ASSISTANT HEAD COACH/DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR ROMEO CRENNEL
How do you prepare for a rookie quarterback like Bills QB Josh Allen?
“You just have to look at what he’s put on tape so far and then we go back and look at what he did in college and those kind of things, understanding that it’s a different game, but he’s a talented kid. He’s got good size, he can run, got a strong arm, can throw. Like other rookies, there’s going to be some mistakes that he’s going to make, but he’s going to hit some plays as well. We just have to be ready for whatever they come out of the box with and whatever they try to get done. I think part of it will be trying to cut down on running yardage (and) not let him run the ball.”
Do you think it’s important to capitalize on rookie mistakes by opposing quarterbacks?
“Well, I hope that that’s the case, but a mistake is a mistake whether a veteran makes it or a rookie makes it. I think the difference is that the veteran has seen mistakes before and a veteran understands how to put it behind him and play the next play, whereas sometimes a rookie is sometimes not quite able to do that yet because he hasn’t had enough experience.”
Is there a player on the defense who has stood out to you so far besides DE J.J. Watt and DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney?
“I mean, we’re all the same. J.J. and Jadeveon, they might be a little bit taller than the rest of us, but I treat them all the same. That’s the way it has to be. I like some of the young kids and what they’re able to do. When I talk about young kids like Zach Cunningham, he’s a young kid and he’s done very well this year so far. (Justin) Reid, he’s coming on and he’s making some plays. So, we’re all in the same basket.”
Is it hard for S Kareem Jackson to play both cornerback and safety?
“It’s more difficult overall for him trying to learn three or four different spots, but because of his experience and having played a couple of the spots, that does make it a little be easier of a transition for him. But it’s never easy when you have to learn multiple positions and you play in a multiple defense. That’s a little tough sometimes.”
Do you think this is the best season S Kareem Jackson has had since you’ve been here?
“I would probably have to go back and look at the stat line for those five years to see, but in the past, Kareem has been able to intercept balls and run for touchdowns and those kinds of things. I think when you factor in that he’s playing a new position this year that you would say that he’s very productive because he’s been productive in getting hands on balls and making tackles and helping run the defense on the back end. That’s all very positive.”
Has it been impressive that S Kareem Jackson has played both cornerback and safety?
“Yes, because that diversity helps him. That makes him more valuable, as a matter of fact. The fact that he’s able to handle it says a lot about his study habits and how serious it is to him.”
What were your thoughts when you saw S Kareem Jackson almost get a pick-six late in the fourth quarter?
“I was happy that he broke up the pass and I was hoping that he would be able to catch it and probably run for a touchdown because it was kind of wide open.”
Is it hard for S Kareem Jackson to switch between cornerback and safety?
“It’s tough because you just have to learn. Every position has fundamental techniques and assignments. When you’re switching back and forth, sometimes you forget to remember which position you’re playing. So, that’s the difficult part of it.”
How much does the versatility of your safeties help you overcome the loss of three corners?
“Well, that versatility allows us to be able to keep playing and keep doing what we do, because sometimes when you lose guys, the guys that you replace them with, they don’t have the same skill level. So, to be able to have some versatility of a guy that you can move from safety to corner and vice-versa, I think, that helps us overall.”
Can you talk about NT D.J. Reader?
“Well, he does what we ask him to do and he wins at the line of scrimmage. He can win on-on-one, and then when he does get doubled, he’s able to stay at the line of scrimmage and not get pushed off the line. So, what he does, is he allows the linebackers behind him to make plays. Even though he doesn’t make the play sometimes, he allows B-Mac (Benardrick McKinney) to make a play or (Zach) Cunningham to make a play. I tell him and have to emphasize to all those guys who play those positions that you’re valuable to this team because you allow the linebackers to make plays.”
Do you think people can over-exaggerate the stat line instead of looking at what a player really does for the team?
“Well, that’s the society we live in now. Everybody’s got stats, and this guy did this, three times he took a step with his right foot and all of those kind of things. But, I think that the players in the scheme, when they understand the scheme and understand their importance in the scheme, even though they might not be making 20 tackles a game, but they are allowing someone else to make 15. So, they know that there is some value in what they do in our system.”
Is there an area that you feel has improved from Week 1 to now?
“I think the whole defense has improve from week one to now, when you look at it overall. I think that we’re playing better football, we’re more consistent, we’re communicating better. Even with that being said, there’s still room for improvement and we need to improve, but I think we’ve made some progress from Week 1.”
Should OLB Whitney Mercilus be making more plays?
“No. Whitney, one, he doesn’t get as many opportunities as he used to get because we got him in a rotation. So, I think that sometimes that hurts a player, but Whitney understands what I’m trying to get done, and why he’s not in there quite as much and he goes in there and he performs when he’s in there. There’s some value in that as well. I know everybody says, he should have 12 sacks and all that good stuff, but if he does his job and helps the team win, then we’ll all be satisfied.”
What do you think of OLB Duke Ejiofor?
“I think he’s coming along for a rookie. He’s still got a lot to learn, but his role is a limited role right now and he’s effective at his role and that’s basically involved in the pass rush.”
What makes RB LeSean McCoy difficult to defend?
“Because he’s really fast, he’s really quick, he’s got great change of direction, he runs, he can catch the ball and all of those things. It’s hard for one guy to tackle him, it takes more than one to get him on the ground. So, that makes him difficult. If you give him space, he usually takes advantage of it.”
Have you been impressed by S Justin Reid’s progress from Week 1?
“I think he’s made good progress. A lot of times with rookies, progress comes with participation, and he’s been able to be on the field a little bit more and he can see things now and see them better and react to them better. So, he’s made good progress.”
What do you think of the Bills receivers?
“They got some good size at their receivers and they try to utilize that size. They’ve got some speed, particularly the kid from Alabama (Robert Foster) that, man, he can blow the top off a coverage, and they run him through the middle a lot. But, they’re a good group, they’re still learning to work with the quarterback because he’s a young kid. They have good talent.”
OFFENSIVE LINE COACH MIKE DEVLIN
What are your thoughts on how the offensive line played last week?
“I thought last week the head man (Bill O’Brien) did a great job of helping us out. Obviously, Deshaun’s (Watson) skills help us out. I thought they played really competitive and hard last week against a really good front.”
How do you think the year has gone in terms of protection?
“Clearly, we’ve got to do better in that area. Losing Seantrel (Henderson) was a big hit in the beginning. Not having (Martinas) Rankin through spring, through training camp, a little bit there, trying to progress. Just like that, you’re kind of already shuffling around. Everybody deals with that. I’ve got to do a better job of accelerating their progress and keep finding the best matchups.”
What’s the difference in T Kendall Lamm now compared to previous seasons?
“I think experience. He’s been in the system now going on a while. O-line play, a lot of times, if you can play within the system and allow the system to work for you, it gives you a chance against really good defensive players. I think that’s what he did a good job of last week.”
What does it mean when you can start the same group along the offensive line for multiple weeks?
“Continuity is huge in offensive line. Guys get a feel for how Deshaun’s (Watson) going to react, how each other are going to react, and that’s always a process. We’ve got young guys in there, so that learning process, that curve is always a huge emphasis.”
T Julién Davenport seems comfortable at left tackle.
“We had prepared him at the beginning of the season, felt like he was ready to do that. Again, when (Martinas) Rankin finally came back, I wasn’t able to – because he just didn’t practice, I wasn’t able to get him in that swing role. All he knew was left and Julién did have experience swinging, so we had to go that route and try to get it accelerated so we could maybe do a switch type of thing.”
Are you hoping to improve the O-line’s ability to block into the second level in the running game?
“Yeah, of course. After the way we started the year running the ball, I think teams are really trying to take that away. My old coach, Hayden Fry, Texas guy, he always said scratch where it itches. If they’re taking that away, they’re giving up something else. What I tell my guys is when the opportunity does arise, obviously, we’ve got to do a better job of covering them up, getting to the second level and things like that.”
How tough is it to implement mostly new players along the offensive line?
“Anytime, every year, building that continuity – we’ve, over the years, had a lot of turnover. Every year there’s that process. You’re on the money there. There’s no beating around the bush. It takes time. I’ve got to do a better job of accelerating some of these younger guys and hopefully, throughout the year, get them better. Every week, great fronts, great matchups, issues, so we have to continue to let the system work for us.”
How much of a steadying influence have C/G Zach Fulton and G Senio Kelemete been?
“Fulton’s really been a solid interior guy. Nick (Martin), being healthy has been solid, as well as (Senio) Kelemete. Their leadership has been invaluable for me.”
How do you think T Julién Davenport has handled all of the changes this season mentally?
“That’s tough. He’s come from Bucknell. All of a sudden he’s going against the best in the world. I think what happens with young guys, two things – it’s the same thing that’s happened with (Martinas) Rankin. You go, maybe you’re going through this process, he got to step back, reevaluate, got to get back in there and prove himself. It’s the same process with Rankin. Young guy, trying to learn. It’s time to step back, let’s learn, let’s figure it out, let’s slow things down and let’s get you back up to speed.”
Do you tell the offensive linemen they have to hold blocks longer because of QB Deshaun Watson’s mobility?
“I say one thing: Deshaun makes us a better offensive line and Deshaun makes me a better O-line coach. That’s what I tell them. So, our job is to do whatever it takes for Deshaun because, like I said, he makes us a better O-line and he makes me a better O-line coach.”
Does QB Deshaun Watson’s mobility make it more difficult as an offensive line?
“He really hides a lot of sins for us up front, to be quite honest.”
Why has it been so tough to punch it in down in the redzone?
“There’s obviously a lot of different factors with that. For our part, we had way too many false starts. Any time you have negative plays, be it a sack, be it a penalty, that’s always going to contribute to not doing as well as you should in the redzone.”
Are you optimistic about the offensive line and the performance in the redzone going forward?
“I love how they all work. I love how our guys come to work every day. Obviously, they get hammered from every which way, direction, as offensive linemen, but that’s the life we live. I enjoy coaching them because of that. We’ve got to, every week, come out there with the intention to get better, grind it out and we know it’s going to be a fight every week for us up front.”
How is C Nick Martin doing?
“Well. He’s been really good. His leadership, like I said, all three of them inside there have been really good for us. His communication, and obviously, now, being healthy, he’s really starting to come along.”
DE/OLB JADEVEON CLOWNEY
What do you look to build on this week?
“Just keep winning, stacking wins, don’t really care – sacks, wins – you know. Just how it goes in this league. The more sacks you get, the better player you are. That’s all they say. Just trying to get wins around here, like I said. Just trying to get a win around here, like I said. Just trying to build on it, win home games. Got another tough opponent going up against in the running game with LeSean McCoy. Guy can make you miss, has nice feet, so we’ve got to rally to the ball again this week and stop the run.”
When facing a rookie quarterback, will you try to make him nervous back there?
“Yeah, of course. That’s always the goal each week, get after the quarterback. First off, we’ve got to stop this running game. When we’re in first and second down, put them in long-down situations on third and try to get after this quarterback.”
Do you think the defense did well in making the Cowboys face 3rd-and-long quite often last Sunday?
“Yeah, stopped the run on first and second down and put them in long-down situations on third and make them throw the ball. That’s what our goal was and we went out there and executed.”
What do you think of the job S Kareem Jackson has done this year?
“He’s a baller. He’s been doing that since I got here five years ago. Kareem’s been balling since I got here. I expect that out of him. He’s a good player.”
Do you think S Kareem Jackson took his game to another level this season?
“Yeah, he looks good at safety, doesn’t he? I know, right. I told him that. I like him out there. I just like having him on my team regardless of where he’s playing at behind me. I feel a lot safer with him out there knowing that he’s back there. He’s a smart guy, smart player.”
What are your thoughts on Bills QB Josh Allen?
“He doesn’t give up. He doesn’t quit on any play. He thinks he can make a play on every play. He’s the heart and soul of that team right now. When he goes, they go. We’ve just got to stop the run, like I said, and stop him.”
WR WILL FULLER V
What did you think of WR DeAndre Hopkins’ catch and run in overtime against Dallas?
“It was crazy. I was right in front of him. I saw the whole thing. I think Hop is the best there is, so just to see that live is just great.”
What were you thinking when you were watching WR DeAndre Hopkins spin on his play in overtime against Dallas?
“I didn’t know what was going on, but it looked good. We got the win, that’s the big thing.”
How fun is it to watch WR DeAndre Hopkins up close?
“Like I said, half of the things he does, I’m right there and I see it live. It’s just crazy to see some of the things he’s able to do and I’m happy I’m here to see it.”
Was WR DeAndre Hopkins’ catch and run in overtime against Dallas the craziest play you’ve seen him make?
“I’ve seen some crazy catches, but those spins, that was a lot going on at one time.”
What do you think about the caliber of the Texans receiving corps?
“We’re very explosive. Anybody can get the job done on any given day. I didn’t have as many targets and we still got the job done. Anything can happen any week.”
What stands out to you about Buffalo’s defense?
“They’re real good at getting the ball out. They create a lot of turnovers, so we’ve got to make sure that we take care of the ball.”
S TYRANN MATHIEU
What were you thinking when watching WR DeAndre Hopkins’ play in overtime?
“Obviously it was a big play in the game. I was excited. Any time you get a play like that from a special player on your team, a guy that creates some emotions, has to create some energy. I felt like it got all of us really excited.”
What would it mean for this team to win a third-straight game?
“I think it’s important to just continue to try to stack wins in the league. It’s tough every week to try to get a win. We’ve got a great opportunity to go out there this Sunday, take the field, try to get a win and really put ourselves back where we want to be, which is .500 for now and then hopefully we can continue to improve.”
What are the opportunities and dangers of playing a rookie quarterback like Bills QB Josh Allen?
“I think for one, you never want to take anybody for granted. He was a high draft pick. He has a big arm. Obviously, he has great talent around him. He has a great running back. We just have to do a good job of honing in on LeSean McCoy and then hopefully kind of creating some pressure on their quarterback and hopefully we can make some plays.”
How do you think the Texans defense is playing right now?
“I think we’re getting better. I still don’t think we’ve played our best football yet. Some days the D-line may show up and then other days, it may be the secondary. I think we just need to put together really a complete game from the front end to the back end and watch it carry over throughout four quarters.”
What’s been the difference between the first three games and the last two games defensively?
“I think we’re really just trying to cut back on mistakes. We had a few this past week that I don’t think really cost us the game, but if you look at the first three games, we had mistakes that ended up costing us the game. We’ve just got to continue to eliminate the mistakes, hold each other accountable and just play fast. I think we’ll play to the best of our abilities as a defense.”
What have you seen from S Justin Reid?
“He’s playing great right now. He’s very smart, very passionate about the game. He’s kind of in a limited role right now, so it’s hard for guys to make plays, but he seems to be making a lot of plays with limited snaps. I think that says a lot about him. He wants to continue to get better each and every week.”
Were the interceptions last game more a result of being in sync with the front seven or the secondary playing sharper?
“I think on the back end, it’s really about chemistry. We had a lot of guys get banged up, new guys are coming into the game, constantly having to rotate guys. As long as we continue building our chemistry, I think we’ll have a chance at catching an interception every game, as long as our chemistry is there, because we have the players.”
Should S Kareem Jackson have ended the game with a pick-six?
“Oh man, without a doubt. I’m going to personally fine him for that. Kareem, he’s been playing great for us, been doing a lot of different things for us and he’s been making a lot of big plays.”
Have you been impressed by how well S Kareem Jackson has played this season?
“I’m not really impressed. Coming from where he comes from, especially where we come from as DBs in the SEC, we kind of expect that. I expected him to make those plays. I’ve always been a big fan of him and he’s proven me right.”