Head Coach Sean McDermott
Monday, September 17, 2018
Opening Statement: Alright, we will go ahead and get started here. Just an injury update for you, LeSean McCoy is going to be day-to-day. Taiwan Jones, he has no concussion, he’s bruised and a little cut up there. Ray-Ray [McCloud] will continue to practice this week. Phillip Gaines does have a dislocated elbow, there’s still a chance that he can play this week, we’ll see how that goes. Taron Johnson continues to progress, and will remain day-to-day, as is Shaq Lawson with the hamstring. So with that, I’ll open it up to your questions.
Q: Just to clarify on Taiwan, you said he did not have a concussion?
A: No concussion.
Q: Did he need stitches?
A: Yeah there are some stitches up there.
Q: You said that LeSean is day-to-day, there’s been talk that his ribs aren’t broken but that there is some cartilage damage?
A: Correct, ripped cartilage. Correct.
Q: What will be the plan for who is calling the plays on defense?
A: Leslie [Frazier] and I are still working through that. 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. Obviously the first half wasn’t good enough. We can’t give up 28 points and expect to win, or give yourself a chance to win. So, overall as a defense I thought we didn’t played well enough in the first half. I thought in the second half I was very pleased with the effort, was very pleased with the way the guys were flying around. They were executing and having fun out there, and it was fun to watch.
Q: How do you balance taking positives from that second half with the first six quarters of the season you were outscored 75-9 and making it clear that these types of results are unacceptable?
A: Yeah you’re right. That’s a delicate balance between making sure we build upon what we saw, and the positives yesterday from the second half and continue to make progress. That’s part of the mindset, that we have to continue to approve upon what we are doing, and build a rep count for some of our young guys that we have out there. So, that’s important as we move forward.
Q: How do you reassure your players and maybe even yourself that this team is not in turmoil, given what happened at halftime yesterday. With you taking over the play calling, and Vontae Davis up and quitting and just how poorly the team has played for the first six quarters of the season?
A: Well this is a process, number one. The Vontae situation, look his actions have spoken. He’s retired, so that’s a separate issue, okay? And in terms of the play calling part of it, we’re going to do what we feel like we have to do to win games and improve. We look at every corner to improve, whether that’s play calling, whether it’s fundamentals or technique, we all have to do our job better. Again, we have some young players out there. A young quarterback, a young middle linebacker that there best days of football are ahead of them, and they’re going to continue to get better and continue to grow, continue to learn. Nobody said that this was going to be easy, and that’s what we’re going through right now. Sometimes there’s a lag in the terms of results, and we’re going to continue to work at it. Like I said last week, nobody’s going to work harder than we are at it, and we just have to continue to grind.
Q: What has been your contact with Vontae, and what is his status as far as roster?
A: We have not been in touch with Vontae today.
Q: And as far as roster, he’s still on the roster?
Q: Have you been in touch with him at all since halftime of the game yesterday?
A: No, like I said his actions spoke loud and clear. So I am focused on my team right now.
Q: Sean, with such an emotional game, do you think part of the renewed enthusiasm, could have been from the guys being galvanized by the Vontae situation and being together after all of that happened?
A: Yeah I mean possibly. That’s probably a better question for them. I just know that they’re focused right now, and continue to improve. We had a good film session a few minutes ago and the guys were into it and certainly accountable for what went on, which I appreciate. We all need to be accountable, but there’s going to be growing pains going through this, and like I said, nobody said that this was going to be easy. We need to continue to work and communicate and improve in all three phases of our game.
Q: Guys said that they had never experienced somebody leaving the game like that before, I’m sure that’s something that you addressed with them, and I’m curious of what you said and how it was perceived?
A: Yeah, well I’m not going to get into what I said, but generally speaking, there’s no need to address it, because we’re moving on as a team does. This is not going to become a distraction for us, we’re going to move forward, and like I said, his actions spoke, and I heard everything that he needed to say through that. So, I’ve got a lot of respect for Vontae, he’s a good person. I certainly appreciate the way he worked when he was here, but we’re moving forward as a football team.
Q: Coach, Josh [Allen] referenced yesterday after the game that there were a few instances that he wasn’t trusting what he saw. In your evaluation of the film, did you see some of those instances as well? Would you agree with that assessment?
A: I would agree, and when you look at a lot of our young players, their eyes are all over the place, and that tends to happen when the games moving fast, and that’s natural for young players. Josh, and same with Tremaine [Edmunds], we need to make sure our eyes are disciplined, and they are where they need to be at the proper time, because there is so much time involved in some of the concepts here in our offense.
Q: How does Vontae’s departure effect what you’re doing personnel wise at cornerback? And what type of discussions have been had about that position?
A: Yeah Brandon [Beane] and I have talked about it. Nothing new at this point, but we’re going to continue to talk about it.
Q: Do you get to maybe the position that Josh Allen is your starting quarterback? Is that permanent?
A: We’re going to go with Josh. I thought he did some good things, and he’s a young quarterback. Each game we expect him to get a little bit better and grow. So, that’s where we are as a football team and that’s where we are as an organization right now.
Q: The reason I ask this is so that we know if this is going to be a week-to-week deal.
A: I don’t plan on that being the case.
Q: What was your thought when you went back and looked at the punt return for Taiwan afterwards? After he lost his helmet, the back judge actually put his whistle to his mouth and then backed it away right before Taiwan got hit. What’s your review? Do you send something to the league? I mean that could have been very disastrous. How do you handle that moving forward?
A: Yeah, it’s unfortunate. It almost was a very unfortunate situation. It’s unfortunate as it is, as it stands. I’m just glad and thankful that Taiwan is okay. That could have been very bad, and I would’ve hoped that would have been stopped. So, care and safety is number one, and it needs to be going forward. I know we talk about it a lot but player safety needs to be a number one going forward.
Q: What’s your thought on the penalty? In my opinion, [Uchenna Nwosu] had no chance to even stop. He probably doesn’t even know that Taiwan Jones is missing his helmet. He got flagged for a play that looked pretty bad. Your thought on that being a penalty? Or are guys just going until they hear a whistle?
A: When I looked at it, I felt like it was a clean play because it was bang-bang. 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. We just hope everyone is doing the best they can to put player safety first in that situation.
Q: How necessary did you think it was to take over play-calling duties, knowing how close you and [Leslie Frazier] are?
A: We’re going to do whatever it takes to win. Look, I’ve been around some coaches before where that’s been the case. Sometimes, you’re able to get into a flow. Sometimes, somebody else you feel like can get into a flow. And that was really where it came from. I had a pretty good feel for what they were trying to do offensively and I wanted to come out and take the series and see how it went. I was able to get into 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, and I have a lot of confidence in Leslie Frazier in terms of a good defensive football coach.
Q: Coach, it looked like the Chargers were really attacking Tremaine [Edmunds] in the pass game a little bit. What can he do to maybe help himself out? What can you guys do as a defense? As a young player, does that surprise you that they would do that, putting a middle linebacker in that position right away?
A: That happens from time to time in this league. I know he’ll get better with reps, technique, and the eye-discipline that’s so necessary in those situations. Again, he’s a young player that’s learning on the run, much like Josh [Allen] and some of the other players… Siran Neal out there, Robert Foster, so on and so forth. You look at the ball we had that rolled into the end zone on special teams… that should’ve never happened. Why did it happen? We’ve got some young players out around the ball who maybe haven’t been there in that situation, so we’ve got to continue to teach the techniques, the awareness, and go from there.
Q: As a follow-up… Two games now, Tremaine has not missed a snap. He’s played 100% of the snaps. What’s that say about him and where he is at 20-years old, playing that position and doing that?
A: He’s a young player. He battles. I mean, the guy’s a warrior. He plays hard, he plays every snap to the whistle and through the whistle. He’s going to be fine. He’s just got to continue to grow and get the experience that he needs at this point.
Q: What is the value when a guy like Lorenzo [Alexander] can not only be [a leader] in the locker room, but then back it up with the second half like he had yesterday?
A: Oh, he was in the zone. He was on fire. Loved his energy, loved the defensive energy overall. To add to that, when you get a young player like Josh [Allen], who is the quarterback and young quarterback of your football team, coming over to the defense before they take the field… I think it was mentioned in the press conference after the game, in fact. He’s getting the defense fired up. That’s when you see the team starting to come together, guys pulling for guys, encouraging one another, loving on one another in that regard, and playing with great energy. It was good to see.
Q: Star [Lotulelei] doesn’t have a tackle in two weeks here. I know statistics aren’t always a fair judge of a player, particularly with him. That’s not always what his job necessarily entails. Is that a problem for the defense so far?
A: It really isn’t. When you look at the position he plays, it’s the most, and you’ve heard me say this before, it’s the most unselfish position on the football field, the defensive tackle position. In particular, the one-technique, which is typically where he plays. The way the game works is 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’ve done some things better. But inside, I think for the most part, he played a solid game.
Q: Sean, how do you assess the performance of the offensive line now that you’re through two weeks?
A: I think we’ve done some good things and some things that we’ve got to do better in terms of running the football. We need to create movement up front. There’s been too many penalties overall, and the guys are aware of that. We’ve communicated about that and we addressed that. I thought the pass blocking end of things, there’s been times where we’ve had enough time to throw the ball, and we’ve got to be more decisive. It’s got to work together from a timing standpoint from both from the run and the pass game.
Q: Do you expect to run the same five [starting offensive linemen] out there next week?
A: We’ll see. Yeah, we’ll see. Still too early right now coming off the game.
Q: With LeSean [McCoy], is it a pain-tolerance issue in terms of whether he might be able to play next week?
A: Pretty much. We’ll just take it one day at a time and make sure he’s comfortable as we go forward, and we’ll go from there. I know he’s a guy who’s been through some injuries before and played, and played at a high level. So we’ll just take it one day at a time right now.
Q: In regards to Vontae [Davis], what are the emotions like in a moment like that? I mean, some guys in the room were pretty upset. But is there any element of concern over him and his well-being just given how unusual it is for a guy to leave at halftime?
A: Like I said before, this is where you develop some personal relationships with these young men. You always want the best for them. Like I said before, it’s not a deal where we wish him anything but the best in terms of that. We wish him the best, and he’s had a heck of a career. What’s important for us is what we have to focus on right now and that’s for us moving forward as a football team, and that’s what we plan on doing.
Q: Sean, what was your reasoning behind taking Matt Milano out on Sunday for a defensive series and putting Ramon Humber in? Because Milano had played 100% of the game in the first week.
A: Yeah, just looking at some things. Sometimes, it benefits a young player to be able to watch a series or two, get next to his coach on the sideline and learn a little bit of watching how they’re attacking us offensively. Just being able to do that is important. We also have a lot of confidence in Ramon Humber, as well.
Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll
Monday, September 17, 2018
Opening Statement: Another disappointing day yesterday. [We] dropped another one, the home opener. The fans were great; they were into it right off the bat. [We] had a slow start once again. [We] made some improvement in some areas. [We] have a long way to go [and] have to continue to get better and grind at it and improve in all areas. That’s’ what we’re going to do.
Q: Brian, coming home, being a Buffalo guy, a St. Francis guy, does it sting a little bit more, because in a lot of ways, this is a dream job for you? In the first couple of weeks, it hasn’t worked out the way you hoped.
A: Yeah, you’ve got to be mentally tough in this business. The mental toughness is doing what’s right for the team when everything’s not perfect. It’s very personal, no question about it. This is your job and your profession, but this is a very important place to me, a very important team. I appreciate how hard the guys are working and we’re working our tails off to get it right.
Q: Brian, how would you assess Josh’s [Allen] performance this week?
A: He worked really hard to get ready for this game. I thought he did some good things. Obviously, the speed of the game in his first career start. He went through that in the third week of the preseason, so I thought that did help him in his preparation process. He made a lot of good reads, did a lot of good things with his feet, made some loose plays, made some big plays for us. Again, the speed of it, the tempo, eye control, the footwork, fundamentals, those are all things we have to continue to harp and work on and at each week. He’s a good, young pro and we’re looking forward to getting him better each week.
Q: What are your overall feelings on him running the ball? When he gets into a situation where he feels out of the pocket or whatever, are you okay with his running style and how he approaches it? Do you still need to work on it?
A: Well, he’s a very athletic guy who has good speed. He’s got to do a good job of making sure when there’s a big hit to be had, that he’s smart with his body and be able to get down when he needs to get down.
Q: Did you guys talk to him about that one interception where he’s got a guy draped around him?
A: Yeah, [and] he’d be the first to admit. Obviously, we were right there on the fringe area where there’s a longer field goal, potentially third down territory. Those are things that he’s going to have to learn. He’s big, he’s strong, he can escape [but] when to say when is something we have to continue to work on.
Q: LeSean [McCoy], he had a 27-yard run, but outside of that, he only had 12 yards. When he’s not able to get it four, five yards and put in you in a more favorable down distance, how does that affect the offense?
A: You have a variety of whether they’re drive starters or we threw a bunch to the flat yesterday. Obviously, you want the run game to get going and be able to use some action off of it and mix in some other areas of the offense, but that’s always a help when you can get four, five, six, seven yards run of the ball. You have to be patient with it too at times, but depending on the score or situation of the game, when we need to do it, those all play a factor.
Q: 11 sacks, I know it all wasn’t on the offensive line, but the offensive line is taking a lot of the brunt of the blame here. What concerns do you specifically have about an offensive line that is trying to find its chemistry?
A: Obviously, more than half of those sacks aren’t the offensive line. We can do a good job with setting the table, getting things set to where we need to get them set to. Those guys have protected inside out for the most part in pass protection. There have been some free runners that you guys have seen. It’s not all on the line, no question about it.
Q: Brian, that being said, Sean [McDermott] would not commit to those five being the starters this week. Do you think a shakeup of some kind is needed?
A: Those decisions are made by Sean. I think we’ll end up [talking about it]. We talk about it every day after practice, particularly as the week gets started tonight, so we’ll see how that goes.
Q: In the big picture, how much did you need to see Josh and the offense find the end zone in the second half, not once, but twice, just to help the mood and maybe ease the burden in some ways?
A: That’s our job to find the end zone. That’s what you try and do every time you touch the ball. Give them some confidence, which was good, the way they finished the game and competed and finished the two minute drive. Those are all things to build on. The end of the half where we got three, I think [we] came out in a drive and got seven. Those are positive things to build on and that’s what you’re always trying to do.
Q: Coach, it seemed like you are giving Robert Foster a little bit more each week as well. You have a relationship with him from back in Alabama, can you just kind of speak on his development and anything you can go back to that you saw leading into this year?
A: Robert’s earned everything that he’s gotten. He’s up there every night with Chad [Hall] and Terry [Robiskie] working at fundamentals, watching tape, trying to learn the opponent, go through his plays. He’s a very, very hard worker. He knows he’s young, he’s got to be hungry. There’s a lot to work on. Obviously, his speed. He’s making increments every week and we need him to. He’s got good speed, but there are a lot of things he has to work on to try and develop. He’s just like any other player early in the process. He’s a grinder, which is good for a wideout.
Q: Sean, called it a numbers situation in terms of releasing Jeremy Kerley. Can you move forward with four wide receivers here, or do you need to add to that position at some point?
A: Whatever we have, we have. Those four guys will be ready to go. If they give us another one, they give us another one. If not, we’re good with the guys we’ve got.
Q: Brian, I know you guys have grilled Josh on a lot of fundamental stuff this offseason. Obviously, when he gets into a game, how much of [the fundamentals] did you see on film?
A: [He’s] a work in progress and he knows that. Look, some is just instincts for him, since he is so big and strong. The consistency with his drop and the timing of his throws and the amount of hits he needs to take, and there were a lot of good examples on tape from him doing that. There were some where, whether the play broke down or we had a free runner that he had to go and try and make a play.
Q: Josh said last week that he could benefit from game play action? Did you already see some improvement come into fruition just from this first game?
A: Yes, that’s the goal. In terms of the fundamentals and his foot work, those are some things that we’ll work on every single day before practice, in between special teams. His anticipation and timing, you can do it in practice, but only so much. It’s going to have to be repped in his game and be able to turn the ball loose when he needs to turn the ball loose. His coverage reads and where he needs to go with the ball, his quick decisions, there were a few good examples on that. Really, everything. We need to do better in everything, but he needs to work really hard and I have a lot of confidence in him.
Q: How hard is it as a play caller to stick with a script or game plan so to speak when some things get out of hand early? You want to catch up, but at the same time, you need to stick with your guns.
A: Yeah, and again, at the early part of the game, it’s a long game. Whether it’s 14 to nothing or 14 to three or 21 to three, there’s a long game ahead. There’s been games where we’ve been down 28 to three with eight minutes left in the third quarter. There’s a certain time and a certain place where you need to flip the switch, whether it’s up tempo, getting it out of the huddle, less substitutions and keeping the same guys on the field. That’s dictated by score and situation of the game.
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Monday, September 17, 2018
Opening Statement: [It was a] difficult game yesterday, for sure. Really liked the fight that our guys showed in the finish. Now, after getting a chance to watch the tape today and have a chance to evaluate it, we have to get ready for our next opponent and work to get our first win. We’re looking forward to moving on and getting ready for our next opponent.
Q: How do you and Sean [McDermott] move forward with the play-calling duties? How do you work through that?
A: 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. I think it’ll work itself out between he and I. Throughout every ball game, since we’ve been here together, we’ve kind of collaborated on everything we do defensively, and this really won’t be any different.
Q: Leslie, what was your reaction to Vontae [Davis] leaving, quitting or retiring, the game at halftime?
A: I was obviously taken a little off-guard. Wasn’t aware of all of the details, because we were in the midst of the game. I just learned more about it afterwards. I’m still gathering information. Initially, just a little bit off-guard. [I] wasn’t expecting that and didn’t see that coming.
Q: Leslie, he said in his statement that he mentioned to coaches he wasn’t feeling right, didn’t want to go in. Was that directed at you or other positional coaches? Who was having those conversations mid-game?
A: I spoke to him on the bench before a series but I didn’t really… it wasn’t clear to me why he wasn’t ready to go back in. I thought he had an injury. I was waiting on the trainers or someone to give me a cue or a clue as to what was going on. I had to get my mind back to the game, but then afterwards, I learned more details about what was going on.
Q: In your secondary that you have, your ‘numbers-game’ at corner seems to be really challenged. How much do you feel, from your standpoint, that needs to be addressed?
A: Well, I’m sure that’s something Brandon [Beane] and Sean [McDermott] will talk about. We know who we have on our roster. It does create a void, for sure. Between the two of them, Brandon and Sean, they’ll figure it out along with our input as coaches, we’ll give them our opinion and see where it goes.
Q: Vontae said he meant no disrespect for the Bills, his teammates, his coaches. You’ve played and coached for a long time. Kyle Williams, Lorenzo Alexander felt disrespected. How do you take what Vontae said in his statement given what happened yesterday?
A: We wish him nothing but the best. I hope things work out for Vontae, whatever he chooses to do. Hopefully, he’ll learn from this experience. Not sure what’s going on in his mind right now. I haven’t talked to him since yesterday at this point. But eventually, I hope to get a chance to speak with him. I wish him nothing but the best.
Q: Leslie what was going through your mind when Sean [McDermott] informed you that he was going to take over the play calling duties?
A: Just whatever it takes to help our team win. That’s what it is all about in our league. Bottom line is, how can we win? And whatever can help us win is what’s going through my mind. We owe it to our players to give us the best chance to win, whatever it may be, and like I said I like that.
Q: Do you feel that decision did that?
A: You know, I’ve sat in that seat before, and 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.
Q: What did your role become in the second half as he was calling plays, how did you contribute?
A: Just communicating to him, along with our players what we’re doing in between series because he’s back with the offense, and talking about some of the things that we’re thinking about for the next series, and communicating with him during the series about different things that were happening with their offense. Some of the same things that he does when I’m calling the defense.
Q: Given that you’ve been in that seat, is it easier to accept that and not make it seem personal to you that it might have been just some of the younger or less experienced that led to him being in that seat because you know where he’s coming from?
A: Yeah I think for me, it’s a matter of big picture. 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. I want to see Lorenzo [Alexander] and Kyle [Williams] and the rest of our guys succeed. So, I just want to see that happen.
Q: How do you feel Lafayette [Pitts] played in Vontae’s [Davis] replacement yesterday?
A: I thought he did a really good job. I think we were all really pleased with how he played considering the amount of snaps that he got during the course of the week. He’s not one of those guys that get a lot of reps. He’s giving the scout team a look and he’s kind of a down the line type of guy when it comes to getting reps in practice. For him to step in and play as much as he did and as well as he did, kudos to him. That means he was paying attention to the game plan, even though he wasn’t getting reps in practice, and taking care of business like a pro. So, he did a really good job.
Q: Do you expect teams to attack Tremaine’s [Edmunds] passing game, the way the Chargers did after watching that and seeing some of the success that they had, and what can Tremaine do to maybe help out and be a little better position or attacking differently?
A: Yeah if you look at the tape, maybe some kids try some things, but Tremaine, he’s going to get better every single week so what they may see on tape today, may not be there on Sunday if they want to try some of those things, but he’s going to get better. He’s going to learn from his mistakes and improve on some of the things that he’s done well. So, we’re not overly concerned with where he is when it comes to pass coverage because we know that he’s going to become better the more he sees things, and he’ll just keep progressing.
Q: Leslie what kind of feelings come back up to the surface when you go back to Minnesota?
A: It’s been a few years now, but you know you still have some fans there, it’s a good environment to be in, with great fans, just like how we have great fans here in Buffalo as well. Just a lot of good relationships back in Minnesota and a lot of fond memories.
Q: What did you see as far as improvement in the defense and were you encouraged with how the defense performed, at least over two quarters compared to the previous six?
A: Yeah I told our defense in our meeting this afternoon, the way they fought, and we talked about this at halftime, we talked about not looking at the scoreboard and playing one play at a time, and just give it everything that you have one play at a time. For that mindset to be there, and it was, they played hard. They played as if the score was 0-0. You know, we’ve got to keep that going for sure. I think that we’re making some progress, and time will tell, but I think we’re making some progress.
Q: Leslie, in your opinion, what was the key that kind of unlocked the pass rush in the second half? It didn’t seem like [the same type of performance] as we saw in the first six quarters.
A: I think being able to put them in some predictable third down situations, that helped a little bit. Just the fact that we found a way to win some one-on-one’s. The rush that Lorenzo [Alexander] had, Trent [Murphy] had a good rush as well, and Jerry [Hughes] winning his one-on-one. Jerry was consistently being in their backfield throughout, just a step late, maybe, in getting the sack, but he had some hurdles throughout the game. For him to finally get the quarterback on the ground was good to see.
Q: Leslie, we saw Ramon [Humber] back in there sometimes for Matt Milano in the second half. Is that going to be a continuing rotation and what led to that change?
A: I don’t know if we’ll continue it, but we’ll look at it this week and just see what’s best for the group. Matt has been playing very, very well. Ramon, we have a trust there in his ability to play. There are going to be times where we want to give Matt a break and vice versa with Ramon. Ramon is a capable outside backer, and it was just a matter of being able to spare him at times and we may continue it depending on the game plan we put in.