Defensive Tackle Kyle Williams
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Q: Well, what is this, 13 or 12 offseason workout programs for you?
A: Somewhere in that area.
Q: Is it as exciting as it’s always been?
A: You know, they’re all new. You’ve got new faces, got new coaches, a new plan, so there’s always a freshness to it. There’s a balance.
Q: How does that strike you, though, as a guy, I know the longer you stay in this game and the more you stay in this league, the more you’re going to witness change. It seems like there’s a lot more of it lately, maybe than you’ve experienced before.
A: I don’t know about that. Well, I mean it’s kind of been, what I guess my career has kind of looked like loosely, the only constant has been change. We’re going to bring in whether it’s new guys or new coaches or new players. Like I said, whether it’s the same coaching staff, the same defense, you’re always going to have new faces, people coming in, people that you’re going to want to bring up to speed. We talk a lot, especially defensively, about speaking the same language. Are we communicating the same way? Are we seeing things the same way? That never changes when you bring new guys in, you have to get him up to speed on what you’re doing and that way you’re all speaking with one voice.
Q: Brandon [Beane] and Sean [McDermott] made it clear yesterday that it’s a new year [and] last year is in the past. For you, it’s the first time you’re coming off a playoff year. Did it feel any different these last couple months getting that huge monkey off your back coming back here?
A: Not really, and I think we’ve talked about it before where my ultimate goal isn’t to stick around for a few more days, go play a game, lose, and go home. That’s not the reason I’ve prepared the way I have all these years. That’s not the reason that I try to pour so much into my teammates. It’s for a bigger goal, it’s for a bigger cause. I really didn’t feel that different because, ultimately, we fell short of what we wanted to accomplish. So, here we are, 2018- a whole new team, a lot of new players with an opportunity to make a run at what we want.
Q: Kyle, with Eric [Wood] and now Richie [Incognito], I guess, retiring, does the burden of leadership fall on you, at least, initially knowing there is a bit of lacking there before these young guys can mature into that room?
A: No, I don’t think so. I think I’m going to do what I’ve always done. We’ll get guys offensively that will have to step up into those roles because I’m obviously not in the meetings with those guys. I can’t be the voice in those meetings. As far as, I guess, team-wise, or the whole roster, I’m not going to be any different than I’ve always been. I don’t see the need to be. You’re going to need different guys to step up whether it’s in play or whether it’s in leadership. 2018 won’t be any different.
Q: I also forgot that Tyrod [Taylor] is also gone. How confident are you that this team has those leaders to step into those roles and become those voices that you’ve lost?
A: Well, I don’t know because I can’t particularly point them out. I know that guys will be challenged, we’ll hold guys accountable, and guys will be kind of built under the fire. Is it at the quarterback position? Is it an offensive lineman? Is it Shady [LeSean McCoy]? I don’t know. I know that everybody will be held to a standard that we have that me and other guys set and we’ll all operate under that. Whoever rises to the top, rises to the top.
Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander
Q: Do you watch the draft at all? How closely do you follow it?
A: Well, I didn’t watch it for a long time because I didn’t get drafted. I sat around for all [the] picks and never heard my name called, but I watch it a little more now. Obviously, I’m kind of in the transition point from being a player/media, so I like to have a little bit of knowledge about who got drafted, where they went. When I’m on the Murph Show [John Murphy Show] or the, what is it, One Bills Live show with him and [Steve] Tasker, now I have a little bit of knowledge about what happened, so I’ll watch a little bit of it.
Q: Lorenzo, how is the vibe and feel around the team different now that the wave of the playoff drought has lifted?
A: I don’t think that ever really impacted us, because even from my first year here to last year, there was a whole new group of guys. When I look around the room now, it’s a whole new group of guys. I think we only have 20 guys that were on the roster from last year to now, so I’m looking around and there’s all new faces. That’s kind of the nature of the new NFL. I don’t think a lot of guys are tied to that 17-year drought, or even us breaking that drought last year. It’s a lot of new faces. For us, our goal this year is to kind of recreate that chemistry, that passion, the fundamentals, that foundation we had that allowed us to succeed and now take it further. Obviously, it’s always hard when you have such turnover every single year, but I know Sean [McDermott] and Brandon [Beane] are bringing in guys, trying to upgrade our roster, and put guys in there that are going to be here for the long haul.
Q: You were 26th in defense last year; will you guys have to be better for this team?
A: Yes, we have to be, and that was probably, I’m guessing, yards given up?
A: I would love to know where we finished in takeaways, which we kind of held our hat on. Some of the things as a defense, yards are one thing, but if they get down there and they don’t score, we’re making them kick field goals or we’re taking the ball away. I think most defenses around the league would be okay with finishing 26th in yards, even though that’s not where you want to be, but we do want to take another step forward and be dominate and not have that low. That three game stint is what probably, really knocked us down. [We need to] try and eliminate games like that to where they don’t build up. Maybe you have one in the season versus having three or four. That’s really our goal, and it should be easier this year because we don’t have everybody learning a new scheme; we have a good core group of guys that’ll help bring the new guys in, get them indoctrinated to the culture that Sean is building here and the team is building, as well as the scheme.
Q: Lorenzo, you talked about going over to the media side of your career. As you look at the Bills from that perspective, what do you think is the team’s biggest need in the draft?
A: I think, with everything, this is a quarterback driven league, whether that quarterback is on our roster or somebody that we decide we want to move up and get. That’s something that you always, as an organization, that you want to be able to build on. We have other needs as well. Obviously losing guys like [Eric] Wood, Cordy Glenn to a trade, now to Richie [Incognito] to retirement, you want to have a solid offensive line. You could have an all-pro quarterback, but if we can’t keep him upright, it doesn’t matter. I think with a guy like David Carr, went number one overall, had a lackluster career because he got hit a lot early in his years. So linebacker, obviously we talked about losing a guy like Preston [Brown], so finding, again, whether he’s on our roster or in the draft, I think those are kind of the three spots that I kind of look towards as far as seeing what their plan is and how things kind of unveil themselves through that process.
Q: Lorenzo, you mentioned the new faces and all the guys that left, but to have a guy like Kyle [Williams] back and his leadership, things like that.
A: Well that’s awesome. That’s why I’m rocking this shirt today, just to show my love for him coming back. Obviously, we are similar ages. I’m a little bit older than him, but our families are really close; our kids play together, our wives hang out. For me, it’s just a safe place when I get away from here because I’ll be 35 in May. A lot of these guys are 21, 22. I have a daughter that age. Having someone I can relate to and talk to about the good old days, being old school, being cut from a different cloth and having guys like that in the room really help me being up here, my mentality, and being able to go through a whole season because I always have somebody that I can connect with on that level.
Safety Micah Hyde
Q: Micah, you’re a guy that’s made the postseason every year of your career. This is an organization that has struggled to get there [and] finally does this past season. How hard is it and what kind of mentality do you have to have in an offseason to get back there?
A: Well I think you hit it on the head - just your mentality. I feel like when you’re a team that knows it’s going to go to the playoffs and it’s just a matter of how far, you have higher expectations for your team, for yourself. I think that, starting now, we’re talking about the playoffs. Just like last year, we start off talking about the playoffs. Since we made it last year, it’s more about how far we’re going to make it. I feel like we have the coaches to get us to that point again and see what we can do.
Q: With Richie [Incognito] and Eric [Wood] and Tyrod [Taylor] no longer being here, do you feel, I know it’s a different side of the ball, but do you feel like you need to even develop more as a leader? I know you were a part of that group last year, but do you see taking on a bigger role I that aspect?
A: No, I’m just going to be myself. There’s plenty of guys in this locker room that have some experience and obviously the three guys you just mentioned were a big part of this football team in the past. We thank everything those guys have done, but at the same time, myself, I’m just going to do what I do. I’ll lead when I need to, I’ll sit back when I need to, whether it’s on the field, off the field, it doesn’t matter. I’m just going to be myself.
Q: Chemistry for this team, or for last year’s team, seemed to be a strength. You guys seemed to be really tight, at least from what we can tell. How do you go about trying to build that again and replicate that with so many new guys this year?
A: Every year’s a new team. Last year, we were close, but I feel like every team I’ve been on, you develop that same thing. We’re with each other almost every day now. We take a break for the summer time, and then once training camp starts, it seems like we’re sleeping over at each other’s houses with each other so much. We’ll develop it and some guys will come, some guys will go, but at the end of the day, we’ll develop friendships, relationships on and off the field.
Q: As successful, Micah, you guys were with taking the ball away last year, it looks like the defensive front has been addressed probably more than any other spot on this football team thus far in the offseason. How does that encourage you knowing how much they fortified the front that can help guys on the back end?
A: I love it. We always say, obviously, defense wins championships. I’ve been saying that since I was in peewee football. The front line, they start it. They’re in the trenches, they’re the ones stopping the run, making stuff happen. If they’re making the offensive line and running plays, they’re making the offensive line double team them, that gives the linebackers, the safeties, free reign to make some tackles. We understand that the d-line is very important. They did address it, every accusation when I’m at home or I’m reading Twitter or I get an alert on my phone, I love it. [They] addressed the d-line, and we’ll see where we go from there.
Q: There was also a change in your secondary coach, obviously coach [Gill] Byrd is no longer here. What do you know about coach [John] Butler and even I think Bobby Babich is working with safeties as well, so tell us a little about that relationship and how that’s going.
A: Well, first off, Byrd, he was excellent last year, and I think that, coming in, he really developed me personally. Just because I was going to a new team, I didn’t know what to expect. The first couple days were rough; learning a whole new playbook is rough. I just want to thank him personally. Also, coming here understanding the playbook and having a guy like Butler, you can tell he knows his football. Just [with] the couple meetings we’ve had already, he’s really detailed and I think that’s good for our secondary. I think that, as long as you’re secondary [is] detailed, you’re not going to give up big plays and everyone’s going to know what they’re supposed to do. Like I said, I can tell he’s a great coach. Obviously, Bobby’s coaching the safeties and I appreciate everything he’s done for me in the past and everything he will do.
Quarterback AJ McCarron
Q: You’ve been with the team for about a month now, but now it starts. Now it’s kind of for real. What’s your anticipation as you’re going through this portion of the season here?
A: Just to come in and work day in and day out; try to build a chemistry as best as we can with each and every guy from the offense, defense, special teams and actually become a team. Create a culture of family and pushing each other to be the best that we can be day in and day out to win ball games. That’s what it comes down to. This is the best time to do that- to really focus on each other, learn about each other, likes, dislikes, and really just get to know each other. That’s what I’m really taking each day as.
Q: Now that you’re adapting to here, AJ, is there some measure of comfort that you’ve got a teammate here who’s snapped you in football several times in your career in the NFL?
A: With Russ [Bodine]?
A: I’ve known Russ, we came in the same year and [I’ve] known him for a while. He’s awesome; I love pushing his buttons and he does the same with me. He’s an unbelievable hard worker and super smart. He’s always been fun to work with and [I’m] looking forward to the future [with him].
Q: You’ve been aware of this essentially since you signed, since you came here, but what is it like seeing some of these young draft quarterbacks coming in here? Josh Allen was here yesterday, I’m not sure if you got a chance to see [him]. But just as the draft approaches, what do you see and does it at all affect you knowing that this could be a team that is picking a quarterback [in the draft]?
A: Well, no. To answer the first part, yeah I’ve seen a couple guys and I’ve talked to them and asked them how the whole process is going. From the draft point, no. I can’t worry about that because it creates mental clutter for myself. If I create mental clutter for myself, then I can’t become the best player, the best teammate that I need to be for this team. I’ve learned during my whole draft process [that] the draft is a crazy deal; you can never predict it. All the people that say they can predict it are lying to you; I promise you that. It’s just a crazy deal. My focus, like I said, is to be the best leader, the best teammate, the best servant for the guys that are in this locker room, and that’s what I’m trying to be. For me to worry about ‘ifs’ and what could happen, it’s just not a part of my DNA. I’ve never been that way and won’t ever do it.
Q: Are you used to being underestimated now? You slipped through that draft and you’ve kind of been underestimated ever since? Are you kind of accustomed to that?
A: Like I said in the first press conference when I got here, everybody has labels for you. It’s not just me; whether it’s you guys, people saying whatever about writing [and] how you write an article or whatever. Everybody in life goes through that. You can’t sit there day in and day out worried about what people think about your article, because then you can’t be the best writer or reporter that you can possibly be. I can’t sit there and worry about what somebody else thinks about me [as] a bench quarterback or not that good of a quarterback, whatever it is. I trust in myself, [and] I have self-confidence. I think that’s what makes people successful. I worry about what my teammates and coaches think, and I just go from there. I don’t worry about labels. I love playing this game, and I love being a part of the team, a great team. I’m just excited to be here.
Q: I know we’re only two days in, but have you- just at first blush, the offensive playbook, have you kind of jumped in, sneaked in a few chapters to see what else is in there? What else have you gone over with Brian [Daboll]?
A: I can’t give you all our secrets. It’s a little different from what I am accustomed to because I was in the same system for four years, but I’m working my tail off to learn it and do everything the right way and how I need to do it. Like I said, I’m really just taking it day in and day out and really going from there. There’s going to be highs and lows; that’s one of the things I’ve learned about this league and even playing in Alabama. You’re going to have highs and lows. Don’t get too low and don’t get too high; find that happy medium and run with it. Right now, I’m just trying to take everything in stride and like I said, take it day in and day out.
Quarterback Nathan Peterman
Q: How would you describe your interactions so far with the new offensive coordinator with [Brian] Daboll and what does he value [in a] quarterback?
A: Yeah, I think it’s been great just meeting him at first and then the past couple days that we’ve been able to get in the meeting room and learn from him. I think he’s extremely smart, very knowledgeable in a lot of places [and has] a lot of experience. Just to be around him, you kind of get a feel for that and you can tell just how much knowledge he has to bring. Obviously, he values a quarterback that can take the team down and score and protect the football. That’s a big emphasis of what we’ve got to do to win games in the NFL. It’s been good just trying to learn from him.
Q: This is our first chance to ask you what your reaction is to this team acquiring AJ [McCarron] and the competition that’s ahead. What is your reaction to it?
A: Good, I mean in the NFL, there’s a lot of change. With all the change that has happened on our team this year, there’s a lot of new faces [and] a lot of new people. For me, football has always been about competing, and I’m always competing, obviously, with other players but also with myself, too. [I’m] just always trying to get better. That was a big focus this offseason. [For myself] the previous months, [I’ve] just tried to find a way to get better while I was away from here and then same thing the next few months while I’m here.
Q: What was your reaction to the team deciding to trade Tyrod Taylor?
A: Kind of the same thing. It’s the NFL, there are a lot of changes in the NFL. I was very thankful for Tyrod being here last year. I learned a lot from him. He was a tremendous leader, tremendous work ethic he had. I learned a lot from that and I just wish him the best.
Q: You had quite the hectic, rollercoaster, up and down rookie year. A lot happened in your rookie year. Have you had the chance to kind of take a step back and think about everything that you went through and what you have learned and what is all of that in where you are right now?
A: Absolutely, but I kind of did that right after the season back in January, February. It’s good to kind of get that exhale a little bit, release some of that stuff, and then put it behind you. Now it’s all moving forward and moving on. We’ve got a new offense, new faces, a lot of new things and I’m just excited to get started working at all those new things.
Q: How do you approach your role this year with AJ here, not sure what’s happening in the draft? How do you approach what you need to do over the next month, two, three months?
A: Just improve. That’s the word that all the coaches were using, especially coach Daboll - that’s his favorite word. That’s what we’re going to be focused on throughout these next two months, improving, and really, I feel like that’s my mindset always. [I have] kind of an obsession with getting better and you have to have that, I think, that mentality. You never want to be stagnant, just want to be better.