Head Coach Sean McDermott
Monday, November 26, 2018
Okay, we’ll go ahead and get started. I’ll start off with a little bit of an injury update for you. John Miller had the oblique strain yesterday - he’s still being evaluated. You look at Lafayette Pitts - he’s in the concussion protocol. Charles Clay is making progress. We’ll see how he looks this week. Derek Anderson also remains in the concussion protocol. With that, I’ll open it up to your questions.
Q: Coach, I know Shaq [Lawson] and Trent [Murphy] were a little nicked. Did they get through the game OK? Taron Johnson, as well?
A: They did. Credit to our medical staff, credit to those guys. Tough football players, and they made it through.
Q: Has the talk already started among the team about winning out and the possibility of making the playoffs?
A: We focus on one game at a time. That’s really where our focus is. As I mentioned before, developing this football team and really embracing that growth mindset. Our focus right now is on the Miami Dolphins.
Q: Sean, after reviewing all of the tape and seeing the brawl that ensued after the play, are you still comfortable with how all of your players reacted and responded to the situation, including Shaq Lawson who was thrown out?
A: Yeah, I mean, it’s unfortunate when something like that happens. It shouldn’t be a part of the game. As I mentioned last night, sometimes things happen when guys are going against each other, and it got competitive out there. I never want to see one of our guys or their guys thrown out. That’s not the way the game is designed to be played. That said, as I mentioned, things were going fast, and at the end of the day, I thought Shaq was defending himself. Punches were being thrown, and so number one, we have to display discipline. But number two, I expect our team to stand up for one another.
Q: What do you make of [Leonard] Fournette coming from off the sidelines and doing that?
A: That was my biggest point of contention was that he came from the other sideline. But at the end of the day, that’s over and done with. We’re moving on, and we’ve got a lot to learn from the tape, and I expect us to do that.
Q: Have you communicated that to the league about Fournette?
Q: Have they been in contact with you about any discipline for either side?
Q: Coach, I know you weren’t thrilled with the run defense in the first half. Just in reviewing the film, did you feel you guys got that effectively corrected in the second half? Even when Fournette was in the game early in the third quarter, you guys were holding them down in the run game.
A: Yeah, I think it was around eight [yards per carry] in the first half versus two-point-something [yards per carry] in the second half. I thought Coach [Leslie] Frazier and the defensive staff made good adjustments, and the players executed. That’s really what it came down to in the first half was our execution, our communication, our execution. That leaves some work on the table for this week.
Q: Sean, there was some talk after the playoff game last year in Jacksonville that part of their game plan was to try to get under your team’s skin. Did you feel that that was part of their game plan yesterday, as well?
A: I don’t know. That’s probably a better question for Coach [Doug] Marrone.
Q: Sean, Robert Foster really seems like over the last couple weeks, he’s put up some big numbers. What’s been the difference for him since you reestablished him on the active roster?
A: I just think we’re watching a young man develop and number one, understanding what it takes to play in this league. He’s earning the right to get playing time, and he’s made the most of his opportunities since coming back. I’ve enjoyed watching him develop and there’s still room for growth there, just like our whole football team. We’ve got to continue to grow and continue to put our best foot forward from the areas where we need to make adjustments in the game from yesterday.
Q: Sort of similar to that, Isaiah McKenzie has been used in creative ways over the last couple of weeks. What has he done to make him earn your trust that quickly to put him in those spots?
A: You know, he’s made plays when he’s been given the opportunity. I thought Coach [Brian] Daboll had a good game plan, along with the offensive staff, and the players executed. We made some chunk plays at times and moved the football. Isaiah is another bright spot with a young football player that, when given the opportunity, has made plays.
Q: Has he been on your radar for a while? I know you’ve had him for a few weeks, but was he a guy you knew about coming out of college and had been watching for a while?
A: I know Brandon [Beane’s] known about him, and Joe [Schoen] for a long time. They had him on the radar for a while, and when the opportunity presented itself, they jumped on him, which is good for us.
Q: Coach, after watching Josh [Allen] on tape, just specifically his decision-making and how he fared from start to finish, whether it was deciding to take off and run or get through his reads on where to go with the football?
A: I thought overall, he was on time going through his reads, going through his progressions… first read, second read. Certainly, there’s some plays that he would like to have back, but overall, again, coming off of that hiatus in being out, I thought he was on time with most of those decisions and going through the proper progressions. When it was time to pull it down, he pulled it down and went with it. When it was time to get rid of it, he got rid of it and threw it away if it was there. I thought all-in-all, some good moments from Josh. Certainly some room for improvement, and that’s what we’ll go back to work at this week.
Q: He’s still taking on defenders sometimes head on. He’s gaining yards and looks good doing it, but how do you balance that out? He went down a few times and slid, but how do you balance that out? You’re getting good play on that, but you also don’t want him to get hurt.
A: Number one, correct, we don’t want him to get hurt. There’s got to be an understanding that those build up over time. You know, I’ve been around two mobile quarterbacks before – both Cam [Newton] and Donovan [McNabb] – and that’s an ongoing conversation what seems like every week. How much running is too much? How much is not enough? There’s a fine line in there that we have to continue to try and find every week. One week, it could be more than we want, and one week, it may be less. We’ve just got to continue to drill down on that.
Q: How important is that energy that he seems to bring in galvanizing the team, especially at the quarterback position?
A: It’s huge. That’s huge from a leadership position, number one, and just a spark. I know the defense sees that, the special teams and his guys on offense see it. He’s a guy you want to be around, you want to play for. When given the opportunity, he makes plays.
Q: Just big picture, when you look at the trajectory of the season, how much do you put in these last few games? How much do they maybe improve or enhance your thoughts on where this program is and where you’re at right now?
A: I believe we’re developing a young roster right now, and we’ve made progress. Certainly, some games have not gone the way we’ve wanted them to go in terms of the result on the scoreboard, but as I’ve mentioned from day one, it’s about us growing and developing a strong foundation and a culture that we want and doing things the right way, creating a mindset, creating a way that we do things here. You’re seeing yesterday some of the fruits of that labor, some of the guys buying into that. Not that they didn’t buy in before, but we’re developing now and we’re starting to see some of the results on the field. You’re seeing Isaiah who’s been with us just a couple weeks, you’re seeing Robert [Foster] out there, Josh [Allen], and then the number of young players on special teams and defense. And it’s not just the young players – it’s collectively the team continuing to make strides and grow.
Q: Sean, 23 combined penalties between the two teams makes it tough to watch at times and maybe a bit frustrating for fans to see constant flags like that. I know you can’t get into how many you agreed or disagreed with, but just overall, 13 against you guys. Is that one of the areas that you have to clean up?
A: Yeah, absolutely. We can’t ignore those. Whether they’re accurate or not accurate, that’s for another time, but we can’t ignore that and expect to win games going forward. Good football teams don’t beat themselves, and we had opportunities to continue to move the chains. A couple of those were penalties on ensuing first downs there, and we shot ourselves in the foot. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and make sure we get those corrected.
Q: How do you feel about the way Trent Murphy played? He was out for a little while, and has kind of had a frustrating year with injuries. How’d you feel that he did?
A: Yeah, I thought he made progress yesterday. He looked like he was gaining confidence as the game wore on, and this week will be another week for him to put another good week of practice out there and continue to gain some momentum with his health and with his confidence.
Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll
Monday, November 26, 2018
Opening Statement: It was good to get a win at home. It was a hard-fought game against a good defense. The fans were awesome. The place was rocking. [We] made some improvement, we just need to keep on getting better and truck along. It was good to get a win.
Q: Coach, what’s your thought on being on the sidelines? I’m wondering if that’s something that you and Josh [Allen] thought was going well when he was not playing at that’s maybe why you did that, or maybe that’s something you thought personally to do?
A: It’s good to be down there face to face with the quarterback, sit down [and] going through the pictures, communicating on the sideline face to face. He’s got good information. I think both DA [Derek Anderson] and Matt [Barkley] did a good job yesterday down there [as a] common voice, good vision. It’s been a good transition.
Q: How do you evaluate Josh’s return to the lineup in terms of, obviously, eight of 19, a lot of rushing yards? Where did you see him and his growth in this game?
A: Well, he helped us score points and he took care of the football. There’s plays we have to be better on, but I love the energy that he brought. [He was] competitive. Got to be smart and know when to get out of bounds, but made plays with his legs, made plays with his arms. Certainly, there are plays and throws that we’d like to have back, but he had a good game. We have to build off that and be better next week.
Q: Do you remember the last time you saw a throw like that 75-yard touchdown?
A: Yeah, I’m sure I’ve seen a few of them being around the guys I’ve been around. He did a really nice job of stepping up in the pocket and we knew he was going to take a hit and put it right on the money. Robert [Foster] did a good job of finishing the play. Those two guys have been working a lot together after practice; time well spent. We need to continue to do that with the young guys, the timing. Josh, this is only his first week back, so we have to be out there and get the reps, as many as we can, particularly, later on in the season when you cut down on some reps at practice: getting them in between and throws and anticipation and timing and knowing exactly where he’s going to be and the arc we need to put on the ball. Those are all important. They put a lot of work in that week.
Q: What has Isaiah McKenzie brought to this offense?
A: I said it last week, I think Brandon [Beane] and Joe [Schoen] and the staff, they did a good job of bringing him in. He’s got quickness, he’s football smart, fun guy to coach. He’s a young player that hasn’t had a lot of time in the league, but he’s a good guy to coach. He’s improved in the weeks he’s been here, and we’re going to need him to continue to do that.
Q: Just how much has that influenced in speed and youth at receiver these last couple of weeks? The difference seems pretty noticeable. How much of a difference does that make?
A: Well, they’ve made the most of their opportunities. The play to Robert or Isaiah on the jet sweeps or big third down conversion on a little option route, when their number is called, and again, we didn’t throw the ball a whole bunch, but when their number is called as a receiver- I’ve coached receiver for a while starting out in my career. You have to be a mentally tough guy to be a receiver because you’re not controlling when you get the ball. Most receivers are always open on every play they’d like to tell you, but you have to have the mental toughness to stay in the game, whether you’re going to rush it 50 times and only throw it for 15 times. When the ball comes your way, it’s a critical time in the game. Those guys have done a good job so far and we’ve just got to improving with them.
Q: Take Robert in obviously the last two games and the success he’s had and the fact that you’ve been with him for awhile, but he’s had some ups and downs this year. He had some struggles early on and was cut and brought back. How has he handled all of that and how impressed have you guys been with all of that?
A: I’m proud of him. It hasn’t been easy for him, really, growing up to where he is now. He’s been through a lot and that’s a sign of a mentally tough person is to be able to fight through adversity, concentrate on the things that you can control, doing it to the best of your ability, block the noise out and work hard. When you get the opportunity, make the most of it. He’s done that the last couple of weeks and we need him to continue to do that.
Q: Did he need a little jolt, you know, when the release happened or what’s the difference? What has changed from then to now?
A: I think that’s a better question for Robert, I don’t want to speak for Robert. As a young guy, it’s tough. This league is a tough league, no matter where you come from. It could be one of the better schools in the SEC or a smaller division II school. This is a tough league. [There are] a lot of ups and downs. You’ve got to get used to the speed and the size and the vernacular of the offense or defense. For young guys, it’s hard; it’s hard for everybody, but for a young player, it’s particularly hard. When you get released, you get put on the practice squad, I’m sure that’s an eye opener for anybody. He’s had a good attitude. He goes up there and meets with the receiver coaches, he’s in early. That’s what we expect out of him.
Q: You’ve got two games now on Wyatt [Teller] starting. What’s your assessment now?
A: Much like Robert and Isaiah and those young guys that are getting some play time, there’s some good and then there’s things that we’ve got to be better at. He’s a tough guy, he goes hard on every play, which you really expect. There’s little details and things like that that we need to clean up.
Q: How much does it help Josh, it seems like he’s really good with play action, and what does that do, I guess, for a quarterback to open things up?
A: The start of the play action is being able to run the ball effectively. Sometimes, there’s runs that are only going to be two or three. It’s not an easy task to run the ball in this league, but he can run the ball and mix it up with similar looks and use your action game off of it. It’s tough to play both. It helps the offensive line, it helps the quarterback, and it helps receivers at times. There’s always a give and take. You try for the down field shots, and there’s going to be leakage at times, so he’s got to do a good job of understanding where his outlets are and when he can move. That 45 yarder was on an action pass where he kind of took off.
Q: He’s talked about needing to get better at the ‘easy’ passes. He kind of compared it to golf. Where do you think he is with that? There was a couple yesterday where he was visibly frustrated.
A: We missed one there, backed up at the five. I think he tried to speed up the process and get it out there quick and it hit the ground faster, it hit the ground pretty fast. We’re going to working on that; we work on it every day. Be able to slow it down and put it where he needs to put it. He’ll get better at it.
Q: The more Josh shows a willingness to take on guys and be fearless running the ball, does it creep into your head that defenders are going to want to take their shot going down the road and how much does that come into conversation with him?
A: Sure. Look, defenders all want to get at quarterbacks. He’s obviously a quarterback that has athletic ability, mobility, can move. He knows he needs to be smart in the situations he needs to be smart in to protect himself.
Q: As we’ve seen some of those younger guys, Robert, Isaiah, increase their playing time, we’ve seen Kelvin’s [Benjamin] playing time noticeable drop the last couple of weeks. How would you describe his role in the past couple of weeks?
A: Well, KB’s into it. We have different personnel packages. That’s nothing on KB or what he’s doing. We just have different personnel packages that we kind of implement with Robert and Isaiah. Depending on the flow of the game, sometimes we can use more of it, sometimes we can use less of it. He’s been a good teammate, been into it, continue to grind it out. It can easily flip, depending on how a game goes or a matchup goes one way or another.
Q: With the uptick on offense these last two weeks, what could this final five game stretch kind of show, maybe that you’re farther along than some people thought a month or two ago?
A: I don’t know. I’m from a ‘one week at a time’ deal. There’s things that obviously we’ve done better, but there’s things like whether you only score seven points and have a bunch of yards or not have a lot of yards and score, not have either. You’ve got to do a good job each week. Each week is a new week of coming in here, [saying] I’ve got a lot of respect for the guys in the room that we work with and continually grinding it out, worrying about one week at a time, taking care of the opponent. Really, it comes down to execution between the white lines of throwing, catching, protecting, blocking, playing fast, doing the right things. One week has no bearing on the next.
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Monday, November 26, 2018
Good afternoon, everybody. Big win for us yesterday against a talented Jaguars team. Really proud of the way our guys bounced back on defense in the second half after struggling some in that second quarter with their run offense. Our guys really accepted the challenge, came out in the second half and did a really, really good job of containing their run game and giving us a chance to win the game. Big win, and now we’ll get ready for our AFC East opponent, the Miami Dolphins.
Q: Did that brawl kind of galvanize you guys there when you had the goal-line stand there? What did that do in getting the guys fired up and wanting to make a stop there?
A: Any time you find yourself against the wall like we were in that situation at the one-yard line, and then you have the fans into it the way they were after that brawl on the sidelines, it energized everybody. Guys were really competing and they were doing that throughout the entire second half. But to come up with that goal-line stand, that was one of the turning points in the game, for sure. To limit them to no points when they had the ball at first-and-goal from the one is a big deal. Credit to our guys for just battling and accepting that challenge.
Q: Matt Milano has six takeaways this year, which is tied for the most in the NFL. His knack for being around the ball and finding ways to make big plays… what’s that meant to your defense?
A: We were talking about that, as a matter of fact, in our staff meeting this morning. His ability to be a playmaker, and he was like that for us last year when he got in the lineup. He found himself around the football a lot, and that’s happening this year, as well. We talk about takeaways all the time – we work on it, we practice it. He’s one of those guys who has consistently taken the football away for our defense and makes us better. Really proud of what he’s done and what he’s been able to accomplish in only his second season in the league. He’s going to get better. He has a knack for being around the ball, and he’s instinctive enough to make plays once he’s around the football.
Q: What’s it like being a defensive play-caller when they’re running the ball pretty much almost every play and having success with it? How do you balance trying to mix things up or keep what you’re doing? What’s that like?
A: I was going through some of that in the first half. We had a plan going into the game, and obviously, that plan wasn’t working so well. You’re saying to yourself, ‘How long can we stick to the plan before we get it turned around in what we thought was going to be effective?’ Fortunately for us, our offense put us in a good position where we could ascertain, ‘What the best thing to do? How long can we stay with our strategy?’ We were able to go in at halftime and talk about some things. We talked right before then, even before the half, that we were going to make some other adjustments, and it just so happened that we were able to get together at the half and make those adjustments. That’s part of what you have to be able to do in our league. There are some times where you have a plan and sometimes, that plan is not working like you want it to, and you have to adjust. Fortunately for us, the way our offense started the game, it gave us a little bit of a cushion to get out thoughts together and get it taken care of prior to waiting until after the ballgame to get it done.
Q: In those situations where you have to kind of regroup – I saw you on the sidelines talking to you guys where you had everybody there together – people weren’t happy, obviously. Can it be as simple as having a little more pride and buckling up a little bit? Not a scheme switch, but just a mindset switch?
A: Oh, absolutely. There are times like that, as well. For sure. There are times where you have to really put your mind on the task at hand, really play with a chip on your shoulder. We needed to do that, and our guys came back and got that done. We started the game well. We were forcing them to punt and get off the field on third down in that second quarter. After we were up 14-0, things turned a little bit in the run game. But sometimes, it is as simple as a mindset and an attitude change. Yesterday, it was a combination of the two, just making sure we got the right frame of mind, but also taking a look at what we were doing schematically to see if we could help ourselves in that way, as well. So a combination of the two.
Q: I know you don’t want to give anything away because you have other opponents, but did they do anything a lot differently than in the playoff game? I know this is the second time you’ve prepared for them. Did they have a few new wrinkles for you that you maybe didn’t see in the playoff game?
A: Not really. Those runs they ran yesterday, we’ve defended those runs all season long, and we’ve done well against those types of runs. We were off our game a little bit. You’ve got to have gap integrity in the run game, you’ve got to tackle, you’ve got to knock people back up front, and we weren’t doing that early on when they got the run game going. Once we got better at knocking people back up front, once we got better at staying in our gaps and guys tackling better, we were better on run defense.
Q: Leslie, I know you’re very focused on what’s going on with your side of the ball with play-calling and all, but when the offense has the success it has, how much does that galvanize your group to seeing the success they’re having?
A: It’s a big boost. You look at the Jets game and the way our offense jumped out, it just energizes the entire team. It’s great to see. This league is all about scoring points, and when we score points like that, it’s a boon for our team.