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Doug Marrone: "Our team realizes the challenge"

Posted Dec 24, 2013

The Bills head coach talks about what's at stake for the team this weekend, why the Patriots are so successful, and EJ Manuel's outlook for Sunday.

Head Coach Doug Marrone

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Opening Statement:
I just want to take one minute before we start and just wish everybody a happy holiday. I appreciate everyone being here and the job that you guys do. I just wanted to take that time to thank you guys. We went out there today and we practiced. Again it was good, we had a good practice, I think our team realizes the challenge we have in going to New England, I really do. We’ve talked to them about it, I have a high regard of our opponent. The way they’ve gone about their business for not just a short period of time, but a long period of time. We have not won up there in Gillette Stadium. We know we’re going to have to play extremely well. Our players are looking forward to it, they really are. To that challenge and there are a lot of things at stake for us. That’s where our concentration is. We know and we’ve been told obviously the playoff scenarios and what is at stake for other teams and we know that the team we’re playing has a lot at stake. We feel that we have a lot at stake also. I’m excited about going up there with them.

Q: What do you feel like you guys have at stake?

A: Where do you want to start? We can start with being the only team in our division to have a winning record. That would be important for what we want to be able to build on. Winning three games in a row, being a Buffalo team that’s gone out there in the new stadium that can win and have the opportunity to win up there which would be a great challenge for us. Really just trying to change things. Change is, we’re going to make these little changes and we have been making them, but this is an important one. It’s our last time out and we understand that. It’s the last time the 2013 Buffalo Bills football team is going to play together as a team. We’re in a league that is constantly changing, there is change everywhere and we’re together and we want to go about and win a game.

Q: In a league that is constantly changing, the Patriots have been as much of a fixture as you can have. Is it too simple to say it’s just the coach and the quarterback? What is it about them?

A: I’m going to give you an outsider’s opinion and one that has faced them four years prior to me going to New Orleans obviously. I think that when you look at it you can look at their roster and there’s six rookies on one side and seven on the other. I don’t, I think they do go through change. I think they do, but I think that obviously the quarterback and not just Coach Belichick, but the rest of the coaching staff—when you look at them on tape it’s very simple to see. You see a team that plays extremely hard; they’ve been that way since when I was even in New York. They’re extremely sound. They never beat themselves and they force you when you play them, and my first year in New York we won up there, they force you when you play them to beat them. They’re not going to beat themselves. Not only beat them, but to make play. You’re going to have to make a play. They’ve been doing that for a long period of time and I think that I tip my hats to them and the job that they’ve all done. They’re a difficult team to beat, especially at home.

Q: How’d EJ Manuel look?

A: Yeah, he went out there and he practiced. Again, I’m going to take a look again. We’ve got a day’s rest, he went out there and he threw well. So we’re just going to rest him a little bit and come back Thursday and see how his mobility is going.

Q: Would you say he was limited? Did he split reps at quarterback?

A: You’re going to give me the ability to say anything I want to say? He practiced today. That’s about as much as I’d like to say.

Q: Would he be listed as limited?
A: When does (the injury report) come out? We’ll have one out tomorrow. Honestly guys, here is what we’re going to do. We have a lot of stuff on tape, we’ll talk to EJ, I’m going to talk to Nate (Hackett) and look at the tape and look at it and see if I’m missing anything of what I’ve seen on the field with just my eyes.

Q: Will the change in schedule benefit him?

A: I wanted to schedule to be on better footing out here. Rather than going to the stadium and working out. I wanted to be outside with good footing to get a better evaluation.

Q: You plan on going out Thursday?

A: Yeah I do plan on going out on Thursday.

Q: What are the turf concerns there in regards to EJ?
A: As far as him playing or not? No.

Q: How about Fred Jackson?

A: Fred we’re resting. We rested Fred and we rested Aaron (Williams).

Q: Do you feel like Fred will be good?

A: Yeah. He’s on his normal routine.

Q: Do you expect Aaron to get back to practice?

A: I think we’re going to see in the next 24 hours and I think that we’ll know a lot more on Thursday when we come back with the rest. Then we’ll see if we can get him out there. I think that, like I said before, Aaron is a player that if we can get him out there we’ll play him.

Q: How did (Marquise) Goodwin look out there?
A: Full practice.

Q: All things being equal, do you ever view games as being more important than the other? As in this is the last game and can set a tone for the offseason, do you believe in any of that?

A: I do. I do. I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said I didn’t. I think it goes back and we’re all a product of our own experiences. My freshman year in high school I had a coach that played at Notre Dame and we had just lost a championship game the week before and were going out to play our last game, I was at Mount St. Michael and we were playing Cardinal Hayes, and I remember—I don’t know how old I was at the time, probably 16 maybe 15—I remember him standing up there and he gave this big speech and I don’t know it came from Notre Dame as a player or whatever, but he talked about the last game. How important it is and how to leave that field and it was in the context of we had just lost the championship the week before. That always stuck with me a little bit. I always think that you go through an offseason, you go through so many things together as a team and because of change in our profession and change at high school level or wherever you want to play, it’s your last chance to go out there for each other. I think you’d say it’s a special bond and that’s the way I look at the last game. Again, I may be different than most people, but that’s how it was instilled in me at a young age and that’s how I look at it. I look at it as being extremely important.

Q: What do you think of Jerry Hughes and what he’s been able to do in finding a niche here?

A: I’ll tell you what. It’s amazing when you look at players sometimes. Sometimes it’s just a change, sometimes it’s schematic change, sometimes it’s a cultural change, sometimes it’s just a change of scenery, but Jerry’s production has been outstanding, it really has. We’ve asked him to do a lot and I think that we’ve settled in to more of a role with Nickel and being able to use those traits more and more as the years goes on. Early on he was in there on the normal downs and still producing. I think Jerry is excited about the job that he’s done, we as an organization are excited that he’s here. Who knows now what the future holds for him because of his production. I think that there’s a point where, and this is what can help us, when people start saying, ‘Ok wait  a minute now, on third down you have Mario (Williams), you have Marcell (Dareus), You have Kyle (Williams) and then all of the sudden wait a minute now we’ve got this Jerry Hughes kid on the other side.’ It reminds me of teams we faced that I always had a difficult time playing when you have two very good productive defensive ends. Jerry, it’s interesting when you watch jerry and study what he does, the first thing that comes to mind when you see him is his speed, but he has power. That’s what is important, that he is able to do both of those things and that’s why he is that productive.

Q: How much does it help him to have Mario on the other side?
A: Well I think you have a chance, you have a better chance. From the offensive perspective having game planned many times in this league, I think that if there’s one person to help with you can do that. Make no mistake on the defensive side they’re trying to game plan so they’re not going to be able to let you do that. I think when those players are very good football players, but having all of them together definitely benefits all of them.