Buffalo Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone

Monday, November 25, 2013

Opening Statement:
We just got back obviously, coming off of a bye week. Being our first practice today in preparation and getting ready for Atlanta, I was very happy with the players coming back and their enthusiasm, running around. Everybody practiced today, so we’re at full strength from that standpoint. We don’t expect anyone not to be available for us, which is a good sign. We’re looking forward to going up to Toronto and playing. It’s a great city, great place; we’ve got to learn to win. We’ve got to learn to win at home in Buffalo, we’ve got to learn to win in Toronto, we’ve got to learn to win on the road. I think those are the most important things. That’s what we’re doing, we’re getting ready to go play and we’re excite.

Q: How close is this team to what you expected at the beginning of the season, with everybody healthy?

A: I struggle to be honest with you a little bit when I go back and I look. When I go back and look at the injuries that we had, but you really can’t look back. You’ve got to look forward, so I’m happy and excited right now that everyone is back.

Q: The atmosphere in Toronto is not the same as it is for a home game in Buffalo. What are your expectations of the atmosphere, the crowd and the whole experience of playing up there?

A: In order to create that advantage for you, you have to go up there and play well. I think at a point right now, I think we do have some fans in Toronto and I think if we play well we’ll create more fans. I think that will be important to the future of the organization. I think that we can over a period of time, with success, really create that type of advantage for us over there.

Q: It tends to be more of a neutral atmosphere; do you feel that is a disadvantage at all?

A: No, I think it’s a great opportunity, I really do. I think it’s a good opportunity. I haven’t been up there yet to play a game; obviously I’ve been up there to look around. I think it’s a great venue and again I look at it as a great opportunity for us to go up there and people see the style of football that we play. I think you have to play well, I think that’s important. If you go up there and don’t play well, I don’t think you can ever make that turn to where it’s truly a home field advantage. I think if you do, you can create a great atmosphere up in Toronto. I think those fans will eventually come down here and you create a better atmosphere right here. Collectively, that’s what we’re trying to do. Build that regionalization and be more regional. I think that’s what the goal is of the organization.

Q: When you interviewed for the job, was the topic of the Toronto game ever a part of the conversation?

A: No.

Q: It was Stevie (Johnson) and Robert (Woods) first day back. How did they look and would they be limited at all?

A: Well I asked Bud (Carpenter) and today we don’t have to give an injury report up until (Wednesday) and I was like, ‘Hey, listen I’m going to tell those guys how they are.’ Bud said we listed them as limited, but they truly weren’t limited. Does that make sense? They did everything so I was happy with those two guys, the way they came out. I think a lot of you guys saw routes versus air and they looked good, they looked fresh.

Q: Was there a roster move made with Ronnie Wingo?

A: No, there wasn’t a roster move there was a mechanical flight issue, where he missed the flight. I blame Fred (Jackson) and C.J. (Spiller), for him being a young guy and you can’t wait to the last minute and you have to do your due diligence and preparation to make sure you get here. He’ll be fine.

Q: Did you happen to watch the scores yesterday and how a lot of the games fell in your favor? Has that raised the excitement level?

A: I think the excitement for us is to go out and play a game. We’re coming off a game where we did some things well; I think there are some things we need to improve upon. We’re excited with the direction that we’re heading and how good of a team that we can be. We’ve got to keep pushing and keep our focus truly on Atlanta. That’s really what our focus is now. Obviously they’re probably disappointed in what their record is, but they have some quality players on that team and Mike Smith and his staff and that organization, they have a great deal of pride. They’re going to be ready to play and our guys have to be ready for that challenge.

Q: How much of a scoreboard watcher are you?

A: Meaning scores from around the league?

Q: Yeah, as you’re monitoring things, especially with the bye week yesterday.
A: I tend to look at like people that I know that I’m, I’d like to think as my friends. In this business it’s tough; you have very few friends and a lot of acquaintances. I tend to look at where they are a little bit more and how they’re doing I tend to sit back, and I don’t know if this is the right way or the wrong way, but personally what will happen is I’ll watch something, see a game and be thinking I know what they feel, I know what they’re going through. There’s a pain inside when you have to call that third down play and I think you have an appreciation from a different aspect, not as a fan aspect, but as a person that’s in the profession. I would answer that question as I really don’t go popping around looking at scores, but the very few friends I have, I just kind of watch and look at their scores during the bye week.

Q: What’s the likelihood of Johnathan Meeks getting a shot to get back on the roster in a couple weeks?

A: We’ll see where he goes. Johnathan is back and he’s on the reserve list I believe for about two more weeks before we can do anything with him, so I think it’s a little bit early to say what we’re going to do. We’re just going to see and we’re excited that we’ve got him back now. Obviously he was a good young player and did some good things for us. We’re going to see how he develops and we’re going to make a decision when that time comes. That will be a decision that I’ll talk to Doug Whaley about and we’ll do what’s best for our roster.

Q: Stevie has missed a couple games this season which is unusual for him and his numbers are obviously down because of that. How is he both physically and mentally right now with some of those frustrations?

A: It is frustrations, but I had a long talk with Stevie about the challenges coming in. Playing with a young quarterback and obviously the injuries and the different quarterbacks. When EJ (Manuel) was healthy, Stevie wasn’t, when Stevie was healthy, EJ wasn’t. You play with different quarterbacks, so it’s very difficult. I told Stevie, and I’m going to be honest with everyone, people are going to look at the end of the day and come to you and say this is down, this is down, this is down and they’re really not going to look at the whole situation. He’s a productive player, one that when you keep practicing together you’re just going to see his numbers go higher and higher.

Q: How much did you note yesterday that the wild card field came back to you a little bit?

A: I think you’ve got to be careful this time of year. I think a lot of people are going to be talking about that and I think it really pulls away from the core of what you want to get accomplished and I think you can find yourself talking about that more and losing sight of the fact that you’re playing a good Atlanta Falcon team coming up that, again like I said before, has a lot of pride. I addressed it with the players, don’t let people pull you out and talk to you about all this other talk, the most important thing is let’s just win a game. That’s where all our focus should be.

Q: Now that you have all of your complement of receivers healthy, do you feel like you need to get Marquise Goodwin on the field more than you already had?

A: It was exciting for all three of those players last week. Marquise and obviously T.J. (Graham) and Chris Hogan. I think those guys showed a lot. I talked to Ike (Hilliard) today and said, ‘We can roll those guys in now, just keep rolling them in.’ Any one of those guys can make a play and they’ve proven they can make a play. We have to look at what we want to do and I still think there is some growing going on between everyone. Coaches, players of what they do well and how they go. I think he’s someone that can run behind a defense; I think people can play off him. I think we’ll be challenged this week. When you look at Atlanta, (Desmond) Trufant is back there, he’s been playing extremely well for them as a rookie. We’ll have some challenges in trying to get our guys open.

Q: What is your analysis on your punt and kick returns?

A: I wish we had more opportunities. Really at the end of the day I think when you look back, it’s funny with special teams, you say, ‘Oh if we would have had this block, if we would have had that block,’ it’s a lot of that that goes on. I hate that when you start talking about that even though it’s the truth. I would like to get more opportunities. If we can get more opportunities, the players we have back there are explosive and I think that we have, we’ve done a good job with playing a lot of players. Whether it’s Evan Rodriguez or Ty Powell or Chris Hogan, moving a lot of guys in that special teams area. We got hurt a little bit early in the season with some injuries to some guys that were key special teams players. Then we had some injuries, some of those guys that we thought were going to be key special teams players became starters so really we’re just settling in to that core. I think that is important. I talked to Coach Crossman about it; I talk to Doug Whaley about it quite a bit about creating that core. We feel we have those players on the team and the healthier that we get, the more of that role they can take over.

Q: What do you mean by opportunity, do you mean actually fielding the kick and returning it?

A: I mean actually, we’re low on the opportunities when you look at it. People have not given us the opportunity to return the ball. People have been kicking it out of the end zone and deep. On punts they’re directional kicking on us, not really trying to change the field and giving us a lot of hang time and pinning us in the corner. Strategically I think that when we’re playing teams, they understand that we have two guys back there that can do things well. We’ve just got to find a way to create those opportunities where we can get the ball run.

Q: Do you think that kickoff returns are being eased out of the game?

A: I don’t know, there’s a lot of talk about that. Where the ball is now, a lot of those kickers can put it out of the end zone, so therefore the opportunities are done. I think you’ve got to be smart. I think that that it’s something to bring up when you sit in those competition and rules meetings. Something that people will talk about that, but again I think those discussions are ongoing. I’m not really sure because my focus is on the team and winning. I’m really not sure where exactly they’re going with that.

Q: How would you assess Doug (Legursky’s) performance since taking over at left guard?

A: Doug has had a little bit of inconsistency early on. I still think he was bothered by his knee, you could see him hobbling out there sometimes early on. I have a lot of respect for him to go out there and play. Sometimes we’ve gotten some consistent play out of him. I think it’s the same thing; it’s a development process, just keep working him. Getting better and better each week and it’s not a secret we’re bringing in some young guys and working them out and rotating that part of the roster and trying to get bigger overall through our whole offensive front.

Q: You tweaked the schedule a little bit this week, going Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and giving them Thanksgiving off. Can you explain why you did that?

A: I think you can get better work done that way. They can be more focused. Thanksgiving, everyone is a little bit worried, what time are you getting home? What time are we going to eat? What are we going to do? Pick this up before you go, all those kind of things that go on. We can get a lot of work done Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Give the players off Thursday and then let’s go to work. It’s a lot easier to do that coming off a bye than if you’re coming off a structured week to week before.

Q: Does the rest give your team an advantage?

A: I think a lot of it depends on how you play, but I’m a firm believer that those extra days and get guys back, you can see fresher legs and people running around. We don’t have the true bye week, obviously Atlanta played on Thursday, so they have the extra days. I’ve always been a more rest thing that I am the extra practices. I think it helps in that way for sure.

Q: Were you ever a big Bon Jovi fan?

A: Yeah, I liked Bon Jovi.

Q: I’m assuming you saw the report that he may be interested in owning the team. Is that something that would be on your radar?

A: No, not my radar. I always talk like this and you guys have heard me use this expression before, it’s mostly my core. My core is being with the team, winning football games and getting this team better. We have a long way to go, we’re challenged, we have a big game coming up in Atlanta. When I start thinking about things outside that core, then I’m not doing my job. But I have heard about that.

Q: Do you know him personally?

A: Do I know? Come on now I’m from the Bronx, I didn’t grow up with special privileges, I really don’t. No I don’t. I’m just a football coach, not a groupie.

Q: Never ran in to him on the sidelines of a Jets game?

A: No, I haven’t.

RB Fred Jackson

Monday November 25, 2013

Q: How did it feel to get back?

A: Yeah, I think everybody felt good. It obviously felt good to get a bye week in, being so late in the season. I think a lot of guys needed it and a lot of guys look energized and ready to go. That’s a good thing for us and hopefully we can sue that to get down the stretch of the last five games that we have.

Q: How much did it help your knee?

A: A tremendous amount. I got out there and I can still feel it a little bit, but not like it’s been. It’s good to get that week off, not do much on it and get ready to go.

Q: Is there a sense of optimism with the offensive unit because everybody is going to pretty much be healthy this week?

A: Everybody is extremely optimistic to get everybody out there 100 percent, or as close to it as possible. It will be interesting to see, it’s something we’ve been excited about all offseason and all of this season. To get everybody out there and get everybody on the same page is something we’re looking forward to.

WR Stevie Johnson

Monday November 25, 2013

Q: Coach Marrone said you were limited, but maybe able to do a little bit more than limited today. Is that accurate?
A: Yeah it was just a limited day. Happy to be out there, happy to go through the routes and be in the huddle and all that. It was cool and I made it through.

Q: Do you find yourself testing the groin a little bit?

A: Yeah because kind of thinking ahead a little bit when it comes to this injury. We’ve got five more game in the regular season, so I came out there and went a little bit harder than I was supposed to, but I was cool coming out. I’m cool with it.

Q: How much did you take not of the field coming back a little bit in the playoff race?
A: We’ve got to do our part. They can do whatever other teams do; they can do whatever they want to. At the end of the day, the Bills have to get the win and that’s it. Not worry about anything else.

Q: Coach Marrone mentioned that you guys had a long conversation about some of the frustrations you have had this season. Can you talk about that?
A: Yeah, just talking to him. Just telling him it was frustrating because our team is really good. Looking around the locker room with the names we’ve got. Being at practice with these guys, there is talent here. Getting these losses that we have, that’s where the frustration was coming in at. That’s pretty much where our conversation was.

DT Kyle Williams

Monday November 25, 2013

Q: Do you ever share with your younger teammates how it’s different playing in Toronto compared to playing at the Ralph?

A: Yeah, we talk about it a little bit. It’s going to be a little bit different, but hopefully we’re going to go up there and continue to play well and go win a football game. Maybe things change if we go up there and play a really solid, complete football game.

Q: You’re in a must win situation now, does it stick with you that you have a dome team coming in and instead of playing them outside, you’re going to be playing them in a dome?

A: Yeah obviously I think we would rather have them in some elements here in Buffalo, but I’ve been here awhile and this is the same thing every year. It is what it is, we’re going to go up there and we’re trying to beat the Falcons. Whether that be in Toronto or in Orchard Park or in Atlanta.

Q: Is there some excitement that both sides of the ball are pretty much 100 percent healthy?

A: It’s good to have everybody back healthy heading in to the home stretch of the season. The last month of the year could be a big month for us, so it’s good to have all hands on deck.

LB Manny Lawson

Monday November 25, 2013

Q: Do you guys feel refreshed out there?

A: Very nice break and when you get time off like that and you get to come back and everybody is excited, I think that is a breath of fresh air for the team.

Q: What do you think now with five games to go, what is the approach now?

A: We have to hit this running. We had a great showing last week and now we had time off to correct our mistakes. Learn from our film and prepare for Atlanta.

Q: What is you understanding or what is your take on the Bills series in Toronto?

A: This is my first time actually being there and playing there. What I’m hearing is that it’s equal opportunity there. There is no home team, but I think it’s going to be fun and I think it’s going to be an experience. It’s going to be one to remember.

C Eric Wood

Monday November 25, 2013

Q: Do you feel renewed from the time off and ready to make a push here?

A: Yeah, it was a good work day today, definitely felt that guys were fresh out there and excited to get back to work.

Q: How good does it feel to have everybody on both sides of the ball healthy and rested?

A: Yeah, we feel good about where we are as a team. We have a lot of work to put in before this weekend, but getting healthy and getting rested up has been good for us.

Q: You’re currently one game out of the playoffs at 4-7, what’s it like to be right there with five games to go?

A: Yeah, that can get you some excited feelings, but when that happens you kind of have to look in the mirror and say we have four wins at this point and we have a long way to go. We go nowhere without beating Atlanta, so that has to be our sole focus.

WR Robert Woods

Monday November 25, 2013

Q: After being on the sideline for a couple weeks, this was your first opportunity to get back out there with the rest of the guys. How did it feel?

A: It felt good. Felt good to be back out there with the guys at practice and get back in to the swing of things. Just feels good to be back out there.

Q: A high ankle sprain can be a big pain for a receiver who has to make the cuts you do. How long did it take for you to feel good about making those cuts mentally?

A: Today was the first day testing it really. Took a little bit of the bye week off and just relaxed. Today was the first day testing and it felt pretty good.

Q: Do you feel kind of fortunate with the timing of the bye week?

A: Yeah, I was trying to get ready for the Jets game just to push back to get back by then because I knew I had time after that with the bye, so the bye gave me extra time. Good timing, but it’s always not good to be hurt.

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