The Bills are back home after their two game trip out West when they host the Titans on Sunday. Below are comments from the team, beginning with head coach Chan Gailey:
On the records of teams across the AFC:
Looks like the NFL has achieved what they set out to do. You hope that there is parity and people have to fight their way to the top. That is what you try to do and it looks like it has worked out.
On being on top of the AFC East being a form of motivation:
I think it is too early in the year to get bent out of shape about it. You cannot fall too far behind, as we all know. At the same time, when you are sitting there even it does help. You know that you are in charge of your own destiny. When you can be in charge of your own destiny that is all you can ask for in this business.
On why the team has struggled against the run:
I think we have had two games that it was bad. I think New England and San Francisco we did not play the run well. Last week we had the quarterback rush for 66 (yards) and a fake punt for 25 (yards) so I think those are statistic (anomalies). We held the rest of those guys to under 120 yards. The tailback position got 90. I do not think it is as big of an issue--it was for two weeks--do not get me wrong it was. But I think we got a little of it back. Before that it was not that bad of an issue.
On if the status of OG Kraig Urbik and DT Spencer Johnson is any clearer:
No. They are going to be out there and do something today but we still have to see how they do and how they recover for tomorrow. All of that. It is not any clearer, but at least they will be out there doing something today.
On how T Cordy Glenn is coming along:
OK. We will not have him this week, but we think we have a real good chance for Houston.
On how he will rotate CB Ron Brooks into practice:
He will do most of the scout team stuff right now, just to get him back into playing shape. It is just like Shawne (Merriman). Shawne will take a lot of the scout team stuff, just to get him back in playing shape. He is probably a lot further along than obviously Ron would be because he is a veteran player. We have to work those two guys back into playing shape.
On if a player who spends his week on the scout team could end up being active on Sunday:
(Merriman) will take reps. Do not get me wrong. He will take reps with the regular defense. It is not like he is just going to be (on the scout team).
On if he anticipates DE Shawne Merriman being active on Sunday:
Probably, but do not make me 100-percent on that.
On if Merriman's experience gives him an edge:
Oh yeah. As long as he is in playing shape and everything goes well this week and he gets back into the flow of things, he is probably going to be right there on Sunday afternoon giving us some help.
On Titans RB Chris Johnson:
He scares you. Every time he touches the ball he scares you. You can still see that electric speed and electric quickness that he has. Yes he has not had as many yards and the statistics are down, but I am telling you defensive coaches hold their breath every time he touches it.
On the downfield passing game:
First of all, we have been more in ball control type throwing, picking and choosing times to maybe throw it down the field. We have not set it up, so some of that is design. We are running the ball better this year. We are running it for more yards and running it better so we have not had to rely on the pass as much. I think as we get balance back into our offense, we are going to take some shots. We have to. We have to keep the defense honest, but we have to hit the shots when we take them, too. Right now we have not hit as many as we did last year and that is hurting us. All of that goes together, you have to take the shots and you have to hit them. When you hit the shots, it gives you confidence to throw some more. We will work back into that as time goes on, but as of late we have been more ball control, hit the guys and let them run for it rather than throwing the ball down the field.
On defense's coming up and daring the Bills to beat them deep:
That may be the case. As time goes on we have to prove that we can throw it deep and make plays deep. If we do not they will continue to do that. I see that they will squat at times on us. We see that and we know we have to take advantage of it when they do that. We have not done it yet.
On QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's accuracy:
It is not a lot different than it was last year. I do not see it being a lot different. We hit some passes early. We hit when people were playing us a bit different last year than they are playing us this year. So it is a totally different animal this year than it was last year in some respects, but I do not see (Fitzpatrick) being a lot different than he was last year. We just have not thrown the ball down the field and taken as many chances this year. We are not having to.
On having a rotation at the second cornerback spot:
Right now Terrence (McGee) is not going to practice today but he will be out there tomorrow. Terrence is the guy. He and Aaron (Williams) have kind of shared that duty out there and as time goes on we will just see how that unfolds. If it does not work, we will just see who is next up. It could be Leo (Leodis McKelvin), it could be Justin (Rogers, I do not know who it could be.
On why CB Aaron Williams has struggled:
It is just like anything else. It is just like any other position on the field, once you do a couple things then you gain confidence in it. He just needs to keep playing and keep getting confidence in himself. He has ability. We all have seen that and I think he is going to be just fine. That is not one of the biggest problems that we have. If it becomes a bigger problem then we have to make an adjustment.
On where the Titans have improved in the last couple of games:
They are not giving up the deep ball. They gave up one against Pittsburgh and then they kind of shut that down. They are playing good run defense. The quarterback is managing the game extremely well. (Matt Hasselbeck's) first game two weeks ago when they went to Minnesota, they played so poorly. Then last week they played a lot better. It was his second game. He needs time with that crew. You could tell that he was rusty and that they were not on the same page in that first game.
On the difference in the Titans' play-calling when QB Jake Locker is in compared to current QB Matt Hasselbeck:
Sure, they do not have as many boots, nakeds and roll-outs. Things like that. That is Locker's deal. Hasselbeck stays in the pocket. That is what he does.
On if there is anything different about the team this week coming off of a win:
I have not sensed anything different and to be honest with you I do not want to. I still want them to be hungry. I still want them to be mad. We need to have the mindset that we have to go out and have something to prove every week. Just because you won one ball game and got back to .500 that is nothing. We are nowhere right now. We have a lot of work ahead of us.
On if QB Tarvaris Jackson can get reps during the bye week:
(Laughs) Yeah, in our one practice that we get. Because of the new CBA they get four days off, so we get one practice next week. It is hard during the season to get somebody acclimated to the whole thing.
On being amazed they are tied for first after three bad losses:
Yeah, and to be honest with you, it was all the second half of those three losses, too. We have had three bad halves of football; bad, bad halves of football. You cannot do that and not be a very good team. I think if we can eliminate our bad times we will be alright, but right now we have to get the mindset that we cannot have those let downs, like we had in those three games.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
On some of the issues the passing game is facing:
It has just been very inconsistent all year. A lot of that falls on me and my play. I did not and have not started the year the way I wanted to. I think starting out with the three interception game, having another four interception game--there has to be a happy medium there in terms of not going out there and trying to throw touchdowns on every play, but not being too conservative. I think right now we are still trying to find ourselves in the passing game. A lot of that is me just playing more consistent. That is where we are at right now. We are 3-3, we have shown that we can run the ball, we can run the ball with more guys in the box than we have blockers just because of how talented we are in the backfield and I think as an offense we are still trying to figure ourselves out in terms of being able to balance the run and the pass.
On teams daring him to throw deep:
The last two weeks, especially I think, we have not been real effective. I think in weeks before that I think consistency was an issue. The turnovers were an issue and I think the passing game, but we were able to effectively throw the ball, get yards and do all of that. The last few games we have not been able to. It is just something that we have to evaluate. It is something that we have to get better at. Chan (Gailey) is a guy that is able to adjust and adapt depending on what the defense is doing and what our strengths and weaknesses are. It is just something we have to get better at.
On stopping safeties from creeping up by making some throws down the field:
I think the last few weeks that has been the thing. We are a team that we like that matchup of a safety trying to tackle our backs. That is something we do not try to shy away from because of how effective they have shown that they can be with that. That being said, we have to be more effective in the passing game and we really have not the last few weeks.
On the mood around the team:
This is a big game for us. To get to 4-3 before the bye, I think that is huge. I think it has been a weird season so fair in terms of we are 3-3 and that is not where we wanted to be, but the three games that we lost have felt like we are a much worse team than 3-3. To be here and also to have the other teams be 3-3 in the AFC East, everybody kind of knotted up--all of a sudden you start looking at it and we have ten games left to go. We have a real shot at this thing. We have to come out and play.
On if he has been falling back into bad habits and it has resulted in poor accuracy:
I do not know if that is a ton of it. There was a ton that was made of the mechanics and all the different things. It is true in terms of I am not always the prettiest thrower in terms of the way I look, in terms of throwing off balance and all of that. I have tried to correct some of that stuff and maybe limit some of that. It happens in the NFL because there are guys rushing around you. A lot of being a quarterback is about decision making and timing. Those are the biggest things in being effective as a quarterback. In terms of the flaws, my mechanics and those types of things, those are something that is always going to be there especially with my throwing motion. The footwork was something we really focused on, but I have not started the way that I wanted to start and unfortunately it has been multiple games. Not just one bad game here or there. It is something that I have to evaluate. The only way I know how to correct it is to continue to work in practice. Continue to get comfortable with my guys and make those throws.
On if the problems have been a result of timing and decision making:
I am just saying that there are a lot of different things that go into it. When I am ineffective throwing the ball, you cannot always say 'It is his mechanics, it is this or it is that.' I have made that pass (to Fred Jackson in overtime) 100 times with bad mechanics. So that one unfortunately was just a missed pass. I think there are a lot of things that go into it. I just have to continue to work at them and get better.
On how important it is to hit a deep pass:
It is really important. (T.J. Graham) is a guy that has a tremendous amount of speed and can really take the top off of a defense. It is important for us. It is important to get a couple of those balls down the field. It is something that has not happened a lot, but we have to go into a game where we have a certain amount of shots that we go into every game with. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you do not in terms of the coverages and being able to throw them. When I do make those throws I have to be able to hit them.
On what he sees from the Titans defense:
The biggest thing that jumps out is their front four. They do not do a lot of blitzing. Those guys create a lot of pressure though. Very fast, aggressive and great edge rushers just in terms of making you move in the pocket a little bit and getting pressure on a quarterback. That is stuff they have been really effective with this year. They have given up some big plays. Really it is a defense that is the Tampa-two style stuff, the bend but do not break and make you earn your yards down the field. That is what they want to be and when they play effectively that is what they do. They make you sustain drives seven, eight, 12 or whatever plays it is. For us, it is about going out there and being consistent on a drive. Converting on third downs.
On the differences between this year's matchup and last year's game versus the Titans:
I think Cortland Finnegan was a great player. There are some different people in there now than maybe were in there last year. A lot of the same people, same scheme and the one thing you know when you play them is they are going to be able to create pressure with their front four by the way that they fly around and play up there. That is something that we will have to manage.
RB Fred Jackson
On how he made it out of the last game and how he is feeling now:
I made it out of the game good. No set backs or anything like that. I was able to come out of the brace and all went well. I feel good now, just typical football soreness. I'm excited about that and hopefully can continue to improve this week.
On if he feels like he has had a slow start:
I'm not making the plays that I did for us at the beginning. Some of it has to do with the injury but for us to be as successful as we want to be I have to go out there and start making some more plays for us. We've gotten other guys that have stepped up and made plays for us. Any time that you have that it definitely takes pressure off of you but you know I want to be out there making plays for my team so I am going to do everything that I can.
WR Donald Jones
On his thoughts about the offense:
The biggest key is really just making the plays. We can always say we have to come out here, practice, work hard and things like but game situations are a lot different. We have to make the plays on both ends from the quarterback to the receivers.
On the offense not utilizing the passing game to move downfield:
As a receiver it is always a concern when you are not getting the ball down the field, or you're not getting the ball period. It is always a concern, but every offense is going to have its struggles at some point in the season. Hopefully we can get it together.
On what he feels the issues are with the passing game:
Like I said, it is just making the plays. Everybody just has to make the plays .The linemen have to make the blocks, everybody has to block and we have to catch it when it is thrown. We just haven't been doing it.
DE Mario Williams
On what DE Shawne Merriman's return means for the defense:
We are very excited to have him back. He brings a different dimension to the defensive line. Looking forward to having him out there on the field.
On if he is shocked Tennessee is last in rushing despite having RB Chris Johnson:
I really cannot say. He is obviously a heck of a back and he is definitely a challenge to defenses. We have to be on our P's and Q's this week.
On why the team has been unable to stop the run so far:
The biggest thing is us just being gap sound. Staying in our gaps and finishing the play. Not peaking or getting out of our position.
On if he is referring to a lack of discipline:
I would not say that. I just think we are over-aggressive and everybody is just trying to make plays, getting out of their position earlier than they should. Just trying to get after it.
On if the coaches said the gap control was better last week:
It was better last week. We still have a lot of improvement to do. We have to tackle better. We have to be smart about being aggressive. Getting out there and whenever you do make that decision you have to make the play. You cannot get out of the gap, do not make the play, leave a hole and then the great backs find that whole. We have to be fundamentally sound with our gap responsibility.
On how the mood around the team has improved:
For us it is still the same. It is all about the grind. You cannot sit here, say we got a win and the mood changes. There is still a sense of urgency amongst us. Knowing that we have to get better and play better. That is definitely how we are taking it.
On how jumbled up everybody is in the AFC:
Any Sunday you can win or you can lose. It is all about the approach you take. Going out there making it happen. It is showing that any team can win on any particular Sunday and if you are not out there doing what you are supposed to do and being fundamentally sound then you can come up on the short end.
On having a four-way tie for first in the AFC East being a good thing:
At the end of the day regardless of what happened in the past, our fate is still in our hands. We have to realize that, go out and execute and put W's on the board.
On what Merriman adds to the defense:
He obviously is a great guy whether it is run or pass. He can get after it. With him coming back and he looks like he is still physically capable of doing that. I think the biggest thing for us with the timing of the nicks and injuries, having him out there with a physical presence will be an addition in the positive manner for us. Having him, we definitely should have a better look.
On what his reaction was when Merriman was released:
I did not even know it. We were in meetings then and I did not even see him. We did not even really mention it until we got out to the practice and everybody was like 'Where is Shawne at?' It was kind of quiet, but he is back and that is the most important thing.
On if his personality can add something to the room:
He is definitely hungry. I know that. I think we definitely need all of the hunger we can get at this point to help us win. I am looking forward to it.
On if he agreed with the decision to let Merriman go originally:
That is not my place. Regardless of what happens it is football. People come and go regardless, so decisions are made and you cannot do anything about that. You cannot harp on it.
On if he sees any added emphasis on the game this weekend:
Every game has added emphasis with the position we are in and our fate being in our hands. Every game is key regardless of if it is home or away. You have to win on the road, so that is one thing. We definitely have to be able to tighten it up and go get W's on the road.
On his thoughts of RB Chris Johnson:
He is Chris Johnson. He can make every play. Whenever he runs the ball, it is never a finished play. Even if you have one guy or two guys hitting him. He is a great back that can make it happen regardless of what it looks like at the initial point of attack.
DE Shawne Merriman
On how he feels to be back:
I'm excited just being back in the building with these guys not having to text them every week after the games just seeing how everyone is doing. I'm definitely glad and happy to be back in the building.
On if he feels surprised on being back:
No not really I mean it's the NFL that is just how things go. I knew I could still play and I could contribute to the game a lot. I'm just happy to even get that call back and because you never know how things are going to go and you have to be ready when it's time.
On if the Bills were checking in with him:
Yeah, I was still being able to talk to the players a whole lot and just the people in general that you talk to around the building that not necessarily on the team or part of the coaching staff that you build a relationship with people in the building and keeping in contact with them was key.
On where he spent his time after leaving the Bills:
I spent some time down in Miami hence the sunburn that I got from laying on the beach after my work out. Then I went back to San Diego and spent a lot there and still have been around t he game. Talked a little bit about the game and still kind of was involved in the game.
On what he thinks is the best way to make the most of this second opportunity:
Basically do what the coaches need me to do and do what this team needs me to do. Obviously Mark (Anderson) went down for a little bit. It is one of those things when guys get hurt in the NFL and you have to be ready to play.
On if he feels good about picking up where he left off with the scheme:
Yeah, it has become second nature. I went through it just about the whole training camp and got very comfortable especially towards the end of training camp with the scheme and how things work. It became a little bit more natural for me.
On saying that he is not a defensive end:
Of I have played linebacker my whole entire life but when you are a football player you are a football player. You can put your hand in the dirt, you can stand up, and obviously if these guys if they didn't think I could play defensive end then they wouldn't have brought me back. I am happy to not only contribute, but kind of just pick up where I left off and do what they need me to do.
On if it is tough for him to leave and come back:
Yeah it was a little different for me because I have always been a player in this league when I was healthy of course. To go through that transition when you are waiting for a guy to go down not just here, but all across the league or based on team needs. Everybody that I talked to during my time off, no one thought that I could not play anymore. It was more of team needs and who do they have available to come in and play right now and that type thing. I am just excited to come back.
On his thoughts about watching the struggle on defense:
Like I said even though you aren't playing you are a fan of the game. But when you know you can still play and contribute and play it is a little bit tougher to sit back and watch the game. Good thing that I don't have sit back and watch anymore, I can go out there and play. I think the guys bounced back great the character that is in this locker room and just the resilience of these guys in this locker room is unmatched and I think it is not better time to continue on with the season we are having.
DT Kyle Williams
On his thoughts about Titans RB Chris Johnson:
We have to get everybody to the ball because a lot of the times the first guy in there is not tackling this guy by himself. We have to get on and off the blocks and get 11 guys to the ball... A lot of the time when you are going in there full speed you are going to miss and that is when he has a lot of big gains and you miss tackles.
On if he thinks it will be though for DE Shawne Merriman to get back after being out for two months:
I think that everybody has a period there where they had to get back and get acclimated. Hopefully he can do that through practice, but he has been doing this awhile and he'll pick it back up. I'm not too concerned about that.
On having Merriman back:
It is good. I mean it is always nice to have a guy that can help you, that has been here, fits in well in the room and that knows what we are trying to do. We've got a couple guys hurt and we needed to bring some guys in and glad to have him back.