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Doug Marrone: Jets are "a great test for our guys"

Posted Sep 18, 2013

The Bills head coach talks about facing the Jets this week and heading on the road for the first time this season.

Head Coach Doug Marrone

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Opening statement:
Business of the day, the following players did not participate in practice. (Stephon) Gilmore with a wrist, (Dustin) Hopkins with a right groin, (Marquise) Goodwin with the hand, (Ron) Brooks with the foot. Limited in practice today was (Jairus) Byrd and (Doug) Legursky. That’s where we are and pretty much everybody else is healthy. I know we have a lot of challenges this week. We’re playing a good football team, both defensively and offensively, and special teams. We’re going to have to work extremely hard and obviously it’s our first game on the road. We’re excited to put in the work this week and go down there and compete.

Q: Penalties were still a big issue this week, what have you been doing to prevent that this weekend?
A: We’re working on it. I think you see it’s a work in progress trying to prevent them, keep educating the players, working in practice that if we do have penalties, we’re working not to get them. Whether it’s offside or just some mistakes of turnovers, or dropped balls, I found that you don’t really get a lot done when you talk about the peer pressure part of it. I’d rather be in the education part and how we’re going to get better and work on those players to get those things corrected.

Q: What about the discipline factor?
A: I look at things as unforced errors, which were the offsides and things like that. Obviously I look at some of the penalties and we evaluate them after the fact. I think the league does a very good job, we’re able to turn things in and they’re able to give an explanation on it. I think that helps clear up internally, where we can both get better. Working together as coaches, players and officials. I think sometimes you’d like your players to be disciplined and not get those types of penalties, but not that we condone that, but to say that it’s never going to happen, we try to prevent that as much as we can.

Q: You’ve seen Geno Smith in college and obviously things change, but does that help you?
A: Having competed against him in college and then having the ability to work him out and spend some time with him, I had a great appreciation for him then. What was asked of him and what he did and what he had to do. When I look at him now, I see a player that is developing. I’ve said that before, we made a decision to go with EJ (Manuel), we thought that was best for our organization, but I thought there were quarterbacks out there that will win in this league. I think that Geno Smith is developing and he’s doing a nice job there, he really is when you see what they’re asking him to do.

Q: (Doug) Legursky was a part of the starting conversation with Colin Brown in the preseason. Is that competition back on now that he’s healthy?
A: I think Colin Brown is our starting left guard and we’ll evaluate Doug (Legursky) when he gets back.

Q: Can you talk about the road game and how EJ’s poise will translate on the road?
A: Obviously he came from the ACC and I used to joke when I first came in to the league about away games and those types of environments and if you play in a place like Florida State and you play in the SEC, I think they’re a lot more hostile than what we face. Again, it’s just a matter of execution, is what it comes down to. I don’t really see that he will have, I don’t perceive any problems. We’ll work on noise. We'll work on those things just like we do with our defense at home.

Q: What have you thought of the performance of your offensive tackles, Cordy Glenn and Erik Pears?
A: I think they’ve been playing well, I think they’ve done a nice job. They’re going to be challenged each week. They need to get better and develop. I feel fortunate that I’m able to work with them every day in individual and watch that development personally.

Q: Can you take us through the Jets defense?
A: Well, to talk about a couple players would be difficult because it’s a team effort by them. I think over the last five years statistically, when you look at the numbers they’ve had, they are in the top five. The one thing that they do an excellent job of, one of many things they do a great job of, is pretty much on average if you have 12 drives in a game, on average five of them are going to be three-and-outs. I think they do a very good job in attacking, confusing. I’ve competed against Rex (Ryan) before when he was in Baltimore. They did an outstanding job there and I think it changes. It presents a challenge for our offense. It’s going to be a great test for our guys.

Q: When you have a coach like Mike Pettine who was with the Jets for the past couple of seasons, does that help you out in preparing?
A: I think that we can all see it on tape and I think that both systems, offensively and defensively, as with our systems, play to the players. So you see a little bit more, I think that you go back in and like I said before, you try to keep files on coordinators and what they do and what they like to do. Again, you might have a little bit more knowledge of the personnel but that was from last year, not necessarily this year. I think a lot of those players have gotten better.

Q: It seems like Rex is on the hot seat in New York. Has Mike (Pettine) said anything to you about him losing that team?
A: No. I personally have not had a conversation with him in regards to that. My conversations have been more game-planning and things of that nature that may be able to help us or give us greater insight. I don’t think that’s a secret. I look at it when those players go on the field, it’s going to be the Buffalo Bills versus the New York Jets and we as coaches, sometimes maybe people like to think that we’re out there playing, but we’re not. The players are out there playing and the one thing that we have to do a good job of is making sure we’re putting them in position to make plays and really that’s our responsibility.

Q: With two rookie quarterbacks in this game, do you think they have a little more comfort going in to this game knowing that they’re going against similar looks they’ve seen in camp?
A: I can’t speak for Geno (Smith) obviously, but I know that with EJ we go in to every week with a plan and a process to get him prepared to play against whatever opponent it may be. Maybe some of the schematic things we’ll have seen. Obviously there’s a foundation to those systems, but again you have to be ready for game day for the unexpected or think of what may change or what their plan is and how they may attack. During the course of a game, you have to be able to make adjustments. You have to see early on what the team’s thought process is in how they’re attacking you and then you make those adjustments. You have to be ready for that from week to week. I don’t think there’s ever a comfort from the standpoint of our end offensively of where we are. I think there’s always a chip on our shoulder, knowing what we have to do and knowing what the challenges are.

Q: How significant was Mario (Williams) ability to get sacks on third down?
A: I think it was crucial, but even if you ask Mario (Williams) he’d tell you it’s a team effort. Most of the time it goes in conjunction with the back end when you see players making sacks it’s because you have good coverage on the back end. Those are the things that went on. I think it was a combination of Mario winning the battle that he had to win, I think the other guys were taking up blocks and pushing and moving and getting the quarterback off the spot. I think the defensive backs did a nice job of covering, so I look at it as a combination of all that that was able to cause success for us on those third down situations.

Q: He’s regarded as a star pass rusher. Does the fact that he was brought in to improve the pass rush, is it significant that he is delivering?
A: I wasn’t here when they acquired him, so when all of this, the promise and all the other things I can’t really relate to that because obviously I wasn’t here. I can relate to the fact that we were in a position with the number two pick when I was in New Orleans, studying Mario and how good of a player he was and then having to compete against him when he was at Houston and then practicing against him for three days. I was excited; I think he’s a very good football player all around. I tend not to try to label him as an elite pass rusher. I think he’s an excellent pass rusher. I think he plays very well against the run and is really a complete player for us who can do a lot of things.

Q: He talked after the game that mentally this is the best he’s felt. When you’ve talked to him do you have a sense of that?
A: Well I’ve never seen his head out of it from the standpoint of maybe being in to it or out of it. What I saw was he had a condition that was bothering him and we have to make some decisions. He’s the type of player that you have to ask to come off the field. That’s when the conversations led to, ‘Hey you need to shoot me straight and tell me how you are and let me make the decision to go out there.’ I think as a coach we have an appreciation for a player like that, that always wants to be out there, always wants to practice. We made a decision along with the medical staff and doctors to rest him and get him ready for the season and I think that’s been beneficial for us. I think we’ve been able to overcome that and he’s felt better and better each time.

Q: You had a vision for what type of defense you wanted to have. How do you think Mike has done utilizing the talent you have?
A: We want to be an attacking defense and we want to cause turnovers obviously. Right now we have a good mix of what’s going on. I think we’re getting a lot of good play out of some players that we really didn’t know we’d have to count on coming in here. With the injury to Stephon Gilmore and obviously Jairus Byrd working hard to get back. Those are two impact type players and we’re getting good production starting at our nickel position with Nickell Robey. Getting good production out of that and then obviously you have young players like Kiko (Alonso) coming in which you get high production out of and then you have a good balance of the packages that we have with the rest of the linebackers and the defensive line is playing well.

Q: Is Jairus Byrd making any progress?
A: I do. I think every day there’s progress. It’s just a matter of time now till when it gets to that point where he’s going to be able to go out there. I think we’re getting closer and closer. He’s working extremely hard. Really proud of how he’s working with the younger players and even the veteran players back there. Jimmy Leonhard is more of a veteran player, Aaron Williams it’s his first time back there and Jairus has been doing an excellent job. It’s like having an extra coach, but I told him he’s too young to coach and we want to get him on the field.

Q: Do you make decisions on whether players are going to play on the morning of the game or do you know by Friday?
A: I struggle a little bit. I’ll tell you exactly how I do it. In our profession, places I’ve been, I can only talk about my past, we’ve always said it right before the game. The reason why is because we don’t want people getting to them and knowing because sometime strategically it could mean a difference. If you dress a lot of wideouts it could mean more four wide, maybe they’re thinking you’re going to be more 21. There is a little bit of strategy to it and you know how we are, we’re always paranoid about a lot of things. I’m a little bit different; I try to put myself in the player’s position. Usually it’s some point Saturday, sometime Saturday morning, I’ll make sure I tell the player, but I also tell him don’t tell your family, don’t tell anyone else, don’t say anything, I’m just doing this out of respect. Now the next day if someone gets sick or something we can bring you up, but this is our thought process going in to the weekend. That’s how I handle it.

Q: Fourth and two, you kick the field goal. Essentially fourth and two, you for two instead of kick the extra point. What’s the difference?
A: The possessions and feeling how the game was going and being able to, at that time normally I don’t look at the two point chart until the fourth quarter has been my philosophy, that’s what I’ve always done. I just had a feeling that this was the right time. I felt that we had a really good play. I felt that we were going to be able to execute it. I felt like we needed to go ahead and get the two points now and tie the game. That one’s more of a feel than it was from the strategy of what I’ve done before.

Q: Did you consider trying to score a touchdown there when you kicked the 20 yarder.

A: If you can recall for me what was the point of the game?

Q: Early third quarter.

A: And the score was?

Q: 7-6.

A: That made it 7-6? Right, I just felt more comfortable kicking it there, getting it to 7-6 and knowing that we had the field goal. Our defense was playing well.