Head Coach Sean McDermott Addresses Zay Jones’ Surgery, National Anthem Policy and QB Competition


Head Coach Sean McDermott

Opening Statement: Alright, good morning. We’ll go ahead and get started. I’m going to start off with a little injury update: Zay Jones had surgery late last week on his knee. He’ll be out the remainder of this spring. Other than that, I don’t have a timetable for you at this point other than it was best for us to get this done now. It’s something [where] he had a little bit of an ongoing deal as he was rehabbing the knee and of course, he was additionally rehabbing the shoulder as well. From that, I’ll open it up to your questions.

Q: Where did that injury stem? Was it from last year? Did he get hurt recently?

A: Yeah, it’s something that’s just been ongoing a little bit, so we’ll just continue to monitor that moving forward.

Q: Do you expect- and I know you said beyond that, you’re not really sure, but you don’t think his 2018 season is in jeopardy at this point?

A: At this point, no. I’m not concerned about that at this point.

Q: Is there any ligament damage or anything of that nature?

A: I’m not going to get into the specifics on that; I’m not a doctor. It is something that we wanted to get done now and get it squared away as we move forward here.

Q: Can you just comment on the league meetings this week? Several things happened, but specifically, the National Anthem policy that’s been put forward. As a coach, just your thoughts on that.

A: Yeah, you know, the news is somewhat fresh. Just finishing up practice yesterday and coming off the field and I have had conversations, brief conversations, with Kim [Pegula]. At this point, those conversations are very early or in their early stages. Wanting to fully understand all of it thoroughly, that’s really where we are right now. We’ll have those good conversations as we always do; Terry and Kim [Pegula] are very supportive and up to date on this situation in particular. We’ll move forward once we’ve had those internal conversations in more context.

Q: Will you also consult with your leadership group and see how they want to do or perhaps even open it up to the team as the Pegula’s did back in October.

A: Listen, you’ve seen how we handled last year’s situation and that, we felt, worked well in giving our players the dialogue, the respect of the conversation, and some ownership there. I anticipate that at some point, just not at this point.

Q: Why did you guys decide to release Richie Incognito from the retired list?

A: Well, you know, as you look at it- first of all, I’m going to wish Richie well as he moves forward. [We] certainly appreciate all he did for this organization and then my, as I was here last year, just one year of his career with the Buffalo Bills and what he meant to us and what he meant to me. Richie informed us several weeks ago that he wanted to retire and then following that, a couple of weeks later give or take on a time frame there, he wanted to un-retire. We granted him the request and we’re moving on. Other than that, really, at this point, that’s a question, probably, for Richie and his camp.

Q: There was an incident yesterday in Florida that follows some other strange incidents earlier in this offseason. Are you concerned about his mental health or well-being right now?

A: Yeah, you know, I care about all of our players and I’m concerned about all of our players. As far as Richie’s situation specifically, I’m not going to get into any specifics at this point.

Q: One last thing about the anthem: they announced that the team would pay fines for players, they’ve established that policy. Have you in your conversations with Kim established anything in regards to that front?

A: Again, [it’s] just too early on that front. I am aware that that statement was made. Other than that, though, on our front, it’s too early; we haven’t gotten to that point yet.

Q: Just for the record, is Kelvin Benjamin practicing fully and just what do you think about his health at this point?

A: He’s doing a good job; he is practicing fully and he’s off to a good start. Give a lot of credit to Kelvin, he’s approached this offseason head-on and our training staff, in terms of our strength and conditioning staff, our medical staff, there’s a lot of people involved in getting him back to where he was x amount of months ago. I believe we’re headed in the right direction. [There is] still work to do as we move forward here.

Q: As far as attendance for this, how close to a hundred percent are you? Just ballpark, where are you as far as attendance?

A: We’re right around full participation, which is phenomenal this time of year. I can’t say enough about how much of a team effort that is from everyone around the building and the players in order to get here and stay here and put in the work. These guys are as focused of a group as I’ve seen this time of year and as hard of a working group of guys as I’ve been around to this point in my career.

Q: Coach, can you comment on the plan in place [about] the dual task of balancing installing a new offense with your quarterback competition?

A: Give me a little more specifics. That would be a three to five hour conversation.

Q: Just how things are going to function. You’ve got a three-way quarterback competition, for lack of a better term; you’ve got to come to decisions on it at some time. You’ve also got a new offensive system to install and get that accomplished simultaneously. Just [speak to] navigating that with Coach [Brian] Daboll.

A: Yeah, I am, certainly, there’s a new offensive system going in it’s first year. Our defense and special teams are in their second and second plus years really at this point. We’re a little bit at different stages in the growth cycle. The biggest thing just offensively is to make sure we build a strong foundation, not to try and match what the defense is doing in terms of where they are, but just build a solid foundation from which we can build on as we move forward at the right pace. [In regards to] quarterbacks, [it is] really no different in terms of Josh’s [Allen] growth [and] where he is right now establishing a strong foundation and really no different with Nate [Peterman] and AJ [McCarron] as well. They’re all playing at a high level and Josh is taking reps, as I said he would, with the threes and then you’ll see AJ and Nate are splitting reps with the ones. Both have had, all of them really have had their moments up to this point in the offseason and we look forward to them continuing to grow, continuing to embrace that growth mindset.

Q: Sean, how have you seen Josh Allen acclimate with the veterans? Obviously, he really took charge at rookie minicamp, but how have you seen him interact and acclimate with the veterans?

A: He’s done a nice job, and I would say the same about the rest of the team. They’ve done a good job, and in particular AJ and Nate. That’s a good room to be in, in terms of the varying levels of experience, the different personalities and really, I think the thing you’ll find about Josh [is] he’s really one of the guys. He embraces that type of approach, so the biggest thing all of our young guys, really all of us, in fact, myself are working on is finding ways to become a better teammate. All of that that goes under that umbrella is what we’re working on now.

Q: Given all the changes that took place even this offseason, how much can you draw upon what you did last year to allow this team to gel and grow organically? How much can you draw upon that?

A: Well, I’ll tell you what I draw upon a lot is quite honestly the leaders on our football team and the conversations that I have, that I’m able to have with them this time of year, but also soon after the season in the exit interviews that we shared [in terms of] what worked well, what didn’t work well, what can we do to improve and enhance what we’re doing operationally and [in] our process, so on and so forth. There’s a lot that I took out of last season that went well and there are some things that we need to improve. It’s just about improving every day [and] every year, really, and embracing, as I said before, that growth mindset and respecting the process that goes on this time of year as we continue to improve and build this team.

Q: Just as a follow up [question], I’m sure you’ve already begun identifying the leaders that need to come up and fill the holes were left by players that have left and aren’t here any longer. How far along are you in that process and what do you make of the group that’s coming up?

A: Well, we have a number of players that remain that were leaders from the team a year ago. That said, you’ve heard me say [that] every year’s a new year, every team’s a new team. We’ve got some leadership concerns [and] questions this time of year that we have to get answered. We lost a couple guys on the offensive line there that were some of our leaders in some ways, shapes and forms. I’m anxious to see, and I’ve already seen in fact, a couple of guys step up; namely, Jordan Mills, Dion Dawkins, Ryan Groy, Russ Bodine has stepped up. I’m starting to see that influence early just in the last couple of days, which is a good thing.

Q: Speaking of the o-line [offensive line], I remember last year, Dion was playing some guard around this time and then you kind of moved him to tackle a little bit later. You’ve had some versatile guys there. Is that the plan in OTA’s now as well, to kind of get them playing different spots, see where they fit best and how they’ll gel best together?

A: It is if they have, if we feel like they have that flexibility, that versatility. We’re going to try and be able to check the boxes to say, ‘yeah, this time of year or at least in training camp, we tried that experiment and it worked and we’ll continue with it’ or ‘we tried it, and it didn’t work’ so we know what we can fall back on. This time of year is about trying to get to know our players and them trying to get to know us and really getting a true feel for what we have and what the strengths of our players are so that we put them in positions to be successful at the coordinator level.

Q: In specifics, Ryan Groy has played both center and guard in the NFL. Where do you see him right now kind of working in mostly with this group?

A: He’s worked with both, he has; he’s worked with both, which is part of Ryan’s greatest strength [which] is his versatility. He’s done a nice job so far.


*Transcripts courtesy of the Buffalo Bills