HC Doug Marrone

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Opening statement:

Just to start off, obviously we are in the next phase of development, which is OTAs with our players. A couple things to share with you that I have talked to the players about—it is at a point now where the majority of the players are in. Obviously we have some veteran players with personal issues that they are taking care of that we are aware of. Obviously we have some of the young kids, the rookie kids, with their graduation date that has not come to a point yet where they can return to participate. The majority of the people are here. What I have talked to the players about is it does not really matter how you have been acquired, whether you have been a draft pick or an unrestricted free agent. It is really what we do now on the field to get us to a level where we can become competitive for the 53-man roster. We talked to the players about that. We talked about OTAs and learning the system. Learning how to practice. You saw today that we need to do a better job of staying up and staying on our feet. That is the one thing that we are looking for out of them. And we are looking for effort. I thought that between yesterday and today that we have ourselves started at a good point where now we can evaluate and keep pushing forward, keep getting more from the players and more from myself and the coaches.

Q: How do you feel about the graduation issue? You came from Syracuse.

A: I came from a great academic institution. Is that what you were meaning to say? (Laughs) I am actually for them. I am a big supporter of student-athletes and a big supporter of making sure that you graduate. I applaud the NFL and what they have done from when I was a player till now. I was one of those players that had to leave school and that is why when you look at my resume and you will see 1991 is when I graduated, a lot of that is because I did have to leave and go to the team that drafted me.

Q: What are the guys who are not here because they are missing because of graduation losing?

A: Well I do not look at it as far as what they are losing. I look at it as far as what they are gaining. They are gaining an education that lasts a lifetime. That is how I view that.

Q: You have talked a lot about the players being in competition. Does that start now?

A: I think it starts as soon as people are acquired you start the competition. We have done a good job just watching the reps of the quarterbacks and we are trying to make it to a point where it is equal while obviously Kevin (Kolb) and Tarvaris (Jackson) have been here for a while so it is not to that point yet. We are getting a lot of reps out of EJ (Manuel) right now. Probably a little bit less than the other two are, but our goal is to somewhere along this line during these OTAs as he progresses to have those equal amount of reps.

Q: Do you ever have any concerns about a player having a personal coach in the offseason and the message they are getting there differing from your message?

A: Well I think nowadays, and I will speak just as a parent, I have a nine year old. He has a pitching coach, a hitting coach and a baseball coach. I struggle a little bit with that personally. I think that is what we are seeing now. You see that at a Little League level. Kickers have been doing it for quite some time. Quarterbacks are doing it. Offensive linemen are going and training with people. I think that you see a lot of people doing that. Does it send a mix message? I do not think so because I think the player is training to a certain point and then once we get the player we become the coaches.

Q: When you say you struggle with it…

A: I struggle with it as a parent. Like my wife and I, we argue about this all the time. When I grew up I like to look as myself as a good baseball player. I had one Little League coach. He picked us all up in a station wagon. We all went to a batting cage. We all went out and practiced. We all walked down the field. I think everyone can relate to that especially in this town. I think now as parents, logistically it is very difficult. For us, the expenses are high, too. We want the best for our children. I think that it has become so individualized. I want my son to play multiple positions and multiple sports. Be a kid and have fun. I think that when at a young age, and I am going to get my butt kicked for saying this stuff, at a young age I played all sports and played all different positions. I had some fun, ran around. Nowadays everything is becoming more specialized at a younger age and that is what we are seeing.

Q: So you are OK with your guys working with an individual coach?

A: Here is the good part about it—he is working, he is training, he is trying to get better and he knows what we are expecting now. So if one of our players left to go train with someone else, they know what our system is and they know what our drills are so I do not have a problem with that.

Q: Can you give a thumbnail on your philosophy of how to teach a team a playbook?

A: Well obviously for us the iPads help us out quite a bit I think because there is so much more you can put on it to learn and to teach. I believe everything else, everything comes from a foundation. I think that when you look at the foundation of defense you are putting in a front and you are putting in a coverage. You are putting the same thing on offense. You are putting in a run game foundation, a passing game foundation. What you are trying to do is you are trying to build this that when adversity does hit, and adversity hits all the time throughout the course of a season, that you are able to go back to that foundation. I think it is a lengthy answer because your foundation is built on your individual mental training and individual skills. Then you take it to combination skills. Then you take it to half unit skills, full unit skills. Then you go out there and practice all the different situations. I think what you will see out of us is more of a progression. How we practice is the same way as how we install. If you watch practice from the beginning, it is individual, then there is some type of group work, then there is some split up type of group work and then we go to our team period.

Q: How basic are things right now?

A: Well here is the thing that you get into in my opinion. You want to keep things, you want your foundation and your plays put in. What happens during the course of a season—problems will come up on both sides of the ball even within two days offensively and defensively where you will say, ‘Hey if this team is doing a lot of this, this is the adjustment we can make.’ What I did not want to do is two things. When we came out, we came in here fresh. So now we have the ability as coaches to look at the playbook and say, ‘OK this playbook kind of gradually builds as you develop as a coach and as you are going through a season.’ What we did do, as I told the coaches, I said, ‘Look, now we have the chance to strip all our stuff down. Let’s get to the foundation and then we can start working on the adjustment when the season comes and the game planning comes.’ I think a lot of time you can get yourself in trouble if you are working on the adjustment first before you are working on the adjustment of plays.

Q: Coach you have had Paul Hackett and Mike Pettine Sr. around for a couple days. Can you talk about the resource they might provide for their sons on your staff and the team in general?

A: Well I first think that they are obviously proud fathers. That is the first thing they are. Obviously with Paul having been in the profession and Nathanial (Hackett). Coach Pettine and now his son. That is the first thing that they are. I actually, and I have talked to Buddy (Nix), Russ (Brandon) and people around about this. I like having people that have had that type of experience. People that have had a lot of success. My father-in-law will be here eventually. I think what it does for at least me and I think it does for Nathanial and it does for Mike (Pettine) is it keeps you grounded. Meaning that in this day in age everything is so much schematics and scheme. We sometimes lose sight of the fundamentals of blocking and tackling. The things that have been the strongholds of this game for a long time are the foundation of this game. I think it is good and to get guys making sure that hey, managing us and they are people that are close. It is family. There is no one that wants us to do better as individuals than those people that are around us.

Q: Coach you choose to help out with the different positions coaches while some other head coaches choose just to observe. Why is that?

A: I think that is a point of just managing myself. Honestly. In other words, I think that when you first become a head coach it is kind of like how do I want to be? You are trying to look for an identity of what you want to do. I do not know if many people will say this publicly, but I will just tell you the truth. For me that first approach is like golly I do not feel like I am really doing anything. I am kind like a judge. What I mean by judge is saying, ‘OK this side play like this. This side play like that.’ What I found was I did not enjoy that. That was not my passion. That is not what I wanted to do. I try to get involved now more for myself than it is anything else. I think it helps getting around to all the position groups because you can relate to those players better. You have to coach the whole team.

Q: Can you talk about what some of the blitz packages there were at practice provides the team?

A: Everyone that is in OTAs now is doing it and we just have to get our players ready. If you think about how we train from an offensive standpoint, you are training at and getting the technique correct. Then you are going forward and working on those techniques and fundamentals. Then you are going for the quarterback. He is going to throw a route versus air. He is just throwing the routes as you go. Then you look at the next point which is decision making. The faster we can get to situations whether it is zone or whether is pressure where now they have to make decisions on the field, it will become a better evaluation for us.

Q: What is WR Stevie Johnson’s status? Is his back still an issue?

A: He does have a problem like you said, and again, I think that I feel very comfortable with what Stevie has done in the past. For me, it is more important for me to get him healthy and get him well than it is to try and push him to get on the field. I have said that to a couple of players that are out here already who have a little bit of soreness. ‘Hey listen, we are here to make sure that you know what you are doing and are healthy.’ Like I said before it is very difficult to make a team in this time frame right here, but it is easy not to make a team in this time frame.

Q: How do you feel about the youth at cornerback?

A: I like it. I really do because sometimes when you come in and you are teaching new concepts, I do not want to use the phrase you are teaching an old dog new tricks because there are a lot of older players who can make that transition very well, it is good to get them when they are fresh and they are not locked into a certain technique that they are doing. So I like a lot of those young guys back there.

Q: Do you have a timeframe for when you want to decide who wins the quarterback competition?

A: I think it is up to the players. At other positions, too. It is out there and it is basically once we see one person pull away from the other I think then you make that decision. To put a timeline or anything on it I think is very difficult. I think again it is up to the players to do that.

DE Mario Williams

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Q: Talk about lining up with your hand in the dirt and at times standing up.

A: If I had to guess, I’ll probably be all over the place. But it comes with working out and things like that being able to just move and know whenever you’re in a different position that you kind of have to switch it up a little bit. I feel comfortable and am just ready to go and get out there.

Q: We see Head Coach Doug Marrone on the field and hiking the ball. How do you see the coaches’ involvement during practice compared to last year?

A: Everything we do the coaches are right there. It’s not just position coaches, it’s the head coach. It’s fun though… this coaching staff is phenomenal. I really like the way we’re doing things, going about stuff and I look forward to it.

Q: You mentioned ‘playing like a Bill’ for the young kids. What is the definition of a Bill? And how has that changed over the past few months?

A: It’s definitely changed since the new coaching staff has come in here. It’s just being relentless and the mentality of going out, being disruptive and attacking. Being aggressive. Being accountable. Just going out here and making plays. Trusting the scheme. Trusting the system. Trusting the coaches. To not go out there and do something you’re not supposed to because like I said, the scheme they have is pretty good. As long as we go out there and we all can say are you playing like you’re supposed to – playing like a Bill – which is our mentality and motto – we’ll be alright.

QB Kevin Kolb

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Q: Buddy Nix said he told you of wanting to draft a quarterback. What are your thoughts on the EJ Manuel selection?

A: From the very beginning even before I signed here he told me. I knew that was in the plans. It doesn’t scare me or concern me. It’s just part of the job and you move on. Like I told you before, it’s all about competition and competing against everybody. But he seems like a great kid and I’m happy to work with him. 

Q: Your thoughts on the changes to receiving corps and the guys they’ve brought in?

A: Some of them are still not here with us that were here for the rookie camp but had to go back for some school stuff. I’m anxious to see those guys, the three or four of them that are out. But I’ve heard great things. And the ones that are here are working hard. I watched a few of them in college and was impressed with them. I think they both bring a lot to the table, different attributes to both of them (Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin). 

Q: Can you talk about the exuberance of energy out on the field during OTAs?

A: There’s no question. Everybody’s hungry. And everybody’s ready to prove something, including the older guys that are here because some of us are new and there’s a new coaching staff. They’re new eyes and the coaching staff is trying to prove stuff to us as well: prove their systems work, prove their methods work, so that makes for a competitive camp and competitive OTAs. And that’s good for everybody. And I think that if you guys can’t see it we’re really progressing every day. And I feel that we’ve gotten a lot better today than we were yesterday and so on.

QB Tarvaris Jackson

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Q: How do you handle juggling the rotation? Sometimes you’re in there with ones and the twos, getting adjusted and acclimated to different guys and timing from series to series?

A: It’s just knowing who you’re in the huddle with. Sometimes you have to help some guys more than you have to help other guys. But you just try to make the best of it and when you’re not in just try to get a mental rep. That’s the best you can do. If you can just tune it out and the other guy might do something right and the other guy might do something wrong. You want to learn from his mistake and learn from what he does right. You just try to add it to your game or make a mental note: when I get in, I got the same look, the same defense so I should make the decision.

Q: With a new coaching staff and quarterback group, does it make it a fair competition?

A: I think everything is evening out.

Q: Aside from Stevie (Johnson) the receiving corps is pretty young. Just how do you, with a whole mass work with such a young group?

A: In Seattle I had a couple of young guys but this is probably the youngest part I’ve been a part of. You’ve got Brad (Smith) going into his eighth year, so whenever you got a guy like Brad – they call him the old man – you’re a pretty young team especially at that group.

QB EJ Manuel

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Q: EJ, you got a boatload of reps during rookie minicamp because they’re harder to come by now, right?

A: Yea, definitely. The rookie minicamp was really for us rookies to get a chance to get our feet wet into the offense. I know it helped me and a lot of the other receivers like Chris Gragg who’s playing a lot at tight end, too.

Q: What’s the adjustment now? I know the reps are fewer and further between. I know everybody talks about mental reps, so how are you adjusting from getting a ton of work last week to now?

A: That’s exactly what it is, just having to take those mental reps. When you hear a play being called you might say it out loud just like you would in the huddle and treat it like you’re actually out there playing. 

Q: There are a couple of veteran quarterbacks on the team but at the same time you’re in competition. How much are they helping you and how much have you learned from them?

A: I think for me, I watch those guys all the time. Whether it’s in the film room or warming up out here on the field, seeing what they do throughout the practices, seeing how they talk to the teammates, direct guys out there on the field. They obviously help when I ask questions. But probably the biggest thing is leading by example.

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