Head Coach Doug Marrone - September 9, 2020

(Opening Statement) "Well hey, it's exciting. The NFL season opens tomorrow night in Kansas City and we're getting ready to start. For our team, we have a division opponent right off the bat, coming here at home, so we're excited about that and it'll be a great challenge for us. I think that this team has done a good job. We practice well, but now the proof will be in the pudding, I guess, once you go out there on Sunday and you play. So, we're excited about that. I know that Tad [Dickman] is going to have the injury report at the – I guess, somewhere either before practice or after practice. Probably just as of this week, if injuries happen, you guys know me, things happen during the games that we play, I've got no problem telling you the status of somebody or where I think he's trending. But with Week 1, I'm probably going to be a little bit, you know, I'm probably not going to mention or talk about injuries much, or play time, or anything like that going into this first week. But I'll try to answer your questions the best I can. I just wanted to be upfront about that. And then after Week 1 when we start playing, it'll be back to normal, probably—or it will be."

(On being better equipped with this offense after hiring Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden) "Well, I think it remains to be seen how the games work out. I think that we have upgraded our talent at receiver, tight end, I'm very excited about the running back position. You know, we spend a lot of time talking about the offensive line and where they're at and really wanting to see strides by them. I think they've worked extremely hard. I know they've got a great challenge this week. And with Gardner [Minshew II] coming back in his second year, excited to see how he goes. He's had a good camp; he's done all the right things. But I think what's going to happen is when we okay on Sunday and we play the following Sunday and then you play Thursday and then as you go along through the season, I think your play really defines who you are, not what you want to get done. I mean everyone will say a lot of the same things. We want to be able to attack, we want to be able to protect the quarterback, we want to be able to run the football, we want big plays, explosive plays. But to answer your question, I do feel that we do have more talent and now we have to go ahead and execute."

(On WR DJ Chark Jr.'s improvement) "You know, he's one of those guys that's constantly working on improving. I mean, you see him on the side, him and Coach [Keenan] McCardell, working on little things, attention to detail. You know, I think he's excited. He's had a really good camp for us, he's been very, very productive. I think his mindset is to go out there and do what he can for the team and work hard. Obviously, we're expecting great things from him." 

(On whether he has theories that the offense will be ahead of the defense or vice versa) "I don't know, I think that goes by what happens in the first week. I mean, normally in history, people always say that the defense will be a little bit ahead. That's how it is in camp, that's how it is from when I was a little kid. But I don't think that's necessarily true. I think it all depends on how all these games come out and then people will start putting labels on offense ahead of defense or defense ahead of offense. I think a lot depends on what type of team you have. You've got a bunch of guys that have played together, a bunch of guys that are ready to go. Obviously, you expect them all to do well."

(On whether it's exciting or daunting going into the opening game) "It's definitely exciting. I mean, you see a bunch of guys that have worked extremely hard, you see guys that are pulling together. Obviously, you can't predict what's going to occur. But the focus, all the things that you're looking for, that you're checking off the box of things that may cause you anxiety. We worked extremely hard about discipline, we worked extremely hard on penalties, we worked extremely hard in not turning the ball over and creating turnovers. So, we've put a lot of time in this and it's been reflective in the practice. Now, when you go out there and play, you expect that to carry over, but that doesn't always happen. So, I guess for me, I'm really excited. There [are] guys that have worked and created breaks for themselves, or maybe didn't come into this league or come into this team the way they wanted to. But now, they have this opportunity. And talking to some of these guys during the week, where now that the team is set, you can have these types of conversations of, 'Hey what were you thinking when the season was over? Or what were you thinking a year ago today? Where do you find yourself now?' And those stories are really just uplifting stories in a time where there's a lot of stuff going on around us—it's a pandemic and everything. And there's multiple stories, from Josh Jones, to J-Dubb [Jarrod Wilson], to Abe [Abry Jones] being a captain, those two guys right there. Josh Allen coming into his second year and being a captain, Joe Schobert coming on our team, Myles [Jack] going to play a position he feels really comfortable about. A lot of the d-linemen, where were they last year? Timmy Jernigan, these are the stories that I'm getting at my first opportunity to really talk to these players. Because I don't –it's hard to go and talk to someone, before they've made the team, about what their thought process is. And that's exciting."

(On the approach in preparing against QB Philip Rivers with the Indianapolis Colts) "I think, like anyone, I think Phillip [Rivers] has been a—I mean, he's a potential Hall of Famer. I've got a ton of respect for him. He's an ultimate competitor, we all know that. So, there's really not a lot of things that he hasn't seen. We understand that he can play at a very, very high level and they've got a lot of good pieces around him on all three sides. So, I think you look at a lot of things, I think we've kind of exhausted that, especially when we were all out of the office at that time and we had a lot of projects and a lot of things. So, we've bounced around a lot of ideas and we've kind of looked at it from a lot of different perspectives."

(On if he already has expectations for the team in regards to the playoffs) "I don't. I mean, again, everyone else will judge what's fair and I should be looking at and all that stuff. I understand it, but I really think that this team can be special, I really do. And that's what I feel, that's what we put together. I don't have the opportunity to go through a rebuild, right. I mean, we all know that, so that's being realistic. We've got to go out there and win games and I'm confident that this football team will be able to do that."

(On saying that this team can be special and whether that means this team can be a playoff contender at the minimum) "I mean, yeah. Am I going to sit here and say that's not what I expect? I expect for this team to do well and I know that we'll have some – I hope that we don't have any shocking headlines like, 'Marrone says this team is going to the playoffs or bust,' or anything like that. I think every coach that you talk to today, that's what you're going for. I mean, our first goal, obviously, is to win the division –something that we haven't done in the past two years. I think after that you want to make a run at it, you want to go. So, I think with a lot of teams, whatever the goals are, we know the ultimate goal is the Super Bowl and you try to go. But when you start going so far ahead and you start predicting all these games –right now, we're just focused on the Colts and trying to win our first game of the year. And that's what we're focused on. So, to get caught and get asked questions about predictions and all this other stuff, is a very difficult for me to be in. But I can tell you what our expectations are, and our expectations are that we're trying to win our division and that's the best way to get into the Playoffs. And then we're trying to go ahead in those playoffs and take it game-by-game, trying to get home field advantage if we can with our record and pursue the ultimate goal, which is the Super Bowl. I don't think that's—I think if anyone says anything different, I mean, I'd kind of be shocked to be honest with you."

(On the advantage of playing teams in our division for Week 1 and Week 2) "I think it helps the coaches a little bit and maybe some of the players that have played against those players, just on the little things that go on. But you never really, you don't really know the impact of the 11 guys that are going to be on that field together. When you start, it's going to be—it's a new year, the teams are—schematically you can look at it, but there will be some changes schematically, what people do depending on what their talent or who they want to teach here or what they feel they do well. You know, all those things come into play. But I definitely think playing someone in your division, or someone you've at least played the year before, it helps a little bit. And I think it only helps—not necessarily for the preparation, you're going to prepare the same way and I think you'd be prepared whether it's a team you haven't played or have played. But I think going into it, it creates a little bit of a comfort level. But again, you don't want to ever be comfortable with it. You want to make sure you dot your i's and cross your t's and get everything done and be prepared for anything."

(On QB Gardner Minshew II's personality and comfort with videos on social media) "I have no idea. I know I wouldn't. You know, I don't, I really don't. I just think—I would guess, I'd say it's who he is. I don't think—like I say, it's difficult for me because I know I'm in a different light. I see him as a guy who comes in here every day and prepares like he's an accountant. Which is probably the exact opposite of what you feel because you see him in a different light. And that's a light that I keep turned off, the light that goes outside. Unless Tad tells me what's going on, or 'Hey you might get asked this question.' So, really, I just laugh. It's not only you guys, I get—obviously, I have children at home, and they see the same things you guys do and I'm just like, 'Ugh.' They ask me the same questions, I tell them the same answer I give to you, I give to them. I don't know that person, I know the accountant that comes in and works his butt off and tries to get the team and all that stuff. That's what I focus on."

(On whether he watched QB Gardner Minshew II's ESPN video and thoughts on his singing) "I did. Tad showed me it afterwards. I don't know if I was in tune to what he was singing, I just thought it was nice. I know I watched the video and you feel good. Yeah! How could you feel bad about listening to a little Celine Dion? I mean, right? It's uplifting. In a time where we want to look at things and feel good. There's a lot of stuff we're looking at now that we can't feel good about. That's why Thursday night is special. I think what we're doing is special and I think that it gives you a chance to take a moment and put a smile on your face, which is—these times are tough for a lot of people and we understand that."

(On playing against the Indianapolis Colts and what the rushing attack for the Colts could do on Sunday) "Yeah, I don't know if I put a lot into the first part of the question, this thing that this run and everything. I understand that, I acknowledge that's what happened, that we didn't play well that game or the game afterwards. But I look at those running backs as a whole. So, you have all three of those players that have different types of skill sets and all three of them are very productive. I have always felt that [Marlon] Mack was an underrated player in this league. I think that when you look at the things he does, he does a lot. [Nyheim] Hines is a guy that has unbelievable speed, is an excellent returner and he has a really good skill set, that's a challenge. And then obviously they drafted the player from Wisconsin [Jonathan Taylor], who is a heck of a player, who has size, speed and all of that. So, I think when we look at that group as a whole, I think when you look around the league and you look at position groups where you look at their skill sets and really what they've done. What they've done in college, if you're just coming into the league now and what they've done in the NFL. That's a strong room that they have back there with a good offensive line and a veteran quarterback and some good skill on the outside."

(On importance of having leadership within the returning players on the offensive line) "Yeah, I think a lot of things go into it. I think that I think of where they were last year, the amount of criticism, some deserved, some not. And then, for me and the coaches, we felt, going in, that they were going to make a big step from year one to year two. So, everything that you're saying, we've put a lot into. Now, they have to go out there and perform, and I feel very confident. I think that everybody up front is healthy, they've had really good camps, they've come back in shape, ready to go. Whether we want to say they have a chip on their shoulder or not, I can't speak for them. But I know what our expectation is for them to have—to really be the driving force, whether we're running the football or we're throwing the football and protecting our quarterbacks and making plays with great effort. So, we have a high expectation of their play."

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