Benched Bills Starter Sounds Off After Criticism from Sean McDermott

Isaiah McKenzie

Getty Isaiah McKenzie celebrates a play in a game against the Tennessee Titans.

Isaiah McKenzie did not sound too pleased after some critical remarks from his head coach.

The Buffalo Bills wide receiver and kick returner has been benched after a series of miscues including a costly turnover against the Indianapolis Colts. After the team’s loss to the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football, Bills coach Sean McDermott explained why he didn’t trust McKenzie to resume his duties as kick returner, and McKenzie offered a sharp and succinct response.

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McKenzie Replies to Coach’s Comments

After the 14-10 loss to the Patriots on Monday Night Football, McDermott explained why he decided to bench both of the team’s normal kick returners for the game. Both McKenzie and rookie wide receiver Marquez Stevenson, who returned kicks against the New Orleans Saints after McKenzie was first benched, were inactive for Monday’s game.

McDermott instead turned to veteran safety Micah Hyde, who returned punts during his time with the Green Bay Packers. Backup running back Taiwan Jones, another veteran, was back on kick returns. The Bills coach pointed out that New England faltered by having the less-experienced N’Keal Harry return kicks. Harry allowed a punt to hit his helmet, leading to a key turnover that put the Bills in the red zone and led to Buffalo’s only touchdown of the night.

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“The same reason they turned it over on their punt return team. I didn’t want to do that,” McDermott said via video conference. “I wanted to put a guy back there that I trusted and was gonna make good decisions with the ball.”

After McDermott’s comment was reposted on Twitter by Matt Bove, sports director for WKBW in Buffalo, McKenzie offered a terse response.

“D**n,” McKenzie wrote.

McKenzie Spoke Out on Benching

This is not the first time that McKenzie has taken to Twitter to offer some thoughts on his benching. Just hours before the team kicked off against the Saints on Thanksgiving, McKenzie replied to a fan asking about his status by saying he was “Out for the season.” It does not appear he was referring to an injury, as McDermott said after the game that there were no health issues factoring in his decision to keep McKenzie inactive.

McKenzie had a series of mistakes while returning punts and kickoffs, including a fumble that put the Colts on the 2-yard-line and a misplayed kickoff against the Washington Football Team that resulted in Washington recovering the kick.

McDermott explained at the time that McKenzie was taking the benching well and keeping a professional attitude, even if it was a difficult situation for him.

“Yeah, I mean he’s a competitive guy. And I understand he wants to be out there,” McDermott said, via USA Today’s Bills Wire. “So those emotions are real and I get that.”

Hyde also offered some encouragement, predicting that McKenzie would get more chances to show off his explosive abilities.

“He’s a pro. He’ll bounce back,” said safety Micah Hyde, via Bills Wire. “You know obviously, whatever happened last game… and him not dressing or whatever this game is… you know we’re all competitors so we want to go out there and try to help this team win ballgames so you know, he’ll be alright.”

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