1 - Hi Chris,
Short passes are good if the QB makes good throws but that is not the case with Fitz. He is having trouble on possession throws and deep throws as well, perhaps playing tight with all changes made to how he throws? Which begs the question how does the coaching staff change their coaching and change alignments to get optimal results from their players so fans do not have to read every week that the loss is on us from the players? The results when repeated over and over are on the coaching staff and how they drill, align, condition, and make things as easy as possible for players to understand and use on the field. We are in last place, do you see this changing? Do we now have to win the division to get to the playoffs?
CB: Actually Ryan Fitzpatrick’s accuracy is up considerably. Over the last four games he’s completed more than 68% of his passes (96-140 – 68.6%) with five touchdowns against two interceptions, which translates to a passer rating of 94. He’s raised his completion percentage on the season over those past four games from 58.9% to 62.5%.
As for alignments, Chan Gailey is a master at altering alignments to get defensive players to cheat ever so slightly to enhance the potential gains on plays that often catch that defensive player paying for cheating to one half of the field or the other.
Both the offensive and defensive staffs drill proper alignment and assignment, but they can’t go out on the field and execute too. That’s why the players have put the blame on themselves primarily. They insist that their game plans that they get from the coaching staff are sound, but the execution is not.
Last week against the Dolphins, the run defense was as sound as it’s looked all season. The players chalked it up to fitting up gaps and holding them effectively along with sound, fundamental tackling. All of those elements have not been consistently present for the defense, though it looks like it’s on an upswing looking at the last few outings.
As for the AFC playoff race, catching the Patriots looks to be a difficult task. They’re three games back and New England has the series sweep head-to-head. The Wild Card is what should be targeted first, knowing there is still a cluster of teams between 4-6 and 6-4, which right now is good enough to hold a Wild Card spot in the AFC.
2 - Hey Chris,
Big fan of the Bills down in Staten Island. We are rare down here but we are strong. My question is about Tarvaris Jackson. Why did we trade for him if he never dresses for games? My thought was that if he doesn’t play at all it impacts the draft choice that we have to give Seattle. I know Fitz is Chan’s guy, but I feel his confidence isn’t there and a shake-up might help him. Any thoughts?
CB: As I mentioned above, Fitzpatrick has been much more consistent in the last four games, but Jackson’s status as an inactive player each week to this point has frustrated more than just you. I get several emails each week about fans wanting to know why Jackson doesn’t even dress. I’m still working to confirm this, but we believe that if Jackson is dressed for six games or more this season, Buffalo’s conditional seventh-round pick which was sent to Seattle to acquire Jackson, becomes a sixth-round pick. With six games left in the season, we’ll see if Jackson is suddenly active in a couple of weeks.
3 - Hi Chris,
Regarding the Bills offense, when they go against teams, why don’t they open up with the no huddle, score a couple of touchdowns, then go to the two tight end formation and control the football? Obviously, in terms of opponents, they cannot open up the same way with every team, but why not incorporate a portion of that for most of their games? Success with either approach would be a key, but I just think that if they approached their game planning a little smarter, they may in better shape than they are in right now. Obviously, the spread offense is the main objective, but a wrinkle here or there could mean the difference between a win or a loss. They have two very good running backs, which are being underutilized. Even if a team shuts down their running game, a short pass attack all the way down the field mixed in with runs would work too.
Regarding the defense, I think Dave Wannstedt needs to blitz more. I know his reasons for not doing so, but teams are never going to be afraid of our defense unless we show more aggression. We have good talent all the way around, I think our coaching on both sides of the ball is the problem.
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: I would not be surprised if we so a no huddle approach used in the coming weeks as a surprise element, whether it’s to start a game or to start a second half. I think the struggles of the defense in the first half of the season forced Chan Gailey and the offensive staff to move away from it. But with Ryan Fitzpatrick playing better football and the defense more consistent of late I think there’s a greater likelihood that it’s utilized at some point in the near future.
Your call for the defense to blitz more is a common one among fans. We saw some run blitzes against the Patriots a couple of weeks ago, but if the front four continue to improve blitzing might not be as necessary a change-up as it may have been just a few weeks ago.
4 – Chris,
Since the Bills offense is predicated on quick passing and short routes. It seems a few of their WR’s are ill suited for this offense (Graham and Easley) who are more speed guys and less polished on short routes. It seems to me a Naaman Roosevelt, although not a huge special teams contributor, would do well in this offense with good routes and great hands. David Nelson also thrived in our offense and he won’t be confused with a speedy WR. It seems as though if Roosevelt was running that post route rather than Graham, the Bills may have beaten the Pats. Your thoughts whether our we’ve been drafting truly fit our schemes
CB: I think your question is a valid one. Roosevelt is a good fit for the quick underneath stuff that the Bills employ, but they already have those kinds of wideouts on the roster in the form of Nelson (though he’s on I-R) and Donald Jones. Even Stevie is that kind of wideout. The idea of drafting Graham is to further diversify the offense. They just have to wait on Graham to develop before that happens.
So that’s really the approach there with Graham on the roster. Easley is another example of that, deep speed to stretch the field and diversify the offensive approach.
5 – Chris,
I wanted to address the “Fitzpatrick Situation”. A few weeks ago, Buddy Nix acknowledged the need to upgrade the quarterback position, which was in stark contrast to his and Chan’s position on the issue 11 weeks ago. My fear is this seems to be set in motion more by public opinion than cognitive thought and, given the incoming crop of potential rookie quarterbacks, a draft pick may be sacrificed to appease the fan base rather than invested on more pressing needs in the secondary and linebacking corp.
Thanks for all you do.
CB: To be clear Buddy said they’re in a position now where if there’s a quarterback prospect they like that can be a franchise type quarterback that can play for the next 10 years, they’re in a position now where they can afford to sacrifice draft choices to get that guy.
Nix has also said that even if they draft one early it doesn’t mean he’s going to be thrust into the starting lineup right away. He’ll compete and play when he’s ready. The Bills GM gave no indication that the team would be turning away from Fitzpatrick as the starter next year. I believe everyone incorrectly assumed that if the team drafts a QB high that it automatically means Fitz is out when I think the opposite might be true.
Tags: Buddy Nix, Chan Gailey, Dave Wannstedt, Fan Friday, Marcus Easley, Naaman Roosevelt, Ryan Fitzpatrick, T.J. Graham
Posted in Inside the Bills