McDermott eager to get back to work after bye week

October 16, 2017

After using the bye week to get healthy and rest up after the first five weeks of the season, Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott is getting ready to tackle the final part of the 2017 schedule.

The first-year head coach has surprised some people around the league, helping the Bills to a 3-2 record with big wins over the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons in back-to-back weeks. Although the Bills laid an egg in Week 5 against the Cincinnati Bengals, not many had thought the Bills would've had the success they've had to start the season.

Going into this week's matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Bills sit in a tie for second in the AFC East with the Miami Dolphins, and sit one game back of the New England Patriots for the lead in the division. McDermott is hoping that the time utilized during the bye week will help his team and their push for a playoff spot that seemed nearly impossible before the season began.

"I think it gave us a good chance to do some self evaluation of ourselves as coaches, and look at our schemes and fundamentals. All of those areas were good for us to [take time to] look at," McDermott said at his press conference on Monday at One Bills Drive. "We worked Monday through Wednesday, players were in here, and we got on the field a little bit as well. Just really to build some self-awareness as to what we did well, what we didn't do well and what we need to improve moving forward."

On Sunday, the Bills did get some help in the standings with some teams in the AFC losing to make Buffalo's path to the postseason less bleak. McDermott did admit that he was scoreboard watching a bit, but also said that he used that time to look ahead to some future opponents and how to get an early start in preparations.

"You always keep an eye on scores and take notes on my phone if I do get a chance to watch some games. There's always situations you can learn from," McDermott said. "As a head coach or schematically, you look at different things. With that said, you can only control what you can control. That's the great part about the game. There's great parody around the NFL. You look at teams that won yesterday that hadn't won before, teams that were undefeated that then lost. That's why every week in the NFL you have to bring your 'A-game'. You have to continue to build, continue to get better, and that's what we're focused on right now."

McDermott did take notice of the Buccaneers' game this week against the Arizona Cardinals, in which they lost 38-33 but not without a fight. While the Buccaneers have underachieved some this season, sitting currently at 2-3 in the standings, McDermott is well aware of the team that will be coming to New Era Field this week.

"This is a good team coming in here. They've got weapons all over the field, they're getting healthy," McDermott said. "They're a well coached football team. Coach [Dirk] Koetter does a great job, as well as coach [Mike] Smith on the defensive side. This will be another big challenge for us. It's at home, so we look forward to get back to home and playing in front of our fans."

As for some roster news and notes, the Bills continue to hold a competition at the right guard position between John Miller and Vlad Ducasse. Miller got the start in the first four games of the season at right guard, but it was Ducasse that got the start against the Bengals.

"That's an ongoing competition," McDermott added. "John [Miller] did some good things; Vlad [Ducasse] did some good things, so we're going to continue to look at that as well as we move forward into this week."

The Bills did receive a bit of good news with wide receiver Jordan Matthews as he is now listed as day-to-day after undergoing surgery on a hand injury following the Week 4 matchup with the Falcons. McDermott said that Matthews made tremendous progress in his recovery over the bye week, but said they're taking a day-by-day approach with determining his status for Sunday.

Tight end Charles Clay remains out on a week-to-week basis with his knee injury suffered against the Bengals. When asked about placing Clay on short-term injured reserve, McDermott said that it is an option but they will see how he progresses this week. McDermott was encouraged with Clay being at the facility this week, but did not have the chance to check in with how his knee was doing.

With Clay out for an unknown period of time, McDermott is not worrying all that much about the team's other targets in the passing game. He says the team will find other ways to move the ball down the field with the options that they have on the roster right now.

"We have a lot of confidence in the guys behind Charles with [guys like] Nick [O'Leary]. We're going to continue to look to spread the ball around and use the weapons we have. This is a team game, and that's the greatest part about football; it's never one guy. We'll miss Charles, and we look forward to getting him back. With that said, this is why you practice and you look to get the ball to different people. That's what makes it tough to defend when you can do that opposed to just one guy. It gives defenses headaches."

In other news, linebacker Ramon Humber continues to remain out on a week-to-week basis with his current hand injury. Cornerbacks E.J. Gaines (groin) and Leonard Johnson (hamstring) were listed as limited at practice this morning, while cornerback Shareece Wright (back) was a full participant.

Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus was not at practice this morning as he was excused for personal reasons.