ORCHARD PARK (WKBW) Head Coach Doug Marrone made it clear that the team was not happy with the play of the team's backup quarterbacks. Tuesday, a switch at signal caller was made in the middle of a backup battle.
The Bills officially signed QB Jordan Palmer, most recently of the Chicago Bears. The 30 year old has played in 4 NFL games for several teams, attempting only 15 passes in his career.
To balance that signing, the team parted ways with QB Thad Lewis. Lewis was 2-3 as a starter for the Bills last season, filling in for injured EJ Manuel.
Below are transcripts from Marrone, Palmer, and Manuel after practice Tuesday (courtesy of the Bills).
Head Coach Doug Marrone
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
A: Scott Berchtold: (Jonathan) Meeks with the neck, Mario (Butler) with the ankle, Chris Williams with the back and Lee Smith with the toe.
A: It was a good day today. It’s always good to get outside on the grass and I thought the players have done a good job. We’re going to go ahead and practice again tomorrow the same way, as far as the length. We’re not going to treat it as a day before a game. We’re going to treat it more as a practice. The only thing we’ll do is we’ll take off the shoulder pads and just go out there in helmets. Players are good. They responded well. I’m about happy, like Scott said, not a lot of guys on the injury report. There are a lot of guys practicing, a lot of guys playing. That’s good this time of year and we’ll do what we can to make sure we get our guys healthy and ready to go. There’s no effect of whatever may be out there about playing an extra preseason game and things like that. We still plan on playing our guys. Obviously, I’m not looking at playing them very long into the game. We’ll get in there and the guys that have some nicks we will keep out and the guys that have to work through some things we may put in there. It’s not going to be something where I’m looking to keep them in there for a very long period of time.
Q: How much more improved do you think you are at the quarterback position with today’s move?
A: We’ve give ourselves an opportunity, meaning that we’ve given ourselves an opportunity for what we’ve been watching on tape of everyone for Jordan to come in here and show us what he has. I think that’s something that, obviously, Doug (Whaley) and I have talked about quite a bit. The scouts have done a good job going through it and I think it’s more of an opportunity, and we’ll see how it goes, and a process than it is where are we right now.
Q: How much did Jordan Palmer’s coaching background and relationship with EJ (Manuel) factor into the decision to sign him?
A: At least for me, I didn’t know about that until after we claimed him. I didn’t know that EJ and him had worked together. I didn’t know that he was helping those guys at the Elite 11. I didn’t know that until after the fact, so I thought it was pretty good.
Q: How much of a benefit can it be to have Jordan in a room with EJ?
A: Well, EJ is his own player. I think what’s important is that we are trying to upgrade that position in case something happens. We want the best player available at that position. I’m not too concerned about the relationships or anything like that. Obviously, to a certain extent because you don’t want to put two people in a room that don’t really like each other, but if they work together that’s great. If not, and that’s the next best player that gives us a chance to win then that’s what we have to do.
Q: How hard was it to part with a guy (Thad Lewis) that started five games last season and won two games for you?
A: It’s tough. This is always a tough time of year because you know how hard the players have worked. Thad, the thing about it, this time last year he just arrived and really did a nice job for us. He went in there and played his butt off. I don’t think anyone would ever question how tough he is and the job that he’s done. He won a couple games for us. We were hoping that that would be the case this year, but in our opinion, we have to go out there and get someone better.
Q: When you say upgrade do you think you’ve seen Thad’s ceiling and are curious to see what Jordan’s is?
A: I think it’s the same thing that maybe I was talking to Mike (Rodak) about, that we’re in a process of trying to do that. When you do that you’re going to have to make decision of who to let go. I think it’s more about that and trying to through a process that’s best for the team than anything else. You’re correct. Has Thad thrown more in an NFL game than Jordan? Absolutely. Could Jordan be a better player than Thad? Yes, he could and we’re going to find that out and we’ll make a decision. If it’s not that then it may lead down the road to something else.
Q: Would it be fair to say that Jeff (Tuel) has the inside track on the backup quarterback job?
A: I really can’t answer that question right now. I’d like to be able to say yes, but I really can’t right now.
Q: Do you think these will be the three quarterbacks you go into the season with?
A: I wouldn’t get into the how many and this and that. Doug (Whaley) and I talk about this stuff probably three or four times a day now. Even if I did know it, I probably wouldn’t say it because we don’t want teams knowing how many we’re going to keep and things like that. I think right now every option is on the table and I think if you asked Doug he would say the same thing. When we talk, we talk about a lot of different scenarios and we want to make sure that we do keep all the options on the table.
Q: Is there any regret on not addressing the quarterback position in the offseason?
A: Well, it’s the same thing. When we looked at it in the beginning, it started off with Kevin Kolb and I don’t need to give everyone a history lesson. We were hoping that he would come in and he’s the veteran. We draft a quarterback and he can sit behind and watch or beat him out. He gets hurt. It’s tough. There weren’t a lot of people out there at the time. Everyone knows how that is. We go out and we brought in a couple guys that same week now and we made a decision to go with, we had the three and Thad was the quarterback. Thad went in there and I don’t think that we would sit here and say, ‘Oh, he was awful.’ I think that Thad went in there and did a pretty good job. Most backup quarterbacks are guys that, if you play four games with him and you can get 3-1, you’re ecstatic. You want a guy that can win a little bit more than he loses. He did a great job and it was his job and Jeff’s job. We thought that they’d progressed during the year and, when you come back in we thought we could’ve been in great shape with those. As it turned out, and you guys are at practice, it didn’t turn out that way and here we are again. I think it’s hard when you ask me that question and I say, ‘No, I don’t,’ now you know the situation you’re in and you don’t look smart. I think the situation is what it is. We did have a plan. It’s not like we weren’t thinking about it. We felt comfortable with this and then, all of the sudden, when it starts to play out, even now, there’s not a lot of options now. Options may open during the week, options may open down the road, options can open in trades, options can open with players developing. A lot of things can happen.
Q: Does it help that he just came from Chicago, who is your week one opponent?
A: No, but I do have a lot of respect for Marc Trestman and Aaron Kromer that they’re good coaches and they do a good job. I know he was coached well, from that standpoint. I’m not part of that, ‘Hey, let’s bring the guy in and get information and things like that.’ I think that’d be very disrespectful do Jordan if I did that, honestly. My conversation with Jordan was, ‘Hey, listen. I’m happy to see you. I’m happy to meet you. I’m going to give you an opportunity and you have an opportunity the get a position and we’re going to do whatever we can to get you ready for this game and play you. I want to make sure the only thing I’m telling you is make sure we communicate on what you feel comfortable with and what you feel comfortable doing and we’re going to get you that stuff.
Q: Will Palmer get some snaps on Thursday night?
A: My goal is to play him as much as I can.
Q: You only have three quarterbacks. Do you worry about exposing them too much?
A: Some teams are down to three quarterbacks in camp and during the season you only have two. Some teams have two on their roster and some have three. There’s always going to be exposure for that position, but you can limit that exposure by the call. We could run the ball every time.
Q: What do you need to see out of Thursday’s game to be more comfortable with you team heading into the season opener?
A: I’m comfortable with my team. I don’t want you to think that I’m not comfortable with the team. Where I want to see us is getting better at understanding some things, schematically, and some of the things we’ve been working on this week getting ourselves ready to go. I think for each person it’s different. There are still some jobs that are out there that are on the line. There’s competition out there. Obviously, we’re playing a game so our goal is to win. At the same time, just like the question before, there’s a lot going on with me as far as what I want to get accomplished, what I want to play, I want to win the game, I want to make sure these things happen. I don’t want to expose our guys too much. You’re exactly right. I’m not going to sit here and deny that. There are a lot of things going on, so hopefully the competition stuff separates, makes the decision a lot easier that night. Then we can put our focus into getting ready for Chicago and for getting ready to open up for the season.
Q: Did Chris Williams have a setback and, if so, how much time do you think he’ll be gone for?
A: I don’t know. I really don’t. Am I concerned? Yes. I’m not going to sit here and say I’m not concerned, but, at the same point, I get a little excitement too. Cyril Richardson now, no one really asked question about him. Did he make some mistakes in the last game? He did, but there’s some things that he showed that I have no doubt, having coached that position before, to say that he’s a future starter. I ‘m happy about that, but I’m not happy that I feel the way I do with Chris and the availability. But if you get injured, you can’t help that. Does that make sense? If we didn’t have someone behind him, I’d be a little more nervous about that situation.
Q: Is Kiko Alonso back in Orchard Park?
A: Yes he is.
Q: What are your thoughts about seeing him again?
A: He can’t play. That was my first thought. ‘Can he play?’ It’s great. It’s great to have him around. I think it’s very tough on him. I’m happy that he’s around, but I think it’s very tough on him. Matter of fact, we’ve had that conversation. Him being around and getting better, but he’s working just as hard as he normally works. He’s in here early, in here all the time. He’s a benefit for our football team. Before he wasn’t because there was nothing to do. He had to rest after.
Q: Do you see Chris and Cyril as having a burgeoning competition for left guard?
A: Not right now. Once Chris is healthy, Chris is better. But I do think when does the day come that Cyril is a starter in this league. Not just at left. He can play right too, so you can say pretty much the same thing. The thing I used to always tell the linemen, when you don’t start and you’re not a starter; you’ve got to play multiple positions. To dress on game day, you’ve either got to be an inside swing guy, a swing tackle or a tackle/guard, guard/tackle. That’s tough to do in this league, to have that ability. If you just play the one position and you go in and play it and you’re the starter from day one, you don’t have to worry about all that stuff. It’s a little bit easier. He has the ability to play, in my opinion, at both guards, which is good.
Q: Is that the reason why Kraig Urbik played at center? Because he’s not a starter he needs to be more versatile?
A: Yeah, we’ve got to figure out who the backup center is. Doug [Legursky] plays center, Kraig plays center. Both those guys have played. That’s why we’re trying to get a look at it so we can make the best decision.
Quarterback EJ Manuel
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Q: What is your history with Jordan Palmer? Is it fair to say you were with him at Elite 11?
A: Yes. I worked with JP. One year I was a counselor and he was, obviously, a counselor training some of the younger quarterbacks. That was probably the main time I’ve had an extensive period of time to workout with him and talk with him. I saw him in the offseason during the Super Bowl time up in New York and just catching up with him and seeing how things are going.
Q: How many years have you known him?
A: I guess it would make it three years now. I think I was going into my junior year in college, so about three years.
Q: How much of a benefit is it to have him around considering his reputation as a coach on the field?
A: Yeah, definitely. It’s going to be great. Even today after practice he brought up a couple drills that we could do. Some stuff that I’ve never done, some stuff that I’ve never seen before, but I thought it was pretty cool ways to throw the ball, while you’re still conditioning at the same time. I think the more experience he can bring to our room the better.
Q: With your personal quarterback coach, the Bills quarterback coach and now Jordan Palmer coming in, does it become an overload of input at times?
A: No really. Todd Downing is my coach. I work with Steve Calhoun, but he’s not my coach. Obviously, I work with him in the offseason, but my quarterback coach is Todd Downing. He’s the main person I talk to, the main person I listen to as far as what I need to do to get better. It doesn’t get too cluttered.
Q: Do you feel like sometimes you do try to aim the ball too much?
A: Yeah. I feel like I pressed after we had those first two series, trying to make plays. You can’t do that. As a quarterback, you truly have to let that fall off your shoulder and just keep playing. When I did go back and watch the film, statistically I had a pretty good game, but nonetheless, the way it went, the drives early in the first half and right before halftime were very rough. The biggest thing I took from it is that you can’t let three series, however many series, that aren’t going well or going your way, effect your game. You can’t try to make plays that aren’t there. You still have to go and play the game. You can’t force anything.
Q: At such a cerebral position how do you protect against overanalyzing every bad thing that happens?
A: That’s the main thing. You’ve just got to let it happen. Not necessarily the less you think the better things will be, but it’s kind of a balance that you have to find. I think it was one of those situations that I try to look at the positive out of it. I think it was a great learning situation for me to go through something like that and come out in the second half and talk to the team and say, ‘Hey, look guys, this is about respect.’ Even myself, I told myself, ‘I want to leave this field with my head high and my chest out.’ Even though we didn’t get a chance to win the game, but to still come off the field respectfully. I knew I wasn’t going to play the whole second half, so I was very happy how we finished before I came out. You have to limit all those errors.
Q: How much time are you expecting to play on Thursday?
A: I’m not sure. Being that it’s the last preseason game, I wouldn’t expect to play a lot. I really want to start focusing on Chicago, being that that’s our first regular season game. That’s the game we really need to come out where we don’t need to have any hiccups or anything like that.
Quarterback Jordan Palmer
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Q: What have the last couple of days for you been like?
A: It was a whirlwind couple of days. Played in Seattle a couple of days ago, flew back to Chicago, ended my run in Chicago, flew back to California and then flew to Buffalo from California. The last 72 hours have been a whirlwind, but I’m so thrilled to be here. Such a great organization and a great staff and a great starting quarterback, who I have a great relationship with.
Q: Explain that Elite 11 experience with EJ (Manuel)?
A: Just through my work with Trent Dilfer and the Elite 11, I’ve had an opportunity to spend some time with a lot of today’s great quarterbacks, the young guys. EJ came through there, along with other guys, and so I got to know him a few years ago there and the way he works and how talented he is and the career that he had at Florida State and is now embarking on here in Buffalo. It’s great to be reunited with him and I’m here to compete and I’m here to serve and help him in any way that I can.
Q: Is there any carryover from other systems to the offensive playbook here that you’ve utilized?
A: It’s early for that question just because I’ve only looked at the playbook a little bit. I haven’t seen everything yet, but there’s absolutely carryover conceptually. I think this is my sixth or seventh NFL system I’ve learned, but I always say it’s kind of like a language. If I say, ‘Hello, my name is Jordan,’ in Spanish; whether I’m saying it in Spanish or in English, I’m still saying, ‘Hello, my name is Jordan.’ We’re still having a guy run here, guy run here, guy run here. We’re just calling it something different. There’s definitely carryover for the concepts and, as I get further into the playbook and get to learn this a little bit better, I’ll have a better understanding of what carries over and what doesn’t
Q: Is it difficult because you don’t have much time to prepare for Thursday night’s game?
A: It is. Playing quarterback in the NFL in difficult. It is a unique experience, but at the same, I was in a similar situation last year. I got called in about eight days before the last game and I started the last game and I got called back on bye week and the coaches were on vacation for four days and I had to get ready for Monday Night Football to be the two. I’ve been in similar situations. I feel very confident in it. Just in the brief time I’ve spent with this coaching staff, these guys are on it, they know it, they have a knack for being able to teach it and explain it. I think I’m in a great position to go out there and try to move the chains a little bit.
Q: What are you looking for your role to be with this football team?
A: Right now I’m focused on Thursday night. Trying to get as much of the playbook as I can, trying to get an understanding of who these guys are and where they’re going to be and get the play called right and get the ball to the right guy, whether it be a pass or a run, and move the chains. I haven’t really spent a minute thinking about past that. I just need to come in and be locked in on Thursday and perform well.
Q: How closely did you work with Blake Bortles this past season?
A: I spent a lot of time with Blake. I did. We lost in Chicago last year. We finished up week 17 and I flew home the next day and started working with him the day after that, up until I did his pro day. That was a big chunk of my offseason. It was great because I worked out with him. Once that pro day hit I moved on to my own career since then, but it was a great experience working with him.
Q: How do you react to being labeled a coach on the field? Do you want to compete for a starting role or is that a role you’re comfortable with?
A: I think it’s a role I’m comfortable with. The best quarterbacks I’ve been around, particularly the guys who were backing up, they’re leaders, but they’re really servant-leaders. I got to see it with Josh McCown last year. Seen it with Chad Henne and then all the way back to Mark Brunell when I played in Washington. Those are the guys who I think provide the most resources for their team; for the starter, for the staff, the receivers, whoever it may be. When they do get an opportunity to play, those are the guys that take advantage of it and play well. Starter or backup, I don’t think of it in those terms. I’m just here to serve and help the guys around me. I know that that will make me a better player in the process and whatever that means it means.
Q: What makes you confident that EJ could be the next of the talented young quarterbacks in this league?
A: I’m very confident. I think the first thing you have to be if you’re young, talented and given the reins of an organization is that you have to be all in. This has to be your life. This has to be your job. This has to be everything to you. I know EJ well enough to know that this is, so right there, you’re ahead of a good number of guys. And then talent-wise the guy can make every throw. He’s a great athlete and a really smart, really conscientious quarterback that really thinks through things. And then the talent around him. I can go on and on about why I’m confident in EJ. I’m excited to come here and build on that confidence and get to see it in person now.