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Doug Marrone: "It was a very good win for us"

Posted Nov 18, 2013

The Bills head coach talks about what he thinks of having Nathaniel Hackett on the sidelines, EJ Manuel's bounce back performance, and the play of Kyle Williams so far this season.

Head Coach Doug Marrone

Monday, November 18, 2013

Opening Statement:
Good afternoon everyone. I feel pretty much how I did after the game; I think it was a very good win for us. We came back in today and watched the film and we do have things to correct, have a lot of hard work ahead of us. We as coaches, we’ll spend this time; I’ve already started peaking at Atlanta. Have a couple different things I want to work on this week as well as all three phases of what we do. I think for the players, they’ll come in we’ll get them healthy. Lifting and running and feeling good, then they leave get them recharged and then we’ll come back and we’ll get ready to go and work on the things that we need to work on and get better.

Q: Are you having a walk through or a practice tomorrow or just meetings?
A: No, pretty much with the players it’s going to be really just running and lifting, really flushing the system. Getting them back, getting them healthier. I don’t know if anyone is ever really 110 percent at this point. Mentally, we’re not going to tax them before they leave. Wednesday we’ll sit down with them, go over some things, but we’re not going to practice.

Q: How important is this break with the fatigue because you’ve been going since July?
A: I’ve never had, I’ve never experienced a bye this late. For me, I’m taking an approach that they kind of feel that way. They have not relayed that to me, but I’m just taking that approach of here it is right now, let’s just get ourselves healthy, let’s get ready to make a push and let’s go.

Q: Would your approach to the bye week have been different if it was earlier in the season?

A: Yeah absolutely. I actually told that to the players early on. If we had a bye early I think we’d do things differently, if we had a bye in the middle I think we’d do things differently. I’ve never experienced a bye this late, normally we’d do some work during that time. Earlier you’re going to do more work, in the middle you do a little bit of work, but at the end, where we are right now I think it’s more important to get everybody rested and make a strong finish.

Q: Would you say it’s a 50-50 split between mental and physical fatigue?
A: I’d say it’s tough when you go this far and the way things have been going, up and down. We’ve done some things well and we haven’t done some other things well. We’ve had a rash of injuries here and there. A lot of adversity, a lot of challenges, it gets taxing on you. I’m not making excuses; I’m just going to get them ready to go. My mindset is let’s get them all rested, let’s get them in here and let’s go.

Q: Injury wise, do you have an update on Fred (Jackson)?
A: Yeah, he’s fine. No problems at all, he would be able to play this week. Probably would’ve been limited on Wednesday and ready to go on Thursday.

Q: Do you expect Robert Woods and Stevie Johnson to be back against Atlanta?
A: I do. Yes I do.

Q: Do you feel pretty fortunate that you ended up with Dan Carpenter at kicker this season?
A: It was a great acquisition; I give credit to our pro scouting department for that. I think he’s been outstanding.

Q: For a guy who kicked in Miami for five years, it seems like he’s been able to handle the weather so far.

A: Let me tell you, the weather in Miami is tough now too (Laughs). He’s done a nice job. They practice quite a bit out there. More than we have as a team. When we practice in here, obviously they’ll go outside on the grass or they go down to the stadium, so they’ve been down there quite a bit. For us, we’ve been more outside here on the grass when we’ve been leaving and just recently because of home games late in the season obviously we went out to the stadium.

Q: How has having Coach Hackett down on the sideline changed the mechanics of play calling and what role do the guys upstairs play now?
A: I like it a lot, for me it’s a lot easier to communicate with Nathaniel when he’s right next to me. I think it’s much easier the communication between him and EJ (Manuel). They communicate face to face all the time during the week and then on game day it was separate. I think it’s easier to call plays when you’re in the coach’s box because you’re not caught up in that moment. Plus it’s a lot easier because you have a bunch of sheets around you, that’s why you see sometimes the play callers have larger call sheets than other people. You get a chance to track things more, see things more. Obviously if anyone has done it, I think it’s a little bit easier, but for us it’s something that worked and we thought it was going to be beneficial for the quarterback prior to it, for those reasons. I don’t have any; obviously we’re not going to change it.

Q: How big was it for you to see EJ bounce back after the game he had against Pittsburgh?

A: Well I think it sets the standard of what we’re looking for. I think EJ has always had a high standard for himself; we’ve had high expectations coming in. What was tough, and I’m going to say this again because I really believe it’s the truth, we were very happy with his progress early on. He went on the road in New York early on and he struggled, I think we all saw that. I think he came back in that next road game in Cleveland, started out ok, but really started to come on before the injury. Then he was injured in Cleveland and then he was out for a couple weeks. So we made a decision to bring him back, we could’ve kept him out another week and put him in a home, but we wanted to put him back in there. The Pittsburgh game he didn’t play well on the road and that was a tough match-up. Then really yesterday he played, he really did play extremely well. When you really look at it and think about what he’s faced and what that defense has done to young quarterbacks and things like that, having seen them the second time around was definitely, I’d say it helped him quite a bit. I was probably more impressed with his poise and how he went about his business and how he was when he came over to the side. When he took the field, what he wanted to throw, what he wanted to do. Those things are very encouraging and I think now the expectation is he has to go out and play like that every day. That’s what we expect.

Q: It looked like early in the game they were overplaying some of the easier throws. Is that something you were expecting?
A: Yeah, I wouldn’t disagree with that. I think we talked, it might have been in the production meeting and not out here, we talked about how it’s very difficult underneath to throw against them because they have multiple people playing multiple positions. Sometimes you say, ‘Ok this guy is a flat defender’ and now all of the sudden he’s running to the curl. Different guys do different things. I think that’s where they do a very good job of that. Pregame they had Calvin Pace playing a deep half in pregame warm-ups, things that you look at when you’re a coach. I think it’s very difficult to complete balls underneath on them. They’re a very good defense, I don’t know if overplay is the right word, they usually play it very well underneath. The one thing you did see with EJ and I think we all saw it; he was able to go through all his progressions. He got to number five on a progression at one time, the ball that he threw to Fred, to the right when you saw him move a little bit and throw it. He truly went clearly across the board. I think those are the things that are encouraging.

Q: Can you talk about the play of Kyle Williams?

A: I really though he played outstanding. He had the forced fumble, but he forced a lot of things in that game. I think both with he and Marcell (Dareus), I really like those two guys. They’re very active, very productive. Kyle has been playing at a very high level every single snap. I think he’s a player that I’ve always admired even when we faced him. He’s always had that high motor and he’s a very productive player. I think he’s playing outstanding along with Marcell. Our two inside guys are playing extremely well.

Q: What’s the key to him being so quick off the ball?
A: He’s got a good, I know from scouting him and now I’m coaching him, but from scouting him he was always quick off the ball, always had good inside moves. Tough to get your hands on him, doesn’t give you a lot of body surface. Has very good power even though the leverage maybe from the height standpoint is not where it is, but he plays with great power. Low to the ground, moves, hustles, makes plays side to side. Very good pass blocker for someone that again isn’t the longest or the tallest, but every one of us would take him.

Q: For a guy who has been playing through an injury as well, how much will this break benefit Kyle?

A: Obviously you guys see during the year, we come out here and we always say, ‘Hey did not practice, Kyle Williams.’ Then we’ll say, ‘Normal schedule, we’re resting him.’ So we’re able to do that. It’s probably a cycle that you don’t like as a player, you wish you were healthy all through the week, but I think that shows you the type of player that he is.

Q: EJ is one of several rookies who have played pretty prominent roles. Did you go in to the year planning on that?

A: I don’t know if you envision it I just think you go in to it and it just happens. The best players play and they’ve been very productive for us. We feel very fortunate and it’s added good depth at some positions also. I’ll tell you give credit to the scouting department, we’ve added some good depth with some acquisitions. Whether it be on special teams, which a lot of people aren’t going to see, or whether it be like Stefan Charles that is still getting in there, made a nice play on the goal line even though they scored. He’s taking snaps that are helping our defense and he’s only a rookie, he’s getting better and better.

Q: Is this bye coming as late as it is come at a good time for the rookies who have never played this deep?

A: I don’t have a feel for that yet. I think the league has changed, I really don’t, before I can understand when you’re practicing in pads all the time and you’re hitting and you’re going. Someone that comes from college that has played 11 or 12 games and all the sudden, everyone uses the term, hits the rookie wall. I think nowadays its different how we have to practice with the new collective bargaining agreement. I think when you look around the league you haven’t seen anyone hit that wall yet. I think a lot has to do with the way we practice now.

Q: Anything in particular stand out about Kiko Alonso?

A: I’ll tell you what his effort is unbelievable. All the sudden he gets cut, he’s on the ground, he gets up and makes a play. Things like that, you see him really the instincts getting better and better. Early in the year he was running underneath too much and then he was running over the top too much. It’s just a feel for what’s going on, so he’s really doing a nice job from that standpoint.

Q: It seems like he’s recognizing screens and is all over it.

A: Man to man, he jumped on it, that was his guy out. Don’t get me wrong when I say getting better instinctively, he has a high level of instinct starting. It’s just getting better and better, he really is.

Q: How much do you think what you were able to do in the passing game can open things up for the running game?

A: I think it’s the biggest thing. I think when you have young quarterbacks, a lot of times people will take just a general philosophy of stacking the box. We’re not going to let your backs beat us; we’re going to see if the quarterback can beat us. Until the quarterback starts beating people, that’s how people will usually play. This happened to me before, so when you can show you can win on the outside and I said it earlier teams were trying to force us to throw the ball outside, when you can do that and loosen people up and make them play more coverage, you saw it during the game, (Antonio) Cromartie almost made a pick six, they jumped in to half field coverage. We ran a hitch because they were playing off, but when those things start to happen on a consistent basis, that gives you a better opportunity to run the football and it gives you a better opportunity to take advantage of the middle of the field.

Q: Talk about the passing game, what does yesterday’s game do for the development of TJ Graham and Marquise Goodwin?
A: I think every time you go out and play like that, you set a standard for yourself or an expectation and you have to go out there and play better. Marquise Goodwin is a very dynamic player. Coming out he really didn’t play that much in college at Texas because he missed all the Spring, so a lot of people didn’t really know about him except obviously for his speed. I’m always impressed by his toughness in making tough catches and being able to catch the ball extremely well for someone who has that type of speed. For TJ, TJ has had a little bit of ups and downs. We’ve just got to keep going to him and keep playing. Again the consistency is starting to come with him, so from that standpoint it’s exciting. Chris Hogan, I really didn’t know. He went in there yesterday and caught three balls; I think two of them were for first downs which were good catches and good yards after the catch. All three of those players in my opinion played extremely well when you have Stevie out and you have Robert out.

Q: Coach Pettine says sacks aren’t the end all, be all number, but the fact is that you’re top in the league in that category. Can you speak on the consistency of that?

A: Sacks, I agree you have to watch with sacks. I think the bigger number for me yesterday, I don’t know if they threw it 28 or 29 times, but 17 times we hit them. I think when you’re getting to the quarterback, you’re causing him to be uncomfortable, you might be causing him to get rid of the ball earlier, and you might be causing balls to sail if he can’t step up. I think that’s probably more important than the sacks and if you look back on the tape because I know they keep quarterback hits because we had it at 17 times out of 28 or 29. For me that’s big, that’s important.

Q: What do you plan to do this weekend?

A: The thing for me it’s really the media that has fatigued me the most (laughs). Honestly, I’m going to work, I think the staff, the later part of the week we’ll have off. We’ll get everything ready to go, we know that Atlanta plays Thursday and it’ll be a short week so we don’t think they’ll change that much. They’re playing an in division team in the Saints, so we’ll just see form an injury standpoint where they’re at or see if they change anything or what might be going on there. We’ll take some time over the weekend to recharge ourselves and we’ll come back and I think it’s important to make sure we’re rested up and we’re fired up and go. I give a lot of credit to the coaches and the team. We come off of three straight losses, it’s tough, you’ve got to stay the course, handle the adversity, handle a lot of questions that you may have whether it’s from yourself or people on the outside. It’s been a tough couple of week s for everybody. I think that the coaches and the players have handled it real well and it was very important to come away with a win yesterday.

Q: How aware are you of some of the rowdiness in the crowds? There were some injuries because of a fall.

A: Yeah, I have no clue about what goes on around me, I’ve said that many times. Maybe that was the way I was brought up with Coach MacPherson at Syracuse. He used to always tell us it doesn’t matter where you’re playing, you could playing this team in a  field on a farm, so for me I never really hear or see what’s going on. I don’t even know, I’ve been working all day long so I have no idea.

Q: Are you concerned at all about the safety in the stands?

A: Like from a standpoint of effecting how I coach a game? Yeah I want to win so the fans have a good experience. I’m confused.

Q: Just the safety of the fans.

A: Safety? I would love for the safety of our fans, but I don’t even know what happened.

Q: Any plans on self-scouting during the bye week?

A: You just want to be careful because if I say we’re going to do this or we’re going to do that, all of sudden it’s, ‘Well what did you find during the week?’ and I just want to make sure if we find anything out that is glaring, I’m sure other people know I want to make sure they think we still don’t know what’s going on. I know it sounds funny, but that’s the truth.

Q: I think 12 of your first 13 first down plays were runs. How much did the weather impact your decision to stick to the ground?
A: At the end of the day we all know we’re not satisfied with how we ran the ball, but the one thing was we weren’t going to go away from it. What hurt was going in to the game we said our goal and our philosophy was we didn’t want any negative plays. We had too many negative plays running the ball. We wanted to keep it in that third and three to four, that type of range. We wanted to be careful when we took our shots vertically down the field. We wanted to do a couple of those things. We just wanted to keep going and keep maintaining it. Same result, but I think, yes we weren’t running the football yesterday the way we wanted to, but being able to keep doing what we did even though the production isn’t what we wanted enabled us to be able to have the production in protecting our quarterback and being able to throw the ball. I think sometimes people lose sight of that. So do you want to be great at both? Absolutely. I give them all the credit; they are one heck of a run defense. Having to do that and you’re like, ‘Jesus look at these guys, they’re banging their heads against the wall, they keep trying to run it, but that stuff does help you in protection down the road.

Q: Would an example of that be the two first down plays where you went two plays, 83 yards for a touchdown?

A: Absolutely. You get a chance, you’re always trying to, sometimes we get a little bit too analytical or we get too cute at times where we try to set things up, but that was an example of it really working in our favor. We hit a big play down the sideline and now we’re going during the game and after the big play everything says we’re going to run it and boom we throw another go and hit the touchdown. We were fortunate to take advantage of that situation.