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Doug Marrone: new QB will be from "outside the organization"

Posted Oct 5, 2013

The Bills head coach updates the media on the injury to EJ Manuel, where the team is headed at quarterback, and what the team needs to work on to get better.

Head Coach Doug Marrone

Friday, October 4, 2013

Opening statement:

We’ll just go through a couple things. Obviously we released Shawn Powell today. As far as the injuries, EJ Manuel has a lateral collateral ligament, a LCL, which is non-surgical. We think it will be a few weeks and we’ll revaluate him then. Obviously we expect him back somewhere during the season. Stevie Johnson had a lumbar strain, it’s actually already better than expected so I think with the time that we have playing on a Thursday, that I anticipate that he’ll be fine coming up for the following week. C.J. Spiller, obviously after the game was sore. I tell you, I give him a lot of credit, fighting through the pain and playing. He did a great job coming back and then this week we get a couple guys back on the field. Obviously Jairus Byrd will be back, he was ready to go on Thursday night, (Ron) Brooks comes back, (Stephon) Gilmore comes back, (Dustin) Hopkins we’re looking at coming back, (Marquise) Goodwin comes back.

We will be looking to bring in another quarterback. We’re in the process of that right now, going through the names, going through the tape. Doug (Whaley) is up there and I’ll probably going to go up there and start getting involved in that process.

What I told the team was a couple things. There’s three things that we need to really improve on. I think that will help us win games. There’s a lot of good things going on out there and some that we need to improve. What we need to improve when you look at it specifically in the three phases. Offensively, specifically third and two to three. We’re really not doing well there. I think that’s an area of the field that we should be able to convert; we’re not converting like we should. Not close to what our goals are. I think it starts with myself then Coach Hackett making sure we’re putting them in the best situation, the players. Making those conversions and then continuing to get better with the longer yardage on third downs. Four-to-six we’ve done a very good job.

Defensively, it’s just the deep ball. We’ve got to do a better job with the deep ball. I told the players, it’s not just necessarily the back end, the DBs, but the linebackers with their underneath coverage and obviously up front with the pass rush. It’s a team situation that we have to do a better job in.

Then our special teams, we’ve been hurt, we’re actually combined covering more than any other team in the league. We have to get the hang time up on the punts and that hurt us in this past game. We gave up 179 yards on punt returns and that was one of the factors obviously in this game.

I think a lot of times coaches, we go ahead and make up a lot of things and see a lot of different things, but I told the players if we can continue to play the way we’re playing and work on those areas and improve, I believe that’s what will get us over the top to win games.

Q: On deep balls, how much of that is built in to your defensive system?
A:  No. You’ll see us sometimes we have coverage back there. Just some route combinations, four quarters, a dig and a post, you’ve got to make a play. Obviously you’re looking for the rush when you’re playing coverage. Underneath you have to get the linebackers; they have to get back there. Situationally, to know the situation. To give them the short stuff, rally up and make the tackle and get off the field on third down. Then from the deep end really just leverage and technique. Those are the things that we need to improve on and it works both ways. We can coach it better, we can make some calls. You always hit yourself in the head with some calls some times and then you work collectively to get it better.

Q: Presumably it’s a stretch to think any quarterback you bring in could start against Cincinnati. Is that a stretch?
A: No, that’s not a stretch. I think it all depends on who it is and what we get, what their background is or system.

Q: So Jeff Tuel starting against Cincinnati is possible, but you’re not committing to that?

A: Yeah I would say it’s possible, what we do, only because we’re going through the process right now. I think that by the end of the weekend, I’ll have a lot better feel of what we’re trying to accomplish, seeing who we bring in.

Q: Can you elaborate on what you mean by a few weeks for EJ?
A: Here’s the situation. I’ve had a player before that had this exact same injury. Fred (Jackson) had this same injury when he was here; (Arthur) Moats had this injury while he was here. I think all three of those players have come back differently from it. I think it’s early on now to really give you an exact time frame or even a window. What we need right now is for it to calm down, see where we’re at, see where he’s at in probably a week to see how it’s progressing, where he is. Then get it down in to a little bit more of a window.

Q: Did the medical staff say whether the injury happened on the hit or the leg lift?
A: No, I don’t know if it was the actual hit or the leg lift. Sorry.

Q: How does Thad Lewis factor in to this? When you say you’re looking for a quarterback does that mean outside the organization or is he one that you’d also be looking at?
A: Outside the organization.

Q: With special teams I know you were talking about hang time being an issue, were there adjustments that had to be made with some of the fronts the Browns were doing on punt returns?
A: No. Obviously you can say we could’ve had better leverage, but when you’re covering balls that are under four seconds it’s very difficult to cover. That’s just the truth.

Q: Was hang time something that had been stressed with Shawn Powell before this?
A: Yes. We’ve been trying to get that for the last couple weeks. It’s not very difficult, you look to see how many times you’re covering, you’re covering more than anyone else, it’s only a matter of time in this league before you get exposed.

Q: In EJ Manuel’s case, are you ok with the way he ran that play and not getting out of bounds?
A: I think I can answer this question. I know I can answer it, I just don’t know if you’ll accept it. Make no mistake, when I watched the play last night and was asked the same question, you saw Fred (Jackson) pick up a block on the outside and you saw a corner in the back with one of our receivers. I believe in that situation the player and you have to remember with players, they’re very competitive, I thought in that situation he thought he was going to score. There is something that you see a flash coming from the side and you see him trying to work his way out.

Our philosophy has always been with the quarterbacks, so everyone knows, we tell them to be smart. We tell them to slide. We tell to get the first down and get out of bounds. We tell them  to do all those things so I don’t want to make it from the standpoint of we’re telling them never to slide, never go down , put yourself at risk. We tell them all that, we teach them how to slide, we tell the situations that we want to do, but at the end of the day we try to school them up because sometimes they become too competitive. We say, ‘Hey listen. This is a situation where you didn’t have to do that.’ This one last night was a tough situation because I really don’t think he saw the guy coming to the inside until late. You see him looking to get out at that point. You see him get the first down and you see him trying to get as much as you can and then trying to protect himself.

Q: Does that come with a little bit of maturity?
A: You do that with a lot of positions. You do it with receivers; I’ll give you an example. You catch the ball, the first guy stands you up, you’re fighting for extra yardage, there’s a point where you have to say, ‘You know what I have to go down,’ so you don’t give up that stuff. I think every situation where guys are carrying a ball; we school them up on those situations. To answer your question, yeah sometimes it takes guys a little bit longer, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s very difficult to coach the competitiveness out of a player and that was my point last night. That’s where it becomes a fine line of saying ‘Hey listen. We understand this, you’re being competitive, you’re dropping your shoulder and trying to score here, but let’s be smart about this ok. Let the running back take it in or let this happen.’ So you know we do those things obviously.

Q: Was the adrenaline and spotlight of playing on a Thursday night contributing to him doing a little extra?
A: Honestly, I don’t see it from that end. I just see a player going out there and really trying to do something well for his team. None of us here, even the people standing here want a guy playing for us that’s not competitive. It’s the one thing he is. What we all want, all of us, is we want him to make good decisions where he doesn’t put himself to be injured.

Q: You mentioned Stephon Gilmore coming back for practice. Is he possible to play against Cincinnati?
A: Yes. I do think so. I think we’re going to take a good look this week. I know this, that he wants to play. That’s the first step, so at least from the player standpoint he wants to get out there and play. We’ll have to make a decision on if we want to put him out there or not.

Q: What happened in the first half goal line situation where you threw the challenge flag?
A: It was a mistake by me. I know that you can go ahead and throw the flag when it comes down to end line, sidelines and things of that nature. They were down in the red zone; I was trying to get to an official because the officials are usually, they’re awesome when it comes down to challenges. There’s a lot of different things. I saw the receiver go out of bounds, I saw the hat go, then they called defensive holding. So I couldn’t get to anyone and I knew he went out of bounds so I threw the flag. I was wrong because if the receiver touched the ball and it became an illegal touch then I was OK to throw the challenge flag, but since the receiver didn’t touch the ball and it was a decision by the official whether he went out or not, I could not challenge that. So I was wrong with that challenge.

Q: Can you relay any of EJ’s emotions right now?
A: I think any player that’s injured and the one thing that this team has been showing is guys that are hurt have been fighting to come back as a hard as they can. When you’re in a position where you can’t or you feel that you can’t help your team, that’s tough. Whatever word you want to put with that, I think that’s what you feel. At the same point, the challenge for us and I always thought this as a coach is when that happens to a player, get him involved right away so he feels he’s contributing and that’s what EJ wants to do.

Q: Does Jairus Byrd start right away once he gets back step into lineup?
A: We’ll put him out there, we’re going to work him out and go and we’ll work him in to packages and put him in the starting lineup. Starting lineup for me is always difficult because of what the packages are. We’re looking forward to getting him in the starting lineup.

Q: What changed from Week One where you were confident with starting Jeff Tuel and now it’s only a possibility? What changed?
A: Jeff is working extremely hard, doing everything he can possibly do and he’s getting better and better each week. We like him, we really do. We just want to make sure we’re doing our due process, just making sure that is there someone else out there that’s available to help us? Is there someone out there that’s better? That’s what we do with all of the pieces of the puzzle because that’s our responsibility not only for the people that are right here, but for the fans and the organization. We’re just going through that process with the same question as before. If there’s someone out there that’s not better, then we’ll play with Jeff or bring up Thaddeus.

Q: Your assessment of the offensive line?
A: I think we’re doing a very good job. I think were much more physical than we’ve been in the past. I do think that we need to do a better job of hooking up, finishing a little bit at the end. Even though we have run the ball well, we’re still leaving some yards out there. I also think that we just need to shore up our protections a little bit more. That worked with communications and staying in front of the players, the defenders more. They’re getting on the edges a little bit.

Q: What were your thoughts on the way the Browns defenders acted after EJ got hurt and did you talk to your team about how to act?
A: I basically concentrate with our team. My situation was we had a couple personal fouls in that game so I was working on our team to play smart. I can’t control what the other team does. That’s the officials. They’re supposed to do that. I asked the official about taunting, he said no. That’s what I go by.

Q: How did you like T.J. (Graham’s) arm?
A: I liked it.