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Doug Marrone: "I hope the players are as excited as I am"

Posted Apr 2, 2013

Bills head coach Doug Marrone comments during the first day of voluntary offseason conditioning.

Head Coach Doug Marrone

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Opening Statement:

Obviously I appreciate everyone being here. Today is obviously a very exciting time for myself and the coaches. Hopefully it is an exciting time for our players voluntarily coming back into the building. It was a good meeting. Kind of reminds me of that first day of kindergarten a little bit. When you go into that room, you are not really sure what it is going to be like, people are sitting down, you are just trying to learn the teacher and you are trying to learn the other kids you are going to school with really for the first time. Pretty much my messaging to the players, as well as my messaging really to the people I have been surrounded by here, has been we are just going to go out there and get a chance to know each other and  build the trust amongst each other. Our goal is to get better each day. That went well.

Right now, the phase that we are in is really the most important thing to me sitting here. Make sure that our players obviously are lifting and getting into shape. Conditioning—that is what really this is meant to be. We have about an hour and half where we are able to start instilling some of our scheme meaning offense, defense and special teams. We will take advantage of that knowing that we have quite a bit of time to do that. When we get all of that stuff installed our goal is obviously that our players have the knowledge that they can go out there and compete.

Q: What was your message about? Was it a lengthy A to Z this is what I expect and here is every step of the way?

A: Well I think the first thing you have to do is you want to create a personalized type of effect. A lot of them can go on-line and figure out about me the same way I can go on-line and figure out about them. So I just try to tell them, ‘Hey, I was born and raised here. This is what I believe in. This is what is important. I love the game of football and respect the game more than anything else.’ And that I am looking forward to working with them. How honored I am to be up in front of them. To be coaching this football team with this organization and that I hope through our time together as we build this that they will have the same type of respect for me.

Q: How many times before today have you been able to get in touch with these guys?

A:  I think that is the great thing about social media. Getting to reach out and touch a little bit, but to actually have face-to-face conversations—not many unless the players were coming in for either rehab or just bouncing around to say hello if they were in town. This is really the first time that we will have the ability to have face-to-face (interactions). I expect a lot more face-to-face one-on-one meetings as we are working through this just to get to know each other.

Q: You have been on the job for three months. Is it weird you have had to go this long before working with your players?

A: I think the sport of football, obviously there is a business side to it, which I think is different than what we think of the sport when we are growing up in little league or wherever we may be. It is the business side of it. Some people said, ‘Are you frustrated? Are you upset?’ The rules are the rules and that is what they are. You just learn to play with them. For me, really it has been a building of excitement for the players to come in here.

Q: Where are you with the quarterback situation and what can you say about the QB Kevin Kolb agreement this past weekend?

A: Really I cannot say anything about Kevin (Kolb) because nothing is official. I cannot really say anything until it becomes official. Obviously there is a lot of speculation out there. I think for me, I have been asked a lot of questions and I just want to clarify some of the things I have said in the past when people have asked me about quarterback and used the word ‘franchise.’ I did not mean to dance around those situations. I think what we are looking for, not just only with the quarterback position, but with every position, is someone that we can win with. Whether it be the cornerback, whether it be a receiver or whatever position it may be. I think that is what we are looking for out of that position—someone that we can win games with. We are looking to obviously up the competition at that position. Obviously (Tarvaris) Jackson is with us now. Aaron Corp is with us now. There are a lot of possibilities with free agency. There are a lot of possibilities with the draft. Whoever comes in, what we are looking for is competition at that position and then at the end of the day be able to make a decision at who gives us the best chance to win now.

Q: If you cannot comment about him being on your roster yet, can you talk about what intrigued you about Kolb?

A: Again, what is going to happen with hypotheticals and intrigue…as soon as he comes on the roster and is official then I will officially comment on it and I will even make myself available through Scott (Berchtold) to comment on it. I do not want to get myself looking at hypotheticals and what could or could not happen with players that are not officially here.

Q: Going back to mid-February in regards to quarterbacks, you had come out and said in a statement when the Bills re-signed QB Tarvaris Jackson that you had informed both him and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick that there would be an open competition. What changed?

A: What changed with what?

Q: With the fact that Fitzpatrick will no longer be a part of that open competition.

A: He is no longer on our roster.

Q: But you had expressed an intention to both players that they would be a part of that competition.

A:  Correct. The sport of football is a business. I am managing the players that are on the roster in putting them in the best situation possible for them to succeed with their strengths and obviously for us to succeed as an organization to win games. When it comes down to the business sense, it is probably better if that question is asked of the player that is not on the roster anymore then to me when it comes down to those situations.

Q: Free agent DL Alan Branch—is he in the building?

A: Alan Branch is here. I do not know if he is actually in this building right now. He is in Buffalo.

Q: In talking to some of your players from Syracuse, you are known for discipline and testing players in terms of their mental toughness. How much of that will translate on the professional level?

A: Good question. I had this question asked of me my first time when I was entering a job interview in the NFL as a position coach. Someone asked me, ‘How are you going to change your style coming from college being a position coach to the NFL as a position coach? Now you are dealing with professional athletes.’ I said, ‘I am not. I am who I am. I cannot change and that is what it is. If that is not what you are looking for, I told the organization, this is what I believe in and then I am probably not the right guy for the job.’ I do not look at it from a standpoint of changing or anything like that. I look at it for the things I believe in.

Q: What, if anything, have you done to change the atmosphere in the building and with the team?

A: Obviously we have made some changes. Obviously there was messaging around prior to (my arrival) that we have just taken down and willing to build messaging as we work together with the players. I think one thing about messaging and one thing about coaching is that everything from an individual standpoint has to come from within. Just because someone tells you to do something does not necessarily mean you are going to do it with the passion or energy that you need to be successful. Working with the players, building the trust in them, building the organization together and building a team together is what I am talking about. I think once we start, I get to know the players more and they get to know me better, I think the messaging and the behavior changes. I am excited. I told them that today. I said, ‘I hope you are just as excited as I am.’

Q: Have you been present for any of the private workouts with quarterbacks?

A: Yes I have.

Q: All of them?

A: All of them.

Q: Have you gained a better sense of seeing these kids in private workouts as opposed to at the Combine and pro days?

A: Absolutely. I think what it gives you the ability to do is, at least for me and I can only speak for me. I cannot speak for Buddy (Nix), Nathanial (Hackett) or anyone else that was with us. For me, it gives you the sense that you can make a decision and you are not listening to other people around. Whether it is the people at the college or whether it is the people at the Combine. Everyone can see the intangibles, but to get out there, work them and exactly what you are looking for helps us and gives us, at least me, I have a much better impression now having spent some time with those quarterbacks.

Q: What do you see from S Da’Norris Searcy and what do you think he might be able to do for the Bills this season?

A: Well I do not want to go ahead and predict what he might be able to do. Again, that is another hypothetical. What I see is someone who runs well, plays hard and looking to see what he can do. I think the greatest part about being new is everything is a clean slate. I do not like to base things on the past of what they have done or what they were told to do—which I do not know. We are looking forward to see how we are working together now. I think the frustration I can understand from your end of maybe wanting some questions answered to what players are, what they are going to do, how they are going to be and what kind of year is he going to have? I would hope that you can understand from my standpoint of clean slate, let’s build this thing and let’s see when we get out there—which will probably be a longer period of time then probably what a lot of people would like to hear.

Q: Does a quarterback throwing against air matter to you or when it comes time to make the decision? Or is it going to be the tape that you are going to rely on?

A: I think, and I can only talk about this personally for me—I am not going to talk about the organization philosophy on it, I am going to tell you my personal (philosophy), I think with a lot of other positions you can watch that and say, ‘Gosh this guy can run. Boy, he has run by everyone he has played against. Boy, he got off man coverage. Wow, he did all of this stuff.’ I think there are things that are on two levels. I think that you can see things that…I think that when you meet with players and watch them play, you can see knowledge or instinct. You can see their performance on that field. How many catches they had. How many tackles they had. Whatever it may be. I think those things, every one of us can see. Then I think there is something that is under the water. In other words, what motivates that person? What are the strategic tactics of that person of how he works and how he does things? Those are the two things that you have to find out because my thing is, I always want to know the motivational what they are seeing, why they are doing it and what is important to them. I think with the quarterback position, that is why (in doing) this extra time with doing our due diligence we are finding a lot more about what underneath the water than what is on there. I think at the end of the day, I think what weighs if you were going to weigh all the things that they do, I think you are weighing what they do on the field more.

Q: So you seem to be saying the one-on-one meeting you have with them here is more important than seeing them workout on the field?

A: The private workouts you get to look at what you are not sure about that you saw on tape. Make sense? In other words, was that right? Let’s see why. You get a private workout and you can do those things. No different than what I did when I was an offensive line coach and I had  private workouts with linemen, when we had receivers or when we went to get corners in places that I have been. You want to see things that you might not see enough of on tape. Hey, you get a private workout you can see it and feel good about walking away with it. That is the one thing that is a big advantage. Now when you are one-on-one with them, now you are getting to find out more of that stuff of what motivates them. What their work ethic is. You want to hear it from them rather than hearing it from somebody else. Not just one position, but every position. Obviously I have had the pleasure of just dealing with the quarterbacks right now.

Q: With you starting out fresh and this being the first step of that process, how important is a patient approach in making sure you build this thing the proper way?

A: I think that is what we have been doing. I think you can see that. I think it is important rather than to go ahead, rush and make quick decisions on what we do. Let’s see what we have. Go out there and work together on it.

Q: With the rookie quarterbacks, are you looking for someone who is more of a diamond in the rough that you can develop over time or someone who can step in and really play right away?

A: I think my philosophy has always been that, and I have said this many times, that we are in the business of developing starters. When I look at players I look at developing people that start. I think if you ask anyone that has ever worked with me, they will tell you if we had an injury I had someone ready. If we had multiple injuries, my practice squad player was ready to play. I was rarely one of the coaches that went out and tried to get somebody on the street to come in and play. My job as a coach is once the roster is set to go ahead and keep developing all of the players to be starters and players that you can win with. Otherwise why are we here? Or why are they on the roster?

Q: You know Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib. If you could just share what you think will make him a good pro when he gets to this level?

A: I can say this without letting out too much information. You are absolutely right. For me to sit here and say, ‘Well I do not know him as well.’ I know him very well being together for four years. I have gotten to know the players that we have met with very well. I think that all of the quarterbacks that I have seen personally have the ability to win in this league. I think each one of them has pluses and minuses of what they have from the standpoint of all the intangibles that people look at when they define what they are looking for in a quarterback. There are pluses and minuses with everyone. I do not think anyone is so much better. We have seen in years past where there is this big separation. I think there are a lot of quarterbacks out there who are all good in what they do. Ryan (Nassib), like many of the other ones I have spoken to, the reason why I think they will be successful is because of their work ethic and what they do.

Q: How do you initially want to try to use LB Nigel Bradham?

A: Looking at him at linebacker. Again, it is very multiple what we do defensively. We look at the inside position as our inside backer. The MIK and WILL as being interchangeable. We are looking to see who the best players are at that position for us to play with.

Q: Do you see Bradham there?

A: Again, I am not going to put myself in a position right now where I limit myself. So in other words if Doug Marrone says today, ‘Yes.’ Then all of a sudden we are in nickel and we put him somewhere on the end, five months from now you say, ‘Well wait a minute. In this press conference you told me…’

Q: You have to initially think…

A: One of the inside linebackers.