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Buffalo Bills HC Sean McDermott’s Friday media availability transcript

McDermott has a lot to reflect on regarding the Bills’ 2023 season, and the players who’ve helped guide the team to their current 10-6 record

Buffalo Bills v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images

As is customary on Friday, we once again heard from Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott, who met with members of the media ahead of this weekend’s Week 18 road game against the Miami Dolphins.

What did McDermott have to offer? Find out after the jump for a full transcript and the embedded video.

Head coach Sean McDermott

Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott addressed the media prior to Friday’s practice. Topics include; Sunday nights matchup with the Dolphins, playing in a high stakes game, Dion Dawkins playing at a high level this season, and an injury update.

Reporter: (About center Mitch Morse) “’re concerned about his availability for the game or most likely just...?”

McDermott: “We’ll see, I don’t know really. You know how illnesses are this time of year, so you don’t quite know how people are going to respond day to day, so sometimes it clears up in 24 hours and sometimes it doesn’t. So, not overly concerned I guess is the best answer.”

Reporter: “With the finger for Josh, that popped up this week, we weren’t able to ask him about that. It happened in the game on a throw late in the first quarter?”

McDermott: “I’m not sure exactly what throw I believe it was, but yes in the game it popped up.”

Reporter: “How much of an issue has that been as he’s kind of worked through it this week?”

McDermott: “Well I mean, you know he was sore a little bit early part of the week from it. He’s so physically tough, mentally tough, you know he just takes it one day at a time and gets the treatment he needs and then come Sunday he’s ready to go.”

Reporter: “Just to clarify that story with the finger and also with the neck.”

McDermott: “What’s that?”

Reporter: “When you were saying he was kind of sore this week, do you mean with both?”

McDermott: “Yeah, he was asking about finger. Overall, yes, finger and the neck, yeah.”

Reporter: “With Tre’Davious (White), we haven’t really gotten an update with him and his recovery. Where is he at right now?”

McDermott: “He’s in every day, John, and you know working like Tre’Davious works. He’s so elite in his mindset and his approach, unbelievably disciplined, focused on getting himself back. So he’s hard at work along with the training staff.”

Reporter: “I know with the ACL he was open about it was tough mentally for him especially early in that. How have you seen him in that aspect handle the injury and his return?

McDermott: “I would say, not that he was bad before, but I would say much better with this situation. Just his daily mindset, if you will — his interactions. You know, each of those situations was a little bit different though, too, respectfully to Tre there. So, he just seems like he’s on a good path to recovery.”

Reporter: “Is some of that being able to draw on going through it already, or where does that come from — that improvement?”

McDermott: “Yeah, I would say so I mean a better question for him, but that’s perspective I think is like ‘hey this was, that other injury was very significant, this one’s significant also’ — any injury is. That said, it’s not quite as extensive as the other one. Now, that’s me saying that and it’s probably like I said in fairness to Tre a better question for him. But he does seem like he’s in a better headspace as well as his physical approach day to day.”

Reporter: “Sean apologies you might have been asked this earlier in the week, so sorry if I’m making you repeat yourself. Since coming off the bye week, your team has had to play with this almost playoff mindset know the stakes of what a loss could mean at this point in the season. How much is, just, the mentality that your team has had to play with over the last four weeks make, I don’t know, them more comfortable, or make Sunday night’s matchup with the stakes as high as they are a little bit easier for them — if that’s the case?”

McDermott: “Yeah, I don’t think ‘easier’ is the word. I know where you’re coming from though, and I think really the best way to describe it is being comfortable being uncomfortable. Right? So, we’ve been in this situation for weeks and our players, our team are very resilient and you know we’re led by our leaders and those guys have done a phenomenal job leading this team, and we’ve been through a lot. Even going back to last season. And so you learn from those experiences, you lean on those experiences moving forward.”

Reporter: “With Dion (Dawkins) you know you guys have said that he’s had his best season to date this year. What have you seen from him out of this season — I know we asked a couple weeks ago about this — but just with a larger body of work, what is he doing that’s making him play at such a high level?”

McDermott: “Well I think there’s value in continuity number one from a coaching staff standpoint with (offensive line) coach (Aaron) Kromer and (offensive assistant/offensive line) coach (Austin) Gund there. And then, consistency and somewhat of continuity with the five that we’ve had since game one this year, although there was a couple new pieces with (left guard) Connor (McGovern) and (rookie right guard) Cybo (O’Cyrus Torrence) there. And then consistency with Dion’s routine and what the work he does with Will Greenberg and our strength staff there, and his daily approach to his profession and his life overall. So you’re continuing to see Dion mature, grow, develop and I think that’s part of the cool piece about this is we’ve talked since day one about being in a transactional business very, as transformational as we can be, and I think Dion’s a great example of that in terms of when he’s gotten the support and when he’s leaned into the support, what has happened with his career in this case.”

Reporter: “What have you seen from (edge rusher) Von (Miller) in practice this week, obviously understanding he didn’t make the active roster for game day last week, and now going into this final (game)?”

McDermott: “Very urgent. Always professional. Elite mindset. That’s what I’ve noticed the most this week and it’s good to see, it really is.”

Reporter: “If you go back to the (Denver) Broncos game, Mitch and Josh came out to the podium and it was about as despondent as you’ve seen probably Josh ever. And Mitch said something interesting. He said ‘this is when good teams come together.’ Have you seen from that moment, the team come together, and how?”

McDermott: “Well, I think more than anything there was an identity that started to take shape after that game. Obviously a change was made, but sometimes what’s more impactful is how people respond to the change and how people respond to adverse situations. So, I started to see our team come together. I started to see an identity start to form and be built and take shape. And that again goes, the credit goes to the players for taking the reigns at that point. And not just with their play, but with their day to day approach, and I think that’s probably the biggest thing overall.”

Reporter: “Since (interim offensive coordinator) Joe (Brady) took over the role, have you seen him kind of develop in it, like I guess since he, you know, took over back after that Week 10 like how has he — maybe you’ve seen him grow in the role, get more comfortable in it, I guess how has he kind of changed in that time?”

McDermott: “I believe he’s done a good job. Like I mentioned before with Joe’s journey, respectfully, when you watch Joe and what he’s been through, through his time at/in the college ranks, even before that with the (New Orleans) Saints and then Carolina (Panthers), and then having the opportunity here to build on some of the things he wanted to perhaps do the same and some things he wanted to maybe do differently. And so, you’re always learning — I think Joe really embraces that growth mindset and trying to be the best he possibly can. And I think that’s what he’s putting into place now and what he’s applying more than anything, and you’re seeing the results.”

Reporter: “Sean, if you watch any of the mic’d up segments that we put out or if you listen to our press conferences from players throughout the weeks, there’s a lot of encouragement and a lot of love in the way that the guys speak about each other. How does that start with you and your messaging, and how can that help once the guys hit the field on Sunday?”

McDermott: “That’s a great question, Maddy. I think the biggest thing overall is that we have an environment here — and it’s not perfect, right, and it’s not for everyone quite honestly — that allows for players to be open and be vulnerable and say the word ‘love’ and really lean into one another, support one another, encouraging one another. This is a tough business, and you go week to week, or day to day and like life is, you go through ups and downs and a lot of thoughts get in your head and so it’s important that we can continue to encourage one another and truly support and love one another, because it’s also a very public job for most of us. So there’s a lot of scrutiny, a lot of challenges, but the biggest thing is guys know that they’re not alone and — guys or gals in this case with our entire football team — know they’re not alone and we’re all here for each other, and I think that’s part of what you’re seeing with the identity that’s been built and been formed and that resiliency that comes from getting through those challenges together.”

Reporter: “And how have you seen the leaders kind of take that and run with it oftentimes you see some of the defensive players on the offensive side of the sideline during the games encouraging each other and vice versa?”

McDermott: “Right, I think one of the things you saw, which is really cool to me and special, was in this past weekend’s game it was the timeout leading to that 3rd & 3 where Josh ran for the first down and you saw defensive players, special teams players actually out on the field encouraging one another, challenging some of the offensive guys. And I’ve seen that with the offense and special teams as well, going the other way. So, I think that really says a lot about who these guys are and the identity that’s been formed over the last five, six, games, six, seven games, whatever it’s been and you don’t see that all the time. Usually you see guys, you know, hey, the offense is out there — one unit’s out, to the other side is, you know, back on the bench looking at the scoreboard trying to watch it. That really speaks to me about who these guys are and the leadership.”

Reporter: “From a leadership standpoint, we had asked about (cornerback) Rasul Douglas right when he got here how he had had some of those leadership traits and you had mentioned at the time that it’s hard to lead when you’re new to a team and I know he’s still pretty new here. But have you seen him grow in that area at all of — now that he’s been here a little bit longer — being able to, you know, lead some from the group?”

McDermott: “I think by example more than anything, and then he, Rasul, has a way about him that allows him to fit into a team’s culture and a team’s environment rather quickly just in the way he carries himself, the way he approaches ball, how he studies. And I think that just speaks to how he’s built, his personality, his DNA, maybe as well the way he was raised. So I think it’s been mutually beneficial.”

Reporter: “Quick follow on Joe Brady. When he first took over, you know the first couple games, although it was the same system you know he probably added his own wrinkles into that. How much harder is it now that he’s a little bit less of an unknown because there’s a few games where — he, you know, tape — for defenses to kind of prepare for?”

McDermott: “Right. That’s real. When you first come into a situation, there’s not all these printouts on hey, here’s a play caller’s tendencies and as you go and as you continue to throw pitches — I’ll use that analogy as a pitcher — the data starts to add up. And so, people get a little bit more data or sample size on you and I guess they’re, I guess have more information from which to draw from to try and, you know, get a better feel for your tendencies and how you wanna call games.”

Reporter: “Is there a player who surprised you the most this season?”

McDermott: “Whooooo. You know, several players, really. I would say the two linebackers (Terrel Bernard and Tyrel Dodson), I’m going to stay on the defensive side for a second. But the two linebackers. I would say for Cybo to come in and do what he’s done really since day one as a rookie and to play guard. Not that I was doubting his skill, but the mentality that you have to have to play offensive line down in and down out — that’s rare that a rookie can come in and do that and approach it every week with a consistent mindset.”

Reporter: “I’m surprised you say the linebackers because all us experts were scratching our heads when you didn’t address that position in the offseason. And it seemed like you knew all along that Terrel...?”

McDermott: “Yeah I would, and I’m not saying that. I felt like we were gonna be in a good spot. But I would say from T-Dot and his journey that he’s been on. Again, it’s been one of the joys of the season for me. And you know, he was special teams focused pretty much, in and out of the lineup from a starter, backup, you know stepped in to play when a player was injured. (He) went through the journey that he had in training camp in competition for the middle linebacker position, and stayed the course. And that says a lot about who he is as a person, who he is and how he’s grown, and who he is now as a player. And I say both of those guys because to watch their relationship build — I mean they’re, you need to be so attached at the hip when you’re quarterbacking the defense like those two do, led by TB. But T-Dot has to be his co-pilot and know when he needs to turn left and when he needs to turn right. So, just for two players maybe that haven’t done it to this point to come in and do it at the level they’ve done it at. And TB, you know, to credit him with — yeah, I was, you know, it’s hard to see a player and a person like (linebacker) Tremaine (Edmunds) leave. Again, part of the NFL, and we’re happy for him and his success. Felt — and (general manager) Brandon (Beane) would tell you this — felt pretty comfortable with, even though TB had not played a lot of snaps, felt fairly comfortable with his instincts.”