Buffalo Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 

Q: Anything on E.J. Gaines?

A: Yeah, he’ll be out there today. He’ll be a little bit limited but he’ll be out there and should be a go for practice.

Q: Do you expect him to play?

A: We do. At this point, we do.

Q: So how dangerous is it going to be going against Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis and guys that you’re very familiar with? They’re very good and they did a great job last week against San Francisco. What challenges do you guys face?

A: Yeah, huge challenge. This is a very talented football team, a team that’s been together for a long time, seven years now for the most part. The defense, in particular, they’ve added some, they’ve retained some players, I should say first off, and then they added some players with [Julius] Peppers and Captain Munnerlyn. Very talented football team, very talented defense, they do a great job schematically and [they’re] extremely fast so we’ll have our hands full.

Q: What’s your advantage, knowing what you’re about to face?

A: I’m aware of strengths and weaknesses, if you will. That’s the part that is there. I acknowledge that. The players will be on the field making the plays. We’ve got to have a great week and we’ve got a lot of work to do, like I said, coming off of last week’s game and really, for us, it’s about us growing as a football team and then making the trip down there. That’ll be a big challenge for us.

Q: To what extent can you, and Ron [Rivera] for that matter, adjust what you do because of what you know about each other?

A: To what extent, you know, that’s interesting. Again, it’s where they are in terms of they’re seven years in [and] we’re two weeks in. There’s difference in the life cycle, if you will. They’ve been around each other for a long time there in terms of the continuity and what comes with that. We’re really in the infant stages, if you will, of that life cycle and we’ve got a long way to go. We’re going to try every week to put our players in a position to be successful and that’s our job as coaches. I feel good about a lot of things last week. I really do. Again, it’s really ‘how do we continue to evolve as a football team, to establish who we are as a football team?’ Our identity, our fundamentals, and then just closing the gap in areas where we need to close the gap from last week.

Q: When you were down there in Carolina, how often was Cam [Newton] playing and practicing against your defense compared to what the scout team defense might’ve been?

A: Well, that’s everyday. Every day through the natural evolution of what happens in the OTA’s, what happens in the spring, and training camp and then obviously you transition, just like we do and most teams do, to scout team work. He was working against the look team that week during the regular season. He’s familiar with what we do. We’ve got some familiarity with what they do. They do an incredible job. Mike Shula does an incredible job of moving pieces around and just, [it’s a] very dynamic offense. Their coaches do a great job. Coach [John] Matsko up front with the offensive line, and just very talented across the board skill set-wise too. You got [Greg] Olsen, you got [Christian] McCaffrey, you got Jonathan Stewart, Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess and the list goes on. How do you stop it? That’s a challenge.

Q: I know you’re familiar with how hot it is down there and it’s going to be 86° on Sunday. You know how that can get, so how do you prepare for that throughout the week? Also, was the defensive line rotation in last week’s game, maybe having that in mind for a hot game?

A: Right. Our system is our system in terms of rotating players. We want fresh players. Separate of the weather, we’re always going to do that. That’s just philosophically what we believe in. Also, with that goes the saying of ‘everyone adds value.’ We need everyone to win and that’s important. Separate of that, with respect to the weather, that’s a part of the country where it’s warm and we’ve got to be prepared for that and we got a head start on that Monday with our hydration process.

Q: Offensively, last week it was the plan to attack that short passing game and you established that. Moving forward, against a team like this team that’s very good up front, do you have to have your dynamic and intermediate passing game to continue to allow LeSean McCoy to do what he’s able to do? Is that going to be something that you have to address? Because there was nothing really down the field last week. Just, how important is that?

A: Well, it’s important from the standpoint of just us evolving as an offense. That we take what the defense gives us. If the throws aren’t there down the field, then we take what the defense gives us. If the throws are there down the field then we’ll take those throws. We took a couple of them last week and a couple of them worked out. There’s also value in run-after-catch, also. There [are] a lot of different ways to win football games. I thought we did some good things last week on the offensive side of the ball. I thought we got into a rhythm. To your point, we have to improve. That’s an area that we need to improve on and just like a lot of different areas all across the team. At the end of the day, we have to play smart and that means, on the offensive side, it means being smart with the football and taking what the defense gives us and I thought we did a good job of that.

Q: Going back to your defensive line rotation, and I know your philosophy when it comes to defensive tackles, can you appreciate the scrutiny that’s being placed on Marcell Dareus playing on only 50-something percent of the plays, given what his value to this team is as far as the salary goes?

A: When it comes to what it takes to win a football game, I don’t think about those things. I think about what’s going to give us the best chance to win a football game. That’s keeping players fresh up front. That’s just philosophically, again, what we believe in. We don’t factor those other areas into it. I know some of this may be what people are used to seeing. We’re focused on what we do and how we win and getting better every week. Whatever is in that bucket of that, that’s what we’re focused on.

Q: So when it comes to your philosophy and meshing your philosophy with building your team, is a defensive tackle valued that high when it comes to building a salary structure as opposed to other positions?

A: Well, it’s all about getting the best eleven on the field and putting players in a position to be successful. There’s value in every position. You need eleven guys and eleven guys being unselfish doing their job, as I said the other day. Being 1/11th of the defense, doing your job, and with respect to Marcell, I thought Marcell did a heck of a job of that the other day.

Q: And not to belabor the subject, but I understand the 1/11th part, but when it comes to salaries, the quarterback is going to get the bulk of the salaries because he’s important to that side of the ball. When it comes to the defensive side of the ball, do you value other positions more in that sense given the difference between, say, a quarterback and a tight end?

A: Well, on the defensive side of the ball, there’s definitely value in defensive linemen because of the ability to affect the quarterback. You flip it the other way, quarterback on the offense, valuing the quarterback. Defensively, who can affect the quarterback? Defensive linemen do that, so there’s value in that position, sure.

Q: Speaking of affecting the quarterback, knowing what you know of Cam Newton, what are those challenges to deal with size, power, big arm, everything that he has? He’s really a tremendous package when he’s on and you know that well. If you could break down as much of that as you can and how you see your team’s ability to handle it?

A: Well, he was an MVP of the league for a reason a couple years ago and I had a front row seat to watch him on a day-to-day basis and watch his strengths. You mentioned a few of them with respect to the size, the speed, the power, the arm strength. That’s what we’re up against, and then you add the other weapons that they have, that’ll be a huge challenge for us. We’ve got a lot of work to do this week.

Q: For your linemen, to handle it, besides keeping them fresh, does it require because of his ability to stand in there and take punishment, how do you approach that differently than you would with a Josh McCown or any other quarterback?

A: Each quarterback brings a little bit different skill set to the table. Cam has some uniqueness to his skill set and he has the ability to pull the ball down and run so we have to be mindful of that. Again, the arm strength, we’ve got to be mindful of that. He can extend plays. There’s just some different things that Cam brings to the table that maybe other quarterbacks don’t, in this particular case, as I mentioned a few of them. That’s all part of our awareness of and respecting the opponent, and Cam in this case.

Q: Ron Rivera said that Cam [Newton] looked a little rusty in week 1 coming out of the gates here, not looking like himself, did he look like himself to you?

A: I thought he did. I mean, they put up 23 points and anytime you can do that in the NFL, that’s saying something. I thought they were productive offensively. They moved the ball and spread the ball around and I thought he looked like he did a good job.

Q: Going into week one the game plan was, whatever it takes, LeSean McCoy’s workload would be whatever it takes to win the game. Is that pretty much the same thing going into week 2?

A: Right, game plan for week 2. Yeah, I’m not avoiding the question. It’s, like I said a week ago, it’s whatever we’ve got to do to win the game. At the end of the day, that’s the important part of it here.

Q: Jelani Jenkins’ role, Coach? Can he get up to speed to be active on Sunday?

A: Well, we don’t look at that. I mean, Jelani’s playing this week, both defensively and special teams. He’s played outside mostly so that’s where we’ll start him off. The important part now is just acclimating him to our system and what we do and getting him comfortable so he can play fast.

Q: What was his particular skillset that made you want to work with him?

A: Well, just the athleticism overall. [He] came from a good system years ago at the University of Florida and some of the athletic attributes we look for on linebackers and so, you know, he can run, he can diagnose, very instinctive player, so those are some of the things we saw on tape.

Q: What’s your take on Marcell Dareus’s injury and is that something you guys are cognizant of heading in practice, in the game, whatever?

A: Much like all the players, we’re aware of it, and we have a plan of how we want to handle it this week, just like we had a plan last week, and no different with the other players that have, you know, we’re aware of some their issues and things, so we just want to make sure we’ve got a plan as to how to handle it week to week.

Q: How do you maintain your relationship with Ron Rivera since taking this job?

A: Ron’s been a big help to me, he really has. He’s always been there, you know, in the process leading up to the different interviews that I did have and since taking the job, he’s always been available, offering help, a great resource for me to ask questions to. I would say the same with respect to his entire family; his wife does a phenomenal job and I know my wife has reached out to Stephanie [Rivera] and she’s helped my wife a lot, just adjusting to things. Ron’s been incredible.

Q: How often do you talk to him during the season?

A: More texts, you know just because of the nature of the season [with] how quickly things move with training camp and now the season, and so he reached out and sent me a text before the game. I sent him a text shortly after our game before his game on the west coast. We dial up back and forth, but right now, this time of the year, it’s more via text.

Q: How did Cordy [Glenn]’s ankle come out after the first enhanced workload that he’s had really in a long time?

A: I thought we took a step forward in this point, it seems like we’ve taken a step forward, thought Cordy did some good things in the game, you know he obviously didn’t play the entire game but his rep count really increased from the week before, so we want keep trending upward with respect to Cordy and them.

Q: Joe Webb warmed up with wide receivers last week, is that a week to week thing? Is it just, you know, how that goes, is he primarily a quarterback?

A: It’s like a videogame, one of those shapeshifter guys. He’s a quarterback, he’s a wide receiver, like whatever you need, that’s what he does. He’s a DB [as well]. He does a really good job.

Q: Then why was he available?

A: I don’t know, I mean that’s a question for Carolina at this point.

Q: As it goes on, is it tougher for you to deal with any kind of emotion with going back to Carolina and do you expect there to be a wave of it when you step out on the field?

A: Yes, it’ll probably be a little different, just so soon in our process here. It may be different in week 2 versus week 12 back in that stadium and just seeing the people I just left not too long ago. That’ll be, just from the human side of it, a little bit different. I’m focused. Our team is focused. We had a great set of meetings this morning and really our focus right now is just really on getting ourselves to continue to grow, and that’ll be important for us this week.

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