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Eric Bieniemy | 'You need to have those type of road victories to help build confidence'


Opening Statement:

"Good afternoon. Hope all is well. Feels good after having a great team victory out there in Denver, our guys, thought they played their tails off offensively, defensively, and special teams. You need to have those type of road victories to help build confidence as you continue on this 2023 journey. Now we're on to the next opponent. We got the Buffalo Bills, and we know they're pretty good. So with that said, I'm all ears."

On the aggression philosophy as an offense in certain situations:
"Well, I just believe that offensively, you always gotta be prepared for the what ifs. So you don't ever want to go into any game not having enough for different situations that might present themselves. So as always, we prepare and our quarterbacks are very much aware of exactly what we're thinking about when those situations present themselves. That way, it's no surprise. So, we want to make sure that our guys are always ready for the unexpected."

On if he prefers to go for it on fourth down:
"I think it depends on the situation. Could depend on exactly how we're doing, how well our defense is doing. So, I think you pick and choose your moments, and you just have to be smart and understand the morale of your team at that particular time. So at the end of the day, we wanna make sure we're doing what is best for our team."

On the line between the gameplan and the run and pass balance based on what the game dictates:
"I think first of all, we got a heck of a staff, okay. Our staff does an outstanding job of working, making sure that we have a complete understanding of the opponent that we're facing. On top of that, we're always dotting our I's and crossing our T's. When we're putting our game plan together, we wanna make sure that it's very diverse in many areas. So, obviously we wanna run it, we also want to throw it, but we also understand that in certain situations, you gotta make sure that you're giving your best players an opportunity to go out there and be their best. So, for us, we're gonna go with whatever we're feeling throughout that particular time. There is no such thing to say that we're just gonna come out and run the ball in this particular game, or we're just going to throw the ball in this particular game. Now we have a diverse offense. We got a lot of guys who bring a lot to the table. And the beauty of it is, I'm very fortunate to have a coaching staff that understands that we gotta make sure that we have a complete understanding of the opponent that we're playing, so we can give our guys the answers when needed."

On if he feels he has a good idea of how each guy fits or if that is a continuous learning process:
"We're still learning and I think you are always learning your guys because certain guys are gonna do certain things in certain moments and other guys are gonna do other things. But at the end of the day, I think we got the pulse for who we are, but on top of that, you never want to put anybody in the box. You wanna make sure that you're giving them every opportunity to show off exactly who they are and what they're about. And I think that's the most important thing of coaching is developing those relationships. Not saying where he can't do that or he can't do this. No, I want to give guys an opportunity to show me what they can or cannot do. And I think that's important for us as a team, but it's also important as a coach to not put anybody in the box and just allow all of those guys to be the very best versions of themselves."

On having QB Sam Howell rank certain plays and how that came about:
"Well, let me just say this, first and foremost, I learned a long time ago, learned this as a player, and I've learned it as a coach. If players like certain things, guess what? They're gonna try their best to make it work. So as a coach, you always want to give your quarterback that opportunity to have a ranking in certain situations. That way now you're giving him the green light to take ownership in what we're doing. That way, now, hey, this is the play that he chose. He should have a complete understanding of the what's, the why's and the how's. And he should also have a complete understanding of why we believe this play should be successful. With Sam taking ownership with that, it forces him to take ownership, but also too, it puts that ownership on the players as well. So, I've been accustomed to learning a lot from [Kansas City Head Coach] Coach [Andy] Reid. This is something that I've learned from him as a coach, and it's a great deal and a great sense of ownership that you're giving to your quarterback, so I love it. I like the idea that when we come to the sideline, when things don't go right, he could tell you exactly what happened, or he can tell you, 'Hey, you know what? I should have did this or I should have did that. Well, hey, they didn't give us the coverage, the exact coverage but this should have happened.' So, I love the fact that he has that ownership."

On if he has a script coming out of halftime:
Well, I think at any time you always wanna make sure that you're prepared for the second half. We get together as a staff when we first get inside, we want to talk through all scenarios, everything that has taken place throughout the whole entire half. We want to make sure that we have a pulse for what has taken place, how they plan certain personnel groups with coverages, down in distances. What are they doing differently in the red zone? Something that we haven't seen on tape. So, there's always an open dialogue. The beauty of that is that I learned this a long time ago, you gotta over-communicate clarity. You know, you gotta make sure that we're always on the same page. So with all that information and feedback, now you start piecing together ideas on things that maybe you had originally scripted that, 'Nah, you know what, this play won't be as good. Let's make sure that we're getting to this.' You always got to have an eye. You always gotta be prepared for the unexpected, but on top of that, having a plan for it as well."

On what went through his mind being down 21-3 against Denver:
"Keep playing. It's a long game. At the end of the day, the only thing that we need to do is be the best team over a 60-minute period of time. It does not matter what the score is. The only thing that we have to do, and this is the message to our offense, we want to play one play at a time. That's it. The only thing that matters after that play is over is the next play. That's the only thing that we can control. And so when you're in those moments, you have to live in that moment and understand how important that moment is, because you have 10 other people on that field that are counting on you to go out there and be the very best version of you. So when those situations come up, you don't fold the tent. You don't find a way to just decide to say, 'Hey, this game is over.' No, continue playing. This is a part of our DNA, this is why we work the way we do. This is why we prep the way we do in the classroom. This is why we do certain things as far as preparing our guys to live in this moment and understand how valuable this moment is. But also too, not taking anything for granted. Okay. I thought our guys showed a tremendous amount of grit. They showed a tremendous amount of resilience, and you must have that in this industry if you want to be great. I thought they did a great job of that, of showing that and putting it on display last weekend."

On what the comeback says about QB Sam Howell:
"You know what, I can't speak on behalf of everyone else, but I can just say this about Sam. Sam's a very mature kid. I mean, obviously his dad is a coach and Sam is very honest. He's very quiet in a sense, but he has a calm demeanor, but he's confident. So, as we put the game plan together, I want him to have ownership in what we're doing. And so, if he's taking ownership, that's letting him know that he can trust in us that we're giving him the levity of saying, 'Hey, you know what I like this particular play at this moment.' And so that's how trust and bonds are formulated. That's how teams are built. And so, we want to make sure that Sam feels comfortable in everything that we're doing and that's what it's about."

On things he must be able to do offensively against Buffalo:
"Well, first and foremost, they're a great defense. We've had a few battles with them when I was in Kansas City over the past four or five years, it seemed like every year, maybe 10 years it seemed like. But this team is, they're a great team. Obviously, what they're doing on offense speaks volumes. Quarterback is a special man. I mean, he obviously has a lot of great players around him on top of that, defensively. I mean, they're pretty good. I've known [Buffalo Bills Head Coach] Sean McDermott since 1999. It's kind of amazing that all of our relationships started in 1999 in Philly when we were all there together. I know the character of the coach and knowing the character of the coach, I'm not shocked, nor surprised of the success that they've had. And so, when you're facing this defense, you know exactly who they are, you know their DNA and at the end of the day, we just got to make sure that we remain poised and we understand this game plan here is going to take a little bit of patience. We got to be patient to drive the length of the field because they don't play a defense where they're willing to give up a big play. That's not who they are. These guys are very sound, they're very fundamentally sound, they're very disciplined. They do a great job of over-communicating, and they play hard and they play fast. So, this is one of those opponents, you know obviously every week is a great test, but this is a great test for us at this particular time. And it's a great test because if our focus, attitude and determined mindsets in the right place for 60 consecutive minutes, we'll give ourselves a chance to have a chance."

On the challenges LB Matt Milano presents:
"Well, first of all, let me give Mr. Milano his flowers. He is a beast. I am a fan of his. Over the years we've played, I can't speak enough volumes for him because first of all, he probably doesn't get the respect that he should. He flies all over, he makes a number of tackles throughout the course of the game. On top of that he can cover, and then in that scheme, he's just a key integral part in what they do. And you guys got to understand, I've known [Former Bills Defensive Coordinator] Leslie Frazier for well over half my life. I've known Sean McDermott for well over half my life. So, I understand the position that that kid is playing and all the accountability that falls on his shoulder. I'm a huge fan of Mr. Milano, and they need to give him his respect because he's just a hell of a player. I love what he brings to the table. He's a guy that plays hard, he's a physical player in the run game and on top of that he can cover. And then when it's all said and done, he's going to find a way to make a play. Hell, you guys probably saw that interception he made last week, which it was unbelievable. It doesn't shock nor surprise me if anybody was going to do that, it was going to be him. So hats off. Great player."

On what he thinks about when making the script and starting fast and scoring points but also gathering information on the other team:
"I think all that answers the question. [Laugh]."

On Howell's internal clock and getting it to the right rhythm:
"You know we talk about that all the time. Spacing always equates to timing and then on top of that, you know, I don't think there's any coach in the league to tell you that, 'Hey, you gotta get rid of the ball.' Because that's probably the number one message that you're giving all quarterbacks. But on top of that, you want him to have a great feel for what you're doing. And so, I think more than anything, it's his opportunity to show, but he's just gotta develop a feel. And every time and I'll continue saying this, every time he's dropping back, he's running a play, something that shows up or pops up in that particular time. It's probably the first time that it has happened to him. And you can see it because sometimes when he's slightly hesitant, something probably didn't process the right way and it's probably a little different for him, so you can see where he'll pause. Obviously, we talk about being decisive, so if there's something that throws you off, make sure that alternate plan kicks into your head right away. Let's not stay with it, you know, let's make sure that we have the answer. And so that's our number one job of making sure and giving him a complete understanding throughout the course of the week. Yes, we have a primary. Yes, we got a secondary. Alright, but if it's not there, what is the next thing that you can do? And then we gotta continue progressing to that. I thought as the game went along, I thought he did a great job of getting to the third and fourth options."

On why the system has been very effective in running screens:
"You know what, I don't know if it's just the screens. I thought our guys have been doing a great job of just accepting coaching and trusting in what we do and having faith and belief that they can go out there and do it. I just thought last week they did a great job when called upon. The O-Line did an outstanding job. I thought they did a great job throughout the entire game. But, in order to be a good screen team, your O-Linemen have to be players that can make things happen downfield and I thought they did an outstanding job last week."

On if practice being so much of muscle memory can harm the quarterback in game situations:
"Nah, it doesn't cause any harm. One thing we always wanna make sure that he's mindful of is we can always extend the play. Okay. Sam's a great athletic kid, so when things ain't right, he has an opportunity to make something happen with his feet. So, we always wanna provide that option for him, and that's one of those alternate plans that we discuss all the time. So, when things ain't perfect, what are you gonna do to make it right? One thing that he has to do, he has to keep his eyes down field. He's gotta be able to pick up his receivers and locate him. Also, he's gotta understand exactly what took place in the pocket in order for it to fail. So, if he has that feeling and he's developing it, okay, but also keeping his eyes down field. Now great things can happen. And you gotta understand this is, I mean, hell we're going on Week Three, you know, and so I'm just glad he can take a snap and repeat the plays [Laughs] that we're giving him. But he's way past that. But there's still some things that he has to continue to add to his tool belt and I think he's doing a great job of that at this particular time."

On defenses using two high safeties around the league to take away the deep shot:
"You know what, I'm not exactly sure of that, but there's always waves and trends that take place offensively, defensively and on special teams throughout this league. But one thing especially with younger quarterbacks, defensive coordinators, they want to force them to throw the ball in the tight windows. And so, yeah, I think defenses are doing a great job of playing more zone coverages, but also presenting two different looks to cause confusion. But when it's all said and done with, that's not our issue. Our job is to make sure that he understands exactly what we're doing, why we're doing it, and how we're gonna get it done. That's our plan of attack and we wanna make sure that we're keeping him focused on that at this particular moment."

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