Sean McDermott provided more details Monday on why he decided to take over making the Buffalo Bills’ defensive play calls in Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, but stopped short of saying whether the move would be permanent.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier “and I are still working through that,” McDermott said. “Either way, Leslie is going to be a big part of what we're doing. I thought we did some good things yesterday at times. Overall, and obviously in the first half, it wasn't good enough. You can't give up 28 points and expect to win, or give yourself a chance to win. So overall as a defense, I didn't think we played well enough in the first half. I thought the second half, I was very pleased with the effort, very pleased with the way the guys were flying around. They were executing and having fun out there and that was fun to watch.”
The Bills allowed just 65 total yards, including just 3 rushing yards, and three points in the second half of a 31-20 loss.
“We're going to do whatever it takes to win,” McDermott said. “Sometimes you're able to get into a flow. Sometimes somebody else, you feel like, can get into a flow. That was really where it came from.
“I had a pretty good feel for what they were trying to do offensively, I wanted to come out and take the series and see how it went. I was able to get in a flow, and Leslie was helping me the whole time. Like I said before, whatever direction we go, we're going to work on it together. I have a lot of confidence in Leslie Frazier in terms of being a good defensive football coach.”
“We talked earlier today. We’re going to watch some tape and go through some things with our defensive staff to come up with the best plan we can to put the guys in the best position to succeed,” Frazier added. “I think it’ll work itself out between he and I. Throughout every ballgame, since we’ve been here together, we’ve kind of collaborated on everything we do defensively, and this really won’t be any different.”
Frazier has been a head coach in the NFL before, so he knows what McDermott went through in making the switch.
“Whatever decision you make, you’re making it based on, ‘What’s going to help us win?’ I’m sure that had to be his mindset,” he said.
If Frazier objected to or was hurt by McDermott’s decision, he wasn’t saying so publicly Monday.
“It’s a matter of big picture,” he said. “Just staying in tune with whatever is best for our guys, and at the end of the day I want to see our players succeed.
McDermott confirmed that running back LeSean McCoy suffered cracked rib cartilage during Sunday’s loss. He classified McCoy as day to day, and did not rule out the possibility of him playing in Week 3.
“We'll just take it one day at a time and make sure he's comfortable as we go forward,” the coach said. “I know he's a guy that's been through some injuries before and played at a high level, so we'll just take it one day at a time.”
McDermott also confirmed that cornerback Phillip Gaines suffered a dislocated elbow Sunday. Like McCoy, Gaines also has a chance to play in Week 3.
Rookie cornerback Taron Johnson (shoulder) and defensive end Shaq Lawson (hamstring) are also day to day after sitting out the loss to the Chargers. Rookie wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud is expected to practice with the team Wednesday, meaning he might have a chance at making his Bills debut against the Vikings.
Somewhat amazingly, running back Taiwan Jones did not suffer a concussion Sunday when he lost his helmet, then took a hit to the head by Chargers defensive end Uchenna Nwosu. McDermott said Jones was bruised and needed stitches to close a wound on his head.
Jones recovered a muffed punt by Marcus Murphy in the end zone, then was swarmed by Chargers. As that happened, his helmet came off, but officials did not immediately blow the play dead.
“Look, it almost was a very unfortunate situation,” McDermott said. “It was unfortunate as it is, as it stands. I'm just glad and thankful Taiwan's OK. That could have been very, very bad.”
McDermott made it clear he was disappointed in the play not being immediately blown dead, saying player safety has to be the No. 1 priority. He did not think, however, that Nwosu deserved the unnecessary roughness penalty he was given.
“When I looked at it, I felt like it was a clean play, because it was bang-bang,” McDermott said. “You never want to see someone hit another person who has their helmet off, and to your point the play should have been stopped. It was bang-bang from a timing standpoint as well. You just hope everyone is doing the best they can to put player safety (first) in that situation.”
Nwosu apologized to Jones in a text message to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, saying in part “the game is rough but my intention is never to hurt anyone. The ref hadn’t blown the whistle to call the play dead and I didn’t realize that his helmet had come off. My apologies.”
Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei has yet to make a tackle this season in 76 snaps. McDermott was asked Monday if that’s a problem.
“It really isn't,” the coach said. “When you look at the position he plays – it's the most unselfish position on the football field, the defensive tackle position and particularly the one technique – which is typically where he plays. The way the game works, he frees up the linebackers to make plays by absorbing and taking on double teams.
“I thought our run defense inside, which is where Star works, was mostly solid yesterday. Outside we could have done some things better, but inside I think for the most part he played a solid game.”
Not that anyone was clamoring for more of Nathan Peterman, but McDermott confirmed Monday that the team is sticking with rookie Josh Allen as the starting quarterback going forward.
“I thought he did some good things,” McDermott said of Allen. “He's a young quarterback. Each game, we expect him to get a little bit better and grow. That's where we are as a football team, that's where we are as an organization.”