Inside The Bills

Marrone: We are a playoff caliber team

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2014 – 4:47 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone in making the decision to start Kyle Orton at quarterback this Sunday in Detroit, was asked if he believes Buffalo is still a playoff caliber team. This was his answer.

“Absolutely we have a playoff caliber team,” he said. “We have to play better than we have been playing the last two weeks.”

Production at the quarterback position was one of the areas that Marrone was obviously looking for improvement, which prompted the switch to Orton.

“This decision was based on what’s giving us the best opportunity to win,” said Marrone.


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OL determined to improve against stunts

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2014 – 3:02 pm

The Bills offensive line had some trouble with stunts and twists by the Houston defensive line on Sunday. It was a practice that the San Diego defensive line also used with some success against Buffalo. Center Eric Wood knows they’ll keep seeing it each week until they prove they can block it up.

“It’s tough on the road, communication was tough and they got us on some stunts and we all know that,” said Wood. “They beat us in matchups up front and we’re all to blame. You just keep working and keep drilling it. We’ve got a lot of young offensive linemen new to positions and they’ll keep getting better.”

Buffalo’s offensive linemen were in pass protection twice as much as they run blocked on Sunday as the Bills threw the ball 44 times. Wood said whatever is called it’s their job to execute it.

“When you get behind and early on we weren’t running the ball as effectively you’ve got to be prepared to pass block,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and complain about that. That’s the nature of the business. A lot of teams in this league pass it 44 times every week. We’ve got to do a better job.”

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Teammates backing EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2014 – 2:15 pm

Though the naysayers outside the walls of One Bills Drive have been very critical of Bills QB EJ Manuel, his teammates remain confident that their quarterback will get things done.

“My confidence is the same,” said C.J. Spiller. “It’s not a one man show but obviously in this league, the quarterback is really the focal point and the emphasis of wins and losses of teams. Obviously he didn’t have his best day and he didn’t get a lot of help either. We still have faith in him. He’s our starting quarterback. We’re going to back him.

“People are going to try to divide us and point fingers saying who should start and who shouldn’t start but we have all the confidence in the world that he’ll get the job done. Yesterday was one that just got away from him. He’ll learn from his mistakes, he takes it tough. But he’ll be fine, we’ll back him and we’ll make sure he’s ready for Detroit.”

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Chandler: Time to decide team we want to be

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2014 – 12:17 pm

After winning their first two games, the Bills have dropped two straight and now at 2-2 at the quarter pole of the 2014 season. Veteran TE Scott Chandler said the decision has to be made now on what type of team they’re going to be this year.

“You do what you can during the week to prepare and I feel like we were prepared,” said Chandler “We just have to make plays down the stretch. We got a couple field goals where we would like to get touchdowns. The pick-six was obviously a big play in the game, probably the biggest play in the game. So, you look at those things and try to get them ironed out. There’s no sense in wallowing in defeat. You’re 2-and-2 through the first four games of the season. You have to go out there and decide who you want to be as a team.”

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Lions’ Calvin Johnson still not close to 100%

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2014 – 11:55 am

Dealing with an ankle injury the past couple of weeks, Detroit WR Calvin Johnson played this past Sunday against the Jets, but on a part-time basis and did not have much of an impact in the Lions’ win over the Jets.

Johnson only played 57 percent of the snaps as he saw action on 37 offensive plays Sunday. He had just a pair of receptions for 12 yards. In the first three games the Lions’ top receiver saw around 75 percent of the snaps.

This past week Johnson did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday due to the ankle injury and was limited in practice on Friday. He was listed as questionable and then played at what was clearly less than 100 percent.

ESPN is reporting that Johnson is expected to take a similar approach to this week’s game against the Bills.

“Things have gotten better all week,” Johnson said. “It was a struggle at first and as the week progressed it got better and better and expect the same thing this week.”

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Jackson says now isn’t time for sweeping change

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2014 – 11:46 am

Bills offensive co-captain Fred Jackson made his weekly appearance Monday morning on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, and said the offensive unit as a whole did not do enough to help lift the team to a road win at Houston Sunday. With all the talk from the fan base about making changes including at starting quarterback, Jackson dismissed sweeping change as a solution.

“This is a long season. It’s only Week 4,” said Jackson. “We can’t go into panic mode and try to change everything and revamp this and that. We have 12 games left in the season. We’ve got to respond. It’s not only on EJ to respond to the last two weeks. It’s on all of us. I can’t sit here and say all the blame goes to EJ because it doesn’t. We’ve got to get stuff done and every player on our team has to improve including myself. It’s not one of those things where I’m going to say bench EJ and put Kyle (Orton) in and it’s going to magically be better. I don’t think benching him is the right answer. I think we have to go in and re-evaluate everything that we’re doing and that’s how we’ll find the answers.”

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Fred: We made it harder on EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2014 – 10:29 am

While those outside the walls of One Bills Drive are openly critical of Bills QB EJ Manuel, co-captain Fred Jackson gave strong indication that now is not the time to make rash decisions with the offense. In an appearance on Bills flagship station, WGR Sportsradio 550, Jackson said part of the reason Manuel struggled was because they failed to adequately protect him.

“I think one of the things that we can do to help him as a total offense is keep him upright on his feet,” said Jackson. “If you look at the way he had to play yesterday he was constantly being flushed out of the pocket. He was constantly being hit every time he threw the ball. They did a great job of getting pressure on him. We didn’t handle line stunts well for the second week in a row so we can expect to see that again.

“I put EJ under pressure yesterday with some blocks that I missed. When he’s running around and his feet aren’t set it’s hard for any quarterback to be accurate in that situation. It’s on us to get that taken care of. He’s a quarterback who has proven if we give him time and let him stand in the pocket he’ll deliver some great plays for us. So it’s on us to get that done.”

Jackson said the onus is on the other 10 players, especially those being counted on to pass protect to provide him the time to survey the field and make throws, much like they did the first two weeks of the season.

“If we can keep a clean pocket for him and not have him get hit every time he’s throwing the ball that’s going to make his job easier,” said Jackson. “That’s something we can do better as a whole unit and take a lot of that pressure off of him. That’s what we’ve got to focus on.

“We can’t sit here and say it’s all EJ’s fault and when we go back and look at the film today we’ll see that. We’ll see that we didn’t do our job of protecting him and it’s the same old thing. When you don’t win the game the quarterback is going to take a lot of blame for it, but as an offensive unit there’s a lot of stuff that we can do a lot better.”


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WR Hopkins gives Bills ‘D’ praise

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 11:56 pm

The Bills defense put together a pretty good day in Sunday’s loss, giving up only 16 points on the road, logging three takeaways and stuffing Houston’s fifth-ranked rushing attack. It was enough to earn praise from Houston WR DeAndre Hopkins.

“Coming into the game we knew that they are a tough defense,” Hopkins said. “They don’t get the credit that they deserve. They have a lot of great talent there. They do a great job of hustling to the ball. They have a lot of great players on the defense. You can’t take too much from their defense. They did a great job of shutting down the run game. Players made plays, this is the NFL. They came out and they had a mission to stop the run and that’s what they did.”

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No problem with Bills ‘O’ on 1st down

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 11:22 pm

First down is often a tone setting down for an offensive possession. Get off to a good start with a solid positive gain and you stand a good chance of having your possession last more than three plays. With Houston giving up an average of 5.9 yards on first down the odds were good the Bills would experience some success on first down and they did.

Buffalo averaged an impressive 6.9 yards on first down against Houston and did it with a great run-pass mix. On their 29 first down plays they gained 201 yards and scored both their touchdowns.  On their 13 runs they gained a healthy 5.46 a carry (not counting EJ’s 3-yard scramble) and on passes averaged 8.4 yards per play. There were no plays for negative yardage and only two that yielded no gain.

The problem with the Bills offense was what happened on second down in the game, which contributed to a lack of execution on third down Sunday.

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2nd down proved tough for offense

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 10:01 pm

While a lot is often made of an offense’s third down performance in a game, second down was one to keep an eye on in Sunday’s game against the Texans. The reason why was despite the fact that Houston was the number one third down defense going into the game, they were also the league’s worst second down defense.

Giving up an average of 6.84 yards a play on second down, the Texans were sitting at the bottom of the league when it came to defending on second down. The Bills needed to take advantage on this down in their series to avoid any bad down and distance situations on third down when Houston was more effective.

Buffalo unfortunately did not have a lot of success on second down. Not counting the EJ Manuel spike to stop the clock on second down just before the half, the Bills had 23 plays on second down in the game and gained 73 yards for an average of 3.17 yards per play. That unfortunately is less than half of what they had given up on second down in the first three weeks.

The Bills had six conversions on second down out of those 23 plays, but they also had seven incompletions and five other plays that resulted in no gain or negative yardage. It’s part of the reason why third down proved so difficult, particularly in the second half.

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Fred’s words for EJ & offense

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 10:01 pm

Bills offensive co-captain Fred Jackson talked to EJ Manuel and a lot of other teammates after the difficult loss Sunday to Houston. For the young quarterback his words were simple.

“Keep coming to work,” said Jackson of his message to Manuel. “We’re playing in the NFL and guys are going to make plays. We just have got to keep coming in and prepare just like we’ve always done.  We can’t change anything.  We can’t think that it’s the end of the world. That’s just it. We’ve got to come out here and lean on each other. When we get opportunities we have to be able to take advantage of it.”

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Bills run ‘D’ was dominant

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 10:00 pm

The Buffalo run defense was so dominant against the Houston Texans’ fifth-ranked run game Sunday that head coach Bill O’Brien scrapped it altogether. Through three quarters of the game the Texans had five carries for eight yards. It wasn’t until they were ahead on the scoreboard late in the fourth quarter that they chose to run the ball more in an effort to kill clock. Nevertheless the Bills run defense allowed just 1.5 yards per carry and a total of 37 yards on 24 carries in the game. As Aaron Williams saw it however, it wasn’t enough.

“Once you stop one part of their game it can only go one direction,” Williams said. “Unfortunately, Fitz just made a lot of great plays. When he scrambles, we had guys covered down the field. It’s when the QB scrambles for first downs that we have to do a better job of controlling things. It’s just little mistakes like not touching a guy down when he catches a ball, and he rolls over for a first down. It’s just little ones.  It never, it wasn’t any big plays. They made plays when it counted.”

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EJ: Pass game has to be better

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 9:59 pm

His head coach said it, he said it and his top receiving targets said it. The passing game has to be more in sync. All parties involved know they left a handful of plays out on the field due to lack of execution. No one was more disappointed than EJ Manuel.

“Yeah very disappointed,” he said in reference to the Bills’ passing game. “We weren’t clicking there like we needed to. We’ve just got to move on and process it and learn from it.

“I think it’s an overall thing. It’s not just one person. I’m not going to point anybody out. If anything I’m my own worst critic so I have to do a better job of making sure the protections are set up and making sure I’m getting those guys an opportunity to make a play after the catch.

“I think it’s all part of maturing as a man and as a quarterback. Nobody said it was going to be easy. Maybe we look back at this at the end of the season and we’re 14-2. Who knows? I think the most important thing for me and the team is to learn from it and accept it, be a man about it. Don’t shy away from it. It is what it is we lost the game, but at the same time come back even harder and be more prepared than we’ve ever been prepared for Detroit.”

The passing game will need to be appreciably better against the Lions defense. Detroit has gotten off to a dominant start on that side of the ball. Heading into Week 4 action the Lions ranked as the number one defense in the league, second in points allowed, second in third down defense, second in run defense, third in pass defense and fifth in sacks per play.

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Mike Williams: We had to adjust sooner

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 9:58 pm

Through the first three games of the season the Texans’ defense played soft off coverage on their receiver assignments allowing wideouts to make catches underneath and in front of them. On Sunday against the Bills they switched things up and forced the Bills offense to adjust.

“They had been playing off coverage all year. Letting people catch in front of them, stripping balls and things like that,” said Mike Williams. “We thought we were going to get that, but they came out and played press-man. We had to adjust. We got the calls for off coverage and zone and when you get the calls for off coverage and zone and they play man, it tends not to work. We adjusted a little bit too late.  We just have to adjust earlier, that’s my lesson for the day. We have to adjust earlier.”

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Texans inactives

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 11:45 am

Here are the inactives for the Texans for today’s game against the Bills

QB Tom Savage
WR Devier Posey
S Shiloh Keo
CB AJ Bouye
S Eddie Pleasant
OT Jeff Adams
OLB Jadeveon Clowney

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Get to know Cyril Richardson

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 11:40 am

For those of you wondering about just who Cyril Richardson is as a person and a player here’s an opportunity to see where the big man came from and how he turned into a two-time Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year despite being dealt a difficult hand during his early teen years.

Richardson’s family was one of thousands displaced by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. We gave you the whole story on Cyril and his family on this past May. Here it is again – Cyril Richardson: Always Moving Forward

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Richardson to make 1st start at LG

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 11:40 am

Replacing the injured Chris Williams in the lineup will be rookie fifth-round pick Cyril Richardson, who will be making his first NFL start today. That means that Buffalo will have two rookies starting on their offensive line Sunday as Richardson joins right tackle Seantrel Henderson in the lineup up front. Though head coach Doug Marrone did admit that Richardson will have some challenging matchups in the game, he harbors no qualms about making use of the two young players.

“I’ve always been a firm believer that you draft them to play,” Marrone told “You don’t draft them to sit down and watch and wait a couple of years, and I’m talking about offensive linemen specifically. You would hate to try to develop someone for two or three years and then you find out that they can’t play. Shame on us if we do that.

“People will ask how we feel about starting two rookies on our O-line, but I’m not nervous about that. I have the opposite approach. I’m excited. It’s an opportunity for us to see where our young football players are at.”

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Bills inactives

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 11:32 am

Here are the inactives for the Bills for today’s game against the Texans.

WR Marquise Goodwin
LB Randell Johnson
WR Marcus Easley
OL Chris Williams
RB Bryce Brown
OL Cyrus Kouandjio
CB Ross Cockrell

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For Bills’ offense 2nd down is key

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 11:15 am

Through the first three games this season the Texans’ defense has been outstanding on third down. Their unit ranks first in the league in third down conversion percentage allowed with opponents moving the sticks just over 27 percent of the time (27.3). Buffalo’s offense has ranked just 24th in third down conversion percentage (36.6%), which is why against Houston the Bills should do their best to convert a down earlier.

Converting a first down on second down is obviously a bit tougher if you haven’t set up a medium or short distance situation, but against the Texans that may not be a problem.

On first down Houston’s defense gives up four yards or more an astounding 61.7 percent of the time, more often than any defense in the league. Opponents are gaining an AVERAGE of 5.9 yards on first down against the Texans.

That leads to a lot of favorable down and distance situations on second down. That’s also a big reason why the Texans’ defense is last in the league when it comes to allowing conversions on second down. Houston is letting opposing offenses move the sticks on SECOND down 42 percent of the time (41.9%).

The Texans’ surrendering of conversions on second down is 15 percent higher than on third down, so Buffalo’s offense wants to stay close to Houston’s average given up on first down (5.9) to set up a good chance for second down conversions instead of even getting to third down.

And running the ball on second down would be perfectly fine if the Bills are in anything that’s 2nd-and-6 or less because Houston is giving up a difficult to believe 6.84 yards on second down, which ranks 30th in the NFL.

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Will size matter?

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 10:55 am

The first two games of the season the Bills offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and it helped lead to a pair of victories. Last week the men up front could not reset the line of scrimmage downfield against San Diego and it played a part in their 12-point loss in Week 3. Today against the Texans the Bills have a decided advantage in size up front when it comes to size, but will it make a difference?

The Texans defensive line (and Jack LB) average 290.75 pounds per man. That’s almost 30 pounds a man they’re giving up to the Bills offensive line, which averages 329 pounds. That should help Buffalo’s desires to establish the ground game with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson and perhaps Boobie Dixon as well.

Houston is ranked 25th against the run, and they’ve been working on their run fits all week in an effort to correct some of their problems. They also signed veteran NT Ryan Pickett who goes a hefty 340 pounds himself.

Posted in Inside the Bills