Miami Dolphins Transcripts – September 16 – Head Coach Brian Flores, Flores Conference Call, LB Kyle Van Noy, C Ted Karras, DE Shaq Lawson and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

(How important is it for you to just get back out there and have another start under your belt after Sunday’s performance?) – “The best medicine for a performance like that is getting back on the practice field and getting back out there. Today was a great day for us, just a new opponent, new week, starting fresh, just getting into the preparation. Obviously you don’t want to have weeks like I had last week. That can’t happen if we’re going to win football games. Put everything that I have into this week and move on. For me and the rollercoaster I’ve been on, I have an easy way of putting things like that behind me and moving on.”

(How important it is having WR DeVante Parker on the field, not only because of the talent he brings but I’m assuming his presence also opens things up for other receivers on the roster?) – “We always want to have our best players out there and he’s definitely one of them for us. It’s definitely better with our best guys on the field and just hope that he’s out there. Whoever it is that’s out there, nobody feels sorry for us. Nobody on our squad is going to play any softer. We’re all going to give it all we have to try to win the game. We’ll have a plan to go out there and do just that.”

(I asked you this about this on Sunday, but now that you’ve had a chance to digest and you’ve seen some film and everything, the incorporation of RB Myles Gaskin, just knowing the weapons you guys have with RB Jordan Howard and RB Matt Breida, how does that third kind of element with what he does in terms of breaking tackles and being elusive bring to the table, and being able to see him do that one the field on Sunday?) – “It was fun. Myles has had a great offseason and training camp. It was good to see him go out there and put it together in a game and do some good things for us. I think we have a lot of talent back there in the backfield, so those touches will get spread around. It’s a good problem for us to have and (Offensive Coordinator) Chan (Gailey) will do his best to figure out how to do it. It’s a good problem to have that many talented guys in the backfield for us.”

(When you went back and watched the tape, were there some throws where maybe your progression didn’t take you to the open guy? Do you have to beat on yourself a little bit to not be reliant on WR DeVante Parker, reliant on TE Mike Gesicki, that your third guy in your progression might be your best option?) – “Every week is different. New England is such a big man team, so a lot of times it’s who is going to win the one-on-one matchup really. When you play against a zone defense, sometimes the progression comes in a little bit more in that regard. If you’re reading top down or left to right. Some of it was me not making the right throw or picking the right match up. Just stuff that I need to get better at. For me, knowing that there are things that I need to improve, I think that I can get those done and I think we’ll be in a better spot this week.”

(You’ve talked about bouncing back and moving on. You’ve obviously got a lot of experience at those things. How has your ability to do that evolved over your career and what do you see as your secret? We’ve all heard all of the clichés, but what do you tap into?) – “It’s hard though. It’s one of those things where you walk into the locker room after a game when you know you didn’t do your best as a quarterback and let the team down, that’s hard. It’s hard to face those guys. The best thing that I’ve learned is just to pour everything that I have into the next week of preparation, into the next game. There is a fine line there, there is a balance too because I can’t sit here and put so much pressure on myself to go out there and be perfect. At the same time, I’ve got to move on from last week, I’ve got to do a great job of getting everybody where they are supposed to be, throwing the ball to the right spot and doing the best we can on offense to generate some more confidence and some more rhythm, and that falls on me. A lot of it for me is just the week of preparation and how we’re doing practice Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, the discussions, the communications, the talk, making sure that everybody is into it and everybody knows that this is a new week. Those are the type of things you really try to focus on after a bad week.”

(How expansive or advanced did you feel like you were able to be with the offense given it was Week 1? Were you able to do as much of the playbook as you wanted to?) – “Yeah. The great thing with Chan and the way that this system works is it’s really you try to figure out each week the best way to attack a defense. He’s very multiple in what he can do. Sometimes it will evolve week to week, sometimes it will look the same. I think we felt very comfortable going into the game with the plan that we had. I think guys did a good job of understanding what we were trying to get done. We just have to do a better job of going out there and executing it. So far so good this week. A great day at practice today. It wasn’t perfect but in terms of the intensity and the way that we practice and starting to understand and digest how we are going to attack the Bills. Each week is definitely different and one of Chan’s strengths is being able to change it up from team to team and make it easy on our guys mentally.”

(You talked about the challenges of going against a man and zone defense, and how you want to best approach each week’s opponent. This Buffalo Bills defense couple of guys that really get ball production in S Micah Hyde, and S Jordan Poyer, and CB Tre’Davious White, How’s your approach going against those guys in more of a zone-based defense?) – “Really this defense is just very multiple in what they do. They can do a lot of different things. You look at some of that stuff. Micah Hyde is definitely a ball hawk. If you put it anywhere close to him, he’s going to catch it. Tre’Davious White, obviously I have a little bit of experience playing against him and he does a great job and was rewarded for that. He’s a tough guy, a tough match up; but at the same time, there are certain things. When we’re going, we’ve got to play at our strengths too. We’ve got to rely on our guys to go out there and make plays and put them in good position. Each week is a different challenge. They have a very good, fast, experienced defense and everybody understanding what they are trying to get done. It’s funny, every week this is a lot different looking defense then New England’s was; but in terms of productivity, these guys are really tough to play against as well. It will be a good challenge for us.”

(Yesterday a couple of coaches talked about QB Tua Tagovailoa and the learning experience that Sunday was for a rookie, his first time on the sidelines. Your primary goal has to be to win the ballgame, I understand that. But looking back, what can you share in terms of how much you think Tua may have learned from watching you on Sunday and maybe talking to you in film study over the past day or two?) – “I probably talked more on the bench than I normally would inbetween series. Just talking with him, talking through what I was seeing, what they were doing, and it’s good for me. It’s good for me to walk through those things, but I especially in talking through some of those things, want him to kind of understand what I’m seeing and to be able to ask questions even if it is in a game-like setting. I thought we had a good back and forward, a good rapport on the sideline. He asked some really good questions. It seemed like he saw the game pretty decent from the sidelines in terms of the stuff that we were talking about and the questions he was asking. It was good. It was a good start just to build on that communication now, just being another set of eyes for me to be able to trust. I thought he did a nice job.”

(Does that go both ways with QB Tua Tagovailoa? Does Tua tell you something that he saw that maybe you didn’t see? Also, it seemed like after QB Cam Newton scored the first touchdown, you were putting on your helmet and he tapped you on your helmet, maybe you said a joke there or something to make him laugh?) –“I don’t really remember that moment; but there are certain things that maybe I’ll ask him to watch for during the game that I can get some feedback on. At the same time, you know your role a little bit too in terms of what you can say and can’t say sometimes. There is definitely some stuff – as quarterbacks, you just see the game differently sometimes. There is some stuff I’ll tell him to keep an eye on, whether it’s safety depth or corners and how we’re doing out there, or something that happened in two minute. He’ll be a good asset.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

DE Shaq Lawson

(Obviously this defensive front seven has guys who have stopped the run well in their past with you and DE Emmanuel Ogbah, LB Kyle Van Noy, etc. How hard were you on yourself after the Patriots ran for 217 on Sunday? How upsetting and surprising was that?) – “I was hard on myself. As a leader – as a defensive line, period, it starts up front and all the guys on the d-line, we took full responsibility of that for not stopping the run. We just hold ourselves accountable and we’ve just got to continue to do better and stop it this week because that’s what the NFL is going to try to do. It starts with the run and things like that.”

(A few of us talked to Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott just a couple hours ago and he was complimentary of what you did for that team and what you brought to that defense. First, are you excited to go up against some of your former guys and also do you feel like it’s a benefit to be able to communicate maybe some tendencies to your current teammates?) – “I’m excited to go against those guys. I’m excited to go against those guys. I talk to those guys every week – some of them – about every week, so I still keep a good relationship with those guys and even the people around. I’m looking forward to this game going against my former team, a place I’d been there for four years out of my whole career and get the chance to play. But it’s great. I really don’t know about tendencies because teams change up things. There might be a whole different system from where it was when I left last year, so I can’t really – I know a lot of players and things like that – but as far as tendencies, no.”

(I’ve got to know which one of your former teammates you want to hit the most on Sunday.) – “(laughter) Man, none of them really. I just make a play when it’s my time to make a play. Like I said, those guys are my guys. Josh Allen – that’s my dude. I talk to him from time to time; but at the end of the day, it’s ball and I want to win. I want to beat those guys; but at the end of the day it’s ball so I don’t really care who hit as long as I make a play to help this team win.”

(My question is about the challenges of the zone read and what that presents. Their quarterback kind of reads you on that play. How different is your approach defending the run against the zone read opposed to a team that maybe has more of a traditional drop-back passer and traditional running game?) – “It basically depends on what defense we’re running at the time. People have different responsibilities on the zone read, so it really depends on the call. But the zone read, it’s been around for a minute. It’s a college play. They’re bringing it back in the league. Successful mobile quarterbacks do the zone read a lot, so we’ve just got to defend it in the right way and we’ve got to get 11 hats to the ball.”

(Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott earlier pointed out that the Dolphins have spent a lot of money to improve their defense in the offseason. I’m wondering how close was the money was the Bills’ offer versus the Dolphins?) – “It was a little off a little bit. It was a little off a little bit. It ended up being the warm or the cold, so I ended up coming here. But it was a close decision. I respect everybody up there. I talked to them, told them and thanked them for the opportunity they gave me; but at the end of the day, I just had to make the best choice for my family.”

(I wanted to ask you about obviously you’ve got to know some of these offensive linemen and some of their tendencies because you faced them in practice on a regular basis. Do you have to not overthink that situation?) – “Like you said, I know a lot of these guys. I’ve seen them play. I was with them every day and things like that, so everybody has got a weakness to their games and stuff. I just help our guys on stuff that we need and can help us succeed and stuff that I can remember those guys were doing and how those guys block and things like that. But at the end of the day, it’s going to be a great matchup because it’s a great d-line versus a great o-line.”

(After this past game obviously there was a little incident with Patriots QB Cam Newton with the chain, and he felt like some folks were pulling at his chain. What was your recollection of that situation?) – “I’ve got my own chain, man. (laughter) I don’t even know. That’s behind me now. It’s onto a new week for real. That situation is just – that’s out the window now. I can’t look back on that situation.”

(I wanted to ask you about the importance of stopping the run. I know it sounds real basic when you get down to it, but I’m wondering about the importance of it not just in terms of winning and losing, but just in keeping your spirits up as the game is going on because I don’t have to tell you New England ran for over 200 yards. How could that not affect you mentally as the game is going on?) – “It does. It does because you’re not getting in that world – that drop-back zone, make them pass. So yeah, that was kind of frustrating, but that’s how the league starts. Each offensive coordinator in the NFL, what they always want to do is start the game off by running; but basically you’ve got to try to make them one-dimensional – get them in the air – so it’s a big part of stopping the run. You’ve got to take pride in it. It’s basically somebody running up your gap, so after last week’s performance, I took pride in and I put that on me. I put that on me. I didn’t do my part and things like that, but this week I’ll definitely do better.”

(I want to go back to Bills QB Josh Allen. It sounds like you guys are kind of close. Where have you noticed the biggest change or improvement in his game from the time he came into the league until now? Everyone criticized him for passing, but last week he goes out and throws for over 300 yards.) – “Yeah, I’ve seen that, too. That guy got better every year and I saw that develop his first two years as a player. He’s a dog. I said that when I was there. The guy is a dog and that’s what you need at quarterback and things like that. He’s grown a lot. Just watching his film now, he looks a lot better than he was last year – 10 times better. Throwing the ball – the guy can already run – and just a strong, physical guy and just a dog. I respect Josh Allen (since) Day 1, since he came in there. We know the challenge that we’ve got to face this week. It’s the same thing we had to do with Cam (Newton). It’s another similar type player. Pretty much out of the pocket, Josh Allen is probably a little faster than Cam – so things like that. We’ve just got to be ready for the challenge and like you all said, stop the run. If you stop the run, the whole game takes care of itself.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

C Ted Karras

(I wanted to get your thoughts on how you would evaluate the performance of the offensive line in the opener and the kind of challenge the Bills defense will present Sunday?) – “I thought it was a good start for the o-line – a lot of challenging looks and obviously every NFL game, the o-line is going to come back wanting a few plays here or there. But I think we went toe-to-toe in a tough battle, had a chance to win and just got to do little things better. This week, a lot of good players on the opposite side of the ball. A lot of up-field, quick players and we’re going to have our work cut out for us. We had a good start today in practice and we’re going to continue working, get ready for Sunday afternoon.”

(I was wondering what you thought of the two rookie linemen not giving up a sack in the opener, a combined one pressure I think between those two – G Solomon Kindley and T Austin Jackson – how impressive was that to you and were they confused at all during the game in your conversations with them or did they have a firm command of what you all were doing?) – “I thought they had great command of what we were doing. I think the o-line as a whole, going in there with all the looks that we had, did a great job from Jesse (Davis), Ereck (Flowers), Solomon (Kindley), ‘A.J.’ (Austin Jackson), Rob (Hunt). We’re pleased with that but didn’t do enough to win obviously; but a lot of good things to build on and looking for a lot of improvement here in Week 2.”

(I know you guys didn’t have any preseason. I wonder how much were you guys able to I guess skew from your bread and butter? How expansive were you able to go into what you want to do offensively?) – “I think that we had some good looks. Obviously I’m just running the play called and whatever we get looks-wise, we have to execute. It’s a little bit more of a traditional style of defense here this week and we got a good start on our game plan this week, and really looking to just keep moving forward, keep elevating our play every day.”

(You mentioned some more traditional defense this week in the Buffalo Bills. One player on that defensive line who’s not traditional is DT Ed Oliver because he’s big and athletic. I’m just curious what you’ve seen on tape from him so far and maybe how you kind of go about approaching and getting ready for a player like him?) – “They have a lot of great players on that front seven. Ed Oliver’s been a really, really good player since the moment he stepped into this league and a guy that we’re going to have to really prepare for and look at, and obviously all of us are going to have to step up. They’ve got (Quinton) Jefferson as well, (Harrison) Phillips, (Justin) Zimmer. They’ve got a whole – (Trent) Murphy – they’ve got a really, really good front with (Tremaine) Edmunds and (Matt) Milano right behind them, so it’s going to be a big-time game and as an o-line, we’re going to have to come through to be successful for this team.”

(What were your impressions if you watched any Bills film? It seems to me like they’re a team that’s ready to kind of take the next step and get back to the playoffs.) – “The impression I get – everyone wants to make the playoffs. I think they’ve been obviously really good for a long time. This division obviously got shaken up a little bit this year, so there’s a lot of people vying for that spot. They’re coming to town in our first home opener at Hard Rock (Stadium) and we’re going to need our best performance when it counts the most Sunday afternoon.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

LB Kyle Van Noy

(I guess it was a little surprising that you didn’t play every down last week. Was that because of the hand injury? Was there a reason given to you as to why you weren’t in there every play?) – “I’m going to let you come up with a story on your own on that one.”

(My question is about the challenges presented by the zone read on the offensive side, as you are kind of trying to read your keys. How much can that little delay as the quarterback rides that mesh point out impact your ability to make those reads on those keys?) – “That’s a good question. Obviously everyone thinks they are a football coach nowadays and thinks they know what your assignment is; but I was playing my assignment, taking my responsibility away in the game. Obviously it switches depending on what way they are running, and I just was trying to do my best. I think the more and more we go over it in practice and the guys get on the same page, the more and more we’ll get better at it. Cam Newton had a little success and I feel like we took it away but then there were other runs he started to create a little bit more. Hopefully we can limit those this week against Josh Allen, because we know that they are going to probably do it because it was successful against us. We’ve got to do a better job as a group. I’ve got to do a better job and hopefully we can get this QB run taken care of.”

(Will it help to have fans in the stands Sunday even if it’s only 13,000 people?) – “I actually like the fact that fans are going to be allowed. I hope that fans in the stadiums that NFL teams are at can go back to a more normalized – obviously I want to be safe and wear masks. But just to have that for them and for us. I think it’s going to be cool.”

(Does it help when you’re going against a similar quarterback back to back in terms of building on what you guys did right and wrong last week?) – “I think anytime you get a chance to see how a quarterback runs and does certain things and certain plays, you get a better understanding of how to defend them and how they were attacking us. I think we’ll be ready for all of those these week because we got a good challenge the first week, and Josh Allen is just as big a problem as Cam Newton running the ball.”

(You’ve been in the AFC East before, so you’ve played QB Josh Allen a few times. What are some of the similarities and differences of defending Josh versus defending QB Cam Newton?) – “I don’t want to get into comparisons. Just, Josh’s growth each and every year has been big. You can see his strides. His reads are getting better. Everything about his game is getting better. (Offensive Coordinator) Brian Daboll and (Sean) McDermott, they’ve done a really good job with his growth and development. I continue to see that after Week 1 this year. We’ve just got to do a good job. They ran him a lot. He actually threw a bunch too. I think he threw 46 times against the Jets, which was a lot, and he also made plays on the ground. He’s making strides.”

(I think you’re kind of aware of the criticism this defense has taken since the Patriots game. A, Do you think it’s warranted? And B, why are you convinced we won’t be writing the same thing in a week from now?) – “We gave up 217 yards rushing, so we should get criticized. That’s not good enough. We’ve got to do better and I hope we do better, practice better, do everything better this week and put a better performance out on Sunday for the fans, which they deserve, and for each other because we hold each other to a high standard.”

(In the past against the Bills, you’ve had some success sacking Josh Allen. You’ve had success forcing Josh Allen to fumble. He’s a guy who will fumble. He fumbled twice in the first game. How aware are you and your teammates of which quarterbacks are more susceptible to fumble and does that approach how do you attack the ball?) – “I think you want to attack the ball as much as you can playing any quarterback. They usually have one hand on the ball, so you want to put the pressure on every quarterback when you get the chance. Josh Allen is a target for that and we’re going to try to do everything we can to get the ball back into the offense’s hand.”

(We were unable to ask you about the postgame interaction with QB Cam Newton after the game. What happened there? It seemed like you were trying to mediate. You were a little more cordial than other players. What happened with the situation there at the end of the game?) – “Yeah, it was just ‘good game, keep it moving.’ They won.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Head Coach Brian Flores Conference Call with Buffalo Media

(You’ve gotten a chance to coach against QB Josh Allen now since he came into the league. Obviously when you were in New England and then last year when you were in Miami. What have you seen from his growth from that rookie year until now?) – “I think he’s made incredible growth from the time we first saw him until now – from an accuracy standpoint, just an overall presence and game presence. He’s got command of the offense. His leadership, you can see it really on a play-to-play basis. That team rallies around him. But just as a quarterback, he’s more accurate. Obviously he’s always been able to extend plays and pick up yardage with his legs. He’s more of a dual-threat as far as throwing the ball downfield. He just has an overall – he’s more comfortable. He’s coming into his own. I actually met him last year. He’s a great kid. I can’t say enough good things about him. It will be a great challenge for us. They’re a really good football team, well coached. Sean (McDermott) has done a great job there and this is a challenge for us.”

(There’s going to be some good cornerbacks in this matchup – CB Tre’Davious White, CB Byron Jones, CB Xavien Howard. What makes a good corner in the league today?) – “I think guys who are smart, can tackle, and I think offensively, to try to create situations where they’ve got two or three guys moving at the same time and can you and your other defensive backs get it handled? Tre White and Levi (Wallace), these guys do a good job as far as from a communication standpoint, along with the safeties there, of kind of getting all of that hashed out. Quickness, length, instincts – I think Tre has all of those things and so does Levi. These guys are good players. We’ve got a couple of good corners also. I think the guys who are competitive, the guys who tackle and the guys who make plays on the ball, to me that’s what makes a good corner in this league.”

(You’ve been in the AFC East for a long time. What impressed you about the way Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey operated the offense in Buffalo?) – “Chan was definitely someone, whether he was in Buffalo or with the Jets, that there’s a lot going on in the offense, from a personnel standpoint – 11 personnel, 10 personnel, 21 personnel. You never knew from a game-planning standpoint what you were going to get. He’s obviously a very good teacher. I heard that just from players, from other coaches. Just his offense, from my experience, brought a lot of – not issues, but they created a lot of issues. We’re happy to bring him in. He’s done a really good job so far and we’re just going to continue building and try to get better and improve; but we’re up against a pretty tough defense this week. They fly around, they play well together, they’ve played together for a long time so you can see the rapport and camaraderie that’s been built. This will definitely be a tough test. I think (Defensive Coordinator) Leslie (Frazier) does a great job. Leslie combined with Sean (McDermott), they do a great job defensively. We have to play well to move the ball against these guys.”

(Buffalo Head Coach Sean McDermott has basically changed this culture in drastic time – him and General Manager Brandon Beane. Around the NFL, you’re receiving that same type of buzz right now. Can you tell us what was the mindset on changing the culture in Miami when you got there?) – “Well like you said, Sean (McDermott) and Brandon (Beane) have done an incredible job. I think it’s about bringing in the right types of people. I think in any business, it’s about the people. In his case, he’s got the right people in place from a scouting standpoint with (Assistant General Manager) Joe Schoen, Brandon Beane. They’ve got a great staff over there. It’s the same thing from a coaching staff standpoint. They’ve got a great staff from that standpoint. And then bringing in the right types of players. They’ve certainly been a model. Sean – they’ve done something that I’ve definitely looked at and said hey, if we’re going to build something, we want to model it after a program, that’s certainly one that we and I referenced as we’re trying to do some things over here. Now we have a long way to go. There’s no doubt about that. But we know it’s going to take hard work. It’s going to take everyone kind of pitching in and doing their specific job or role and wanting to do that role and wanting to be great in those roles. There’s a lot of humility that goes with that. I know I’ve seen that from Sean and his staff when we’ve come across them. (Offensive Coordinator) Brian Daboll is obviously a great friend of mine who I’ve spent a lot of time with. He just fits the mold of everyone else that’s over there. They’ve done a great job and you can see the fruits of their labor over the last few years.”

(Obviously it was a tough matchup in Week 1 against QB Cam Newton with a dual-threat ability. How much does that prepare you for a second straight matchup against a similar-style quarterback?) – “From that standpoint, as far as dual-threat from a run-game and running quarterback standpoint, yes we have seen some of it a little bit; but this team offers some other issues. When you’ve got two outstanding receivers on the perimeter, it’s hard to load up on the run game when you’ve got guys like that on the perimeter. They do a good job really in all areas – the tight ends, the backs, the scheme. I don’t think it will just all run or quarterback runs or all pass. There’s a great mix. We’ve got to do a good job of trying to defend it all. Good communication, good fundamentals, technique – we’ve got to compete for 60 minutes and play a tough, physical game.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Head Coach Brian Flores

(You’ve got a stretch of two games here in the next, I guess, nine days or so. Is there any thought of possibly sitting WR DeVante Parker out the next two games to nurse his hamstring injury or are you guys going to try to manage it to see if he can go on Sunday?) – “We’re just taking it one day at a time. He’s been rehabbing. He’s been in treatment, so we’ll see what this looks like today and instead of making a decision for the next two games, we’ll just try to take it one day at a time. Sometimes guys turn around quickly. If it takes more time, then that’s what it is. We’ll just try to make the best decision for DeVante (Parker) and obviously for the team.”

(What do you think about how QB Tua Tagovailoa processed the game from the sideline with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and listening with the hat on, on Sunday? Did you get any feedback from him after the game?) – “Yeah, we talked about just the game and from the sideline, what he saw. I think he’s trying to play every play in his own mind, so that experience was good. It’s a different atmosphere. It was a different atmosphere for everyone and it’s no different for him. It was his first live look at a game from the sideline. I thought he did well from that standpoint.”

(Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey basically said that a lot of the base runs weren’t as effective as you would hope. What were some of the issues? Was it just the defense that they were running or just execution stuff?) – “We’ve kind of made all of the corrections from the game. I’m sure you’re talking about Sunday. We made the corrections from those games. We’ve kind of moved on to Buffalo. That’s where our focus is. There were a lot of issues in the game. We tried to get them all corrected and we’re going to go out and practice today and try to make those corrections on the practice field. We’ve moved on and our focus is on the Bills. There’s a lot to focus on there. They’re a good team.”

(How much catching up would you say WR Lynn Bowden Jr. still has to do to get to the point where he’s ready to contribute?) – “He’s been here two weeks, three weeks – somewhere in there – so he’s worked extremely hard. He’s been meeting one-on-one with ‘Grizz’ (Wide Receivers Coach Josh Grizzard) trying to get caught up; but when you’re a rookie, you’re young, you need reps. So we’re trying to get him as many reps in practice as possible, but as far as getting caught up, there’s going to be, I think at best for a young guy in that situation, a couple packages, a couple things he could feel comfortable doing and maybe get him out there; but I’m not sure we’re there yet, so we’ll see.”

(A couple of cornerback questions. How well equipped do you think CB Nik Needham is in the slot at this point in your nickel packages if you could talk about the choice to use CB Jamal Perry over Needham in that role, and also why did CB Ken Webster leave the practice squad?) – “Ken (Webster) – he got an opportunity to go to another team and he did that. We had a good conversation on that. We felt like it was best for him and I support that decision. Nik Needham versus Jamal Perry – Nik has practiced well, Jamal has practiced well. Nik spent a little bit more time on the perimeter over the course of training camp. Jamal was more inside, but we have a lot of confidence in both guys and obviously they’ll both go out there and practice and compete this week and we’ll see how it goes.”

(I wanted to ask just about the running back situation and how do you balance wanting to use an explosive player more like RB Matt Breida, incorporating him more into the play-calling while also rewarding a player like RB Myles Gaskin, who has had a very good camp and continues to practice well?) – “We try to play the guys who are productive and if we’re going and getting positive plays; but we’re game plan-specific and guys we feel like give us the best chance to have a productive play or a productive series or are best in the situation, those are the guys we’re going to stick in the game. That’s offensively, defensively and in the kicking game. It’s really specific to the play, specific to the situation; but the guys who are in there who are productive, I would say more times than not, are going to continue to play.”

(I wanted to ask you about CB Xavien Howard. How is he feeling having played in the first game? How did he come out of that?) – “I think he came out well. It’s good to get in there, get some snaps. It’s been a while since he played, so he came out well. I thought he did some good things and we’ll continue to move him along and get him more reps this week and see how it goes.”

(I wanted to ask you about the receivers that the Bills have. The boundary guys didn’t get challenged much against New England. I’m assuming you’d expect a little bit more action on the outside this week?) – “Yeah. This is a very good group of receivers, really a good overall offense – receivers, backs, tight ends, o-line, (Stefon Diggs, John Brown, Cole Beasley. This is probably as good of a group as there is around the league. This will be a great challenge for us as a defense to go along with the quarterback, who has the ability to scramble, who has the ability to fire the ball down the field. He’s been more accurate. They pose a lot of issues. We have to do a great job with our communication. We have to do a great job with our fundamentals and technique. We have to do a great job across the board to try to limit this offense. They are good.”

(QB Ryan Fitzpatrick throughout his career has had good games and bad games like any player. In your conversations with him this week, what makes you confident that he’s going to bounce back and have a good game this week?) – “He’s a competitive player. That’s what makes me confident. He’s a competitor. He’s had success in this league. He’s bounced back before, like you said. Hopefully – he played a tough game. I think everyone feels like they could’ve played better, feels like it could’ve been better last week. We’ll just go back to the drawing board, go back to work, do a good job in the meetings and the walkthroughs and the practices and try to be better this week. That’s ‘Fitz,’ that’s everyone else on the team as well, myself included. I have confidence that he will play well and the entire team will do everything they can to play well this week.”

(I wanted to get your take on S Brandon Jones and the game he had on Sunday. What did you see on film and if you think he can continue to have such an active role in the defense?) – “For his first time out, I thought he played well. I thought he tackled well. He showed good speed. A lot of things we saw in training camp – this kid is fast, aggressive, he tackles well. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. There were some plays I know he wished he had back that we talked about it on the sideline. I would say they were in some of the critical moments of the game. Hopefully he learns from them. Every play for these young guys is a learning experience. Hopefully he comes out and plays better this next week.”

(When I watched the Bills game on Sunday, I noticed the quarterback Josh Allen fumbled twice. I’m curious, what’s the approach you want your players to take relative to just get the guy on the ground versus here’s an opportunity to strip?) – “I think that’s something that’s talked about extensively really on every team. You want to tackle well, you want to get him on the ground. There are opportunities. If there is an opportunity to knock the ball out, when to take those opportunities, and for anyone who is played – do I try to knock it out, do I make the tackle if I don’t knock it out, if I don’t knock it out and I miss the tackle, I’m going to get yelled at, if I knock it out then I’m everyone’s favorite player. That’s kind of the conundrum every player is in. At the end of the day, we’ve got to be a good tackling team, try to eliminate yards, try to force turnovers. Some players have a knack for when that opportunity presents itself and they take advantage when it does present itself. We practice it every day and try to show them instances where those opportunity present themselves, when to try to take advantage, and hopefully we get some opportunities to do that and we can knock the ball off a couple of guys.”

(I wanted to ask you about WR Jakeem Grant. Obviously with WR DeVante Parker not being completely healthy, Jakeem will get a lot of reps in practice. Do you have to have a Jakeem package or do you look at him as just another normal flanker?) – “He’s a receiver. Receivers have to get good releases, do a good job with their route technique, do a good job at the top of the route. They’ve got to recognize coverages, is it man, is it zone. There is no package. A receiver is a receiver is a receiver. Jakeem’s an explosive guy, so we want to try to get him on some things when he’s on the move and can make people miss. Yeah, we see him as a receiver. That’s his position. He’s a receiver, he’s a returner. No package. Just run the plays. If it’s a post, run the post. If it’s a slant, run the slant. If it’s an out route, run the out route. If he’s open, try to get it to him.”

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