Doug Marrone: "We're not performing at the times we need to perform"

Posted Oct 16, 2013

The Bills head coach talks about this weeks roster moves, Kiko Alonso's personality, and fans being happy with the progress thus far.

Head Coach Doug Marrone

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Opening Statement:

First off I appreciate the little change in schedule. It helps me out to work with some of the younger guys because we have extra time. Obviously the business that transpired yesterday, we released Colin Brown from the 53 man roster and we also released Jamie Blatnick from the practice squad. The moves we made, we wound up elevating Mark Asper to bring him up to the roster to see what he can do. Then we signed Jacquies Smith, the linebacker from Missouri, and then Bryant Browning, an offensive lineman, to our practice squad.

Also, I did tell you about EJ Manuel, I spoke to the doctors, it will be four to six weeks from now. The earliest will be four and the latest will be six weeks without any setbacks. That’s how we feel and he’s doing well and he’s in rehab working hard.

As far as the participation in practice, C.J. Spiller did not participate, EJ Manuel obviously. Kyle Williams, that’s been normal for what we’ve been doing and then Jonathan Meeks with the ankle. Limited in practice was Stevie Johnson, he looked good, Ron Brooks, same situation he looked good with the foot, Manny Lawson is fine, we limited him. Mario Williams is fine; we limited him a little bit today. Full participation, and the guys that were out there earlier saw it, was Thad Lewis.

Q: What’s your thought on Ron Brooks; does he have a chance to play?
A: I feel good. I do feel good about it.

Q: On Manuel, is that four to six weeks until practice or a game?

A: Today.

Q: Did you originally think you’d have him back sooner?
A: Am I disappointed? No. I want to make sure he’s healthy when he comes back. Just because you say four to six, it could be four, it could be six, it could be three, it could be seven. I think that’s why you always get stuck. You always get asked that timeframe and for some reason everyone is always nervous about it. If a player returns early, I think that’s a great thing. That’s what we’re always striving for. If he returns later, it’s always what happened, what went on, things like that. It’s four to six weeks and obviously from a standpoint of being disappointed, we don’t want him hurt at all, that would be the way to go. Obviously where he is in the rehabilitation process, I’m happy that we’re going to get him back out there.

Q: Is it four to six weeks until a return to practice or is until a return to a game?
A: I think when he returns to practice, I’ll be able to tell you exactly where he’s at.

Q: Can you afford to go to 0-3 in the division?
A: I don’t like saying you can afford to go anywhere when you’re losing. That’s the problem. For us, we’ve gotten good effort, obviously adversity hit us. We’re not performing at the times we need to perform. That’s what I’ve talked to the players about, we haven’t been in conjunction where all three phases have played at the level we need them to play at at once. That’s where we’re striving to get them. That’s what we’re practicing and keep working for.

Q: Kiko Alonso has obviously made quite the mark so far as a rookie. Can you tell us a little more about his personality? Have you had a conversation with him that’s lasted more than 20 seconds?
A: I think I’m like everybody else. I think it’s the same situation. He’s kind of short, to the point. I try to keep it as direct as possible and try to take any gray out of it. I have had social conversations and he’s extremely bright from that standpoint. We actually had a conversation one time in the hot tub; we were talking about some financial things, which all of the sudden you’re like, ‘Whoa.’ I just think at times especially when you’re a young player and you’re just trying to, the one thing I appreciate from him is he’s just trying to go out there and play. That’s all he’s concerned about right now, is playing well and being productive. Not to speak for Kiko, but some of that may just be a guard to keep him focused and concentrated on doing what he’s doing because he’s doing extremely well right now. I don’t think he wants to break that. He’s kind of clueless to maybe all the other things that were going on. Scott (Berchtold) mentioned about the tweeting and things like that and he was like, ‘I don’t even know what you’re talking about.’ He’s focused.

Q: Is it tougher to get a gauge on guys like that?
A: I think probably for us as coaches we’ve been around so many different types of players, so many different backgrounds. Where they’re from and their communication skills are really an extreme level, especially having gone back to college. I don’t think anything ever surprises you. What you look at more importantly is their performance on the field and how they’re communicating on the field. Obviously he’s communicating with the defense, you look at a guy who is a first year player and you look at what we put on his plate. We put quite a bit on it; he has to do a lot of preparation, probably extra preparation during the week because he is responsible for calling the defense. He wears the green dot out there.

Q: What do you see from Doug Legursky moving forward that makes you think he’s the guy at left guard?
A: I think we expect him to be very productive like we do with all the payers. Doug went in there, and there were some times he did a nice job, just coming back. We expect him to get better as he’s back practicing without injury now. At the same time we’re looking to get the younger guys better and all the players better. It’s a constant situation that you’re in being a team in the NFL, at least in our opinion, what we’re trying to do is we’re constantly trying to get better. So development in the players, the other better players that are out there that can make us a better team and then getting our good players to play consistently. Keep getting it to two to three percent higher.

Q: He’s not the ideal size at that position; does he do anything special to overcome that?
A: Ideal size, I used to get asked that question quite a bit, I think you’re just looking for a football player. As long as you can play, they come in all different sizes when you see it. He’s a tough kid and he works extremely hard. He takes a lot of pride in what he does, so he has the ability to be successful there. He has a great opportunity now in front of him.

Q: Is Antoine McClain going to be the backup to Legursky?

A: With Antoine just getting here, it’s still the offense; we’re still getting him going with the offense. Right now it would probably be Mark Asper, he’s been here longer, knows the system better. He’s done a very good job for us. Movement skill wise, strength wise, he’s really come a long in the past few weeks. Edawn Coughman is another practice squad player that’s done a nice job for us; he has potential to move up in case something happens. He’s working hard. (McClain) we like and that’s why we went out to get him. It’s just a matter of him really getting it down and starting to play with some of those guys.

Q: Your thoughts on C.J. Spiller going in to this weekend?

A: Like I said before, he was better on Monday than he was obviously after the last game. It’s a situation that he’s working extremely hard to get back. It’s a nagging thing, the ankle, on a player who is obviously very fast, who obviously makes quick cuts. The strain and pressure on that thing is quite a bit. He’s just working extremely hard to come back. He’s in better shape than he was before, but if you were to ask me is he 110 percent? He’s not.

Q: Do you feel good about him playing?
A: I do.

Q: Can you comment on what Jerry Hughes and Manny Lawson have provided for you on the edges on defense?
A: I think Manny has done extremely well, playing the edges and forcing it. Really making a lot of plays on the run, whereas I think before in the past people have said, ‘Is he strong enough? Can he hold the point?’ He’s proved he can do that, so that’s been extremely well for us. I think Jerry’s given us a lot with the pass rush. He’s very quick, very fast; I think he’s someone that you’ve got to watch and study on film. It’s not one of those things where you’re like, ‘I’m going against Jerry Hughes, and I’ll be fine.’ You’ve got to pick it up. Those two players and those two acquisitions have been good for us.

Q: In terms of sacks and interceptions by your defense they’re right near the top 10 in the league. Can you speak about the production you’re getting there?

A: I think the challenges Mike (Petting) and I have talked about it is we’re the third youngest team in the league and we do have some young players that haven’t been in this league and it’s the same with offense and special teams. With the way the CBA is now, it is a little bit more difficult obviously with the less time that you have. For us we have to start it from the foundation and build it up. Are we where we want to be in any of the three phases? Absolutely not. The more we play in the system, the more you can do, the more multiple changes you can make, the more calls you can make. Obviously it creates a greater challenge for the opposition. Right now our challenge is to keep that going.

Q: Did you crank the heat up here today?
A: Yeah.

Q: How encouraged are you that even with the adversity and youth, the offense have been able to put up at least 20 points a game through six games?
A: I think that’s one way with the glass half full. I tend to keep pushing, I think we have left a lot of opportunities out there, especially form a scoring standpoint when you look at red zone scoring. Obviously last week we left the ball on the two yard line for four plays and lost it on downs. I think there’s great opportunity out there for us and I think it shows that when we do execute well, what we have the capability of doing. I think that’s what we’re striving for. We still have a long way to go and we have to keep pushing and get better quick.

Q: Is it any consolation that fans are happy with what’s going on even though the team is 2-4? They see progress.

A: I think that probably shows how poorly it’s been before. It’s tough because you feel that, you do. There’s been times where I’ll see someone and they’ll recognize obviously that I’m the coach and they’ll be like, ‘We’ve got to win. What are we doing?’ They’ll say those things and you know what, I appreciate that, I really do. I don’t look at it and say, Hey we’re trying our best and blah, blah, blah.’ I think what it is, and I’ve talked to the coaches about this, we just came here. We’re new, obviously. What’s been going on has happened for a while. We all have the same level of, I don’t want to use the word frustration because that’s inability, but the same sense of we want to get this thing done quickly. That’s what our goal is.

Q: What are the things specifically you’re working on with Thad?
A: What we’re working on is the overall concept of the offense. The routes and the timing and the balls and the footwork and all of the same. I don’t think there’s anything particular to say we felt really poorly about this. I think it’s a matter of improvement on the accuracy, the route running, the managing. The same things you would be talking about with any new quarterback or young quarterback that you’d have in there.

Q: Is the opportunity for him to come back and get right back at it as the starter big for him?
A: Credit to him because, I think it came out during the week, he always has been preparing for this. He’s always prepared himself for something like this to happen. I think that’s what you have to do and that’s what it means to be a pro. He’s done a great job. I think a lot of people may have been if you didn’t know Thad Lewis, you weren’t around him or haven’t really seen him or watched him practice; I think a lot of people were surprised maybe by that performance. I don’t think anyone on the team, and I can’t speak for everyone, was really surprised about the way he went out there, the way he went about his business. That’s who he was since he really came on board.

Q: Where are Gilmore and (Jairus) Byrd in terms of being back to their full time responsibilities?
A: Again it’s that coach’s schematic thing. Not to say what we’re trying to say, but Jairus Byrd and obviously Stephon Gilmore are definitely more comfortable now with having started to play than they were before. They feel, in talking to Stephon Gilmore in particular, I haven’t talked to Jairus about it, Stephon Gilmore feels much better now than he did last week because that was really the first time and you’re playing with a cast on your hand