Time for everyone to catch our breath here in the bye week before the Bills work their way through the last 10 games of a promising season. Keep sending your questions in to AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Let’s get to this week’s questions.
1 - Chris my question is around defense. The Bills still do not have any pass rush that I have observed. Are the Bills trying to design some sort of pressure? Also Shawne Merriman has been non-exsisent so far so what is being done to get him more involved. The Bills will not keep winning without a better pass rush, and more activity out of our linebackers…
CB: You’re right about pass rush production. It’s been lacking. As we reported this week it was at the top of the ‘to do’ list for head coach Chan Gailey and his staff. Buffalo simply can’t get home with four rushers and against the Giants they couldn’t get to Eli Manning when they sent five on almost every third down in the first half. Gailey said part of the problem is they’re not winning their one-on-one battles when they have them. They said they’d harp on improving pass rush technique with the players up front.
Unfortunately I think they’re going to have to rely on scheme a bit more to generate pressure instead of pure talent and that’s not easy. Fortunately Merriman is supposed to be back in the lineup as well as Kelsay, so hopefully things can improve in that area. Otherwise big plays against the Bills will continue to be made.
2 - Hey Chris,
I was Just wondering what the status is on Jasper and if they are working him in to the offensive tackle position, much like they did with Jason Peters before he was traded. If the Bills staff get him going I think they would add great size and run block for the running game.
Secondly, do you think the stadium will get any more upgrades?
Thank you for what you do for the fans everyday!!
CB: Jasper has been working at guard for the past month. The first week in which he was switched to the offensive line he manned the tackle spot, but shortly after the Bills picked up Sam Young off waivers and he’s been at right tackle with the reserves kicking Jasper in to guard. Jasper played guard his last two collegiate seasons at Bethel and it’s probably his most natural position on the offensive line.
He’s got the athleticism to pull from there on run plays, and he obviously has the girth to stand in there against the big DTs in pass protection. He’s also been working even harder to get his weight down more. He’s at 373 now with a goal weight of 360.
3 - Chris,
Has there been any news on either Fred Jackson (2012) or Ryan Fitzpatrick’s (2011) contract extensions? Given their production (especially Freddy – no slight to Fitz, but Freddy has done quite a bit), you’d think and I hope Management will make a motion to keep them.
CB: There’s been a lot of progress with Fitzpatrick’s contract negotiations. I think Fitz will be done sooner rather than later, but to lay out a timetable would be foolish because no one can predict the pace of negotiations. As for Fred I agree, he has outplayed the value of his contract. However, with Stevie Johnson’s contract up after this year I would anticipate that he is taken care of after Fitz.
Fred is still under contract through the 2012 season, so the same urgency to get Jackson a new deal might not be there as for players like Fitzpatrick and Johnson. That being said knowing that Jackson has stated publicly more than once that he’d like to have a new contract, I do know that he met with Bills GM Buddy Nix a couple of weeks ago and that the meeting was very positive.
Does that mean negotiations are going to be kick started? I don’t believe so. I don’t think there’s any debating that Fred is deserving, but there are other players on his side of the ball that have to addressed first.
4 - Hi Chris,
Hats off to the Bills for their great start. I think Fred Jackson is the best running back they have had since Thurman Thomas. Having said that, I am a little concerned over the alarming amount of yards they are giving up on defense. True, they are a plus nine in turnovers and they are doing a great job with that, but they need to stop people better. Based on what I saw in the game against the Eagles, the linebackers are not one hundred percent sideline to sideline, meaning their lateral pursuit is lacking. Teams that run well off the edge will continue to have huge gains. They ran zone blitzes on Michael Vick and they were successful, but they still give up too many big plays. What is your take on this? I will look forward to your answer.
Tony, Daytona Beach, Fl
CB: I think your concerns were fully realized in the Giants game. Without takeaways the yardage allowed was magnified and without a pass rush big plays were more prevalent. Buffalo was also without three starters in the front seven. In addressing the range of Buffalo’s linebackers Barnett has been playing with a bad ankle and Andra Davis is more of an in the box ILB. I think that’s partly why Kelvin Sheppard is getting more and more playing time moving forward. He has sideline to sideline range and can also be utilized as a blitzer. So his mere presence on the field makes them more athletic and versatile. Whether it makes a noticeable difference is something we’ll have to wait and see.
5 - Now that the Ralph is rocking again, selling out the games and the Bills are headed in the right direction how much longer do we need to play one game in Toronto? It is a huge disadvantage for us and we haven’t won there yet.
CB: You’re right the Bills have not won a regular season game in Toronto to this point. With respect to the Bills Toronto Series however, no matter if the Bills sell out every home game at the Ralph, to remain financially competitive in the NFL they need to continue to regionalize the franchise and that includes Toronto. Buffalo by itself does not have the corporate tax base to sufficiently fill premium and luxury seating at Ralph Wilson stadium. It’s big companies that often invest in suites and premium seating.
Part of the Bills Toronto Series aim is to draw more of the large corporate base from Toronto back to RWS for that kind of investment. The state of economics in the NFL, even in the wake of the new 10-year CBA makes it a necessary approach.
Tags: Bills Toronto Series, Fred Jackson, Mike Jasper, pass rush, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shawne Merriman
Posted in Inside the Bills