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Doug Marrone - Tuesday, December 24, 2019

(Opening statement) "First, I just want to take this moment with the holidays and to say how much I appreciate you all – I know you guys have a job, and you guys are here, but there's always a lot going on around the holidays that you guys can be doing. I'm sure there would be shopping or getting meals ready or something like that. So, I just want to say I appreciate that. And when things go well during the season, it's easy, or easier. And I don't like using that word because there's really nothing easy about the NFL, but I just want to take this time. I know I said this to some of you guys individually, but I just want to take the time to appreciate, from where I stand having been out in the media as much as we have to, or I have to, that the professionalism and the job and the way you guys have gone about it, it's really, really helped me be better in what I do, and it's made it better for me in a very disappointing year. And it's a thing that I reflect on from ownership, to the people in the building, to even the guys here [in the media], because it's difficult when a team's not doing well to write [about the team based on] conversations that I've had with people before that have written. And then for our fans that are so disappointed, and our sponsors, I truly take responsibility and apologize because it's the holiday time, and you want your team to be doing well so people can have some pride and some joy, and we haven't done that and that's my job. And I haven't done that. I'm not one of those guys that doesn't feel disappointment or pain. I do. And I think the only thing, rather than getting up here…nobody wants to hear excuses. Nobody wants to hear agendas or [people trying] to save themselves or anything of that nature, so I truly am appreciative of everyone and I'm truly sorry that I let so many people down, that I couldn't have done a better job. So, I just wanted to get that out of the way as we go. Now the team, I talked to the team about appreciating this time together in a disappointing season. And having an opportunity that it's not going to change the season, but an opportunity to play together one more time, to be together one more time. To be at home and to end this thing with what I think is the right way. Trying to do the best job we can and focus and give ourselves the best opportunity to win a game at home. And that was my message to the team today. Injury-wise, really the only one we have is Michael Walker. [He] won't be practicing, which I think it'll be tough for him to get back in a week. Other than that, I believe that everyone else will be available. There will be some people on the injury list, but everyone will be available for us. I think that's pretty much it; I can open it up [for questions] if anyone has any questions."

(On the uncertainty of the future and what that's been like for him and his family) "It's tough. Obviously, my wife was the daughter of a head coach [James 'Boots' Donnelly], he was a head coach for 20 years. And it's always tough around the holidays. And what I try to do for the players and the coaches is try to explain to them some of the mistakes that I look back on and I could have done a better job of, meaning that the job is with you 24/7, for me. The job is part of my family also, whether they like it or not, and it's unfortunate because no one wants that extra pressure, or harassment or anything on family or friends when you're having a poor season. So, you feel a sense of responsibility to your family for what you put on them from that sense. And the mistakes that I've made in the past have been… the holidays, even when I've been in situations like Syracuse and Buffalo and our first year here when we've been winning, it's still the pressure of the playoffs, and making a run and doing that. So, the holidays have always been – I probably haven't done the best job as a husband and as a dad. So, I try to tell the players that it's easy to say, 'Don't bring it home and try to enjoy it,' but I don't want my family, my children or anyone really growing up, looking back at their youth and not enjoying the holidays because their dad didn't do a good job coaching that year. So, I've tried to do a better job of that. Not for me, but for the people around me. That's the same way it is in the building. You look for leadership, you look for people that are going to push, get you focused, get your mind on the right thing. And I've always taken a lot of pride in that. What I haven't done a good job [with] is our performance on Sundays. So, I try to make sure that my experiences in this league, good and bad, that I can use them for teaching the people that come after me, or with me, to not make the same mistakes I made."

(On if QB Gardner Minshew II has felt like a bright spot for the coaching staff like he has for fans) "Again, I'm not as connected on the outside. I think it's something that people have gravitated to, and that's a credit to the type of person he is. I think when you talk about individuals, you look at, obviously Nick [Foles] was injured and he [Minshew] was able to come in and sustain a level for us at a certain time when you might not have that, and I think that's happened at a lot of other positions to where there have been some bright spots, individually. But collectively, as a group, it hasn't been good enough. If there's something out there that people can look at it and hold onto and grab and look at it in a positive light, I think that's great. The problem I have is I have the whole thing. So it's difficult for me that, 'Yes, there might be some really good individual effort or individual performances throughout the year that will be singled out,' but at the end of the day, I'm responsible for the whole team and their performance, so it's difficult for me to try to stand up there and recognize that at this point because we're still playing and I'm still fighting."

(On if he's made peace with whatever will happen next week with regards to his job status) "I always say this. When I was growing up, when I was in high school, my high school coaches, my high school teammates, football was purely fun. You went out there and played, and obviously I played football in New York City, which isn't… it's gotten better there, but it's not like people think of it, like, 'Hey if you need football players, that's where you need to go.' Now basketball, different story, right? Then, when I went to college and my second year my offensive line coach was dismissed, I started to realize that it's a business. Then as you go on, Division-III, the places I was at were not like that, not as volatile. Then when you go to Division-I, it's volatile, meaning that there's a lot on the line, there are a lot of things that come into play and then I think when you get to the NFL, it's the most volatile. For me, I look at it as I understand this business. I understand what my job is… it's to win games and when you don't do that, then you've got to be able to accept whatever the consequences are, which I think that I've always been a realist. I've never ducked things or anything. Again, it doesn't go like an inner feeling of, 'Oh, I didn't have this,' or, 'I didn't have that.' It goes more to, 'I let a lot of people down.' That's how I look at it. I guess to answer your question, if you're in this profession and you don't understand that, you probably shouldn't be in this profession."

(On if the players' support of him makes him feel like he's achieved something this season) "I think you are always striving to do right for the organization. Obviously, none of us would be here without the players, so there is a communication and a relationship with them. I think [the players' support] shows that there's communication between myself and the players. I think it shows there's a respect for each other, the job that they have and the job that I have, but, like I said before and I think I said this the other day, I would hope that would be the case for everyone, to have that relationship, player-coach, no matter who you are. I don't think it's the right thing to be commenting on anyone else. For them, they don't need to worry about my situation because everyone needs to be worried about themselves and being sure that they are doing a good enough job to stay in this league. Is it appreciated? Of course. Who doesn't like it when someone says something nice? But at the end of the day, I'm not really looking for anything like that. At the end of the day, we've had a disappointing year and we have to own up to that and we have an opportunity to go out in a better way."

(On if ball security has been a positive point over these last few games) "It has, it has. It's something that we've discussed. I haven't discussed it with Gardner [Minshew II] yet, but it's something we discussed [as a staff]. 'Hey, you've done a really good job of that, but is it hurting us in some sense, too? Are we preaching that too much, where you've become too conservative and you might not pull the trigger?' And we don't want that, obviously. I think he's done an outstanding job of that. I think he's made some really good decisions on when he's taking off [to run]. I think that's gotten much better than the first time he played in that situation. Again, it's something that I usually guard against, not just with Gardner, but with any quarterback."

(On the status of WR DJ Chark Jr.'s ankle this week) "He wasn't 100 percent [last week]. We were trying to get a snap count between 25 and 35 for him. Afterwards, he said that he didn't feel like any of the routes that he ran hindered him, or made it worse, so he's better now than he was last week. So, I can't say if he'll be 100 percent, but he'll be better than he was last week."

(Of if Chark reaching the 1,000-yard receiving mark is important to the coaching staff) "I think it's difficult. As a coach, you're trying to do everything you can to win games. DJ being a part of what we do is important. If those things occur while you're trying to win, then that's great. But if you're just specifically looking to do things individually, I think that can get you in trouble."

(On RB Leonard Fournette being healthy throughout the entire season and if he is pleased with how that has turned out) "That was our goal going in. And we talked to him about it prior to making sure that he was ready, and he did a very good job of that. And being able to sustain and be in the games and doing a better job in some areas, which he's done actually an outstanding job in, so he's done a really good job, I mean he really has. You talk about a position where durability always comes into question – I'm talking about the position in itself, and he has shown that he can sustain 16 games of a very tough style of running and has done a really good job coming out of the backfield for us with the passes. And like I said before, [he] has really improved and done an excellent job in protection."

(On what OL A.J. Cann has done to separate himself) "We thought that A.J. has started to play a little better with the competition. He really started to separate a little bit from what we were watching. Again, we watch every play, every practice. A.J. has earned that. I think part of A.J. getting better was because of the competition with Will [Richardson Jr.]. Is Will at a spot that he can't regain it or be a starter? I think Will Richardson will be a starter. I think we have to do a good job of where we think he can play because I think when I went back and I looked at the games early when he started the two games at tackle, I kind of probably took that for granted at the time, trying to survive it. When you go back and look at it, he did a good job. Now you have someone, and you have to figure out where to put him in the mix. That was a good situation – that the [competition] happened. I think to Will's credit, A.J. was just concentrating on the one position when we had some injuries at tackle and didn't know whether our tackles were going to play or if we were going to have the backup or Cedric [Ogbuehi] was going to play. We had to move Will from guard and get him some [reps] at tackle, and I think that when you are a young lineman, you have to be able to do that, but it's very difficult … It is a greater challenge than if you are just set at one position and you are working to win on that position. That probably went against Will, being able to do both. If it was the other way, if A.J. was the one that we were able to do that with, Will might have won the position. It was that close."

(On if he has been seeing consistency from OT Jawaan Taylor) "I thought not this past game against [Atlanta], but the game before that [Oakland], that was probably his best game, for sure. That was his best game. It was good. I think he played solid [against Atlanta], but the little things, like the holding call, those things we have to clean up. I do believe with the way he goes about it, the way he works, if he continues on the path, I think he will be a very, very good football player. I really believe that. I think that some of the things with the penalties, if he can clean that up -- and that is really just being in better position – I think he's a heck of a football player. He has done well."