1 - Chris,
Great job keeping Bills Nation up to speed as usual. I think Jim Leonhard has been instrumental is providing some “glue” to the secondary so far this year. When we signed him in late in camp, did we sign him to a multi-year deal, and if not, do you think we should lock him up for next year now? At 30, he can clearly still play well.
SEASON TICKET HOLDER SINCE 2005
CB: Leonhard was an astute signing. He knew Pettine’s defense coming in and has helped direct the defensive backfield in the absence of Jairus Byrd and others. He’s currently here on a one-year contract. I think a lot of what Buffalo does at safety hinges on the situation with Byrd, so I wouldn’t anticipate anything elsewhere at the position until that is resolved.
2 - Hi Chris,
I notice that many injured players getting closer to becoming activated practice on the “scout team.” Why is that? Does the scout team (I presume an attempt to mirror the week’s opponent) practice less and is less physical? I am not sure why, for instance, if Jairus Byrd, still recovering, is a “full participant,” he is practicing on the scout team — it seems to make sense for him to be practicing with the 1st or 2nd team to practice the week’s game plan. Does practicing on the scout team, even if a “full participant,” indicate that that player is unlikely to play that week?
Matthew from Los Angeles
CB: When a player is typically working on the scout team coming off an injury, it’s an indication that they’re unlikely to play Sunday because they’re not getting the reps on defense or offense for that week’s game plan. If they’re not repping the assignments in the game plan during the week, it’s unlikely that they’re going to be trying to execute them on Sunday.
Very often a player coming off injury is used on the scout team as a way of getting them back into the flow of the practice setting. It’s not any less physically demanding, but they’re just not at the point in their recovery where they’re fit to play on Sunday. They’re medically cleared to practice, but not all the way back to play effectively in a game.
3 - Hi Chris,
Why do you think the Bills haven’t used Chris Gragg more often? He showed some good skills coming out of Arkansas, and in the preseason. I would think he could help open up our offense, in two tight end sets.
CB: The Bills coaching staff watches young players and their progress in the practice setting constantly. If they see a jump in a player’s performance in practice they’ll often be given an opportunity on a game day. Brandon Smith, who was called up from the practice squad is a prime example.
Gragg is a player the team clearly values, but with Scott Chandler the primary receiving weapon at the position and Lee Smith a solid in line blocker (something Gragg is still working on) it’s hard to know when Gragg sees the field.
4 - Chris,
Can you help us understand the philosophy of Bills playing calling on first down? There seems to be no imagination and nothing to keep defense’s guessing. I predicted every first down offensive play last night. Except for CJ’s run they all were awful. I am really concerned about Hackett’s ability.
CB: You are right the Bills do have a high propensity of running the football on first down. They are second in the league in percentage of run plays on 1st-and-10 at 62.5%. Only Seattle is higher (64.2%). It is admittedly a high figure, but Buffalo is also first in the AFC in rushing and third in the league.
You might see it as predictable, but predictability matters less when there’s consistent production. Buffalo’s run game has been productive and they’ve done it against a pair of top five run defenses in each of their last two games.
Last year there were a lot of fans that were complaining that the run game was scrapped too quickly. Hackett sticks with it and to this point the Bills have been rewarded with C.J. Spiller’s long touchdown run against Cleveland the most recent example.
5 - Chris
I still think the Bills receiving game would Open up much more with an alignment of Woods and Easley on the outside and then rotating Stevie, TJ and Hogan in the slot.
what do you think ?
CB: I think the Bills coaches feel they have more effective options for their passing attack ahead of him. Buffalo’s passing game is primarily based on timing and receivers getting early separation. Easley is fast, but he has build-up speed, so quick separation is not his specialty.
Easley can serve as an effective deep threat, but the coaching staff obviously feels that Graham and Goodwin more effective deep threats.
That being said he’s been fantastic on kick coverage this season. He’ll have to wait his turn on offense.
Tags: Chris Gragg, Fan Friday, Jairus Byrd, Jim Leonhard, Marcus Easley, Nathaniel Hackett, play calling, scout team
Posted in Inside the Bills