Inside The Bills

Bills players confident in roster strength

Posted by Chris Brown on July 18, 2014 – 9:45 am

There aren’t many Bills players who have been on this roster much more than five or six seasons. For those that have they see this year’s roster as the strongest in quite some time.

Bills 2009 first round pick Eric Wood in an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio believes their 2014 roster is the strongest since he’s been a part of the squad.

“I feel like we’ve been getting better year in and year out and I feel like this is the best roster to date we’ve had since I’ve been with the Bills,” said Wood. “Physically the front sevens on both sides of the ball are really good, especially our defensive line. But our skill positions are really fast and getting really experienced too. I think it’s time for us to take off.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

“Holding Players to a Higher Standard”-JMS 7/17

Posted by johnmurphyshow on July 17, 2014 – 9:35 pm

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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

All four video boards in action at the Ralph

Posted by Anna Stolzenburg on July 17, 2014 – 4:27 pm

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For the first time today, all four video boards at Ralph Wilson Stadium were tested, giving a glimpse at what the stadium will feel like during the 2014 season.

We’ll let you decide for yourself just how great the four-board-affect is when you arrive at the preseason home opener on August 23, but – spoiler alert – it’s pretty powerful.

RELATED: 6 reasons to be excited about the renovations

As part of the large-scale renovations that will be completed by the start of the season, the Ralph jumped from one large west end video board and a non-digital tri-vision east end board to an even larger west end board, two additional video boards on top of the M&T Bank Club and the Time Warner Cable Club, and a now-digital video board where the tri-vision board once was. The new video boards atop the clubs on the east end will feature scores from around the league, fantasy stats, highlights from the game and much more.

From one to four HD video boards, you’ll notice a big difference in just over a month at Ralph Wilson Stadium!


Posted in Inside the Bills

What comes after reps to build rapport with WRs

Posted by Chris Brown on July 17, 2014 – 1:19 pm

Bills QB EJ Manuel is about to begin his most important training camp. Big things are expected from him after a rookie season that included three different knee injuries that cost him six starts. And he’ll need to do it while getting used to a pair of new wideouts in Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams. Obviously reps on the practice field will be the most important way to build the chemistry between himself and the two receivers in the passing game. As for the next most important way to build the rapport, Manuel has a thought on how to most effectively get on the same page.

“I think the biggest thing for us is to watch the film together,” Manuel told Buffalobills.com. “I think that’s one thing that we’re excited to do. Obviously with coach Hackett being the OC he kind of goes over everything, but I think it helps me to watch film together because everybody can be on the same page. Instead of receivers saying, ‘Hey what was EJ thinking here?’ Or, ‘What was C.J. thinking here on this run?’ We can all just talk about it right then and there and it goes back to our rapport getting stronger as a team being together for year now and it’s easier to hold everybody accountable.”

Today in our Camp Countdown we took a look at the three ways EJ Manuel can become a difference maker for Buffalo’s offense.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

2014 Hall of Fame presenters

Posted by Chris Brown on July 17, 2014 – 12:16 pm

Everyone who is a Bills fan knows that Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy will be the presenter for Bills 2014 Hall of Fame inductee Andre Reed. Here’s a look at the rest of the presenters for the 2014 class, with four inductees choosing their children as their presenters.

Class of 2014 Presenters
• Decaon Brooks for his father Derrick Brooks
• John Madden for former Oakland Raiders punter Ray Guy
• Cheyenne Humphrey-Robinson for her father Claude Humphrey
• Walterius Jones for his father Walter Jones
• Marv Levy for former Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed
• Jay Glazer for his friend and colleague Michael Strahan
• Lawrence Williams for his son Aeneas Williams

Induction ceremonies are set for Saturday Aug. 2nd. Buffalobills.com will be on hand for coverage of Buffalo’s 10th player being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Highlighting the 2013 Bills – JMS 7/16

Posted by johnmurphyshow on July 16, 2014 – 9:49 pm

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Stevenson Sylvester

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.

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“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.”

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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.

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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

Bills yearbook airs Weds. on NFL Network

Posted by Dallas Miller on July 16, 2014 – 12:01 pm

An annual tradition, the Bills year-in-review produced by NFL Films makes its debut at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday night on NFL Network.

From the first round of the draft to the final whistle in Foxboro, the Bills 2013 season will get the full NFL Films treatment of unique highlights, interviews and access to reflect on the year. The show will also feature special tribute to Bills founding owner Ralph Wilson, who passed away on March 25 after more than four decades at the forefront of the franchise.

It’s a must watch every year for avid and casual fans alike. Tune in!


Posted in Inside the Bills

Why C.J.’s 2013 injury hurt his game so much

Posted by Chris Brown on July 16, 2014 – 9:39 am

Last season when C.J. Spiller played his way through a very painful high ankle sprain, some outside observers couldn’t understand why his game was so negatively impacted when other backs in the league in recent years didn’t struggle as much to maintain their productivity. Spiller explained why a high ankle sprain is probably the worst possible injury for his unique skill set.

“A lot of people were saying that I didn’t have the year that I had in 2012, but to me playing on one wheel – especially the way I do it,” said Spiller. “If I was more of a power back it would’ve been a different deal, but with my ability to cut and accelerate I need both of my wheels healthy. Unfortunately I had one down, but to still get close to 1,000 (yards) – talking to Coach (Buddy) Nix we both agreed that it was a pretty good year playing on one wheel for the whole year that was tough to do and very painful, but I don’t worry about that. I know when I’m fully healthy the kind of player I can be.”

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett agreed.

“It’s funny, he didn’t have that bad of a year last year and he missed out on a game and was hindered by that, and he still had over 900-yards (rushing),” Hackett said. “I think with him being healthy and him being more familiar with the system, what we’re asking him to do, he’s going to be more and more comfortable just like the other guys will be.

We covered Spiller’s health and some other factors in examining whether he’ll be able to return to Pro Bowl form this fall in our Camp Countdown.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

“Such a Buffalo flavor this year” – JMS 7/15

Posted by johnmurphyshow on July 15, 2014 – 9:55 pm

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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.

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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

How Wood strengthened bond with EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on July 15, 2014 – 2:40 pm

The still very popular Bills of the 90′s fought so hard for each other because of the bonds they developed off the field as much as in the heat of battle. Bills center Eric Wood took a page out of their book this offseason with a rather important offensive teammate.

Making every effort to strengthen the bond with QB EJ Manuel, Wood in an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio explained how he brought his quarterback along on an annual pilgrimage of his.

“I brought him back to the Kentucky Derby this year with me and we really have become close, which I feel needs to happen in that center-quarterback relationship. He’s my guy moving forward and I’m super excited for him. I know he’s excited to go back out and really play well this year,” said Wood. “EJ struggled a little bit last year, but a lot of that was when he was coming off of injuries and didn’t have a lot of practice time. Given all this time in camp and the way he’s grown this offseason mentally and physically I expect big things out of him. He’s my guy.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Wood not worried about EJ-Sammy chemistry

Posted by Chris Brown on July 15, 2014 – 2:30 pm

Sammy Watkins made news when he said the on field chemistry isn’t all the way there yet between himself and EJ Manuel. Of course not many realize the pair only had about a dozen practices together on the field this spring. Regardless veteran center Eric Wood isn’t concerned about the passing game connection of Manuel and Watkins. He believes it will develop quickly.

In an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio Wood expressed his confidence in the abilities of Manuel and Watkins coming together.

“Chemistry is extremely important and I think EJ and Sammy will definitely get there,” Wood said. “They made some plays in the spring that were really eye-opening. I think EJ is really getting better as a player and Sammy is going to be an NFL probably very quickly. He’s got a tremendous work ethic and his skill set is pretty obvious to those of us who have watched him.”

While most veteran players might be disappointed by the extended training camp the Bills have in light of the additional preseason game, Wood sees it as a benefit for young players like Manuel and Watkins.

“This extended training camp with us having the Hall of Fame game, that extra time it seems pretty daunting as a player, but it’s work that we definitely need if we want to get where we want to get on offense so any extra work before we open up against Chicago would be great.”


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An interesting look at NFL QB progression

Posted by Chris Brown on July 15, 2014 – 11:05 am

The folks at Pro Football Focus are doing a position by position progression examination as we all wait for training camp to open. Their most recent installment takes a look at quarterback and there are some tell tale benchmarks that we may be able to apply to EJ Manuel’s second NFL season.

In crunching the play value numbers of first round quarterbacks since 2007 Pro Football Focus they found less than half had positive play value figures in their film grading in their rookie seasons. That’s not really surprising knowing the league’s history at that position. They also found the improvement in season two moved the average into the positive territory in terms of performance value, though not dramatically. Here was the crux of their assessment.

First round quarterbacks generally tend to struggle in their rookie seasons, with just seven of the 18 players taken in the first round since 2007 finishing their first year with a positive grade. The best year for rookie quarterbacks since we began grading was 2012, with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill all playing well but, even with that banner year, first round rookies have averaged a minus-6.2 grade in their opening seasons in the league.

By the end of their second year we have seen an improvement by the first-round signal-callers, averaging a grade of +1.1. That improvement is largely down to the performances of the few, though, with just eight of the 20 quarterbacks drafted in the first round from 2006 onward who we’ve seen a second season from, finishing that year with a positive grade.

So Manuel, who like most in this study had a minus grade as a rookie stands a reasonable chance of moving into positive territory as a second-year player.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Duke learning from & competing with Searcy

Posted by Chris Brown on July 15, 2014 – 10:43 am

Positions battles are commonplace in every NFL training camp, but the dynamics with the one for the strong safety role with the Bills are a bit different. One of the candidates for Buffalo’s strong safety job alongside Aaron Williams, Duke Williams explained how the circumstances of the competition between himself, Da’Norris Searcy and Jonathan Meeks give the battle a different vibe.

“Me and Meeks came in as rookies and Da’Norris has been here three years before we have,” said Duke Willaims. “So we try to learn from him and compete against him at the same time.”

Williams has taken that learning part to the next level as he’ll often sit in with Searcy to study film.

“Me and Da’Norris are neighbors so we go to each other’s house and watch film together and go over plays and just talk football together,” said Williams. “It’s a great competition and a healthy competition and we’re all trying to help each other and in the end the better guy is going to take the position.”

As we profiled in our Camp Countdown the strong safety job looks like it’s Searcy’s to lose heading into camp.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

DBs coach Henderson big mentor for Aaron

Posted by Chris Brown on July 15, 2014 – 9:45 am

His first two seasons with the Bills were a little rocky. A second-round pick, Aaron Williams was expected to be a solid cover corner. What Williams battled more than the receivers he faced was his own self-confidence. In less than a season under defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson, Williams in his own words, ‘got his mojo back.’

On Buffalobills.com’s Camp Countdown we covered some of the reasons Aaron Williams will excel in 2014. While Henderson was not listed in terms of what will help him succeed in the future, Williams largely credits him for rebuilding his self-confidence, and the results last season were obvious. In addition Henderson also aided Williams in his transition to safety, teaching him some of the nuances of the position.

“Being with Coach Henderson, he really helped me out with how to be rangy like Jairus has been for us the last few years,” said Williams. “It takes repetition and practice. I think my rookie year I played safety for our scout team for a little bit. It’s never just been about cornerback. I’ve always tried to help my craft out anyway possible. I think moving to safety, it helps me. My man coverage is a lot better, I’m obviously good in the box and my range, and I’m perfecting it a little more. I keep studying film and seeing other players like Jairus and Earl Thomas and other great safeties like Troy Polamalu. See what they do and what makes them great. Match my game and how can I increase my value in the backfield.”

Retaining Henderson on his staff was huge for Doug Marrone after some of the other defensive staff defections to Cleveland with Mike Pettine. Marrone considers Henderson one of his most valuable assistants.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

The move to St. John Fisher – JMS Recap 7/14

Posted by johnmurphyshow on July 14, 2014 – 9:51 pm

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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

The Bills are New York’s most popular team

Posted by Dallas Miller on July 14, 2014 – 5:37 pm

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Photo: ticketcity.com

It’s official: New York state is Buffalo Bills country.

At least that’s the result from a mandatory.com story citing Google data dating back to 2012. The report tracked searches to determine each state’s most popular sports team, from sea to shining sea.

As the only pro football team to reside in the Empire State – “There’s nothing left from New York about the Giants or the Jets, except for the name,” says New Jersey governor Chris Christie – the Bills beat out a crowded field that includes some of the worlds most recognizable sports brands: the Yankees, Knicks, Rangers, and Mets.

Twenty-nine total teams filled out the 50 states, with the NFL sitting in 16 of those – more than any other sport. Major League Baseball (seven) and the NBA (four) rounded out the top three leagues, while the NHL’s Boston Bruins (in New Hampshire and Massachusetts) were the only hockey team represented. Arkansas was the only state to favor a college team (the University of Arkansas Razorbacks) as its most popular.

The poll excluded Major League Soccer and the WNBA.


Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills QBs and rookies arriving early

Posted by Chris Brown on July 14, 2014 – 11:50 am

Bills quarterbacks and rookies will be making up a contingent of players who will be arriving early at One Bills Drive in advance of training camp in Pittsford.

All quarterbacks, rookies, first-year players and other select players will report for training camp to One Bills Drive on Wednesday.

All players will be reporting to St. John Fisher for training camp this weekend.


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Pundits predicting heavy run year for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on July 14, 2014 – 11:26 am

The Bills were one of the most run heavy offenses in the league last season. They led the league in total rushes and ranked second in rushing yards per game (144.2). The pundits in trying to predict the run-pass balance of the league’s 32 teams believe the Bills will be one of the most run heavy teams in the league this year.

Rotoworld predicted the passing percentages of every team in the league and categorized teams as pass heavy, balanced and run heavy. Not surprisingly Buffalo was predicted to be run heavy after being very reliant on the run game in 2013. Here’s what Mike Clay wrote in his prediction for the Bills.

Bills – 2014 Projection: 56% pass (2013: 54%) 
In Doug Marrone’s first year as Buffalo’s head coach, we saw a clear inclination to lean heavily on the running game. The Bills ended up calling pass 54 percent of the time, which ranked them as the league’s No. 3 run-heaviest team. Of course, had they been more competitive, no team would’ve called run at a higher rate. Adjusted for game flow, the Bills called pass seven percentage points below expected.  With an underwhelming quarterback (EJ Manuel) and a strong one-two-three punch at tailback (C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown), the Bills will, once again, contend for the league lead in rushing attempts.  

In our Camp Countdown on Buffalobills.com we profiled how OC Nathaniel Hackett might take advantage of the improved depth at running back and believe it or not Buffalo may throw a bit more to their backs either out of the backfield or when they’re lined up as wideouts. The Bills will certainly be run heavy, but with Buffalo’s backs expected to be scattered all over the formation it’s hard to say all their touches will be carries.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Spiller senses big jump for run game in year 2

Posted by Chris Brown on July 14, 2014 – 9:38 am

In our Camp Countdown on Buffalobills.com we profiled how offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett will take advantage of the team’s running back depth with Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon now lined up behind Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller on the depth chart. Spiller senses that after a year of experience in the system for most of the offensive unit that season two under Hackett will lead to even more production in the run game.

“For us to be second in the league in rushing with a new system and us trying to get comfortable with what was going on –  Now we have that year up under us and you can see the difference,” said Spiller. “Everybody is confident in what we’re doing and hopefully that will bring better things. But there’s a ton of work to be done before September 7th against the Bears. We’ve got to be willing to put in all the hard work necessary to put ourselves in the best situation to win.”

Buffalo averaged over 144 yards on the ground a game last season and that was without a lot of passing success as the offense was 28th in that category. So even when opposing defenses largely knew what was coming the Bills were still pretty productive running the ball.

What is most encouraging from the standpoint of Spiller is how he’ll fare in the offense in his second season running it. Some might recall that in his first season under Chan Gailey as a starter (2011) Spiller struggled at times to be productive. Then in his second season he had a breakout season. The dynamic Pro Bowl back is now in a similar situation going into his second year in Nathaniel Hackett’s system. One wonders if similar production to that of 2012 is on the horizon this fall.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

EJ Manuel: “I am 100% healthy right now”

Posted by Dallas Miller on July 12, 2014 – 7:00 pm

Quarterback EJ Manuel joined “NFL Total Access” to talk about how he hopes to improve in his second year in the league.

On what the biggest difference will be from year one to year two:

EJ Manuel: “I think its overall confidence in myself. Obviously, I have a rapport with my teammates. Having a full offseason with guys who I’m familiar with — I’ve been lucky enough to have the same head coach, the same offensive coordinator, now a new quarterback coach in Coach [Todd] Downing. I’m very excited moving forward to my second year.”

On getting on the same page with rookie WR Sammy Watkins:

Manuel: “It’s very important because obviously when you guys get into training camp, you’re going to be throwing to each other every day. You just want to use the time that you have when you have time off. You want to take to full advantage of that time and throw to those guys as much as possible so they know when I hit my third step in my hitch the ball’s going to be at a certain spot and they need to get there. I think we’re building that each and every day.”

On how long it will take to gain chemistry with the new WRs:

Manuel: “I don’t think it will take long [to get in a groove.] Sammy is the main guy that we added — also Mike Williams too. I think they’ll blend in with the guys that we already have too as far as Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, T.J. Graham, Marcus Easley, Kevin Elliott – they’re a bunch of guys. I think it’s going to be a great year for us offensively. I know that was one thing we wanted to focus on and get better at all the situations – red zones [and] third downs. We’ve been putting the work in and we’re excited to show it.”

On how it feels in the city of Buffalo going into this year as opposed to last year:

Manuel: “Obviously adding a guy like Sammy Watkins, an electrifying player at the college level. Bringing him in for a young quarterback like myself, it’s going to pay dividends. I’m excited about it. Obviously, Sammy coming in with us and all of the great players we have on offense. Our defense has always been solid anyway, so we’re looking forward to this next year.”

On how much of a different EJ Manuel will be seen this year due to him being healthy:

Manuel: “I think that’s one thing I had to learn to be smart when I take off with the football. Instead of trying to get an extra three yards, either step out-of-bounds or slide.

Those are all of the nuisances I had to learn. Obviously, I didn’t want to go down with an injury because I’m a competitive player. I go hard each and every time I step on the field. It just so happened that I had to come down with an injury. I moved past it. Thankfully, I am 100 percent healthy right now. I feel like I’m stronger than I was last year, so I’m looking forward to moving on.”

On how the coaches have helped him progress with the learning curve:

Manuel: “They’ve helped tremendously. Coach [Nathaniel] Hackett and Coach [Todd] Downing have been very intricate with my growth as a quarterback. Obviously, it starts with me. You have to put that foot forward. There’s a lot of downtime as far as the offseason — You want to get in your playbook, you want to learn, or you want to go over your protections each and every day. You can’t learn that stuff if you can’t go over it enough. Those are things that I’ve been doing to help our team win. I think those are all building blocks, and it’s just a part of the process as an offense for us to continue to grow.”

On what the loss of LB Kiko Alonso means to him:

Manuel: “It was a huge blow. Not only because Kiko’s a great player, but he’s also a fellow rookie. We came in at the same time. I know how it is to deal with a knee injury. It’s not fun. He’ll be back strong. Obviously, we’re all wishing him well and a speedy recovery but we know Kiko will come back strong and we know he’ll still be there as a leader for our defense and our offense.”

On practicing in the Buffalo weather:

Manuel: “Coach [Doug] Marrone likes us to practice outside so when we did have our cold games last year, we still practiced outdoors. I thought it was a good thing because one, you get used to obviously the cold. But another thing is we have that wind effect in our stadium coming off the lake. Being able to practice in it during the week when Sunday comes, its second nature.”


Posted in Inside the Bills