Buffalo Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Opening Statement:
Did not participate in practice: Kyle Williams which is obviously normal with what we’ve been doing. Kraig Urbik did not participate in practice, I think it’s going to be a game time decision and I won’t be able to update you during the week saying is he close or is he not close. I really think it’ll go all the way to the end, that’s how I feel right now. Obviously I will update where we have to list him.

Q: What’s he (Kraig Urbik) got?
A: He’s (Kraig Urbik) got a foot. It was sore after the game. We thought it would get better and it’s not. We’re going to see that and it’ll be day to day and that decision will come later in the week. Right now the plan is if he’s not available then J.J. (‘Unga) will be in there playing.

Limited in practice was Kiko Alonso with a knee. He was limited and basically we’re just resting him. Brandon Smith with an ankle, he got it during practice. Full participation in practice because we have to list him was Jonathan Meeks.

I thought that obviously with the disappointment of last Sunday we’ve come back and we’ve had three good days. We had a good Monday, the players day off they did a good job and they came in here and they worked extremely hard through practice. That’s one of the things that you look for and they’ve done a good job. It’s got to carry over on to the field on Sunday.

Q: Do you feel good about putting ‘Unga in when he’s fairly new?

A: Well sometimes you get forced to do that, you know what I’m saying? Sometimes that’s a good thing where you just put somebody in there. It’s someone we were looking to get more reps from. If Kraig is available then we’re probably going to increase J.J.’s reps anyways depending on the limitations on Kraig. If Kraig’s not, we’ll put J.J. in there and go. We’ll see. When he went in there last week there were things he did that we were very happy with and sometimes for us as coaches, sometimes and I’ve said this before in preseason, you have to throw guys in there and see what they can do, know exactly where they are.

Q: Are you happy with the production you’re getting out of your top receiver spots?
A: Production is a funny thing and I look at it from the standpoint of where we are as a whole. I don’t look at it as an individual. I think from an offensive standpoint, especially in the passing game, we need production as a whole. There are a couple things that I see that are issues. One of them is we’ve obviously protected better at home than we have on the road. We have to figure that out. We have to do a better job there. That gives us at least the opportunity to throw the ball down the field. The other one, there were some games where we had more than the acceptable amount of drops. We can’t have those. The other thing is obviously we have a young quarterback, we have to keep that coming. It’s just like I said the other day, and I want to make sure that I don’t miscommunicate it, as we were going with him and he was playing what we considered well, we kept increasing and increasing and increasing. Now you go out and you play a poor game, whether it’s a top quarterback in this league or a rookie quarterback, your first decision of what to do is ok we’ve been increasing and increasing, let’s step back. That doesn’t mean we’re going to become more simple and easier to defend.

Q: Are you confident in what Stevie (Johnson) is capable of doing as your top receiver?

A: Yes. I think what you said is just like everything else. When you look at it consistently, that’s what we need from everyone. Do we have the confidence in the players we put out there? Yes because they’ve done it on the practice field and they do it on a daily basis. The thing is when you go over on to the field, you want to be consistent. Now, I want to make sure I communicate that I’m not just talking specifically about Stevie as much as I am when you write it that’s really as a whole, with this whole football team and what we have to do.

Q: You want more production from (T.J.) Graham and (Marquise) Goodwin. Does that mean fewer snaps for Stevie?

A: Well I don’t know about fewer snaps, I really don’t. I think that we have to find ways as an offense where we can get them the ball. Obviously it can’t just be throwing go routes. When you look at two weeks ago when we played, we had and I went back and looked, we have targeted both of them. Four times for the two and then we target T.J. last week some times and we didn’t get the catches. Now we’ve got to make sure we’re doing things with them where teams aren’t getting beat with just run and go’s. Put it up there a little bit where we can use their speed and get them in. I think that’s a challenge for us, not necessarily the players. That’s a challenge for us as coaches and that’s our responsibility.

Q: What in your mind is the biggest hurdle that EJ Manuel needs to get over to achieve the level of consistency that you’re looking for?

A: Well it’s definitely not his work ethic, it’s definitely not how he goes about things. He is harder on himself, I don’t want to say than everyone on this team, but he’s very hard on himself. Obviously we all understand it’s a difficult position. If everyone on this team was being evaluated like a quarterback, you can find a lot of things that are going on that are not consistent. We understand that. I understand that. That goes with the job. For him, does he have to get better? Yes he does in a lot of areas. He is, even though the performance sometimes can’t see that. At the end of the day, you have to have a solid cast around you supporting you. Every quarterback has done that. Once you have a solid class, it doesn’t have to be great, then the quarterback’s play can increase the level of the people around him and decrease the level of the people around him. That’s why that position is so important.

Q: How critical of a juncture is this for this organization?

A: I would say this. If I said that it’s not important, it probably—people think schematically and you can see, if you’re seeing people and they’re put in a good position, then you say to yourself, ‘Gosh we’ve got to make this play or that play.’ Does that happen 110-percent of the time? No. We as coaches make mistakes, a couple from game to game where you say, ‘Gosh I wish I had this call back. I wish I had that call back.’ Not many of those usually go on if you’re doing a good job and that’s not the thing. It goes back to the consistency. What I’m struggling with, and I think we all are and I explained this to the team is that you take certain situations, and this is what I explained to them today, and you may be the top five in this or number one in that and then all of the sudden on second down you go from a top five team to all of the sudden you’re ranked 10. I’ll give you an example. We lead the league in sacks, second in interceptions and first in tackles for a loss. Pretty darn good. Then all of the sudden you look on first down we’re giving up way too much yardage. Second down we’re doing a good job. Then you go to third down. Third and four to seven, we’re number on in the NFL. Third and eight-plus, we’re number 30. That’s really what I explain to the team as where I’m struggling. Where we are struggling, or I should say that’s where our darn challenge is. We’re going to fix that in the next three weeks and that’s what is important for us.

Q: I mean from a psychology or culture standpoint, you’re at a point here where things could spin one way and you need to maybe stem what has happened the last couple of weeks and make a statement these last few weeks. Do you view this as a critical point for the organization moving forward?

A: Right, wrong or indifferent, this is how I look at it. Here’s our critical point. Every week is critical. Every game is critical. I don’t like to label a series or a quarter or whatever it may be. I like to make sure that I keep the concentration and focus on this game. Is it critical we win this game? Yes. It was critical we win last week. It’s the truth, last week was as poorly as we’ve played. No doubt about it. No doubt about it. We’ve got to get back and play and become consistent in those areas and build that foundation. Do we have a plan? Yes. Will we do that? Yes. That will get accomplished.

Q: Coming off the Atlanta game, mental toughness is kind of a vague term, but the response was not there on Sunday. What makes you get a sense that the message has reached the players this week?

A: I think players watch the film and I think they get it. I really do. When you go in and ask them, I think they’ll be able to tell you. It’s not acceptable. We don’t feel good. We’ve got to come out and work hard. It sounds like a cliché but that’s the truth. You put something on tape that you’re not proud of. At the end of the day, none of us are proud about we put on that tape. That tape is there forever. Everyone can go back to that game, everyone can look at it. That’s not what you want to do in this league.

Q: What did you learn in your early years at Syracuse that helps now with a losing program and building a foundation?

A: Obviously there are a lot of things you learn. I’ve been through this quite a bit as a player and a coach. At the NFL level and also at the collegiate level as a head coach. It’s a challenge. It’s painful. It hurts. As long as you don’t feel sorry for yourself, as long as you don’t say woe is me, as long as you can go in there and make sure that people are accountable and you hold yourself accountable and you make sure you say, ‘I hope we can, I wish we could, we might be able to’ and use words like that, you’re never going to be able to get yourself over the top. We have to do this. We have to that. We will do this and we will do that. I think all of those clichés that you’ve heard, I think they’re true. I think that we all become impatient. I’m not asking for patience because I am impatient right now. We want this thing to go. Everyday is critical, every rep is critical. None more critical than what you do at the present time and it’s not like the ones before weren’t critical. You fight and you fight and you make sure you find the guys that are going to fight with you. You make sure you find the right people that you have and you get yourself out of it. It’s happened for a long time here. We still obviously are mathematically in it. We could get knocked out of it and it’s not in our control. What’s in control is for us to go win a game, if not it’s been 14 years. That’s too damn long. We’re going to change that.

Q: You’ve been here for 11 months now, can you draw any parallels to your first year at Syracuse with what you inherited and your first year in Buffalo?

A: Absolutely. As far as comparing what the past has been and how that’s compared and what are the things that are the same in what you go through, I’d be more than happy to spend as much time postseason with that. We still have three weeks where things are going to change. Things are going to change and I want to make sure that all of that information is there and then I’ll be able to answer that question fully which I have no problem answering that question.

Q: You’re facing your sixth team coming off an extended break, do you still have frustration with the schedule?

A: Is there frustration in that? To a certain extent, but that is in the back of my mind. That is not at the forefront. Our job is—we have nothing to do with the schedule. When it comes out, our job is to play and win no matter where we are. No different. To sit here and complain about this and complain about that, why? Why? You think when I say anyone is going to feel sorry for us? No. It’s the same situation. We have to get out there and play and we have to win. We have to play better on the road. We have to do that. There are some big discrepancies in how we play on the road and how we play at home. That’s probably been the trend for a while. We’ve got to get ready to go.

Q: Kiko’s knee injury, how did it happen?

A: I looked on the film, I couldn’t see it. I don’t know if he got hit, rolled on or not. I think again it’s one of those things where you can’t pinpoint that play, but it’s just sore. They asked me what we wanted to do, if I wanted to put him out there and go out and practice, the guy has taken a lot of snaps, I said let’s limit him.

Q: How would you sum up his season?

A: I think it’s exciting. I really do. I really do. I think all of us can see the way he plays the game and what you don’t see, to give you a little insight, he’s one of the first guys here in the morning and one of the last guys to leave. As a rookie, he’s probably more in tune with his body and getting it ready to play than really anyone I’ve been around. I’m not exaggerating with that. That’s a great question, I don’t know if he’ll tell you that, but that’s what he does. The thing about it is what you see with him is what we talk about. We say don’t confuse effort with results, with him you see effort and you see results.

Q: Can you give an example of him being in tune with his body?

A: Sure. You look at him and in the morning you see him before we workout, you see him here early taking care of his body. That’s what we talk about sometimes about being a pro. A lot of times, ‘can I sleep a little bit later? Can I get out of here a little bit earlier?’ Part of what being a pro is being in tune with that. Being able to take care of your body. Did the trainer tell you to come in early? No. Did the trainer tell you to stay after and take care of your body? No. Is it an injury? No. It’s maintenance and knowing who you are. I think that is excellent. When you can get that out of someone so young that has the ability to influence and his leadership ability will increase because of the way he plays on the field. We’ll look towards that as we grow and move in to the next step with him.

QB EJ Manuel

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Q: What was your takeaway as you sat and watched the game film from Sunday?

A: It was disappointing. I was obviously disappointed after the game, but when I watched it on film, I did some uncharacteristic things. Forcing the ball, a read on one of the interceptions where I could have just moved up in the pocket and taken off and ran. Another where I just kind of didn’t really see Stevie coming open, I just kind of trusted my third step and got the ball out of my hand and he wasn’t there. He got mugged up and that’s when the guy came back and caught the ball. Beside the turnovers, I think there still was some good in the tape. Things that we can build upon, but nonetheless, not to score a touchdown and to only get two field goals throughout the whole game, that’s extremely disappointing as a quarterback of this team. We have to do tremendously better this Sunday.

Q: Coach Marrone said that he might have to not give you as much (in the playbook). Do you think that’s necessary?

A: I don’t think that’s necessary, but just depending upon what defense we go against, I know Tampa did a lot of different things as far as what they do (with) the Tampa two, the cover two. We haven’t really faced that a lot this season, but that’s not an excuse, you have to be able to adjust. This is the NFL and defenses are going to throw different things at you, so it’s just a part of my maturation, just getting used to defenses being totally different every Sunday. I’m not going to make the excuse saying just because they were a little different, that’s why I threw four interceptions or that’s why we didn’t score any touchdowns. I just really have to bite the bullet on this one and just move forward to this next game. 

Q: The game aside, do you feel week to week that you are making progress?

A: I do, and it may not show when you have a performance like that, but I think in the big picture of everything, I’m still learning how to prepare for a game every Sunday, how to prepare for the nuances between each defense, and just how to get your body right when you’re playing down south when you’re playing up north, whether it’s going to be a cold or a hot game and hydration, so it’s a lot. It’s everything that goes into getting ready to play a football game, and as a professional, so I just have to continue to chip in and chip away at it.

Q: As a team, can you talk about the importance of a strong finish now to sort of verify that there has been progress?
A: Definitely. That’s our main goal right now, and we’ll kind of see where things end up at the end of the season, but if we could finish with these three wins I think that would give us a great taste going into January and going into OTAs in the spring, so that’s our main goal.

Q: When you see a team like Tampa playing cover two and man under, what do you do to attack that kind of defense?
A: Well I think the biggest key is to take off and run. A lot of times when they have two deep safeties and they’re playing man under, the quarterback is really the catalyst to break that thing, so instead of trying to sit in the pocket and try to, I guess pinpoint defenses apart, sometimes just using my natural ability. And like I said in the first, one of those interceptions I could have just taken off and gotten 10 or 12 yards and gotten down, so I just have to learn from it, bite the bullet and move forward.

Q: What are your thoughts on Stevie and just how are you and him are synched up?
A: My thoughts of Stevie is (he’s) a very versatile receiver. First off, he’s a guy who you can rely on to get open; he’s a guy who’s going to make the huge catch for you. And that’s what we’ve been getting from Stevie. In that past game, he made a great catch down in the seam, a very tight catch, I think there were two or three guys right on him. He caught it and almost scored, but Scott had gotten in his way or something like that, but those are the things that Stevie brings to the table for us as an offense. We want to continue to amp him up and get him as many touches as possible.

Q: What about his personality? He takes a lot of heat too. How do you see him as that kind of a person?
A: I think we all take some heat. Especially with the way our season is going and has gone this far, so I think Stevie does a great job with it. Not allowing the outside pressures, the outside things that people are saying about him, whether it’s positive or negative, let that fluctuate how he plays on Sundays. I think that’s just a part of him being a professional. He’s a veteran in what we do as a team, and he’s one of the guys we look for in our offense to make big plays for us.

Q: How confident are you that you guys can grow given one more offseason?

A: Oh yeah, we can definitely grow. First off, having a true offseason. As rookies, myself, Woody, Marquise, Kiko all of us as rookies, we really want to finish this thing strong because we know we’re going to make a huge push in the offseason. But we really need to hone in on these three games right here and show that we can make some more progress towards the end of the season.

Q: I mean you, specifically you and Stevie…

A: Yeah, I think we’ll have plenty of time to be able to work out together and definitely be on the same page as far as throwing the ball.. Yeah, that’s a given. As a quarterback to a receiver, you’re going to have that relationship definitely in the offseason.

Q: Any thoughts on Jacksonville’s defense? How would you characterize them?
A: (They’re) a very good defense. These past I think five games, they’ve flown around, and I want to say they’re 4-1 in the past five. They’ve done a good job stopping offenses, flying around. They have some young guys in the secondary, but you can tell they’ve gotten better throughout the year. I think it’s going to be a very good matchup for us, and we really need this game though. I think it’s very adamant for me to definitely be prepared to know exactly what they’re going to do on defense, and if they throw in some wrinkles, be able to adjust to that. I’m really looking forward to getting another game under my belt and kind of flush this one away.

Q: What do you think is the biggest hurdle for you to jump coming down these last three weeks?
A: Just to finish. I think that’s always the way you want to go into a season, whether we were looking forward to the playoffs, or whether we’re just finishing these last three games out, you need to finish the season strong because you’re moving forward into another season after that. I think that’s the biggest thing for me, but to be specific, I think it’s just winning games. Especially these last two I think we have on the road, in Jacksonville and in New England, so to obviously show that we can win on the road, show that I can win on the road as the quarterback for this team, and not let those outside forces, as far as the crowd or anything, get me flustered or anything like that and just go out and make plays like I would here in Buffalo.

Q: How fine is that line of being aggressive and pushing the ball down field but then learning to take what they give you?
A: I think it’s just a matter of understanding when it’s time to do it and when it’s time not to do it. Say if you’re on the 30 and you’re in field goal range right there, there’s no reason necessarily to force something down and get a turnover when you already have three points. If you can get a first down, you’ll get even closer to getting a touchdown, so I think it’s just understanding the situations of each play within the game. 

Q: How far are you in that process of taking ownership of the offense?
A: I don’t really know how to grade it to tell you an answer, but I think I’m very in depth with the offense. I meet a lot with Coach Hackett after practice, and I think that helps me to really get an understanding of what he wants when he calls a certain play versus certain coverage. That’s the biggest thing, I’m an extension of the offensive coordinator out there on the field. I’m just a guy who makes the plays and facilitates the ball to guys, but he’s calling the plays, so if he and I are on the same page, that’s going to help me out a lot more, and I won’t have to think as much, just go out there and let it rip and make plays.

Q: Right now, are you just leasing it, just sort of trying it out before you can have full ownership of it?
A: Yeah just truly amp it up? I think that’s going to come as I continue to grow within the offense. You want to advance that as fast as possible, but I’ve shown what I can do in a game like the Jets, then you have a game like I did on Sunday this past Sunday, so you have to combat it and continue to play. It’s going to happen, so you just have to roll with the punches. 

WR Marquise Goodwin

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Q: Coach is talking about giving you the ball more, getting you more touches. What are your thoughts on that?
A: I just have to come to work ready to make plays. That’s the bottom line. I just have to maximize on my opportunities given.

Q: What do you think happened in the last couple of games that they kind of got away from looking to you?
A: It could be a few things. Bottom line is I’ll get a few opportunities now, I can’t worry about what happened in the last few weeks. (I) just have to stay positive and continue to work like I have been and move forward.

Q: Can you talk about how you could be used other than just flying down the sideline down the field.
A: I play receiver, so any other route that you can think of, I feel like I’m capable of running it. The go route is just one of the things that I specialized in being a speed guy, so whatever way I can get the ball, whatever way, just to help the team win, even if I don’t get the ball.

Q: How important is it during these last three games to kind of verify that there has been progress on this team?
A: It’s a big deal. We want to finish the season strong regardless of our record, regardless of how we’ve played in the past few weeks, even throughout the season. We just want to maximize the opportunities that we have left and just do the best we can to end on a good note. 

RB Fred Jackson

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Q: How important is it to bounce back in a big way this week?
A: It’s of utmost importance, that’s what it’s all about. We have to finish this season strong and we have an opportunity to go out and play a game against an opponent that’s struggling like we are, so we just have to go out and take advantage of it, make plays that we’re capable of making, and try to get a win and continue to keep this thing rolling.

Q: Is there anything you can point to as to what might be the reason behind the offense’s inconsistencies this season?
A: The only thing that jumps out is inconsistency. You can look at it on film and see things that we’re doing well on one play, and then we run the play again later and we’re not doing those things, so that’s what it is, it’s about being consistent down to down, play to play and we’ll be alright on offense.

Q: What do you make of Jacksonville’s defense?
A: They have three good linebackers, their defensive front is active. Playing against (Paul Posluszny), knowing what he was about when he was here, he liked to come downhill in the run game. It’ll be a good test for us in the run game, one we’re excited about. Their defense likes the play around, they play that cover two defense, so we’ll have to try to take advantage of that in the pass game with some things that we’re doing, but we feel like we can move the ball against them. 

WR Stevie Johnson

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 

Q: What do you hope to see from the team over these last three weeks?

A: Just hard work. Including myself, just guys battling every down. Whether you win a down or not, just show the fight, show the dog in you.. That’s it. I’m going to try to display that and set that type of example. That’s it for these next three.

Q: There are some rookies in the back end of the Jacksonville defense. Have you gotten a look at them on film?

A: Yeah. From what I’ve seen they’re pretty disciplined when it comes to their zone drops and their technique and everything. We just have to be on top of our game because the way they drop and play their cover two it’s straight two and they get where they need to be. We can’t afford to make any mistakes because they’ll jump on top of it.

Q: How does a receiver provide a lift when a young quarterback is coming off a bad game?

A: Just constant communication. We have to communicate on and off the field. Not necessarily just about football, but about everything. Just to keep his mind calm because it’s a lot going on right now. It’s a lot being thrown at him. You have to let him know that you’re there for him no matter what it is. Whether it’s a good play or bad play. The surprising thing about EJ (Manuel) is sometimes he’s been the one to be that guy and say, ‘It’s ok. Let’s get right back at it.’ Everything is going to be fine on his part. 

RB C.J. Spiller

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Q: Offensively you guys are coming off a game where you guys didn’t get in the end zone. Is there a point of pride for you guys to bounce back this week?

A: Of course we have to have a better performance than what we had last week. We’re not going to win any games if we play like that.

Q: How critical is it to get things right and stop the bleeding?

A: You just have to come out and just be focused. Come Sunday just have to go out there and play hard and try to play mistake free football and try to come away with the win. It’s a tough team that we’re going up against. This team is hot; they’ve won three in a row so it’s going to be a challenge. Definitely looking forward to it.

Q: What do you see from their run defense? They’ve played better over these last five weeks.

A: These guys, they fly around. They do a great job of controlling the gap. They’re very active. Their linebackers do a great job, so like I said it’s going to be tough. Just have to take what they give us and not get discouraged when they get us on a couple plays. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how we rebound since we didn’t have a great day rushing the ball last week. 

OG J.J. ‘Unga

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Q: Can you talk about how quickly things have moved along for you?
A: Pretty fast. Everything came all at once, and like you said I’ve only been here for a little while, maybe like two weeks, three weeks, so yeah, everything kind of just jumped out.
Q: Do you feel comfortable with the offense?

A: Comfortable enough. I feel like I still have a lot to learn, a lot more plays to learn, but I feel comfortable enough right now.

Q: How big of an opportunity is it for you?
A: This is the biggest opportunity I’ve ever really had, so like I said before, I just want to take this opportunity and show them what I can do. 

C Eric Wood

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Q: What kind of challenge does Jacksonville’s run defense pose for you?
A: They’ve done a good job of bringing an eight-man front, switching up some looks that they had going earlier in the year that weren’t real successful for them. They’re playing good ball and above all their scheme and the new stuff they’re doing, they’re playing with a lot of passion and it shows on film.

Q: What type of player is Jaguars LB Paul Posluszny and what type of challenge does he pose for a guy like yourself?
A: Paul’s is a great player. Extremely consistent, you always know what you’re going to get from him. He’s a sideline-to-sideline player big enough to thump in the run game, just a good all-around player.

Q: For a team that’s shown some flashes this year, how important is it finish strong to confirm that there’s been progress this year?
A: Extremely important. We needed to make some progress. We took a step back last week, probably a big step back. Hopefully that was rock bottom for this team. You get to really look at yourself and climb out of this thing with some character and really come out and hopefully put out a good performance this week.

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