Buffalo Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott

Monday, November 12, 2018

Q: Injury update? I know Taron [Johnson] left the game and Matt Milano left the game as well.

A: Yeah, Matt is in the protocol, concussion protocol. Taron is just managing it right now with the shoulder.

Q: How much of a relief was it, especially going into an extended break, to come off a performance like that?

A: Yeah, I mean it feels good; it does. The guys have worked hard and it’s been a long ride to get to this point in the season where we’ve got this late bye going through the games on the road like we’ve had earlier in the year. The guys pushed through to get to where we are and got the results that we got yesterday. It comes back to the energy and the focus. I thought they were focused and they played with a great amount of energy.

Q: Sean, when you guys went through that three game streak last year where there were some lopsided scores, did that experience help you at all navigate this year when you were going through a few game stretch where it was pretty tough for a while?

A: Yeah, I believe it does and it did this year. You always build off of things and you learn lessons from seasons past. One thing that will always stick with me is that every year there’s new challenges; every year, you’re going to go through, even when we were 15-1 and went to the Super Bowl in Carolina, there’s challenges in those years as well. It’s a test of how long a team can stay together, and with this young football team, we’ve got to learn from the adversity that we face and help it to make us stay stronger as we move forward.

Q: After watching the film, what stood out about what Matt [Barkley] did under center beside the obvious, which is obviously avoiding turnovers?

A: Avoiding turnovers is big and protecting the football and giving our receivers a chance. I thought we had some plays that were made on the ball, plays down the field right from the start with Robert’s [Foster] catch and some other plays, third down catches by Zay [Jones]. There were a lot of guys that were involved in that and I felt like that opened up the run game a little bit as well with LeSean [McCoy]. It was good to get him going as well.

Q: Will Josh [Allen] start coming off the bye week?

A: Correct, if healthy, he’ll start.

Q: Given that he was able to practice last week on a limited basis, it seemed like maybe he was even close to playing last week. In terms of his health, is that still going in the right direction?

A: It is. We’re still making progress. He threw on his rehab again today and so we’ll continue to move forward and take it one day at a time.

Q: Some might feel that given what Matt did, what’s the thinking behind getting Josh back in there as soon as he’s healthy as opposed to knowing that Matt did a fine job in overseeing the offense? How do you balance those two things?

A: Josh is our starter when healthy and his development is important for him and for us as we move forward, getting experience. You’ve seen a lot of quarterbacks this season play and it’s important that he gets as many reps as he can get in live game action. Matt, in a separate issue, I thought Matt performed extremely well yesterday. Certainly, there are some plays he would like to have back, but to come in and do what he did on short run basically was very impressive. Like I said after the game, I liked the look in his eye and his energy that he gave our offense and just managing the game. Again, it’s easier said than done, but you go out there and we came close a couple of times, but we didn’t have to burn a timeout with the play clock running down. That says a lot about the way he managed the game and led the offense.

Q: Might it also help Josh by seeing what is capable from this offense? Did Matt maybe show him essentially a blueprint on how this offense can function when it’s working?

A: Yeah, I mean that’s the good part about it is [that] Josh had a front row seat the last couple of weeks to watch Derek Anderson and a little bit of Nate [Peterman] and then also Matt yesterday. There’s a lot of things you take and, just like all of us, when you grow and take that growth mindset of being a sponge and taking the best [you] can from the people in front of [you] and people [you] can learn from.

Q: As you get healthier quarterbacks, how likely is it that you keep four quarterbacks on the roster?

A: Yeah, we’ll see. Those are conversations that Brandon [Beane] and I will have this week, along with other positions. 

Q: Is Derek still in the protocol?

A: He is, yes.

Q: Sean, maybe you see this more in hockey, but there is an idea that you don’t break up a winning lineup or you ride a hot goalie. Does that cross over into football at all in terms of if a guy is doing well, and in this case in particular Matt, maybe you give a second thought to keep him in there?

A: Yeah, I always look at that. There’s something to be said for energy and momentum and what not. At the same time, I know what Josh can do. When healthy, he’ll be our starter. But, I don’t dismiss that and I certainly appreciate what Matt gave us yesterday.

Q: Where is your confidence with Nathan [Peterman]? This is now the second time we’ve seen a quarterback with less than two weeks experience with the team leapfrog him.

A: I’m still confident in Nate. I thought, just like the question with Josh in a separate way, also an important way, that Nate had a front row seat to watch Matt come in and handle the offense and do what he did.

Q: What did the last week look like for you, I mean we talked about it with some of the young players and putting them in the lineup, but at what point did you know that Matt was ready and had a good grasp on things and that you were willing to take that chance on him?

A: Yeah, it was a busy week, just in terms of managing things and the communication that went along with whether Josh was going to be able to play or not and then the communication that came from Brian [Daboll] and Matt as it related to Matt’s readiness to play. That was important for us as we went into he weekend, there.

Q: What did you see from Isaiah McKenzie in his first action, Coach?

A: Great energy. He was able to make the first guy miss. First off all, [he] tracked the ball. That stadium is not an easy stadium to track the ball in in terms of the winds and the way they work there. I thought he was steady under the ball, number one, and then was able to make the first guy miss and get up the field and make some positive yards and gave us some good energy and field position.

Q: Sean, talk about the defensive effort, with all the ups and downs of this season, maintaining consistency since those first couple of games, to be number one in the league at this point in yards and to kind of weather those difficulties of the offense?

A: I think Coach [Leslie] Frazier and his staff have done a phenomenal job. There’s still a lot of work [that] remains, but the growth that they’ve undergone since those first two games in particular and the culture that they’ve started to build on that side of the football with the discipline and effort. You watch Lorenzo Alexander, to name just one play of his where [it was the] second to last play of the game and he’s from one side of the field to the sideline and trying to make a play. That says a lot about who we are, what we’re trying to do here and the leadership that I appreciate that Lorenzo brings to the table.

Q: You dropped numerous hints about the status of your team going into the season and dealing with some of the harder times this season. How much do you have to keep emphasizing that, as nice as yesterday was, this team still has holes to fill and many ways to improve to get better?

A: The process continues. Yesterday was not the end result of anything. The process continues and we’ve got to continue to build this thing and Brandon and I understand where we are. It was great to see so many young players yesterday out on the field; I counted six or seven on defense at one point, first and second year players. [There were] six or seven on offense, and special teams kind of takes care of itself with the young players. Those players making big time plays in a game like that, so that’s very encouraging for the future and we have to continue to build on that, though.

Q: What did you see from Robert Foster from the time you released him from the 53 [man roster] and put him back on the practice squad and then decided to promote him?

A: I would just say his overall development. He’s still progressing, but the progress that he made from the beginning part of the season until now is noticeable, and you saw that in yesterday’s game. To make the big first, really, catch of the game down the field and then to come back, as I mentioned after the game, the third and 20 was probably as big if not a bigger catch because momentum was swinging a little bit there and we grabbed it back. I think he’s made progress, significant progress since he started the season, which is really what we’re trying to do with all of our players; adjusting to the NFL game is different and it takes time. That’s why I was so impressed with the way our young guys played yesterday.

Q: Do you anticipate a more expanded role for some of those young players or will you continue to sprinkle some of them in as we saw Levi [Wallace] and Wyatt [Teller] getting starts yesterday. Do you anticipate as the season continues that trend being even bigger?

A: Brandon and I continue to talk about that and there are some other young players that are kind of hanging in the wings right now that are working hard to get themselves ready to go. You saw Levi yesterday and you saw Wyatt, so we’re going to continue to talk and look for opportunities to get some young guys [in] if they earn the chance to play.

Q: Sean, I recognize that he’s in the protocol, so maybe you can’t talk about it too much, but with Derek now still in the protocol after missing a couple of games, is there any concern that you’re looking at a long term thing here?

A: Yeah, with the protocol, you answered it for me, I’m not able to comment.

Q: Sean, can you walk us through what the bye week looks like? Are the players in at all this week and what are you allowed to do with the CBA?

A: Yeah, they’re in today. We’re wrapping up the game; I thought it was important that we got in and watched the film and learned from it, the pluses in the areas that we need to get improved and get corrected. We’ll finish up today and I’ll give them the rest of the week off. Where the bye is in particular, it’s late in the year, so I thought it was important that they get some rest, recover and hit the reset button a little bit here.

Q: You talked before about the lag effect and how those results sometimes don’t come when you want them to, but what does it do for you physiologically and what does it do for some of these young guys psychologically to finally see some of the results come all at once there?

A: Yeah, I mean it certainly helps. [We] continue to establish what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to do it. It’s easy to get hung up on one game; the process continues with us, though. This week as coaches, we’ll be in and build awareness around what we’ve done well and where we need to improve. Then, we’ll turn our attention to Jacksonville as well at the end of the week here.

Q: Pancho Billa talked to the team Saturday night. We saw Zay with his towel during the game had his name on it and Lorenzo broke down the huddle. What kind of an effect do you think that speech had on the team?

A: I think it was motivational. Anytime we can connect with our fanbase and in that type of environment, I thought that was powerful. I though Pancho Billa did a heck of a job; it’s not easy to speak in front of the team and he did a heck of a job. We try to impress upon our players and our team, in particular, the young guys, what it means to wear the helmet, what it means to wear the colors and connect with our fanbase and the responsibility that comes with that. I think all of that just raised awareness on their end and that connection was made. It certainly stuck with the players, which I appreciate, the character that they showed.

Q: We’ve been talking about a little over a week now LeSean’s mindset and your conversations with him. How are things going after a nice performance from him yesterday?

A: Yeah, I made a comment, I think, after the play where he spun out of it behind the line there and made a great run, that that’s the LeSean McCoy that we all know and love. He came to the sideline and tried to jump up there and give me one of those hip bumps that the guys do these days. I think I got up about two inches and he probably got up about 20 plus. Maybe I’ll work on my vertical next time.

Q: You’ve got a week.

A: I’ve got a week.


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