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What They Said: Bills coaches talk upset win, Josh Allen, injuries and more

Head Coach Sean McDermott

Monday, September 24, 2018

Opening: Okay we’ll start it off with questions.

Q: Where do we stand with the injuries?

A: Yeah, I’ll hit a couple of the main guys. LeSean [McCoy] is progressing well, he still has the rib [injury] and will be day-to-day this week. Shaq Lawson with the hamstring, again he’s progressing well. It looks like he’ll be practicing as he heads into the week, as it stands right now. Trent Murphy has a little bit of an ankle, coming off of the game and he’ll be day-to-day. Overall at this point, we feel like we came out of the game very well.

Q: Can you grasp what your team accomplished, given how low the expectations were?

A: We just take it one game at a time. I don’t know about expectations. All we focus on is what is going on in this building and trying to develop this young football team. You saw some of that yesterday. I thought we took a step, as I mentioned after the game, Jon, in terms of where we’re trying to go. I thought the guys played fast, played with a good amount of energy, a positive energy through four quarters. Effort, I thought was outstanding, and so there’s some things we can do better as well. Pre-snap penalties, you can’t do that to yourself in a big game, and against a good opponent. We stalled some drives, and left some opportunities on the field, and all of that is the some of the areas we need to work on this week.

Q: Can you explain the severity given how poorly this team looked through the first six quarters of the season, to what has gone on over the past six?

A: You know, again it’s about developing a young football team. Getting a better feel for who we are, understanding our players. I’ve seen progress in the past six quarters compared to the first six quarters, I know that has been mentioned out there and I think it’s accurate. The players worked hard, the coaches have worked hard to get on the same page. I think the communication has been a big part of that, but there’s still a lot of work to do, and we’re still early in the season. We just have to continue to go through that process and getting on the same page, and putting the players in positions to be successful, then playing fast and disciplined and executing.

Q: How much attitude adjustment has happened from the start of the season, to what we saw yesterday?

A: I think the number one the leadership, the player driven leadership, Tim, has been phenomenal. There’s a group of guys that I count on, a core group of leaders that have gotten in front of this football team and have led by example, led verbally, have been servant leaders. All of the above, and the guys really follow that group overall, and I would say that every team is different, and this team is starting to take on its shape of its own and learn its own identity, and I think guys are starting to figure out who they are in the group and embrace that as well. Which is just good to see, but its come through a lot of hard work and a lot of communication, and that will continue to be the case. With this young football team, there’s still going to be growing pains, and guys making some plays that sometimes go the way we don’t want them to go, and that’s all part of the growth process.

Q: Coach, when you go back and watch what Ryan Lewis did with you, for him to come out of this game the way that he played, what did you see from him, and how was he able to take that approach and really go in there and do his job.

A: Yeah, I’m extremely proud of Ryan. I think we as a staff, and overall with his teammates, are extremely proud of Ryan. To come in just over two weeks ago, give or take, because I know there was a time where he was here, and then away, and back again, I just really appreciated the way that he played when his number was called. That’s really a part of what we do, and who we are. Coach [John] Butler got him ready, and Ryan put the time in himself, and I thought did a great job out there yesterday. Played fast, physical, tough nosed football.

Q: How encouraging is it to see the way that Josh [Allen] played out there yesterday, especially being so early in his career?

A: Yeah, you know the environment, let’s just start there, is not an easy one, nor will the environment this week will be an easy one, but overall to go into an environment like that, against that type of defense, against a team overall that has been where we want to get to, in the NFC championship game just a year ago or just shy of a year ago. I thought that he was poised and to be able to see the game in which he has seen it to this point, I think would suggest that he is on schedule. Still a lot of work to do and I know Josh has said the same and will continue to say that because we as a team have a lot of work to do, but yeah, I was pleased with the way that he handled things, in particular in the first half. I thought the thing that goes a little bit unnoticed was the situational football. I think there was a play right before half where we had a third and long, and he came back and got us back into field goal range to get three critical points before half there.

Q: When you went back and watched, what were some of the factors that led to him getting rid of the football a lot quicker this week compared to the previous week.

A: I think just experience overall. I think time on task. Familiarity with the system, familiarity with the guys that are playing around him. I though tour offensive line did a good job for the most part. We just have to continue to embrace that growth mindset and evolve overall as an offense and evolve overall as a football team.

Q: How much are you holding your breath when he [Josh Allen] scrambles? This is your franchise guy, are you worried with the amount of hits that he is subjected to?

A: Yeah, I mean we’ve around long enough in this league to know that those things tend to build up, and I think that the part is to be calculated, yet aggressive, and he’s an athlete and you saw that, I think a lot of people saw that yesterday with the hurdle. I’m not going to take that away from him, but there’s a time and a place for it as well, and that’s all a part of an added dimension to our offense. At the end of the day I want him to throw first and run second.

Q: [Josh Allen’s] hurdle… it seemed to continue your momentum, if not continue building it. It seemed to be in some ways, as careless as it was or maybe fearless as it was, it was an aggressive time and place, in some ways. What do you make of that play?

A: I think the takeaway for me was it was a critical third down. [Minnesota] blitzed, and Josh found a seam and took it. The part I like about it was he was decisive. You don’t always see that with young players. I thought overall, our team was decisive and played fast. Whenever you do that, usually good things happen. There’s going to be some mistakes, and we have to live with that as we go through this with a young football team. We’re going to continue to develop these guys.

Q: Did you have some rookies that were worried about making a mistake out there and that was prohibiting their natural playing ability?

A: I just think overall, you have to get a better feel for your team. That’s natural this time of year. I know that’s talked about around the league… getting a feel for your players, getting a feel for your coaches, and then everyone getting on the same page. I know we have a very good staff, and a staff that’s very thorough with their preparation. Sometimes, we have to make sure we allow these young guys to go into a game with clear minds so that they can play fast.

Q: Not in regards to Josh Allen in particular, but what’s your view on how roughing the passer penalties have been called this season, both in your games or maybe league-wide?

A: You know, overall, I’ve said this before, that the officials are human. They’re going to call some things accurately and call some things that we wish they had called differently. But overall, I think the thing we strive for, both at the league and as coaches, is consistency. I know they’re doing the best job they can do, and player safety is #1.

Q: What made you choose Leslie [Frazier] as the recipient of the game ball?

A: If you look at his past, Leslie has been the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. I knew that game meant a lot to Leslie. He’ll probably say otherwise, but I think it’s human nature to want to go out and put your best foot forward against your old team. I’m extremely proud of Leslie and happy for him at the same time.

Q: Coach, LeSean [McCoy] was on the sideline using the tablet, going up to different players… I called him “Coach McCoy” at one point, the way he was looking out there. What does it say about him? Here’s this potential Hall of Fame player to be in that role, and for the rest of the guys to see that.

A: We talk a lot about roles when we go back to the conversation that we were having a few minutes ago about understanding this football team and the individuals within the team. His role yesterday was to lead from the sideline, and I thought he did a phenomenal, phenomenal job of that. I couldn’t be more proud of the way he approached his role and just encouraging the guys that were on the field, whether it was offense, defense, or special teams. And then also starting to get himself healthy, as well. Getting himself ready to go this week.

Q: How do you assess where you think Kelvin Benjamin is at through three games right now?
A: I think there are some plays that he’s made. There were a couple third downs yesterday that I think were big for us. Certainly, I know there were some balls that I know he’d like to have back in terms of some plays on the ball. I think he continues to make progress, and he’ll continue to get better. And that’s what we’re looking forward to, just like our entire football team. He’s a guy that Josh [Allen] counts on, and will continue to count on moving forward.

Q: How concerning are those opportunities that [Kelvin Benjamin] missed earlier in the game, particularly when it comes to trying to support a rookie quarterback and lift him up?
A: Well, they’re concerning because they’re critical plays. From a fundamental standpoint, we need to make those plays. We’re leaving points or opportunities on the field, and if you do that enough, it’s going to come back to haunt you. Whether it’s pre-snap penalties, fundamentally catching the football, whatever it is, we have to continue to grow and move in the right direction with this football team.

Q: How do you explain Lorenzo Alexander playing some of the best football of his career at this point with his age? It still looks like you’re moving him all over the place on defense, as well.

A: I don’t have an answer for you on that one. The guy’s unreal, just in terms of his effort. There was a play in the game in the fourth quarter, I think it was about 7 minutes to go, and he’s literally rushing the passer falling backwards but his feet kept going. That’s great leadership by example, and our young players need to continue to watch guys like Lorenzo, to develop the habits that are so necessary at this level. There are a lot of talented players in this league, but when you can combine the habits with the talent like Lorenzo has been able to do, you get a front row seat to see what it’s all about.

Q: How much did this team need that performance, given some of the doubt and some of the struggles, just to validate what your reason is and the team’s perception of itself to at least make it feel better after the struggles?
A: That always helps]. It really does. To be honest with you, overall, I think the guys trust what we’re doing and we’ve seen results. It just hasn’t always showed up on the scoreboard. Again, when you look at the last 6 quarters, the way they’ve been able to play, I think says a lot about the group. We’re not still where we need to be. We’re not a finished product, and we understand that. We have to continue to grow and develop and make progress, and I thought there were significant signs of progress yesterday. When you look at the number of young players that were on the field - first-year players, second-year players, and then players that are new to us in their first year here - just in our 2-deep in our offense and defense alone, it’s remarkable the way the guys came out and played the last 6 quarters in particular.

Q: How impressed have you been with the way [Tre’Davious] White has taken on that role in really trying to shut down the opposition’s top receivers?
A: He’s a guy that probably wasn’t mentioned a lot yesterday, but when [Minnesota] tested him, he was in position. That’s the bottom line: when you’re in that position, I’ve been around some pretty good corners that have played that role before, you can go a whole game, 65 plays, and in 64 of them, they’re going the other direction. But in that 65th play, you better still be in position like you were the first 64 plays, and I thought he was in position when he was challenged yesterday.

Q: From a defensive standpoint, the aggression you had, the interceptions, forced fumbles, the whole thing. It’s fun for the team, fun for the fans, but it might not be the best thing to do game-to-game. How do you judge how aggressive you want to be? From an aggression standpoint on defense, where do you think the meter needs to be week-to-week?

A: To me, a defense starts with aggressiveness. Bottom line. Whether that means calculated aggressiveness or knowing your role enough to be aggressive, knowing when you can and can’t be aggressive within a scheme, within a system, within a play, I think that all factors in, in different areas and different times. I thought the biggest thing yesterday defensively was we were playing fast. We weren’t always accurate, we weren’t always where we were supposed to be, but the guys were flying around. They knew their job, they knew their 1/11th, and I thought the techniques and fundamentals continue to grow and develop which is important for us.

 

Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll
Monday, September 24, 2018

Q: Coach after going back and watching the film, what did you think about Josh’s [Allen] overall game and how he progressed?

A: Yeah, there were obviously some good things for him. [He] was good with his reads for the most part and made some loose plays with his feet. [There are] a lot of things to still clean up on. I think his footwork is getting better, his eye control and getting the ball out on time is getting better, but there are some good examples, like there were last week, of somethings we need to clean up. [It will] continue to be a work in progress. Make sure we don’t give him too much week to week to improve on, just a couple of things. The ball was out of our hands three times in some form or fashion, so we need to make sure we do a better job with that. [He] did a good job with leading his team and controlling the game we needed to control it.

Q: Brian, when you were leading the way that you were in the second half, how do you balance being content to kill the clock versus staying in a rhythm offensively as well?

A: I think you have to be smart in terms of the situation. I’ve been in games where we’ve been down a bunch and came back. I think it depends on the situation. We were pretty aggressive early on, came out throwing in the second half, fumbled a snap, we called the shot play, had a sack, had another kind of double move, sort of shot, and that’s when Josh kind of scrambled around and got the ball knocked out. The next time we got the ball back was somewhere five minutes, six, eleven, so we were going to be smart in what we did, still try to gain first downs and score, but really be smart. It was a four score game at that time.

Q: Brian, what’s the history of your touch pass?

A: Yeah, the timing was a little bit off what that with the motion. The quarterback has got to clearly control it before he gives it to him, so that was kind of a bang-bang play. He did a good job of getting on the ball. We have to make sure we’re smart on those and getting on top of the ball, but we’ve done it a good amount.

Q: Do you need to go to the league to have them take a closer look [at it, saying] “this is something that we do, maybe your officials aren’t used to seeing it” and you get tagged with a fumble yesterday and it could’ve been an incomplete pass?

A: Yeah, I think whatever they call, they call. You always make sure you’re coaching it the right way and making sure that the players are doing it the right way in accordance to how the league sees it. Whichever way they see it, we’re going to try to coach it that way and make sure we do a good job with it.

Q: Was it supposed to be a pass? Do you view it as a pass?

A: Yeah, it’s a pass if you have enough control of it, which we didn’t. The snap was a little bit late in the timing of it, so it was a bang-bang type of play, and we need to do a better job of it.

Q: Everybody’s making a big deal out of the hurdle, which was something to see. What is your perspective on that and what do you make of what Josh did there?

A: You guys are out there for practice and individual, right? We spend five minutes on hurdling and then the other five minutes on footwork. We have David [Culley] stand out there, [and] Josh makes the leap.

Q: That’s funny.

A: Yeah, he’s a competitive athlete, he’s big, he’s strong, and obviously, we always want to throw first and run second. He’s competitive. It was a good play, we just want him to be smart with his body.

Q: How do you balance that? Do you tell him to work on getting down, because he was going head first not just on that play? He was diving head first on a bunch of different plays.

A: Every play is different in it’s own right, situationally, where we are on the field. Obviously, we want to minimize the hits that the quarterback is going to take throughout the year, because that can build up some. Whether you’re in the red zone, down the field, is there a chance to take a big hit versus to not take a big hit? Those are all things you have to manage. Again, it’s a split-second decision that he is going to have to make in real time. I trust him. He’s an athletic guy; we’re not going to take that away from him. At the same time, he’s got to be smart and know when to say when.

Q:  The timing of it though, it seemed to capture, maybe what does it say about him to be able to do something like that at that time? It was third down and what does that say about Josh?

A: He’s competitive. We have a lot of competitive guys. It was third down and long and they pressured and he switched protection. He did a good job with that and saw a spot and took off. [He] competed to get a first down.

 

Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier

Monday, September 24, 2018

Opening Statement: Good afternoon everyone. It was a great win for our team yesterday on the road against a really good opponent. It was great to see our defense step up and play as well as they did. [We] came really close to pitching a shutout, so it was a great effort by a lot of guys throughout the day. I really want to single out the way Jerry Hughes played, what Matt Milano did, Lorenzo [Alexander], Tre’Davious [White], a bunch of guys on our defense that really stepped up and played well. [They] gave our team a chance to win on the road, which is hard to do. Those takeaways were big, obviously, that led to points and field position. [It was] just a great day all the way around, to win on the road against a really good football team.

Q: Coach, this is your life, your career. With what happened last week, obviously, anybody would go through some ups and downs with the emotions of what happened last week. What did it mean for you to get that game ball after the game and have Sean [McDermott] embrace you and have that team rally around you like that?

A: Well, you know, I’m always concerned about our players. What’s most important is that we give them the best chance to win; that’s all that really matters. Matt, Jerry, those guys on our defense, those guys on our offense, they deserve that game ball far more than I do. They went out and played and they played well. They deserved the win.

Q: What did you make of the game Jerry Hughes had? It seemed like they were comfortable leaving him one-on-one, probably more than they should have.

A: He doesn’t always get that [situation] often where he’s one-on-one. People chip, they keep tight ends in. It was great for us that he found himself in some one-on-one situations. To finish the game, we calculated about ten hurries over the course of the game, of course with the sack and the sack fumble as well. It’s good for us if people want to block him that way. Hopefully, we’ll get more of that, but we’ll see what happens.

Q: How much does it help your defense when it seems like teams don’t want to throw in the way of Tre’Davious White? It seems like he’s taking another step off that great rookie year.

A: Yeah, I’m marveled at Tre’Davious at times. I realize he’s only in his second season and here we are matching him up with other people’s top receivers, and we did some of that his rookie year as well and he doesn’t blink. He competes every single snap, he prepares the way you need to prepare over the course of the week, and he’s really amazing in a lot of ways. He allows us to do some things that, otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to do.

Q: What about how quickly the defense started, just creating those two turnovers right off the bat?

A: It’s something you always talk about and you always emphasize in taking the football away and starting fast. Sometimes, it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. Yesterday, it did. Our guys came in with a great mindset. That first takeaway was purely effort. We did a good job in coverage, showed them something, gave them something different in what we showed them pre-snap. For Trent [Murphy] to get off the ground and come back and force that fumble, [it was] great effort. For Lorenzo, to be hustling like he was and then find the football and protect it and recover it, it was a big deal. A lot of it was effort by the players, which is something we’re always talking about and preaching.

Q: How important is a performance like that, to hold a team at 14-yards rushing and six points given the apparent struggles we have seen over the first six quarters of the season?

A: I think, from my standpoint, although we were struggling statistically, in my own mind, I felt like there were some remedies. As long as you can identify what you think the problems are, and you feel like there are some solutions, you don’t have to press the panic button. You’ve just got to be patient and handle what you need to handle. As you recall, we went through some things similar last season, [so we] just have to hold on, figure it out. As long as you can figure out how to solve those issues, you have a chance to right the ship. What you don’t want to do is send out an alarm signal and panic as if we can’t get it around or get it fixed. Our players believe in what we’re doing, they trust, and that’s a big part of what we do for a living. To see them come out and play the way they did, they blocked out whatever happened in those first two weeks. That’s what you have to be able to do in the National Football League. There are going to be some weeks where it doesn’t go your way, but you can’t let it weigh into the following week. Just like this win, as great as it was yesterday, we talked about this in our meeting this afternoon, in 24 hours, that game is history. It’s all about the Green Bay Packers in the next 24 hours.

Q: What practice made you so comfortable starting Ryan Lewis this week?

A: I don’t know if it was anything in practice. Some of it had to do with the injury to Philip Gaines. I mean, that had a lot to do with it. We went through practice, took a look at what he was doing, took a look at what Lafayette was doing, and just determined that he was our best option at this point. Fortunately for us, he stepped up and really played well. We applauded him in our defensive meeting. His first start as a rookie… to play as well as he did on the road says a lot about Ryan. Also, his position coach, John Butler, getting him prepared, spending a lot of extra time in those final few days once we realized he would have to start, to get him ready for the ballgame, which was not an easy task.

Q: What did [Ryan Lewis] do well in the game?

A: First of all, just understanding our scheme and what we were trying to get accomplished. If you remember, we picked him up before our first ballgame of the season, so he’s only had a short time on task. So that’s asking a lot… to pick up the system, and then be able to incorporate that in a live situation when you’ve only primarily practiced as a scout team player, you haven’t been taking reps with the one- unit. He began to do that later in the week, and credit to him and John. To be prepared and go out there and play with some poise… the way he played at the line of scrimmage, his grasp of the system, the way he handled the various situations in the game, whether it was 1st and 10, 3rd and 3, 3rd and long, red zone, whatever, he handled each one of those situations extremely well.

Q: Defensive philosophy question for you: when you get a team one dimensional, I know that’s kind of your goal or your dream as a coordinator…the game’s getting late, you can just pin your ears back and go. But at the same time, you can give up the big play and let them get back in the game. But if you keep them in front of you, you’re going to give up yards. How do you weigh that? How do you balance that? Is that a challenge for you?
A: That’s a great question because that’s exactly where we were yesterday. We really were almost in a two-minute mode, maybe at the very end of the third quarter...So you have to make a determination whether you want to get after them or whether you want to utilize the clock. You may get some yards, but let’s keep them out of the end zone, not give up chunks. For us, it’s all about the win. We knew based on the situation that we needed to bleed some clock. You’re going to give up some garbage yards that may affect your stats, but you can’t get caught up in that. It’s all about the win. That was our philosophy in that fourth quarter when we had almost a four-score lead. They’re going to get some yards, but let’s not give up a chunk play, a big play that could give some life. Stranger things have happened in the National Football League where they get some momentum at home, and all of a sudden, you’re in a dogfight in the last two minutes of the game. Didn’t want to find ourselves in that situation.

Q: What did you see from Star Lotulelei when you went back and watched, the different ways he was impacting the game?
A: Star has been so consistent for us in the short time we’ve had him. Yesterday, his push up the middle helped our edge rush with Jerry [Hughes], as well as with Trent [Murphy] did off the edge, as well. But between him and Lorenzo [Alexander] and Kyle [Williams] pushing the pocket, we had a consistent push inside that helped our edge. He’s been really tough in the run game, always is where he’s supposed to be and plays hard every single snap. For a veteran guy, for our young guys to see that, much what happens with Kyle [Williams], it’s good for our defense and good for our team.

 

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