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Head Coach Doug Marrone: Monday October 5, 2020

(On an update with the defensive injuries) "Yeah, we talked about it today, so we're optimistic. I think I'm going to know a whole lot more later this afternoon, with the players. So, I think Wednesday, honestly, I'll have a good feel. Right now, like I said, I'm optimistic about all of those guys. So, we'll see where they are, we're just waiting to see how they do when they start to work a little bit.

(On the defensive performance and what's missing) "Oh I mean, they are just trying to make plays, you know. Whether it be at the top of routes, or just on the edges and crack replace. There's a lot of things that go on during the course of the game, so they are all things that we've got to keep working on and continue to clean up. It's not a lot of errors per say, like in the past where you're like, 'Holy cow, something's bad.' But it just seems like when it's time for us to make plays—and there have been times where they've made plays—but to make it consistent, that's what we're striving for."

(On QB Gardner Minshew II's performance) "Well, I think like everyone else. I think when you're sitting here and you've had some plays and there's other plays that you may want back, you're going to want more. I think the things that he's worked on, completion percentage and things of that nature, I think has helped. I mean, I think he's gotten better. But I think Gardner is a heck of a competitor, so I think he's still striving to make sure he can take advantage of all the things that are going on during the course of the game. So, I think like everybody else, I think—you know, I told the team afterwards, if you're sitting here and you're like, 'Well look, I'm doing my job, I'm wining,' and [we] don't think we can get anything more out of you, then we've got problems. And the players have been good, I mean they understand that we have to get better. The coaches, myself, I mean—and get better to the point where we become more consistent and try to put together 60-minutes. There's flashes, but flashes aren't good enough to win games."

(On being 1-3 for the first time as a coach) "I don't really have time to get down or—my personality is to make sure I'm doing everything I can, I'm looking at everything with clear eyes, that I'm not letting my emotion or maybe reacting to something just to make myself feel good, those are where you get yourself in problems. Looking to make sure that everything is clearly communicated and really looking to try to lead this team to perform better and the coaches. So, that's how I look at it, I don't—I've never been a guy that just kind of—you know, does it eat up inside you? Absolutely. Is everything a gut check? Absolutely. But when you're in this position and you're in a position to lead, that's what you have to do. And I think kind of like when I come in here and [talk] to you guys, you guys are going to ask me questions, I'm going to give you straight answers, exactly what I think we need to do. Like I said, there's flashes of plays, guys have made it, but the consistency of it is something that we need to work on. And we continue to keep pushing to put ourselves in a good situation with the players, that's on us as coaches, and then get those players where we can make those plays and go. So, the looking at oneself and what do you do to keep yourself motivated? You know, you work your whole entire life to try to get to where you are. So, if you're going to lack motivation or the competitiveness about you at a certain point, you probably weren't cut out to be in this business anyway."

(On attention on DE Josh Allen from opposing offenses) "Well, I think we've seen it. I think he wants to—and I'm sure Josh, like all of us, they want to play better. There [are] times where, you know, close—but sometimes in the pass rush, it's a combination of a lot of things. Again, they might be sliding two or maybe three-over-two on that side. Most of the time, it all depends on what hash you're on, where they're taking the center, things of that nature. So, obviously there is some attention, but again, I'm sure that we want to do better when we are matched up one-on-one. And be able to get to the quarterback in times where he's got to hold the ball or get off the—not throw the first read, because if everything's in timing, it's difficult to get there, if you're not throwing it vertically down the field, passed the chains on third down. So, you've got to think with all our guys, that's what we're looking at. Hey listen, on these one-on-ones now, we've got to win, we've got to find some guys to win. You know you're not going to win all the time, but we're going to try to win more often."

(On the difficulty on defense when Defensive Coordinator Todd Wash's philosophy is to not blitz) "Yeah, I don't –I think that part of the issue was that when you say 'philosophy' or 'He's not like that' or anything of that nature, I would probably say that's not true, from my standpoint. Because I think when we've been here before and we could get pressure with the four and then mix it up, it's good. And I think if you talked to everyone's philosophy, you'd want to do that if you could. I mean, you get the maximum amount of what you're getting upfront. In the pass rush, you're getting the max amount of what you can get in coverage and obviously that makes it a lot tougher on people. I think that when you start bringing guys there's at least always going to be six guys that can protect, so now you've got to bring seven. So, now what are you playing behind it? You're playing—Do you feel good about your matchups and man coverage? How quickly can you get there? You know, it's different than what you see in the red zone when it's cover-zero and you've got someone running free and forcing the ball out; which we've done a couple times. And I think if you look at probably the last two years compared to where Todd has been. Or even the philosophy of the structure of the defense, as far as league-wide, I would say that we're probably pressuring more than people think, especially on first and second. Third-and-short is always difficult because the ball comes out quick and you've got to play man behind it; which we've done a couple times. You know, we pressured yesterday, had a guy come free, we missed him, missed opportunity there on Dakota [Allen]. So, it's a lot more—it's much more difficult than what people think. I think it's the same thing—I got this a lot yesterday, not from you guys, but 'Hey, pressure more.' Okay, we're trying to put our guys in the right spots where we think the plays are coming and put them in a position to make plays. I don't that, I don't think necessarily you see anyone running free, we're not getting there as fast as we'd like to get there, but what you're seeing, is you know, there are opportunities for us to make some plays and we haven't been able to make them."

(On plans to improve the pass rush) "When I was talking about that, I'm talking about exactly of what our thoughts are of, when we know it's a passing situation, of exactly what we want to do. Whether we want to use power, whether we want to go speed to power, whether we want to run speed, looking at what games that might be able to get us free. That's what I'm talking about from a standpoint of really getting a plan and having a good plan to pass rush. I think that being able to convert when it goes to play action on early downs is important, we put a lot of emphasis on the run. And when it's play action, we've got to be able to convert and get pressure on the quarterback there. So, when I say about plans, I hope I didn't mislead you to say plans of like changing schemes, just more of individual—What's the best matchups? Do we have everyone on the guys we want? And then, hey what's the best situation we have as far as a plan on how we want to attack these guys? And then have a plan and then make sure that we're doing that during the course of the game."

(On the run defense digressing, comparing defense against Titans RB Derrick Henry to Bengals RB Joe Mixon) "I think you can say we didn't play as well as we wanted yesterday. I think, in the past, we've given up some. But I thought overall, it was better than we've been. I think last—yesterday, we didn't play anywhere near how we wanted to play. I think we lost leverage a couple of times, which really hurt us, as far as edging the defense and leverage on the outside a bit. And then inside, we missed a gap one time, we made a mistake that caused them to go up the middle and then there [were] a couple of missed tackles in there. So, those are the things that hurt you against a good running back. You look at even some of the swing passes and things of that nature, you've got to do a good job tackling, he's a good back and we've just got to keep doing a better job."

(On whether he would attribute the defensive problems to the youth of the team) "Yeah, I think I just want to be careful about—we do have a lot of young guys playing, a lot of guys that don't have that experience. But you could sit there, like I told the coaches, you can feel that way, but that's not going to help you. I look at it the other way, that hey listen, these guys, the effort's there, we're getting the effort, we're getting everything we need from them in practice. The challenge for us as coaches is how much better can we get them? They're trying to do the right thing. Are they in the position they're in? I really try to evaluate things that way, because I think this is a group that—I believe in them, as far as their work ethic and everything, and I believe that we can get them better. And I think that's what the main thing is. You know, Doug Costin got in there, he made a couple plays. [Chris] Claybrooks gets in there, he's tough as hell, he battles his butt off. [Andrew] Wingard is playing, obviously he's improved and we want to play better and all that, I get it. Dakota [Allen] goes in there, does a nice job. So, you've got these guys coming in there playing. I think [DaVon] Hamilton did a really nice job, I think he's really coming on, I think he's going to be a really good football player. And the rest of the guys are busting their butts to get things done. So, I try to look at it the other way, like when I talked to the coaches today, 'Hey listen, let's get these guys better.' That's the first thing, that's how you have to try to win football games. I mean, to go in and try to out-scheme and do all this other stuff. Hey technically, these guys are working their butts off, let's just keep trying to get these guys better and if we do that overall and everyone can improve—we kind of went through that today with the coaches—the collectively, we should be able to play more consistently."

(On taking a look at the mental aspects of the players) "Yeah, we talk. I'll remind them that you can't let things on the outside really affect your play. You really have to be focused. And if you look at teams that have done this, and I have been a part of one team when I was with the [New York] Jets we got off to a really rough start. But it was a veteran football team and when we went out and played San Diego, I don't know if we were 1-4 or 1-5 something like that, we were one of the only teams to come back and that was a veteran team and we were able to win that game out there and I think they were like 4-1 or 5-1 and win that game and it kind of got us on a streak. But the one thing I remember about that team is that they didn't let that outside stuff get to them, the coaches didn't let that outside stuff get to them. And it's natural, it's not like—if you play poorly, you don't win games, that stuff is going to be out there, you have to understand that. How you deal with it is the most important thing. You recognize it, I try to recognize it, I don't try to defend it. I just try to tell everyone what the truth is and okay that's fine, now what are we going to do to change it? What are we going to do to get better? What are we going to do to change how we feel? Never mind about everybody else, but that feeling in our stomach that we've put this work in and we're not coming across what wins."

(On the feeling of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19) "I think when it first started, I'm talking about the genesis of these conversations and the genesis of the virus, there was a lot of anxiety because I wasn't really sure how everything was going to go. I just really wasn't, I would have a hard time thinking that anyone at that point in time would think that anyone would have all the answers. I think as everything started to progress, I think I realized that this is going to be a season of change. And then we have to just kind of take things day-by-day and knowing that things may change, protocols may change, protocols are going to be put in place for all the right things, so I just kind of had my mind set that way. So, when I see things like this go on and there's a reaction to more protocols, or learning process, or how can we do a better job so this doesn't happen again? I accept that and go. I have faith in the doctors and the PA doctors, our doctors, and the people that are consulting on it. So, there's going to be some tough decisions down the road. I think the players—the one thing I can give you a little bit of feel, and I can't speak for them—but the coaches and players, I think we all understand our responsibility to be able to get all this done. I'm just talking about from our team and our organization. We went over it again with the coaches. I think—I don't think, I know we have a meeting today at 3 p.m. with the league. And then, I told the coaches, there may be more protocols, Gene, that come. I don't know. But I think we've done as good of a job as we can to this point and I think it's something that we continue to learn from and I think it's something that as we learn things, we're willing to put things in place so that these situations don't occur again."

(On whether he'd be in favor of COVID-19 testing on game day) "I mean, it's hard for me to—in other words, if someone told me the day of the game testing, you're not going to get back until after the game. If someone just told me, 'Hey listen, if you guys do day-of-game testing, it's safer, it's better for you, yeah! I don't think anyone would say—so I don't know the exact reason for the day-of-the-game testing not to be there, I'm just not as tuned into the whys of some of the things that we're doing, I really don't know. So, to answer your question, if the league said 'Hey, we're going to game-day testing,' would I be for it? Yeah. They say we're going to keep it the way it is—I'm sure there's a reason for it, I just can't give you that reason right now, I don't know it."

(On the potential consideration to activate CB Luq Barcoo or CB Josiah Scott for this week) "Yeah, they would have to step up and play, absolutely."

(On the difficulty to remain balance on offense when the defense is struggling) "Yeah, I think you want to be in that type of game. There comes a point where it starts to change, for me when I start talking to the coaches, when it comes down to how many points you need to score and the analytics of how many potential possessions you have. So, now you're looking for bigger plays, you're looking for chump plays—not to say you can't get that putting in a run or getting a run in here and there. I think James [Robinson] has done an outstanding job. I think when you watch him run, it's a—I feel awful that he had a 50-yard run taken back from him the other day. So, we feel that we can consistently gain yards on the ground, I think we've done a good job of that. But to keep everything in tact of the play action, and the guessing, and staying on schedule, it's a little bit tougher when you're trying to make big plays early and you can't make them. And that's what I mean, if you make some big plays early, or you get some big plays, then it's a lot easier just to keep balance, when the game is in hand, or you're up, or whatever it may be, it's a little bit easier. But there's a certain point in the game where you're going to have to be able to throw the ball down the field. And we feel like we have some good receivers. I think DJ [Chark Jr.] came back, he had the two touchdowns, he did a heck of a job yesterday, played really well. I thought Laviska [Shenault Jr.] did a nice job, [Keelan] Cole is doing a good job, Chris [Conley] came in, made a big play, which is important for us. And then, obviously we've just got to get Collin [Johnson] going. So, we've got some guys that can do it, they've made some plays and like anything else—same with obviously Gardner [Minshew] delivering the football, I think the backs are doing a really good job protecting both of them, when you watch the protection and what they're doing pickup wise. So, we've just got to be better consistently and be able to continue to play well."