BB: Well, we’re winding it down here.
Q: Can you talk about the decision to sign LeGarrette Blount and what that adds to your team?
BB: You know, we tried to sign LeGarrette in the offseason. That didn’t work out which is the NFL, it’s the business part of the NFL. He was released, he was available and we were able to work it out for him to come back here. Glad to have him back.
Q: When you see a guy in game shape, how much does that factor into the decision to bring him back?
BB: I don’t know. I mean, pretty much everybody in the league has been playing at this time of year, with some exceptions. But, yeah, I don’t know. We know the player; we have a history with him. I think that was the biggest part of it.
Q: How do you seem him contributing and helping the team?
BB: That will be up to him. Just like everybody else. When he gets an opportunity, how much he can take advantage of it, how much he can be productive, what he can do with those opportunities will determine how many more there are and how [big] it becomes. It’s totally up to him. He knows that. We’ve talked about that. He knows that’s the way it is and I think he’s excited about it.
Q: Do you see him and Jonas Gray being able to feed off each other?
BB: I don’t know.
Q: Are you going to make history with the first No. 60 running back?
BB: Yeah, I’m sure he’ll have a regular number. Ask the equipment people about that. Maybe those jerseys got mixed up, I don’t know.
Q: When you look at them defensively, what do you see from DeAndre Levy?
BB: A lot of production. He’s on the field all the time. They don’t take him off. He’s around the ball a lot; really instinctive, does a real good job in the running game. He’s on the ball. His run keys are good, he’s got good speed, can make plays sideline-to-sideline, runs well, athletic player that’s smart, instinctive, very productive. He’s a good player. He does a good job for them.
Q: Is he what you remember in ’09 coming out of Wisconsin?
BB: He’s really been productive. When [Stephen] Tulloch got hurt this year, he had a big role anyway, but it kind of thrust him into maybe a little bigger role. They’ve been in a lot of sub defense. He’s a key guy for them on that obviously. Yeah, he’s had production in the league. What’s this, his fourth year, fifth year [sixth year]? He’s had consistent production, but he’s had a lot of production. Obviously we’ve studied him a lot more this year than the last couple and he’s had a lot of production this year.
Q: When you’re making personnel decisions, is there a point in the season were you say, ‘It’s so late in the year now so it may not be worth it because he’ll just have so much to try to pick up?’
BB: I’d say that’s definitely been an evaluation that we’ve had of some players throughout the years. Yeah, absolutely. There are some guys, you get to a certain point and think, ‘This is probably, we’ll have to wait to next year or maybe sign him in the offseason as a future.’ You just don’t have enough time or practice. Based on what you’re able to do in practice at this time of year and how much there is. It’s not what we’re doing in training camp. It’s that plus another dozen weeks of volume of what we’ve done plus whatever team we’re playing, it’s their volume too. They didn’t stay the same either. All the different things that you see from your opponent, regardless of who the opponent is, it starts to exponentially ratchet up pretty fast. So, yeah, that definitely is a conversation that we’ve had, I would say, with multiple players. Depending on what point in time you’re talking about it and who the player is and how much experience they have and what you think you’d be asking them to do.
Q: For a guy who picked up football relatively late, what are your thoughts on Ziggy Ansah and how productive he’s been able to be?
BB: He’s a really good player. He adds a lot to that defense because of his edge presence, to go with [Ndamukong] Suh and [Nick] Fairley. I know Fairley’s not in there now, but [C.J.] Mosley and those guys. He really balances it out. If you start to concentrate too much on the inside part of the defense, then you have edge problems. If you concentrate too much on the edge, it lightens the load inside. He really is a good complement and he’s a very disruptive player. He’s long, explosive, he’s got a good edge rush, but he’s also got power and inside pass rush ability. So, he’s a tough guy to handle. He does a good job.
Q: When you look at Joseph Fauria, how much is he any part of Christian Fauria, who you know obviously very well?
BB: Yeah, I’d say their style of play is quite a bit different.
Q: Was Christian more of a blocker? I know he caught the ball well, but…
BB: Yeah, Christian really coming out of Colorado I thought was a little bit undersized, but a legitimate three-down tight end. Even though he was a little undersized, he had real good playing strength, he had good hand strength, he could lock on to guys. He didn’t get tossed around like some guys his size did. I thought he played bigger than maybe his weight size would indicate. He was a good receiving tight end. Not elite, but good. He was really an every-down player. When he was in his prime, he didn’t really have to come off the field. I don’t think you would have to take him off the field, you would do it situationally, but I don’t think you have to do it. His nephew really hasn’t had that kind of opportunity. They have [Brandon] Pettigrew and now they have [Eric] Ebron. They have a pretty good stable of tight ends there. He’s one of them. But they have pretty good depth at that position. Most of his opportunities have come more in the passing game. But I would say that just watching him on film, his blocking has improved. We played them last year in the preseason and he had a couple touchdowns against us. He killed us there. But I’d say he’s definitely improved as an overall player and I’d say his blocking has improved quite a bit from last year.
Q: Maybe the touchdown celebrations are the one part we can link them.
BB: Yeah, there you go.
Q: Is the roster size the biggest difference between coaching special teams now as opposed to back in ’76 and ’77 or is the game drastically different in that area too?
BB: I would say it’s evolved a lot, yeah. The roster size, again, it’s all relative. You’re playing some of your starters on special teams. You have six linebackers on the roster, four running backs, four receivers – well that’s what they had too. Now, you have a lot more specialization. You have a lot of teams that have a core group of players in the kicking game – five, six guys that are pretty much on every team. Then you have your specialists and then you have maybe a couple other guys that may play on one or two teams depending on what the needs of that team are. Obviously you can play more smaller guys on punt return and kickoff coverage than on the punt team because you only have two guys split out there right. So, depending on which team you’re talking about, I think there’s one maybe two-phase players and then those four-phase players are usually four, five, six, seven guys on your roster, depending on how it’s comprised in addition to the specialists. Definitely the players on the smaller roster, they were true backup players. They were one play away from playing middle linebacker or tight end or running back or corner or whatever. Now, you see teams going into games with five safeties, five corners, five running backs. You know, heavier positions because there’s depth there in the kicking game for those guys. Then schematically I’d say it’s changed a lot, just in terms of punt formation. That’s changed, been a huge change. The kickoffs have changed because of the ability of the kickers and the rules, where now it’s a touchback game. So, that’s changed things a little bit. The same thing on the field goals, it’s hard to block field goals now because of the rules. Fifteen, 20 years ago, you have a lot of options. You could overload, you could load up certain spots in the protection. Now it’s hard to do that. You can’t hit the snapper, can’t jump, can’t push, can’t pull. Yeah, it’s changed.
Q: Relative to today, was it easy to coach blocking field goals?
BB: I’m just saying you had more options. Back in the ‘70s, you had the jumpers, you had the Matt Blairs and the guys like that that would have five, six, seven blocks a year. That was eliminated. Now you can’t hit the center so the center is probably the weakest by far protector on any team’s field goal unit, but you’re not allowed to hit him. You can’t line up on him so that’s another opportunity you don’t have. You can’t overload so you can only put six guys to a side, so that’s another – you don’t have that extra guy to create that extra gap so you can’t do that. You can’t push anybody from behind. Is it easier? I’d say it’s a lot harder because you have a lot less options. And on top of that, the kickers are better. The surfaces are much, much better. You don’t have some of the bad fields where it was hard just to kick the ball period – the baseball stadiums and the infield that got sodded and all that. You’re not dealing with those kind of situations. Kicking off the dirt, you don’t see that anymore. The kickers have gotten better and the conditions have gotten much better and you’re kind of not allowed to do a lot of things that you would normally do to try to block a kick. So, yeah, it’s gotten harder.
Q: Have you ever been in a situation like the Bills are in this week, where something totally out of your control causes you to hit the pause button and created so much concern?
BB: We kind of got into a little bit of that situation in the Pittsburgh [game], in the AFC Championship Game in ’04. Where we had the big storm come in here and it was headed for Pittsburgh so we left a day early. We kind of scrambled on that. So, it was like Thursday and we were like, ‘OK fellas, this storm is coming, we have to get out of here.’ We were going to leave on Saturday, or whatever, I forget, maybe it was a Saturday game. I can’t remember the exact schedule, but I remember we very quickly pulled that together like, ‘We have to get up there or we might be trapped here and have to bus and all that to the game.’ So, we just jumped up there, got up there early, spent an extra night in a lovely Pittsburgh hotel. There was a lot of snow. It was ’04 I think – yeah, you guys remember – I’m sure it screwed up your schedule too. Look, whatever it is, we all know there’s nothing more important than the safety of the fans and the whole situation. So, whatever needs to be done, needs to be done. Both teams have to adjust to a degree. That’s one that I remember really where it changed our travel plans, like within a day. We went from going one day to moving it up and going a day early.
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