1 – Chris,
Can you give some new insight on how defensive ends will work under Schwartz? Besides Mario it seems like Bills have other options. Hughes was better as an OLB and I don’t see him as every down because of his size. Lawson also has never played DE as well. Do you see this as a major draft need? I feel worried that the sacks/pass rush will fall off because of the scheme change.
CB: While you are right that Lawson has very limited experience as a full time defensive end having played mostly in 3-4 defensive schemes in his career, he is an expert leverage player. So although long and wiry I believe Lawson can make that transition, most likely on the right side. He’s been up on the line enough in his career to know how to handle such a role. Of course the proof is in the pudding.
As for Hughes it’s certainly possible he’s reduced to a pass rushing role, but I think that’s something that will play out in the spring camps and training camp.
I do agree that it is somewhat of a hidden need for Buffalo that isn’t talked about much. They do need to find another fit for Schwartz’s scheme knowing things are changing.
2 – Hey Chris,
Last year attending Bills training camp at St. John Fisher, it appeared to me that EJ Manuel had an extremely good long ball. His release was quick, the throws were accurate, and the offense was often successful completing those long throws. However during the season I did not often see EJ attempt long throws. I wonder did you see the same thing I did at camp? If so, have you any thoughts about why they didn’t make all that many long passing attempts during the season? Do you think we might see more of a long passing game this year?
CB: Last year the aim was to keep the offense on the field so deep throws, while potentially rewarding don’t provide a high success rate. With a young QB running things, the plan was to string together high percentage plays and not create too much risk. That’s why Buffalo ran the ball so much last season (most rushes in the NFL in 2013).
Provided EJ demonstrates more efficient decision making, particularly when under duress, through the offseason and preseason I do anticipate more long passes per game. Realistically though unless there is a flaw in an opponent’s secondary there are usually not much more than half a dozen of those kinds of plays attempted by one team in a game.
3 – Hi Chris.
Thanks for keeping everybody posted during free agency. It’s certainly appreciated.
With the new CBA, is it legal for teams to have something like a “behavior clause” in a players contract? For example “you lose X number of dollars if you get more then 3 personal fouls this season” or you lose X number of dollars if you get in a fight with the media” etc. I know Marrone is all about accountability and I think this would be a great way to increase accountability by hitting them where it hurts the most. If that isn’t legal, could it be part of an incentive clause? “No personal fouls equals a bonus at the end of the year, etc…
Thanks for your time. Can’t wait for football season.
CB: To my knowledge morals clauses are permitted, but that doesn’t mean a player’s agent is going to openly accept it. In a good number of cases, the penalties handed down by the league for violation of personal conduct and substance abuse policies are pushed as sufficient deterrents by agents to avoid such morals clauses. However, if the money is significant a player is typically more accepting of the morals clauses that can sometimes come with it.
4 – Dear Chris,
Can you help me understand what the Bills are doing at both guard positions? They just seem not to value that position very much on offense. Kraig Urbik is an average player at best, and they seem to have a bit of a revolving door going on the left side. Neither Colin Brown or Doug Legursky played very well last year.
Now they have signed Chris Williams, a move that attracted a lot of criticism from various sources, saying that he was the weakest link in a poor Rams line last season. Why would the Bills want to bring such a player into Buffalo?
I would have thought they would like to better protect the huge investment they have made in EJ Maunuel. Can you provide me with some insight about what the Bills brain trust is thinking here?
Thanks and Regards,
CB: I think we sometimes fall victim to media assessments of players and treat it as gospel. In the case of Chris Williams I think he’s a decided upgrade at left guard. As I’ve mentioned on my blog I watched three of his games last year against the #1, #5 and #6 ranked defenses last season, all of which he had to face twice since they were his division opponents in the NFC West in Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona.
Williams was steady and reliable in all three games, all the first meetings against each of those teams. He didn’t have any busts and performed well in both run and pass. Was he super spectacular and making eye popping plays? No, but he was effective and truthfully that’s all you need at left guard.
Knowing he’ll be playing in between two of Buffalo’s best starters in Cordy Glenn and Eric Wood should stand to raise his game another peg. Much like Williams I think Urbik is a steady player at right guard.
4 – Hey Chris,
What are your thoughts on the Bills saying that they’re good with their current qb situation as well as having their free safety in the roster already?! It’s mind boggling to me considering the mess they got into when EJ got injured. They didn’t have the confidence in Searcy/Williams/Meeks when Byrd had his injury to start the season, but now they do? Is it just pre-draft strategy or do you think they honestly believe it?
CB: I do think they believe it. Doug Whaley and his personnel department as well as the coaching staff has an enormous amount of confidence in EJ Manuel. They are also very high on Thad Lewis as a backup prospect. Now with Lewis’ former quarterbacks coach in Detroit now here in Todd Downing, they’re even more confident that Lewis and Manuel for that matter can both take the next step in their respective development.
As for safety I think they do genuinely believe in the talent they have on the roster. Aaron Williams is likely to be the free safety with the strong safety spot filled by one of the candidates trying to land the job. I really was impressed with what I saw from Duke Williams last year in the practice setting. I didn’t see enough of Meeks who was hurt and Da’Norris Searcy had his best season last year as a hybrid subpackage linebacker.
You have to remember the Bills drafted in advance of losing Byrd in last year’s draft when they took Williams and Meeks back to back in rounds four and five. They prepped for that loss. Now the defense is changing so they’ll essentially be rookies again. Knowing that the Bills picked up veteran Corey Graham, who granted has been a cornerback most of his career, but will be in the mix at safety as well.
I think they’ve done a good job of covering their bases there.
5 – Chris,
I don’t see the Bills drafting a right tackle in the draft because historical they don’t draft lineman that high. The Bills have depth at WR and TE but need that one big play-maker. Even with Chandler back and lots of speed wideouts, what director do you think they might go in rounds 1-2. Mike Evans and Eric Ebron will probably be on the board with Watkins gone. Which player do you think the Bills will covet more? What are the chances they pick either of them at 9?
CB: It’s hard to know for sure what the Bills think since they lock up their draft board like every other team. I will say that both players are dynamic difference makers for a passing game and both would be a huge help to EJ Manuel.
As we’ve drawn closer to the draft I think it’s becoming less likely that Mike Evans is still on the board at nine. He’s most likely to go to Tampa at pick 7 as they are in dire need of receiver help. Ebron is more likely to be on the board at nine.
I believe if the top tackles are off the board and Evans is gone as well, Ebron might be the best option left.
Tags: 2014 NFL draft, CBA, Chris Williams, Doug Whaley, EJ Manuel, Eric Ebron, Fan Friday, Jim Schwartz, Kraig Urbik, Manny Lawson, Mike Evans
Posted in Inside the Bills