Head Coach Pat Shurmur -- September 11, 2019
Opening Statement: Iíd like to start out withÖ (18) years ago today was the 9/11 tragedy. It was one of the most horrific things. A lot of innocent people died. A lot of heroic people died, and probably are still dying from trying to be a first responder. The fire, police, port authority, anybody that helped. I think that affected those of us that were close to it. I was 94 miles away getting ready to play Tampa. I actually saw the second plane hit live. Itís had an effect on everybody, especially the people that were directly involved. I think we need to keep perspective on some things. We remember in a humble, solemn way because it was horrible.
With that being said, Iíll let the injury report speak for itself. But there are two of note. Kareem Martin, that will be an extended deal probably. Weeks more than days. Then (Sterling) Shep(ard) is in the concussion protocol. Those are the two that are probably the biggest right now. With that, weíre getting ready to play a good Buffalo team who won a close game. They came back and beat the Jets. I know the head coach (Sean McDermott) very well. We got our start together on Andy Reidís staff. The defensive coordinator (Leslie Frazier), we were on the same staff. I know a lot of people on their staff. Theyíre well-coached. Tough team. Itíll be a challenge for us. Iíll take your questions.
Q: Antonio Hamilton, last year, he didnít play a snap. (General Manager Dave) Gettleman goes out and gets you guys some players in the secondary. Obviously, Hamilton struggled on Sunday. Do you expect him to continue to be in the rotation at corner, starting possibly?
A: Good question. Weíll let that kind of reveal itself. Youíll remember that (DeAndre) Baker missed 14 days of training camp. We felt like he still needed to come on. Thatís why we had them both in there playing (Week 1). But you can expect the young guys to play, just like they did the other night. Weíll see how much. The rotation on that player and maybe a couple others may change on defense.
Q: Similar to that is Dexter Lawrence. When he was drafted, we asked you guys a lot if he is a two-down player or is he a three-down player. He only played like 40% of the snaps. Was that specific to the Dallas game? Can he play more than that?
A: Yeah, I think he can. Again, it was the first time for those guys in there. We feel like we need to rotate the guys. Yeah, we can anticipate that as he goes along here, heíll play more and more.
Q: Is that more about conditioning, first game, no one played a lot in the preseason, or is it more about theyíre young guys, theyíre rookies, we canít throw them right out there and give them everything right away?
A: Well, we threw them out there. When youíre out there, we feel like, especially when youíre talking about the defensive line, you need to get a rotation. Once the guy runs out of gas, he runs out of gas. What you try to do with the d-line is try to get a rotation.
Q: You mentioned (Kevin) Zeitler to us the other day. He was getting checked out.
A: Yeah. Shoulder. Heíll probably be a little bit limited today. He was out there in the walkthrough. This isnít medical jargon. I think heíll be fine.
Q: All things considered, you guys did relatively okay against Ezekiel Elliott. I know he scored the touchdown but he didnít have the big yardage. (Devin) Singletary is a kid who averaged 17 yards per carry in the opener. What do you see from him on film, and how do you keep the success against the run?
A: Itís a team thing. I do feel like if thereís a positive takeaway from the other night, I thought the run fits were better than they had been at times last year, which is positive. You build on that. Singletary is an outstanding runner, so we have to continue. There are still improvements that we need to make. Dak (Prescott) split out on one. We got a little bit loose with it, our eyes, and split a gap. Yeah, thatís something that we need to build on. Any rusher that starts in the NFL has a chance to make plays on you if youíre not sound.
Q: There were a couple of times where it looked like Alec (Ogletree) bit on a couple of play action fakes with running backs that werenít Zeke. One of them was a big play that drew him in. How do you fix that?
A: Well, some of that, we do it, too. We threw about seven of them the other night, or tried to, some of which were the RPO (run pass option) world. What happens is, itís a numbers game, you can only put 11 out there. They have a certain amount of blockers. You have to cover the gaps. If you overreact, and really not even overreact, if you play the run, then the ball goes to the throw. Youíre going to see that from every team. Thatís the reality of it. When you react to the run, you have to then quickly get back and tackle the short throw. I think where we fell victim to the RPO the other night was when they complete it, then you have to tackle him for what would be a short gain, much like a run. Thatís sort of the world weíre living in. Itís the zone read with the quarterback throwing instead of running. Letís just call it for what it is, because most of the quarterbacks in the NFL are passers.
Q: Some of the coverage breakdowns, is that more of an issue pre-snap or post-snap?
A: I think it all happensÖ there are some pre-snap things in terms of alignment. Then post-snap, obviously, recognizing the route combinations and getting to where you need to be. So a combination.
Q: Are you convinced that these young guys now understand what they did wrong from the first game? Sometimes you have to understand before you can fix it.
A: Sure. I think they do. The mistakes that were made were made very obvious. We made an effort to correct them. What you have to do now, you have to embrace the hard work of going out and practicing the right eye discipline, the right leverage, getting lined up quickly because weíre also in the world of quick snaps, which we all do, and then play with technique throughout the down. Then once the ball goes up in the air, then do what you do naturally. Itís all of the things that we teach and preach. For young guys, thatís going to be about as intense of a setting as youíre going to face, especially for an opener. There are many things to be learned.
Q: You guys did a lot of work on Josh Allen before the 2018 Draft. How in the mix was he for you guys, and has he developed as you thought he would?
A: I would never comment on how in the mix anybody was. I think thatís behind-the-scenes. That doesnít do anybody any good. But I can comment on what we thought of him. We thought he was a big, strong thrower. A guy that had a chance to be a starter in the NFL, and he has been for them. I think heís made steady improvements. Heís a very strong-armed guy. Heís helped them win some big games already. Just like any young player, you see where heíll make mistakes and then correct them.
Q: You guys added (Tuzar) Skipper, the outside linebacker from the Steelers. What did you like about him? What can he contribute after only a couple of days (with the team)?
A: Yeah, weíre going to get him out there. Heís a pass rusher, edge pressure guy. Edge player, so to speak. We signed him with the idea that Kareem (Martin) might be out for a while. Kareem was playing, so heíll play.
Q: Will you guys have Darius Slayton available this week?
A: Weíre hoping so. We hope so. I canít guarantee that though. I wouldnít say heís fine yet.
Q: Buffalo did a good job of putting pressure on (Sam) Darnold, not giving him anywhere to run and then getting their hands up when they couldnít get to him. Is their pass rush totally different than Dallasí? They seem to bring more (pressure), too.
A: I think their scheme, theyíre a four-man scheme. The way they pressure is a little bit different than Dallas in terms of how they cover the back end. But theyíre very active. Iíve always been impressed with (Jerry) Hughes as an edge rusher. Then they have other guys in there that have done a great job. I think itís a sound scheme where they can put pressure on you. If you just sit there in six-man protection, it could be a long day. But weíve faced this type of scheme before. What theyíve done, though, is they do a really good job of playing very sound on defense. They play their techniques well. Theyíre coached very well. Leslie (Frazier) and certainly Sean (McDermott) do an excellent job with that unit. They make you earn things. I think thatís what makes them good on defense.
Q: Do you think Saquon (Barkley) has to have the ball in his hands more this Sunday?
A: I think Saquon needs to touch the ball. Thatís something weíre going to talk about weekly. I think thereís some weekly conversations weíre going to have, so Iím glad you brought it up. Itís important that he touches the ball because he has a chance to be explosive. Again, each game plays out differently. There were games last year where he touched the ball in the run game more than he did in the passing game, but his biggest plays came in the passing game, and vice versa. Weíll just see how it plays out. But itís going to be the focus of who people stop. So, I think itís also important to know that, offensively, it takes a village and everybody else has to do their part.
Q: If I can go back to the Josh Allen thing for one second, you said you thought he had a chance to be a starter. Thatís a fairly low expectation. Or did you mean immediately?
A: I thought he had a chance to be a starter. But I was asked what I thought of him, and thatís what we thought of him. He had a chance to be a starter.
Q: What encouraged you the most about Evan Engram?
A: I thought he did a good job. We focused on making sure he got the ball. When he was targeted, he did a lot with it. He contributed in the run game well. We were pleased with, at least game one out of the box here, what he did.
Q: What do you lose most without Sterling (Shepard)?
A: A veteran presence. Heís veteran for us, believe it or not. Heís a tough, competitive guy. Iím not saying that weíve lost him. Weíll see what happens. Weíll see what the week brings. Heís just a really good player and a really good teammate.
Q: How important is it for the mentality of this team not to be 0-2 again?
A: Weíre doing the math on this one game. Weíre trying to be 1-0 this week. We donít focus on it. I donít focus on it. Itís not something we talk about moving forward. Weíre putting all of our focus on what weíre going to do this week.