Inside The Bills

Nix: Our talent hasn’t been maximized

Posted by Chris Brown on January 2, 2013 – 1:13 pm

In a one-on-one sitdown with Buffalobills.com, Bills GM Buddy Nix went one step further in explaining why the results on the field have not proven the talent level on the roster is better.

The Bills general manager has said on more than one occasion that he believes the team’s roster is better from a talent and depth perspective. Fans don’t want to hear that because the won-loss record was the same as that of a year ago. So the question posed to Nix was whether he thought the potential of the talent on the roster had been maximized. This was his answer.

“Probably not, no,” Nix told Buffalobills.com. “I don’t think that necessarily just falls on the coaches. You can coach them and put them out there, but they’ve got to do it and make plays. So I think that there’s two parts in our evaluation. I take full responsibility for what happened. I put them out there, but they’ve got to make plays. We didn’t make enough for whatever reason.”

It’s interesting that Nix believes that maximizing a player’s potential is equal parts coach and player responsibility. Once again a losing culture can compromise a player’s mental toughness in games, thereby compromising their performance. Coaches obviously play a role there too by putting them in position to succeed and motivating them, but as some of the players on locker clean out day said Monday, ‘not making enough plays, that’s on us.’


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Bills officially out of playoff contention

Posted by Chris Brown on December 16, 2012 – 10:49 pm

With their ninth loss of the season Sunday the Bills were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

The Bills had been mathematically alive by the slimmest of probabilities, but their 50-17 loss to the Seahawks sealed it with two games to play in the 2012 season.


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Bills in top half of power rankings

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2012 – 1:36 pm

It might be a bit early for power rankings, but NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt took a stab at it here in mid-June and the ranking for the Bills was pretty favorable.

Brandt had Buffalo ranked 13th overall and praised the front office and head coach Chan Gailey for the job they’ve done the past couple of years, and the additions made this offseason in particular.

13. BILLS
The Bills had a fine offseason, shoring things up on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they landed one of the crown jewels of this free-agent class in Mario Williams, and also brought in defensive end Mark Anderson. On the other side of the ball, they secured new deals with two integral pieces: wide receiver Stevie Johnson and running back Fred Jackson. Chan Gailey deserves more credit than he receives. He improves every team he coaches.


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Jones slotted most of the time

Posted by Chris Brown on June 13, 2012 – 9:57 am

Donald Jones has been moved around quite a bit between three different wide receiver roles, but in OTAs he spent most of his time in the slot. It’s an interesting place for the guy with the inside track on the #2 WR job to be, but he likes it a lot.

“I love the slot,” said Jones. “You have a lot more flexibility in the slot. You don’t have guys beating up on you every play, so I definitely like being in there.”

The common advantage for slot receivers is they’re not restricted by the sideline like outside receivers. They have what’s called a two-way go meaning the receiver can break inside or outside.

“It definitely helps out a lot,” said Jones. “You have a lot more room in the slot. You have a two-way go. You’re working a lot more on nickels, but also linebackers and safeties, so we definitely have the edge. When you’re outside the corners have the sideline as their help and then they have the inside help so you have less flexibility.”

As a rookie Jones was lined up almost exclusively in the slot with Lee Evans and Stevie Johnson outside and was effective as a complementary receiver and a blocker for the run game. It appears as though Buffalo’s offensive staff wants to get back to some of that when they make use of one of their most popular formations which is the 4-wide, 1-back set.


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Other NFL clubs “scared” of Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on June 12, 2012 – 10:21 am

According to ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski the Bills offseason moves have some other NFL clubs shuddering at what Buffalo’s could be capable of in 2012.

Appearing on Bills flagship WGR Sportsradio 550, Jaworski provided a snapshot on the general feedback he’s received from other teams concerning the maneuvers Buffalo has made this offseason to improve their roster.

“I think Bills fans should be excited about the team,” Jaworski said. “I applaud what Buddy Nix has done. The plan is in place. I believe Chan Gailey has done a tremendous job with this team. I think the future looks very, very bright in Buffalo. I’m in communication with 32 teams throughout the offseason. There are a lot of teams that are very scared of what the Buffalo Bills are doing. You see the addition of Mario Williams. It makes a huge statement that the Bills are committed to winning.”


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Fitz’s mechanics will boost offense

Posted by Chris Brown on June 12, 2012 – 10:17 am

With all of the work Ryan Fitzpatrick is putting into his throwing mechanics, particularly with his lower body, the result should be more consistent accuracy. In Chan Gailey’s offensive system consistent accuracy almost guarantees success.

“Chan Gailey has an excellent system with a lot of players that can make plays,” said ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski in an appearance on Bills flagship WGR Sportsradio 550. “But the key to this offense is the ball comes out quick and the receivers are running after the catch, which means that your quarterback has to be accurate. I think Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to make a big improvement.”


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Fan Friday 6-8

Posted by Chris Brown on June 8, 2012 – 11:14 am

1 – Chris,
Are we assuming Kyle williams will be his old self? Most players don’t return to form until 2nd yr after major injury…looked like good tackles in draft to go with dareus..what say u….

Steve

CB: What everyone needs to remember regarding Kyle and Shawne Merriman for that matter is they never ruptured their Achilles. When a player ruptures their Achilles (like Takeo Spikes) the rehab is a year. Williams and Merriman had their Achilles repaired, which required it being detached and then laid back down and re-attached again. That rehab is 4-5 months, less than half the time.

Both are already on the field practicing and seeing time in team work (11 on 11). Come training camp, barring any setbacks, they’ll be good to go. So I see Kyle Williams being back to his old self come Week 1 this year.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

Thanks for all of the offseason updates – it really helps give me my much needed Bills fix especially outside of the Buffalo market. I had a question for you about the HBO show Hard Knocks. Several teams declined. My question is, what do you think the chances are that the Bills would be open to participating in the program? I think it would be great for selling tickets and creating a buzz around the team. Wanted to see your thoughts.

Chris F. in Manhattan, NYC

CB: By now we all know that Miami will be the club on Hard Knocks this summer. As long as Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey are running things I think the chances of them appearing on Hard Knocks are zero. The two men are old school football men and if they can minimize any possible distractions they will. So as exciting as it might be for fans to get an inside look I don’t see the decision makers signing off on it. And as far as buzz around the team goes it hasn’t been this good in quite some time leading up to a season.

 

3 - Hi Chris,

My name is Deron and I corresponded with you regarding Willis McGahee’s return to Buffalo in 2007.  I flew from Long Beach, CA to Buffalo to watch that game and boo in person.:-)  I just wanted to know your perspective on the Bills’ potential win total this season.  Las Vegas has them at 7 wins.  I personally believe this is quite low.  With the bolstering of the roster through another solid draft and free agent acquisitions, combined with stability and continuity in the same system, I see the Bills with 9 wins easily.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they made the playoffs.  They’re getting Kyle, Fred and Merriman back from injury and Mario will open things up tremendously for all of the other super talented linemen.  This will create a chain reaction and the linebackers and defensive backs will benefit as well.  The offense is primed and, if Glenn starts and plays effectively, they should be in the top half of the league in terms of production. 

I just cannot see the Bills going 7-9 or worse.  Even with the normal amount of injuries, the Bills are deep thanks to Buddy Nix.  Just curious to know your thoughts since you’re so close to the pulse of the team. Keep up the great work and thank you.

-Deron Redding
Long Beach, CA

CB: I’m no betting man, but seven wins is conservative as I see it. I usually like to see this team in pads at training camp before making a true assessment of a team’s fortunes for the upcoming season, but seven does seem low. The team has vastly improved their talent on defense and they’ve got better depth at a lot of positions.

Depth at left tackle and middle linebacker are still concerns and those are two pretty important positions. After Stevie Johnson there is little in the way of proven talent at wide receiver. These are probably factors in the predictions that you’re seeing.

I certainly think nine wins is possible and perhaps even 10 with a little luck, but don’t hold me to that yet. I’m reserving judgment until August.

 

4 - Chris,
 
I hear the criticism of Fitz all the time that he can’t throw the long ball.  I know we haven’t hit on a ton of them recently, but i’m not convinced it’s because of his inability to throw it.  My recollection of the year when Terrel Owens was on the team, he hit a few of long balls that year.  Given that you have greater access to the team, could you put together a breakdown of Fitz’s history throwing the deep ball vs. the league average at quarterback.
 
Thanks,
Tim
Rochester

CB: Courtesy of ProFootballFocus’ Signature Stats last year Fitzpatrick ranked 18th in the league in deep passing, which PFF characterizes as passes attempted over 20 yards. The quarterbacks were ranked by completion percentage. Fitz completed 32.2% of his deep ball passes. Aaron Rodgers (60.7%), Tony Romo (54.1%) and Drew Brees (52.1%) were the three best in the league last year.

Bills new quarterbacks coach David Lee has already recognized Fitz’s deep ball accuracy as an area in need of improvement. He basically indicated that part of the problem for Fitz on these kinds of passes is that he will look off the safety a bit too long at times, thereby not giving himself enough time to re-focus and deliver the ball to his intended target on the other side of the field. So he’s working with Fitz on shortening his look-off ever so slightly to give him more time to judge his throw to his intended target.

He’s also working with Fitz to open up his left hip more on throws so he can put more of his core strength and right hip torque into his throws so they don’t fall short.

Here’s what’s most encouraging about how much Fitz can improve in this area. Lee is responsible for completely revamping Tony Romo’s throwing motion in terms of release point. He had a very low release point and he worked with Romo an entire offseason to fix it back when he was the Cowboys’ third quarterback. So to see that Romo ranked third in the league in deep ball accuracy is an encouraging sign as to where Fitz can take his game in that area with Lee assisting him.

 

5 - Chris 
 
I remember the Bills putting Michael Jasper on the practice squad to transition him to O-line.  How is his progress, and where on the line will he play?  The roster on Bills.com has him listed as a guard, but with some guys pretty well entrenched at the LG, C, RG positions, is there any chance he could get outside at LT?  I know they liked his athleticism when he was drafted,  but I wondered if he was athletic enough to play LT.
 
Chris Sykes, Webster, NY

CB: Jasper has been running with the second unit at left guard in OTAs thus far. I think he’ll battle for a spot there. He still has practice squad eligibility so that’s always a secondary option if he can’t land a roster spot. I’m not Chan Gailey, but I’d be surprised if he’s seen as an offensive tackle option. He played guard in college and I think that’s where they see Jasper as a prospect.


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More raised expectations for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on May 31, 2012 – 9:28 am

As the offseason wears on there continues to be more and more raised expectations for the Bills prospects in 2012.

Yahoo Sports Len Pasquarelli is the latest to weigh in, as he believes the Bills are ready to end their playoff drought.

The free agent pickups along with top pick Stephon Gilmore were the most prominently mentioned in his write-up, but Kyle Williams astutely mentions that there was some pretty good talent on the roster already, it’s just that most of the top talent was injured last year.


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Sapp likes Bills D-line

Posted by Chris Brown on May 21, 2012 – 3:28 pm

I guess we shouldn’t be shocked that a former perennial Pro Bowl defensive tackle in Warren Sapp really likes the Bills defensive line, but when asked for his biggest story line in the AFC East this offseason, Sapp picked Buffalo’s defensive coordinator and what he’s got to work with up front.

An NFL Network studio analyst, Sapp pointed chiefly to Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams as the main reason for him believing that Buffalo’s defense will be able to do some damage, and right now there’s no arguing with that point.

Fellow analyst concurred with Sapp’s assessment saying the way you make headway in the AFC East is by neutralizing Tom Brady, and he believes the Bills went a long way in arming themselves with the ability to do that.


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Mario is Top 20 on CBS Top 100

Posted by Chris Brown on May 17, 2012 – 10:52 am

Bills DE Mario Williams to no surprise is on another Top 100 list.

CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco put together his Top 100 players, looking forward to the 2012 season and Mario Williams checks in at #18.

18 – DE Mario Williams – Buffalo – He missed most of last season for the Texans with a torn pectoral muscle, but there’s a reason the Bills paid him a mega-contract in free agency. Being back to his down-end spot in the 4-3 will help too.

Last year Prisco had Williams ranked 20th in his Top 100, so the boost in ranking despite playing just five games last season is an indication as to what the expectations are of Williams in Buffalo’s defense this season.


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National optimism for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on May 8, 2012 – 2:00 pm

The Bills offseason has got national pundits excited about the team’s chances this coming season.

Count CBSSports.com’s Clark Judge among them. He sees Buffalo with more wins than losses in 2012.

The Bills made strong offseason moves, including the additions of linebacker Mario Williams and defensive end Mark Anderson, but none is stronger than naming Dave Wannstedt as defensive coordinator. With Wannstedt in charge, the club goes to a 4-3 that should improve on its next-to-last-place standing in sacks and No. 19 ranking in pass defense. Williams and Anderson will squeeze the pocket, while first-round draft pick Stephon Gilmore should step immediately as a starter at cornerback. Adding Nigel Bradham and Tank Carder brings depth at linebacker, while versatile Cordy Glenn was a second-round steal who should be in the mix at left tackle.

All the moves are aimed at improving in the AFC East, and you don’t gain ground unless you figure out how to overcome Tom Brady who, it just so happens, is 18-2 against Buffalo. With the defensive additions the Bills just made, I like their chances of finishing second in the AFC East and producing their first winning season since 2004.

Judge also likes Fred Jackson getting extended with his only concern being the schedule, with just 2 clubs in the first 10 games that finished under .500 last season.

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/18990021/playoffs?-these-five-2011-also-rans-have-a-good-shot-at-getting-there


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