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Doug Marrone: "You're going to get frustrated, it's inevitable"

Posted Nov 4, 2013

The Bills head coach talks about EJ Manuel being cleared to return to practice, gives an injury update on Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, and talks about the improved defensive play.

Head Coach Doug Marrone

Monday, November 4, 2013

Opening Statement:

It’s funny when you go in to this profession whether you’re a coach or whether you’re a player, it’s almost like you know that you’re going to get frustrated, it’s inevitable. It’s going to happen for anyone that’s played or coached, it’s inevitable when you know that winning is the bottom line. Again, we didn’t get the results that we wanted. I talked to the players about redirecting the substantial energy of frustration. I’m not going to sit up here and say I’m not frustrated. We need to turn that in to positive, effective and really what I’ve talked to them about is an unstoppable determination. That’s really where we have to go. I can sit here and I can tell you all the things that we did a good job of yesterday, but at the end of the day we didn’t do enough to win and that’s what it’s about. I love the way, the effort of our team. I love the way they battle. There’s a resiliency about this team. Something that I appreciate as a coach and then someway whether it’s myself, the coaches, all of us together have to figure out a way to get ourselves the results that we’ve all worked extremely hard for. And will continue to work hard for.

Injury wise, from the game (Marquise) Goodwin has a hamstring. When you have that, we’ve just got to get him out on the field and see how he is, so I don’t really know right now. I’ll know a lot when we get on the field and he can go ahead and test it. (Robert) Woods actually has an ankle. I really thought it was a leg earlier, but it’s really an ankle. I think it’s the same thing; we’ll rest him through the next two days, today and tomorrow, and then see him on the field. I’ll be able to tell you guys a whole lot more about it.

Obviously it’s out there already, EJ (Manuel) has been cleared and I know he said that. He has been cleared by the doctors, but again we have to make a good decision. We have to get him out there and see how he’s doing from a football movement standpoint. We’ve had him out there throwing which is something that we amped up quite a bit after the individual sessions that he was allowed to do last week. We’ll get him out there and put him in the mix and see how he’s doing. We’ll do that obviously early in the week and also Thad (Lewis) is feeling better and he should be available for us too. As of right now that’s what we’re looking at.

Q: Do you want to have your quarterback situation figured out by Wednesday, so that one guy can get the reps?
A: I think what you said is exactly true. I think yes, that’s something that I would like to do, yes absolutely. Is it something that we can afford to do? I don’t really know that yet until they get out there. Yes, I would like that, but just to see them out there first I’ll have a better sense of that.

Q: How did Stevie (Johnson) and C.J. (Spiller) make it through with their injuries?
A: Good, I talked with C.J. afterwards, I didn’t specifically ask Stevie. I talked to C.J. afterwards and he said he felt good. The one concern was when someone landed on it, how would he feel. He said one of those big defensive tackles landed on it and I told him, ‘Well heck if a defensive tackle, one of their defensive tackles, lands on it and you’re ok, you should be fine.’ So that’s exactly how that went. Stevie, I didn’t speak with in particular about it, but it didn’t come up on any reports.

Q: What precautions do you want to take with EJ?
A: Precautions meaning? Once he’s cleared by the doctors, we just have to see him drop back, push, throw the football and just really probably the football movements. I don’t think that there is anything else I’d be looking for. He’s been working and practicing with individual.

Q: Is there any difference in your mind having a week of practice and starting against Pittsburgh?
A: It’s funny, I think mentally obviously he’s better than he’s been because I think he’s worked extremely hard in that phase of the game. Now it’s just a matter of getting out there. I think that one of the things that kind of gets missed in all of this is really the fact that Nathaniel Hackett, it’s been very difficult for what he’s been going through along with the rest of the players with the different quarterbacks having to play and what’s going on and who is playing. He’s really done a nice job of getting those guys ready to play. We’ll do the same thing with EJ, so we’ve worked with him extremely hard and we’ll see where he’s at as far as really what he does right on the field. We think mentally he’s in great shape.

Q: When you say cleared, does that mean the doctors have said he can play in a game and it’s just on you to decide if he’s ready?
A: I think that happens a lot, I think really how the process goes is that to try to explain and I used to always explain this to the coaches. We can never tell a player he’s got to play or get in there. The doctors are the first ones that make that decision. The doctor can tell you the player is ready to play or he can’t. Once the doctor clears the player and says he can go and play, then it comes on us whether he can go out there and do that or not. From an injury standpoint, yes the player may be at a position where he’s not going to reinjure himself or do greater harm to himself, but then it comes for us as coaches, we have to sit down and see what’s the mindset of a player, how does he feel about it, is he ready to go, does he have enough reps to be accountable for what we’re asking him to do? It really come son us and that’s what you look forward to. You look forward to making the decision on us because other than that you really can’t even do anything.

Q: And you expect Thad to be ready?

A: I do expect him to be back. He threw today.

Q: You released Matt (Flynn), so you must feel good about EJ or Thad being ready to play Sunday?
A: EJ hasn’t been out there, I’d like to say yes, but I don’t want to mislead anyone. He’s been cleared by the doctor and Thad threw today and he’s getting better each day and he’s got two more days and he should be fine by Wednesday.

Q: How many days of practice would you like to see EJ out there if you were to play him Sunday?
A: Everyday, I’d like to see him out there. How many days would I make that decision, I think a lot of it depends on how he performs in practice. I’m not pushing aside the question, I’m being honest. If it was a veteran guy it would be a lot easier for me to answer that question. He might be a veteran guy; he’s started more games than anyone else we have. (Laughs)

Q: EJ is you starter or he was before he got hurt,  given that your record is 3-6 and you’re kind of on the brink now of being out of that race is there a need to get him back sooner? Meaning you have to start winning some games and maybe he gives you the best chance to win.
A: I think that’s the most important thing. Who is on that field that gives us the best chance to win? I’d probably keep it more towards that. When he was in there he was doing a very good job. We all know, I’m not going to go back through the games he played. Started out with New England which was a tough loss and then came back and beat a good Carolina team. Then went on the road for the first time and struggled against New York, we know that. Then came back and beat Baltimore and was doing a nice job in the Cleveland game before the injury. We feel really good. Where we have to be careful though is let’s make sure in the back of my mind I’m thinking to make sure he’s 100 percent and not putting a player out there that can jeopardize himself.

Q: How much did his injury slow the development of this offense?
A: I don’t know about the offense because a lot of times you can look at it and say it’s how the quarterback goes. In other words in how you look at the offense or how you build that up. I’m not going to sit up here and say him missing time didn’t hurt and obviously any time any player not just a quarterback misses time it hurts. I think that the one thing I do say about this team and we’ve talked about this is that despite the fact of the quarterbacks or the DB or whatever you want to say or people like Alex Carrington is injured, all that stuff, there has never been a feeling helplessness. Going out there on game day and saying, 'How are we going to do this?' This guy is this guy. The team has never done that nor would I let them do that nor myself. For us it’s always, the question is that we’re always progressing we’re always going forward. At the same time we just need to change these results.

Q: What’s been the biggest problem in scoring in the red zone for you guys?
A: Obviously putting it in and having some breakdowns in that area. Obviously the first thing you look at is efficiency. We’re trying to go back and see if we can put them in better situations. That’s the first thing you look at as a coach. We’ve gone around and looked at a bunch of things around the league. What’s trending around the league with the teams that have been successful and then we just have to see if that suits what we can do and if we can do that. That’s what we’re looking at right now.

Q: How has your run defense improved?
A: Like you said, it’s been improving. I think that we’re getting healthier in the back end which is helping us. I think the guys up front are doing a very good job of getting off blocks. The linebackers have been coming up in the holes. I just think it’s overall team improvement in that area. I think defensively we got some guys back, played as really as a whole for the first time outside of Alex Carrington. They did a nice job and it shows what they’re capable of doing. I think the point is that it’s just like anything else. Once you show what you’re capable of doing, then you kind of set a bar for yourself and you have to go out there every week and do that. There’s talent on that side of the ball, they’ve done a good job. We’re getting healthier; we’re starting to play together. I think that’s what people probably miss the most. When you get players back, having to play with people when there is a lot of things going on, a lot of checks, a lot of having a good feel for the guy next to you. Those things have been rapidly improving on that side of the ball.

Q: You’ve had the most snaps on the defensive side of the ball; do you put any significance in to that?
A: I think we did, but I think it got started off early. I think outside of that it’s been trending the other way for us. Yesterday we’ve got more snaps than we did. I think you like to be careful about it. There’s so many different ways to look at it. You can see a defense on the field; let’s take the example of the Raider game yesterday. The Raiders ran like 91 plays, so there defense wasn’t on the field that much but then again obviously there was a point total. I’m just saying it all really depends on turnovers and how the game goes. I think from a philosophical standpoint, I think you’re absolutely right. You want your offense to be on the field running a lot of plays and at the same time keeping your defense off the field.

Q: With some coaches going down recently?
A: Not me. 32, two unfortunately, we send our prayers out to them, honestly. I think it’s a funny profession. It’s like anything else; I don’t expect anyone on the outside to really know exactly what goes on, no different than I don’t know exactly what goes on in your profession. Like with deadlines and having to write something before and things like that. Plagiarism or whatever may occur with that thing. Honestly I’ve read a couple articles on that. My point is that it’s a lot of pressure. It’s a lot of pressure on management, lot of pressure on the coaches, lot of pressure on the players. There’s a lot. I think that one of my big things is I try to help this team and in doing so, trying to help this team actually helps myself on how do you deal with those types of things.

Q: What precautions might you take?
A: I can say this, what we try to do with our coaches and our guys here do a very good job, our doctors and trainers, but everywhere I’ve been, you want to get that one physical every single year, you want to keep everything monitored. We have great trainers that are available to us all the time, so you’re constantly talking with them and the doctors. It’s something that you have to be careful of. There’s some funny stories about when we go get our physicals, but I think it’s important. That’s what is not funny. You look at what we do and the stress it takes, the frustration and how you deal with it is very important. Like I told the players, how do you deal with things really defines the character of who you are and it gets tough. The fans are upset and you guys write exactly what happens, which I appreciate from my standpoint, but at the end of the day I feel and I know that we have a good football team, but we just can’t get ourselves healthy enough or get ourselves over that hump. That’s what gets to me. If I said just the one thing that kind of gets me down a little bit, that’s probably the thing. I can live with going out there and playing full strength and I said it afterwards. I also don’t like the point of people hanging their heads or feeling sorry for themselves and that’s the one thing I haven’t seen on this team.

Q: On a lighter note, how is your dog?
A: My dog is so frustrated with me right now; he didn’t even come to me to see if I would pet him. That’s how it went and I don’t know how sometimes to describe it. A lot of people have always asked me, ‘How does it feel?’ and it’s a very tough emotion to describe. Some people say it feels like you’ve been punched in the gut, but it’s more of a pain than that. There’s really not a lot of people that you can share your feelings with. You’re in a position of leadership. The best way to lead is to lead by example. Are there things that I’d like to say or like to do? Sure, but you can’t. You can’t. The thing I always feel I know where I do a very very poor job is that you put so much in to the team and you put so much in to the players, is that after the game is one of the times where you can spend a little time with your family. I’ve done a very poor job as a husband and a father of being able to communicate after things like that. That’s something I have to work on.

Q: The past two week you went up against two of the better pass catching running backs. Can you speak to the job Mike Pettine was able to do?
A: They’ve done a good job, they really have. Mike’s done a good job, the players have responded well. We kept our eyes on those types of guys. We made good adjustments, we switched things up and we were able to be efficient in what we’ve done there. I think that’s credit to Mike and the defensive staff and the players.

Q: Organizationally what goes in to making the decision to sing a guy like (Evan) Rodriguez that was arrested once and ticketed another time for DUI?
A: I just think it’s a lot of decisions go in to it. Where that person is now in their life, have they learned from that mistake and then what it was and being evaluated. Are you going to better your roster, but I think the first thing I know, and not speaking for Doug (Whaley) or Russ (Brandon), is obviously character is a big thing, especially coming on to this team. I think sometimes, and it’s different, people will take their views differently. When is that time that someone has learned from that mistake? A lot of it depends on what that mistake is. When someone comes along, you know there is a short leash. They have to convince people that they’ve learned from that mistake, that they’re ready to move on, and then once they do that they have to get on the field and obviously perform.

Q: Have you petted the dog yet?
A: I did this morning.

Q: Have you talked to Rodriguez about that?
A: I did. I had that conversation, yes I did.

Q: How do you see Rodriguez fitting in the team?
A: I think I’ll wait and see. I know he’s very athletic and can help us in the h-back mode. I think he can also help us on special teams. I think I’ll wait to see what actually happens on the field.

Q: Is the frustration and how you handle it different between college and the pros?
A: Nope, I hate losing no matter what I’m doing.

Q: Is there a percentage that you want EJ at or above to be the start?
A: The percentage is what we feel like whether he can win the game for us or not. I don’t know if there is a percentage yet, it’s just a matter of can we put this player out there and can we win with him.