Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 2-13

Posted by Chris Brown on February 13, 2015 – 12:44 pm

Don’t forget our NFL combine coverage begins in earnest over the weekend leading up to our coverage in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium Tuesday presented by Napa. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris
Are there specific areas that EJ has improved in by watching Orton from the side lines? Also, how is his relationship with the other players now, compared to before he was replaced by Orton?

Ppante

CB: He told me specifically that he learned about what’s most important to focus on during the week leading up to the game from a game plan and opponent study standpoint. Manuel said in the past there may have been some things he spent too much time on in his preparation that didn’t carry as high a priority as other aspects of his film study.

I also felt he became more accurate in the practice setting when it came to hitting his targets in rhythm and on time. I think we all recognize that it’s a different thing when it’s game speed, but those are two areas where he benefitted by being able to focus on his game for the last 12 weeks of the 2014 season.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Loved this guy coming out of college. What is your opinion of Hoyer? Do we get another journeyman QB or go for a big Trade?

BuffalonianFilm

CB: I don’t think a trade to acquire a quarterback can be ruled out, but the Bills have limited assets in the way of draft choices (no 1st or 4th). Hoyer is a limited NFL QB. I believe everybody recognizes that. I think the more likely scenario is picking up a veteran in free agency and then drafting one in the middle rounds.

 

3 – Chris,

Bills fan from Toronto here. Just having thoughts about our team here…

How much do you think Hughes/Spiller are asking for and how much do you think the bills are willing to give them? Also do the Bills still have their franchise tag and if so would they use it on Hughes?
Is adrian peterson an option if C.J. spiller takes his talents elsewhere (ny jets)?
What are they gonna do about their QB situation??? Are they gonna draft maybe Hundley in 2nd round, sign Mark Sanchez or maybe trade for Sam Bradford or Jay Cutler?

Thanks, MW

CB: It’s my belief that Jerry Hughes’ agent will be looking for pretty big money and here’s why.

Over the last two seasons Hughes is tied for the fourth-most sacks in the league (20) behind only J.J. Watt, Rams pass rusher Robert Quinn and Mario Williams. He’s tied with Cameron Wake and the Saints’ Cameron Jordan. Watt and Williams are the two highest paid defensive ends in the league in terms of average salary at $16.6M and $16M.

They’re followed by Quinn ($14.2/yr) and Carolina’s Charles Johnson ($12.6M). Wake signed his extension back in 2012 and it averages only $6.6M.

Now the Bills will probably argue that Hughes plays with three Pro Bowl players on Buffalo’s defensive line and is rarely seeing double teams. But it’s hard to knock a guy that’s producing, and doing it for more than one year.

I fear that the Hughes camp will be asking for around $10M a season in a long term deal. That could be a tough one to manage knowing that Mario and Kyle Williams are the top two salaries on the club in terms of average salary already with Dareus sixth on the roster.  We’ll see. I don’t think the franchise tag is a realistic option for Buffalo.

As for Spiller it will be interesting to see if there’s a difference of opinion on his true value between he and the Bills. Paying top dollar for Spiller is probably difficult to justify in light of his recent history of injuries.

There’s no debating his home-run talent and he’s a good teammate in the locker room, but with another new offensive system coming in you wonder how he’ll weigh that into his decision on where to play. There’s also no dismissing the fact that the coach who helped him enjoy his most productive season is the offensive coordinator in New York.

Adrian Peterson is a great fit for a power run game, but I’d be surprised if he moves on from Minnesota.

The QB situation for Buffalo is obviously up in the air. They have to see who actually makes it to the free agent market or if there are any trade opportunities that might surface. The draft is probably where they’ll add one too. How early is the question.

 

4- Hi Chris, I have two questions:

  1. Would the Bills draft an additional running back given the fact that Rex Ryan wants to ground and pound?

Two college prospects, Malcolm Brown and Matt Davis seem like good fits, plus they are projected to be drafted in the later rounds.

  1. Besides looking at Mark Sanchez, would the Bills look at Ryan Mallet? Or Christian Ponder? I think Ryan Mallet would be the best fit, because he is younger. Obviously, E.J. Manuel is an option, but he has to read defenses better.

In summary, Rex Ryan has quite a bit of talent to work with, but if the offense is dysfunctional, it will compromise the efforts of the defense. Even a great defense will fold if its on the field for long stretches of time.

Your thoughts,
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

CB: I think there’s a pretty good bet that the Bills draft a running back at some point in the draft. This year’s class is deep at that position, thanks in large part to the junior eligibles that have declared. Buffalo needs to add some youth there and a true pile pusher that preferably has some wiggle to his game and receiving ability.

With that in mind it’s hard to find the perfect prospect. I believe there are a few that fit all of the criteria well enough in this draft. I do like South Carolina’s Mike Davis. Great person and player in the Fred Jackson mold and carries a bit more power behind his pads. Does everything right and has NFL bloodlines with his older brother James Davis a former 6th-round pick of Cleveland in 2009.

You could do worse than guys like Boise State’s Jay Ajayi and Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon when it comes to a power run game. Unfortunately a good number of the true power backs coming out this year aren’t big in the receiving game.

At quarterback I don’t know if Mallett is a fit because his skill set is in stark contrast to that of Manuel. I’m not saying he’s off the table, but he’s a strict pocket guy while Manuel has movement ability. How much would the offense need to change from one to the other if there was an injury to the winner of the competition? I know Ryan said Sanchez is a consideration at his press conference, but I’m not sure of that.

I do know that there isn’t a whole lot of quality to choose from.

5 – Chris,

In the new defense, where do you see the linebackers position playing out? Kiko did play well in the 3-4 under Pettine. Preston and Nigel did well in the 4-3, how do they fit into a 3-4 scheme. Nigel isn’t a thumper/ pure pass rusher. Will Manny Lawson kick back outside as a pass rusher, same with Hughes (if he can stay?). Curious how this will unfold since this unit had a great 2014.

CB: This is an interesting question. I think we can expect to see Manny Lawson on the field more, particularly on run downs like we did in 2013, when Jerry Hughes rotated in on passing downs. I’d expect to see Kiko Alonso on the open side at OLB, then it’s probably Bradham and Brown in the middle in a 3-4 look.

 

 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-30

Posted by Chris Brown on January 30, 2015 – 11:26 am

It’s Super Bowl weekend, but there’s plenty to talk about concerning the Bills. Here are your latest set of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,

The recent public comments of Brandon Spikes and Doug Whaley regarding his future in Buffalo as a upcoming pending free agent did not provide me with much confidence that he will return. Ultimately money and potential playing time will dictate the outcome and with the return of Alonso and big contracts to be spent elsewhere it doesn’t look particularly promising that he will be back in my opinion.

I think a strong argument can be made for re-signing Spikes. He provides attitude, toughness and leadership to the position and helped to significantly improve the team’s run defense this year. He seemed sincere when he recently commented about enjoying playing in Buffalo and gives the impression that he loves playing the game. Sounds exactly like the kind of player we need to retain.  Just wondering what your thoughts are of whether you think there could be a role for Spikes next year with the return of Alonso and if you think the Bills will submit a serious bid to retain Spikes or instead look for the cheaper option of adding depth players behind the projected starters?

Regards
Matt

CB: It’s hard to say what Buffalo’s plans are concerning Spikes. Alonso’s return is a factor, but I think at the right price Spikes could return to the fold, possibly on another one-year deal. I do remember during a conference call this past season that Rex Ryan who was coaching the Jets at the time said the following about Spikes.

“(Brandon) Spikes is one of those guys that I like because he’s a tough guy, a mean guy, a tough a**,” said Ryan. “I like guys that are competitors and that’s why I like him so much.”

Whether Ryan’s opinion of Spikes has any influence remains to be seen, but it would appear that Spikes has an admirer in Buffalo’s new head coach.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

Thanks for all the great coverage you continue to provide.

I was wondering what you think the best approach would be in addressing the quarterback postion.  Also, do you see Mike Glennon as a fit?  I know the Bills were rumored to have liked him coming out of the 2013 draft, and I like much of what I’ve seen from him so far in Tampa.  He should be expendable as the Bucs are expected to take a QB #1 overall.  What’s your take on Glennon’s potential?

Thanks,
Joe

CB: Glennon I felt took a bit of a step back in his second season, which was impacted by a new offense and coordinator. He was also in and out of the lineup with veteran Josh McCown earning the starting job out of training camp. Much like EJ Manuel he is limited with his number of starts after getting only six this past season (19 in his career).

His completion percentage is comparable to Manuel’s (under 60) and he struggled when blitzed this past year. There’s no doubting that his arm strength would be an asset in the conditions the Bills play in at home, but his mobility is limited.

Knowing his skill set is dramatically different to that of EJ Manuel (see: mobility), it’s hard to know if that would be viewed as a negative or a positive or irrelevant by the new staff. I don’t know if Glennon is seen as a match, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills add a young QB in the league or a veteran signal caller either via free agency or a trade.

 

3 – CB,

What do you think the Bills plan of attack for fixing the O-Line? Richardson stills seems developmental and is poor at pass blocking. Pears should be let go and Urbik is average guard. With Williams injured and unclear if he will come back, how many guards do you expect them to bring in? Free agency or draft? It may hard to find a day 1 starter in draft but they need new guys in there.
Thanks!
Josh

CB: I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bills draft a guard and add one in free agency. Buffalo has some young guys already in the fold as you mentioned, but both Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan made it clear they’re going to bring in competition at positions where it’s warranted.

Erik Pears is an unrestricted free agent. Kraig Urbik is a capable player. Chris Williams should be back healthy in time for spring workouts.

One big plus is the hiring of Aaron Kromer, who has produced at least one Pro Bowl lineman on the teams he has coached the last six years. He’s a proven teacher and developer of linemen, so hopefully the younger players on the roster will take a big step forward in their development and be bigger contributors (See: Henderson, Kouandjio, Richardson).

 

 

4 – Chris,

On a lighter subject, do you think the Bills would consider going back to their Red helmets?  Best years in franchise history were with the Blue uniforms and red helmets.

RC from DC

CB: I would not anticipate that happening. Outside of a throwback type of thing I think you’ll see the white helmets for a long time.

 

 

5 – Hello Chris,

I have really enjoyed the information I have received from your Inside the Bills write ups. Thanks for keeping us informed.

Recently, I read and article on NFL.com, in which Mario Williams was excited about moving to the Linebacker position. To date, that information has not shown up on the buffalbills.com website. I have always believe the 4 3 defense was the best scheme, and our personnel matches that scheme. As our defense was one of the top defenses in the league, I am not clear if Rex and company intend to shift to a 3 4 defense. My thoughts are why? Then there is the statement, ” You don’t fix what is broken”.  Can you shed some light on what is going on with the Buffalo Bills defensive scheme for 2015?

Thanks
Peter

CB: I think I will let defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman handle this one. He was asked this week if he’s going to run a 3-4 or a 4-3 front. Here was his answer.

“(I will run) whatever talent dictates,” said Thurman. “We’ll play a 3-4. We’ll play a 4-3. We’ll get in a Forty-Six. We’ll give them an odd front. It’s whatever our guys do best and we’re going to play to their strengths and when you do that, you’re giving your guys a chance to be successful and that’s what it really comes down to…is those guys that are out there on that field, are you giving them the opportunity to go out and succeed? So it doesn’t matter. The scheme will be dictated by the personnel that we have.”

I don’t think there’s any debating that Rex Ryan’s defense are largely a hybrid scheme that can morph and change. So to label it a strict over or under front would be inaccurate. And I think Mario Williams will see a healthy amount of action up on the line of scrimmage.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-11

Posted by Chris Brown on November 11, 2011 – 1:32 pm

First, a salute to all our veterans on this Fan Friday. Thanks for your service. It does not go unappreciated. Now on to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1 – Why are the Bills not throwing the ball down field? They would open up the run game with some long pass plays. Even when they have a 3rd and 5+ they are throwing 2 or 3 yard passes. Teams will be looking at this and reacting if the Bills don’t strech the field.

B. Gately

CB: While I don’t deny that the Bills do have a lot of faith in their receivers to get yards after the catch, you also have to remember what this offense is designed to do. It’s an anticipation offense built on timing to neutralize an opponent’s pass rush. I’ll let Chan Gailey explain in his own words.

“Really that’s our offense, getting the ball out. It doesn’t matter who we play we’re trying to get the ball out. If the team had three sacks on the season we still are going to run our offense. We understand problems and issues, but we’re trying to get the ball in somebody’s hands to make the play.”

Now that doesn’t mean the Bills won’t go deep. Heck they went deep on Darrelle Revis for the longest pass play of the season against the Jets Pro Bowl corner to Stevie (52 yards). But if you’re expecting the Bills to air it out 10 times a game it’s not happening. A half dozen maybe, but not more than that.

2 – Hey Chris,

Through all of the early success for the Bills this season, one of the factors that seems to be flying under the radar is the lack of penalties. I’ve followed their games closely and, compared to recent years, this team seems to attract less penalties. If so, I’m sure it’s attributed mostly to coaching – but is there some other factor that goes into it? Perhaps a mental focus that wasn’t there in previous years amongst the players or maybe they’re just becoming more solid in their fundamentals? Just curious. Go Bills!

Thanks,
Mark V.
Lancaster, OH

CB: Buffalo has 44 penalties at the midseason mark so they’re averaging about 5.5 penalties a game, which is good. Chan Gailey detests unforced errors, so it is a big focus in the practice setting with the players. I think with most of the players being in the second year of the offensive and defensive schemes helps as well. They’re less worried about their execution so they’re more focused on snap counts and such.

3 – Hi Chris,

Thanks so much for your excellent coverage on the Bills.  I really appreciate it no longer living in the Buffalo area (now living in Brooklyn, NY) and it’s my primary source for all things Buffalo Bills.  
In lieu of what the Jets did to us and a few other teams these past two seasons, why don’t the Buffalo Bills try moving back to a 4-3 as their primary base defense?  I think the combination of Kyle Wiliams and Marcell Dareus on the inside (with troup and heard as rotational players) and Chris Kelsay and Alex Carrington (with Dwayne Edwards and Spencer Johnson as rotational players) at defensive end would help us stop the run.  We woud then be able to play Barnett at ILB, with Sheppard and Moats/Batten at OLB.  
Do you foresee us making this change anytime in the future?  Have the coaches entertained this idea in an attempt to stiffen up our front 7?
Thanks,
Jae
Brooklyn, NY
 
CB: I’d be surprised if it happens in light of the time and investment into the current system. Chan did say the Jets were the more physical team and it would be hard to disagree, but that doesn’t mean the Bills aren’t capable of playing that way. I think the pieces that are needed have less to do with the three down linemen. They have enough size, girth and talent up there, though losing Kyle Williams hurts. Losing Merriman for the year and Kelsay for stretches also has compromised the scheme.
The run ‘D’ is improved from last year, but it needs to take another step. With improved depth and another draft class, I think they can make the 3-4 work.
 
4 – Hi Chris,
Do you know if the team has even considered giving Mike Jasper a shot on the D-line, especially with Kyle going down?
JerryCB: Jasper has been switched to the offensive line since he was added to the practice squad and there’s no need to switch him to defensive line. Buffalo has some depth at nose tackle with Torell Troup and Kellen Heard both capable players in addition to having Marcell Dareus, who can also play the nose. Add in the fact that the Bills have a pair of defensive tackles on their practice squad in Jay Ross and Lionel Dotson and they have options should they get shorthanded due to injury.

5 – Hey Chris,

With the signing of FITZ where exactly are the Bills in terms of the salary cap?  Also, after the Bills re-sign and extend Stevie and Freddy how many of the other Bills free agents do you see us also keeping?  Bell, Pears, Chandler, Parrish, Lindell, and Urbik (restricted) are among the biggest names.  Do Bell’s and Parrish’s injury problems make them expendable? 

Bryan
Grosse Ile, Mi

CB: If you wanted me to guess which players would be re-signed first I would lean toward Erik Pears and Rian Lindell. I’m not sure if Lindell’s injury complicates things, but those contracts would presumably be easier to complete than those of Jackson and Johnson. I don’t see Jackson getting done until the offseason knowing he still has another year left on his current deal. Johnson is probably going to have to wait until the offseason as well. I heard they spoke at the beginning of the year, but were far apart and haven’t spoken since. So regrouping at the end of the year seems more likely. Bell is a tough call. I think the staff and organization really likes Hairston and wouldn’t be surprised if they choose to tab him as the new left tackle as early as next season, which could leave Bell looking for other options, but that’s just a guess on my part at this point.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-13

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2011 – 12:30 pm

Happy Friday the 13th everybody! Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net, which is where you can submit your question.

1 – Chris,
The long snapper is always mystifying to most NFL fans. As they only play on punting and field goals. In terms of Garrison Sanborn, he hasn’t played any time at offensive line. With roster spots so key, why don’t the Bills get a player to snap and also play in some capacity.  It would make sense for Wood or any other interior lineman to play this position. What is the teams philosophy for the position considering  he is on such few plays?

Thanks,
Jack S.

CB:  The long snapper has been a specialized position for the better part of 20-25 years. Mastering the velocity and accuracy is practically an art form. Yes, there are other players on Buffalo’s roster that can do it in a pinch, but NFL clubs have made it clear they’re willing to devote a roster spot to that role. It’s obvious they feel it’s worth it and Chan Gailey, who was once a special teams coach, feels the same way.

Your point however, is valid. For a guy that’s in on about 15 plays a game it’s certainly one that’s short on quantity. Obviously NFL coaches favor the quality of the performance at that position more.

2 – Chris,
Last year Buddy and Chan were very busy all year adding O linemen,recievers,TEs,linebackers etc. So many it is impossible to know who we still have and who we have let go. I checked the “transaction” file and it doesn’t help and needs to be upgraded.

Do we know who of all those additions still have a chance to stay? I know that after the draft and then the additions of UDFAs and all those others. I’m going to go crazy trying to figure out who is who?

Thanks for any help you can give us.
Wardloc2

CB: Since there is no CBA there are no rules as to how many accrued seasons a player must have to be an unrestricted, restricted or exclusive rights free agent. With no rules there is no way to designate the free agent status of players whose contracts are up. As such it’s more difficult to determine who is more likely to stay or go. Hence your crazy state of being.

When it’s all settled it’ll come into better focus.

3 – Hey Chris,
First off, thank you so much for all you do with keep my fellow Bills fans and myself up to date on our beloved team, even through our YEARS of struggles.  With the release of the 2011 schedule, once again it looks like a real tough one, 2nd toughest in the NFL, I looked back at the last 5 years.  Four of the last five years we have played both Super Bowl teams.  The other year we played one.  What are the odds of something like that happening?  I think before they started this rotational schedule, they use to determine opponents by records?  Do you think it’s just poor luck of the draw or that the NFL should reconsider their strength of scheduling rules?  I know they never know which teams are going to do well, but 9 of the last 10 Super Bowl teams seems ridiculous!!  Thanks again for everything and as always GO BILLS and GO 2011 NFL SEASON!!
 
Best regards,
Matt
Lancaster, NY

CB: First, thanks for the kind words. I understand your frustration, but the rotational schedule is what it is. Now the Bills did have a much easier schedule in 2008 when they began with three of their first five games against the pitiful NFC West and got off to a 5-1 start. Part of Buffalo’s strength of schedule can be directly attributed to the Patriots regular season dominance. They went 14-2 last season and that sharply shifts the winning percentage of their opponents. But they also face teams like Cincinnati and Denver, teams that were right there with them at the top of the draft board with the same 2010 record (4-12).

Sometimes a team will have the unfortunate timing of facing an intra or inter conference division that has quality from top to bottom (NFC East). The AFC West had been struggling in recent years with the exception of San Diego, but Kansas City has rebounded and Oakland was even at .500 last year. The strength of divisions sometimes go in cycles and it’s just a matter of when your team is up to play them.

4 – Chris,

I have been an avid Buffalo Bills fan for years, I know how we got the name Bills, but what does it (Bills) mean or stand for?

Bill

CB: So you know the story of the essay contest to name the AAFC team back in 1946 and the winning essay was written by James Dyson.

He compared the team to a band of “Buffalo Bills.” He wrote that while the legendary Indian Scout William “Buffalo Bill” Cody helped trailblaze the American Frontier, the football team was opening a new frontier in Buffalo sports.

So in essence the Bills are a band of trailblazers I suppose for lack of a clearer definition.  

5 – Chris, 

Can you help to break down the rotation of players in both 4-3 and 3-4 system coming into camp? It’s seems a given that Marcell and Kyle will be on the field in both schemes for a majority of the plays. Will Troup now have to be 3rd in line to play nose or 3-technique? In 3-4 DE, does Carrington have a chance to push Dwan for a starting chance? 

Thanks!

Tyler

CB: The coaches will obviously make those decisions, but here’s what I envision them doing. In a 3-4 set it should be from left to right Dareus, Williams and Dwan Edwards. Carrington and Spencer Johnson are the two rotational ends with Torell Troup the backup nose.

If they choose to go to more of a 4-3 look in the subpackages, Dareus will likely kick inside with Williams. Carrington, who is one of the better pass rushing ends would likely be on the field as well, with possible a stand up linebacker on the right side next to Williams.

In a straight 4-3 I’d expect it to be left to right Dareus, Troup, Williams, Edwards.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills ‘D’ to be multiple

Posted by Chris Brown on January 3, 2011 – 4:29 pm

Season one under Chan Gailey was going to be one of transition, particularly on the defensive side of the ball where the transition to the 3-4 was going to be a significant undertaking. So much so that Gailey and defensive coordinator George Edwards knew that a hybrid form of the 3-4 would likely take shape knowing there was personnel still on the roster that had been entrenched in a 4-3 system. Now after witnessing a transition that proved more difficult than most anticipated, Gailey is leaning toward being a hybrid defense permanently.

“There are a lot of people that are called 3-4 fronts,” said Gailey in his season wrap up press conference Monday. “I think we’ll probably end up being a true multiple front team instead of a true 3-4 team just because our personnel dictates that. I think we’re probably a little bit better suited. I’ve not talked to the defensive staff about this, but just looking at it on the surface right now, I’d probably say we’re going to be multiple front rather than a Kansas City which sits in 3-4 no matter what, or Cleveland which sits in 3-4 no matter what. I don’t see us being that team. I see us being more of a multiple team.”

After finishing last in the league in run defense, and a handful of players performing in the multiple fronts once the Bills played their heavier four man front more often, it appears that being able to have both defensive looks at their disposal is seen as an advantage by Gailey going into 2011.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Defense might take time

Posted by Chris Brown on October 27, 2010 – 4:29 pm

Bills head coach Chan Gailey in a conference call with the Kansas City media admitted that in his assessment at this point that the defense may take a bit longer to turn around than the offense.

“Personnel is always the toughest thing – making sure you’ve got the right people in the right spots and dealing with what they do best and what they can’t do and trying to put them in a situation to be successful,” he said. “It happened a little bit quicker on offense, maybe, than it has on defense. We were hoping to be able to transition to the 3-4 a little bit easier and quicker, but we haven’t able to do that. It may take a year kind of like it has taken Kansas City.”

Last year Kansas City was 30th in total defense, 31st in run defense and 29th in points allowed in 2009. This year thus far they are 17th overall, 6th in run defense and 7th in points allowed.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-22

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2010 – 12:58 pm

It’s another week of your questions. Let’s get right to them (AskChris@bills.nfl.net).

1 – Chris:
I know the trade deadline has passed, but wouldn’t now be the time to move veteran players (i.e. Lee Evans) to a team like the Chargers or even the Patriots IF the Bills could get multiple picks?  By the time the Bills are ready to become competitive Lee Evans may be starting the downside of his career, and I believe the Bills expect (WR) Marcus Easley to become his replacement.  Buddy Nix did say he would like to collect more picks to build this team and the only way to do that would be to move assets now that may not help the team when it is ready to win in the distant future.
 
Joe Badaszewski
Blasdell

CB: I don’t think moving Lee is a wise move, even this offseason, for a couple of reasons. First, I think because Evans has played on an unsuccessful unit, his value around the league would be depressed from what it should be and thus the Bills would likely be unable to get fair market value.

Second, if the Bills have a quarterback of the future on this roster next year that they drafted high, you’re going to want a veteran receiver on this roster that said QB can rely on. Don’t underestimate the value of that for a young signal caller, and it’d be hard to get a better receiver for a youngster to lean on than Evans.

2 – Reebok is no longer going to be the supplier of the NFL jerseys and Nike is taking over due to contract expiration. So what are the chances of the Bills getting new jerseys for the next season since most fans are in consensus that our current jerseys are ugly, most want either new jerseys, a modern version of the 90s jerseys, or the throwbacks full time.

Joe From Buffalo

CB: Nike will be taking over with jerseys, but not until the 2012 season, when the current deal with Reebok expires. New Era will also be taking over for hats.

Nike has promised to “dramatically change” the NFL uniform, but they’re referring more to the performance aspects of the jerseys (breathability, body cooling technology, etc).

Nike has no latitude to make any uniform modifications to any NFL jersey whatsoever, but I would anticipate that there will be some NFL teams that apply for jersey modifications in conjunction with Nike coming on board in 2012.

And that would need to be done sooner rather than later knowing that applying to the league for uniform modifications is a 12 to 18-month process. Whether the Bills are in that number remains to be seen.

3 – Chris,
We’re in a “hybrid” 4-3/3-4 which makes no sense at all. We have Kelsay running around in space trying to defend the pass, and we have Maybin bull rushing OT’s and getting buried. No pressure on QB’s, no solid run defense, and no ball hawking defensive backs (0 Int’s for defensive backs this year). This defense ensures that we’re terrible in every phase.
 
At what point are Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey going to hold our defensive coaches accountable the way they have held our personnel accountable?
 
Joe

CB: I think whenever a team undergoes a dramatic scheme change struggles have to be anticipated. The struggles were not expected to be this severe by anybody including the coaching staff, but there’s no getting around the deficiencies.

I think the heavier run front with four down linemen is a good idea. The only thing I wouldn’t mind seeing is lining up Kyle Williams at end and Marcus Stroud inside. Williams is the kind of player that could do just about anything you need a lineman to do. I’d be real interested to see what he could do on the edge in that look.

It starts with stopping the run and they’re looking for a way to shore that up. If they can then it will create more obvious passing situations, and defensive coordinator George Edwards can get more aggressive with blitz calls, which will lead to some hurried throws and more opportunities to make plays on the ball. Hopefully you see how it all fits together, but as Chan Gailey has said, if you can’t stop the run none of the other stuff even matters.

Once they can address that, they can address some of their other shortcomings.
4 – Chris, what happened with Danny Batten?  He was another late round pick who was projected to play at OLB.  I know he was injured early in training camp or OTAs, but is he still on the roster?  If he is, is there any chance he makes it back into the fold this year?

John
Youngstown, NY

CB: Danny Batten sustained a severe shoulder injury in training camp that required surgery and was put on injured reserve before the season even started.

The labrum in his shoulder was almost completely torn and he had a couple of ligaments that were damaged as well. One was almost completely torn and the other was partially torn. The head of his arm bone was also compromised (the part that fits into the shoulder socket).

But Batten has done very well in his rehab. Just this past week he began resistance training as he’s now allowed to lift light weights with his surgically repaired arm/shoulder.

He’s also been shifted to an inside linebacker position, which he is studying up on in the classroom. Batten is expected to be full go for the start of the team’s offseason conditioning program next March.
5 – Hello Chris,
I had a question for you, since Ralph Wilson has come out and said a QB is our first priority, is he ready to make the investment and pay the 50 to 75 million that it would take to sign a first round draft pick at QB? Why does Buddy need to go on the road, all we need to know is about three QB’s and I’ve been able to watch them from home every Saturday Arkansas, Washington and Stanford.
 
Thanks,
Michael

CB: First, it’s unclear what kind of salary commitment an NFL owner will have to make to a high draft pick because there is the possibility of a rookie cap being instituted as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. So Sam Bradford’s deal this past summer, which included $50 million guaranteed may soon be a thing of the past.

With respect to Buddy Nix’s going out on the road to scout quarterbacks and prospects at other positions, it’s a necessary part of the scouting process. If you believe you learn all you need to know about a player by watching him play in games you’ll miss the mark far more than you think.

How they play is a big part of the evaluation process, granted, but knowing a prospect’s practice habits, what makes them tick, family background, leadership ability, etc. cannot be accurately gleaned off of game tape alone. As Nix says himself, you have to “smell their breath.”

And the only reason you believe there are just three worthy QB prospects in the draft is because the so called draft experts wrote as much. If you think Buddy Nix is going to take his cue as to who to scout from the media, then you don’t know Buddy Nix.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Heavier 4-3 front explained

Posted by Chris Brown on October 12, 2010 – 9:13 am

The Bills employed a heavy 4-3 front that had Marcus Stroud and Dwan Edwards at the ends and Kyle Williams and Torell Troup in the middle last Sunday. Head coach Chan Gailey provided an explanation as to why that was the approach.

Gailey was asked if the heavier front is a shift in defensive philosophy after the true 3-4 look they implemented at the start of the season was having its problems stopping anyone.

“To be honest with you, it’s not a shift in philosophy,” Gailey said. “It’s a shift in necessity. We’re not doing what we feel like we need to against the run game. So, we felt like we need to get some bigger people on the field to help us in that respect. It’s a shift in necessity more than it is a shift in philosophy.”

The heavier front worked in the early going against the Jaguars. The only drawback to that heavier front was the bigger, heavier ends do not have as much range to get to the edge and with one less linebacker on the field, the Jaguars tried to take advantage of that with outside run plays and reverses.

As for whether the heavier 4-3 front will be used in the future, Gailey indicated it would largely depend on their opponent each week.

“I think we look at it game-by-game about what we’re facing,” he said. “If we’re facing a heavy run team, we might be more that way. If we’re facing more of a play-action and more of a pass team, we might be back in our four linebacker schemes. I think it will just depend on the direction that each week takes us with the team that we’re facing.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Challenges of 3-4 transition

Posted by Chris Brown on September 17, 2010 – 8:51 am

A year ago the Green Bay Packers defense was in the same boat as the Bills are now. Making the transition from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, the Packers made the change work come the middle of the season, but early in the year there were challenges in making the switch.

“Well first it’s the personnel and second it’s the ability to grow with it week in and week out because there is volume that might be higher than what you had in the past with the 4-3 scheme,” said Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. “Just having the ability to get the volume and the communication in and grow week to week especially early in the season we felt was our biggest challenge.”

Green Bay used both of their first-round draft picks in 2009 to address the scheme change defensively drafting B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews to get a 3-4 nose tackle and a pass rusher at OLB. Most of the other pieces were capable of making the switch.

McCarthy also speaks of volume in terms of defensive packages and personnel groupings. Donte Whitner has often talked about how they have several dozen packages that they have in their arsenal, which is considerably larger than the playbook from which they drew in the past. They also have more pre-snap disguises, so mastering all of that takes time.

That being said, their Week 1 performance was pretty solid.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-10

Posted by Chris Brown on September 10, 2010 – 3:50 pm

The home opener is here. I think the Bills have a good chance to get off on the right foot Sunday, but first your questions. Remember AskChris@bills.nfl.net if you’ve got any questions of your own.

1 – Chris,
Do you think that Ed Wang will get any significant playing time this season at LT based on his performance in training camp although it was cut quite short?

Thanks Mr. T

CB: I think 2010 is going to be a learning year for Wang. I don’t anticipate him stepping in and playing any appreciable time on the offensive line this year. He’s still 2-3 weeks away from having full use of his hand after thumb surgery. Building strength back into the hand will take time after that. There’s a good chance he might not be game ready until almost midway through the season.

So with all that time missed I think he’s going to find it difficult to get on the field barring a rash of injuries in his rookie year.

2 – How good do you think the team is compared to last year?? I suppose the Dolphins opener will be revealing. 

Best 
Richard 

CB: I think these are the areas where this team will be better this season. I think they will be fundamentally sound and execute plays more consistently. I think they will not beat themselves with unforced errors like pre-snap penalties. I think they will be mentally and physically tougher due in part to their rigorous training camp. And I believe they will score significantly more points this season than they did a season ago.

All that being said we have to remember that with new offensive, defensive and special teams schemes, they will take time to get rolling. The players will do their level best to play fast right out of the gate, but the speed of regular season play demands that players react, not think and react. Getting accustomed to executing their new schemes at regular season game speed consistently will be the challenge. If they can get to that point sooner than later they’ll be in decent shape.

3 – Chris:

Why don’t the Bills try and make a trade for Charger hold out LT – Marcus McNeil.  This would provide a solid LT and Bell could be moved to RT. 

I have been a die-hard Bills fan since the Joe Ferguson/ Chuck Knox era, and making the trip back into Buffalo for the season opener against the Fins.  I believe the Bills are going to pull off the upset.  It would be a great start for the Chan Gailey era to knock off the Fins and come out of the gates with a divisional win.

Let’s GO Buffalo!    

Randy C

CB: I think ultimately that the Chargers and McNeill will get a deal done. They’re not going to get rid of a two-time Pro Bowl left tackle that’s just hitting his prime. Don’t get me wrong, he’d be a great acquisition, I just don’t see the Chargers parting ways with him.

4 – Hey Chris,

Do you go on Twitter at all? Would love to follow your up to date news on the Buffalo Bills.

Enjoy your blog a lot.

Thanks,

Jonathan Ragus

CB: I spend most of my time following Bills players on twitter, but I do not tweet. However, we do have a twitter presence. Here is the link to our website twitter handle. http://twitter.com/buffalobillscom

There you can find links to all the latest content at the website, but only occasionally do they re-post my blogs. But you folks can re-tweet my blog posts when you view them. There’s a little tweet button at the bottom of each blog, so you can share them with whoever you want.

5 – Hi Chris, based on the last two preseason games, the Bills offense seems to have improved, but how about the defense? It seems that Indianapolis and Cincinnati were able to move the ball with relative ease on the first string defense. Is there cause for concern?

Tony, Daytona Beach.
CB: I think we all have to realize that it’s going to take playing in regular season games before a lot of these starters that are new to the 3-4 are going to feel comfortable where they’re just out there playing instead of thinking. This scheme is a dramatic shift from what they’ve played the past four years. It appears to me that players are still thinking and then reacting, instead of just reacting. Reps in regular season games will help to bridge that gap between thought and action, which is why Chan Gailey calls the defensive transition a work in progress.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

3-4 looks in practice should help

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2010 – 3:30 pm

Buffalo’s offense has had its share of problems the past couple of years against 3-4 defensive fronts. Facing it in practice every day however, can only help familiarize the Bills offensive lineup with the many different looks that front can present.

“I think it’s helped me out a lot,” said Trent Edwards. “I think it’s helped the offensive line out a lot. I know that we faced some 3-4 defenses last preseason that we had never faced because we were in the 4-3 so some of those guys hadn’t seen the looks.

“We’ve seen it since Day One at OTAs now. I’ve said it before, some of these looks we’re going to get on Sunday that the Dolphins haven’t put on tape through the preseason we’ve probably seen out of our defense so far. As a quarterback, offensive lineman, running back, wide receiver, tight ends, that’s going to be beneficial for us that we’re going to be able to react a little bit better, a little more efficient when we do see that on Sunday.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Something to keep an eye on

Posted by Chris Brown on February 4, 2009 – 2:31 pm

Knowing there’s a vocal minority of Bills fans that would like to see the Bills transition to a 3-4 defense, you’ll be able to watch another team play the role of guinea pig in 2009.

The Green Bay Packers will be switching from the 4-3 to the 3-4 system, under new defensive coordinator Dom Capers, and their best pass rusher Aaron Kampman will be transitioned to outside linebacker.

Some Bills fans believe the same could be accomplished with the Bills and Aaron Schobel. Personally I don’t see the scheme changing in Buffalo, but it will certainly be interesting to see how Green Bay’s players adjust and how quickly they can make it an effective scheme.


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Posted in Inside the Bills