The Buffalo Bills was one of several teams that held minicamp around the National Football League on Tuesday. After practice was over Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone spoke to the media, so here is the interview via transcripts released by the team.
HC Doug Marrone
Well obviously we’re in mandatory minicamp and I’ll tell you what I’m most excited about was obviously the pace today. It seemed like from what we’ve done in OTAs and the first voluntary minicamp we had and the voluntary OTAs and now coming to this mandatory minicamp the pace has really picked up. One of my messages to the team when I spoke to them was that a lot of time this year we think it’s the end, when really it’s just the beginning. I think that the pace has picked up quite a bit because I think schematically the players are getting more comfortable. I see better communication out there on both sides of the ball. Again, there are mistakes out there, don’t get me wrong, but I’m excited about this type of effort. And if we continue with this type of effort, we’ll have an opportunity to do some good things.
Q: Coach, what went in to the decision to part ways with quarterback Tarvaris Jackson?
A: What went in to that decision? I think it’s very difficult in what we’re trying to accomplish, when we’re trying to get a starting quarterback and that competition. When you look at it from a standpoint of reps, I mentioned that last week, it’s just not enough reps to really do a good job evaluating. And so we made a decision and I think its tough decisions that are made. And we made a decision to go with the three quarterbacks in the competition out there right now. I think it’ll be a lot clearer for all of us, especially for myself as a coach, obviously with the amount of reps now that Kevin (Kolb) and EJ (Manuel) will get. I think at the same time, I think it’s important, it’s a very tough profession and you want to give people opportunities and I think that we really appreciate the job that Tarvaris did while he was here and how hard he worked and he was improving. Now he has an opportunity to catch on with another team and I think that’s important. He deserves that.
Q: How much do you need to see EJ getting more reps out there, to see what you have with him?
A: I think, you know, I wouldn’t concentrate necessarily just on how much I need to see of EJ. I think I need to concentrate on having a lot of reps with those two quarterbacks because I think the more reps you give them it will be easier to tell it apart. If you’re going around three player’s reps, it’s tough to keep track of that, honestly it is. We keep track of everything, but I think when you go in there with two and two people compete, I think it’s going to be something that we’re all going to see, not just a decision that’s made. When I say we’re all going to see it, I believe we’ll be able to see it at training camp. I think the players on the team will see the separation and that’s the most important thing. I discussed that with the team when we met as a team and I told them this is what we’re doing, but don’t lose sight that these things are happening at other positions. It’s not just the quarterback position, it happens at a lot of positions. One may be because you’re becoming a starter or looking for someone to start. Obviously, that position gets most of the focus, but also special teams comes in to play. Where are you with the special teams and also if you are a starter, how much playing time are you going to get? Those decisions have to be made. So what we’re seeing at the quarterback position is happening at other positions on this football team.
Q: What does Doug Legursky bring to the table?
A: We’ve had a couple of injuries and we became short inside and we needed a player. Fortunately for us, Doug was out there and we were able to bring him in and work him out. Watched a lot of tape on him and did background. I think he adds to the mix and today we wanted to throw him in there. He’s a guy that’s been in this league for five years and we threw him out there to see what he can do and we think he’s a pretty good swing player. He’s shown that before. He’s played guard and center; we want him at one of those positions. Again, right now we really don’t have, just like at quarterback, we’re having that competition at left guard. Colin’s (Brown) in there, Doug’s in there. I think we might some other players in there.
Q: How much further along is the defense than the offense right now?
A: I think both sides of the ball are grasping the playbook well. The point now is it’s very difficult to go out there when you don’t have a lot of DNA. Sometimes you have a play and it’s a great play against a certain defense, just like it will be in a game, and we’re just trying to make sure that players are comfortable with the system, what we’re running, what we’re doing. I want to say that either side is further along than the other; mostly the defense will tend to be a little bit further along. I was very pleased, especially with the defensive backs today. I thought that they’ve communicated since we’ve been together which is a great feeling for myself. It’s a feeling of comfort-ness that they’re getting comfortable with our scheme. Now the quarterbacks are getting a chance to work with the receivers. We’ve put a lot in there and then the time it’ll come to play and I think that’ll help us offensively.
Q: Did you hear that the Patriots signed Tim Tebow?
A: I did hear that. My son told me that. I guess it was out last night. I don’t think anything fascinates me in this profession. I’m one of those guys who’ve been kicked around a lot, so I’ve always appreciated when someone has an opportunity to make a team and to go play. Whether it’s Tim Tebow, whether it’s Tarvaris Jackson, whomever it may be in this league I think that one of the things for me from a personal story is that you want that opportunity. This way when the time comes and it’s time to walk away or if things don’t work out well, at least when you look back you’ve had an opportunity. I’m fortunate for anyone in this league to have an opportunity.
Q: In your experience developing quarterbacks, how is EJ progressing?
A: Well I think with all of the quarterbacks, including Kevin who is a veteran, you never start where you left off. Even for the better quarterbacks that I’ve been around, we always start off with the beginning, with growing the foundations. Now with those quarterbacks that have experience who have played well it goes along quick. With EJ, we just want to make sure we’re taking it in a natural progression. He’s not seeing the same type of things that Kevin is seeing out there right now and we’re just working ahead, building him up and you’ll see his reps increase as we get ready for training camp.
Q: Does your decision on Jackson give either of the other two guys a chance to separate themselves faster?
A: Absolutely, that’s exactly what I was trying to communicate earlier when I spoke about that. I don’t know if it’s necessarily going to be faster or just have more information on the two.
Q: Was that the first time you’ve had Manny Lawson on the field? What are your impressions?
A: No, that’s not the first time. He was here at a couple OTAs and then he had to take care of some personal issues. We’ve seen him before. I think it’s early yet, but I’m excited about some of his skill sets. I’m excited about the way he can fit in to this defense. There’s a lot of competition on that side. A lot of different packages, a lot of different things that we’re doing. I’m excited that he’s here and I’m excited that he’s working. I’m excited things worked out well for him, so he’s passed the things that were going on. He did the right thing and I’m really looking forward to him playing well for us.
Q: What are your thoughts on Jairus Byrd not being here?
A: Honestly the way I’ve always looked at it is you have rights and he has a right not to be here. I respect him for that. For me, I’m not going to worry about things that are out of my control. I’m going to concentrate on the players that are here and Jairus is a player that I have great admiration for and have watched him obviously on tape, but I’ve never met him so I look forward to meeting him the future.