Buffalo Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Opening Statement:
Just want to wish everyone, in case I forget at the end of this, a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. Officially we have to list full participation, Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods and Nickell Robey. Everyone’s practiced, everyone’s good. We’ve had a good couple days of practice. Tomorrow the players get a chance to spend a little time with their families, come back Friday and get ourselves going. Saturday we’ll meet here, get on the buses, go up to Toronto and we’ll actually practice up in Toronto at the Rogers Centre. Not a lot of us, like I said before, have been up there. I think it’s important for our receivers and DB’s to get use to the lighting. Sometimes in indoor stadiums that is a little different. I’m excited about it; I heard the field is in great condition. They’ve done everything they could to make it comfortable for us to go there. I think we’ll go there, get a chance to run around and practice up there and get used to the environment. I think that will help us and then we’ll be on our normal schedule.

Q: Would you prefer to be playing in Buffalo due to the weather that is forecasted?

A: I really haven’t put a lot of thought in to it. For our team, we have to be ready to play no matter what the conditions are. I’m not going to backtrack from what my vision is, to be able to play games late in the year with the weather like it is outside and for our players to go out there and it not be an issue. Whether it be wind, rain or snow, I think that’s what you try to do. Then again, you look down the schedule we’ll be going down south and it will be warm, so I think you have to be ready for all that, but I envision building a team that can go out in this type of weather and win games.


Q: So are you giving away an advantage by playing in a dome if you’re building that type of team?

A: Well when you look at it, you can say this. It’s an advantage if you weren’t playing a team that plays in a dome all the time. Domes are different, each one is different. For the quarterbacks waking up and knowing what the elements are it’s good, you’re both playing on the same field. Again, like I said before I’m not going to backtrack, I want to build this team so when we get ready to make a run in these playoffs, wherever it may be, whatever year, we’re playing a home game in January and the weather is like outside and that advantage is to us. Yes, I’m trying to create an advantage by that weather.

Q: What is Robey’s ailment and when did it happen?

A: He had an ankle; he rolled it really during the game. I don’t even know if it was during the game, we didn’t know about it during the last practice on Tuesday or Wednesday, I’m not even sure. All I know is he came in and he didn’t miss any time. We limited him one day, but he’s been out there the whole time. He’s 100 percent.

Q: With the extra practice time, do you get extra work done in specific situations?

A: We get a little extra work in our base, in our normal down, so we did a little bit of that. What we may do on Friday is get a little bit more extra work in the red zone, which we worked today. Base and third down we got a little bit more extra work.

Q: What are your thoughts on the shuffling Atlanta has been doing on the offensive line?

A: I think you’d have to ask Tom (Dimitroff). I really don’t want to speculate on what they might be going through.

Q: As a family man, what do you think of their mayor and the kind of example that Rob Ford presents?

A: The mayor of Atlanta?

Q: The mayor of Toronto.
A: I have no idea who he is.

Q: He’s admitted to smoking crack.
A: Really? Well I hope that he can find a way to better himself. Last time I checked that’s illegal, so hopefully he can find a way to help himself. I say that for anyone, you don’t have to be the mayor, you could be a guy who is down the street. There are a lot of issues and a lot of challenges in life and I hope that people turn themselves to get help if they think they have a problem.

Q: You didn’t know about that?

A: No. I always find it funny because people will ask me what’s going on and I’ll be like, ‘What?’ Someone will ask me a question and I’ll turn around to Scott (Berchtold) and go, ‘Where were they going with that question?’ He’s like, ‘Well you haven’t heard,’ and I really don’t. I think it’s very difficult because like I said before, if I want to escape football, I’ll escape it in a novel. I call it a novel, my wife calls it fiction. I’ll do that, but honestly we really don’t have a lot of time for anything else. It’s the same thing, I’m so focused on getting this team ready and I always talk about a core and I try to tell that to our players, when people try to start pulling you out of this core, you’re not as effective as you can be. Like I said before, it hurts me where we are right now and I find it hard to get over that, but I have to keep pushing so we can have the type of team that our region can go ahead and connect with and respect and get back to the playoffs. There’s a lot of challenges that we have and we have to keep pushing and overcome them.

Q: What stands out defensively? It seems that they try to build their defense around speed.

A: Yeah, I think you’re exactly right on that. Having faced them before when Coach Smith was there and having faced him even prior to that when he was in Jacksonville, again they’re probably not as size wise when you look at them they might not be as big as the other teams you see or the other teams we may have faced, but don’t let that fool you. They’re quick and fast up front. Their movement skills are very very good. I think they better themselves on the outside, the two corners. I think (Desmond) Trufant is playing real well; both of those safeties have been to the Pro Bowl, things like that. I think that defense is built on a lot of speed and they have the ability to make a lot of plays.

Q: How have they changed since you left?

A: It’s the same principles; you’re talking about a team that in the last five years has won the second most amount of games, so they obviously have very good players. They have good veteran leadership and I think that’s what is important. I keep reminding our players to throw out all the records, throw everything out, we’re going out there and playing a team that knows how to win and has won a lot of football games. Now they’re at a point in the season where just like Coach Smith said, they’re playing for pride and we all play for pride and we have to go out there and it will be a great challenge for us.

Q: Is it sort of a homecoming in playing teams from the NFC South?

A: It’s interesting. It’s also the same with the AFC East having been in New York and coached there. Obviously New England has some of the same players that we faced and Miami has changed a little bit. Sometimes when you go back you’re looking at that and you’re going through the same division. It’s a little bit like that, I wouldn’t lie to you.

Q: How close do you think is this team to being as consistent as you want it to be?

A: I think this is a big game. When you come off a game like you did against New York and we can say what we want, maybe we can do this better and you can say that every week. When you look overall at things, we played a very good consistent football game, I think that’s what the goal is. When I talked to the players this week, that’s important, and it starts off from the individual player. Can that individual player go ahead and play another consistent game at a high enough level? Then you break it down in to units, then you break it down in to sides of the football and then you break it down to a whole team. That’s the one thing we’re striving for because right now it’s been too much of the inconsistency. Feeling that you can get things done and you can’t is a frustrating feeling. I feel that and I think we all feel it. You feel it, you know, you cover the team. The fans see it, I see it. The players themselves see it, so I think it’s important that we start developing that consistency to be the type of team we want to be.

Q: Have you gone up to the Rogers Centre to see the field and check it out?
A: Yeah, I’ve been up there once for a press conference, I can’t really remember the day. Went up there and looked at it. I don’t know, I’ve heard a lot of things, I’ve heard lighting, I’ve heard the field, I heard everything. The one common thing that I’ve heard is that they’re trying to do everything to benefit our football team and that’s important I know I appreciate that, I just haven’t been there so that’s why we’ll go up early and practice.

Q: Have any players voiced issues with the field?

A: I’m going to be honest, one of the things that I wanted to do, one of the goals for during the week was there’s been a lot that gets pointed out to this game. When you look back at how we’ve performed up there, we have not performed well up there. I went back and did a little research and we were minus nine in turnovers, we’ve only had the lead at halftime in one of the games. There are a lot of poor things we as a football team have done. A lot of times what I look at is I try to make sure when I spoke to the team is to avoid whatever people want to say. Whether it be the field, playing indoors, whether it’s an away game there. That’s not who we are, that’s not what our core is. Our core is to go up there and win games. I tried to address that early and kind of get that out of our minds. To answer the question, I haven’t heard that from any of our players.

Q: Would the team be more unique being built for colder weather when most of the NFL is gearing towards throwing the ball more?

A: I think you’ve got to be careful. I wouldn’t disagree with where you’re going with that, it’s just you want to be able to do that. You want to be big up front, you want to always have the ability to run the ball in those types of elements because there will be a point where those elements can dictate your game plan. There’s no doubt about that. I also think it was one of the reasons why we went with EJ (Manuel). Like I said before, he’s proven now that he can throw the ball in that weather. There are a couple quarterbacks in this league who can do it and some quarterbacks will struggle in it. We have the ability to do that, so to answer your question, yes I’d like to say we’d have the ability to do both, but I think there’s a time that comes where you have the lead and it’s late and you’ll have to line up in two tight ends with a fullback and a back and you’re going to have to have some big people that can be able to push that pile in that weather.

Q: What are you looking for from EJ the rest of the way?

A: Yeah I would say he’s right in the mix. Everyone knows, it’s the elephant in the room, he’s the spotlight of it, he’s the quarterback. Everyone is going to be looking for that consistency. I spoke to him about it, I said, ‘This is what we need, you’re coming off your best game playing. You did a lot of great things, everyone is going to be looking to see you have to develop that consistency to be the type of quarterback that everyone’s expectation is.’

Q: EJ has been very careful with the football, is it tough to get the message across to him that he can sometimes be too careful with the football?

A: I do agree with a lot of that statement, meaning this when we look for what we wanted was someone, when we were looking at the quarterbacks, one of the characteristics we were looking for was someone who understood the responsibility of holding that football. One of the things, which is a catch-22, I think you’re correct, he’s shown that responsibility. At some point, that responsibility can hinder at times performance because you might not go ahead and make that throw that you may see and go. One of the things we’ve been doing with him and Coach Hackett has done a good job and EJ understands it, we’ve been saying to get back there and throw it. Just throw it, let it loose, let it loose. I’d much rather coach that way then coach someone who goes the opposite way. That will gunsling it and make it and do that, especially when they’re young and trying to develop. Right now he is very cautious, which I think we can all appreciate. The fastest way to lose games is obviously the turnovers. He’s had some fumbles, he’s worked on it extremely hard and he’s done a much better job of protecting the ball in the pocket.

Q: Do you expect a more assertive C.J. (Spiller) now?

A: Yeah I expect to see that of what we saw before. If something opens up inside, to go ahead and take it. Not always look for that big home run play. Early on he was hobbled a little bit by the injuries that he had, but again those are the things we’re looking for. I think it’s hard, when you have success and you make a lot of big runs sometimes you tend to keep looking for that. I’m not saying that’s C.J.’s issue at all, but again what you want to do is keep that discipline, keep that structure and keep from running in there. When you see three or four yards, go ahead and take it. I’ve had this experience before with the same type of running backs that C.J. is, guys that can break big plays, guys that are extremely explosive. What will happen is all of the sudden is they’ll bounce it outside and take it for the home run and take it for the long touchdown or the big gain and then they’re looking to do it. It becomes a point of discipline. He’s done a much better job in practice of taking it up in there.

Q: Are you excited to see the wide receiving group all healthy?

A: I am. I really am. Working together, I think this is the first time where we really have to sit down and see who is going to be the inactives for the game. Before it’s been easy, the guys that were injured were all inactive; we didn’t have to make a lot of decisions. Going in to this game, we did have to make a couple decisions on who is going to be up and who is going to be down. I’m excited about that, those are good decisions.

Q: Who are the other explosive running backs you had?

A: Reggie (Bush), didn’t have as much success as a runner early on as C.J. had, Reggie had a lot of success on the outside. Reggie is very explosive and quick, saw things quickly and the same thing, there would be two or three yards in there and we’d say, ‘go ahead and get in there.’ He would try to bounce it and get the big play. That’s one of the examples at least for me in my experience that I’ve had with those running backs.

QB EJ Manuel

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Q: What are your thoughts about going into this game with a fully healthy roster?
A: Yeah, it’s a great feeling. Being out here this last week of practice has been awesome, just preparing for the Falcons. Having Stevie (Johnson) back and all those guys and having (Robert Woods) back with a fresh ankle and he’s moving around like he’s always done. I know those guys are really chomping at the bit to get back out there and make some plays.

Q: Looking back at the Jets game, what did that game do for you?

A: Yeah, it gave me a huge boost in confidence. I think not just myself, but the overall team. I think it was a team victory, it wasn’t just me that made plays. Marquise (Goodwin) and T.J. (Graham) both made huge plays on those touchdowns, and as you can see our defense played a great game as well, so I think it was just an overall team boost for everybody, especially heading into the break and then heading into this game. All I’ve seen from this whole week, just guys are focused. Guys are ready to get back out there and play on Sunday.

Q: Are T.J. and Marquise teasing the other guys that are back from injury, saying that they’re the go-to receivers now?
A: Well the cool thing about those guys is they all try to get some, and they’re all happy for each other. I don’t think anybody is necessarily going to be upset if somebody else makes a play and they don’t, so I think as long as we make a play, it’s a whole team thing for us. 

Q: Because the snow is something that’s part of this team’s build.
A: Yeah, definitely. Like I said, I’m sure we’ll get another opportunity to play in the snow.

Q: Do you think playing inside is to Atlanta’s benefit?
A: Well hey, I didn’t draw up the schedule, so there’s not much I can do about it. They’re used to playing indoors, but we’re used to practicing inside and playing, so I don’t think it’ll be a benefit on their behalf.

Q: Have you been to Toronto?

A: Yes

Q: What did you think of Toronto?
A: I’ve been to Toronto. We went to a Blue Jays game last spring, and I thought it was a beautiful city. On the ride in, you see all the beautiful buildings and the high rise condos, and things like that, so it’s a cool place. I think it’s a great city, and I hope we have a great turnout this Sunday.

Q: NFL players sort of set the bar for themselves. Do you feel like that bar is now raised for you?
A: Most definitely. I raise my own bar and I set my own bar, so I definitely want to hold myself to a high standard. I don’t want to revert back to having games where it’s inconsistent or anything like that. I’m not going to put any more pressure on myself, I feel like if I just continue to do what I did that week versus the Jets, continue to study and prepare, we should all go out there and have a good game.

Q: What step forward do you feel like you made in that last game?
A: Just going into the game, I felt comfortable with the game plan, I felt comfortable with everything Coach Hackett was going to call. Having him on the sidelines did a lot, not just for me but for the whole offense because he brings a lot of excitement to us. When he sees guys kind of getting melancholy throughout the game, he’s going to do something to pump us up, and obviously as a quarterback I do that as well, but when you have your offensive coordinator doing it, it really goes and hits home for us, so I think all those factors helped in that game and I think it’s going to continue to help with the rest of the games this season.

Q: Do you feel like you want to keep things going on an upward trend after the Jets game?

A: Every day is a day to continue to get better. It’s still my rookie year. I don’t make that an excuse to say, ‘Hey, I’m only a rookie, so I can’t do this.’ I don’t want to limit myself at all, so I just have to continue to get better. Each and every game is a learning experience, but you can’t really look at it going into the game. You have to look at it going into it to try to win the game.

Q: Can you speak to the challenge of not trying to be too careful with the football, but finally starting to let it go now? Has something changed in your mindset?
A: Not at all. I’m not going to force a ball because there’s no need to. I think within our offense, there’s always somebody who you can get the ball to, and the good thing about me, I can take off and get yards myself with my feet. If all else fails, take off and run, but I don’t think there’s ever a reason to force a football.

Q: When you go into a stadium for the first time, what’s your mindset, and do you think it’s important to get your bearings?
A: Yeah, I do think it’s important. You want to look for the game clock, that’s one thing, every time I go into a stadium I always look for the game clock so I know how to handle that. And also with the lighting, when the ball goes up and down for these receivers, sometimes it’s hard for them to kind of judge where the ball is going to fall. I think that’s the first thing you need to do, is some drills with the receivers, throwing the ball up and down, so they can kind of get a gist of how the ball is going to come from the sky. For me, it’s all the same. The surface is fine, it’s still turf, it’s still a normal football field, so I think it’s more so for the receivers to kind of gage their eyes on the football.

Q: Has anybody told you anything about what to expect as far as crowd noise and how loud it can be?
A: I’ve heard that quite a few times, and like I said, I hope a lot of the people from here in Buffalo don’t mind making the trip. Maybe they’re not sleeping from all the turkey and stuff like that, they can get over to Toronto to check us out. Nonetheless, I think we’re more focused on the game and handling the Falcons first.

Q: Are you kind of frustrated that the game isn’t in Buffalo?
A: It’s my first year in the league. I haven’t played in Toronto yet, I can probably give you a better answer after the game or the following year, but it’s another game. I don’t think we’re necessarily focused on it being in Toronto. It’s still a home game for us, we just want to go out there and focus on winning.

RB Fred Jackson

Wednesday, November 27, 2012

Q: Fred, talk a little bit about your opponent, maybe you’ll get some yards on these guys.
A: Yeah, I mean it’s something we feel like we can take advantage of in the run game, but you never know what team is going to show up. They can come in and make a plan to try and stop us, and it’s something that we have to be ready to counter. But it’s something that in the run game, we have some stuff in that we want to try to get rolling and take advantage of with running the football.

Q: You talk about teams that show up, these guys are not what they are on paper. They have some talent on that team and you hope that team doesn’t come alive Sunday.

A: Oh yeah, their record doesn’t indicate how good they are. We know that, you can see when breaking down film, they’re a lot better team than that 2-9 record I think they have, so we know that. We know we’re going to have to show up and play a great team. They were being talked about as a Super Bowl favorite for a reason, so that’s something that we have to take into account when we step on that field and know about it and know that they have some playmakers everywhere on that field.

Q: Any feelings about going back to Toronto and that crowd?
A: There’s been times we’ve been up there and there’s been just different crowds. We don’t know what we’re going to get this year, but hopefully we can get a crowd that comes out there that’s loud for us and makes some noise for us and we can feed off of them and make some plays and kind of get them involved in the game early and have them stick around for us.

Q: Aren’t you giving your advantage away by playing them in a dome?
A: That’s what they are. They’re a dome team, so they’ll be accustomed to it. I’m sure it would be a lot different to come out here and play in the Ralph than it would be to go out there and play in the Rogers Center, so yeah we do lose that advantage so to speak, but we’re all in a dome. We have to take advantage of playing in that and make some plays when we get that opportunity to.

Q: Do you feel good about the performance of the run game from the perspective of the bye week? You and C.J. Spiller are both healthy, and getting all your receivers back to stretch the field.
A: Yeah, anytime you get those guys healthy and able to keep those safeties out of the box, that’s something that C.J. and I look forward to. Hopefully we can do that, keep those guys stretching the field, throwing some deep balls, score some touchdowns that way, and make them respect that and we can do what we can in establishing that run game.

WR Stevie Johnson

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Q: Is there any difference in the lighting (at the Rogers Center)?
A: Maybe for the warm-ups, but after that, it’s all football after that. There’s really no light effects that’s going to mess with you, you just have to go out there and handle business.

Q: For you specifically, it’s got to be nice to go out there healthy, right?

A: It feels good to not have that burden of oh, something is hurting or something is nagging. We’re been just working hard in the training room, me and (our training staff) trying to get this thing right for these next five (games) so we can make a push.

Q: You have to be excited to see this wide receiver corps together again, right?
A: Yeah, I’ve been excited since these guys got here, so none of that has changed, but due to injuries and everything, with everybody coming back, that excitement is still there, knowing that we have these next five (games) and we still have action, so it’s time to just strap up.

LB Manny Lawson

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Q: What are your thoughts on the Falcons? They’ve got some people on that team that can make plays.
A: You know what, a team that they know themselves, ‘I’m not going to make the playoffs,’ that’s a very dangerous team to play against. They’re going out with nothing to lose. They’re not going to play safe, they’re not going to hold anything back. They’re going out there to just win. And yeah, you’re right, they’re having some struggles and they’ve had a bad season so far, but they have a very talented group. From quarterbacks to running backs to receivers and tight ends, they’re still the Atlanta team from old.

Q: These are the team’s that wake up against you. You don’t want that, do you?
A:  Not at all, so we want to jump on them as fast as you can, get ahead of them, and just keep them on their toes.

Q: Coming off the bye week, what changes or tweaks have you made?
A: Really, the only change I can say is that a lot of our guys are coming back healthy, and a lot of guys that are coming back that have bumps and bruises are feeling better body-wise about themselves. We’re not going to try to change too much about us. If we need to make adjustments, we’ll make game time adjustments, but no, we haven’t changed anything. We’re still the Buffalo Bills defense, and we still like to get after the quarterback on the offense, and that’s what we’re going to do.

RB C.J. Spiller

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Q: How are you feeling, where are you at?
A: I feel good. I definitely feel like I’m getting back to my old self, making the cuts, making that explosion, so just looking forward to seeing how Sunday goes.

Q: You know we like the percentages C.J. …

A: I can’t give percentages. I was commanded by my chief not to give percentages anymore, so I’ll just tell you guys that I feel good and I’m ready to rock and roll come Sunday.

Q: When was the last time you were 100 percent?
A: The week before we played the Ravens. I guess that would be what, week three, week four? Yeah, because we played the Panthers then the Ravens I think, so I guess that’s week four was the last time that I’ve been really 100 percent.

Q: Are you excited about playing in Toronto?
A: I’m excited about going up there with my teammates and just trying to find a way to win this game. I don’t really look at what I’ve done in the past, because you can get caught up into that type of stuff. I’m looking forward to seeing how we handle these next five games, considering the situation that we’re in and the opportunity that we have. I’m definitely excited about just playing another game. It felt strange not playing last Sunday, but it was rest needed. But now I’m ready to get back to work.

C Eric Wood

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Q: Are you looking forward to the game this year, considering what you said after the game last season?
A: I kind of said that in the heat of the moment after the game last year, and I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully my feelings will change after this game. I didn’t say really anything negative before the game last year, I just had some ill thoughts afterwards.

Q: Which were objective and reasonable, like the idea of watching your team in an environment where they don’t have their normal advantages, right?
A: Yeah, and it’s nothing we can change in the short term. We have to go up there and get a win, and that has to be our attitude. We can’t worry about it any further than that.

Q: You’ve seen your rookie quarterback bounce back from a bad performance, how confident are you that he can maintain that level that he played at two weeks ago against the Jets?
A: Week to week, he does a good job of working as hard as he can every day, and continued improvement is something that I can definitely foresee from him.

WR Robert Woods

Wednesday November 27, 2013

Q: How are you feeling and are you ready to get back out there?

A: Feel good, just can’t wait to play in a game again and just compete with my brothers. Just go out there and play. Finally have our full offense together, EJ (Manuel) is back, me and Stevie (Johnson) are coming along. I just want to make plays.

Q: Your thoughts on going up to Toronto? Do you know anything about the Rogers Centre?
A: I’ve been to the Rogers Centre once, but it was for the Blue Jays. Haven’t heard much about it. For me and for us it’s a regular game up there, just trying to beat Atlanta.

Q: EJ had talked about when you go to a new venue you want to check on where the lights are so you can be on the same line with your wide receivers. How important is that for you?

A: Just to be able to track the ball in the air, you want to before in pregame find out where the lights are and put some balls in the air. See if you can track it and by the time the game comes it’s nothing new, you’ve already experienced it.

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