Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 12-26

Posted by Chris Brown on December 26, 2014 – 11:43 am

The end goal of the playoffs unfortunately did not come to fruition this season, but the support of the Bills fans never wavered. One more game up in New England this week. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
I think the reason Buffalo cannot win is because they don’t have a franchise quarterback. The reason they don’t have a franchise quarterback is because of how quickly the head coach and the entire staff get fired. There is no way a quarterback will develop if the system changes continually. There are very good examples of this and I will give one … Peyton Manning.  Peyton Manning managed only two wins his first year yet the management and fan base stuck with him. Why won’t buffalo bills fan base back a quarter back other than Jim Kelly?

Michael from Nebraska

CB: Your points are very valid. This is the value of continuity that I believe team president Russ Brandon was getting at in a radio interview recently. Constant change over the past 15 years (6 head coaches hired, 9 offensive coordinators, 7 defensive coordinators) has unquestionably compromised the development of young talent on the roster because the approach and philosophy of coaches obviously differs.

J.P. Losman may never have been a great quarterback, but having three different offensive coordinators in his five years with the team greatly impacted his improvement as a player. There’s no debating that changing systems requires a period of adjustment for all players. There’s also a period of adjustment for new coaches, who must learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the talent they inherit.

That’s why the dominance of the Patriots in the AFC East has persisted for so long. It’s not only because they’ve been able to enjoy continuity under Bill Belichick, but their success is also the byproduct of a lack of continuity with the rest of the division. The Jets, Dolphins and Bills have all had a good deal of head coaching and coordinator turnover since2000 with New York expected to see more this offseason.

Change can be good for the clubs that choose that course, but the odds are even better that New England will benefit as a result of that change within their division.

 

2 – Hey Chris,
Everyone seems to be singling out the QB play, but personally I don’t think that’s the main issue right now; it’s just the easiest to blame. When I watch Orton, I see a pocket passer who makes probably about 7 or 8 out of 10 throws to open receivers when he’s protected. The problem is we can’t run the ball, so the defense tees off on him when he drops back to pass and that further exasperates our horrible pass protection.

That’s why we can’t make plays down the field, because there isn’t the time to let the play develop.  Every time I see Orton try to wait for a receiver to come open down the field he has to throw it early, and he’s usually still taking a pretty good hit, so it’s not like he’s throwing it earlier than he has to. Also our receivers have struggled to get open quite a bit this year; I imagine a running game would help with play action, which would help our receivers and O-line.

People seem to forget the super bowl quickly, as great as Peyton Manning is, even he couldn’t win without a running game and pass protection.  The plan by this regime was originally to be a dominate run team that plays defense.  And I think Orton is a good enough QB to execute that.  Just look at his stats after 9 games.  To me it shows that he’s capable of passing for around 25 td’s, 12-14 int’s, and around 4,000 yards.  If we can run the ball and play defense that is good enough to win.  With improved o-line play he might even be able to do better than that.

CB: I don’t disagree with some of the points you make here. I do think however, there have been instances where with time to throw, Orton has simple been inaccurate. Against the Raiders there were two plays on the same drive where Orton missed Hogan running an underneath checkdown route when he stepped up in the pocket. He also missed Watkins on a deep out route with clear separation when he was not under duress.

Obviously all quarterbacks miss throws, but his misses are magnified because the margin for error for this offense is smaller than most. That’s because, as you point out, the run game has fallen on hard times this season. If Buffalo still had the number two rushing offense in the league this season, as they had last year, I believe the Bills would be a playoff team right now.

Unfortunately balance has been sorely absent in Buffalo’s offense more than anything else. The last time the Bills had true balance in their offense was against the Jets in Detroit when they won 38-3. Even when they attempted to have balance in Week 15 against Green Bay, though there wasn’t a great deal of production they were still effective enough to get a win with their strong defense.

When the Bills don’t have balance on offense they do run into a lot of the problems you mention. And since those other elements of their offense are just average, when they’re depended upon to solve the offensive problems, they usually come up short on that side of the ball. And that leads to a lack of points and unless you’re close to averaging 23-24 points per game it’s unlikely you’re going to win more than you lose in the NFL.

 

3 – Chris,
When the Bills had to play New York Jets in Detroit and free tickets were given out, is the lost in revenue be distributed or totally absorbed by one or two teams?

C.J. Wong

CB: The Bills, along with most other NFL clubs, has what’s called business interruption insurance. That covers the cost of any financial or revenue losses incurred by having to relocate the Week 12 home game against the Jets to Detroit.

The split of the gate revenue lost for that home game will likely remain the same (60-40). How insurance will determine the revenue lost will likely be based on the number of tickets sold leading up to the game along with a few other estimated variables.

 

4 – Chris,

Regarding the college draft for the Bills organization, how is the player evaluated? Who makes the final decision on the draft? The Bills has to be congratulated for great finds like Kiko Alonso and Preston
Brown. The skill of Marcell Dareus and Sammy Watkins is public knowledge before the draft. How can we avoid the annual blunders, namely T.J. Graham in 2012, E.J. Manuel in 2013 and Cyrus Kouandjio in 2014? E.J. has great disposition. His shortcoming in precision, judgment and often exposes his receivers for big hit is worrisome. I wish him nothing but the best.

Thanks,

CW

CB: Concerning the college draft GM Doug Whaley makes the final call on a draft choice.

Avoiding draft misses like Graham can’t be completely avoided. There are simply too many variables to successfully navigate a team clear of such picks.

Far beyond, height, weight, speed, character and on field disposition are things that no one can truly measure like how a college player’s game will translate to the NFL.

A perfect example is former Bills WR Josh Reed. At LSU Reed AVERAGED 145 receiving yards a game in an era of college football that hadn’t quite exploded into a wide open spread game with inflated numbers. He was the Biletnikoff winner (award for nation’s best college WR) and when the Bills drafted him in round two back in 2002 he was considered one of the steals of the draft.

We all know how that turned out.

Statistical studies have shown that if a team can hit on 40 percent of their draft choices they are doing very, very well. And most NFL clubs don’t even reach that success rate.

I also think it’s premature to call EJ Manuel or Cyrus Kouandjio draft blunders. High draft choices admittedly come with high expectations, right or wrong, but patience with such talent can often be rewarded.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

I have a question with regards to offensive creativity.  I feel that the Bills offense is incredibly bland when looking at other teams.  Obviously we will never be the Patriots but when you watch them they go five wide and other times put Edelman in motion all over to create matchups and get separation.  Sammy stays in one spot every time.  We also currently have NO play action.

I feel Orton needs to get under center and create some play action or something – we’re TERRIBLE running the ball out of shotgun.  I understand the slower tempo but where is the imagination and slant routes and deep middle crosses??

I feel like I’m watching Dick Jauron’s offense and our players are so much better now it’s just so frustrating.  I’m also interested in your take on our offensive line coach who no one talks about.  Our O line is regressing due to scheme and technique and I thought this was a questionable hire initially and I think we would do well with some new blood there.

It still is beyond me that we can have a kickoff specialist who can’t kick the ball out of the end zone in DENVER and we leave Mike Williams off roster and have no five wide formations.  Count me in as one who thinks Marrone’s offense is better suited for college than the pros.

Sincerely,

Chris P.

CB: It’s my belief that a lot of the limitations we’ve seen in terms of play calling are rooted in what the coaching staff believes, or doesn’t believe, the unit is capable of executing on a consistent basis. With the struggles of the run game this season to execute effectively, the balance of the offense which is designed to play off a productive run game have been largely compromised as mentioned above.

You can’t have play action if you have a run game that is not producing. If a defense can stop your run game with seven defenders, play action doesn’t draw that safety up into the box to stop the run and leave the secondary with one fewer defender.

I respect the frustration, but with a young receiving corps with no one with more than a couple of NFL seasons under their belt I think the staff is hesitant to expand the scope of the offense for fear of sacrificing what consistency they believe they have.

 


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