Buffalo Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 

Opening Statement: Just a couple updates here on practice: You guys know, pretty much, the guys that are out. Just trying to hit any guys that you may have in question. Micah Hyde will be day-to-day. I think most of you are aware already that Charles Clay had a death in the family. Certainly, keep Charles and his family in our thoughts and prayers and we look forward to getting him back. With that, I’ll open it up to questions.

Q: What is Micah’s injury?

A: He has a couple things going on. Just overall soreness pretty much. He has a little knee, but we hope…It looks like with the improvement he made over the last couple days we are headed in the right direction.

Q: Him and Clay won’t practice today. In addition to [Ramon] Humber and [Jordan] Matthews, what about Shaq [Lawson]?

A: Shaq will be limited today.

Q: Have Eric Wood and Kyle Williams reminded the team what happened last time they went to Cincinnati when they were the talk of the NFL?

A: They have remined the team. The great part about this team is we have a ton of leaders on this team that make their presence known in and around the building and in the locker room in particular. They lead by example, and then verbally as well. Those guys have made it very clear what it was like years ago, when the team had a good start and then stayed focused on the process.

Q: Could you tell us why you brought Philly Brown back?

A: First of all, I want to make this known, we have confidence in the guys in our receiving room. Philly is a guy that played in games. He knows the system. He knows what we are looking for. He knows what it is like to play in big games. For all those reasons, we thought it was the right time and we’ll take a look at him today and see how he looks here.

Q: How about E.J. Gaines for practice today as well?

A: Limited.

Q: How limited are you now given your situation bringing Philly back? How limited are you in the passing game at this point? Losing a guy like Jordan, he was your veteran guy, at least for a couple of weeks?

A: It is never easy to lose a player, any player, but also a player of that quality and caliber with Jordan Matthews. We are not limited. We move forward and that is what good teams do. It is a next man up approach and I expect whoever that next man is, in this case at the wide receiver position, to step up and do his job.

Q: Speaking of the passing game, how important is it do you think for the success that you have had, which hasn’t been a whole lot of passing, but whatever you have had you have incorporated play action. More than we have seen around here for a whole while. How important is that for Tyrod [Taylor] to have that?

A: That has been huge. That goes right along with the running game. With my defensive background, I know how tough that is in order to diagnose the run and then the play action that comes off of it. That is tough to handle defensively, so it’s important that we continue to do that, continue to play our style football, in all three phases really.

Q: Stephen Hauschka, in the second straight week, is the AFC special teams player of the week. When you signed him and brought him on board, is this what you anticipated knowing you have a guy that can knock in 50 + on a regular basis?

A: I think Danny Crossman does a great job of knowing his phase of the ball. We went through it in the off season. Danny identified Stephen as a player that fit us. Certainly, the conditions that we play in here, it was important that we had a leg like the type that Stephen has. Just the rapport he has been able to build up with Colton [Schmidt] and Reid [Ferguson] and how important that triangle is in the operation. He is kicking well right now and it’s good to see. It is really good to see and that’s a guy that spent a long time in one place, and maybe totally wasn’t in their plans like a lot of us in this building. That is what our team is all about. Guys that embrace that underdog role.

Q: The play that E.J. [Gaines] got hurt, he also caused a fumble and creates two steps later. Can you kind of speak to the effort that something like that takes, and what says to the rest of the group that was watching?

A: That is awesome that you noticed that. It is again, no different with Stephen, underdog role. Our guys, I can’t say enough how much I appreciate, how much the coaches appreciate, everyone in this building appreciates, the way that they battle and how hard they play. We had a couple other guys that did get hurt in the game, in addition to E.J., that went out and tried to play more. They were either able to do it and finish the game in some of their cases, or in other cases they weren’t able to finish the game but they went back and tried. That doesn’t happen everywhere and for that, I am forever grateful. It just is to me, a sign of the toughness, and the work ethic of these guys and the belief that every game is winnable, at any moment in the game.

Q: Do you think any defensive player in this league has played better than Jerry Hughes in the first quarter of the season?

A: I don’t know. I don’t spend a lot of time looking around the league. I know how Jerry’s played and he has been phenomenal. He’s been coming off the ball, he has been doing little things. It is easy to say, well I don’t want to say it is easy, to be a one-dimensional player and get numbers and all those things. He has bought into the system, being one eleventh of the defense. He plays the run extremely well and from a complete player standpoint. I don’t know if you are going to find a player right now that has played better in that regard.

Q: As a follow up to that, your system and how it’s really taken hold with the types of players you have in there, Jerry an example, but it seems like with Eddie Yarbrough, with [Ryan] Davis, with Cedric [Thornton]. There’s a sense here that with the way you change things up and rotate, it isn’t just about fresh bodies, there’s a style, and it seems this week, an opponent that does a lot of short, intermediate stuff, having those lineman who are that flexible athletically matters. Would that be the case and give me a sense of what the philosophy is of this line play now versus what it had been?

A: I can’t really comment on what it had been, I know how we play, how this system expects, philosophically, our lineman to play and that’s hard. Good defenses, in my opinion, and our philosophy’s opinion, are a direct result of line play. Similarly, on the other side of the ball, good offenses are a direct result of offensive line play. That’s what we believe. With the work that they do through the week, the results are not a mistake, they’re not by accident, I guess I should say. The Eddie Yarbrough’s, the Ryan Davis’, these guys are not household names and we realize that, but they’re in our house and that’s what’s important. We appreciate everything in what they do to prepare to play well.

Q: One more on Jerry Hughes, when you first came in and you met these guys for your one-on-ones, it’s no secret, the last two years for him, he was not really in a system that fit him too well. He did what he had to do, but when you met him, did you get a sense right away [that] he was really happy to see you, knowing the system you play?

A: I don’t know, I was happy to meet him. That’s probably a better question for him on the other end of that. He was a player I knew coming out of college, a lot of us knew coming out of college, out of TCU and what he was able to do. You know the ability, but we had to turn the tape on to look a little closer at how he was used or wasn’t used in certain situations. I’m happy now that he’s perhaps in a system that would allow him to be the best version of himself, just like the rest of our players.

Q: [Jerry Hughes] said he had a chip on his shoulder in June, do you think that characterizes this whole defensive group?

A: I would say our whole team. I remember as you mentioned June, with Jerry, he was one of the first ones in every morning. You evaluate a lot of things, not only what’s going on on the tape that we turned on, but also what’s going right in front of you. I’ll say the same thing for Tyrod [Taylor], as you guys have heard me talk about at length, with the work ethic, and getting himself healthy again. Same thing with Jerry, there are some guys that were in here before the sun came up. That’s what life’s all about, that’s what this team is all about. Guys that work hard and put the time in, good things come to good people who work hard.

Q: What level of addiction have you sensed from players about the process this week?

A: We’ll see, we’re growing, that in of itself is a process. We have to continue to grow, and trend in this (points up) direction. Some things are seen on the surface, some aren’t. That said, some of our works are seen on the surface and some aren’t. We have to make sure that we get those corrected, and be addicted to those rather than patting ourselves on the back for anything we’ve done at this point.

Q: How would you assess the play of the offensive line in the first month of the season?

A: I think they’re growing just like our team. There’s some really good moments, and then there are some moments where we didn’t play as well as we could’ve or we didn’t put a team away when we should have. We have to continue to look at everything of this football team. I’m looking for us to control the line of scrimmage, that’s highly important when you want to play good quality playoff caliber football, and protect the quarterback at the same time. We can’t end up in third and long situations, and we’ve done that entirely too much to this point.

Q: How do you feel they’ve responded in times when you or Rick [Dennison], or just the game situation has challenged them to step up?

A: I think they’ve risen to the challenge in those situations. You go back and you look at the fourth quarter of the Jets game, fourth quarter of the Denver game, fourth quarter of the Atlanta game, and the 19-play drive, the drive in Denver that got us into basically a four-minute situation. That’s who we can be and that’s a mindset, that’s an identity, and that’s the attitude we need and we’re looking for.

Q: What do you think it’ll take to get over that hump with running the ball to the level, you set a really high standard out of the gate, and obviously, haven’t really come all that close since. You ran and were persistent last game, but what about effectiveness to the level you’re looking for?

A: Well hard work. Hard work.

Q: The Bengals look like they’ve played pretty good outside of the game against Aaron Rogers. They play pretty good defense in all their games, what are you seeing that’s going to create some trouble this week with that defense?

A: This is a team that’s been to the playoffs the last ‘x’ amount of years and this is a good football team. Anyone who looks at a record at this point in the season is making a huge mistake. They’re lead obviously by what they do defensively, Coach [Paul] Guenther does a heck of a job of putting his players in position, they do a lot pressure-wise, they do a lot disguise-wise. They’re fairly similar to our defense with some of the things that they do, they have really strong personnel. This will be a big challenge for us offensively going against that defense as you mentioned. Going back to what Vic [Carruci] mentioned, we need to be able to run the football, we need to be able to control the line of scrimmage as was mentioned earlier. Communication will be key, with all the different looks that we’re presented with, in a hostile environment, that we can all be on the same page across the board offensively.


Q: How did Marcell [Dareus] shake out after that game? I know you said it was both rotational and injury. How did the ankle do?

A: Right. I think we moved in the right direction. He continues to get the treatment he needs to get at this point and taking care of the business off the field with respect to the treatment. I think we’re trending in the right direction.

Q: Do you expect him to ramp up a little bit this week?

A: Yeah, we’ll see. You hope second week back, as opposed to the first, you’d think logically that would make sense. We’ll just see. I won’t know until we get on the field a little bit more here.

Q: To that point about the types of athletes you have up front and fitting the way you do things and, like you said, forget about whatever happened beforehand. Is it fair to say that a space-eater guy might not be as integral as those quicker players and those more versatile athletes that may be on your roster? We talked about Yarbrough, Davis, the ‘no-names,’ but is that fair, too, in terms of your calculations of who to put in there [and] when to put them in there?

A: I thought you were talking the offensive side. But defensively –

Q: No, the defensive side.

A: You know, it’s really who can get the job done. There’s things we look for, the measurable, where you say ‘hey, is the chin over the bar that there’s not going to be a fatal flaw,’ and then you go to the character and that type of formula, as you guys have heard me talk about. I keep repeating myself, I know, but that’s what we philosophically believe in and how hard those guys play. It’s how they all fit together, really. Just like our team, how it all fits together. A lot of things look good on paper, but it’s got to fit together and I think that’s true of our football team, if things fit together, when you’re building any team, that’s the important part. Guys understand their roles and they put the work in.

Q: I know you have a rotation along the defensive line, but there’s also some symbolism to who starts the game and who’s listed as a starter. How fair would it be to call Cedric [Thornton] the starter, or is there still a chance that Marcell takes that back this week?

A: Right. There’s great competition on our roster right now and I love that and the players want that. That’s why they work during the week. They understand what’s at stake. We’re only going to continue. Competition takes everyone’s game up a notch. That’s good for us.

Q: Your defense has allowed 19 points in the second half of their games, total. What gets the credit for that and what kind of adjustments are you making at halftime, because 5 points a game in the second half is pretty eye popping?

A: Well, I give a lot of credit to the defensive staff. The staff, overall, I think has done a really good job. We’ve only been together a small amount of time and to be able to make appropriate adjustments before it’s too late in a game is key. The coaching staff has done a phenomenal job of that. Rick [Dennison], Leslie [Frazier] and Danny [Crossman], all three of those guys and their staffs have done a phenomenal job. Then the players, give them the credit because to make adjustments is one thing, but you have to be able to execute as well in the second half. We’ve done some good things.

Q: Is there a veteran or two in the locker room at halftime on that side of the ball that maybe gives a little more input than others?

A: I don’t know about input but there’s input at each position group, really. You look at Preston [Brown] at the linebacker position and then Kyle [Williams] up front as well as Jerry [Hughes], and then in the secondary with Micah [Hyde] and Jordan [Poyer]. It’s almost by committee when you talk about the emotional end of it, which is also important as well.

Q: What do you know about Matt Milano? Kind of a big spot for him this week as it looks like he’s going to start. He’s one of your guys. You drafted him. Is he ready for this moment?

A: He’s ready. He’s ready and he’ll only get more and more ready as he puts the time in this week, just like our team. I thought he came in on a big stage last week and handled himself well for his first real, live game action. What’s important is where we go from here. I think Matt clearly understands that and then it’s important that we do things around Matt to help him as he continues to grow with his career at this point.

Q: The stats may not be there yet for Zay Jones, but how would you assess where he is both on the field and mentally in his first month as a pro?

A: I’ll tell you what, I love the big catch he made in the third quarter of the game last week. I thought that was huge and that, to me, shows me where he is mentally. That, to me, shows me where he is skill set wise, also. He’s only going to continue to get better. That’s what happens when you work hard and when your mind is in the right spot. I feel good about him and I look forward to watching him grow. The great part about it [is] the rest of our young players. How many other rookies were on the field around the league when you look at, like we had Tre [White], Dion [Dawkins], Matt Milano, Zay Jones, and then you had Tanner [Vallejo] was on the field with special teams. That’s four rookies playing on the field at one time, and then you add Tanner with special teams. That’s a heck of a job. It’s a great job. Credit to those guys for being ready and credit to the staff for having them ready. Just like we always have to do, we have to continue to develop the second layer of our football team and these players, whether it’s young guys or older guys, they’re ready to step up and that’s what we’re counting on.

Q: What makes A.J. Green so hard to defend?

A: Well, you look at the combination of height, weight and speed. His catch radius is phenomenal. He’s an elite receiver and he’s an elite receiver for a reason. He’s been that for a number of years.


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