Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 7-27

Posted by Chris Brown on July 27, 2012 – 11:05 am

Alright Bills fans, training camp is underway! Time to get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net, and keep them coming. You can also fire off questions to @chrisbrownbills on twitter if that’s easier. Let’s get going.

1 - Chris,

I understand that Mario Williams is going to do fine in the new 4-3 scheme being installed in Buffalo, but can any comparison be made to how Jason Taylor was used in Miami under Wannstedt?  If so, can you break down how you see him being used and what type of scheme Miami used with Taylor.  Were they just turning Taylor loose to use his ability?  How did the other players on that Miami front 7 compare to the ones in Buffalo?
 
Tim
Rochester, NY

CB: The only real similarity between Jason Taylor and Mario Williams is their height. Both are 6’6”, but as far as body type, style of game and fit in a defense they’re vastly different. Williams at 292 pounds is an Adonis that has uncharacteristic athletic ability for his size. Though he has good speed around the edge, he has a great power game as well. Add in his solid run stopping ability and he really is the total package.

Taylor was a pass rusher first and foremost and did what he could to help against the run, but he played about 50 pounds lighter than Williams.

If anyone on Buffalo’s roster has a role similar to that of Jason Taylor I would expect it to be Mark Anderson. Wannstedt feels Anderson’s quick feet are comparable to those of Taylor, and he’s lining up on the same side of the formation at right defensive end.

So if you’re looking for a pass rusher that’s going to do similar things I’d tell you to watch Anderson.

 

2 - Chris,
 
 Once again, thanks for the work you do.  Simple question, I always hear the team talk about how different Stevie runs his routes. Can you explain what makes him different? How hard is it for a receiver with a “different” style of running to make it in the NFL, is Fitz just that kind of QB who can handle what other QB’s cant? I guess just over all what makes Stevie special at his position?
 
Eric,
displaced fan in AZ 

CB: What makes Stevie unique is his route running. For decades most receivers focus on the precision of their routes to make their cuts as sharp as possible to gain the necessary separation. The thought being if my routes are as sharp as they can be every single time, I give myself a better chance to gain separation and make a play.

Of course that precision in some ways can also become predictable, making a receiver easier to read and scout and prepare for in a given game.

Stevie is the exact opposite of precision. The way he runs routes is very unconventional. When he runs a comeback or a dig it’s very rarely the same route twice. Johnson uses stutter steps, hesitation, shoulder fakes, side steps and just about every other trick in his bag to gain separation and make a play.

Fortunately for him he has a head coach that’s only concerned that he get to the spot where he’s supposed to be on time. He doesn’t care how he gets there, just as long as he does when the ball is arriving in his timing-oriented offense.

So Stevie has the freedom to improvise his routes so long as they stay within the framework of the offensive system.

This is confounding to defensive backs, even some of the best (See: Revis) because there is no effective way to prepare for Johnson. Rarely does he run a route the same way twice over the course of several weeks let alone a single game. So it’s almost impossible for cornerbacks to anticipate what is coming putting them at a distinct disadvantage.

 

3 - Chris,
How does Mario Williams compare to Bruce Smith?

LeeD

CB: That is not as easy a question as it sounds. I think the two were both physical freaks. Uncommonly athletic for men their size while also possessing an unnatural amount of strength. As talented as Mario Williams is he’s got an awful lot more to do in this league to measure up to the all-time sack leader, but there aren’t many other defensive ends over the last 25 years that can match the rare physical abilities of both men.

Lawrence Taylor is one of the few that come to mind.

 

4 - Chris,

How do you see the cornerback position shaking out? Will they start Gilmore and McGee (if healthy) or might they go with Williams regardless of McGee’s health? Do you believe McKelvin is expendable with Rogers and Brooks pushing hard from behind? Would they keep just 5? Is there anybody on the roster right now who might crack into the top 6 (Gilmore, Williams, McGee, Rogers, McKelvin, Brooks) and push another out? Thanks for your time!

Chris in Binghamton
CB: I think Terrence McGee has some ground to cover in his return from a torn patellar tendon. He’s got some time, but not a lot. The problem with his situation is they can’t wait on McGee very long because if he can’t play effectively they have to make sure they have Aaron Williams ready to start.

As I see it McGee is the only guy that can overtake Williams at left cornerback with Gilmore a virtual lock to start from day one at right cornerback. Leodis McKelvin looks like a guy they want to move inside to the slot for the nickel package.

I like Justin Rogers’ skill set and believe he could be a bigger contributor this year, but covering slot receivers might be the best fit for him. So against four wide sets he could cover the other slot receiver assuming McKelvin is the primary slot defender.

I think Brooks also makes the roster. He’s a top flight physical talent and in my mind has the fastest feet of all the corners. I want to see how he holds up though when the pads go on because he is not the biggest guy. Those are your top 6 and yes, I think keeping six is a distinct possibility with another likely on the practice squad.

 

5 - Chris,

If Shawne Merriman returns to form (or even gets close to it) and has a productive season for the Bills this season, will Buddy Nix try offering him a contract extension? Thanks! 

Steve
Fredericksburg, VA

CB: I think the Bills have a lot of decisions to make on a bunch of players heading into contract years. Most notably Andy Levitre, Jairus Byrd and Kraig Urbik. David Nelson is also a restricted free agent. Those players, who all have a longer career in front of them than Merriman, are likely to get priority when it comes to extensions.

If Merriman is productive I would anticipate the Bills trying to keep him, but it’s not a one player decision.


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