FLOWERY BRANCH — The defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons (3-0) are set to face the Buffalo Bills (2-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Sean McDermott, the former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator (2011-2016), is in his first season as Buffalo’s head coach.
McDermott spoke with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via conference call on Wednesday. Here’s what he had to say:
On the Bills 2-1 start: “We’ve done some good things. I like our team. The players have been playing and are really focused on our process of trying to get them ready each and every week. It’s a highly competitive league. These are tight games. That’s what we expect. We certainly have a great opponent this week in the Atlanta Falcons.”
On the play of cornerbacks E.J. Gaines and Tre’Davious White: “They’ve done a nice job. They are obviously two different players in terms of their skill set and one being a rookie and one being a veteran player that we were able to get toward the middle and end of training camp. Both have acclimated themselves, or have continued to acclimate themselves well to our system. They are getting more and more comfortable as the days move on.”
On the Falcons offense: “I think they picked up where they left off last year with the Super Bowl run. This is a strong team. A well-coached team. Coach Quinn does a great job and the weapons that they have across the board, in particular on the offensive side of the ball, with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the cast and crew that they’ve got including Alex Mack up front, it’s an impressive group.”
On Taylor Gabriel’s role: “I thought that was a great pick up by Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli. Great pickup at a key time in getting him from Cleveland. … Offensively, they use him well in different packages. They get him the ball both on shots down the field and on some underneath stuff. He’s a really big weapon for them.”
On how the Falcons’ defense is coming together: “It looks like Coach Quinn’s system. It looks like he’s trying to do what he brought from Seattle. The single-high three-deep (zone) system has them playing fast and doing some really good things. You can see the improvement one year to the next and that’s a credit to their coaching staff.”
On if his familiarity with the Falcons will help the Bills: “I’m very familiar with that area having been the NFC South and living in Charlotte. I guess the difference will be the new dome. We’re not familiar with that. We look forward to getting down there and seeing all of the money that’s been put into this major stadium.”
On the play of the Bills front seven: “Our front seven has been playing well. That’s where great defenses begin. That and an attitude of playing team defense and committing to team. Those guys have been great. Their leadership is very much appreciated and certainly a big help to me.”
On the offense: “Tyrod (Taylor) is multiple in what he can do with obviously with the passing game and running game and just spreading the ball around. I thought he did a good job of that last week. LeSean (McCoy) is a big weapon for us coming out of the backfield from a running standpoint, so I think we’ve done some good things. We have to continue to improve and which is what I’m looking forward to this week.”
On the Bills wide receivers: “I like our receiver corps. Look at how we spread the ball around last week. We’ve got Jordan Matthews. We like what he’s been able to do for us. Zay Jones is a young player much like Tre’Davious. He’s continuing to get better each week. Then you mix in Andre Holmes, Kailin Clay and Brandon Tate. The great part is that they embrace their roles and are very unselfish in their approach. That position, tends to be a position over time that there’s a lot personalities, if you will at that position, but these guys really put the team first. That’s been refreshing and good to see.”
On sniffing out Denver’s fake punt: “Colt (Anderson) is another one of our leaders on this football team. He’s a very aware football player much like some of the other players that we have. I thought he did a great job of seeing what was going on in front of him, as well as Joe Webb and Deon Lacey. They saw what was going on and that comes really from film study. That’s the work that these guys put in during the week and respecting the process and what it takes to win.”
On Dan Quinn from their William & Mary days: “I was in the process of moving over the summer. So we were going through some boxes and I was going through some old game programs. I had the program from the William & Mary and VMI game. It was my junior or senior year. I must have kept it. I was looking at the cover of it and by golly there was Dan Quinn on the cover. He was on the staff at the same time Mike Tomlin was on the staff. Who would have every thought, people going to that game would have ever in their wildest imagination known that there were potentially three (NFL) head coaches on the field that day.”