First-year Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott spoke with members of the media who cover the Bengals on Wednesday.
Here are five highlights from that chat:
1. The Bengals do a great job utilizing their personnel on defense.
McDermott, who made his name as a defensive coordinator at Carolina, said Cincinnati DC Paul Guenther maximizes the players he has and gives teams a variety of things to prepare for.
“They certainly have a talented back end, a veteran back end, and led by Vontaze Burfict in the middle,” McDermott said. “A lot of it goes through No. 55 (Burfict) and his role in this defense is a big part of their success and I think the continuity they’ve had is key as well, in particular in the middle with Vontaze and some of the secondary positions also.
“They do a lot of really good things. This is a really, really salty defense.”
2. McDermott called communication key to his Bills defense’s hot start.
Buffalo enters the game first in the NFL in points allowed (13.5 per game) and ninth in total defense (306.5 yards per game.)
“I think the key has been communication and getting to know our players as well as we could have at this point. That’s been key. We still have a lot of work to do in regards to that as well.”
But he wasn’t in the mood to compare it to some of the strong units he has coached in the past, including a 2015 group that was the backbone of a Super Bowl run.
"Each team is different. I know what we’ve got here. I’m confident in the group we have here. This is the fourth or fifth week of the season so we’ve still go a lot of room to grow and get better and that’s what we’re really focused on right now.”
3. He also wasn’t ready to hang any banners for Buffalo’s win at Atlanta in Week 4.
The Bills are not only a surprising 3-1, they have knocked off teams expected to be contenders the past two weeks.
Before bedeviling Matt Ryan and the defending NFC champion Falcons last week, they topped Denver 26-16 in Week 3.
“It was a good win, but it was the next team on the schedule,” McDermott said. “That’s how you have to approach it. We’ve got to continue to get better, continue to grow and keep our boots firmly planted on the ground so we can grow and get better.”
4. Buffalo won’t take the Bengals’ struggling running game for granted.
Cincinnati enters the game averaging 88.8 yards per game, 23rd in the league.
Meanwhile, the passing game is on the upswing with Andy Dalton having logged passer ratings of 124.1 and 146 the past week weeks.
The running back trio of Joe Mixon, Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill won’t get less attention because of that trend, though.
“In a lot of ways, stopping the run is about gap integrity and doing your job, knowing where your fit is and so that’s really the biggest focus on a week-to-week basis,” McDermott said. “They’ve got a good corps of running backs and are very talented so we’ve got to be aware of what they do with the run game.”
5. Buffalo enters the game tied for second in the NFL in turnover differential, and that’s no accident.
Not surprisingly, taking care of the ball and taking it away are two focuses of McDermott’s team.
“Yes sir it is. That’s something we’ve worked on since the start and we continue to work on,” McDermott said. “It’s similar to the culture. We have to continue to address it daily and weekly so we continue to do it, it’s such a critical part of the game.”
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