Buffalo Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone

Buffalo Bills Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz

Monday, January 27, 2014 

Doug Marrone Opening Statement:

We were able to go out and hire a defensive coordinator who obviously has an unbelievable track record. Professionally I’ve known Jim for quite a while. We actually went against each other, we have a lot of common friends at the Tennessee Titans staff. Mike Heimerdinger, who has passed away, was a very good friend of mine and we always talked about how well he worked with Jim. Jim Washburn, the defensive line coach and obviously Jeff Fisher. Having watched his defenses and the way they played back to my original theory, when you look at hiring defensive coordinators you want to look at people who you don’t like going against their defense. Jim’s defense has always been very tough, very difficult to run on, very difficult to score on. They’ve been aggressive, they’ve been very tough to game plan against him. We’re very fortunate that we’re able to, with Russ Brandon and Doug Whaley giving the organization the opportunity to, get on the plane in Mobile, fly up and sit down with Jim and be able to get this done. Without further ado, I’ll bring up our new defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz. 

Jim Schwartz Opening Statement:

I’m not one for a whole lot of opening statements or anything. I do want to thank Doug, Doug and Russ for the opportunity. I’ve been an admirer of this organization for a long time and Coach Marrone mentioned having respect for people you go against. I think some of the kind words he had for me are reciprocated. I feel the same way about him. When you’re a head coach and you find yourself on the outside, you want your next opportunity, you want to be very careful about your next opportunity. I was in this case and I didn’t step in to this opportunity lightly. Not only from the administration here and the ownership and the coaching staff, but also from a player standpoint. This is a tremendous opportunity for a defensive coach. I didn’t watch much of the game last night, but it didn’t take an NFL fan very long to put that game on and see a Buffalo Bills hat running around somewhere. I think there’s some real positives here that we can build on. That’s the longest opening statement I’ve ever made. 

Q: Can you talk about the challenges and the opportunity you have here? What did you see in a team that has a lot of pass rushing fixtures and how do you plan on adapting them to your style? How can you adapt (Mike) Pettine’s with your style?
JS: First of all, Mike and I are different guys. Even though I think continuity is important and there is something to be said for that, we’re going to look very hard at ways over the next few months to keep continuity as much as we can. From a coaching standpoint, I think a lot of times it’s coaches adapting to players. We have some outstanding players up front and it goes beyond Mario Williams, it goes beyond Kyle Williams, it goes beyond Marcell Dareus. I mean Alan Branch, Jerry Hughes, I’m sure I’m overlooking a ton of guys. There’s some talent up front and it’s on these coaches to put those guys in good position to make plays. Whether that’s carry over from last year’s scheme, whether that’s new things that we bring. I think that’s what coaching is all about, we put players in position to make plays and that’s a pretty easy group to do it. We’ll be fast, we’ll be physical, and we’ll attack. We are not going to be a reading defense. There’s going to be a lot of defensive lineman that will be real happy to play in a system like that. 

Q: Where are you in the process of assembling your defensive staff?
DM: Obviously Jim O’Neil was granted permission, he’ll be leaving to go to Cleveland as the defensive coordinator to the best of my knowledge. Brian Fleury, who is a quality control coach will be leaving to go to Cleveland to the best of my knowledge as an inside linebackers coach. Also Jeff Hafley who really wasn’t here long will be leaving for Cleveland to the best of my knowledge, working with the secondary in Cleveland. As far as we’re concerned, Jim and I and the rest of the defensive staff will work together and bring the best coaches here. That’s our responsibility to Mr. Wilson, to Russ, to Doug and more importantly, to our players. We have a lot of good players on our defense. That’s not a secret, so for us we’re going to bring the coach in here that can best work together, that can communicate well and get the most out of our players. We have a lot of talent there. 

Q: How important was some continuity with this defense now on its fourth defensive coordinator in the past four years?
DM: Continuity as far as schematics or continuity meaning people? 

Q: Schematics approach.
DM: Schematics approach, we’re already on the edge. What you see in every organization, you are going to see change from year to year. That was one of the things that I was getting ready to talk about, some of the things we were going to change in our defense to make us better. I think that Jim said it before, it’s our responsibility as coaches to put the players in the best situation possible. To make it as easy for them with calls that they can go out there and just play. I think that’s what our goal is, so they can just go out and play. If we can make something easy for them where we can be more productive, then that’s what we’re going to do. 

Q: As far as the other coaches like Donnie (Henderson), Anthony Weaver, Samson Brown?
A: Donnie Henderson will stay as our defensive backs coach, Samson Brown will be our assistant defensive back coach. Right now with Anthony Weaver I’ve had a conversation with him today and again Russ and I had this conversation and it’s very important for us and this organization and this region, I think every fan and everyone out there totally understands that we want people that want to be here. I think that’s the most important thing and that’s the most important message. Russ has said it quite a bit to me and that’s one of the things why I’m excited about Jim. We talked to Jim and Jim wanted to be here. Todd Downing wanted to be here. Those are the type of people that we’re looking for. People that can become part of the community and part of this region. Be a positive influence on that and at the same time getting this football program back to where we all want it to be. 

Q: So do you expect Anthony to be coming back?
DM: I spoke to him today and right now I don’t feel good about that, him coming back. 

Q: How would you describe your defense?
JS: I don’t know if you can put it in a box like that, we’ve never put a label on it. In this league you’re going to have to play some eight man fronts to stop the run. There’s going to be some games where you’re not going to play much (eight man fronts). It’s going to be opponent specific. It’s going to be multi-dimensional enough to be able to do that. I mentioned before trying to put players in good positions and positions that fit their capabilities. We’re an attack scheme, it’s a scheme built on the guys up front getting after the quarterback. As much as you want to be multi-dimensional with personnel groups, this league comes down to one on one and I think we have some guys that can do that. Whatever anybody wants to tag the system as far as a name, it won’t be us. We’re just going to try to do whatever we can every week to do the best to have the game plan. I think the similarities you’ll see is it will be as aggressive as it can be and try to be as physical as we can be and it will be an attack style. 

Q: The wide nine is a term that is thrown around with you, is it fair to say that’s still part of your defense?
JS: Yeah, mostly that’s thrown around by people that couldn’t line it up if they wanted to. That’s no disrespect to those people. I’ll say this, there’s 32 teams in the NFL and all 32 line up in a wide nine. Not all of them are called wide nine teams, but that’s just the way it goes. That’s what it developed into because it fit our personnel and it fit what our opponents did. You can dictate something your opponents did and it makes it hard on offense. There’s some things that you need to constantly work because like anything it has strengths and weaknesses. It will certainly be part of our scheme here, but that won’t define our scheme.

Q: Jim you talked about the importance of not leaping at the first opportunity, but instead going after the right opportunity. What made this in your mind a good fit?

JS: It started with Doug (Marrone). Like I said, the respect I have for him and what he has done—and not just what he has done in the NFL.. I have a lot of respect for what he did at Syracuse and where he took that program. That was not an easy job. I think anybody who is in our profession knows that. Then playing them last year, seeing some of the things. We have a lot of common friends. So there is a respect level that is there. I think that probably starts there. There is a tremendous opportunity with the players that are in place. Your roster is never a finished product. There is always going to be additions. There is always going to be subtractions. There are things you need to work with. We certainly have some good pieces in place to work around. I am excited to get to work with those guys.

Q: How eager are you to get back into coaching after moving on from the Lions?

JS: I think in our business that is not unusual. I think if you look around, just about every coach has been in that position.  Every coach has had some situation. There are some great ones that have been fired. It is part of this business and it is the way it goes. We do this because we love to do it. I graduated from Georgetown—I think I was the first guy in the history of Georgetown to ever go into coaching. I did not do it because the money was here even though I have made a lot of money in my career and things like that. I did not do it to be on national TV. I did it because football is what I love the most. I played Division III football. It was non-scholarship. That is the attitude I have taken through my whole career. I work an awful lot, but I wouldn’t say I have a great work ethic. I just like what I do. When you combine your hobby and your profession, I think you’re in a great position. There was never a question of getting back on the horse, so to speak. It was just making sure that the opportunity was the right one. I am very confident that this is it.

Q: Do you have a background with the Bills’ defensive player personnel?

JS: Just a little bit here and there getting ready for the draft.. Things like that. Got to know a bunch of those guys, starting with Mario Williams. I was in Tennessee when we ended up drafting Vince Young. We did not know what Houston was going to do with the first pick. They ended up drafting Mario. Reggie Bush went two and Vince Young went three, but we had done our homework and were ready for Mario Williams. I had a good chance to spend a lot of time with him. We brought him to our facility and we went on the road and saw him. I got to know him just a little bit. You cannot be around this league very long without having respect for Kyle Williams. We got to know Marcell (Dareus) getting ready for the draft. I think everybody has some sort of background. Personally there is nobody here that I have a strong relationship with or have coached before. This league is all about what you put on tape and those guys have all put some pretty good things on tape. I am excited about the corners also. (Stephon) Gilmore, (Leodis) McKelvin and Aaron Williams at safety. There are a lot of guys that I thought an awful lot of when they came out of college. I was very disappointed when we did not have the opportunity to coach them, but now I do.

Q: How do you approach the continuity issue? You must be aware of the fact you are the fourth defensive coordinator here in the last four years.

JS: I do not think that is anything unusual when it comes to players and I do not think it is anything unusual when it comes to coaches. Change is a part of this game. College coaches are used to doing that. You bring in freshmen, you have a graduating class of seniors. The NFL is not the way it was 25 years ago or 30 years ago when you had a player and you had him for his whole career and he was only learning one set of terminology. I think that over the next few months we will be looking at what is best rather than that is the way it has been done. There is going to be some carryover and there is going to be some things that will wind up changing because we think it is in our best long-term benefit to be able to do that. Players are very resilient. There are not many players in the NFL that are not very smart. You have to be a smart guy to be able to play in the NFL. We are not going to be so complicated that they cannot pick things up. Whatever we keep, whatever we decide to change there will be a reason behind it but also we expect our players to be able to pick it up pretty quickly.

Q: Offensively there is still one coaching spot to fill with the wide receivers opening. Any update on that?

DM: Well we were in the process and we were interviewing people at that time and then obviously there was a pause in that process. We will continue back on that process as we go forward. When we have an announcement to make, we will announce that right away.

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