Buffalo Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Opening Statement: Alright, good morning. [Those who] will not practice today will be Tanner Vallejo with the knee [injury] and then Jerel Worthy [is] still in the concussion protocol. I’ll open it up to questions.

Q: Can you give us an update on Tyrod Taylor’s status? Has he been cleared from the concussion protocol and do you expect him to start on Sunday?

A: Yes to both. Yes, he has been cleared from the concussion protocol and yes, we do expect him to start on Sunday.

Q: When you approach it with Tyrod, especially, what is your feeling about how, were you able to see him do enough stuff on Monday? Obviously we didn’t watch that part of practice. What’s your sense of his level of readiness, having to go through this in the latter part of the preseason and into this week?

A: First of all, when you get cleared from the concussion protocol, that’s the first step. [It’s] an indication, to me, of where he is from a medical standpoint. Then, it’s the dialogue. ‘Hey, you feel good?’ from a human standpoint, that interaction. Then, as a player, you watch him go out and execute. Certainly, we’ll continue to do that and to this point, he’s done a good job with that.

Q: How do you think it’s going to feel, walking out for your first regular season game as a head coach?

A: I’m sure there will be some newness to that, just like there was in the preseason. But I’m such a guy that’s focused process-wise that, for me, getting myself ready between now and then, that’s really my routine. I’m getting into my routine for the regular season and the players are getting into their routine. I’ll be very, I think, humbled by the opportunity and thankful.  This is one of the reasons why we came here, was to win football games. To be able to perform in front of these fans and the passionate fan base that we have. To get this stadium back to where it belongs, in terms of our home field advantage, and we look forward to getting out there this weekend in front of our fans. We look forward to making this a very hostile place and a place that people really don’t want to come to and when they travel down One Bills Drive that they know what this is about. Our guys understand that.

Q: How much do you expect their defense to change at all without Sheldon [Richardson] being there? Obviously, he’s been there for so long and so close to a game, the first week that they kind of make that move.

A: Well, they’ve done a lot of things similar to what we’ve done. We’ve done some things, they’ve done some things. That said, they’ve got a lot of solid, good players on that team and that defense, in particular, with what they do inside, with their front and then their secondary is a little bit new this year to what it’s been in the past. But they’re a very talented football team and we have nothing but respect for the New York Jets.

Q: Have you decided on team captains at this point? Have they been elected?

A: We have. Yeah, they were elected by the team and the captains, three of them you already saw in preseason, with Kyle [Williams], Tyrod [Taylor] and Lorenzo [Alexander]; and then we’ve added Eric Wood and Stephen Hauschka to that list.

Q: What are your plans for challenges? Your predecessor, there was at least one game where we didn’t know what the heck his process was or who he was talking to upstairs. How’s that going to work here?

A: In terms of challenging?

Q: You know, how do you get communication on whether to challenge or not, who’s upstairs, what that process is.

A: Yeah, we communicate. That was a big part of our process through the preseason, was getting, and really even the first practice we had here, that was part of the dry run as it relates to the communication. So I’ve got good eyes upstairs. I rely on those guys and we’ve done a good job so far [with] the flow of communication back and forth. I expect we’ll continue to do that. There will be some new situations that come up every year, just like there was in the Super Bowl last year. Those will be, that’s an active and ongoing learning curve and things that we have to try our best to stay on top of.

Q: So much has been made of the roster turnover and the numbers to support how dramatically it has turned over. What do you think people who watch this team are going to notice that’s different about it, besides the names?

A: I want us to have an identity. When our fans turn the TV on or when they see us in the stadium, that they see the team that they see whether it’s how we play on a Sunday at 1:00 like it’ll be this week, or how we practice, how we play if it’s a primetime game, that they see a team that plays hard. They see a team that plays fundamentally sound. They see a team that plays as a team and plays together. That’s what, to me, a fan base can get behind. Quite honestly, they’re invested in this football team and we’re invested in them. At the end of the day, the love that our players have for one another needs to show up on that football field and that what connects, in my opinion, a team to the fan base.

Q: The secondary, obviously all new guys from last year. Leonard Johnson played for you, though. How important of a role has he played in getting that whole thing put together?

A: Well, the history and his experience in the system certainly helps. Like, in the meeting rooms that they’re in now, having that extra voice to shed some light once in a while in a situation, this is what’s come up or this is the weakness of this defense or this is the weakness or strength of doing this. So that has helped. Leonard’s situation is a little bit different because he joined us late in the offseason a year ago and then didn’t really play until five [or] six games into the season. He started the year on the [Physically Unable to Play] list. That was a little bit of a different situation. That said, the strides that he’s made, even since the close of last year, is really a credit to him and a credit to Coach [Gill] Byrd. He’s done a good job.

Q: You’ve not deviated from maintaining that Tyrod Taylor is your starting quarterback since you got here, essentially, and then you restructured his contract. What does he have to prove? He knows he’s in a tough situation after restructuring his contract. What does he have to prove to you, to this team, to this fan base, do you think now that he is opening the season on Sunday?

A: Go out and do his job. Be 1/11th. We use that term ‘1/11th’ and that’s another way of saying ‘do your job.’ Be 1/11th of the offense, and that’s what I expect him to do. That’s what I expect of myself, that’s what I expect of every player. Do your job.

Q: Coach, Cordy [Glenn] and Jordan [Matthews], you’ve said all along that week one is their target. Is that your expectation, barring any kind of setbacks this week?

A: It is. Yes, at this point it is. That’s right.

Q: E.J. Gaines had the upper hand when we talked to you on Monday. Has that firmed up a little bit? Will he line up as the starter?

A: He continues to line up at the starting position right now so we’ll continue to evaluate that as we go forward, but yeah I feel good about E.J. right there.

Q: Jonathan Williams signed with the Broncos practice squad yesterday. Did you make any effort to add him to your practice squad?

A: We had some conversations about Jonathan and about other players, and we decided to make some other decisions, other moves yesterday and go in a different direction there. So not at this time, and [I’m] happy for Jonathan. I really am.

Q: There’s a lot of discussion in the media and among fans about where this team really is going right now. Are you tanking, are you middling, are you going for the Super Bowl? Have you had any veteran players come to you that you’ve had to reassure that you are serious 100% about winning this year?

A: I think the guys that are around me on a daily basis know what our goals are. I don’t think, for those that have been around me [and] around us [and] around how we do things, that there’s any question about what our goals are and [what] our approach is on a daily basis.

Q: Have you had any individual conversations with a veteran about that?

A: No.

Q: At right guard, I know you said John Miller is going to start. Are [he and Vladimir Ducasse] going to rotate in the game?

A: We’re going to continue to evaluate that. It’s still early in the week. I feel good about John at this point. Right now, it’s a Wednesday and so we’ve got three or four good practice days in front of us. We’ve got to look at numbers in terms of active and inactive and so that’ll work itself out through the week but right now, John’s the starter at right guard.

Q: Leslie Frazier said that Marcell Dareus seemed engaged during meetings and walkthrough, but with everything that has happened with him this preseason, what have you seen from him getting ready for week one?

A: So far, to this point, like the rest of the team, he’s getting himself ready to play and perform at a high level this weekend. Really, today is step two, if you will, in the process of getting ourselves ready to play against the Jets come Sunday afternoon and with Marcell, no different.

Q: Do you see a difference in him since you had those conversations about [Dareus being sent home] in Baltimore?

A: Well, and I believe he said this the other day, the other week, that he’s moved on. We’ve moved on. You’ve heard me say that. We’re moving forward. Again, our focus right now is on getting ourselves ready to play the New York Jets and it’s a good opponent so we’ve got to be on our game.

Q: Now that week one is here, what sort of workload do you envision for LeSean McCoy, especially after he lost one of his backups? What type of workload can we expect from him?

A: The workload? Whatever it takes to win the game. That’s how we play the game. We play to win, and whatever it takes to win the game, that’s what we’re going to do. If it means he’s got to play every snap, that’s what we’ll do. If he’s feeling good, like it is for every player, I’m going to look them in the eye, say ‘how do you feel? Feel good? Alright, let’s go,’ and [that’s] no different with LeSean.

Q: Have you had any conversations with [McCoy] and Mike Tolbert about who’s going to get those carries down near the goal line?

A: No. I mean, it’s all part of the game plan. That’ll be worked out through the week, but like I said before, the great part about both those guys is that they put the team first. That’s the approach of this whole football team. It’s a team-first mentality. It doesn’t matter if the left guard scores. I expect everyone to go celebrate with him. Or if LeSean or Mike score, it’s no different. It’s still six points, right? That’s what we’re looking for.

Q: So Richie [Incognito] is the goal line back?

A: He could be. He could be. Good idea, maybe I’ll take that to Rick [Dennison].

Q: Do you or any of the guys on the coaching staff speak to the rookies, in particular Zay [Jones] or [Tre’Davious White] on how to handle week one of their NFL career and what to expect going into their first NFL game?

A: Yeah, that’s a good question. You know, there’s a lot of newness. We do have some veterans, but we’ve got some new guys with the drafted players and some other guys that are going to contribute this weekend. This will be the first time for them. There are some conversations going along those lines. There’s also a similar conversation going on along the lines of developing as that second tier of leadership with the names that come up in terms of the primary leaders of this football team. There’s also the secondary, the second crust or tier of the leaders that need to develop. Those players, as you mentioned, being in that bucket. We just want them to focus on the process as we go from today until Sunday at 1:00 and then to do your job. Be 1/11th of this football team. Be 1/11th of the offense or defense or special teams. When you do that, good things tend to happen.

Q: If you had to boil it down, simplistically, to one big key that makes your defense function at it’s highest level, what would that be? What has to happen for that defense to do what you want it to do?

A: You know, again, I’ll go back to doing your job. Go out and do your job. When you go through this week, it’s an understanding of roles. It’s an understanding of what your matchup is and the man in front of you, and you’ve got to win that matchup. And then, on top of that would really be all-out effort to the football every play. When you do those two things, when you understand what your job is and you play hard and run to the football every play, it doesn’t matter really if you’re [motions] this tall. In the NFL, good things tend to happen to those types of defenses.

Q: Can you just kind of talk a little bit about Logan Thomas’s progression from where he was as a quarterback to tight end? At the start of OTA’s, I know it was really new for him blocking and now he’s actually on the 53-man roster, and [talk about] kind of what his role on this team will be?

A: Love that. I love Logan’s story. Here’s a young man that transitioned from college quarterback [to] NFL quarterback, even probably less than a year ago, to now tight end. Good young man, he’s done everything we’ve asked. Coach [Rob] Boras has done a phenomenal job with Logan. I think he showed quite a bit of toughness in the preseason, through training camp and the preseason. That’s not a transition that happens all the time in the NFL, or football in general. We believe that his best football is in front of him and that’s a credit, again, to him and his daily approach.

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