Coordinator chat: Dennison had no say in QB; Frazier says D has “enough to worry about” (video)
ORCHARD PARK – Let’s be an optimist for a second.
The Buffalo Bills (5-5) special teams unit is doing pretty well.
Following a third-straight blowout loss, most recently to the Los Angeles Chargers (4-6) by a score of 54-24, not a whole lot right is going on for the Bills. Steven Hauschka hit a 50-yard kick. He’s hit 13-straight from 50-or-more, a new NFL record.
But things aren’t looking too good on offense or defense. The overwhelming topic of the day on Monday in Orchard Park was the question marks surrounding the quarterback position.
Rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman, who was drafted on third day of the 2017 NFL Draft (5th round), got the surprise start over Tyrod Taylor. Peterman finished 6-for-14 with 66 yards and five interceptions. Taylor replaced him in the second half and went 15-for-25 for 158 yards with a passing and rushing TD.
Further questions have been asked of offensive coordinator Rick Dennison in regard to play calling, usage of Taylor prior to his benching, and schematic changes to the offensive line are among those.
Not among them anymore? Did Dennison want Peterman over Taylor? Based on Monday, Dennison had close to zero say. Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott said he makes the final decision, but he listens.
“Obviously, it’s my final call on that, but I communicate with those guys. Part of communication is listening and I have a lot of trust and faith in my staff,” McDermott said.
But adding things up, McDermott might not have listened to his staff at all. According to Dennison, McDermott first mentioned the move on Tuesday.
When McDermott announced the move last Wednesday, he indicated he told the quarterbacks about the switch on Tuesday. Therefore, if McDermott said something to Dennison that same day, McDermott’s mind was already made up or at the very least Dennison only had a moment’s notice to give his opinion.
As that seems to likely be the case, let’s keep this in mind: this is McDermott’s defense, not McDermott’s offense. Yes, he is the head man for the Bills, but his background on the defensive side of the ball. Dennison oversees the offense.
Speaking of quarterbacks and defense, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier quite literally said he doesn’t care about Buffalo’s Peterman-Tyrod Dilemma. And for good reason.
“No, we have our own issues to focus on and deal with. I really don’t get caught up in what happens with our offense. I know, and we talk to our guys about this, is you really have to stay focused on what we have to get done. We have enough to keep us busy, believe me, to get our side right,” Frazier said.
The Bills’ defense has numerous holes. The secondary is being shredded my top-tier receivers the Bills know they have to keep an eye on. Running backs of all skill levels and ages, such as Matt Forte, Mark Ingram, and Melvin Gordon are running wild because of missed tackles.
But there’s another metric that can’t be measured. The psychological aspect.
Buffalo lost by finals of 34-21 (vs. Jets), 47-10 (vs. Saints), and this past week’s 54-24 loss. Things snowballed against the Bills in all those cases, particularly the defense.
Frazier said the effort, in all three cases, was still there throughout the game.
“I haven’t witnessed guys hanging their heads or not coming back and competing after we get down,” Frazier said. We’ve proven that we can come back in ball games, so I think that’s still etched in guys memories, that we can come back. You can go back as recent as the Raiders ball game. I don’t think we’re at that point where guys give up if we fall behind.
We just have to get some consistent play along the way where our confidence begins to grow as the game goes on. That comes with success. We have to get that done. But to answer your question, I don’t see guys hanging their heads because we get down by a touchdown or whatever.”
If effort’s not the case, something else has to change then after the unit surrendered 135 points the past three games, which is a new franchise record over three games. But no worries, the effort is there…
The Bills will have Tuesday off before returning to the practice field on Wednesday morning where McDermott is expect to make his choice between Peterman and Taylor.
For more from Dennison on Monday, see the attached video for full highlights of his pres conference below: