Initial comments ...
“Our guys are excited to get to work for Buffalo. They (the Bills) have grinded out two really good wins. It’s a disciplined football team that has managed to do whatever it takes to get those two wins to get to 2-0. I know they’re going to be excited to play at home. I’ve been there for opening day before — it’s a pretty wild place. Guys need to be dialed in and ready. It will be very similar to what we dealt with in Seattle in terms of noise. It’s a good fan base that’s fired up for football. It’ll be a good challenge for our guys. (I was) probably a little premature (in ruling out) Michael Jordan (G). It didn’t look as serious as we initially thought. We’ll see how it goes.”
If Jordan can’t play, will C Billy Price start in his place at guard?
In Price’s limited playing time, what is your assessment of his play?
“He only played 12 or 13 snaps (last week), so there’s really not a lot to judge him on. We just threw him in at the end of the game. Unfortunately, he had a penalty where — I don’t know if he grabbed him or not — the (defender) hit him full-steam, and he got called for the penalty. Other than that, it’s tough to judge a guy’s first 12 snaps of the season. You want to give him a little more time before you make an evaluation.”
Being that Price is naturally a center, would the decision to insert him at left guard be due to Trey Hopkins’ success at center?
“Correct. It’s a one-spot move, as opposed to switching two people. Trey has been really consistent (at center). His communication has been really good in the middle. I have full confidence that Billy can play center as well, but there’s just no need to do that. Billy did a good job in training camp for us at guard. We really had a starter (with Billy) that just wasn’t playing for us. If Billy needs to step in, we have full confidence in him.”
Does it feel like Price is hungry to prove himself at the guard position?
“Absolutely. He has had the right attitude since training camp — since he came off that foot injury. I’m excited to see what Billy brings to the table.”
Do you like that HB Joe Mixon personally is taking blame for the lackluster running game to this point?
“I like guys that are accountable, whether it’s on them or not. It’s a great thing to see guys pointing a finger at themselves, (as) opposed to pointing it at their teammates. We know — trust me. We’ve sat in there as a unit and as a team and hammered out all the reasons for our lack of success so far. It’s very clear that it’s the entire unit. (We need) 11 guys functioning together in conjunction with the coaches putting us in the right positions. There is no need to point the finger at one guy, but Joe has been a great locker room presence for us. He’s accountable for the things that he can control, and that’s what we’re going to need to be successful.”
Do you feel like defenses are focusing on limiting Mixon’s production?
“No. Really, we saw two totally separate game plans the first two weeks. If you want to look at the run game, you just look at the first half. We were down 31-10 in the first drive of the third quarter. The game changes. There’s a lot to talk about, based on one half and the lack of production. But that’s just a small window of what this season will look like.”
Do you have an update on OT Andre Smith and OT Cordy Glenn?
“No update on Cordy Glenn — same update as usual. I think Andre will be good to go —we’ll just take him day-to-day right now.”
How much blame does Mixon deserve for the lack of production in the rushing game?
“I don’t think there’s blame to be placed on any one person. It’s all 11 people. If you watch the runs, you can point to a poor play call or someone different making an error on every play. It’s not one person. Again, we’re really talking about 12 runs in the first half (against San Francisco). That’s all there is to look at.”
Can you attribute the poor rushing attack to Mixon’s lack of carries in the preseason?
“No, I wouldn’t say that. Overall, we have a unit that needs to hit our stride and continue to build that chemistry in the run game. You can point to any number of reasons, but the bottom line is we need to get it fixed right now and make sure we build that chemistry over the course of the week. We all need to be on the same page and understand the intent of every run. I wouldn’t say that it was due to not playing in the preseason.”
The run game becomes important against a Bills team that defends the pass well.
“It does. They’re a really good defense. They’re really sound. They’re on the same page. You wouldn’t say that they’re over-complicated — they just play with great technique, and they bring the fight to you, so we’re going to need to be sound in our systems and what we’re doing as well. It will be a good test for our guys.”
What is the biggest reason for the team’s poor red-zone efficiency?
“I feel like we’ve called one red-zone play. We really haven’t been in the red zone, per se. We ran the ball down (to) the goal line and scored a touchdown on the play-action (once). All the other plays have been fringe red-zone stuff. We have just been making field goals for the most part. The lack of production has been (due to) the penalties knocking us backward when we were on that fringe. That was really what killed us. We prepare a red-zone game plan every week, and we haven’t even gotten to use it yet. It’s been silly stuff that keeps us moving backwards.”
When the offense gets inside the 40-yard line, do you feel like penalties have been keeping you behind schedule in terms of down-and-distance?
“They really have been. We had a play on first-and-10 that would have gotten us down to the 12-yard line, but instead (penalty was called for) minus-10 yards, and we were at first-and-20. We got to third-down and got another penalty that knocked the field goal farther back as well. Moving backwards — that’s exactly what it feels like has happened.”
Do you consider the “one red-zone play” to be the touchdown thrown to TE Tyler Eifert?
“We just got down to the two-yard line very quickly. We called a run play, threw the ball to Auden Tate (WR) for six yards, and then just called some tempo runs to quickly try to hammer it in (the end zone with Eifert). That’s not really a red-zone offense. That’s just getting on the ball and trying to hammer it in on them really quick — we hit them with a quick play-action on the goal line. Aside from that, it doesn’t feel like we’ve really been inside the 15-yard line or the 10-yard line, where we get the chance to utilize our red-zone stuff. We’ve just been moving backwards too much.”
What does Buffalo’s red-zone defense look like?
“I haven’t seen much of it. They haven’t been down (in the red zone). To be quite honest, that’s something we focus more on in the end of the week. We’ve been through those games (where), like I said, if you watch the first two games of the season, there aren’t many red-zone snaps to watch. We have coaches that are assigned to the red zone. As the week gets going, we focus on that on Friday. We watch what they (the opponents) have done over the last year. I do know that they’ve been successful in the past. They have a really good plan, so we’ll have to be really specific with what we want our guys to do.”
Do you feel the need to coach players differently, given the increasing occurrence of holding penalties?
“It’s hard because some of them you have a hard time seeing the hold. You tell a guy, ‘Hey don’t hold,’ and he might not be holding. All we stress to our lineman is that they’re calling it. They called it on the 49ers. If I was on the 49ers offensive staff, I’d be, ‘Eh, I don’t know.’ They called some on us, so they’re going to call it. Our guys just need to be aware that you can’t have your hands outside the framework throughout the point of attack. You need to be very careful. When the ball passes, you can’t be grabbing cloth. It’s getting called around the league. It’s not just us. It’s everybody. We just need to make sure we don’t make excuses for it, and we just do our job and do it the right way.”
If a lineman’s arm is extended toward an opposing player and the arm is outside of that player’s framework but isn’t in contact with the player ... is that a hold according to the rule book?
“He needs to restrict him. If you felt like he wasn’t restricting him on that play, it probably wouldn’t be a hold. That’s what they’re looking for — that they restrict.”
What is your belief level in must-win games?
“I think every game is as important as the last. We’re through two weeks. We have a lot of corrections we can make. This is going to be a big game. It’s Week 3, no matter what, whether we were 2-0, 1-1 or 0-2. Really, it’s the same approach for us. We always have urgency to be our best and be on top of stuff. This week is no different. Our guys are still confident, and we look forward to the test.”
When do you think WR A.J. Green will practice?
“I couldn’t tell you that right now. All I can say is he’s been progressing as you would hope. I don’t have an update for you today on that one.”
How many times have you played a Sean McDermott defense over the years?
“Never in Philly. I think just once in Carolina. I wouldn’t count a preseason game, so just once in the regular season. He’s a good coach. I’ve always studied Carolina. (Last year with the Los Angeles Rams) we played Arizona early in the season and the head coach, Steve Wilks, had come from Carolina, so he had very similar structure. We had watched a lot of Carolina tape going into that game. I’ve always had a lot of respect for the way his guys play. They play hard, they have great effort, they’re always very disciplined, and they put you in a bind, so he has done a good job.”
Is the timeline for Green’s injury still the same as you originally thought?
“I was always hopeful he’d be back for the early portion of the season. I can’t define what the early portion of the season is. Every time I see him it looks like he’s getting better.”
Do you see yourself as a motivator, and does this team need a motivator?
“We have the right leaders in that locker room where they don’t need someone to motivate them and prod them along. They see the mistakes. We’ve been very clear with that. The accountability has been there every single day. I don’t think it’s for me to say whether I’m a motivator or not. I take the approach I take every single day along with our coaching staff. We believe in what we’re communicating, and we want our players to see that belief, and they feel confidence through that. The approach we’ve been taking is good. The players are bought in. Now, it’s a chance to put this whole game together and go get ourselves a win.”
As you look at the tape, do you think mistakes, rather than lack of effort, have been the reason for your losses?
“I would agree with that. And you can define a ‘lack of effort’ by a guy not being in the right place at the right step. You can summarize it as technique or effort, one of the two. It just seems like we can do a better job with our technique and being where we need to be. I wouldn’t question the effort that I saw on tape from those guys.”
What is your review of Buffalo QB Josh Allen’s play?
"He’s a big guy. He has a really strong arm. I’ve probably watched all 11 or 12 games he played at Wyoming his senior year. You really need to wrap him up when you try to bring him down. He reminds me of Andrew Luck in that sense — that he’s a lot more powerful than you think (he is) in the pocket. You need to be ‘sure tacklers.’ He can extend plays, and he’ll try to throw the ball 90 yards if you let him. The play never dies. You need to cover every inch of the field. It seems like he’s a guy that they believe in.”
Has Allen’s accuracy improved from his rookie season?
“I’ve only watched one of his games from last year and the two from this season, so I can’t really say that I watched him a lot at the early portion of last season. Like any rookie, he probably had the same struggles that most guys have — getting adjusted to a new system in the NFL, he was playing in the Mountain West Conference and now he’s playing in the AFC East. Year 2 for those guys, you usually see a lot of growth. They’ve won two games. He’s done a nice job for them and put them in a good position. Again, they’ve been in contention in the fourth quarter to put the games away. They were down 16-0 to the Jets and they came back and did it one way. They got a pretty good lead in the third quarter on the Giants and helped put that game away. He’s done a nice job engineering both of those wins.”
Is there a necessary transition for young quarterbacks to settle into shorter throws, after they may have been throwing an abundance of deep passes in college?
“That goes with any first- or second-year quarterback, whether you have a strong arm or not. It’s understanding situational football. Hopefully he’s not very good at situational football this week (laughs).”
How do you stop Buffalo’s rushing attack?
“You can’t be sloppy with your fits. When you get a hold of these guys, you need to bring him down. Frank Gore (RB) is a tough runner. They have some young, tough runners in there as well, so it’s a good group. They’re going to make you tackle. They’re going to make you tackle on the perimeter, so our defensive backs need to do a good job fitting up and being where they’re supposed to be so that ball can’t bounce outside and get big gains. They’ll make you pay for that stuff.”
Have you stressed tackling this week, given the teams tackling issues against San Francisco?
“No. It’s just being in the right place at the right moment. We always work on tackling. In this age of the NFL, the tackling is limited during the season. It’s more drill work. You’re tackling the dummies. It’s just being great with your eye discipline, being in your gap when you’re supposed to be there, being one step faster than you were previously, and then there’s not as much space for the ball carrier to run up on you and make you miss. Those are the keys to what we need to get better at.”
How do special teams match up this weekend?
“Last week, we did a good job on the punt. Kevin (P Kevin Huber) did a nice job. We’re getting about 45 yards on the dot every single time. They’re doing a good job covering. We’ve been limited on kickoff return so far. We had two penalties in the last game, so that’s something we really need to clean up. Overall, those guys did a good job in the last game. It really didn’t come up and make a big difference one way or the other, but I think those guys have been improving.”
How does it feel to play another team that’s invested a first-round pick on its defensive line (referencing DT Ed Oliver)?
“This is another group that’s good up front. It’s another week where we have to prepare for another good front. We know what we are going up against, and we have to be ready for it.”
How has the Bills’ defense looked on tape?
“It’s another defense that’s really sound in what they do. They understand exactly how to execute their defense. They know what they want to be, and they know how to play it really well. They’ve got guys that have been in that system for a little while now, so they understand it. When you put on the tape, they’re sound everywhere.”
How much did the lack of a run game affect the game plan last Sunday against San Francisco?
“For us, we have to be better on first down. We set ourselves back way too many times last week, and that hurt us. When you’re first-and-20 and not being efficient on first down, it makes it tough. We kind of got away from the game plan, and with the way the game was going, it didn’t work in our favor last week. Obviously we want to run the ball well, and that helps everything else out.”
Is it encouraging to put up the passing numbers you have without the presence of the run game?
“Yeah. We feel like we’ve done some good things in the passing game, but last week we felt like there was more out there. Being balanced is obviously how you want to play this game, so if we can get the run game going and clicking like we know we can, then it will definitely help out this offense.”
What’s the difference in WR John Ross from last year to this year?
“He’s got a great understanding of this offense, and he’s probably doing some different things than he was doing in years past. His attention to all the details has been on point, and he’s playing with confidence. He knows he’s going to make these plays, and I think it’s a belief in himself and that’s shown in the way he’s played so far.”
Was it a mental lift for him to know his role in the offense?
“Yeah, and I think he feels good right now physically. We had to get him back ready to go. He knows the big play potential you can have in this offense, and he’s proved that through the first two weeks.”
How close is TE Tyler Eifert to returning to the player he was in 2015?
“We feel very confident in Tyler, and we feel like he matches up well with a lot of people. He has the same skillset he had then, so for us, it’s just finding those matchups and finding the times when we want to get him the ball.”
How comforting is the relationship you’ve developed with WR Tyler Boyd?
“We have a great for feel for how he runs routes and how he gets open. He catches everything, and that’s what it comes down to. For me, he makes it easier, and I know exactly where he’s going to be. He’s going to be in the right spot at all times, so we want to give him the opportunity to make plays.”
How do you fight against the urge of a freefall after the 0-2 start?
“We just have to get back on track. We have to have a really good week this week, and we have to do all the little things that are going to allow us to play our best on Sunday. If we win this week, the feeling in this building is a lot different. We were close in Week 1, and then last week got away from us. We have to do all the little things that are going to allow us to be successful and get a win on Sunday.”
Where is your confidence level in the offensive line?
“I’m confident in these guys. They’ve put in a lot of work. With some of the guys being out, and new guys being in, you have to go in expecting everybody to get their job done. Our guys have worked hard for this, and I have a lot of confidence in them.”
What memories do you have from the 2017 season finale against Baltimore that propelled the Bills to clinch their first playoff berth since 1999?
“Obviously I have a great relationship with Buffalo, with how giving they’ve been to our foundation (The Andy and JJ Dalton Foundation). I’m sure not many people get a standing ovation in an away stadium, and I don’t expect to get one this week (laughs). But in a preseason game last year, it was pretty cool.”
Can the 0-2 start after two consecutive losing seasons motivate you?
“For sure. You never want to lose. You can learn from losses, and there are things that we will learn from wins. We set ourselves back, and we’re 0-2 right now. We can’t get those games back, so we have to move forward and press on. There’s a lot of season left. In the past, teams have gotten hot at the right time, and we’ve seen teams win eight and 10 games in a row. We’ve won eight and 10 (games) in a row here before. We just have to get back to playing the way we know we can play.”
Does it help your preparation to have former Buffalo Bills on the roster (LB Preston Brown, OT Cordy Glenn and G John Miller)?
“They have experiences of being there. There are some guys that have played there, and I’ve played several games there. We understand the atmosphere we’re going to get, and we know how rowdy their fans can be. Those guys have had a lot of games and experiences there. They can give us some (help), but I know some our guys have played there before.”