Bills head coach Sean McDermott
Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018
Opening Statement: Alright, before we get started, where’s Milt Northrop? Come on up Milt. Congratulations, 50 years of service for The Buffalo News. [Applause]. Alright, we’ll go ahead and open it up to questions.
Q: So, what is the status of LeSean McCoy at this point? Where are you at with him?
Q: Do you anticipate he give it a go in practice in the next three days?
A: We’re just going to take it one day at a time right now. He’s not going to practice today, but we’ll take it one day at a time.
Q: Can you tell us more about Marcus Murphy? He’s kind of a kid who just popped up on the radar. Can you give us a little insight on where he came from and what you like about him?
A: He’s a player that Brandon [Beane] and his staff had scouted. Like I mentioned earlier, before, he’s had experience in this league. He’s gotten varsity reps before, both on the offensive side and special teams. [He] made a big play against the Panthers when I was there in the special teams phase on the return unit. He’s been out there before, and I thought he handled himself well this past weekend.
Q: Knowing LeSean the way you do, how hard would it be to keep him off the field?
A: Yeah, it’s just like any competitor. He’s a fierce competitor. He’s hard at work; maximizing the treatment opportunities to get himself to where he can play.
Q: How do you go about, in the event that he can’t play or is limited, what’re your concerns knowing how much he has meant to this offense this season?
A: Next man up. That’s what we’ve done all year. You never replace a player like LeSean. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Mike Tolbert and Murph [Marcus Murphy], and whoever else we put in the backfield. They did a nice job this past weekend and I expect them to do the same moving forward.
Q: Their defense is clearly one of the best in the league, they do a really good job on both the run and the pass. What’s the biggest challenge? I know you want to say balance, but they take a little bit of everything away, so what’s the bigger challenge going against that defense?
A: Yeah, you look at every statistical category of their defense – and I went through the different rows of it – trying to find an area of weakness, and there isn’t one. They’re very talented, multiple first-round picks on that defense. They’re well coached. We’re going to have a big challenge in front of us in a lot of ways, but starting with their defense.
Q: Does Marcell [Dareus] appear to fit better in their defense than he did here?
A: I don’t know. That’s probably a better question for Marcell.
Q: Any thoughts on that? The karma that kind of worked out. He was here two months ago, now you’re playing in a playoff game against him. Any karma working there?
A: We made the decision that was right for our team. I know we’ve moved on, and it appears he’s moved on. I wish him nothing but the best. It seems like he’s playing at a high level, just like the rest of their defense.
Q: The challenge of facing Leonard Fournette and that running game - you guys have had your struggles defensively against the run. Is it a matter now of just, from a plan standpoint, because the physical matchups look to be somewhat favorable to their bigger, offensive line – how do you view that challenge?
A: Right, they’re a challenge across the board - offense, defense, special teams. You look at where they’re ranked and where we’re ranked and you say ‘hey, what favors us?’ Not a whole lot. So, we have our work cut out for us this week to put a good plan in place and have a good week of practice to earn the right [to win]. They are big up front, well-coached, and the No. 1 – if I’m not mistaken – ranked rushing attack in the NFL. Again, with a first-round pick in there behind center. It’ll be a big challenge for us.
Q: What’re some of your observations of Fournette and his running style?
A: Usually what comes with a guy as big as Fournette is the inability to get outside and make the explosive runs. [If] he can get outside, he can make the explosive runs and take it to the house if he finds a crack in there. It’ll be a big challenge for our run defense.
Q: Did you see much of him in college when you were looking at [Tre’Davious White]’s stuff? Did you watch him much?
A: You know what, I watched him enough to be aware of his skillset. We kind of felt like he was going to be gone by the time we picked. Usually, when you watch Tre, you watch one side of the ball. But overall, I knew of his skillset, yeah, a good player.
Q: I’m hearing a lot of Bills fans on the radio saying ‘we broke the drought, it doesn’t matter if we win or lose’. I know your players don’t think that way, but do you have to guard against them feeling like they’ve achieved something monumental and not treating this like any team would?
A: Yeah, it’s a certain type of mindset, when you’re young and in this type of situation to make sure that we’re in the right frame of mind as we approach our week, that we’re focused on what we do, our process, the respect for the opponent. Just like we’ve done all year. I’m confident in the leadership on this football team, the player-driven leadership that they’ll lead by example and we’ll have a good week of preparation.
Q: Have you ever envisioned opting out of your contract?
A: Every situation is different. I’m not going to go there.
Q: Following that really good question about the mindset this week. Does part of this feel fun, there has to be some sort of enjoyment in being here where this organization hasn’t been in so long?
A: Absolutely. There’s a lot of joy around our job, and passion. This is fun because it’s what we do. This is what we signed up for, and it’s a result of a lot of hard work with the journey. It’s different points during the day, you have to kind of say ‘hey, this is what we work for’. This [is] a culmination of a season long worth of work, sacrifice, and commitment to the cause. It’s fun to be on this ride with our fans, too. To see the excitement around the communities, the excitement in the building, it’s a lot fun, a lot of fun.
Q: Just in case, if LeSean can’t go, and Aaron Green has to be activated, can you get us familiar with him? What led you to signing him and his traits?
A: Well, Brandon and his staff do a good job of evaluating our players, who’s out there [with] the potential to sign. We had a workout the other day, and Brandon really felt like he was the right choice for us at this time. We’ll get a good look at him today in practice.
Q: Is that the one position – running back – where if an injury occurs on a player, that might be the easiest player to plug in, that position specifically? As opposed to, offensive line, or quarterback, obviously. But with running back, can you kind of plug-and-play?
A: It’s a little bit different at every position. I understand why you’re saying that. I think there’s probably other positions that may be a little bit easier. When you look at running back, there’s not only running the ball, but there’s the protection-end of things, and the passing game. There’s probably a few others that are just a little bit easier from a transition standpoint.
Q: We’ve seen a little bit of Marcus Murphy, but can you just describe what’s different between him and Mike Tolbert and what each brings to the table?
A: Well, they’re both winners - the way they approach their craft and the preparation. They both have been out there before, so I have confidence in both of them. Their running styles are a little bit different, obviously, in terms of what they do. That said, both can run inside, both can run outside, and both do a good job in protection. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m confident in both of them.
Q: What opportunity does it present for your secondary going up against a quarterback who is willing to put the ball up there like Blake Bortles is?
A: Well, just like any situation, it’s a quarterback driven league. We’ve got to do a good job of affecting the quarterback with our defense and the different looks and try and get him out of a rhythm just like any quarterback. He’s had a good year and does a good job for their offense.
Q: Sean, when you added pieces to your secondary, how did they play and are they playing about the way you envisioned your safeties and rookie corner the way you wanted – you know, with everyone coming together?
A: It’s been fun to watch them come together. I think our coaches do a phenomenal job of preparing them. They take a lot of ownership in their preparation, also. To watch a couple of veteran players in Micah [Hyde], Jordan [Poyer] and E.J. [Gaines], and also embrace a young player like Tre’Davious [White] and watch Tre’Davious’ journey all the way through this year and his maturation process on and off the field has been fun to watch. So, have they played up to what I envisioned, the way I envisioned them playing? At times, absolutely, just like our team. There’s other times where, just like our team, we’re not where we need to be yet. I think there’s a lot of work to do. The fact remains that we have to continue to work hard and put the work in to get the results we’re trying to get.
Q: Sean, for all the great numbers that the Jaguars defense have put up this season, it still looks like they allow their share of big plays. A, is that something that you see as an opportunity [and] B, when you see their defensive style, how much does it remind you of – [the] schematic standpoint is similar to, what, say Atlanta does, or Seattle? Sort of that Pete Carroll trait, if you will.
A: A little bit, there’s some of that in there. There’s some of what we do is baked in there, also. There’s some overlapping schemes. They do a good job and they play fast; they play aggressive defense. Like I said before, there’s not a whole lot of weakness statistically in what they’re doing. They’ve had the success that they’ve had as a team in part because of the defense, but they are a well-balanced football team and well coached.
Q: Do you see any of those opportunities, though, that make you think twice? I know you think about that every game, but does this present it too when they’re doing that fast-flow stuff?
A: Yes and no. Number one, we’ve got to protect the ball because they do a phenomenal job of taking the ball away. I think they’re second in the league in taking the ball away, give or take. We’ve got to make sure that we’re staying on schedule and putting ourselves in position to move the football overall. Explosives [plays] would be nice, but there’s a lot that goes into that, also.
Q: This isn’t the first time that people [in the media room] have counted this team out and given this team no chance. Can you draw upon that and maybe go to that well in addressing your players?
A: We just stay focused on what we’re doing, really. Our players, they know how this team has been built. They’ve taken a lot of ownership in that, in the process of going through the season of what we’re all about. I don’t see them changing that, in terms of their DNA and what drives them on a weekly basis. We’re going to do us and that’s been good enough this season [for] most of the year. As I reiterated to them this morning, once the ball is kicked off, it’s a game. We’ve got to get back into our routine and block out as much noise as possible.
Q: Coach, is Jordan Mills okay?
A: He’s okay. He’s got a little bit of an ankle [injury and] won’t practice today. We’ll see.
Q: Anyone else?
A: Yeah, I’ll give you the updates. These guys fall in the category of ‘will not practice’ today: Shareece Wright, he’s in the concussion protocol, LeSean [McCoy] as I mentioned, Matt Milano, Deonte Thompson, Jordan Mills, and then Kyle [Williams] is on rest.
Q: What’s the injury for Matt Milano?
Q: Coach, just with respect to your offense, you really effectively used some tempo changes last week. Were you pleased with the return you got off of that and how comfortable do you feel using that going forward?
A: I was. I thought it was well designed by Rick [Dennison] and the offensive staff. We were able to stay on the attack even with things happening in between plays, which I think is important. You mentioned the tempo, some of the hard counts, and so that was well-executed by our offense. I know Eric [Wood] really leads that – Eric and Tyrod [Taylor], so I thought the communication part of it was key and they did a nice job.
Q: When you talk about your leadership and how the players have a resiliency, when you guys left that locker room in Foxborough with an angry and somewhat disappointed team, and then you still had that chance and then for you guys to play as you did – you couldn’t control the Ravens, obviously, but for you guys to do what you did, did you learn anything about the growth over these past few days in that regard?
A: Yeah, really, they hit the reset button awful quickly after that game, which is hard to do. You go up against a team like New England – defending world champs – and to battle like we did in that game and then have to turn right around on a short week because of the Christmas holiday, to get our minds back again and, you talk about mindset, to have a great week or preparation heading into last week’s important game I thought was key and our guys did that. They’ve done that all year long, though, too, so it wasn’t a surprise to me but still, it represented a challenge as far as that goes. The good part about our team is that they’re, [for] those of us that have been around them, is they’re tested. They’ve been through a lot of tests and we’ve passed most of those, and these guys have been in tight games. I’m confident in this group moving forward.