Okay folks the second half of the schedule is underway. Let’s get to some of the questions sent to AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 - Hey Chris,
Steve Johnson’s emergence this season as a viable #2 receiver has been refreshing. How much of an impact do you think T.O. had on Johnson when he was here last year? Being around a future hall of famer in the practice setting and game setting had to have helped somewhat. I was clamoring for Stevie to get on the field towards the end of last year when the playoffs were clearly out of the picture, but I am wondering if having him sit behind T.O. and learning for a year might have been in his best interest as it is paying dividends for him now. What do you think? Has Johnson mentioned anything about it?
Andrew in Tonawanda.
CB: Truthfully I don’t think Terrell Owens had anything to do with Stevie’s development. Owens ironically, took James Hardy under his wing last year and spent a ton of time with him. Johnson just kept doing his thing and waited for the opportunity.
That opportunity did not come until this past spring, but he earned everything he has gotten this season. He just put his nose to the grindstone and kept working. Johnson’s route running has been sharpened somewhat by receivers coach Stan Hixon, but for the most part it’s a maturation process that we often see in receivers.
When year three rolls around there’s a leap in production. We saw it with Eric Moulds, who was buried behind some veterans. Now we’re seeing it with Stevie.
2 – Recently there was an article about the defense on how it has improved in stopping teams on 3rd down. Is there any statistical information kept on how the Bills do compared to the rest of the league on how they do on 1st and 2nd down?
Also if you have enough space could you do a break down on similar statistics for the offense?
Thanks Chris, and have a great day!
CB: Hopefully you saw my write up on how Buffalo’s third down offense is also much improved of late. As far as first down and second down go, there isn’t nearly the comprehensive statistical breakdowns for those as there are for third down.
I can tell you that on first down this season the Bills offense has run 213 plays on first down and they have run 102 and passed 111 times. Their average gain rushing on first down is 3.8 yards and their average gain passing on first down is 7.23 yards.
On second down they have passed almost twice as much as they have run this season (56 rushes to 98 passes). The production in the run game on second down however, has been better than the average gain on second down pass plays. The Bills have averaged 4.7 yards per rush on second down and just 3.37 yards per pass on second down this season.
On the defensive side of the ball opponents have run on the Bills on first down exactly twice as much as they have passed (160 to 80). Opponents have gained 4.92 yards per rush compared to 6.18 yards per pass play. With only about a yard difference you see why teams are apt to run on the league’s worst run defense because it can still bring up 2nd and medium.
On second down for the Bills defense they’ve had 93 rushing plays run at them at an average gain of 4.81 yards per play and 87 pass plays at an average of 8.43 yards per play.
Hopefully that’s enough for you to chew on.
3 - Hey Chris,
I hope you don’t mind all the questions but I was wondering if there may come a point in the season when coach Gailey might throw some of the guys that have not been dressing for games in to evaluate what they might have to give to the team ? I know that by the inactive list there are a few guys that fans wonder why they are not dressing Carrington being one . Well once again thanks for your time !!
Mr. T from Ft. Myers via Nashville
CB: I think there’s a chance we see more of that in the final month of the season, particularly the last two games, but I’m not convinced that will happen. Chan Gailey is about winning games, and as much as he believes in developing young players I’m not sure he’ll throw a rookie out there just to see what he can do. We’ll just have to wait and see what the approach is down the stretch.
4 - Hey Chris,
I’ve been watching a lot of the college games lately and am very impressed by Luck as many others are, but another name that I have been very enthused about and have seen great things from is Cam Newton. I was just wondering your thoughts on him and where you see him going if he comes out this year. Is he first round quality or someone likely to go later on in the draft?
His athleticism combined with what seems to be a pretty good arm and good vision and accuracy seems to make him a pretty good candidate for going high up in the draft if he comes out. What do you think? He seems to have some pretty good leadership skills and is well trusted by both fans and his teammates even after this alleged incident and all.
CB: Unfortunately for him the alleged incident is going to be heavily scrutinized and investigated by NFL scouts. The reports of him trying to hand in a stolen (plagiarized) term paper twice to the same professor will not help his cause either as far as character evaluation goes.
There is no question he is tremendously gifted physically, and that will overwhelm some talent evaluators to the point where it overshadows all the negatives. What I don’t like is him being a one-year starter in a major conference. Yes, he was a starter in junior college, but it’s not the same.
Inexperience at the quarterback position especially is a big negative for me. What most NFL scouts think is anybody’s guess, but I do know there are some personnel decision makers in the league that will not touch a QB without 30 starts in college and a 60 percent completion percentage, which history has shown leads to a greater chance of being successful in the NFL.
Naturally there are exceptions to that rule and Newton could be one of them. Some team will make him a first round pick if he does in fact come out, and with all the off the field issues, I’d say it’ll probably happen. But I see him going in the 15 to 25 range of round one at the earliest and that’s if he keeps playing like he has been. To me he’s too big a risk to take with a top 10 pick.
5 - Hey Chris,
A lot of us have been trying to figure out whether the Bills need to draft a quarterback or if they’re okay with Fitz keeping the starting job, but one thing we all tend to forget is–Fitz is still a free agent after the season, isn’t he? I would think the Bills are in a tough situation with this. The ideal would seem to be to sign him to a deal that would make him either a low-paid starter or a high-paid backup, depending on if they draft a QB and if said QB pans out. In actuality though I would think that Ryan is going to look for someone to pay him money fitting a quality starting quarterback, which will mean the Bills either need to be that team, or they’re going to be forced to draft a quarterback because Fitz will be playing elsewhere.
Do you agree with this assessment? If so, what do you think the chances are that the Bills are going to do what it takes to keep Fitzpatrick in the fold?
CB: Fitz is signed through the 2011 season. He signed a three-year deal when he joined Buffalo in the 2009 offseason. So he’ll be under contract this offseason, not to worry.
That being said I still believe the Bills need to draft a franchise quarterback. As much as I respect the shot in the arm that Fitz has been for this offense, he’s had some trouble delivering when the game is on the line. To his credit he’s even pointed this out himself (e.g. the missed throw to Johnson vs. Chicago that was INT’d).
All of Fitz’s INTs have come in the second half this season with five of the seven happening in the fourth quarter. He deserves a ton of credit for putting the Bills in position to win, but making the plays at the end of the game to seal a victory have been hard to come by and that’s what the great ones do more often than not.
Tags: Cam Newton, Chan Gailey, Fan Friday, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Steve Johnson
Posted in Inside the Bills