It was another morning practice for the team on Wednesday. We went over all the highlights from this morning, which of course included a few reel-worthy plays by Sammy Watkins. With that said, we asked the listeners…Watkins could be the best wide receiver since whom? A lot of Andre Reed mentions along with Eric Moulds and Lee Evans.
Joining us in our on-site camp studio was Bills Cornerback Leodis McKelvin. McKelvin is coming back to form after an injury suffered last season and said his goal is to remain healthy and continue to make plays. He has been mixed in along with Stephon Gilmore on covering Sammy Watkins. He discussed the physical battle throughout the first four days.
“We just want to give him a little taste on how things are going to be further down the road when he plays against other guys that is in this league. They are going to do what they need to do, grab, tug, playing physical. We’re just trying to give him a good look at what he’s going to see later on down the line.”
McKelvin did say that the rookie receiver is “explosive.” He also touched on the other wide-outs on the roster and what he likes from the new players in the defensive backfield, including Corey Graham who he joked is the “uncle” on the team.
At the top of the hour we got a Hall of Fame preview from Bills Hall of Fame great James Lofton. Lofton was a teammate of Andre Reed, who will be enshrined next weekend.
“I think it’s a well-deserved honor. It’s agonizing when somebody that you’re close to, a friend, you see them have to wait. He was kind of clumped in there with Cris Carter and with Tim Brown. You kind of waited every year to see which one of them was going to win. A couple of years none of the three went in and you’re thinking well Andre was a finalist a number of times and Cris Carter leap frogs over him. I think all of the people that follow the Buffalo Bills realize what a great player Andre was and this is an acknowledgement of that greatness.”
Lofton also reflected on his playing time in Buffalo, describing them as “the best four years” of his career. He also tells a great story about how he was almost a Philadelphia Eagle just before joining the Bills.
Finally, we were joined by Donny Moore, the EA Sport’s ratings czar for the upcoming Madden NFL 15. In their ratings release earlier this week, Sammy Watkins was placed in the top five in this year’s video game. Moore explained the rating process.
“We try to base it on real world data. We try to use 40-yard dashes. We try to use vertical jumps for things like jump ratings. We also use a lot of different opinions from either scouts or different NFL pundits. We try to cumulate all of that into one data point and that’s in Madden NFL 15.”
To hear the complete John Murphy Show from Wednesday, click below.
Posted in Inside the Bills
It was an early morning practice for the team which was the first in pads, giving the offensive line a chance to block for a loaded backfield for the Bills. We discussed the top four backs for the team tonight, asking who will lead the Bills in rushing in 2014. The majority of the responses had C.J. Spiller leading that department.
Switching gears to the defensive side of the ball for our first guest. Brandon Spikes, the veteran linebacker joined us in our camp radio tent. He discussed his role on the defense, what he can bring to the team in terms of stopping the run, and what he thinks of the Bills fans that view him as an important part of the team.
“It just feels good to be welcomed with open arms. I always embrace that and like I said, I want to come here and just let them know I’m here to be accountable and get the job done.”
With Spikes holding down the middle linebacking spot, he’s looking to prove that he can be a 3-down player including helping out in pass coverage.
“Every player has their strengths and weaknesses. Like I told you, I’m a perfectionist and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to get better at that and we’ll see. When we get out there on the field, you can be the judge yourself and see how I’m doing.”
Spikes also discussed the talent that surrounds him on the defensive side of the ball, specifically rookie LB Preston Brown, who Spikes sees a lot of similarities in, having shared the same college coach in Charlie Strong.
At the top of the first hour we were joined by NFL Network’s Steve Wyche. He was on campus the past two days for training camp. Wyche said he was “blown away” by Sammy Watkins but feels the success of the team falls on the shoulders of quarterback EJ Manuel.
“Part of it is going to be Nathaniel Hackett designing an offense or at least a passing scheme that highlights his strengths. He has all the talent and the ability in the world. Now, he just has to put it together. They got him some weapons….but I think EJ Manuel could be a good quarterback but a lot of that is going to be up to him.”
Outside of Manuel and Watkins, Wyche likes the Bills other offensive additions, mainly the signing of running back Anthony Dixon. On defense he pointed to the defensive backfield, specifically mentioning Da’Norris Searcy. He also touched on the rest of the AFC East and discussed how the Jets and Dolphins are improving.
To hear more from Wyche and the rest of Tuesday’s John Murphy Show, click below.
Posted in Inside the Bills
We return to the campus of St. John Fisher College. Day two of Bills Training Camp and there was plenty of highlights between EJ Manuel and rookie WR Sammy Watkins once again. We went through a complete recap of today’s practice. On the defensive side, we poised the question, with the losses to the defense from last year’s team, should we worry about that side of the ball? The listeners weighed-in and their opinions varied from optimism with the players in place to concern regarding the absence of Kiko Alonso.
Defensive tackle Kyle Williams shares the optimism about the defense, especially when it comes to stopping the run. The veteran leader joined us in the first hour to explain that the team wasn’t as bad in that area as some would think but believes they will be better in 2014.
“It wasn’t a slow death type of deal with our run defense. It was a mental mistake here or there and then we let out a big run which hurt us. Most of those big plays are from mental errors and very, very few of them were physical where you weren’t able to physically make the play. They were mostly mental errors. If we can clean all that up and know where we’re going and be able to get there fast and play fast, I think we’ll be fine.”
Williams believes the addition of linebacker Brandon Spikes will be effective in stopping the run. The type of linebacker “I haven’t had since I’ve been here.”
Kyle also discussed the loss of Kiko Alonso and how missing his sophomore year will affect him. He also believes there shouldn’t be any issue with the defense generating the same amount of pressure in getting to the quarterback as they did in 2013. He also gave a very interesting take on Marcell Dareus and why he believes his teammate on the defensive line will be ready to go.
We also got a national perspective from ESPN Analyst Ron Jaworski who joined us at the top of the hour. Jaworski raved about Sammy Watkins and how he can only help quarterback EJ Manuel. He also believes the Bills QB should improve on his accuracy in 2014. Also, that the offense should thrive with the rest of the receiving options and the offensive line up front providing Manuel with support.
Jaworksi added that he believes the Bills are primed for the playoffs. He is impressed with the short turnaround the team has put together and says the pieces in place to get the Bills to the post season.
“This is an ascending football team. Obviously, good fortune is part of it. You have to stay healthy. You have to have your superstars on the field and they have to play up to that ability. Last year, clearly, a new coaching staff came in, a new attitude came in, a new Buffalo Bills look. I thought the team improved as the season went on. Now, with the addition of Sammy Watkins, I think they’ll be a lot more scoring. The scoring means the defense will be in that known pass rush situation. The strength of this defense is going to be the defensive line getting pressure on the quarterback. I’m a big fan of Jim Schwartz as a defensive coordinator. I think he can turn it loose from a defensive perspective. The defense will be much better and much more aggressive.
To hear more on what Jaworski has to say about the Bills and the rest of The John Murphy Show, click below.
Posted in Inside the Bills
On the campus of St. John Fisher College for tonight’s show. Set up and ready for another year of Bills Training Camp. We asked the viewers what their expectations are for the upcoming season. Some gave their ideas of what the Bills record will be and some gave specific examples, including what they hope to see out of quarterback EJ Manuel and the Bills winning the AFC East.
Bills General Manager Doug Whaley made his way over to our setup to be our first guest for the show. Whaley talked about the unique experience this camp offers to the team and its players. He also discussed what he expects after they break camp in five weeks.
“Hopefully come out healthy, have a better sense on those position battles, who is going to be on our starting lineup. Then get tuned up ready for the season. Obviously see a healthy EJ (Manuel) to keep progressing and keep getting better.”
Whaley also filled us in on who might take the place of the injured Kiko Alonso. That includes a handful of players that might end up on either side of the linebacking corp. He discussed Seantrel Henderson, who looks to fill the void at the start of camp for offensive lineman Cordy Glenn, who is out until further notice with an illness. Whaley also mentioned what he likes out his rookie draft class and why there won’t be as much pressure placed on quarterback EJ Manuel as some would think.
USA Today Sport Weekly’s Scott Pitoniak called-in at the top of the first hour. Pitoniak covers the AFC East and the Buffalo Bills from right here in Rochester. He talked about the atmosphere of camp and what he looks forward to each year at St. John Fisher College. He also gave his insight on this year’s team including what he thinks of “the deepest running back group in the league.” Pitoniak also gave an update from around the AFC East.
Finally, Bills Safety Aaron Williams capped off the show. Williams arrived this afternoon for move-in day here on campus. He talked adamantly and confidently about his role on the team. Following the departure of safety Jairus Byrd, the coaching staff asked Williams to take on the leadership role in the defensive backfield.
“I accepted that role and I was ready for that role last year. Knowing my personality, I was sitting back and learning from Fred (Jackson) and Kyle Williams and (Jairus) Byrd. There’s different ways to lead this team and I’ve learned that from a lot of guys with different personalities. They’ve helped me out to understand what I can provide for next year.”
Williams also talked about how he is a big hitter and how the intensity of that moment following a big hit “is huge” and can increase momentum.
Click below to hear the entire John Murphy Show from Friday night.
Posted in Inside the Bills
Packing up and moving the show to Pittsford and St. John Fisher College starting tomorrow but one final show before we depart. We asked the listeners what their favorite Bills Training Camp memory was. Plenty of player interaction highlighted the discussion along with some humorous stories as well.
Our first guest was Pro Football Focus NFL Writer Gordon McGuinness. McGuinness called in all the way from his home in Scotland to discuss his recent article on the site, Position Progression: Quarterbacks. The article is a unique breakdown, using analytics, of grading a quarterback’s progression, specifically from his rookie year to his second year. Lions Quarterback Matt Stafford was used as a prime example of a rating increase during his sophomore year. Of course, we brought up EJ Manuel and McGuinness feels he will follow suite and increase his QB rating in 2014.
“I think you can definitely expect some improvement.” McGuinness said. “I think if anyone wants to look at the positives from a jump from year one to year two, we saw Matthew Stafford back in his rookie season. He graded a minus 30.8 and then took a big jump to a slight positive the next.” He also added, “While there was concern about how Manuel played at points during his rookie year, there’s definitely encouraging signs.”
McGuinness also noted that Stafford’s quarterback coach during that time was Todd Downing, who came over to the Bills staff this offseason to help groom EJ Manuel.
At the top of the first hour we were joined by former Bills Linebacker Chris Draft. Draft spent his last year in the league with the Bills during the 2009 campaign. He is now part of the NFL’s Player Engagement program, which helps players prep for life during and after their time in the NFL. Draft, now an NFL ambassador for the program, will talk to Bills players at St. John Fisher College this weekend and discuss specifically player conduct in an NFL locker room.
“I think as we talk about not just the locker room culture and changing that but really just expanding what the workplace looks like and where you’re expected to be men. That’s from the locker room and throughout the organization and out in the community. We’re holding players to a higher standard.”
Draft recalled his playing time during his one season here. He reflected on the energy of the fans and Ralph Wilson Stadium. He also promoted The Chris Draft Family Foundation that he runs, which helps educate communities to make healthier choices.
Finally, we were joined by Lauren Johnson of adweek.com. Johnson recently posted an article on the site about the future of “wearables” in the NFL. The NFL is involved with different initiatives for marketers to advance second-screen advertising. Johnson interviewed NFL Chief Information Officer Michelle McKenna-Doyle, who said the process is in place for players to wear clothing or helmets with technology embedded to help promote a product.
Johnson went on to say the near future could include players being outfitted with Google Glass or an alternative to interact with coaches in terms of calling in plays or even give viewers an up-close look at what a player is seeing.
You can hear Thursday’s entire John Murphy Show by clicking below:
Posted in Inside the Bills
It was a jam packed John Murphy Show on Wednesday. We began with newly signed linebacker Stevenson Sylvester or “Sly” who joined us in-studio. Sylvester spent his first four years in a Steelers uniform and become a free agent this offseason. After working out with a handful of other NFL teams, he hopes to have found a home here in Buffalo within the Bills linebacking corp.
“I cannot wait to talk to our defensive coordinator and linebacker coach and hopefully it’s just to contribute any way to this team to win games.” Sylvester said. “The Buffalo Bills have definitely done some things over the years, especially defensively that you can definitely notice. I just hope to be a part of that and make the Buffalo Bills better.”
Sylvester will join the rest of his teammates at St. John Fisher College when they report on Friday.
At the bottom of the first hour we were joined by NFL Films Producer, Buffalo native and Bills fan Michelle Girardi Zumwalt. She produced the recently aired 2013 Buffalo Bills year-in-review on the NFL Network. The highlights were paired with unique voice-overs and music that we’re so accustomed to with NFL Films. It supplied fans a full recap of the 2013 season and preview of what’s to come in 2014. There was also a special tribute to the former owner Ralph Wilson, Jr.
“I used aspects of his Hall of Fame Induction speech. I used some of the eulogies that were given at the memorial service that was held in early April. I used fan testimonials on how much he meant to them and even player testimonials. I think the fans will really appreciate that and hopefully that really resonates with them.”
As the team departs for camp this Friday, we checked in with Dr. Todd Harrison, the Co-Director of the Buffalo Bills Training Camp at St. John Fisher College. Harrison explains how the college has grown because of the Bills involvement. This is the 15th year the Bills will be on the campus. The continuing relationship has been a positive experience for both sides.
“It really plays a major part in strengthening our foothold in Western New York as a college. We’re only really 63 or 64 years old as a college, which is pretty young as an institution. Over the last 15 years it has given us, at a time when not a lot of colleges are being talked about on news cycles and in the newspapers, it gives us some notoriety. It gets people onto campus. It’s been just terrific for the whole college, our athletic department, just all around. It’s been great.”
Dr. Harrison is also a sports management faculty member and believes his involvement in directing the setup for Bills camp is a great way to teach what you preach.
Finally, we had a visit from longtime NFL Broadcaster Clark Judge. Judge is part of a new sports radio program, “Talk of Fame” Sports Network which will debut at the beginning of August. The show, hosted by Judge and two other co-hosts, will give listeners and fans an inside look on the selection process of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and they will dissect who or who shouldn’t be a Hall of Famer. All three hosts bring over 30-years of covering the NFL and are all Hall of Fame committee members which give them the qualifications to help listeners better decide if their favorite player is Hall of Fame worthy, both past and present.
Click below to hear the entire Clark Judge interview, including his thoughts on why Andre Reed finally got his Call to the Hall and his thoughts on what Bill might hear his name next.
Posted in Inside the Bills
A Tuesday night edition of The John Murphy Show. We’re just days away before we set up “camp” at St. John Fisher College. Our topic of discussion tonight, who is your training camp sleeper? Seantrel Henderson, Ty Powell, or how about Tight End Tony Moeaki? All three and some other names were mentioned throughout the night.
Our first guest at the bottom of the hour was Bob Trumpy. Trumpy was recently named the 2014 Pete Rozelle Award winner for his work in both television and radio covering the NFL for 30-years. He was part of NBC’s number one broadcast team as the color analyst beside Dick Enberg, involved in calling two Super Bowls featuring the Buffalo Bills. Although, one of his all-time favorite games to call was in 1988 when the Bills beat the Jets in overtime to clinch the division.
“The fans stormed the field, tore down the goal posts, and there was so much celebrating going on the field that there was a cloud produced over Rich Stadium.” Trumpy said. “Out of all the games I did, that’s one at the top of my list I’ll never forget.”
Trumpy will be recognized during the Enshrinement Ceremony during the Hall of Fame weekend in Canton, Ohio.
Continuing our Hall of Fame weekend preview, at the top of the hour we were joined by the VP of Communications for the Pro Football HOF, Joe Horrigan. The enshrinement weekend will be Buffalo themed with Andre Reed receiving his gold jacket and bronze bust. The Bills will be playing the Giants in the Hall of Fame Game the following night.
“There’s such a Buffalo flavor this year. I expect all the Bills Hall of Famers will be here, Thurman (Thomas), Bruce (Smith), Jim (Kelly), and Marv (Levy) who is presenting Andre. It’s just going to be a heavy, heavy dose of Buffalo.”
You can purchase tickets for both the Enshrinement Ceremony and the Hall of Fame Game at http://www.profootballhof.com/hall/tickets.aspx
Finally, we switched gears to preview the upcoming Fantasy Football season. Jamey Eisenberg is the Fantasy Football host and contributor for CBSSports.com. He recently wrote about the fantasy outlook for the Buffalo Bills. He specifically mentioned to not sleep on running back C.J. Spiller.
Eisenberg also discussed how he would wait on rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins and that he would be great off the bench midseason. He also said that he could see Watkins soon dominating at the NFL level.
To hear more of Eisenberg and the rest of Tuesday’s John Murphy Show, click below:
Posted in Inside the Bills
John Murphy returned to the airwaves for tonight’s show, back from a 2-week break. We discussed with training camp right around the corner, if you are in attendance where will your eyes go first? Sammy Watkins and the rest of the wide receiver group led the discussion. Also mentioned were quarterback EJ Manuel and who will replace Kiko Alonso at the outside linebacker spot.
This past weekend, San Francisco blew out the flame at Candlestick Park, the home for the 49ers since 1971. The team will move into a brand new stadium. Over 25,000 were in attendance to watch a flag football game between 49er and other NFL greats, including Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and Dan Marino. Daniel Brown from the San Jose Mercury News covered the game and reflected on the weekend featuring the Legends of Candlestick.
“I thought I was going to see a bunch of old guys mail-in an effort, get the check, and leave. It was anything but that. It was a reminder that these guys love what they do and they love being with each other. Some of the guys really wanted to show that they could play. Roger Craig was out there going crazy, high-stepping, catching passes. They did it all with a smile on their face. They were laughing. They were joking.”
Brown also looked back on some of the great moments from Candlestick Park and looked forward to what’s ahead for the 49ers. The team will move into Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for this upcoming season.
At the top of the hour we were joined by Pro Football writer Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated. He is also a contributor to the Monday Morning Quarterback on SI.com. Klemko is in Buffalo and surveying the Bills move to St. John Fisher College. He is getting an inside look at how a team relocates their players to another location and replicate the pro football setup.
“There’s no expense spared. They put a lot of value in isolating these players and making it about football 24-7 as opposed to a lot of these teams who are now switching to just the training camps and the facility where there are still potential distractions where guys are driving from their home as opposed to living in a dorm room.”
Klemko discussed the handful of teams that relocate to training camp venues and its benefits, especially for a young team like the Bills.
Finally, we were joined by recently retired NFL referee Mike Carey who will now join CBS Sports as a rules expert and will add his knowledge of officiating to game broadcasts throughout the upcoming NFL season. He will work from the CBS New York Studio during Sunday games and during Thursday night games will be in the broadcast booth reviewing and explaining calls. He discussed many topics relating to officiating, including some of his most difficult calls he has made.
Carey also looked back on his path to the NFL and some of the highlights from his career including when he was the side judge during the Bills-Oilers comeback game. You can hear that and the rest of the John Murphy Show by clicking below.
Posted in Inside the Bills
It was a Thursday edition of The John Murphy Show. We asked the listeners, with all the offseason moves and the big jump in this year’s draft to get Sammy Watkins, do you think the Bills are closer to making the playoffs than they have been in a while?
At the bottom of the first hour, we were joined by NFL Network’s Scott Hanson. Hanson is currently the host of NFL RedZone and NFL Total Access. We discussed the network’s “90’s week” which is part of their Decades Month. The Bills are featured a number of times with the greatest comeback in NFL History and their 4-straight Super Bowl runs during the 1990’s.
“They are either the tragic figure from a Greek novel or they are a team now with a little bit of distance behind it, from then until now, that you can say achieved something that we may never see again, four straight Super Bowls. It’s almost impossible to get to back-to-back Super Bowls these days let alone four in a row with a nucleus of that team with about three or four or maybe even five different guys on that team that were the best at their position at some point during that four Super Bowl run. It was just absolutely remarkable.”
Hanson also looked back on some of the best quarterbacks during that decade and the teams in the later half that left their mark. This Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET, The NFL Network will be airing “The Comeback” game, the 1993 AFC Wild Card game where the Bills overcame a 32-point deficit to beat the Houston Oilers.
Mark Kelso, former Bills defensive back and current color analyst for the Buffalo Bills Radio Network called in to kick off the second hour of the show. Kelso gave us his thoughts on if the Bills are primed to make a playoff run or at least get to 10-wins.
“If (EJ Manuel) matures to the level that I think he would like to and that the coaching staff would like him to and the young guys they drafted this year play a key role and they get some dynamic play out of the receiver position with Sammy (Watkins) and those young guys mature with Robert Woods and Marquise (Goodwin) and TJ (Graham) and those guys. I really think that is not out of reach, a 10-win season.”
Kelso weighed in on who he thinks was the unsung hero of the Bills during the 1990’s. That was our topic Wednesday night that got a lot of traction. Kelso chose linebacker Darryl Talley, who he said was an important part of their defense but only made one pro bowl. He also mentioned offensive lineman Jim Ritcher, who started for the Bills during their Super Bowl appearances.
Kelso also touched on his new film study guide he just recently released. You can go to www.playthedown.com to learn more or purchase Kelso’s “methodical study guide to analyzing football game film.”
Click below to hear the complete John Murphy Show from Thursday.
Posted in Inside the Bills
We started Wednesday’s show asking the listeners who their unsung hero was for the Bills during the 1990’s. We got a variety of responses from Kenneth Davis to Kent Hull to Darryl Talley. Even Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly chimed in on Twitter with his thoughts.
Jim Kelly’s 27th annual football camp is coming up in July. We were joined by his brother Dan Kelly, who came on to discuss this year’s Jim Kelly Football Camp, which runs July 9-13 at Sweet Home High School. Instructors will include former players and even a handful of current Bills players. All will help teach kids the fundamentals of the game.
“I look at it as an opportunity for these young kids today to get some great teaching. We got guys like Sammy Watkins and Steve Tasker who are going to be coming up to participate in the camp and we’re expecting a few surprises from some of the current Bills players who are there to support Jim.”
Registration is still on-going but time is winding down. To do so, you can register at http://jimkellyfootballcamp.com/camp-register/index.htm. Dan also said that Jim is planning on attending each and every day of the camp as he continues to get stronger and stronger.
Author Rich Cohen called in to discuss his book “Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football.” The book lays out Cohen’s account as a fan of that Bears team and their run to a Super Bowl title, which re-charged the city of Chicago. “Monsters” describes the way the team got there with a rough and scrappy style of play led by their surly head coach Mike Ditka. Cohen includes plenty of personal stories and how he went cross-country to interview the colorful players that made up that 1985 roster.
Finally, we were joined by former Bills offensive lineman John Fina. In conjunction with the NFL Network’s “90’s week”, the Buffalo Bills website is also providing a look back at the decade that was one of the best in Bills history. Fina shared his favorite memories from where he spent the majority of his professional career which included 4-straight Super Bowl appearances.
“Unfortunately, we came up short. I get a little bit of razzing about that from time to time, even out here in the West. I know guys that played ten years and never even got a chance to lose a Super Bowl. They would probably lay down in traffic just for the opportunity to lose one. I take great pride in the fact that I played in Buffalo for the two great coaches I played for, Wade (Phillips) and Marv (Levy) and I love the city of Buffalo.”
Fina gave his choice for the unsung player during the 90’s. That was his offensive line teammate Glenn Parker. He also shared his love for the city of Buffalo. You can hear more from Fina and the rest of the John Murphy Show from Wednesday by clicking below.
Posted in Inside the Bills
Back on base for tonight’s John Murphy Show as we returned to One Bills Drive. We threw out the following question for tonight’s topic. Who tops your list as the best former player or coach turned broadcaster? There was a wide variety of responses ranging from John Madden to Jon Gruden.
Our first guest was 2014 third round draft pick and current Bills Linebacker Preston Brown. Brown is taking part in the Rookie Symposium in Aurora, Ohio. The Symposium will help rookies and their transition to the NFL life. They will concentrate on four principles, NFL History, Total Wellness, Professional Experience, and Workplace Conduct. Brown says he expects to take in a lot of information from those working in the league and from former players as well, especially when it comes to wellness and how to prolong time in the league.
“That’s really something that I want to get answered. Coming from guys that played 10, 12, 15 years in the league. I want to know how they kept their bodies maintained with the hits and the physicality of such a physical game. That’s one of the biggest things you have to learn from those guys is how they were able to maintain themselves over those years.”
Brown also said the transition from his rookie minicamp to the team’s mandatory minicamp really increased when it came to intensity. He looks forward to that carrying over into training camp. He also said he has motivation to prove that he can play 3-downs and not be limited to being a run-stopping linebacker.
We were also joined by another familiar name taking part in an NFL Player Engagement Program. Former Bills linebacker Jay Foreman recently completed the NFL Broadcast Boot Camp. He was part of a group of 25 current and former players in the league looking to make a conversion from the field to the booth. Foreman has recently done work on a weekly radio show dealing with the Houston Texans and also on television with the Comcast Sports Network in Houston. This recent experience with the NFL gave Foreman a chance to bolster his broadcast resume.
“We covered everything you could possibly think of as far as being in the media. Some things I was new to and one of the things that I have never done before was read off a teleprompter. That was a pretty cool adventure and once I did it a couple of times it wasn’t as intimidating at first as I thought it would be.”
Aside from broadcasting, Foreman is currently the Executive Vice President at Hot Doc, Inc. which focuses on measuring body temperature by using an alert patch. The patch allows for real-time monitoring of the body’s temperature changes for those involved with physical activity.
A new league is looking to develop football players that did not get drafted to the NFL. The FXFL (Fall Experimental Football League) is launching this fall with the involvement of six teams. This league is not involved with the NFL, but there are hopes in the future of having a springboard platform for those players needing the on-the-field development. League Commissioner Brian Woods called in to the show to discuss just that.
“This year we had over a 110 junior players that declared (for the NFL Draft.) More importantly, almost forty percent of these players went undrafted. So these are kids that are going to go to camp with not a great chance of making the squad, making that team, making that 52-man roster or even a practice squad spot. They need a place to go. I think now more than ever this is the time to do it. We’ve seen the success of the NBA D-League, not just with players but with coaches and referees. The Minor League Baseball system has been successful for many, many years and I think the time has come for a developmental league, a place to develop young players and I think we have a good structure for it and a good model in place to make it sustainable.”
Woods said they’re trying to incorporate different technologies to involve and engage the fans, which is evident by the word “experimental” in the league’s name.
For more on Tuesday’s John Murphy Show, click below:
Posted in Inside the Bills
We took the John Murphy Show on the road Monday evening. The show went live from the NOCO Express location on the corner of Main and Youngs in Williamsville. A packed audience listened in to the show and joined us on-air to give their input on who is the most popular Bills player on the roster. They also received autographs from special guest, Bills running back Fred Jackson.
Jackson took a break from his signing session to discuss his feelings on meeting and greeting his fans. He also talked about the dedication he gives to the game and how that has led to his success in the league. That was evident during the team’s recently completed minicamp where Jackson won the Offensive Iron Bills Award for his work inside the training room.
“Anytime you get an award like that, I think it’s one that you relish. Coach (Eric) Ciano has done a tremendous job motivating guys to come in during the offseason and participate in things like this. You see the hard work pays off.”
Jackson also weighed in on what he has seen from the offense, especially the work put in by his quarterback EJ Manuel. He said he’s also looking forward to seeing a healthy C.J. Spiller return to the backfield.
We also heard a familiar name to Western New York. East Aurora native and Hamilton Tiger Cat Wide Receiver Luke Tasker called in to the show. Tasker, the son of Bills special teams ace Steve Tasker, gave us a preview of the upcoming CFL season, how training camp is going, and how he hopes his team can return to the Grey Cup Final. Tasker also helped those unfamilar with the Canadian Football League with the difference and challenge he had to experience at the receiver position.
“When I explain the game, most of the changes benefit the offense. There’s a larger field. There’s more space to run your routes. You have these waggle motions where you can approach the line of scrimmage and all the wide receivers are all moving and motioning before the snap of the ball. The one thing that is different, that might be an advantage to the defense, is that there is only three downs. There’s first and second and then you punt on third down. What that does, as well, is that it really makes the game roll along because instead of 3-and-out, you’re going 2-and-out, which makes it a very short drive.”
Tasker says he enjoys playing close to home and that he gets plenty of family and friends attending Hamilton home games. He also discussed his recent offseason broadcast work for WBBZ-TV here in Buffalo.
You can hear more from Luke Tasker and the rest of The John Murphy Show by clicking below:
Posted in Inside the Bills
Rounding out the week on The John Murphy Show. It was quiet around One Bills Drive as the players departed for their break until training camp at St. John Fisher College, now exactly 4-weeks away. Quarterback Jeff Tuel was kind enough to stick around, as he joined us at the bottom of the first hour. Tuel finished up this week’s minicamp trying to soak up the playbook and the changes to Nathaniel Hackett’s offense. He joins the other 3-quarterbacks on the roster who all have just one year in the system.
“We learn from each other’s mistakes and we also grow with each other. We kind of have a one-for-all, all-for-one mentality. We have each other’s backs and we learn from each other, push each other, and ask each other questions and we’re growing together.”
Tuel was thrust into the lineup last year when EJ Manuel went down in week five at Cleveland. Tuel got the start against the Kansas City Chiefs. He looked back on his 59-yard touchdown to Marquise Goodwin and also expressed his frustration with the interception he threw that led to a Chiefs touchdown. Tuel admitted he didn’t expect to get as much playing time as he did in his first year in the league.
“You come in here and I was the fourth quarterback. I didn’t get a rep in OTAs until I think ninth or tenth one and I got the three reps in minicamp. As soon as training camp hit it was all with the ones or twos it seemed like. Kevin (Kolb) got hurt real early and I was going with the twos and then EJ (Manuel) went down and I was going with the ones. You never know how it’s going to play out and that’s why you always have to be ready and I’ve learned that about football. If you think it’s going to go one way, it’s most likely not going to go that way. So, you just continue to grind and get better and make sure you’re at your top self.”
Kicking off the second hour we were joined by former Bills offensive lineman and NFL Analyst for Sirius XM and NBC Sports Network Ross Tucker. Tucker just finished up the 3-day NFL Broadcast Boot Camp where he instructed current and recently retired NFL players who are looking to get involved in Sports Broadcasting.
“There’s been some guys over the years that I thought he’d be pretty slick. I think Maurice Jones-Drew will be good. He does some fantasy work for Sirius but he gets it, the fan interaction, and he gets the growth of fantasy. Tim Hasselbeck has gone to on to ESPN along with myself. I will tell you the guy that’s really pretty good this year was Brady Quinn. He’s just so darn good looking it makes you sick. He’s got a big name going for him. He’s a good looking guy, very smart.”
Tucker had a very strong opinion and some strong comments regarding Cleveland Browns first round draft pick Johnny Manziel and the QB’s off-field decisions. He also added that he thinks the Bills are good enough to contend for a playoff spot.
Finally, actor and Buffalo native William Fichtner joined us in studio to talk about his love for the Buffalo Bills. He grew up a fan watching Jack Kemp and Daryle Lamonica and continues to keep an eye on the team, watching the past couple seasons while in Prague where he was filming for the NBC crime drama “Crossing Lines.”
“There’s no missing the boat that I’m a Bills fan. Most of the last two years I’ve been living in the Czech Republic and thank God for NFL Game Pass because on Sunday nights at 7 o’clock Prague time, these games right here from the stadium come live right into my house and it’s great and I love it.”
Fichtner went over his movie career and talks about his future works, including his role in Michael Bay’s upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. He weighs in about chicken wings and how optimistic he is for this upcoming season and says all fans should be. He describes Bills fans as the best in the world.
You can hear more of the William Fichtner by clicking on Friday’s complete John Murphy Show below.
Posted in Inside the Bills
A chock full lineup on tonight’s show. We began with the surprise visit of Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly. Continuing his treatment for cancer, Kelly addressed the team before Thursday’s final minicamp session. We heard player reaction from quarterback Jeff Tuel and an amazed wide receiver Mike Williams. Head Coach Doug Marrone also shared his thoughts on Kelly’s visit and the message to his team.
At 7:30, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin sat down with John Murphy. Goodwin is in a battle with about a dozen wide receivers currently on the Bills roster. He made a couple big plays during the 3-day minicamp which was similar to what he was able to do last year. Goodwin stretched the field with his speed which equaled big gains. He began to notice as the season went on that opposing defenses started respecting that aspect of his game more and more.
“After a few they started to back up and that’s when a few of the underneath catches came about and everybody pretty much started to respect my speed.”
Goodwin joins a long list of receivers on the current roster and wants to continue to fight for noticeable role on this year’s team.
“There’s a lot of us in there and it’s competition everyday so it’s definitely a fight for some PT (playing time).”
Goodwin is also an Olympic track star but he discussed how that plays a big part in his life but says he just wants to be respected as an NFL wide receiver that scores touchdowns.
At the top of the hour, NFL VP of Player Engagement Kimberly Fields called in to discuss the ongoing initiative to better the locker room culture around the NFL. League human resource officials and former players will visit all 32-NFL teams in an effort to make sure hazing incidents, similar to what happened in Miami last year, never happens in an NFL locker room again.
“The things that we have seen that have come out of these sessions thus far is that the players and the coaches are really engaged. There are things that they would like to see improved upon, or changed, or implemented. This is an opportunity to give them a voice on how we go about doing that.”
Fields also went on to say that she feels a more respectful atmosphere is part of a winning culture. Those former players or ambassadors that come to talk to each NFL team have been around winning organizations and can deliver a first-hand perspective.
We rounded out the show with a visit from Bleacher Report’s NFL national lead writer and former Bills defensive back Matt Bowen. Bowen spent seven years in the NFL and his recent post dealt with the time off between minicamp and training camp. He says for the players there’s no summer vacation. It’s a chance to mentally get away from the team facility but the obligation to stay in shape is still of high importance. Players are sent home with a conditioning program to follow.
“It will be detailed with about four lifts a week and every day running. There will probably be two days of speed work, two days of conditioning, and then one day a combination of speed and conditioning which usually are change of direction drills, shuttle runs, and gassers. ”
Bowen also described the packaged plays that NFL offenses are running in the NFL. The Bills utilize this system that is taking over the NFL. Bowen says he likes what the Bills are running especially now with the high level of talent added to the roster.
“A great game to watch for Bills fans is to go back to week one this past year when they played New England at home. They were excellent on offense, they ran a lot of packaged plays. They have the running backs to do it with obviously (CJ) Spiller and (Fred) Jackson. That’s the key. With adding Sammy Watkins to the mix now and I’m so excited to see Sammy Watkins play. I loved his college tape at Clemson. I think he’s an electric athlete. A guy that can take a bubble screen, a guy that can take a slant route and go eighty, ninety yards for a touchdown. He has that ability with the football in his hands. So, this is the ideal package for him to be in, these multiple reads for the quarterback.”
You can hear more of Matt Bowen’s interview along with the rest of Thursday’s John Murphy Show by clicking below.
Posted in Inside the Bills
The Bills mandatory minicamp continued this afternoon. After Wednesday’s session, both offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz addressed the media. Schwartz touched on being ready for next month’s training camp, what he’s seen from LB Jerry Hughes, and the competition that has taken place during the team’s red zone work.
With Hackett, he continues to work on crafting his fast-paced offense and we asked the listeners if the Bills should stay committed to the hurry-up style? At the bottom of the first hour we sat down with theteam’s offensive coordinator. Hackett discussed how he plans to continue to implement that style of offense, especially with the amount of depth now on the roster. He also talked in depth about the progress he has noticed out of quarterback EJ Manuel from the beginning of the team’s organized team activities to the current 3-day minicamp.
“The good thing is you see the initial, OK, he sees it and you can see that he recognized it’s not there and finding a running back. He did that a couple of times today and he did it a couple of days ago. As he feels comfortable and understanding that’s good to give it to a running back. That will now allow you to now know when somebody is open down the field because it will be even clearer and you’re making them cover CJ (Spiller) and Fred (Jackson).”
Hackett also talked about the red zone and how important it is to be successful inside the twenty. He said they will put a big emphasis on getting better and will continue to etch out time in practice to help improve their red zone percentage.
At the top of the second hour we were joined by Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch. His latest article was a unique look into the future of television viewing of the NFL. With bigger TVs, higher resolution, and an overall clearer picture, it seems the surface has only been scratched on providing the best overall viewing experience. When relating it to the NFL it could become a reality of being better than the real thing.
“The NFL needs television and they need television to put on an incredible product, and incredibly great HD product which television is doing. That product has become so great that it does eliminate some reasons to go to the game unless you really are an ultimate diehard…whatever you think HD is now, the screen will get four times better or possibly even eight times better over the next ten years.”
Finally, we were joined by Joel Barkin, VP of Communications for the Oneida Nation. The Oneida Nation leads the charge on promoting support for the name change of the Washington Redskins through the website www.changethemascot.org. He talked about those who are involved in backing the push and also weighed-in on the recent news of cancelations by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office of trademark registrations owned by the Washington NFL team.
Click below to hear more from Barkin and the rest of Wednesday’s John Murphy Show.
Posted in Inside the Bills
The Bills three-day mandatory minicamp began on Tuesday. Almost all of the players were in attendance. It was a chance for us to get a complete look at this year’s team. With that, we posed the question to the listeners, outside of EJ Manuel who is most critical to the Bills success this year? We received a wide variety of responses.
One player could be linebacker Kiko Alonso. He joined us in studio at 7:30. After a couple minor offseason procedures, Alonso is gradually getting in more work on the field, which was the case at today’s minicamp session. That is key for the second year linebacker who is making the switch to the outside. Alonso had success last year manning the middle but says he was able to move around to blitz and drop into coverage. That will be similar to what he’ll be taking on with the switch to the outside.
“I don’t think there are a lot of differences. There are definitely a lot of similarities. In the end linebacker is linebacker. You’re going out there and covering and playing against the run. You just have to make plays.”
Alonso also discussed the defensive scheme the Bills will be in under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. The team may have a different look, but Alonso says there might not be as much change as one would think.
“We’re in a 4-3 this year, obviously but I don’t think it’s very different. I think it’s similar in the sense that we’re an attacking style defense and we want to get after the offense and dictate the game. We just want to go out there and make plays, get sacks, get interceptions, and have some fun.”
Late last week, Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll passed away. Noll coached the Pittsburgh Steelers for 22-years and won 4 Super Bowls. Ed Bouchette from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has covered the Steelers for close to 30 years. He called in at the top of the hour to reminisce about the coaching great, calling him the most interesting coach he has ever written about.
“He was so different from a head coach. All of these head coaches wanted to talk about football. Chuck, all he wanted to do is talk about anything but football. I walked with him many of times off the practice field at St. Vincent College not knowing what to talk about. We wound up talking about the winds that come in from San Diego. He knew all about those winds and why there was a climate effect. He once asked me when we were in Maui for the NFL meetings and I ran into him and his wife and they asked me to go snorkeling with them. I had some other stuff to do and I declined. Boy, I have regretted that ever since.”
Finally, Craig Henderberg joined the show. He’s a season ticket holder and a member of the Bills Fan Advisory Board. The committee had their latest and third meeting last Thursday to discuss a better game experience for fans attending Ralph Wilson Stadium. Henderberg says the meetings are productive and have been successful in implementing the various pitched ideas. These range from arranging a more efficient and faster way to get fans into the stadium to helping alleviate a fans obstructed view from those that stand in the first few rows.
You can hear the complete John Murphy Show from Tuesday by clicking below:
Posted in Inside the Bills
It was the return of John Murphy on tonight’s show. Our first guest at the bottom of the first hour was Bills Wide Receiver Chris Hogan. Hogan was a standout during the 3-week OTA sessions and said he felt the past few weeks have been valuable in learning the offense and in finding his role on the team. He’s been working mostly inside as a slot receiver.
“I like it a lot. It’s a fun part of the game for me. There’s a little bit more thinking involved with reading defenses and knowing what to expect here and what coverages they’re going to give you…This is the NFL, so you have to adjust on the fly a number of times. You have to know what you’re doing which is key and then after that letting your instincts take over. The slot is a good time.”
Hogan also told us he has built a lot of respect during this offseason for his quarterback, EJ Manuel. He describes a difference in the second year QB since the end of last season.
“I think he’s really taken a pretty good leadership role in this offense. You can tell just in his work ethic, before practice and after practice, his days off, I can see it and other people can see it. He’s really working at his craft at quarterback.”
At the top of the second hour, Steve Palazzolo the Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus called in to discuss his recent posts on the site. Palazzolo has declared the month of June Quarterback Month. He spent the last few months trying to give an analytical breakdown of each quarterback’s strengths and weaknesses.
“If you’re trying to evaluate quarterback play, grade is the best way doing it. Rating was a good way of saying this is how good the entire offense did but on these particular pass plays. That takes into account having time to throw the ball so the offensive line is involved and also having the receivers that can do something after the catch.”
In Steve’s most recent piece, he focused on how much time a quarterback has to throw and their success during those time frames. From the data collected by Pro Football Focus, Bills quarterback EJ Manuel showed to be effective without a lot of time to throw.
“He was pretty successful from a ratings standpoint on his quicker passes. If he gets the ball out in less than two seconds, his rating was 96.6. His grade wasn’t unbelievable because there was a lot of easy throws and a lot of yards after the catch from his receivers but from a production standpoint for the Bills, that was probably his best way to go, getting that ball out within two seconds.”
At 8:30 we were joined by Dan Horan. He is the co-founder of Eclipse Multi-Sport and a certified Race Director. On Saturday, June 28th along with the Buffalo Bills Dan is organizing the 50 Yard Finish, a half marathon that finishes at the 50-yard line inside Ralph Wilson Stadium. In its third year, this is the biggest output they’ve seen yet with over 1500 signing up to participate.
“To come down that tunnel, there’s a little bit of a decent so you pick up momentum and then you enter the field and there it is, what everyone has seen for years and years. You’re actually part of the field at that point so from the end zone you have a 50 yard sprint. I would 80% of the people really go into a full-out sprint they are so excited.”
The event will also include a 5k and a Play60 Kids Run to complete a family friendly event. You can register at http://www.eclipsemultisport.com/fiftyyardfinish. The race will support The Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation and The Buffalo Niagara Sports Development.
You can hear the complete John Murphy Show from Monday by clicking below:
Posted in Inside the Bills
A one-hour John Murphy Show tonight. Bills Insider Chris Brown filling in once again. OTAs wrapped up Thursday afternoon and Doug Marrone addressed the media after practice. He discussed the leadership role on the team, what he’s looking at when the mandatory mini-camp rolls around next week, and what he’s seen out of his offense and QB EJ Manuel.
We also sat down with former Bills wide-receiver Donald Jones. Jones recently retired from the game after battling kidney disease and undergoing a kidney transplant. He returned Thursday to where his NFL career began. Jones was in the building at One Bills Drive to talk to the rookies about how the league works from his perspective and what it takes to make it in the NFL.
“Any young athlete coming up, I’m easily relatable because of the way I had to fight to get through my whole career, period. Nothing was given to me. I wasn’t this top high school recruit. I wasn’t a five-star athlete or anything like that. I had to fight for everything. A lot of it I put myself in those positions but it was what it was and it is what it is. For rookies coming in, for me to be able to let them know that I was a starter and my career was ended in three years because of something that didn’t have anything to do with something on the field. I was playing good and it was taken from me that fast. I think they can kind of see that this thing can be taken from you at any time.”
Jones is now turning his attention to the baseball diamond. He is currently working out with the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He said he is now back to full health and says taking on baseball shows one can still come back and do something they want to do after overcoming a difficult setback.
Jones is in works on writing a new book about his life story and hopes that it will transition to the big screen into a feature film someday. He says he cherished his time here and Buffalo which included his teammates in the locker room and the Bills fans that surrounded him.
You can hear more from Jones by clicking below to hear the entire John Murphy Show from Thursday:
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills Insider Chris Brown took over the reins for tonight’s John Murphy Show, filling in as the host. Bills players had a surprise day off on Wednesday. Instead, Head Coach Doug Marrone took the team to the Airsoft gun and paintball range to get in a little team-building activity. Wide Receiver Kevin Elliott called in at the bottom of the first hour and admitted he showed up ready for practice but welcomed the sudden change of plans.
“We knew it was kind of weird at the beginning when we had our meeting. When we got in there, he (Doug Marrone) was like we’ve been doing a good job and we’re not going to practice today. We’re going to go do paintball as a team. The whole room got excited and started talking together.”
Elliott said the experience was a competitive one that included a lot of trash talking.
In last year’s preseason game against Minnesota, Elliott went down with a torn ACL that put him on injured reserve. During these OTAs he’s been back out there with his teammates running routes and making plays as a full participant.
“It’s a blessing. I’ll tell anyone, any day that I’d rather practice than rehab. Rehab is not something you want to do and when I first got cleared to start cutting and running routes I was like a kid in the candy store. I couldn’t wait to get out there and start putting in work.”
He’s been able to work a great deal with EJ Manuel during the offseason and now into the OTAs. Elliot admits the second year QB has been more vocal in leading the offense and has been a clear motivator to the teammates that surround him.
Elliott also discussed his role on special teams. He played on that unit in college at Florida A&M and also was a standout during his time with the Jacksonville Jaguars. This year, he’s been involved in all four aspects of special teams and hopes that added role can help him secure a roster spot.
“I’ve always liked playing defense. I’ve always liked the contact and I’ve always liked hitting people. That pretty much helps me out as a receiver as well in route running and blocking.”
At the top of the hour we were joined by Bills Digest Editor Mark Ludwiczak who went into detail discussing what he’s seen out of EJ Manuel and the rest of the team during these past 3 weeks of OTAs.
You can hear that conversation and the rest of The John Murphy Show hosted by Chris Brown by clicking below:
Posted in Inside the Bills
WGR Sports Radio 550 Host Brian Koziol filling in for John Murphy on tonight’s abbreviated show. In the first half-hour we heard from Quarterback EJ Manuel. Manuel addressed the recent offensive struggles and how important the communication has to be. He admits he has a sense of urgency to get everyone on the same page but says there’s plenty of time to get there. We asked the listeners if Manuel does indeed struggle this year, does the team have enough weapons surrounding him to succeed?
At the bottom of the hour Bills Center Eric Wood sat down with Bills Insider Chris Brown. Wood addressed the recent struggles of the offensive during the past few OTA sessions. He mentioned that with the recent implementation of the entire playbook you’re bound to have a few mistakes but does feel they are heading in the right direction.
“We’re just focusing on little jumps each day to get where we want to be from a bottom offense in the league to near the top. It’s not going to happen overnight and we understand that but by making little strides each day, we feel like we can make a big jump eventually.”
During the offseason, the Bills went big and heavy with offensive lineman in this year’s draft by bringing in sizeable players. Second round pick OT Cyrus Kouandjio, fifth round selection G Cyril Richardson, and OT Seantrel Henderson who was drafted in the seventh round. Wood says all three are coming along great.
“At this standpoint they’ve done a good job of really working to learn their assignments. They all pass the eyeball test, that’s for sure. They are all big, strong, and pretty mobile. They’ve had good attitudes and I think that’s the biggest thing coming in to this no-huddle offense with all the terminology.”
That is the goal of this year’s offense, understanding the system to be able to keep it a fast-paced scheme. Wood said the team conditions that way and practices that way to put them at an advantage.
You can hear more from Eric Wood and the complete John Murphy Show hosted by Brian Koziol by clicking below:
Posted in Inside the Bills