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What They Said: Bills coaches in aftermath of ugly loss, preparing for Patriots

Head Coach Sean McDermott

Monday, October 22, 2018

Alright, I’ll give you an injury update here. Trent Murphy, he’ll be week-to-week with a knee… think you saw Trent go down late in the game there. LeSean [McCoy] is in concussion protocol. Josh Allen remains week-to-week, and then Taiwan Jones the same with his neck. With that, we’ll open it up to your questions.

Q: I don’t mean to be cute asking the question this way, but when you say ‘week-to-week’ on those guys, does that mean this week? Do we have a designation as far as this week?

A: As far as Josh [Allen] is concerned?

Q: Yes.

A: Yeah, he’ll be out this week.

Q: Trent [Murphy] also, while we’re there?

A: We’ll see. Some of it we know, some of it we don’t know right now because of how soon it is in the process at this point for some of those guys.

Q: With Josh out, is the plan to remain with Derek [Anderson] at quarterback?

A: Yes.

Q: How do you balance knowing that you’ve got few options with the team that you have and the results? How do you balance what your expectations are, knowing that there are young guys?

A: You keep the vision in front of you. You try to continue to communicate that. I know these guys have worked hard. We haven’t always seen the fruits of our labor, or their labor, and you’ve got to stay on it. Stay on the grind, seize the opportunities when they present themselves as we move forward. I’ve appreciated the way they’ve worked to this point.

Q: I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but what do you take away from yesterday’s performance and how the team somewhat unraveled?

A: It wasn’t the step we wanted to take. I didn’t think we won the line of scrimmage, which is key to winning football games, both offensively and defensively. From that, things didn’t go our way. We’ve got to make sure we establish the line of scrimmage moving forward, both in the run and the pass game, because things really fall from that whether it’s stopping the run, being able to run the football, affecting the quarterback, and then keeping our quarterback with a clean pocket.

Q: Can you point to anything as to why you had trouble establishing the line of scrimmage on the defensive side? You had been really good against the run and [Indianapolis] did some things that hadn’t happened before?

A:  Just trying to do too much overall. I felt like, to your point, we played some pretty solid defense. I just thought that overall, probably trying to do too much instead of just being in our gap and doing things the right way like we had done up to that point. Sometimes that happens, but either way, we’ve got to get it corrected moving forward.

Q: With LeSean, was he able to travel back with the team last night?

A: Yes.

Q: I know it’s so early in this process and concussions can have varying degrees of severity, but do you have an early feel for Monday?

A: No, I don’t. He’s in the protocol. That’s all I can say right now.

Q: What did you take away from Brian Daboll being on the field and that difference?

A: I think that’s probably a better question directly for Brian. Overall, the communication and being around the quarterbacks, I think, is key. The communication from the sideline to the quarterback on the field. And also, like I mentioned yesterday, being able to watch and look at the guys in their eyes when they came off in between each series.

Q: Is that something you have influence on – whether or not he wants to be down there [on the field] or up in the box?

A: At the end of the day, I give him the right to call it from where he feels most comfortable. Sometimes, that changes from week to week. I did that in Carolina on the defensive side a few times… whether for these reasons or for other reasons, a no-huddle offense where I wanted to get the call in right away. So different situations call for different positions, if you will.

Q: Could you elaborate on that? Because that’s an interesting thing – about what other examples would come into play, at least from your standpoint when you were in Carolina with whether or not you were one or the other?

A: If I was up and I wanted to come down, whether it was from a leadership standpoint or from a strategic standpoint if we were facing a no-huddle offense, where I wanted to get the call in myself right away, instead of putting it into – this is before you could call it right in from the booth – getting it to a coach, who would then give it to the middle linebacker. Just from a strategic standpoint, some of those things come into play.

Q: How do you get more out of an offense given the limitations you have?

A: It comes back to fundamentals and technique. We’ve got to make sure we’re dialed in on all the fundamentals and technique, and then we’re all on the same page with those fundamentals and technique. As it relates to our communications, we had some times where they had free runners in our backfield just in the run game just to start because we weren’t passing things off the way we should have been from a fundamental and technique standpoint.

Q: All that said, the offense has struggled to produce points all season long. How can you coax more out of that unit that is off to one of the worst starts in franchise history?

A: Continue to develop and build. We’ve got some players there that maybe haven’t played either in this league or in roles as big as they’re expected to now. We’ve got to continue to get the ball in the hands of our best football players.

Q: Sean, you guys averaged 6.1 yards per carry yesterday basically without LeSean. Do you look at that as encouraging or do you look at it as discouraging in that you haven’t been able to maybe produce like that all season when he’s been in the lineup?

A: Well, there’s obviously two different ways to look at it, right? I mean, you look at why we haven’t been able to do that when he’s been in the lineup. But overall, I look at it from a positive standpoint. That was growth right there. I’d like to see us do it earlier in the game at times to establish the line of scrimmage that I talked about earlier. I think that’s important for us in setting the tone offensively early.

Q: There were a few guys on defense that mentioned [Indianapolis] hit you with some schemes or looks that you guys maybe weren’t ready for. What were those, and how do you make sure that doesn’t happen moving forward?

A: I think overall, there was probably… I can think of one or two that are unique-type situations schematically. But overall, there really wasn’t all that much of things that we hadn’t seen before. But again, give them credit, like I said after the game. They did a good job. But overall, we could’ve done a better job of playing more physical at the line of scrimmage, more disciplined in our gaps, which, when you’re talking about run defense, gap integrity, as you’ve heard me use that word before, that not only speaks to the front seven, but the [defensive backs] as well. We expect our corners to be a big part of that.

Q: In some ways, is it going from out of the frying pan into the fire playing five games on the road to now hosting Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on a primetime game? It doesn’t get any easier for you.

A: Well, we’ve been on the road. You take the way the schedule comes to you. It will be nice to get home. Being on the road five out of the first seven is not what is comfortable maybe as playing at home. We like playing at home, we like playing in front of our fans. This’ll be a big week for us in terms of the energy around the city and creating an environment in our stadium where it’s hard to play, especially for visiting teams and offenses to do their thing.

Q: How important is it for this young group of guys to go out and perform on Monday Night Football and show that this is a different team than what they saw on Sunday?

A: It’s that, but it’s also balancing for some of our young guys. First time on Monday Night Football and then you add the equation of the opponent and some of the personnel, with respect to the quarterback, and Tom, that they go out and execute. It’s really an opportunity for us to continue to grow, and execute.

Q: What does Monday Night Football mean to these generations of players?

A: I remember growing up, I couldn’t wait to get home from school on Monday’s because of Monday Night Football. The theme song of it was pretty cool. They still have the same song right? I used to try to sneak the fact that I was really supposed to be sleeping, and I was keeping one eye on the TV for as long as I could, as a young guy you know? To me, it’s part of an American tradition, Monday Night Football. It brings a lot of energy and excitement to a town.

Q: Do you find yourself trying to soak in an event like Monday Night Football?

A: I think there is a fine line there, a balance. I’ve got a young football team on my hands, on our hands, the biggest thing is that we treat it as a normal game, with all due respect to the opponent and having it home. It’s great that we’re going to have a home game, number one, playing in front of our fans. We have to continue to grow and be able to execute in a situation like this. I’ve found that if you get too high than you lose yourself in the moment, and we can’t do that. This will be a little bit of a challenge for us and some of our young players, but it’s got to be one that they’re looking forward to.

Q: Is there something about the Patriots and them playing more primetime games than the Bills that would give them an edge?

A: Just myself being around it before, with the two different teams that I was with before I came here, the better team you have the more primetime games you get, and that’s the draw. Those become a common place. One week after another, or every other week you’re playing a primetime game, and I’ll tell you it’s hard on coaches, because the late hours that are involved with those primetime games and having to turnaround the next morning and come right back and get it going again is sometimes exhausting. Overall, yeah you can say give them the advantage because they’ve been there before.

Q: What is the status with Ray-Ray McCloud?

A: Yeah, we’re right back where we were a week ago, and looking to get going and have a good week here. Last week like a mentioned after the game, was a football decision and we’ll leave it at that.

Q: Why didn’t he make the trip?

A: Yeah that was a football decision.

Q: How does it feel that on a Monday when most teams will be working their rosters on a Monday and you’ll be preparing your team for a football game?

A: Yeah that’s where Brandon [Beane] and his staff come in, and Brandon and I talk quite a bit, but I know that Brandon’s on top of that.

Q: How do you proceed with the trade deadline approaching?

A: The bulk of the work is done by Brandon and his staff, just because I can’t be in two places at once. To your point, Brandon communicates on those things, and if there’s something out there he’ll let me know and we can talk about it and then move forward from there.

Q: Do you talk to your players about that business side of football at all?

A: No, they understand. I shouldn’t say understand, they’re aware of that. We’ve got some young players that may not totally understand how that works, but they’re aware of that I’m sure. It’s part of locker room talk, or locker room awareness. They watch their own social media like you guys are, and they see different players from different teams moving, and so they’re aware of that.

Q: Where do you see this team’s confidence?

A: I think naturally their confidence is a little shaken. I thought we came off of a game at Minnesota where we beat a team that is currently in first place, so confidence is high after a game like that. You come off of the Houston game, I think confidence was still fairly high coming off of the game. Again, you look at Houston and now they’re in first place, so that was a game where you don’t like to play the could’ve, would’ve, should’ve game, but we’d like to be able to say that we can close that game out. Last week we obviously didn’t take that step that I wanted to, but every week in the NFL is a new week, so you have to come back. Get back on the horse and grow from the areas, and make adjust from the areas where we weren’t up to par last week and continue to develop this football team.

Q: Does it concern you the wide margins in these losses?

A: Yeah there’s been a couple of those. I think when you go back and look at those games, in particular you don’t take care of the football, that usually leads to those types of margins, if you will. Take care of the football, and you give yourself a chance by the way you play to win based off of who you are and who your opponent is. I think we’d all like to be out there posting 50 points. I’m sure there are a lot of head coaches that are out there that would sleep a lot easier if they knew that they were going to get 50 points a night. That’s just not where we are right now, so we just have to understand who we are, where we are of this process and trying to get this thing going in the right direction. I do believe that there’s been wins, it just hasn’t been like this last week on the scoreboard. We’re developing some young players who are also learning how to play in this league and continue to grow every week.


Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll

Monday, October 22, 2018

Opening Statement: So anytime you have five turnovers in a game, regardless of what game you’re playing, you’re not going to have a very good chance to win. We had three picks, two fumbles. Got behind early, had a couple opportunities in the beginning of the game when it was 6-0 on that drive, and we ended up fumbling in the red zone. Then we came back at the end in the two-minute drive and turned it over again. Game got out of hand there midway through the third quarter after we stalled and got a field goal. Five turnovers, that’s not acceptable.

Q: What was the week like trying to prepare Derek [Anderson] on short notice and put together a game plan with what he was comfortable with?

A: He spent a lot of time here. He’s a professional, he cares about it. Obviously, he hasn’t been in a camp, so what we were trying to do was go back through installs that we have had and plays he’s felt comfortable with and put together a package that he can go out there and know the verbiage of it, call the play. He can call it, see it in his head, be able to process it quickly. And on top of that, getting to the throws and the catches and the extra reps with the guys that he’s still getting used to a little bit here. It was a long week, lot of time spent. And that’s the type of guy that he is. He’s going to work at it. But obviously, we’ve got a ways to go.

Q: How difficult is it coaxing more production out of this offense given some of the limitations that you’ve had to deal with?

A: It just is what it is. We’ve got to do a good job with it and be better. At the end of the day, that’s our job.

Q: Brian, it was 6-0 when Charles [Clay] lost that fumble inside the red zone. Of a player of his caliber, what you guys expect out of him to do for you, how crucial of a mistake was that at that moment?

A: Anytime you turn the football over, particularly down there in the scoring zone, that’s a momentum changer. I know there’s no one that’s more distraught about it than Charles. He’s a big-time team player. It was unfortunate that we got the ball stripped there and they got into it. But it’s a momentum changer. When you turn the football over, it’s a momentum changer, particularly at that juncture of the game where we were at.

Q: Brian, where do you guys put the resilience factor at this point of the season with how bad you’ve struggled?

A: Well, I mean, that’s pro football. We know we’re now where we need to be. And you have to be mentally strong, whether you’re doing well or you’re not doing well. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum. You have to have short term memory. You have to look at the things that you need to improve on, which, for us, is a lot. Go out there during the week, try to have a really good week, study your opponent, and then translate it to the game by making productive plays and executing well. Look, no one wants to be where we’re at. And everybody’s disappointed. Put me at the top of the list. So we’re going to continue to grind it out and try to get better.

Q: Coach, what’s something you took away that you still carry with you that you learned from Coach [Bill] Belichick?

A: I was with him for 11 years, so there’s not much that I haven’t taken from him or learned from him. He’s a phenomenal football coach, and his track record speaks for itself.

Q: What did you take away from being down on the sidelines as opposed to up in the booth?

A: I think the communication, particularly with [Derek Anderson] early on… Communicating back and forth with him is important. I just thought that would be a good time to go ahead and go down there so I could communicate with those guys.

Q: Do you think you’ll continue to do that? Is that something that maybe Derek was comfortable with?

A: Yeah. This week, I will. I’ll be down there.

Q: In New England, you were part of what remains one of the most dominant stretches, how the Patriots have essentially owned the Bills for quite some time. Do you know what you’re going up against? What’s it going to be like on the other side?

A: Every week is a different week. I’ve been on the opposite sideline of New England before. In this business, you travel back and forth to different teams and you’ve really got to try to block that out and look at the players they have now and the coaches. Obviously, there’s some familiarity with those guys, but do a good job of going out and preparing no different than any other week.

Q: Given how young and new some of your players are, does New England have an edge having prime-time experience playing under the lights? Might that play into a factor?

A: The one thing I did learn from Bill is that, look, every week is a different week. You just got to do a good job that week. Where you play, when you play, the weather… both teams have to play the same thing.

Q: You mention how long of a week it was and how much work Derek put in. What did you kind of observe about where he was at just mentally and physically coming out of a game like that?

A: He’s another guy that cares a great deal. Going out there and putting it on the ground one time and in their hands three times, I know he doesn’t feel very good about that. But that’s on all of us. What I do know that I’m going to get from DA is…he works so hard at it. And again, he hasn’t been around it for a little bit. He’s a strong-minded guy.

Q: Do you see being able to give him a lot more work, a little more work in terms of what he’s comfortable with this week?

A: Yeah, I think you’ve got to kind of grow with it. Again, there’s a fine line between putting too much on him and then not enough. You don’t want a call sheet like that [motioning a small amount] but you also don’t want to give him so many things. It’s important that he feels comfortable with the plays because again, he might be throwing a route in practice and then the next time he throws it in the game versus maybe 70, 80 times in an OTA or training camo form. You have to be smart with that.

Q: How much will you be involved in defensive meetings this week?

A: I don’t know, I’m not sure. I’m sure they’ll ask at some point here, but we’ll find out.

Q: Coach, I don’t think we’ve spoken to you since you guys promoted Cam [Phillips] from the practice squad, but tell us a little bit about what you liked about him to make that move and what did he need to do maybe to get in that spot coming out of training camp?

A: Sure. He’s a guy that, you try to reward guys that do well and do the things that you need them to do. He’s had a ton of reps on the practice squad in terms of the show team and giving looks on the other guys, particularly, they’re number one receivers. [He’s] really done a good job with it and he earned the opportunity to come up and play. I think you promote positive things on your team when you can give a guy on the practice squad an opportunity to come up. As long as he’s doing the right thing on and off the field and competing and working hard, I think that was a good thing for us.

Q: What were your thoughts on the offensive line yesterday?

A: Yeah, those guys have been grinding it out. [It was] not as good as we wanted it to be up front. We’ve got to do a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage; that’s where the games start.

Q: [In regards to] LeSean [McCoy], I know his status is unknown for next week, but you guys were able to run for 6.1 yards per carry yesterday. Do you attribute that to Chris [Ivory] and Marcus [Murphy] being ready to go when their number was called and how confident are you in them if they have to do it again next week?

A: Yeah, I’m confident in both of those guys; they’re good players. Again, some of them were a little bit later in the game with some softer coverage, so we broke a couple runs, but both of those guys have proven when they have the opportunities that they do a nice job for us.

Q: What makes Tom [Brady] so good?

A: I don’t know, you’ve seen him. I think you’ve seen all of the highlights and been around long enough. He’s smart, instinctive, accurate, good leader, great practice player, knows where to go with the ball, quick release, understands his protections, been in the same system for 19, 18 years. Yeah, he’s real good.

Q: In regards to Derek, you guys were moving the ball at times and I know when you sign a guy like that, you probably in some areas don’t know what to expect because he’s been out of football and it’s been awhile since you’ve been with him. Physically, does he still have it? Can he still, once he gets up to speed, play in this league?

A: Yeah. There were some promising things from DA. Obviously, the turnovers are killers, but the timing that he threw with when he hit his back foot and wasn’t holding onto the ball too long, that’s an instinctive thing that he’s had for a while playing in the league. To just come out and do it with some guys who you just started throwing with, we have to obviously make big time improvements with some of the other things, but there were some things that he did a good job with.

Q: One of the things that you were talking about was that Kelvin Benjamin had his best day. He was out for a few hours before the game started working with Derek it seemed like. Was there anything different about last week, or was it just clicking between those two?

A: Well, they’ve been together there in Carolina, but KB goes out there early, too. They’ve done that since the preseason with those guys. There’s obviously a comfort level when you play with somebody for a little while. Yeah, he did a nice job.

Q: At this point in the season, is there more of a of burden on your defense to help your offense given the point where you are?

A: It’s just a matter of playing good complimentary football based on where we are. As mentioned earlier, we haven’t been moving the ball as well as we’d like to move the ball, and so we have to make sure that we’re complimenting one another, and playing the game in a way which it allows us to do that.


Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier

Monday, October 22, 2018

Opening Statement: Good afternoon guys. [It was] a tough day for our run defense yesterday. [We] really struggled to defend the run. After taking a look at that tape, we feel like we have an idea of what we need to do to solve that. They weren’t really runs that we haven’t seen, we just didn’t defend them as well as we’re capable of. It’ll really be back to the basics when we come back and start preparing for our next opponent, but I think that the things that we saw yesterday are correctable and we do believe we have the people on our club to get it corrected and we’ll have to work as hard as we can to make sure we prepare correctly and do a better job of defending the run in our next ballgame.

Q: Leslie, if there’s anybody that’s going to look at the tape and look at weaknesses and try to expose them, it’s Bill Belichick. All opponents will, but how much do you need to correct those mistakes knowing who your next opponent is and how long he’s been around?

A: I think you said it, it doesn’t really matter who you’re playing when a team rushes the football as well as they did yesterday against us, they’re going to copycat and see if you have corrected those mistakes. This team won’t be any different than the team we’re going to be playing on [Monday] and we’ll have to address those issues and come up with some answers. I think we can.

Q: Sean [McDermott] said it was a product of maybe trying to do a little too much on defense. What happened in the run game? Was it schematically doing a little too much or is it players trying to do too much on their own because they might feel the pressures of needing to get a turnover or making a big play?

A: I think, like I said earlier, there really wasn’t anything that we experienced run-wise that we hadn’t seen before. It’s just a matter of our not figuring the runs quite like we had in the past few weeks. It’s a matter of our going back and hitting some of those over and over again to make sure our technique and our fundamentals are sound in what we’re doing and that we are where we should be gap-wise; guys not getting out of our gaps and trying to make a play that’s not their play. Just going back to some of the basics of playing good run defense.

Q: So can that be a product of the defense feeling that they need to make a play to get the ball because the offense is struggling [and] maybe they’re doing a little too much and not being disciplined because they’re trying too hard to maybe not do their job?

A: I hope that’s not the case, because we talk all the time about doing you job and being 1/11th. It should never be a matter of doing more than I’m required to do on any given play. I hope it’s just a matter of our getting a little anxious and maybe getting out of our fundamentals but having nothing to do with doing more than we should. It’s hard to be good on defense if you’re trying to do someone else’s job, so it really comes back to being focused on my job.

Q: What about the challenges, aside from the things you need to correct, facing Tom Brady and knowing what he’s capable of doing and has done against you and other teams on many occasions? What are the challenges of that and those two together?

A: Well, he’s obviously a terrific quarterback and a Hall of Fame quarterback, so he presents a lot of challenges for any defense that faces him. We’ll definitely be challenged on Monday, but that’s part of what we do. In the NFL, you face great players all the time, and we’ll have to be able to rise to the challenge.

Q: Have you noticed what Josh Gordon add to their offense?

A: I watched a little bit of him this afternoon just to get a peek. He’s a vertical threat, a big receiver that can really run, has tremendous talent and I’ve got to get more familiarity with how they’re using him, which we will over the next few days. I just know that he’s a big, physical talent that has a lot of athletic ability.

Q: How will Brian Daboll be involved in your preparation this week given that he has such familiarity with the Patriots offense?

A: We’ll definitely pick his brain for sure. We’ll ask him as much as we can to try to get behind the curtain a little bit and learn as much as we can about their offense and how they put it together and how they game plan for opponents. We’ll definitely try to utilize his knowledge of their offense over the course of the week.

Q: You’ve probably been in this situation before, just given your years in coaching where you’ve had a guy on the staff recently of an opponent. How does that work? Can you maybe give an example without sharing too much information about how you sit down and share this stuff?

A: Well, we’ll just sit down and talk how we’re talking right now and give him some scenarios of what we have on defense and how we’re thinking and see how they’d counteract that. Just whatever he might know about their personnel and so on and so forth. We’ll delve into it as a defensive staff with him and pick his brain a little bit.

Q: In the running game, I mean you’ve probably seen about every scheme or run that they can throw at you, but did the Colts do anything that they haven’t been doing in previous games to mix it up? That was kind of an abnormal rushing output for them.

A: There were a few wrinkles, but really nothing that we haven’t seen with some of the things that they did. Maybe they hadn’t put all those runs on tape, but we’ve seen them at some point or another from other opponents and we just didn’t handle them very well. Now, having [Marlon] Mack back, obviously helped their run game after coming off the hamstring injury, but like I said before, their runs were runs that we’ve defended in the past and we’ve got to get back on track.

Q: How disheartening is it after coming off four really stout defensive efforts. They weren’t all wins, but given the turnovers and the few touchdowns that you allowed to watch that happen?

A: It’s disappointing; our guys are disappointed. We are trying to set a standard on defense, and we didn’t play up to that standard yesterday. It was not playoff caliber, and we have to play better. We’ve got to play a lot better on defense. We know that and we have to get it done the next time we play.

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