Transcript: Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott Sept. 3
Monday, September 3, 2018
Q: So, you got a new punter. Can you tell us about this punter? A: He’s got a strong leg. Obviously, you know he came from New England. He had an interesting preseason, but we look forward to getting him out on the field, getting him to work today, and building that relationship that’s so important with [Stephen] Hauschka and Reid [Ferguson]. Credit to our scouting staff doing their work and finding Corey [Bojorquez]. Q: What was interesting about his preseason? A: [There was] just not a whole lot of work, so not a whole lot of work. Again, I give credit to our scouting staff doing their due diligence to be able to locate and target a guy that didn’t do a lot on film in the preseason, but we were aware of what he could do coming out of college and what not. Q: Could you tell us about Nate [Peterman] starting and what ultimately took [the quarterback competition] in his favor? A: Nate has earned the right. I thought his total body of work, all the way back from the spring and through the summer and fall camp up to this point [has shown that] he has certainly earned the right. Q: How close was the competition and at the end of the day, how hard of [a decision] was it to make? A: Well, it’s always a tough decision, and that’s a good thing because [it means that] those guys were competing at a high level. I would say that we’ve had a lot of tough decisions, which is a good thing for our roster. Again, credit our scouting staff, Brandon [Beane] and his staff for making, certainly, our roster better than it has been in terms of the competition level through camp, and you guys were out there. There was high levels of competition at many levels. Q: We’ve talked about this a lot, but a lot has been made about Nathan’s resiliency and how he’s bounced back from adversity. Here he is going from what happened last year as a rookie and becoming the opening day starter. What does that say about him? A: Well, just what you said. I believe he’s a resilient young man. He has certainly come through sometimes of adversity throughout his career. Look, he’s still a young player, so I’ve been impressed with his mental toughness, his command of the offense, the way he’s generated yards and points in the preseason as well and the way he’s developed to this point. Let’s keep in mind [that] he’s a young player. Overall, you go back to the question of [when] you watch him at Tennessee, you watch him at Pitt. Right now, he’s a Buffalo Bill in terms of his journey, like all of us, and that character trait is a great character trait to have in terms of being a resilient young man. Q: Sean, given the inexperience that both Nate and Josh [Allen] have coming into the season and trading AJ [McCarron], is it a concern to have two kids who haven’t spent a lot [of time] in the NFL and what went into the decision to trade AJ at this time? A: I’ll start with AJ: I really appreciate the effort he gave us all the way up to the last second of that fourth preseason game; you don’t find that often. I certainly appreciate that. [He’s a] great young man, great family and I know he’s going to do well in Oakland. With respect to our situation with the young quarterbacks, there’s no substitute for experience. That said, we’ve got two young quarterbacks that we believe in and they’re going to continue to grow. There’s going to be learning along the way and some good moments, hopefully, and there’s going to be growing pains as well, and we understand that. Q: Can you take us inside the room and how you explained it to these guys individually or together and what that was like? A: I get where you’re coming from and I explained it to Nate and then Josh and our football team. I’ve got a heck of a lot of respect for those guys and I just felt that that was the right way to do it in terms of announcing it to them before it became public and that’s because of the love and respect I have for those guys. Q: What was it like to be able to tell Nate that he won the job after what was alluded to before with him going through a lot of dark times, especially, I imagine, after that game in Los Angeles, and being able to say, “you won this job?” A: When you earn things, it makes it certainly gratifying as a coach to be able to reward a young man who has earned it. To your point, he went through some adversity, as mentioned, not only last season, but also in his college career. Look, we’ve all been through that and to me, it’s a sign of our football team to some extent in terms of [the fact that] usually when you go through adversity in life, you’re that much more prepared for it when it comes later in life. That to me becomes a personality character trait, and that’s good to have. Q: While they’re both young, Nathan obviously has been able to be in the system with the team for a year. Did the instability of changes in the [offensive] line and at wide receiver play into your factoring who’s maybe more ready to take over this team right now? A: I’m not going to get into why I made the decision I made, with respect to your question. I get where you’re coming from. Right now, we’re focused on the opponent, and that’s Baltimore this week. Q: Sean, with just the two guys on the roster at quarterback, last year you had Joe Webb just in case, and it turns out you needed him. Who this year, if something were to happen, who this year would be the third guy who would have to go in at this point? A: Well, you look across the roster, and Logan Thomas has played quarterback; he played it in college. After that, we’ve probably got a couple things that we would need to work through if it got that far. We’ll have another guy ready. Q: So at this point, there are no plans to sign a third guy? A: Brandon is always looking at different options, so I don’t want to rule anything out at this point. Q: When it comes to Josh’s development, how do you continue him on a track of developing while he’s the backup? Will he get time to continue to grow and continue maturing at that level? A: Well Josh is on schedule, let me just start there. He’s on schedule; I’ve been pleased with the way he’s developed to this point in time. Listen, you learn a lot from the first game of the regular season, whether you’re playing or not playing when it’s your first time. I can just go back to my first time and being a part of the first game in my career. You learn an awful lot. That being said, I expect that Josh will be ready to go when his number is called, whenever it’s called. That’s his focus right now. Q: Coach, can you tell us what allowed Robert Foster to make the final roster? A: [He’s] another one of our young players. [We’ve] got a number of young players that have showed up and made plays. Is he where he needs to be? No. Is our team where we need to be? No. We all have a lot of work to do, including Robert. [We’re just] taking it one day at a time, so right now we’re focused on our Monday practice and the Baltimore Ravens are a very good opponent and it’s going to be a hostile environment. We understand that, we respect them, respect our opponent. We certainly have a lot of respect for Coach Harbaugh and his staff as well. We’re going to have a big test this week. Q: Is there anyone who might be limited or held out of practice today? A: Ray-Ray [McCloud] will not practice, nor will Julian Stanford. Q: What about the decision on who’s going to start on the opposite side of Tre’Davious White? A: We’re still working through that. Q: Sean, as a coach, how do you guard Nathan kind of looking over his shoulder knowing that the number seven overall pick is sitting there behind him and you guys have a lot invested in him? Is there anything you can do as a coach to help Nathan know he has your full confidence? A: Nate and I have certainly spoken and I’ll keep that conversation between, for the most part, Nate and myself. That being said, we all have a big test this week, so there’s no time to look over one’s shoulder. Right now, we’ve got to put all of our effort into the Baltimore Ravens. Q: Sean, during the last several weeks, was there anytime that you noticed Nate take a step forward, not just to be the starting quarterback, but just in his development to where you could think about him being the starter? A: I’m not sure if there was one moment. There was a series of moments. When you go back and watch the journey to this point, you start in the spring. Like I mentioned, [you look at] the full body of work. You look in the spring and the way he handled himself. You go through the early part of summer camp and the preseason games and his full body of work and the way he handled himself. He’s a steady young man and a lot can be said for that. Q: Coach, have you made a decision on your starting center? A: Yes, Ryan Groy will start at center. Russell [Bodine] has had a good preseason as well, so [I] feel good about both of those young men. Q: Sean, as far as the tight ends, you went with [Jason] Croom, [Logan] Thomas over Nick [O’Leary]. What went into that decision and what tipped the scales that way? A: Well, let me first start out with Nick. Nick, what more could I say about Nick. His play stood out and spoke for himself. He’s very consistent and dependable. He’s a tough football player, which I have a lot of respect for Nick and his family. That being said, we’ve taken a step in a different direction here and we feel confident with the guys we have kept in Charles [Clay] and Jason and Khari [Lee] and Logan. They all bring a little bit of a different skillset to the team and the table. It’s been nice to watch a guy like Jason develop. [He’s a] young man that’s busted his tail being injured a little bit last year and then on our practice squad in a developmental role for the most part all of last season, or the better part of last season. To see him work over the course of the summer- I came in a few times over the summer and he’s in the indoor work environment by himself. That’s the great part of a lot of our guys- what happens behind closed doors in terms of their work ethic when nobody is watching, the cameras aren’t on, you guys aren’t there. These guys work, and a lot can be said for that. Q: So your new punter Corey will be your holder going forward? A: Yes. Q: In your experience, just getting that down and having six days to work [that out] here? Is there extra work required there or anything? A: Yeah, it’s certainly something I’m aware of. Look, it’s part of the relationship between the punter and the kicker that’s got to come along fairly fast at this point in time. Brandon and I are aware of that and we’ll just continue to monitor how that flows through this week, and we’ll go from there. Q: You said Josh is on schedule with his development for when his number is called. What are the next steps in his development that you’re looking to see at this point in the regular season? A: Yeah, I’m not going to get into what Josh has to do next, with all due respect to your question. Right now, again, we’re focused on the Buffalo Bills versus the Baltimore Ravens, a very good football team. That’s where our focus needs to be. Q: Coach, Siran Neal looks like he’s made a couple of nice jumps over the last few weeks. Can you kind of just walk us through his development and where his game is at and how he’s going to contribute on defense and special teams as well? A: Yeah, Siran’s made some jumps. In terms of his development, he’s certainly a talented young man. He’s gaining his feel for the defense and special teams and how an NFL game works. It’s been fun to watch Coach Babich and Siran work and he puts in a ton of work on and off the field. It’s been fun to watch him reap the benefits of that work. Q: With two quarterbacks on your roster, who will run the scout team offense? A: Josh will run the scout team offense. Q: What do you think the benefit of that will be for him in your experience? A: He’ll learn just from doing that because as you guys know, the pace, the tempo picks up during the regular season, including practice. He’ll get a bunch of reps in scout team and he’ll learn and grow. The reps he’ll get with the other part of practice. He’ll continue to develop. Q: So, he still will get some reps? A: We’ll see. We’ll see from time to time. We’ve got the development part at the end of practice where he’ll get some reps as well.