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Transcript | Mike McDaniel's Media Availability - December 14

Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Wednesday, December 14, 2022.

(We saw a knee come up for T Terron Armstead on the injury report yesterday, which means I guess he's getting treatment for it. Does the knee put him at all in jeopardy at all for Saturday and is there anything you can share on whether RB Jeff Wilson Jr. is out Saturday?) – "No, when you're physically unable to practice as much as you want, the callouses you can't build and there's a trickle-down effect that it's not surprising. It is different, but it is along the same lines of he's going to get treatment and we're not going to be doing much of anything full speed in this short week anyways, so we'll be using all that time and same goes with Jeff Wilson. He's a true warrior. Really, really was nervous when I saw it visually. There's some scars of some people in the past having something similar and it really being a major deal. He's going to be doing everything he can and he's one guy that I have complete experience with and trust in that if he's going, he's not only going to go, but he will meet expectations with his physical style of play and what he brings to the table."

(What has changed about the Bills defense since Von Miller has gone out?) – "Well, Von (Miller) is not there anymore. I really respect and hold in regard units in football that have a character that is consistent. And so I think a mark of that is do people's play style still hold up when some of their marquee guys are out? And that's the thing about the Bills, is that that's why they're a good defense because they aren't trying to be a one-man show in the least. They very much utilize some of Von's rare, rare attributes, but they do not rely upon it. So it's a defense that loves to take advantage of people that take them lightly. They are a fast, reactionary, trigger-ready unit that has played together a long time so know where each other should be and rely on each other and really play to that team defensive philosophy. To their credit, they are dangerous with him and they're dangerous without him. That's how they play and that's a mark that has been there since that whole coaching staff has been there, really."

(How much are you guys monitoring the weather at this point in the week in Buffalo and what can you do to kind of prepare?) – "Zero monitoring for myself. You guys live here. How much do you hold your breath on forecasts a week out here? Weather changes. I think you expect it to be as cold and it could be five feet of snow. You know that the elements are going to be different than what we're in right now. Talk about room temperature. (laughter) And the biggest thing is you do adjust a hair – we won't be outside – but you don't really prepare for it besides mentally deciding if it's going to matter to you or not … It's a mindset as well. So to me, you just decide if you're going to let it factor in or not and then you adjust as best you can. There's certain things that become harder when there's moisture or it hits a certain level of frigidness, but the good news is there's not different atmospheres on both sidelines. So we will be playing the game in the same elements and as a competitor, man for man for our football team; that's the objective, is that are you going to let the elements matter more to you than them? It is the same field, the same elements, so you just decide mentally how much you're going to let it affect you."

(On that same front, what's your general philosophy on adjustments in play calling or in the passing game without getting too specific of course but playing in the cold?) – "Well, so the game plan is… (laughter) We try to change it up and philosophically I think it does – it's easier to win the games if you score more points than your opponent in cold weather games. But warm weather games as well. All games. There's a lot of things that come into play. I think you have to prepare for – like me personally, I prepare for the whole spectrum. I'm not going to sit there and be like, 'hey guys, sorry I didn't know.' I don't think that's appropriate or doing my job, so you have contingencies, but philosophically, I think you have to very much take every situation super independently. Live in the second quarter, what are we able to execute? And not just saying did things work or not; discerning – or you might know pregame – these are things that you just have to adjust and again, you try not to, if there's certain elements, say that you can't do one thing. Like, it's literally impossible. Then I probably won't do that thing. What is that thing? Quarterback sneaks. (laughter)"

(A lot has been made this week about defenses taking away the middle of the field for you guys offensively. What have you seen when you watch the tape? Has it been different than what teams have done against you schematically or just the plays were there that you've made in the past and weren't these past two weeks?) – "No, quite honestly, I think if you went by percentages and stuff, it wasn't that the Chargers did anything that we hadn't seen. It wasn't that they – what they were was hyper competitive. They played as good as they've played all year and we were far from that. And they out physical-ed us, but it wasn't because they were doing this cheat code. It was because players were executing their plan. Their players were better prepared, is the way I look at it ultimately, because you don't – as a coach, you get paid to prepare guys to play and when one team is more prepared than the other or more ready to play or more physical, that's something that you have to look at in how you prepared them for that moment. There were times when they were re-routing us and out physical-ing us. There were times that I think our biggest play of the game was against bump (coverage). They just came to play and didn't drop any coverage. Their one-on-one matchups in the rush won and they took advantage of us not being on and did it in a real way which was hopefully humbling to the entire offense and the team in general."

(When you have a team playing a bunch of inside leverage on you, as an offensive coach, what do you tell your quarterback to do?) – "Don't throw it inside. (laughter) The only time he listened to me was when Tyreek (Hill) hit a 55 or 60-yard touchdown. Finally and then I stopped giving advice, apparently. (laughter) No, there's not a defense that – I don't look at like, what our offense is. We have route trees and we have protection schemes, but I'm looking at the defense every week. I'm not attacking, I'm not saying 'this is what we do.' You try to set up a system that has offsets to everything and when they're doing one thing, you have to – if someone's playing inside leverage, they're vulnerable on the outside. If they're playing outside leverage, they're vulnerable (on the inside), you know what I mean? So again, you could really look at the breakdown by coverage and there's plenty of teams that have done the same things. They just, to their credit, their players really committed to it. Their coaching staff had a plan that they didn't really drop many things and handled motions and everything very well. And they beat us and as competitors, that's what happens if you get out-competed."

(What did you learn from your previous losing streak, the three games that you bounced back and rallied for five straight, like in the throes of a losing streak that you're applying now?) – "Winning is more fun. (laugher) No, I think, here's the thing. I see that as the game that we, myself, the whole team, we should all be playing, and it has nothing to do – like you can hide in results. You can get disillusioned in results. You can be losing games and getting better. You could be winning games and getting worse. So it's a bottom-line business, but you're also trying to continue to progress and so what I learned from that first losing streak was that it kind of fulfilled my personal belief that you define whatever something means by your actions moving forward. So losing streaks can be the best thing that ever happened or they can be the straw that broke the camel's back. And what you saw and I think what our team recognizes, and what I know you'll see is you'll see a team that won't give up because they understand that the tough times happen. They don't last forever. Tough people last – I guess nothing's forever – but they last and this is a game of adversity. You guys see it in the locker room – 'adversity is an opportunity' is real to me because that is that is exactly what happens and in the moment, a lot of times in life and football is no different; what you think is the worst thing, you look in hindsight and say 'that was the best thing.' Well, how many times does that have to happen to you before you're like, 'Wait, there's a pattern, maybe I shouldn't rush to judgment. Maybe I should take the information, try to assess.' And then all right, well, one thing we get to see is on Saturday night, we get to see a team, how resilient they are and how much they care about playing with each other. What does that mean in the end result? I want to see our guys completely compete and stay together because I know how much they put in for those last two and it's tough when you put in a lot and you get the exact opposite in return. But that's football. That's why it's fun to win. That's why everyone's chasing that trophy, because winning is hard and the longer you go in the season and when you play really good teams, the harder gets."

(What's something that can be better or should be better or will need to be better on Saturday night to leave that game having had an effective, successful rushing performance against the Bills?) – "I think there's a commitment and conviction in technique and what does that look like? That looks like – it almost looks like guys moving together. It's not herky jerky. And if you're learning the right way, and our offense in the run game is learning appropriately, there's guys finishing to the whistle more often than not. Understanding how hard it is, the great defense in the opponent you're going against and instead of just talking about that you want to win, you do everything on the field you can to show your teammates that that's the case. And then when that's the case, you can live with results regardless of what they are. But the most important thing to me is that guys truly go after it. It's easier said than done, and a lot of people do it, but if we're trying to be a special group together, then you can't let previous outcomes dictate more outcomes. Now you just let that game be even bigger, and that makes no sense to me."

(There was a quote today from one of the ESPN guys saying Mike McDaniel needs to put his foot up the rear of his offensive line. And that didn't really sound like your style of coaching. And I'm sort of curious, how do you balance that? You've got this sort of – I read in here about you being more of a positive motivation kind of coach. How do you figure out when to kind of do positive versus negative?) – "I'm a positive person. But I mean, don't get it twisted. If you ask if you ask the players to be real, I guess you can't, because you chose to have your priorities right, right now with open locker room. (laughter) But it's not about – I'm positive because I recognize that things are so adjustable now and moving forward. I am extremely, not critical, but I hold people accountable in group settings to a fault, only because I don't – what bothers me is intent and preparation. When that is an issue, that's when there's times that the team has seen it, and it didn't happen a ton, but it's because they don't give me that option too much. That's where the venom comes out and I get pissed. But if they need me to get mad at them to do it right, it's not the guys I want. I want to teach them. But at some point, guys have to come together. To be your best, you have to want to. You can do as much as you'd like. Maybe it makes you feel better if you scream at somebody, but I want to have something that will help somebody. And it's not because I'm trying to be nice to them. It's because I'm trying to coach them and I don't worry or lose any sleep. When people's intent and their preparation is off, yeah, I don't hesitate. And that's where I guess my foot goes places. (laughter) I don't know. But other than that, it's more about being productive in my responsibility to them as a coach."

(Did you talk to QB Tua Tagovailoa about running with the ball since he has returned from the concussion? And what did you think last game?) – "Yeah, he knows exactly what's at stake. And he knows that we're all counting on him, the organization, to protect himself. Tua is a competitor, almost to a fault. So good luck telling him to slide before the sticks if he's frustrated during the game. Now, he's done a better job of that. But I think in the moments that you have seen, it's because maybe things aren't going the way he'd like, and so he's trying to take things into his own hands. Obviously, I don't get super pumped about it. It almost feels like he feels bad because he's like, 'I know Coach. I know I'm not supposed to. I didn't – I couldn't control it.' I mean he's trying to achieve stuff and when you work as hard as he does, and certain things don't go your way to a degree, one of the only ways that you can really express that at that position is when there's an opportunity to make yards on your own, sometimes he'll do that. So we just try to keep him out of those situations as much as possible. That's where I'm more focused on getting him back to playing without so much frustration."

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