On Wednesday, June 17, Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott spoke to the media at the end of the virtual offseason. It’s the last time the media will speak with coach until training camp opens.
Below if the full, unedited transcript from the teleconference call (though apparently the Bills’ staff didn’t transcribe the banter between McDermott and the individual members of the media).
HC Sean McDermott
June 17, 2020
Q: How daunting is the task to prepare for a season and a training camp during this pandemic?
A: There’s certainly some challenges out there. You know the protocol is the protocol however, we’ll see. One thing we have on our side at this point is some time, we’ve got some time on our side. I think the other thing is our approach at the Bills, and I’ll speak on just the Bills, our approach is that we’re going to do our best to find a way, to find a solution and to make sure we do things the right way. So you know all those things I think go into. Certainly the protocols to Coach Harbaugh’s point, there are a lot. There are a lot of layers on those protocols. That said, again, we do have time on our side and our team here is working long hours to try and make sure that we can meet all those protocols and still function at a high level once training camp begins, but again the one thing we do have on our side right now at least is some time.
Q: What are your thoughts on how everything went during this virtual offseason period?
A: Yeah, I think it’s been to me a reflection on we’re capable of sometimes a lot more than what we think we’re capable of, right? It’s a great example of that and to sit here now, if you would of asked me would we have been able to get this done back I guess four or five months ago? To execute what we’ve been able to execute at the level that we’ve been able to execute it at. I would have said that’s going to be a very heavy lift and it has been. That said, it’s been to me just incredible to watch our team come together from not just our players, our players being one of them, but the staff and the support that we get from our IT department, everyone in our building has had to do things just like you have to make what used to be easy become reality now. And so I think that’s been really cool to watch the human spirit at work, not only in our building but also in our community as well.
Q: What is your level of concern with what the team has not been able to accomplish given these limitations?
A: Yeah, listen there’s still a gap that we’re not able to replace at this point. So, you take reps and there’s 500-plus reps that we are not able to replace for new players, for existing players and building some of the chemistry and continuity that we’re going to need. I think you also go into it knowing that we’re all, all the teams are on the same level playing field with that and no one’s been able to get together. Obviously in and around facilities. So I think we’re all starting around the same place and that as we head into training camp, I’m referring to. So is that a concern of mine? Yes. I think the better question is and a better thing that we have to, what is our plan and what is our solution come training camp to try and close that gap. And so that’s some of the or a large part of the communication that we’re having here is what can we do in training camp? What do we need to do to find those solutions that we may not have had the same challenges in prior years. So that’s where you have a strong staff and the value of communication comes in and then hey, when we start it’s all hands on deck. Just like I mentioned before, and I’m confident in our building that that’s the approach that I’m already seeing and that’s the approach that we’re going to have to take in order for us to have successful season.
Q: How drastic of a change do you think things will be this training camp?
A: Right, we’re going to try and keep it as normal as possible. Certainly not normal times right now, but we’re going to do our best to keep it as normal as possible, so that our players can come into our building and achieve the best version of themselves because that’s really what we’re here to do is develop players. And the only way we feel that we can develop players, not the only way, but the best way in these times is to give them the best feeling of normalcy while abiding by the protocols that was asked about earlier, to make sure that we’re doing our best, or as best as we can to keep everyone as safe and as healthy as possible. So that’s why again we have a team and we trust one another. Everyone has their own job and everyone has their own responsibility to do as it relates to our team and so our players need to be able to come into our building and trust that we are out in front as much as is humanly possible at this point in time or come training camp.
Q: How do you enter training camp feeling confident about the upcoming on-field work?
A: Well we do have a lot of work to do, let’s be very upfront about that. I’m confident. I believe I am always confident in our players, right, whether it is this year’s or prior years. I’m also confident in the way that they’re wired in terms of the DNA, the intangibles that they possess. And that’s some of what we have to lean on during what we’ve had to lean on during the last couple of months. And then also over the offseason as we close up shop for the offseason program here. So that said, I know that normally in normal years, what happens for coaches and to some extent what happens for players, is you close the shop for the offseason program and things go a little dormant and you kind of can get off the radar for a little bit, for a period of give or take a month. That said this year I expect will be different because of the continuing flow of information from the league and from obviously our leadership that we will have to continue to communicate over the course of the next handful of weeks here as we go forward. Making sure that our training camp is ready to go, ready to meet all of the protocols. And that we’re ready to just give our players the best chance to come into a normal situation as I alluded to earlier.
Q: How confident are you that you can overcome any set-back with positive testing once it comes to training camp?
A: I think what we have to take the mindset of is really more so, yes confident, but at the same time that we have plans, we have contingency plans in place, just based on how things have been going in our country. That there’s, as you mentioned those examples, there’s probably a pretty good chance this could come up here in Buffalo. And the better question is how are we going to respond? And what is our plan? And so, there’s really a lot of the conversations around, again as we look at our total and thorough plan, not just on the field or off the field, but now asking those questions. The what ifs. ‘Hey, what if this happens?’ And you just kind of fill in the blank for what that is. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready to go and so obviously that makes you communicate and makes you over-communicate. And so it’s definitely unique in terms of preparing, but we’ve got smart people in this building. And so we’ve all got to get, as I mentioned earlier not to sound redundant, we’ve all got to do our job and be ready to go. And that’s why these next coming weeks may not be as normal as they typically are year to year. And so we’ve got to be making sure we’re staying up on all the information and do the best we can.
Q: I’d be remiss not to ask because the Bills actually came up in yesterday’s press conference with the Pegula’s in regards to financials and is there any concern that, you know, given the fact the Sabres aren’t going to be making money for the course of this calendar year at least, should there be any disruption to the NFL season is there any concern that there might be some pushback on cost cutting measures from the Pegula’s should something come up to effect the NFL season as far as attendance or games?
A: So, if I understand your question you’re saying am I concerned about cost cutting?
Q: Potential cost cutting measures, given the fact that that’s what’s happened at the Sabres. There’s been an emphasis placed on a leaner operation given the uncertain circumstances facing that franchise.
A: Yeah, Terry and Kim have had to me, modeled that they are committed to winning. And I can tell you, I can’t comment on what goes on at the Sabres. I can comment on what goes on here and what I’ve seen at the Bills. And that is, I see every day, not only from what they communicate to me and Brandon (Beane) but also what they do, and their investment here in the Bills. They are committed to winning. And so that’s really all I can go off of is my experience and what they’ve communicated to me and what I’ve seen firsthand.
Q: How much do you monitor the other player driven workouts around the league and a lot of teams are doing it. The Falcons did multiple weeks I guess. Just for maybe comparative purposes or even, I know the Jets had a big workout the last weekend and they are your next opponent. Do you watch that at all to see if you can grab anything from their workout?
A: I take the approach that I want to make sure that I’m aware of that, always aware of our landscape in terms of our opponents and respecting what they do. All that being said I’ve learned if you don’t really focus on what’s right in front of you, that being our team and my team in this case with Brandon and myself at the top of it from a leadership standpoint, that’ll get you beat before anything else gets you beat. And so we’ve got to make sure that our that our home is ready to go and that we’re doing the best that we can to get ourselves ready to go. To your point, players are getting together, as we see it with different teams in different locations and I think you’ll continue to see that from time to time maybe through the time between now and leading up to training camp and we just hope and pray everyone stays safe through it.
Q: As you get ready for camp is there anything specific that you talk about how you are getting ready? Have you figured out how you’re going to fit 91 bodies into that locker room with six feet of social distancing?
A: Right, and then you guys on top of that. That was my biggest concern yesterday. We walked through, we took about two or three hours and walked through what we feel like would be the best plan for training camp with our ops staff as well and so that in and of itself was new. You know, usually when we go to St. John Fisher, we know what to expect at this point and. And so, the plans, there’s a lot of work being put into the prep side of this and making sure again the protocol and then just the overall experience for our players. In order to get done their jobs at a high level and our job as coaches at a high level. So just overall, it’s just awareness and making sure that we’re doing right by everyone involved there.
Q: I wanted to know what went into your decision making process and how to handle everything that went on with Jake Fromm after those texts were released and what ultimately led to the decision to keep him on the roster and go about it that way.
A: You know, Jake’s situation is certainly one that we’ve taken very seriously. I think you’ve sensed that from the start. Jake did a very good job of communicating to the team on more than one occasion, and so a big piece of that was the communication piece, and that has to continue and that’s the important part of it here. We know that the challenges is we’re not together. And he’s not together with his teammates. That would certainly help. And so I think you know right now it’s, where do we go from here, and Jake has to continue to earn it. I think coach Daboll did a great job of explaining that in the last couple of weeks when he spoke to you guys about that he’s got to earn it and listen there’s going to be players that are going to be wanting to see how Jake acts and reacts in certain situations, not just on the field but off the field and that’s again how you, that’s the that’s putting a team together and bringing a team together. The right way and so they’re going to have a chance to evaluate Jake not only on the field as I said but off the field and, and that’ll be an important piece and Jake understands that and he understands that he has to earn it. As you guys know earning it is nothing new, we’ve talked a lot about that. It’s in our building, it’s written on the wall. So, this is a case of that. He’s going to have to earn it. And so, Jake, as I said before, I thought he did a good job addressing his team and so we’ll see how things unfold between now and camp.
Q: In the conversations you guys have had in the couple weeks since we last spoke with everything going on, have you guys had any sort of talks about how you’ll handle if players want to protest, and to kneel or demonstrate in any way?
A: Yeah, those conversations are ongoing. I would just tell you I mean if you look back at how we’ve handled prior experiences, how we’ve handled it in the last couple of months here, that we are always going to support our players, we’re always going to respect their position on things. And then we’re also going to do our part in listening and trying to educate ourselves. And following it up with love, I mean that’s been again, that’s nothing new. From me to you guys that I’m communicating and answering your question, I think that’s, that’s really, to me, the right way to go about things. That’s what we’re all about. No hidden agendas. You know we’re trying to do things the right way and it starts with respect and ends with love.
Q: I think one of the big question marks on this roster right now, after all the work you guys did this offseason, is that backup quarterback position. Some people have some questions with Matt (Barkley), but I know that you and the staff are very confident in him so where do you kind of see things going. Also, at backup quarterback and now with the emergence of Davis Webb this summer, and people understanding what he brings to the room. How confident are you in all three of those guys battling it out?
A: Very confident. I’m very confident in Matt for a lot of reasons. All that being said you know competition is good to have. A competition at that position and competition across our roster. And I think Brandon and his staff have done a good job of providing that. So we’ll just see how it plays out. Right. Obviously, you look at Josh and the growth that Josh and the time that he’s put in. The growth that he’s shown to this point and what we expect to get from him moving forward and then you’ve got to have depth in this league, you guys know that depth is important. At every position. In this case, the quarterback position in particular. So, you know, I think the reality of this year in particular is what happens if said player comes down with the virus and so even more important that that you have depth and quality depth. In this case as you mentioned at the quarterback position and any position for that matter so it’s something that we take seriously, making sure that our depth is what we need it to be. And then as coaches we also have to make sure that we’re developing those players as well, giving them just as much time, because that’s a challenge as a coach. Just kind of giving you guys an inside look at how do we split our time up? How many reps do we give the backups? To get them not only to show what they’ve got, but also to get them ready to play at a high level. So it’s a constant feel day to day with reps and the plan for the reps.
Q: We saw Davis kind of leading the workouts down in Florida. What kind of impression has he made on you and what’s he brought to the room because I don’t think a lot of people are familiar with what he’s brought in a lot of ways?
A: I really appreciate Davis. You know, I think one day and he and I have spoken about this, that he will be a coach when he decides that it’s time to end his playing days or when he sees those come to an end. But, when you go through as a coach and you see players, you know, certain guys that you can kind of ear mark hey if he wanted to make a pretty good coach one day. Talking about him as a player, really appreciate the way he’s handled things. This is a guy that has been basically told he hasn’t been good enough in a couple different spots but as I said before, Buffalo we want to make this place a place where people can become the best version that they’ve ever been of themselves. We’re able to do that to this point because of our culture because of the people that we have in our building and the resources. One of the other things I love about Davis is he is incredibly organized and a true pro. As you mentioned, he organized some of that workout down there and so I have nothing but positive things to say about the young man.
Q: You talked about adjusting so current rules, but as we’ve seen in other businesses once things get going, the rules can change pretty quickly. Do you have a – not going to say a per call coach, but do you have somebody specifically you go to because once you get the players in the building if things are changing, you may need to adapt not necessarily to the current rules but as the rules change. Is there something you’re doing in that, in that form, especially once you get the guys in the building.
A: As thorough as we are I’m sure there’s things between now and training camp that are, that we haven’t thought of yet that we’re going to think of and, so yes I mean we have people that are going to be tied directly to the protocol, having a protocol coach, I don’t want to get into all the specifics on it. But yes, good point and you do need constant reminders I mean let’s – you guys have all been out a little bit, like I have just a little bit, and you were so used to that. What was the norm, and you end up standing next to someone you’re going whoa, hey, I forgot right so yeah that’s going to happen on the field, and we’re going to have to make sure that we are continually policing that are remaining discipline.
Q: And to follow up on that is, is the league doing that too. Are they policing the teams Is that something they’ve told you they’re going to do or are they kind of leaving that to the teams to follow the rules?
A: Well to this point to this mean the league always police’s there’s a there’s a, you know, they have their, there’s their spot checkers and whatnot but you know we have to do our own we have to do our own and I would hope, regardless of the COVID situation or not that we’re always going to do our own. But I think, again it goes back to a key word here discipline. You know, you go back, and you say, hey, early on we were very disciplined, right, you know in our in our house are we are we staying disciplined. It’s easy to lose that, that, that element as you go through day after day. It’s easy to start that way, right, but who can do it who can remain disciplined? No different than the workouts, right? Why do New Year’s resolutions fail, right, because it’s easy to start but who can see it through and that takes discipline and that’s sometimes what helps separate some individuals and some teams from others.
Q: There was a report a few weeks ago that the league is looking into the possibility of shortening in the preseason to kind of give teams, a little bit of a chance to ease back into things, and also to potentially limit the risk from a coach’s standpoint, what’s your viewpoint on if that route did happen?
A: No whatever the league decides, what we’ll roll with. So just been this league long enough to know that you got to be adaptable and adaptive teams and individuals win and so we’ll be adaptive to whatever they roll out, because there’s no change and in particular after that I’ve long learned. Being around it so you know we’ll be ready to go with whatever they whatever they feel is the right plan, obviously, in this case, the reasoning for it would be to keep everyone safe and healthy as possible so whatever they decide we’ll support and we’ll be ready to go.
Q: So many people returning on your team, could that potentially be an advantage for you guys because you have so many players like I saw the number like 88% of the starters coming back and things like that.
A: You know continuity is good to have, a good ingredient. It’s a good start. You know the thing we have to be aware of is games aren’t won this time of year. Games aren’t going to be won just because of continuity. So, you know, we’ve got to make sure that we take that continuity and build on it, and that’s what we’ve got to do when we can come back together. I think the way our players have handled it and staff have the offseason, as you guys have heard me say before finding a way. Our players have found a way, it appears at least. Listen I’m talking to them the same way I’m talking to you right now, so I’m trying to get to feel for where they are. And so there’s a gap. So when we come back, we’ve got some continuity yes, but that’s not going to win us games that in and of itself, that’s a start. We’ve got a lot of work to do though to get ourselves ready to go, and anybody who says otherwise is only kidding themselves at this point.
Q: Josh Allen last week we have, he had some very encouraging words for what he thinks Dawson Knox can be going forward. So, my question to you what do you believe would be realistic progress for Dawson going into year two here of course, taking into consideration the limitations of this offseason.
A: Yeah, Dawson has had a good offseason to this point. We do expect a year of growth, a year of development. Obviously going from its first year to a second year, and I’m really encouraged by the way that he’s approached things really encouraged by the way that he’s worked on his body this offseason, from what it appears and, you know, I think a big piece of it is going to be his, his availability and his consistency. And so sometimes what you see the first year is the lack of at times consistency, and I think Dawson is aware of that and he’s committed to developing to the point where that becomes a strength of his and we’re here to help him with it. So, I think he’s off to a good start in the early part of his second season as Josh mentioned he’s very confident in Dawson, which is an important piece. A good quarterback, tight end combinations – I’ve been around Chad Lewis was in Philadelphia with Donovan McNabb and Greg Olson in Carolina with Cam Newton. That’s a big piece of quarterback’s success is where he has that security blanket. In this case, the tight end position.
Q: Looking ahead to training camp, on the defensive line you’ve got nine guys with the NFL game experience I mean, hundreds of stars really, plus A.J. [Epenesa]. Just how would you characterize that unit, and is it the most depth you’ve ever had heading to a camp? You had good depth last year. Did you make a conscious effort to target even more veteran depth.
A: Well, we believe in winning up front, that’s where the game starts. It’s won up front and so o-line and d-line. We spent a lot of time talking about trying to find players that can help us. In some ways, really, to your point, we did some something similarly on the offensive line bringing in Daryl Williams and Evan Boehm, so guys that have experience. We want to be able to give ourselves options on both fronts and have the best four on the d-line and have the best five, but with quality backups as well as it relates to the defensive line, being able to continually bring fastballs, play at a high level – high intensity level up front. And so, with that in mind, that’s what you saw bringing in Vernon Butler, Quinton Jefferson and Mario Addison to name a few on the defensive line as I already mentioned some of the offensive line. So that should good competition for us in training camp. Just within that position within those two positions and again, when they work against each other so I’m anxious. Looking forward to seeing that.
Q: You’ve lost, Eric Wood, Kyle Williams and Lorenzo Alexander and consecutive off seasons. That’s a lot of leadership for any locker room to lose. Understanding that you won’t be able to see it on the field here until training game but have you seen anyone, maybe aside from Josh Allen given the nature of his position sort of develop as a leader, maybe even somebody that maybe surprised you a little bit, going through this?
A: you this are you saying referencing the offensive side or the whole team?
Q: The whole team just, you know, leadership, and who sort of stepped into that role particularly now with Lorenzo departing, you know, developing the next wave of leadership.
A: Yeah, that’s key to our success, player driven leadership that you’ve heard me talk about before. For me to sit up there and bang the podium is with not enough player leadership is not going to get us where we need to be and the players are aware of that. We’ve talked about that so the player driven leadership that ownership probably more than anything is key to our to our success, and we’re going to go as a team. And so, here we’ve had Kyle, Eric Wood and Lorenzo. We miss those guys and you can’t replace them. So, The next person has to step up and that means young guys have to develop and they’ve got to grow and understand ‘Hey it’s year three year four year five,’ you’re going to be expected to help lead our football team. And so to name a few, Mario Addison has come in as a young as a, as a new player and really demonstrated good quality leadership. You’re seeing some other players, Jon Feliciano who was here with us really step up his leadership. Just need two on both of the lines in this case, so really great to see Jordan Poyer and I think he’s having a good offseason, really helped to that in that aspect as well and Reid Ferguson. A guy that, a position as a long snapper, you say ‘coach, hey what really?’ Yeah I mean he’s – I think that that’s cool to see where guys have it, and they’re able then to they want to work on developing themselves as leaders as well and so that’s been fun and exciting to watch some of these guys step up their leadership.
Q: And then Sean I wanted to ask about, I know you can’t comment on the inner workings of the Sabres of course but yesterday, you know, it was a tough day for your PSE family. Just what was your general reaction to what went on with the hockey team?
A: Yeah, you know we’re all human and it’s unfortunate right it’s unfortunate. I have a relationship with Jason [Botterill] hate to see things like that happen. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision for Terry and Kim and I think more than anything, just wanted to show – want to show my support for Ralph [Krueger]. As you know, I’ve just in relationship with Ralph as well and have a lot of respect for him, so you know as much as I’m focused over here I still support wholeheartedly what goes on over there and root for the Sabres and I want to see them do well. And so, just more than anything like I said just empathizing with the situation and also try to support Ralph through this as well.
Q: With the COVID restrictions going into training camp, what do you have to do to keep these guys mentally on task? Because obviously there’s a human element to it. Who are you leaning on as far as the mental aspect of all of this goes?
A: I think it’s a great question and it’s a key part of our environment, right? Every year, i’s a key part. This year in particular, because we balanced now the COVID situation with trying to win games. And so the mental health piece of this is important. There’s also a mental performance piece of it as well baked into all this. So again, I’m a big believer in how we approach things helps determine where we go with it. So we’re trying to create an environment here for us at training camp, that will help us in those areas. It’ll be a first, but I’m confident in our team. As you see with work before, I’m confident that we will have a well thought out plan to give us the best chance to accomplish and meet those challenges that you mentioned because they are real.
Q: Talking to Heath Farwell last week, he said Lorenzo [Alexander]’s been sitting in on some of the zoom meetings and things like that. How involved has he been this offseason, from your perspective? And do you expect that to continue into training camp in the regular season?
A: Well, whether it was Eric Wood, Kyle [Williams], Lorenzo….These guys are Buffalo Bills, and they’ll be Buffalo Bills for life. Right? And so just kind of not keeping them involved would not….There’s a lot of wisdom baked into those guys and things that they can share with our players on the field, in this case, and then off the field as well. So, how do you adjust to life in the NFL? How did you adjust to being a new dad in the NFL? That wisdom is….we wouldn’t be being responsible leaders, Brandon and myself, if we did not involve them from time to time in what we do and so on and so forth. So that’s been great to see. I really appreciate that Lorenzo or Kyle and Eric and many others have wanted to come back and help. That’s the cool piece of this, is that tradition. That’s the Buffalo Bills, what it means to wear the red, white and blue the Buffalo Bills, what it means to retire as a Buffalo Bill. I think that’s so cool and special that we have and unique to the Bills. I think it’s been great.
Q: Finally, you guys got the opportunity to get back into the facility. How excited were you about that? And you as a coach, we know that you’re very busy and you’re instructing and you’re very hands on with the players. So what will be your expectations from the players when training camp begins?
A: Well, I don’t think my expectations are going to be any different than any other year. Number one is, we really focus internally on ourselves. We focus internally on working, earning the right. Listen, I’m right in that same boat as our players, I expect the same for myself. To come in and do my job and do my job at a high level. I’ll expect the same from them to earn every everything we get, and that’s how this league works. That’s how life works and so my expectations will not change and we’ve got a lot work to do and anyone, as I mentioned earlier, that thinks that we don’t is sorely mistaken, so I’m excited about working with the players. I can’t wait to see them because I care for them. I had a chance to see a couple of them downstairs earlier that are in for rehab purposes but I can’t wait to see all of them back here, healthy hopefully, and where we get a chance to work together here and get back to doing things at a high standard that we’re comfortable with and used to at the Buffalo Bills.
Q: So the you’re going to be together for the first time since January whenever camp opens. What precautions are you taking from a strength and conditioning standpoint? Now, no matter how diligent these guys have been working on their own, do you have to do a slow ramping up of things? I think a lot of people are going to assume, hey, let’s hit the ground running and maybe your players even mentally are going to want to really get after it. How much do you have to hold things back in the in the early days of camp?
A: Yeah, that’s tremendous awareness on your part. That’s, again, a large part of our conversations over the last two weeks have been how we want training camp to look, not just operationally but now, to your question, how do we ramp them up? And let’s not forget, usually by now, they are 500 plus reps in and they’ve been around our care for the offseason program, and then they go away for four or five weeks and they’re back. And even with that, we still get concerned. And so even with that, there’s a gradual ramp up. This year in particular, we’ve gone to great lengths to map out what I feel like is a good plan. And that plan is going to continue to evolve over the next several weeks. I depend heavily on our sports science department. But I obviously have the final say. And so what I’ve learned through it is the best approach for us is, hey, everyone, it’s a collaborative effort. Everyone’s involved. Let’s take what we know now, bake it into the plan, and then make sure that we use our gut instinct at the end of the day, as we move from one day to the next through the training camp period. So yeah, we’re taking great caution and a lot of prep work is going into right now that that prep plan.
Q: Where do you think you are? Where are you in terms of the data that you’ve been able to accumulate, whether it be through devices, or I don’t know if you’re able to get them on these guys to check heart rates and exercise, whatever your guys are doing with your technology, versus kind of needing to wait and see until they report and then figuring it out? How much are you going to know when they arrive versus how much you’re still going to need to gather?
A: Well, part of them getting in here. Then being in here helps us, right. So them being where they are, it’s hard to get a good feel. Like I said, I see them every day or every other day or what have you four days a week like this, just like you’re seeing me and I’m seeing you [virtually]. That’s the real part about it. So just like you can’t tell us what type of shape I’m in, I really can’t tell exactly what type of shape they’re at. Right? So the only way we’ll know is once we can get them here. And then we can start to work together to make sure we get them ready to go. And it won’t be, at least for us, it won’t be we’re going to take them from here to here. That’d be irresponsible. We have to build them up, to make them robust. And so that’s what we, between myself, sports science, Eric Ciano, our strength and conditioning coach and head trainer, Nate Breske. That’s an all hands on deck type approach and conversation.
Q: And then my other question was, we were talking about what ifs very early in this, and I know that this is kind of a dark What if, but given that your team is in what seems to be very good position in building at the right time. What if this season gets shortened or canceled?
A: Like, what’s your question. In terms of what do I do?
Q: Yeah, I mean…I don’t know what you do. I’ll leave it open ended but it seems to be like…. Wouldn’t that be the kick in the butt? If you have everything the way you want it right now, and this could potentially prevent you from seeing it out.
A: Yeah, I’m a positive guy by nature. I really am and the way all signs right now are pointing to us playing and having a full season and so that’s the information I’m going off of right now. And that said, if things happen, then we’ll adjust. Like I told you before, I’m a positive guy and things have come up before in your life, in my life and adversity. And that’s what we do. That’s the human spirit in us and we adjust and we move on and we grow and learn from it. So we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. But for right now, man, I’m getting ready for we’re getting ready for a season and I’m looking forward to it.
Q: When we talked to Josh last week, he said among many things, I’m not going to become captain check down. I guess, speaking to the way he does want to show off the arm or, or push the ball down the field but also try to balance it. How do you as a coach, how does Brian as a coach, get him to sort of find that right balance as to whether to check down or whether to push it down the field?
A: Yeah, I think Mike it comes from a variety of areas really. And number one is experience. You know, continuity plays a part in that, where he knows who to trust, when to trust them, based on the defensive look, that’s all part of it, just playing the game, right? Whether you’re 10 years old or in this case with Josh is and is going in his third year here, and he’s got to play the game and get more and more experience and see the value of taking what the defense gives you. And if they’re going to give you the check down and they’re gonna take away everything deep and the check down there, you take it. If they’re taking away the shallow stuff and we can get over the top then we’ll go there. And so I think you’ve got to be flexible and adaptable as I said before and Josh has to be as well. He’s got to know and he will. He’s got to know where his options are and how quickly he needs to go there because there’s meat on the bone, there’s yards to be gained with those check downs. Certainly you don’t want to be, to his point captain check down, and I understand that. And so that’s also where you can open up the defense a little bit with Diggs and with Smoke and Cole and whatnot. I think having different options at Josh’s fingertips will be good. Because sometimes that does open up the check down for you, if you’re working the perimeter, just as well. I think the balance is important.
Q: And to follow that up, you mentioned that the 500 plus reps that have been lost because of the virtual offseason and the need for Josh and the experience to learn. Close eyes on him when he comes back to see what it looks like and see how far he’s been able to progress on his own?
A: Yeah, always. It’s a quarterback driven league and you got to have a guy that is in tip top shape and ready to go and has and is developing and that’s what I experienced last year by watching Josh in the early days when he came back. Brandon and I both. You saw how he had worked on his game and we don’t expect this year to be any different. He went home with a menu of things he wanted to improve on and we collectively agreed that he needed to improve on, just like every other player on our roster. And so we will do that with every player when they come back, sit them down, meet with them on, “hey these were some things that we wanted to address in the offseason. Where are we on those areas?” And then let’s see how it looks on the field. That’s why in particular, why the early days of camp are so exciting is to see where players are and how they’ve grown and developed.
Q: I’m just going for clarification further from a previous answer. Have your players reached out to you and let you know that they will be or are planning to protest and kneel during the national anthem this season?
A: No, I’ve had no players reach out to me and let me know at this point of their intentions to kneel or protest at this point. I’m not saying that won’t happen. I’m just saying to your question at this point, that has not happened. But I want to reiterate my support of our players. I think that’s important right now. We’ve got a lot of time between now and that first game. And so I think the best thing we can do is make sure that they know that we support them and certainly respect their position on things.
Q: If your players did come out this season, and they did want to kneel during the national anthem. Is that something you can see yourself joining them in doing?
A: Yeah, I’m going to support my players. And again, we’ve got a long time between now and that first game, but I want you to know that I’m going to support my players.