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Doug Marrone on Jets DL: "Our biggest challenge to date"

Posted Nov 13, 2013

The Bills head coach talks about the injury situation, facing the Jets for the second time this season, and getting EJ Manuel to bounce back this week.

Head Coach Doug Marrone

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Opening Statement:

Did not participate in practice, Stevie Johnson groin, Robert Woods an ankle, Da’Norris Searcy hamstring and Kyle Williams achilles.

Q: So what’s with being out there in 30-degree weather in shorts?

A: It’s the same thing. Hands, like I told the players, your feet, your hands and your head. You keep that stuff warm and you’re in good shape.

Q: Why practice outside today when it’s supposed to be warmer on Sunday?
A: When we play at home and with the wind and the weather, I like to practice outside. The only way we wouldn’t is unless it became a situation where you couldn’t really practice and get a lot out of it. Where the elements are just, it doesn’t make sense. You use common sense. For the most part when we play at home, we’ll practice outside. That’s at least what my plan was from the start.

Q: This is the first time EJ is facing a team for the second time. What can he have learned that he could apply on Sunday?
A: You don’t know until afterwards if they’re going to do the same type of things. You’d think people will obviously change a little bit the second game. They’re obviously a very good defense, one of the top defenses. With EJ, and I think people have to understand that having lost those four weeks has hurt him. He’s really coming on. If you look at it, and to put things in perspective and I think it’s important, everyone knows he’s our starting quarterback, there’s no problem there and I’ve been questioned on it before so I’m going to use your question to answer a couple things.

When you look at quarterbacks with five starts (and at least 150 pass attempts) and you go back to 2000 with all the young quarterbacks, he has the third-best rating out of all those (rookie) quarterbacks. We have to keep him coming along. I heard last night and somebody told me this, Mike Krzyzewski said this, obviously they had a tough loss last night. He said, ‘Growth comes with experience.’ Someone had told me that, and I was thinking to myself, ‘that’s exactly right.’ That’s the one thing that’s going on now. We expect him to do better. Maybe not because it’s the second time he’s faced an opponent, but I think more importantly because it’s his second game and to keep pushing him that way. I think having played them once like that, I think you do have a little bit better feel for what’s going on. It still comes down to going out there and being able to produce.

Q: What have you learned about facing a team in a rematch as opposed to the first time?
A: You’ve got to remember, I’ve been in this league for seven years. There are teams; we played pretty quickly back-to-back when the playoffs start hitting around. I just think everyone has a different philosophy on how they handle it and when I say philosophy I’m talking about from a strategic standpoint. They might start off talking about what they saw in the last game and then change a little bit. They may change and then go back to what they did well in the first game. There’s a lot of different things to go on in the course of a game on how a team will attack you the first and second time around. If you feel you’re that better than that team and you don’t need to change, then why do it? Sometimes you have to be careful about the message you send to the players. We’re not at that point yet.

Q: Stevie’s status?

A: Stevie is working hard on the rehabilitation. He wants to see how it feels later on, then he’s going to see how it feels to go. That’s what the conversation I had with Ike (Hilliard) about that.

Q: Do you view this as a game-time decision?
A: I don’t know, I don’t know. I will say this; Robert Woods is not going to play. I don’t feel good about that. I’m not going to string you guys along during the week. Robert’s not playing, but everyone else I feel, Stevie I answered that question, I really don’t (know), I’ll know more about that. I think Searcy will be practicing tomorrow and then Kyle is obviously on his regular schedule.

Q: What challenge do your offensive linemen face against their defensive linemen?
A: It probably is our biggest challenge to date going against this group. They’re extremely athletic. They’re extremely strong at the point of attack. There’s a reason why they’re, I think they might be number one in rushing at 73-something yards per game given up. They’re a big total on three-and-outs. They’re playing extremely well. They’re very very good up front, they are. I think what makes them good is a couple things. I think they’re big, athletic, they’re strong. They’re aggressive and I think it’s a great challenge for our offensive line. I think teams are averaging, off the top of my head, you’d have to research this one, I want to say it’s 3.1 or something like that. It’s low now what’s going on the average per rush. We’re averaging over four yards per rush. We’re averaging 140 yards a game, they’re giving up 73. That’s a great storyline and challenge right there for our players, to make sure we’re able to do that.

Q: You said on Monday that C.J. Spiller’s ankle is fine. You said his snaps were because of the game plan. How can a guy like that not be a big part of the game plan?
A: Here’s what I think we have to look at. Here we are, we’re ranked seventh in rushing. Even to a point where we’re ranked number one on third and one’s rushing the football. I’m still trying to make sure it can correlate to what the heck we’re doing down at the one and two yard line. If you’re number one in the NFL in third and one when you rush the football which is the same type of tough situation, then why aren’t you doing it down there? To answer the question about C.J., the situation is this. We’re seventh in rushing; we’re the only team that has two running backs over 500 yards. Both of those players are playing well, so when both of those guys are in there I view them as both number ones for us. I’ve always said it from the beginning when I had the job, that I like different backs. I like two different styles and that’s what we have in those two players. If someone would ever get the hot hand, don’t get me wrong I would keep him in there and go with it. Until then, until someone gets extremely hot, I’m going to keep playing both of those players because they really help us. Where we are right now with that, can we be better? Absolutely. We’re averaging 140 yards a game and like I said before with those stats, both of those players are very good players for us and we’re fortunate to have them.

Q: How much did the injury hamper your philosophy towards C.J. because there was a lot made in August about how this team would lean on C.J.?

A: Obviously I know Coach Hackett said what he said and that came out and then we were looking to get a guy out there and going, but if you look at my background, I’ve always had the two running backs. I really have and I believe in that. Sometimes one gets more than the other, in New York we had Curtis Martin who led the league in rushing, but LaMont Jordan was a big part of that, too. To make sure there’s that change up. The injury situation might have hindered some things early on. When I say he’s healthy, he’s not 110 percent, but it’s very hard for someone to be 110 percent, but he’s healthy enough to be very very productive and then go out there and play as much as we need him. I think that’s important.

Q: Postgame you said bouncing the run outside was a problem against the Steelers.
A: Yeah, against that team, that day.

Q: That’s kind of Spiller’s forte. It’s been a recurring problem, how much of a concern do you see that going forward?
A: You’ve got to remember, if you go back to that game, really Pittsburgh went back to really the base of what Coach LeBeau did years ago when I played against it. They went back to cover two, back with the two guys on the outside, back with the corners being involved with it and even when we played against them then when they were playing a lot of that, it’s very difficult. Everything gets fed to the inside, to the inside backers and the noseguard to do that. Even when I was on teams that we rushed the ball very well, strategically against them it was always pound it up in there, yards after the hit were big going against that. To answer your question about C.J. bringing it outside, sometimes he’s got some of his biggest runs that way. I think that’s one of the things, keep working him. Each back, every back I’ve been with runs some things better than others. We’ve got to make sure that when we’ve got C.J. in there we are giving him the ability to get the ball outside, to take it out there.

Q: The reason I ask is because it seems like he’s gone back and forth on it?
A: It’s tough. Each back, when there is negative yardage and all of the sudden there’s the big one that you didn’t think was going to get any yards and pops for 50. I think consistency is important and that’s what we’re always looking for and C.J. is looking for that, too. We just have to continue working with him on that and putting in schemes in situations that can help him.

Q: A big concern after the first game against the Jets was E.J. throwing the ball out of bounds on sideline passes. Some of that showed up again last week. How confident are you that he can slow things down and find that guy?
A: I am. That’s why he’s out there. It’s interesting, that was his first away game, against a very difficult schematic defense, we know that. We do a lot of, some of the same things. I don’t want to say a lot, but some of them. Then when he came back after four weeks again we throw him right back out there on the road. There was even talk; I was thinking should we wait until the next home game to put him back out there. He needs to be out there, the more he’s out there, the better he is getting. That’s what I want to make sure everybody understands. It’s very easy, I truly believe in this quarterback. I think the one thing I want to make sure that I communicate and the reason why I brought up those statistics is because I think this day and age everyone is so quick to judge and throw things out there on people.

When you talk about since 2000 and you take all those young quarterbacks and you take the five starts where he’s really two, two and a no decision. It’s 17-17 in Cleveland, he’s driving down, the field goal is given. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either a no decision or at worst you get the field goal. Then what is his record at that time. He’s shown that he can do it; he’s shown that he progresses during the course of the year and during each and every play in each and every game. When I go back and look at it I see him getting better as the game goes on and I think those are the things that you see with a young quarterback. At the same time, if we want to sit here, and when I say we it’s all of us now, and we see this young guy we’ve got to be able to say, ‘Hey listen, let’s let this guy develop and let’s go and he’s going to get better each week.’ As far as work ethic and how he goes about the game and all those other things, he’s outstanding. The respect that he has from his teammates is outstanding. Now it’s just a point of like you said, when does it come to that point where you are that person? Where you are that guy, how long does it have to be? You’ve got to win; you’ve got to consistently win. A lot gets put on his plate for that, but a lot of the rest of us, including myself and the coaches, know we’ve all got to do our part and we’ve all got to do well around him for it to be successful.

Q: He’s going to be compared to Geno Smith. Would it mean anything fi he can go out there and beat him this week?
A: Not to me. Maybe for him, maybe for Geno and I can’t speak for them, but I do think yes, both of those quarterbacks came in, both of those quarterbacks are in the same division and I think that will be natural. I think a lot of times some of it will be very fair in my opinion and I think sometimes it’s going to be based on what’s going on around them also that helps them win.

Q: How about team wise? They were picked 32nd by a lot of people and now if they beat you again, they’re still above the Bills organization. How big would it be to get them?
A: Well they were picked 32nd, but have you ever worked in the New York City media market? So have I, so you should know the answer to that question. Were they the 32nd team? Absolutely not. You’re talking about a team that a couple years ago we’re in back to back AFC Championship games. You’re talking about a team that has been in the top ten for defense since Rex has been there. You’re talking about a coordinator in Marty Mornhinweg who they just hired and has had great success in this league. Has done a very good job and they have an experienced offensive line. I think that’s something that kind of gets blown out of proportion and people start running with it that they’re that bad and they’re not. I don’t think if you went around to anyone in this league, that’s in this profession, that they would ever say that about New York. That’s what happens sometimes when you’re in that market.

Q: Do you feel it’s a disadvantage to your team having to face six teams coming off their bye?
A: I do. I do.

Q: Can you elaborate on that?
A: Sure. I think the biggest thing in this league, the one thing that helps you the most is rest. That’s why I think it is.

Q: How has Geno grown from what you saw at West Virginia to now?
A: I think he’s in a great system now. Not to say he wasn’t in a great system in college because he did have a lot of production, but I think that he’s in a great system and we knew he was a very good quarterback. That hasn’t really changed. I see him getting better and better each week and doing a good job and he’s someone that we’re going to have to face for a long period of time and will always be a challenge for us.

Q: Ten games in, it seems that Cordy Glenn is having a quietly productive season. Can you comment on that?
A: As long as you guys don’t ask me questions about him that means he’s playing well. He has been. He’s playing well, I really think personally he can play a lot better, I think he knows that. To a point where there are some things that occur that I think he will do a better job and I think that he’s working hard towards that, but again when you’re a left tackle and nobody is really talking about you, that’s a pretty good year.

Q: Can you comment on how much Jerry Hughes’ has helped the team by being a secondary edge rusher to Mario (Williams)?

A: He probably did because we had him most of the time on the field on third down and that type of situation so he had less snaps in the base downs. I think you saw that he could be more productive in that situation and that’s how I feel. In those situations you can get a lot of production out of Jerry.

Q: Have you been stressing to the players for them to not get discouraged when they get down?
A: I did. I did. I did address it with them. I told them a lot of times you’re playing things and all the sudden you go out there and all of the sudden the plan is  not working as well as it should. Whatever you want to call it, adversity or whatever it may be. You’ve just got to be ready for the next time you’re down there or the next time you get the ball and you just have to keep pushing through that stuff. Sometimes when you stand up here it’s a lot of the things that were taught to us when were just growing up. If you don’t get this and this doesn’t happen and these aren’t the results, just go back up there and fight and keep going for it. You can’t become frustrated or think that woe is me, here’s the world or that helpless type of feeling. You’ve got to be aggressive and say let’s go. That’s’ the one thing we’re trying to figure out and get done with the third and one situation. That’s the one thing, third and one and you’re doing this and then all of the sudden you get the ball at the one or two, it’s got to be that same type of mentality. Even more so. Now you’re talking about points instead of just keeping the drive going. I’d take the points.

Q: This was the first practice back, how has your team responded?
A: Yeah, we’re ready to go. We’re getting after it. It’s our first practice, you’re right, out here together, but it’s our second or third meetings with them. It depends on how you look at it after the game. I’m not going to let this team not respond.

Q: You watching hoops last night?
A: No, someone told me the quote. No, I wish. I’m too busy watching New York and ourselves.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about Chris Gragg?
A: Yeah, I like Chris. I’ve always liked Chris; we’re looking for ways to get our young guys in there to see what they can do. It was unfortunate that the first attempt to him in his NFL career, he dropped it. It would’ve been a good play, I don’t know how big of a play, but it would’ve been a good chunk of a play. I think it’s one of those things where everyone is like, ‘Ugh’ and I’m like ‘put him back in there, throw him the football and let’s go.’ Then at the end he catches, he had four catches in that game. He’s someone I want to keep looking at and keep working with because I think that he has very good speed for that position and could potentially be a matchup problem as he develops in to a player.