Expressing his desire to be transparent with reporters and fans, Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone gave a nearly eight-minute explanation Monday about the Bills' quarterback situation and why Thad Lewis will start Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Here is the full explanation from Marrone:
Need for transparency: "I think it's important for everyone, when you get into this situation, that you answer the questions that you get asked. Sometimes, I've been trying to be proactive with philosophy and thoughts, and things like that, so everyone can get an understanding of what goes on, because the one thing that I always have is an appreciation, at least from the media's perspective, of being able to give the message of what you're trying to do to the fans. I have a great appreciation for that and I think that's what important when we get together."
Philosophy on developing quarterbacks: "As far as the quarterback situation, I want to (go to) the beginning a little bit. I want to talk about the thought process that was involved. Obviously when I took the job, I understand that we were going to go ahead and draft a quarterback. I don't think that was a secret. The process from the beginning was that we were going to draft one and then we start looking at, OK, if we're going to draft one, what's the best way to develop him? I think there's two ways, when you look around the league, how quarterbacks are developed. If you look at some of the recent quarterbacks, they played early, really struggled in the first games, then they separated themselves in the last eight [games]. Like Peyton Manning, Troy Aikman, who were really thrown in there early. I think the next tier after those are the quarterbacks that have been able to sit behind a veteran player and are really playing very well right now, like Drew Brees and Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. I think those are the two ways to go about developing the player."
On signing Kevin Kolb: "What we wanted to do, when we knew that we were going to draft a quarterback, is to make sure that we did have a veteran on the team. At that point, it was a process of trying to go out and get the best veteran possible that had the ability to play and win, that was the best fit for the team. At that time, right, wrong, or different, we obviously went with Kevin Kolb."
On carrying three quarterbacks into training camp: "The next situation that came in was how many we were going to go to camp with. Now we had a young quarterback [Manuel], we liked Jeff Tuel, and we had Kevin Kolb with us. So the situation went back to, how do we develop the young quarterback, how fast we bring him along. So we went to camp with three [quarterbacks]. And again, if someone was to tell me that we were going to have these injuries, I would have went to camp with four. But that's difficult to know, because our goal was developing the quarterbacks."
On Kolb and Manuel's injuries: "Obviously what happens is, Kevin gets injured, EJ goes in and really develops faster than we expected, in that short period of time. Now where in the decision of 'Hey, this guy's going to play. He's going to be our quarterback.' Then we get an injury to EJ. And that's where Jeff had been playing and playing very well. Jeff at the time, when Kevin Kolb was injured and EJ was injured, was the only guy that really knew the system of what we were doing. That's why we didn't play him in the Detroit game [preseason finale]."
On signing Leinart; trading for Lewis: "So what we did is we went out and brought in two veterans [Matt Leinart and Thad Lewis], who in our opinion were veteran guys, even though Thaddeus may have been a younger guy and Leinart may have been around longer. And really put them in a tough situation, to come in here and play on a short week and go in there. We made a decision to go with Thaddeus. We're fortunate at that time that Thaddeus had practice squad eligibility."
On keeping Tuel on the 53-man roster: "What (we) didn't want to do, if you look at it at from the standpoint of Jeff Tuel, the way he played in the preseason -- if you look at his numbers, really outside of EJ probably, he played as well as any young quarterback in the league -- what we didn't want to have happen was someone to go ahead and take away a young, developing quarterback from under us. We made a decision to go with two on the roster, with EJ and Jeff, and then having Thaddeus on our practice squad. In doing so, we're working the reps going in."
On latest injury to Manuel: "Then I think what happened the other night was, obviously an injury occurs to EJ. We put Jeff in there, which was a tough situation. You always look at yourself, and I brought Jeff in and spoke with him and said 'Hey, it's a tough situation with a short week. Very difficult to go in there. We feel that you're a good, young, developing quarterback. We're very excited about having you.' And Jeff's response to me was 'Coach, I appreciate it, but my job is to go in there and win the game,' and that's the way he went about it. I talked to him about it."
On working out Pat White, Dennis Dixon: "The next process after that is obviously, at first, what you want to do is you want to make sure, at any position, nevermind the quarterback one also, is you want to go out and say 'OK, is there anyone outside that is out there that's better?' And I think you're doing that all the time. So you want to look there and see if anyone is better. Then what we did is we went out and we had conversations with some quarterbacks. Again, it's [CEO] Russ Brandon, [general manager] Doug Whaley, myself, [director of player personnel] Jim Monos, [offensive coordinator] Nate Hackett were involved in what we're trying to do. And then all the sudden, all this stuff starts going out, [that] you're talking to this person and that person. We wound up bringing in two quarterbacks for a workout. I think that was well-documented. We brought in Pat White and [Dennis] Dixon. They were the best available to us at the time."
On deciding on Lewis as the starter: "We thought after working them out, it was best for us to move on and play with Thaddeus. He will start."
On releasing information to team, public: "What happened today was, this has been going on, obviously a long thought process. I'm one guy that tries to make sure that as soon as I get information, I get it out. A decision was going through tonight, sleeping on it, waking up this morning. I had a team meeting. I wanted to make sure that they knew as soon as I knew. As soon as the team found out, fortunately or unfortunately, I had a media session [with WGR 550] that I was planning on not answering that question, unless I was asked. I was asked that question, and I just shot them straight. [Senior Vice President of Communications] Scott [Berchtold] didn't know about it until after I came out of the meeting. Russ, and Doug, and myself, we knew about it prior to that meeting and then I had to get with the players because I showed up two minutes late to the meeting because I was still talking to Thaddeus and I wanted to talk to Jeff. Whether it's right, wrong, or different, I'm trying to give you guys the time frame and the thought process of everything we've done."