and it doesn’t matter?

A: Well, two things: we felt like we had enough time where we had some flexibility to do some things, but yet be smart with the football; and still make sure we establish or maintain the position where we wanted the ball for Stephen [Hauschka] at that point in the game. Then, credit to our offensive line, LeSean and Rick’s [Dennison] play-calling. He popped one, which is big for us. In those situations, you rather not have to kick it, in fact, we didn’t have to.

Q: Have you in anyway gone over this whole playoff race thing?

A: No, we’re focused on moving forward and the Miami Dolphins. We have a good Miami Dolphins team coming in here, that’s beaten this team twice the last year, last season. We’ll have our work cut out for us, and that’s what we moved forward onto, and improving what we do as well.

Q: For clarification on that, you said you knew what a tied did to your playoff picture scenario. You said it was a variable, so did you know, have you not peaked at them? Don’t you have to know the scenarios a little bit?

A: When you’re within that game, right, you do. You asked me afterwards, have I looked since that, I haven’t looked since that.

Q: You brought the punt team out, took a timeout, and then put them back out there, what led to that?

A: [I] just wanted us to take our time and think about it, talk about it as a staff, and make sure that it was the right thing that we felt good about, that I felt good about. Like I said, that was a pivotal point in the game, so I wasn’t about to rush a decision because I knew how important that decision would be.

Q: Did you pay attention to the final results yesterday around the league, which all pretty much helped you? Do you want to give a shout out to Ben Roethlisberger for what he did for you last night?

A: Yeah, I appreciate you Ben, out there. Mike Tomlin, former college teammate, appreciate the help.

Q: How close was Leonard [Johnson] to playing yesterday, and where is he right now?

A: It was close, we worked him out before the game. He is improving, so we’ll just see how this week unfolds.

Q: There’s some pictures out there of players in a restaurant parking lot helping push someone out of the snow. I wanted to know if you’re aware of that, your comments?

A: No, I was not aware of that, but it doesn’t surprise me with our guys. We’ve tried to do things the right way, and the players know that this is what we do. It’s not always just who we are, these guys know they have a platform; I think our guys do a good job of using that platform, and just really embedding in our community, which is important.

Q: What’s your take on lake-effect snow?

A: Well we were coming down the tunnel before the game, and I said to Paul Sortisio, one of our top security guys here, I said ‘is this normal?’ I’ve heard so many things about this time of year in Western New York, and I just wanted to know if this was normal or abnormal. He said ‘no, this is not normal’. The great part about it, you go out and you execute. I said this going off the field at halftime, when our military goes out, they don’t always know the situation, the conditions, and they have to execute. Again, it’s different, I’m not going to put us on the same level, but why shouldn’t we have to go out and execute the same way, and our players did that.

Q: How tough is it to evaluate the film given just how crazy those circumstances were?

A: Yeah, it was a challenge. Our video guys do a great job every week, let alone this week, it was a challenge to try and get the right focus so we could see, even just the jerseys. For us, it was a little bit easier, having the red jerseys. But overall, their white jerseys, [we] were having a hard time making them out on the film. We have to find ways to learn from this tape so that we can move forward in the right direction.


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