News

Print
RSS

Doug Marrone: "Our entire focus is on winning"

Posted Nov 11, 2013

The Bills head coach talks about the loss to the Steelers, taking the blame for the last six games, and if the team has regressed offensively.

Head Coach Doug Marrone

Monday, November 11, 2013

Opening Statement:

Obviously yesterday was probably really the first time that you have a sense that we didn’t play the game like we want to play it. Before, we’ve obviously been in a lot of games and at times in those games we didn’t make the plays to win, but yesterday we weren’t as close in those situations. I think that when you look at the season, obviously I’ve been in this league before; I understand what you have to do. A lot of it comes to when you talk about months like September and you talk about months like October, those are the months that you have to put yourself in position to really play in November and December. We had some opportunities in September and October to put ourselves in a much better situation than what we are now. We let those opportunities get away for whatever; you guys have covered it, whatever it might be.

I appreciate the guys that are here and I understand that it gets tiring after a while of covering a team that’s not able to get themselves over the hump. It becomes very difficult what to write. There’s not a guy here right now that I don’t think wants to write about how well we’re doing or how well we’re going or how things are moving in the right direction. But when you play a game like that, you can’t write that. Nor can I get up here and defend that. The only thing that comes to these times and it happens and you get questioned quite a bit, is where does the leadership come from? It comes from me and that’s the most important thing. I asked each player, coach and myself, ‘Did we do what we needed to do to win that game yesterday?’ Obviously the answer is no. That’s not good enough. In a profession, and make no mistake about it, I’m here to win. That’s the reason why I chose to come here, that’s the reason why I wanted to be here and I know we can make that happen. The coaches have to understand that, it starts with them next. After that it’s the players. The players are here to win, not just to play, not just here to coach, but we’re here to win. We have to understand that. In doing so, what gives you the opportunity to have that chance to win is to make sure that we’re holding each other accountable.

You hear these things a lot, especially in times like this, but it has to be a reality and not just a word. It’s not an easy road. I’ve been done this road quite a bit, I’ve been down this road as a player, I’ve been down this road as a coach. I know how very difficult it is. What happens a lot and I’ve talked to the team about it, is when you have games like that, you want to take yourself to a different place. You don’t want to feel what it’s like to lose. You don’t want that feeling. So you start putting things individually, ‘Ok, well I did this well, I did this well, my position group did this well,’ but at the end of the game never lose sight of the goal. That’s to win and you can’t put yourself in that position.

Everything is challenged, everybody has been challenged. It starts with myself, the challenge I have for myself. To scrap those things, of taking us to a place where it’s ok and making sure we understand and we use that feeling, that feeling that’s in your gut that you can’t explain to a lot of people. Use that as motivation. Use that as a way to get over the top. To make sure that we can stand up and make each other accountable. We’re in a day and age right now where people have a tough time doing that because when you do stand up and you do say those things, you become exposed. People will question you. You know what? That’s what you need in this time and that’s what is called leadership and it starts with me.

Our entire focus is on winning, but that just can’t happen just on Sunday. You have to be focused on winning every single day. When you’re in there watching film, when you’re in there looking at the game plan, when you’re practicing on Wednesday, when you’re practicing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. To think that you’re going to go out there on Sunday and that’s the only time you’re going to be really focused on winning? It’s not going to happen. Not in this league. Your mindset from day one has to be on winning and that’s the most important thing that we have to do.

We’ve had the opportunity to be good, but we have to start winning. That’s what I said before about September and October. We have had opportunities and we do have an opportunity to be good, but we haven’t done that. We have to start winning and the winning has to start now. I told the team this today, if you think whether we’re three games out, we’re not mathematically out of it, I understand that. Things aren’t looking good, especially when you play a game like that. To build a foundation and to do the things that you need to be a championship team, we have to start working on those things now. It’s not a ‘the season is over we need to move on to next year,’ it’s never about that. What we have to do is focus in, learn from the mistakes that we’ve made, understand what we need do pushing which I’ll get in to in a minute and have to start winning now by focusing on our next opponent.

The importance of playing like a Bill, and I think this is where we have to do a better job and I have to make sure everyone understands it. Again it starts with me. It’s very easy for me to stand up here and place the blame on a lot of different things. At the end of the day my job is to lead this team and this organization to winning. I have to do a good job of that. To play like a Bill, we talk about playing with passion, toughness, relentlessness, smart, competitive, instinctive, productive and accountable. You have to have all of those things. When you have all of those things, you have an opportunity to win. If you’re missing one of those things, then you’re not playing like a Bill. We’ve got to go back to the foundation of those characteristics of what we talked about to our players for a long period of time that in looking back I should have been going on it more so of the foundation and been talking about it more. Those are things we’re going to start with. Those are the things that are going to be the foundation of this team. Again, that’s how I feel where we are. I understand the situation, I understand the frustration, know what’s gone on here. I know that, I’m not like everyone else; I don’t feel that I have time. I don’t feel like there is time, coaches here you’ve got some time, have some patience, I don’t have those things. There is no time, there is none, there’s just what we can do today. We have to get that done.

I want to take a moment again with Veterans Day just to thank all the veterans on how much I appreciate what the men and women do for this country. I’ve been on record; everybody knows what I’ve done outside of it. I feel that way. I think through this tough time we do have to be thankful for having the opportunity to live the way we do for the people that protect us.

As far as the injuries, Stevie (Johnson) has a groin, it’s high. I think that he’ll probably be limited on Wednesday; we’ll take a peek at it then to see how it’s going, to see if he’ll be able to play. Again that’s an injury that we’ll just see when he gets out there interesting him the next two days. With (Da’Norris) Searcy, he has the hamstring; I think he’ll be ok. It’s not as severe as sometimes when we hear hamstrings. We’ll put him out there, see if he can go. The one thing when you get the hamstrings is to make sure when you go full speed, if you feel anything, but I think he’ll be ok. Chris Hogan is ok from the game, so we think he’ll be available. Robert Woods, I think we’re going to have to make a decision with. His ankle is still swollen from the high ankle sprain. We need Robert, Robert’s been a very good player for us and productive, a young player. We have to make the right decision with what’s best for the team. Whether we sit him this week and then have him healthy for the next five games or do we play him and take a chance of him not being available if he reinjures that high ankle. I have not made a decision on that yet. I’m probably more leaning to sitting him out right now.

Q: You mentioned about the good field position you had early and you only came away with three points. You think it might have undermined confidence a little bit as the game went on?
A: I don’t think it got in to my head, but I think it’s at that point where you get frustrated. You make a point of red zone touchdowns, you make a point of scoring, you make a point of that in the week and you’re talking to everyone. You have those opportunities, you go down there and you’re not successful. That’s where you need that inner drive, that’s where you need that leadership. Whether it starts with me, which it always does, goes down to the coaches, within the players group, to keep that drive going. To say, ‘Ok here’s an opportunity, we fell short. Here’s another opportunity, let’s make sure we take advantage of it.’ Then going out there and making a conscious decision to make it change. Whether we have to do things better schematically as coaches to get ourselves in better situations, or we have to go up and make a play when we’re one on one or we have to make somebody miss a tackle or we have to finish or any of those things. When you make a point of something and coaches make a point of it and coaches make a point of it, when that first opportunity comes and you’re not able to prevail on that opportunity, then we have to go back out there and go about our business again. Maybe with greater desire, greater sense of urgency to get this done. Once it happens once, then it’s easier to do it again. When it doesn’t happen it creates a barrier for it to be tougher and that’s not what you want. We’re in a business to knock down those barriers and we have a lot of them right now. It’s my job as a leader to make sure we knock them down.

Q: The stance to come out here and put the onus upon yourself, how important was it for you to do that knowing that you’re 1-5 in your last six games?
A: It has to be me. That’s the one thing about leadership. I could easily come out here and go with the same lines. We didn’t make the plays, this is what we were on third downs, this is where we, I could come out here and talk to you about all the coach stuff and you can have all the statistics you want. You can write a lot of things about those statistics. Really at the end of the day when you win, when you get over the hump, it is about leadership. I’m telling you right now, I promise you as I stand here; I’ve been through this before. I know we don’t like it, I know that feeling. It’s very easy for myself; I can easily go home after a game like that and find ways to take myself to a different place. Meaning that it’s not going to hurt as much, but I don’t do that. I make it hurt in my stomach, I sue that as motivation to get myself to go. I realize that through times like this, no matter how you look at history and what you see, it always goes back to the leadership. Now we can talk about plays and we can talk about schemes all you want. That’s not what this is about. This about making sure we’re accountable and being a leader. That’s the one thing I can promise you. I will be able to take the coaches, take this team, and take this organization to where we want to go. Is it going to be as fast as people want? No. Will it ever be as fast as people want? Probably not. But is that our goal? Absolutely. Absolutely. To think, and I want to make sure we’re clear, do I have feel like I have time to turn this thing around? Hell no. Hell no. I know I have to turn this thing around now, today in what we do. So let’s make sure we’re all on the same page here. I understand this, it’s my responsibility. You know what? This is what I love. I love it. I want to be in this position. I love this part of what we do. What we choose to do because a the same time it would be so easy for me to stand up here and say, ‘Well third down, red zone, this and that,’ it would be so easy for me not to be in this profession, to sit on the outside and say, ‘They should be doing this and they should be doing that.’ That’s what separates me from the normal person. That’s what separates me from the fans. That‘s what separates me from people in my job because I understand my responsibility. I would much rather be in the position I am in to lead this team, than to be on the sideline. I’d rather be in this position as a head coach than to be the assistant coach. I’d much rather be in this position I’m in now than to be the player. I’m excited about what I have to get done and I’m ready to do it. I’ve been trying to do it the whole time, but I have to do a better job of it.

Q: Without Robert Woods yesterday, T.J. Graham had an ample opportunity for more playing time. Why has this team not been able to get more production out of him?
A: I think at that times, I can’t answer that question for the overall process of it; we have gone through a couple different quarterbacks and a couple different things personnel wise with what we’ve been trying to get done at points in time. I can answer the question on yesterday. We need to create positions schematically where we can get more separation. Whether it’s on switch releases, whether we’re attacking different parts of the field, whether it’s in play action or whatever it may be. We have to find a way to get more separation. When you see a receiver is in position with separation, we’re able to make a lot of plays and make big plays. The one thing that’s happening now is everything is tight. Everything is going to be a tight throw; everything is going to be a tight spot. It’s a little bit of everything. Getting the quarterback at an ability and we know that the quarterback didn’t play that well yesterday and he knows that. We have to get him to play better. We see and we know, as we say every day, this is a quarterback driven league. You look at the teams where the starting quarterbacks are out or the quarterbacks that are titled non-franchise quarterbacks, those teams struggle to win. We’re building a franchise quarterback and that’s what we’re trying to get done. In that time we’re not going to see the production that we like out of a lot of our receivers that have the ability to make plays. I think that’s the best way for me to answer that question. When that goes up, I think you’re going to see a lot of production and T.J. will be one of the many. Robert Woods, Stevie Johnson, the tight ends, the running backs and that’s what you see out of those type of quarterbacks. We’ve got to get our play up there. Is it just the quarterback? No. Is he an important part of it? Yes. It’s also protection and it’s also about separation and running routes.

Q: You mentioned on the radio last week that you’d consider going to Thad (Lewis) in the game. First 55 minutes, EJ was 11 of 25 for maybe 80 yards. If you didn’t consider going to Thad then, when would you?
A: Sure. That’s the problem with asking questions with me. The question was asked, ‘Would you ever consider going to Thad Lewis during a game?’ My answer was ‘Yes’ and it was never followed up with, ‘What would that situation be?’ I’ll answer that situation now. If EJ Manuel looked like he was hurt out there or that prior injury was hurting him to be productive or he was taking too many shots where he was being put in a situation where we couldn’t protect him and those things were going on? Then yes I would have put Thad Lewis in there and that was the situation I was looking for, which didn’t occur yesterday.

Q: A lot of people are saying that it was a regression by the offense. Do you think that’s fair or was it too much to expect from a rookie quarterback who had missed time?
A: Well here’s the thing with expectations and let’s be real about this. When we have injured quarterbacks and we put Thad Lewis in there, obviously our expectations as coaches is we expect whoever we put in there to play to win. Now let’s look at the individual, Thad goes in there and he goes ahead and just plays. What’s the level of expectations for Thad from around the league, from the media, from everything else? Not really a lot. Now that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of expectations for Thad Lewis and the Buffalo Bills as a team for what he has to do. You look at Jeff Tuel, Jeff goes in there and what were the expectations for Jeff? It’s a lot easier to play this game when there’s not a lot of pressure and not a lot of expectation, especially at the quarterback position. Now we have EJ Manuel who was our first pick in the first round. Expectations coming off, words like franchise quarterback things like that. Those things you have to develop, very few players if any have come in here and just taken this league by surprise, especially ones that have missed practice time which he has and that’s been obviously documented in the preseason and he’s coming off four weeks. Now, mentally are we getting him better? Absolutely. Do we continue keep working and fighting to get him better? Yes. At the end of the day, I’ve said this many times, one of the only ways in my opinion to get better quickly is to go out there and play. That’s what we have to make sure he does, he goes out there and plays. Now, do we expect him to play better than he did the last game? Absolutely. Will he play better? Yes. Yes he will.

Q: Are those expectations unfairly high on EJ given his draft status?
A: My expectations are extremely high of him. I’m just explaining the expectations of how people view it, which I think I’m accurate on and I would ask you because you’re the ones out there, would you agree that’s the expectations when you pick someone that way?

Q: Yeah.

A: I’m just asking for my own opinion because I don’t get a chance to communicate a lot with the outside. Can you see the difference as a player when you go in there and what those expectations are? That’s where I have to do a good job with EJ. Meeting with him, talking to him and going out there. Not to think about those type of things if they’re going through his mind. Go out there and play. Play like you can, relax, slow down your footwork, see things come. That was the one thing yesterday and I think I said it afterwards. You saw a player go in there and his footwork was a lot faster. Well in practice it wasn’t, but it’s easy to do that in practice. You’ve got to get it to carry over in the game.

Q: Stevie said in the locker room today that his patience is tested with the way the offense is struggling the way it did yesterday. Do you get the sense from the players that their patience is being tested when your quarterback is going through the struggles that he’s growing through as a rookie?
A: Yes.

Q: So how do you guard against that becoming a problem?
A: Leadership and to know where we’re going. If I stood up here and I said, ‘Gosh I really don’t know where we’re going. God I really don’t know what I can do.’ That’s going to create a feeling of helplessness. I know exactly where we’re going. I know exactly what we need to do. The hard part is making sure that everyone is on the same page to get there.

Q: Do you get that sense that they’re still bought in on the same page and with EJ?
A: Absolutely. If they’re not then they shouldn’t be here. Neither should any of us. Not here, not talking about us here, I respect what you guys, you guys don’t have to buy in. That’s ok.

Q: C.J. Spiller was taken off the injury report yet still only played 33% of snaps. Is that attributed to something with his ankle or is it game plan?

A: Game plan. Has to do with how we’re putting those guys in there, doesn’t have anything to do with his ankle.

Q: Is that something going forward you anticipate?

A: Could increase, could decrease, but we’ll see it week to week. It’s not a knock on injury or what we do; it’s what we’re trying to get done. We’re trying to be very productive in the run game. We’re trying to gain yards, keep things at a short distance which we did at times yesterday. We were not very good on third and four or third and five or less. That’s a point of when you look at both teams yesterday and you look at that game, go back and see what Pittsburgh was on third and five or less. They were highly, obviously, efficient and we weren’t. We put ourselves in those situations where we have to be able to be more efficient there. As far as the running backs, I think both were getting, both players are productive in their own way with two different styles, which isn’t a problem. At the same sense, did we run the ball like we wanted to the other day? Absolutely not. I don’t think you have to be a genius to figure that out. How come? Why not and all those things? Very simple. It always starts with up front because I’m an offensive line coach. We could’ve done a better job up front. Were there times where we missed a read or missed a hole? Yup. There are times that happened and that occurred and we have to do a better job of that. Were we able to get the blocks on the perimeter with the tight ends and everyone? No. I think to be able to run the football you have to do all those things well and I think at times when we don’t do that then it’s very difficult for us to run the football.

Q: Did Stephon Gilmore reinjure that hand because it looked like he was wearing more of protective thing than normal this morning?

A: That’s normal. He’s been wearing a protective thing when he comes up there and it’s the same situation with Stephon. Stephon was obviously a first round pick last year. OTA’s, Training Camp, arguably one of our best players on our team. Player comes out, he gets injured, broken, pins go in there, the whole nine yards, cast, plays with a cast and takes the cast off and now he’s coming. It’s the same thing, he’s not a seven or eight year player that you can think when that stuff comes off, could you imagine if you weren’t allowed to in the beginning, in your second year of knowing how to use a typewriter or knowing how well to use the thing, but my point is you’ve got to get yourself back in there. We need Stephon to play like he can play and he will. I promise you that. He’s a young player that’s coming off not being able to use that thing for six weeks maybe without a cast on and he will play better. I can promise you he’s another one that will play much better.

Q: Were you satisfied going in to this Pittsburgh game with the level of the preparation of this team?
A: Yes, I was. I thought they did a good job. When you look at it and everyone can do this and everyone can second guess and that’s what is great about this profession. They played a lot more coverage than they ever have. A lot of times you sit here and you go it’s a young quarterback, just coming back, there’s been times in the past where people have pressured us and they’ve got him rattled and he didn’t play that well so you think you’re going to see the same thing and actually we got the opposite. That’s what we have to do a better job. We do. We have to get the things more often, we have to take advantage of some things and you have to be able to adjust. I’ve said this before, the more experienced, the older you are as a team, when you’ve been in the same system, it’s easy. The last NFL team I was on, we can go in there at halftime and put in plays that we had not run in practice for two to three weeks and go out there in the second half and run them and be efficient at them. Can we do that here? No. But we have to have that stuff available in our game plan because it was much different. Give them credit; they did some things that they did not show on tape prior to our game which is not really anything that I’ve seen from Pittsburgh from when I was in the league or what I saw on film.