The Buffalo Bills were back on the practice field today, putting in a walk-through toward getting ready for a late afternoon showdown with the Dallas Cowboys this coming Sunday. Following practice, the assembled media heard from head coach Sean McDermott, quarterback Josh Allen, center Mitch Morse, and nickel cornerback Taron Johnson.
Contained here before the jump are additional interviews that weren’t included through the team’s official YouTube or Twitter accounts, and in which we cannot embed:
Head coach Sean McDermott
McDermott was asked about opportunities for rookie wide receiver Justin Shorter, whose window to return to practice from Injured Reserve has now opened, thoughts on edge rusher Micah Parsons being a “unique” disruptor, the growth of Ed Oliver and the “ownership of his career.”
Additionally McDermott responded to what he sees in the Cowboys’ downfield attack and ability to win all over the field — calling them a team “well-coached across all three phases.” Plus, whether there are any keys the team will look to in disrupting potent offenses like the Cowboys, with McDermott noting the importance of being “fundamentally strong on defense.”
Reporters also wanted to know whether the players found any juice in watching the Miami Dolphins lose to which McDermott responded: “I’m sure a little bit. Right?” Plus, whether edge rusher Von Miller is ready for increased snaps due to defensive end A.J. Epenesa’s week-to-week injury designation, the development of running back James Cook, and the additions of offensive assistant DJ Mangas, plus what the signing of offensive guard Connor McGovern has meant to the offensive line this season.
But perhaps the most persistent queries were those about Josh Allen as a runner, which are transcribed here:
Tim Graham: “How much has Joe Brady’s presence changed your view or the team’s view on Josh and his running, and how much he’s permitted to, or if that’s changed since the beginning of the season?”
Sean McDermott: “In terms of Joe’s philosophy on that or approach?”
Graham: “Maybe even your willingness to let him run more. I don’t know who(‘s), if there’s anybody, responsible for that that’s opened up a little bit.”
McDermott: “You know, I think it’s just more... you know my philosophy hasn’t changed on it. Joe has embraced it and I think we’re aligned on that as well philosophically. And I think Josh has done a pretty good job with it in terms of playing the position and yet — you know, Joe’s put him in positions too to use his legs in some designed runs, and I think that’s worked well.”
Graham: “What would you say is the organization’s philosophy on that now and if that’s changed from the summer when it was a concerted effort — and it has been in previous seasons — to run less, less contact... prolong a career, or whatever.
McDermott: “Well, I think just overall when you’re talking about the face of the franchise in terms of your quarterback, and this is true for any quarterback that operates in that capacity, like Josh does for us and this organization is the key word is ‘responsible.’ Right? So responsibility falls on the coaches to make sure we’re, you know, being calculated with it. And then responsibility with Josh and that he is knowing when and where — and so, and then how to proceed when you are running in terms of going down, getting out of bounds, what have you. So, I believe we’re, you know, we’ve continued to move the meter in a good direction. Everything in moderation.”
Graham: “Has the tolerance changed though — maybe that’s not quite the right word I’m looking for — but in terms of maybe earlier in the season, a little more strict with it and now you’re in playoff mode here in December and maybe we’ll be more willing to do that than we were in September.”
McDermott: “Yeah, I think we’ve kinda been around that spot since the start — not saying that’s what everyone saw since the start of the season, but I feel like we’ve been around that same spot since the beginning of the season.”
Thad Brown: “Sean, I understand why you responsible (sic) — you want to associate (sic) with Josh, but this time of year you know big games are won with quarterbacks maybe not making irresponsible plays but certainly accomplishing plays that might be taking a sizeable chance. Is that a word that you want your face of the franchise kind of having in his head that you might need him to be more going forward”
McDermott: “No. He’s well aware. Josh is a competitor and we all... this time of year we all do —you do what you gotta do. And you know, that’s... it’s just kind of one of those things that’s understood this time of year that (when the) game’s on the line, you know you gotta do what you gotta do. So, I don’t think I need to say that he knows that. We all know Josh, and I know this football team, so that’s really where it gets to this time of year.”
Quarterback Josh Allen
Allen responded to questions about what they can do to re-incorporate wide receiver Stefon Diggs into the passing game, now with teams taking him away on third down. He made sure to point out those who’ve stepped up, including running back James Cook.
Allen was asked about the “John Wick swagger” and if the offense is clicking how he and the team expected all season, plus the opportunity the team has with so many7-6 teams bunched up against a playoff berth.
Allen reflected on his running scrum that incorporated the offensive line en route to a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs, plus quarterback Patrick Mahomes reaching out to him after the game, stating:
“He reached out to me, and I was just like, ‘it’s football — it’s a game of emotion.’ You know I didn’t — I know he didn’t mean anything by it and I know the cameras kinda caught the last few seconds of what we were talking about. But, umm, he’s an ultimate competitor. He wants to win, and, you know, that’s why he is who he is.”
Allen spoke about Micah Parsons and the Cowboys’ entire defensive line, and the defensive backfield as an aggressive, ball-hawking unit that includes six pick-sixes by cornerback DaRon Bland.
Allen also noted how integral the home crowd is to their success, saying:
“Again, we’re in December. It’s not gonna be the warmest of days slash nights, and what a home team and a home crowd can do to an opposing offense is what we need. We need Bills Mafia to be loud. We need Bills Mafia to know up in numbers and be ready to root us on because we absolutely need ‘em — this game especially. So, any false start, any delay of game — even just the energy and flow of what’s going on... we feed off of Bills Mafia, so that’s gonna be a huge part of how we attack and how we win this game is gonna be with the crowd.”
Allen wrapped up his session speaking at length about his relationship with Sean McDermott and saying “I love coach.”
Center Mitch Morse
Morse was his well-spoken business-as-usual self, speaking at length about the Dallas Cowboys and waxing poetic about edge rusher Micah Parsons.
Morse was asked a lot of questions about Josh Allen, including the offensive line not giving up many sacks, and noting that Allen’s ability to scramble is “second-to-none in the NFL,” which allows the line to look better at times in “mitigating mistakes” that could lead to more sacks. Plus, Morse reflected on the scrum-run TD, and what Allen means to the team and more.
In noting “an emotionally taxing season” Morse was quick to praise the young guys on the team who’ve stepped up to help the team week in and week out. Plus, he discussed what it takes to be successful in the NFL, whether teams can learn something about an opponent from a player who comes over to their own roster (this case with Connor McGovern), how left tackle Dion Dawkins inspires him, the growth of right tackle Spencer Brown,
Nickel cornerback Taron Johnson
Taron Johnson joined the media for a few minutes to discuss the team’s upcoming matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, from quarterback Dak Prescott, to explosiveness of wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, building the confidence required to face opponents the nature of the Cowboys, quarterbacks such as Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, and now Dak Prescott.
Plus, Johnson noted the importance of being on the same page in front of what’s expected to be a very noisy home crowd, and he reflected on the defense’s end-of-game stop to seal the victory for the Bills in Week 14.