Alright Bills fans we’re down to the final week before training camp. Players are expected to report next Friday afternoon. Your wait is almost over. Remember during training camp to keep those questions coming at AskChris@bills.nfl.net on email and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – Chris,
I like the idea of an “up tempo” offense. It will be exciting to see more plays by the Bills in less time. Hopefully, it will keep opponents guessing and on their heels and wear down the defense. Just wondering……besides having the players to run this, won’t the Bills need to have better stamina than their opponent on both sides of the ball? Better Strength and Conditioning than opponent?
Brian Butch Williamson · Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania
CB: You’re right their conditioning will have to be superior and that’s why the offseason program changed noticeably in terms of the training. Practice tempo is also significantly accelerated to what it used to be under the previous regime. The coaching staff knows to run an offense that way they need to have players properly conditioned for it. They’ll be ready.
2 – Chris,
I’m concerned that the up tempo offense planned this season could also backfire. Too many 3 and outs, puts a lot of pressure on our D.
Mark Francese · Canandaigua
CB: I actually had the same concern until I looked at what Hackett did at Syracuse. No huddle or up tempo offenses that fall victim to going three and out too often are typically going pass, pass, pass and then they’re off the field. Hackett doesn’t take that approach. He tries to strike a 50-50 run-pass balance.
As an example, last season at Syracuse in their up tempo offense, the Orange averaged 41.5 run plays per game and 37.5 pass plays per game. Hackett ran the ball 52.5% of the time. Syracuse converted almost 50% of their third downs (49.3%). Granted the college game isn’t as competitive, but that conversion percentage would’ve led the NFL last season. New England was the best third down conversion team in the league in 2012 with a success rate of 48.7%.
3 – Chris,
Thanks for the continued great work. As a west coast Bills fan, your work helps us stay connected to the team and community.
I had a comment on the QB situation, and the Tarvaris Jackson move. I think you addressed a related question last week about Jeff Tuel last week. A fan said, “He hasn’t been mentioned in press conferences…
I beg to differ. In almost all the national interviews I’ve seen or heard with Doug Whaley or Doug Marrone, it almost seems like they go out of their way to mention Tuel. Interviewers mentioned the competition at QB, and would reference Kolb, Manuel and Jackson (before he was cut), and BOTH Marrone and Whaley would actually go out of their way to throw Tuel in the QB competition mix. This happened repeatedly in national interviews. Locally, perhaps it’s not something anyone wishes to discuss, with the focus being so much on Manuel. But I noticed this effort to reference Tuel a few weeks ago, and commented on it among fellow Bills fans. I even speculated that Tuel was a potential dark horse. So when Jackson was cut, my “take” was that it had less to do with Manuel, and perhaps more to do with Tuel. And his performance, however limited, was sufficient to make them comfortable enough to go with just one veteran into training camp.
I’m not suggesting Tuel will necessarily win the job. Given the investment in Manuel, the Bills’ brass will obviously do all it can to allow E.J. to win the job. But I think the job is probably Kolb’s to lose, and my opinion is that cutting Jackson wasn’t so much about Manuel, but more about Tuel. His physical skills, while not freakish like Manuel, are certainly sufficient and even elite in some areas. Do you see any scenario, however remote, that Tuel could actually win the starting job? Or maybe even win the backup job over Manuel (or perhaps if Manuel wins the starting job, the Bills cut Kolb). I know it seems ludicrous on the surface, but the extra effort made by Whaley and Marrone in the interviews I’ve seen with those two makes me think they’re much higher on Tuel than perhaps most people realize. What do you think?
CB: While I do believe the Bills offensive staff feels Tuel is a quarterback they can develop, the decision to release Jackson was made purely with the aim of making sure the remaining candidates for the starting job (Kolb, Manuel) get enough snaps so the staff can make an accurate evaluation. Splitting QB reps three ways makes it too hard for any of the candidates to separate themselves from the competition because they’re not getting enough time on the field.
The second part of that is as important as it is for Coach Marrone and his offensive staff to make an accurate call on the starter, whoever it is, they also need to get both candidates ready to play. That also could not happen with a three-way battle. Whether it’s Kolb or Manuel starting come September, both have to have enough work on the practice field executing plays so they’re ready to run the offense efficiently and effectively to help the team win games. In fact that’s probably the most important goal.
In this new offense the staff needs to have one of them ready to play come September 8th.
4 - @ChrisBrownBills
What schemes are taking shape of Defense? How often are they blitzing?
CB: The best way to explain the defense under Mike Pettine is it’s a multiple scheme with varied fronts and versatile personnel. There is no true identity to the defense, which is what makes it so effective. They might have base sets in their scheme, but the personnel and varied looks keeps them unpredictable.
As for blitzing they were doing it a ton in the practice setting this spring. I think you can plan on Buffalo’s defense to be aggressive without being reckless. How often they blitz however, will only be determined by the opponent each week as well as time and score.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you expect a No1 Quarterback to be decided before the start of the season? #bills
CB: I’m expecting that decision to be made somewhere after the second preseason game. At the latest after the third preseason game. That’s kind of the tipping point to give the majority of the first team reps to someone so they’re fully prepared to run the offense at the start of the regular season.
Tags: Bills offense, Fan Friday, Jeff Tuel, Mike Pettine, Nathaniel Hackett, QB competition
Posted in Inside the Bills