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Doug Marrone: "Let's go play and win a game"

Posted Oct 23, 2013

The Bills head coach talks about returning to New Orleans, what he'll be thinking walking out of the tunnel, and what makes the Saints offense so dangerous at home.

Head Coach Doug Marrone

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Opening Statement:

As far as practice, the following did not participate. EJ Manuel with a knee, Kyle Williams with the Achilles which has been normal for him, C.J Spiller with an ankle. Obviously (Fred) Jackson with his knee and Manny Lawson with a hamstring. That’s where we are practice wise. Any questions?

Q: Aaron Williams was back at safety today, is that the plan for this week?
A: He has the ability to play both for us.

Q: Is this a statement game for you?

A: We’re trying to get better and take it game by game. Going back on the road again, playing another team coming off a bye, our players know those circumstances and I think it’s important. We’re going to go down there and try to win a game. I think I’m more from people look back at a season and see those types of games where a team made their move. As far as us, we just keep trying to keep our focus on the next game and going out and winning it. I think that’s why you’ll find I stay away from labeling things like that. It would be important for us to go out and win on the road which we haven’t done well in a long time. We’re coming off one win on the road and we have to keep that same type of itinerary that we had going in to Miami.

Q: From your experience, what’s it like playing in that stadium when things are going well? How do they feel?

Q: How do they feel? I think you always feel more comfortable at home, I really do. I really can’t speak for them, but from my experience when people come up here and we play in front of our fans, I love it. I think it has an effect on them. I think the players get excited about it. I love playing at home; I think that’s why people always say its home field advantage. I’m sure that they’ve done quite well there at home.

Q: They seem to play with an air of invincibility when at home. Did you ever experience that when you were down there?
A: Oh yeah. I don’t know if we ever talked about that, we just felt in my experience there we felt when we were at home we had everything going for us. It was an exciting thing and I’m sure they feel the same way. They have great fans down there, they’ll be in to it, they’ll be ready to go. It doesn’t matter who comes in. That team will be ready to go. I have more experience obviously on the coaching edge, having played for Mr. Benson and Gail is down there now, his wife, who is great. Obviously Sean (Payton) and I are close, Mickey Loomis. There’s still a lot of people in that organization that were there when I was there. Even though the players may change, one thing for sure is they’ll be ready to play. There’s no doubt about that.

Q: How are you going to feel when you walk through the tunnel?
A: I’ve played there before, even when I left New Orleans, we played Tulane. I don’t really look at that. Same thing as last week playing Miami, I think it’s one of those things where I try to talk to myself to make sure that my responsibility is to get the coaches ready, the team ready and let’s go play and win a game. Not really think about what my past experiences have been there. I do a good job of that. That’s the one thing I will say, bragging on myself. When I go back there, and I think that’s why you have an offseason, if I wanted to go and look at it and recall the memories down there I’ll feel that way. That’s how I feel about that.

Q: Does the team get anything extra out of being an underdog in games?
A: I think it would be tough because I think we’ve been the underdog in every game since we’ve been here. If you play that underdog card, you’d play it every week. I think the players understand that we’re fighting. I said that word after the game; that we’re really fighting to change that image. You can’t do that in one game. You have to do it with consistency and I spoke to the players about that. I think that’s what we’re all doing. We’re doing it for a bigger cause. We’re doing it for the people in the region and the fans that have gone through a long period of time where we haven’t been relevant. We’ll just keep working and keep fighting, but I think it is one game at a time, I don’t think a game is going to make a statement in that. It’s going to be your body of work.

Q: Mario Williams has admitted he’s more at peace. Did you have any questions for him about off the field stuff?
A: There are general things that I speak to the whole team about focus, but nothing about him specifically. I think my main focus early on was so much for the injury or the condition. Making sure that he was healthy because it was really if you had an opportunity to look at it from my perspective, which you wouldn’t have, in the first couple days when we came in and we practiced it was unbelievable the way he was moving around. Then obviously the foot started acting up with the condition and then all of the sudden you saw a change where you didn’t see him as comfortable as he was those first couple of days. That was probably my main concern. Outside of maybe a couple private things we’ve talked about, I don’t think it would have been any different from any other player. No, I would say I haven’t had those conversations.

Q: How much is he benefitting from Coach Pettine’s scheme and how much of that is pure talent?
A: I’m sure Mike would tell you it’s scheme and Mario would tell you it’s talent. I think a little bit of us being able to have the ability to move him a little bit, that definitely helps. People have a plan, if you’re just all the time you’re that right defensive end to the quarterbacks left, people can game plan that. I think it’s a little bit difficult when you have a player that moves around a little bit. He’s an outstanding player, he really is. I think you could put him anywhere and he’ll be productive.

Q: A couple weeks ago you said this would be the toughest quarter of the season. How critical was last week’s win and can you assess how this quarter is going?

A: They’re all critical. We’re 1-2 during this stretch right here, this quarter. We’ve got to get back and we have to go down and win a game to get to 2-2 for the quarter.

Q: Does it ever come up within your team that you have been an underdog in a few games?
A: No, not within the team, but I have a lot of relatives. I don’t want to get myself in trouble because gambling is illegal; I just want to make that point (laughs).

Q: How much did your experience in New Orleans help you get to where you are today?
A: Quite a bit. I think what happens is when you’re coaching, you’re an assistant coach you don’t get in to many management type meetings. You get in to some, but then when you get the title of coordinator, now all of the sudden you’re getting involved with meetings that you would normally not be involved with as an assistant. I always appreciated, one Mr. Benson and I were kind of back to back, I always appreciated what he did for me. Sean and I, we had a working relationship and we had a close friendship. To be close to him and see what he went through as a head coach was obviously very helpful. Having the ability to sit in with Mickey Loomis and Rick Reiprish and the people in the scouting department. Be involved with pro and college, I think that experience is invaluable for what you get especially for when you’re working with great people. I was very fortunate to have that and it’s been a big part of who I am today and what I’ve learned.

Q: What makes the Saints offense and Drew Brees so much more of a threat in that environment?
A: I think you already said it. You said what makes the Saints offense and Drew Brees. It starts with Drew. I think he’s an outstanding competitor. I was very fortunate to be around him. Many people don’t know that he defeated Andy Roddick in tennis when he was in high school. That’s the type of athlete and competitor that he is. When you think about it, people like Drew, and I can’t speak for Tom Brady and Peyton Manning because I haven’t been around them in that type of setting, but when you look at what does a quarterback need to do to get himself ready, how does he handle his business off the field as well as on the field, how about his leadership? I always feel fortunate to be with someone like that because at least you know how it should be done.

Q: How has he even gotten better since your time with him?
A: Drew Brees? Drew Brees is always getting better. I can tell you that the season would be over, there would be a week or two weeks, a little bit of down time and he would be the first one saying, ‘What do I need to work on? What do I need to get better? What are we going to do in quarterback school? What are we going to do here and there?’ We’re just catching our breath from the season, he’s ready to go and get better. I think he does that all the time.

Q: On Monday you said you thought Manny (Lawson) would have a chance to be limited in practice today and obviously he didn’t. What changed?
A: We just want to make sure because we feel he’ll play. We just want to make sure, give him one more day of rest and it gives us a greater probability. I think he’ll definitely be able to play, I talked to him and he said he’ll be able to go.

Q: How about with C.J. Spiller?
A: C.J. wants to go. He definitely wants to go. I think that we’re going to have to evaluate that during the week because I think we’ll have to make a good decision. I think his injury has been, he’s working hard, he wants to come back and he wants to play. At the end of the day we’ve got to make a good decision to see where he’s at. We just have to get him over this hump and we haven’t been able to do it for three weeks.

Q: Does that leave you on the fence as far as C.J.’s availability?

A: We’ll have to make a decision later in the week, absolutely.

Q: Where is he today compared to last Wednesday?
A: Probably not as well.

Q: How do you evaluate Marcell Dareus’ play from the Miami game and overall this year?
A: I think he’s playing really well. I really do. He’s playing, you’ve got a big guy like that and you watch him just like in the Miami game he’s sideline to sideline. You don’t really see that. He’s a special type of player. I think he’s being very productive. I think we can move him around; he has that ability where we can match him up on people. I’m extremely happy with what he’s done. It goes back to the same thing, I always know he’s going to be ok when he has a smile on his face and he’s running around, I know it’s going to be a good day.

Q: How almost unfair is it after being exposed to someone like Drew Brees to then apply what you’ve learned from him in your coaching life moving forward and what you would want to see from players in general?
A: Well two things. One, it hurt being with Drew when I went back to college because every quarterback that was about six feet tall, every person told me that this is the next Drew Brees. There’s not many Drew Brees, if they even come around. I think what you do is you don’t try to fit the same mold. What you do is you take those qualities, the work ethic, the determination, the competition, the dedication, the accountability. Those are the things and that’s what you see with all the great players. They have some form of that and then their personality and their character, they are who they are. Those things are instilled and they’re very high. I think that’s when you’ve been around those types of players, you try to say that. You don’t try to say, ‘I’m going to make you the next whatever,’ you have to say listen, ‘I’ve been around great players. Here are their qualities. Here’s what they’ve done. Here’s how they handle themselves.’ That’s the way I kind of go about it.

Q: Your offense has put up at least 20 points every game, how have you been able to do that?
A: I think at the end of the day, the only concern I have is if we’re able to put up more points than the team we’re playing. I think in the games that we’ve won I feel very good about it; in the games that we haven’t we haven’t put up enough. I really do.

Q: When Coach Payton was gone, they weren’t as successful last year. What does he do off the field that they’ve been able to regain that?
A: I wasn’t there.

Q: What kind of a coach is he?
A: He’s a great coach. He’s highly energetic. He’s a great motivator, he’s an outstanding communicator and he’s a very smart football coach.

Q: How much a part of their Super Bowl team did you feel?
A: Sean and Mickey and the guys there made me feel more a part of it than I probably was. That’s how I look at it.

Q: In what ways?
A: They called me, invited me, come to the Super Bowl. Asked me if I needed anything. ‘Miss you, you’re a big part of this, we want you to know.’ I think that’s the type of people they are. They’re just good people. They didn’t have to call; they didn’t have to say anything. They didn’t have to make me feel that way. Those are the types of people they are and I have a great appreciation for that.

Q: Did you go?
A: No, I had to go recruiting.

Q: Did you not go on principal?
A: Hell no, I would’ve gone if I had time (laughs). Are you kidding me?

Q: Is it easier for a defense to prepare for an elite quarterback knowing that you already had to with Tom Brady?
A: As far as when people talk about him, I think the players are better to say things. As far as what you do on the field, I think the schematics are different. Each quarterback likes different thing, the receivers are different, the lines are different. Each quarterback is better at attacking certain things than others. I’m not just talking about the two you mentioned, I’m talking about everyone. I think it probably comes more from a standpoint of when you ask the players questions that they’ve already said all these great things.

Q: Against an offense like New Orleans, do you have to play at less than your highest speed on offense?
A: Strategically when you think about it, you want to be able to possess the ball more than they do.

Q: Why has Nickell Robey progressed so well from training camp to now?
A: I’m going to be the opposite. I see him as someone we expected more out of and really have. Going in to the draft, like I said before, we knew about him a little bit more than others and competed against him, obviously myself and Coach Hackett. Then when he came in he was making quite a bit of plays. That was why last week when he made the play I said, ‘It’s about time,’ rather than here’s a guy making plays. He should’ve made one in the second half of the game also. He has that capability, so we just keep pushing him. Really the one thing that stands out about him is he has instinct. Just really good instinct and feel. Studying routes and watching route runners and being able to jump things that he says. Believes what he sees and I think that’s a great quality to have.

Q: How tough does that home crowd make it on a visiting team?
A: Tough. Very tough.

Q: How does it affect you guys in terms of communication?
A: Just have to be focused and concentrate.

Q: Is their offense one that spreads the defense out more than others by going for big plays?
A: I don’t know about better than anybody I play, I know that from that standpoint yes they will put a stretch on you. They will take their shots down the field and they are very aggressive.

Q: Would your decision be easier on C.J. if Fred was 100 percent?
A: No. I look at it separately.