DM: I think it’s an exciting time because we’ve been putting a lot of work in. I think it’s an exciting time no matter if you’re a head coach, an assistant coach or a player. You’re opening up the season and I think there’s a lot of excitement from everyone.
Q: How much is your approach to building your roster with the thought of beating the Patriots?
DM: I try to look at ourselves first and try to better our roster and better what we’re doing. I think we try to keep things more internal, doing it that way. I think the next step is you’re looking at the division as a whole. I think you’re talking about a team that is an excellent football team that has obviously played well over a long period of time. At the end of the day, it’s two games and obviously its two important games. But there are 14 others, so I think it’s difficult to go in there and say you’re building everything to beat one team.
Q: How difficult is it to get yourself acclimated for your first game as well as get a rookie quarterback ready?
DM: Obviously the offseason helps quite a bit. You’re able to spend extra time getting acclimated to everything and then obviously we knew going in to this draft that we’d be going in this direction, taking a young quarterback. So we put in a lot of time on how we want to develop him and get him ready… It’s not something that just popped up on us.
Q: When you look at the Patriots, what do you see as the key offensively to attack?
DM: I think it’s very difficult. You have to have a good balance. They do such a great job. Coach (Bill) Belichick and Coach (Matt) Patricia are very good coaches along with the rest of the defensive staff. Schematically they do a great job putting their players in position to make plays and they have good players. I think it’s very difficult and I think it’s a great challenge for us.
Q: How valuable has it been having a defensive coordinator (Mike Pettine) with experience against the Patriots?
DM: Obviously it could be beneficial in some situations, but in the NFL nowadays there’s so much turnover on the roster and you’re trying to play to the strength of the talent that you have that it may change over the course of years. I’m not going to say that having someone that’s been in the division hasn’t been helpful, it has been helpful.
Q: Is there a sense of the unknown with the Patriots offense?
DM: The one thing I do know, there is a known, is that they’re good. They’ll be good at whatever they may do. That’s what the challenge is: you go in there, and I think most games early on, strategically, whether you’re looking at us or looking at them or looking at the rest of the games around the league, early on you’ll see what teams are trying to accomplish or how they’re trying to attack you. You’ll see the adjustments.
Q: Is it fair to say that when you took this job you looked to narrow the gap between the Patriots and the rest of the division or were you just focused on the Buffalo Bills?
DM: I was focused on the Buffalo Bills expectations. I’ve always been a firm believer in that, everywhere I’ve been. You have to first take care of the business in-house before you can start looking to see what you can do elsewhere, so my thing was how the Buffalo Bills are going to get better, not how the Buffalo Bills are going to do this or do that or compare them to any other team.
Q: How much of your offensive philosophy from Syracuse are you bringing to the Bills?
DM: I think most of it probably goes back to things we did in New Orleans and some of the principles that I had there. Obviously Coach (Nathaniel) Hackett, I worked for his dad (Paul) in New York for quite some time, so basically our background is pretty much the foundation of what we’ve done has been the same. I think we did some good things at Syracuse. I think everywhere you go whether it be the Jets or the Saints or Syracuse, all of my experiences, I think you put together and you formulate what you feel is the best way to attack people and the best way to win as long as you can fit it in the system.
Q: If Kevin Kolb were healthy, would EJ Manuel still be starting this Sunday?
DM: I think when you look at it; Kevin (Kolb) really had some hard luck. With the injuries that he had, (he) wasn’t able to participate and he missed some practice time. Then obviously (he) didn’t play as much in the preseason, so it’s very difficult to say if he was healthy what would have happened. I think it’s very easy to say based on the preseason and practice that EJ Manuel has earned this.
Q: Do you expect
DM: I don’t know.
Q: Are you preparing for him to play?
DM: I think you prepare for anything. If he plays you have a very good player playing there and if for some reason he doesn’t play, they’ll have someone step up and do a very good job at that position.
Q: What was the benefit of naming your starting quarterback so close to the game?
DM: If EJ Manuel wasn’t ready to go, Jeff Tuel would be the quarterback and that’s how we were going about our business. I’ve said publicly before that we had the time frame of if he was able to come back and get him ready and then we’d make the decision. Then obviously through the rehabilitation period that time moved up. I don’t think this shocks anyone about EJ being our starting quarterback.
Q: Is it safe to say that if you have any doubts about rushing him back on the field too soon he wouldn’t be back on the field this Sunday?
DM: That’s correct.
Q: When you look at the Patriot’s three rookie wide receivers, what do they add to their offense?
DM: They can run, get the ball. Catch it. There’s a lot of things they can do, with all of the people they acquired through free agency. You have a quarterback that can put the ball right on the money, who is an elite quarterback in this league, so again those are the challenges for us. Those receivers play well, they run good routes, they get off man coverage and they find the spots in zone. They’ve got a bunch of guys that are able to get open. We’ve got to do a good job of covering them.
Q: What development have you seen out of
DM: He was outstanding. I had Arthur (Jones), Chandler’s older brother, when I first came there and was fortunate to have Chandler and meet his family. They’re outstanding people and it’s easy to see why the three boys are who they are in the way they grew up. Obviously we were very proud of Chandler at Syracuse and I’m very proud of him now. I’ve seen him get better and better. I’ve seen him really step it up and really be a good professional. He’s one heck of a football player and we’re going to have our hands full with him.
Q: Have you had any communication with Chandler since you took the job?
DM: Well I really haven’t had communication with anyone, so I don’t want to say it’s not that Chandler and I haven’t had communication, obviously we’ve been quite busy putting everything together here. I think it’s one of those things where a lot of people, at least that I’m connected to from a football standpoint, understand what the job is, how hard we work at it. That’s not an indication of not caring, I care a great deal for all the players I’ve coached, whether I was an assistant, a coordinator or a head coach.
Q: What’s one thing you’ve learned in your brief time on the job and have you leaned on anyone for advice?
DM: What helped me out quite a bit was when I was in New Orleans as a coordinator and went to Syracuse as a head coach, I think that really helped me out quite a bit. The transition going from college back to the NFL was a much easier transition for me than going from the NFL to college. I feel much more comfortable for whatever reason, maybe because I was in this league for quite some time prior to the job. I feel very comfortable with it and the schedules. For me I was gone for four years and obviously there are some different things, like the days off in camp I was never a part of as a player or coach. Just some of the CBA agreements that came in with the league. For me just seeing how we can best take advantage of those types of schedules for players. That was the only thing challenging so I relied on a couple coaches that had done it previous years or at least did it last year. Just to get a feel of what was going on.
Q: What have you seen from Mario Williams?
DM: I’ve been really impressed with him from just being around him. Obviously he had some soreness in his foot, really being a good pro and really working hard to get back on the field. At the same time, working hard with all the players, so I’m excited where he is now. He’s feeling good and I’m looking forward to getting him on the field. He deserves it because he’s worked extremely hard.
Q: Do you see him as an anchor of your defense?
DM: I look at everyone as an anchor of our defense. I think when you put it on one person, I think we have some good players. We have some talent on that side of the ball. We need them all to go out there and play well and we need them all to go out there and believe that they’re an anchor.
Q: Have you been in a situation before where you’ve had a consistent upper hand on a team for a long time or vice versa and what lessons have you learned from that you could use in this matchup?
DM: I think it changes every year. I think the teams change every year and things go. You obviously try to get different results. If you stay the same and do the same things, how do you expect to get different results? I think you learn from history and I think that when you go out there and play really what matters is what you do at that time. It doesn’t really matter what has been done in the past. You’re correct, in the last 10 years it’s been 2-20.