It’s been a rough start out of the gate. Let’s hope for better results moving forward. Here is the latest edition of your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills are the bills confident in their WR corps? With the injuries do you think they should look thru FA to get a DWAYNE BOWE/#2WR
CB: I believe they are confident in their receiving corps. They only kept five receivers on the roster initially and now have six with Brandon Tate. Obviously if Sammy Watkins is out of the lineup for any period of time that would hurt, since there is no other wideout like him on the roster.
I will say that I think Robert Woods is an underrated receiver, who has never really had a chance to shine in this offense. I believe he can make plays. He’s not Sammy Watkins. He’s a different receiver, but the guy is winning on his routes a lot. He’s just not getting the ball.
Goodwin and Salas are competent role players and Powell and Tate offer depth.
I’d like to see LeSean McCoy and Reggie Bush split out wide at times to try to get them in space and get yards after the catch.
Is that enough? Only time will tell.
I just don’t think they sign a guy like Bowe unless they’re down a couple of receivers for an extended period of time.
2 – Hi Chris,
Once again when I have a Bills question I am turning to you because you ARE THE MAN.
Can you explain the process of selecting which players get cut and which make the team.
My belief was that the General Manager had the final call, but in listening to Rex Ryan he talks about how he and his coaches have a tough job to do when making the call.
You makes the final call certainly does have a tough job. Can you explain?
CB: How those decisions are made can vary slightly from team to team. With the Bills I know that Doug Whaley ultimately controls who is on the 53-man roster. Rex Ryan controls the 46-man roster on game day.
There is obviously a lot of input from the coaching staff and the pro personnel department regarding the 53-man roster. It’s not like Whaley unilaterally determines the roster. There is a lot of give and take, and the coaching staff has the freedom to express their preferences, but if a tough call arises, Whaley has final say. Whaley has made that clear on more than one occasion.
3 – Chris:
Great work during that very hot training camp.
What impact does it have when a player is waived injured instead of just being waived? Does the waived injured mean the player’s contract is voided, and he has to renegotiate to remain with the club if he clears waivers? How does this designation help the team?
CB: When a player is waived/injured they are placed on the waiver wire for a certain time period. During training camp it’s just 24 hours. During that period of time another could put a claim on the player and if awarded the claim that team would inherit the contract.
If the player goes unclaimed, as most injured players do, he reverts back to the team that waived/injured him and he goes on that team’s injured reserve list.
When he’s initially waived/injured he no longer counts toward a roster spot and even if he reverts to the team’s injured reserve he doesn’t count toward a roster spot either.
4 – Hi Chris,
With the damage done to the defense thru suspensions and injury, would the Bills go to a 4-3 defense? Or stay with the 3-4? Or maybe have a hybrid of both? Opposing teams are going to be able to run on the Bills with relative ease. I know the run defense played well against the Colts, but this is preseason. I just feel short term the Bills will suffer. Unless, of course, they are able to obtain a very good defensive lineman/end thru free agency. Your thoughts.
Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: Switching to a 4-3 would be unusual. That was Rex’s mistake last season. He tried to blend some of the concepts of Jim Schwartz’s defensive scheme in with his. It led to confusion on the field and a whole mess of other execution issues.
Buffalo’s defense should be better because every player understands the scheme and that allows them to play fast. Sure the extra talent will help when Lawson returns along with Dareus, but the execution should be better across the board.
To this point they’ve had one good and one poor performance.
5 – Brownie,
Thanks for what you and your crew continue to do for those of us in a long-distance relationship with our team.
I feel like you may have answered this question or similar in years past, but with our first two regular season opponents just four days apart, how much preparation relied on film from the previous season and what else might go into it? Do the Bills have scout teams assigned to the Ravens and Jets open practices? Is this common for most NFL teams? If so, is this why we tend to see the Bills run scrimmages and such out of base packages, in order to be a bit guarded?
Thanks in advance for your response. Anticipating the end of the drought!
Bob from North Tonawanda via Okinawa, Japan
CB: With the first two games so close together the Bills coaching staff was doing game plan installation in practice before the season was even over. Typically in the offseason the coaches formulate a framework of a game plan for their first couple of opponents on the schedule.
Then the pro personnel department will scout the opponents through the course of the preseason by going to all of their preseason games. NFL clubs cannot attend other teams practices unless there is a charge for admittance.
Tags: 4-3 defense, 53 man roster, Fan Friday, game plan, injured reserve, Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins
Posted in Inside the Bills
As we profiled on the home page of Buffalobills.com this morning (Tuesday), there are a handful of Buffalo defensive tackles looking to lean up just a bit to play more effectively in Dave Wannstedt’s attacking 4-3 system. There’s one DT however, who is going to stay right where he is weight-wise.
That’s Kyle Williams. Williams has never been a behemoth defensive tackle in the 325 to 330 pound range. So the switch to the 4-3 system, which will demand that the defensive linemen get upfield and penetrate won’t affect the 2010 Pro Bowler.
“I’ve always played around 300 pounds,” Williams told Buffalobills.com. “That’s where I’ve always been comfortable. So I intend to stay right around that weight for the season.”
In fact Wannstedt believes among the defensive tackles his system probably fits Williams the best.
Kyle Williams might be the beneficiary of this scheme in a positive way as much as anybody because he’s not a 320-pounder but he is as athletic as anybody as we have on the defensive line,” Wannstedt said. “I’m excited to see him once we get going. I think that he’s going to have a chance to make some plays and he will. He’s gone to the Pro Bowl. Hopefully we can give him an opportunity to make more plays.”
As we reported last week, Williams was sprinkled in for a handful of reps during team work in Thursday and Friday’s OTA sessions last week. We’ll see later today (Tuesday) if his reps increase again.
Tags: 4-3 defense, Dave Wannstedt, Kyle Williams
Posted in Inside the Bills
Let’s get right to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net for the latest edition of Fan Friday.
1 – Chris,
My questions is; What is the latest with Michael Jasper? He was promoted to the 53 man roster last year. What’s his future with the team?
CB: Jasper was working as a second unit guard this week in OTAs. He appears to have put on some weight, which can happen unfortunately when you’re a big man. Still, he appeared to move well even though it’s far from real football for linemen in this no pads setting.
He’s got an uphill battle. With entrenched starters in Andy Levitre and Kraig Urbik at the guard spots and Chad Rinehart coming off a strong 2011 season as the swing guard, it’s going to be difficult for him to make the roster. Add in sixth-round pick Mark Asper, who can play guard and center and the task is even tougher. We’ll know better once the pads go on.
2 – Chris,
I understand that the Bills are moving back to a 4-3 base alignment this season, but are they still toying with the idea of the hybrid? I look at Kelsey, Merriman, and Williams along with hybrids like Bryan Scott and I wonder if the Bills may still cling to having the type of people that could run both systems? – without hardly changing personnel on the field!
An example would be disguising a 3-man front with Kelsey-Dareus-K.Williams-M.Williams with Scott-Sheppard-Barnett this would also allow Merriman to replace Kelsey on obvious passing downs for more pass rush.
With the above Kelsey OR Mario could be Ends or OLBs and Scott could be a LB or SS, it would make it quite difficult for opponents to figure out what the Bills plan to run. It would make the pre-snap read harder as well, though movement would give away a bit of it. This flexibility would also lend itself to easing injury problems at either the lineman or linebackers allowing the best seven athletes to be kept on the field from either group.
Lastly I am hoping the Bills take a linebacker in the draft early. I think Luke Keuchly would make a great choice! He’s plug and play!
Holland Patent, NY
CB: I believe we’re looking at predominantly a 4-3 with run and chase linebackers and penetrating D-linemen. If there’s a switch back to the 3-4 it’ll be for a series or two and no more. I can’t see Dave Wannstedt straying from what has worked best for him over the years especially with the influx of pass rush talent.
3 – Hey Chris,
With the Bills playing back-to-back road games on the West Coast (SF, Arizona) do you think they may consider staying on the West coast in between games?
It seemed to work well for SF last year when they did the same thing in between back to back East coast games.
CB: I think it will be a consideration yes. While going east to play is harder than traveling west (where you pick up time instead of lose it), doing a pair of cross country trips in a week’s time does not help the body as far as players go.
You’re right San Francisco posted a pair of victories after they stayed on Eastern time and beat two good teams in Cincinnati and Philadelphia.
Buffalo ironically, has San Francisco and Arizona in back to back weeks in Weeks 5 and 6.
4 – Chris,
What’s the latest on Eric Wood’s rehab and what would you predict our starting OL to consist of for the ’2012 opener against The Jets? It is imperative that the Bills start the season with a healthy OL to get off to fast start. I see Wood as the key to our running game which will free up Fitz for the pass action pass. Just look how we nose dived after Wood’s injury.
To a lesser degree, I wonder if Aaron Williams will be ready to go?
CB: The latest I have heard is that Wood remains on schedule to be ready for training camp. Provided that happens I think the offensive line looks largely the way it did at the start of last season with Levitre at LG, Wood at C, Urbik at RG and Pears at RT. The only question is at left tackle, which appears to be a two-man competition between Chris Hairston and rookie Cordy Glenn. I’d like to see more of Glenn through the spring before making a call on that job.
Aaron Williams looks ready to go. He’s eager to land a starting role and will be pushed the influx of young talent on the roster including Stephon Gilmore, who rotated in and out with Williams at the starting LCB position on Day 1 of OTAs.
5 – Chris,
Thanks for covering the draft and giving insight on the team. I think the number two WR debate is getting a little overblown, since Fitz/Gailey have Stevie, David, Fred, CJ, and Chandler already in the mix. Fred was one of the most targeted players before he got hurt. With only 4-5 penciled in starters (Stevie, Smith, Donald, David, TJ), who do you seen winning the possible remaining spots, since they are in 4-5 sets often? Easley could land on the PS squad. Could Donald play the slot? Or will CJ see more time again at WR?
CB: Your slot suggestion for Donald Jones is very astute. I believe if certain players emerge outside like Easley, who is probably the most physically gifted of the remaining receivers you’re asking about, and Derek Hagan proves capable outside as well it could push Jones inside.
Personally I think Jones could be a more effective receiver inside because he’s a weapon as a blocker in that alignment. He’s a very underrated blocker in my opinion and having a slot guy that could crash down on a linebacker at the second level would help immeasurably in the run game. Plus Jones has the strength to come away passes in tight spaces that are challenged by physical corners.
Aside from the receivers you mentioned above I think Easley and Brad Smith are the next most likely candidates. After that it really is a toss up with special teams abilities potentially the difference maker. Receivers on the roster that have cover teams ability include Ruvell Martin and Kamar Aiken. That could help their cause. Hagan showed a willingness to play special teams too.
Clowney and Roosevelt mostly offer return ability.
Tags: #2 WR, 2012 schedule, 4-3 defense, Aaron Williams, Eric Wood, Fan Friday, Mike Jasper
Posted in Inside the Bills
Happy Memorial Day weekend Bills fans. Don’t forget those servicemen and women that made the ultimate sacrifice. May they all rest in peace. Let’s press on with your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 – Hey Chris,
I’m hoping you can give us some idea how our line plays out after Kyle, Mario, Anderson and Dareus. Do Kelsay and Merriman split time on the left end with Kelsay playing run downs and Merriman playing pass downs? I assume Dwan Edwards and Troup are tackles. Are Carrington and Spencer Johnson tackles or ends? Are Moats and Batten ends or linebackers? Do you think all of those players even make the team?
Thanks and Go Bills,
CB: From what I have heard Dwan Edwards is now a defensive tackle and to me that makes sense in a 4-3 scheme. Troup obviously is still a defensive tackle. Carrington and Spencer Johnson are both ends, with the ability to kick inside to defensive tackle on obvious passing downs should a rotation be needed. Moats and Batten are both outside linebackers. Kelsay would presumably be a run defending end with Merriman and Anderson pass rushing options on obvious passing downs.
Do all of them make the team? I’m not so sure they do.
2 – Chris,
With the upgrade to the pass rush, it is still to be determined how much better the Bills’ run defense will fair. Pass rush was an issues that needed to be fixed with Mario and Anderson. However, the last two years the Bills run defense has been last and 28th in the league. I feel this part is being ignored by the team in some degree. Even when the Bills were using the 4-3 they gave up lots of yards. How will the switch to the 4-3 contain the “big plays the team gave up. It is still a question how the 3 LB’s will shape up in new positions. Obvious a healthy Kyle is part but what else do they need to do since they appear in pass rush mode instead of stop the run.
CB: When they went to the 4-3 they were still giving up rushing yards because they didn’t have Kyle Williams, Torell Troup and Shawne Merriman (a very underrated run defender) in the lineup. The players they get back healthy this offseason is what will improve the run defense, more so than the scheme.
3 – Chris,
Short and simple.. how is our center doing? haven’t heard anything about Eric’s rehab. Wood love an update:)
Eric (displaced fan in AZ)
CB: Wood is progressing well, but won’t be doing any real on the field football-related stuff until training camp. That’s the timetable.
4 – Hey CB,
I was looking through the remaining free agents and I saw that there are still some decent free agent WR’s. Do you think there is any chance of the Bills still picking a receiver up? Or OT?
CB: I would never rule anything out. Buddy Nix always says you never know who might become available late in the free agent process, like Nick Barnett last year. That being said, Chan has said time and again that he likes his group of receivers on the roster already. I think an offensive tackle is added only if Hairston and Glenn struggle mightily.
5 – Hi, Chris,
Last pre-season, the Bills said that they had too many good receivers, so they traded Lee Evans. Roughly a year later, they say that a deep threat receiver (e.g. Lee Evans) is near the top of their needs list. What has changed? Have they re-evaluated those “too many good receivers” and decided that they are not so good after all?
Tom from Charlottesville, VA
CB: First, the Bills were trying to publicly show some respect for the years that Lee Evans gave them. They didn’t publicly say they felt he was a player in decline, but that was their opinion and ultimately why he was traded. That was the main impetus, not because of who they had. They did feel by moving Evans off the roster it would allow more of their young talent to blossom, chiefly Marcus Easley, who is a deep threat and a huge target. That was compromised however, when his medical condition ended his season before it began just days before Week 1.
They’ve added additional deep threats in T.J. Graham and David Clowney, so there’s some insurance this time around and Easley is medically cleared and ready to get his career off the ground.
Thanks for keeping BillsNation in the loop with your work. I’m curious if you could give us a sense of what the Bills main objectives are in OTA’s? Clearly assimilating new players from free agency and the draft is job 1, but what else do they view as important during OTA’s?
CB: I think getting the defensive players up to speed with the new defensive scheme under Dave Wannstedt is at the top of the priority list. Second, there are a lot of new pieces that have to get accustomed to playing with one another in that front seven. And third, there’s a very good chance that a second-year CB and rookie CB will be starting on the boundaries in Aaron Williams and Gilmore, so getting them ready will be huge.
On offense it’s finding a definitive answer at left tackle, being more consistent on third downs, getting Marcus Easley ready for the season, finding a true number two threat opposite Stevie Johnson and finding a way to get Jackson and Spiller on the field at the same time.
Tags: 4-3 defense, Alex Carrington, Bills OTAs, Chris Kelsay, Dwan Edwards, Eric Wood, Fan Friday, NFL free agency, Shawne Merriman, Spencer Johnson
Posted in Inside the Bills
Torell Troup didn’t have a problem with Buffalo’s old 3-4 defense, but Dave Wannstedt’s new 4-3 scheme is particularly appealing to the defensive tackle.
Troup, who plans to be back on the field full go come training camp, played in a 4-3 system under George O’Leary at Central Florida and likes the playmaking opportunities for defensive linemen in Wannstedt’s scheme.
“The 4-3 is just more of a defensive line scheme,” Troup told Buffalobills.com. “In a 3-4 you’re holding up guys and letting the linebackers shoot gaps. This 4-3 is going to be us getting off the ball and making plays. Whoever has the one-on-one has to win and to me that’s more suited for me and a lot of the guys we have on our defense. This is going to be a better suited defense for the scheme that we’re running.
“The biggest thing is that first step. If you beat that guy when he hikes that ball and get a step on that guy… and I have a great first step and I feel like I’d be able to use that to my advantage this year.”
Tags: 4-3 defense, Dave Wannstedt, Torell Troup
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills DT Kyle Williams in all likelihood won’t be lining up in a three-point stance until training camp in late July. That has dampened his enthusiasm for what could be this season for Buffalo’s defense with all the top flight additions. Going back to a 4-3 base front doesn’t hurt either.
“I think for me, what I was doing in our old defense really wasn’t that difference from what I had been doing,” he said. “I really had played more 3-4 techniques starting that year. I had played mostly shade or two-eye in my first few years. I got some three technique movement work but not much.
“In the last defense with George (Edwards) is when I really started to move around and started to get on guards kind of finding matchups and different things like that. I think that’s what we’re going to do now is they’re going to ask me to move around, put my hand on the ground and go.
“I think coming back with my foot and hopefully going to be 100% will allow me to do what I do best which is attack and get after guys. I’m definitely excited about it. I think the good thing is we have a whole lineup of guys and a whole room full of guys that I think that’s what they’re built for. They’re designed to get down, get off the ball and attack guys. Just speaking for me personally I’m excited about it. I’m excited that getting healthy in the defense we’ve got going and the players we’ve got. I’m excited about what we could do.”
Tags: 4-3 defense, Kyle Williams
Posted in Inside the Bills
SI.com took a nice look at how Mario Williams makes an impact on defense with the Texans and uses visual examples. It’s worth checking out.
SI.com’s Chris Burke wisely looks at Williams’ effectiveness in Houston’s old 4-3 defense knowing he’ll be playing in a similar scheme in Buffalo. He also then examines Buffalo’s existing talent from last season (albeit without Kyle Williams) and provides some promising insight as to what the Bills will be able to do to cause headaches for opposing offensive lines.
The image I like the most is seeing him get nine yards deep on a pass play and still bend the corner and harass the quarterback.
Tags: 2012 regular season, 4-3 defense, Mario Williams
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills DL Alex Carrington is looking forward to the defensive switch they’re making for the 2012 season.
Carrington, who played DE in a 4-3 at Arkansas State, had 21.5 sacks in his college career. He spoke to defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt recently, but didn’t get too many specifics on where he’ll be lining up.
“Not too in depth. I’ll still be on the line of course, but he didn’t go into detail about it,” Carrington told Buffalobills.com. “I talked to him a little bit about the defense and the kind of things they would entail. I’m optimistic about it and I’m ready to start the offseason and get into the swing of the new defense.”
One thing that Carrington is sure of is how aggressive they’re going to be off the edge.
“We’ll be able to play a lot faster,” he said. “They’re going to cut us loose up front a little bit more. I’m anxious to see how this thing plays out.”
Tags: 4-3 defense, Alex Carrington, Dave Wannstedt
Posted in Inside the Bills
Less than a week before the NFL Combine. Make sure you keep your laptop locked on Buffalobills.com for wall-to-wall coverage from Indy beginning on Thursday morning. Now to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 – Hey Chris,
My question is in regard to Kirk Morrison. I thought he was an above average to good NFL linebacker in Oakland, then what happened? That was only 2 years ago, he’s not even 30, and now he can’t sniff the field? And if it was the Bills system more than his level of play, why has he not been talked about at all as an option in the new 4-3 defense that is expected to be installed more often next season? I believe his contract is up, but I haven’t heard or read his name once.
CB: Morrison had a tough time getting on the field for a couple of reasons. First, he was signed days before the season opener so he had some catch up work to do. By the time he was fully adjusted to the scheme Kelvin Sheppard had begun to emerge and locked down the ILB spot alongside veteran Nick Barnett.
What’s going to be interesting is with the defense switching to the 4-3 I think he’s going to be a consideration for the strong side linebacker position. Talking to Coach Wannstedt he did express a desire to get Morrison re-signed. I think he’s capable of backing up Sheppard in the middle while also competing for a starting role at SLB.
2 – Hi Chris,
You do a good job covering the Bills. I do want to ask why the management wants to change from a 3-4 back to a 4-3 when they have spent two seasons drafting the personal for the 3-4? I do not see this as a step forward, but rather a waste of the investment in players they have taken the last two years. Shawne Merriman did not work out, but could be an answer to the pass rush problem.
As a coach I had to change my defense year to year because my players were not always suited to what I did the year before the current season. I made changes in how I played a defense to suit the players I had and schemed to make them more effective.
The Bills right now have players that could play both even and odd front looks effectively given the chance to develop and having all the players able to play. Maybe a more aggressive defense with
good technique containing the outside ( setting the edge ) and new wrinkles, which should come with our new defensive coordinator, will make it all work without a mid rebuilding change of plan.
A suffering fan in Arizona,
Max F. Stolzenberg, Jr.
CB: I think to characterize the defensive change as a prompt to rebuild is misguided quite frankly. The Bills played with four down linemen a good deal of the time, but I’ll let Dave Wannstedt explain.
“We played last year about 65-percent of our snaps in nickel personnel, where we actually had four down (linemen) in the game with their hand in the ground. No matter if we had five defensive backs or six defensive backs it didn’t matter,” said Wannstedt. “The point was, if you looked at us, we were doing a lot of things that there’s carry-over within the 4-3 scheme.”
I think there are a lot of players that offer scheme versatility on Buffalo’s defense. Chief among them are Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Shawne Merriman and Chris Kelsay. Williams and Kelsay have already played most of their careers in the 4-3 with the Bills. Merriman has never played in the 4-3 in the NFL, but might benefit from dropping into coverage less as a true rush end and is underrated as a run defender.
Torell Troup played defensive tackle in a 4-3 in college and Alex Carrington played defensive end in a 4-3 at the collegiate level. Spencer Johnson was signed in free agency by this team when they were still playing a 4-3 front under the previous coaching regime.
Sheppard played MLB in a 4-3 at LSU and Nick Barnett is more than capable of playing weakside LB in a 4-3. So I don’t really see a rebuilding plan here. I think most of the pieces are scheme versatile enough to hit the ground running with this scheme.
3 – Hey Chris,
I have a few questions about the 4-3 defense we may run under Wannstedt. If your remember that last time we were a full 4-3/cover 2 defense Byrd had 9 interceptions, now I was wondering how a 4-3 defense differs from a 3-4 as far as secondary scheme goes because in 09 it seemed like we had way more interceptions then in ’10 and ’11. Also i assume that we will target a nice pass rush DE in the draft and that Kelsay will move back to DE also but who will be the DT I also assume that it will be Dareus and Williams with Johnson and Troup that 3rd and 4th but where would guys like Carrington go?
Josh Hubert, Syracuse NY
CB: I think most of your assumptions are right, although Dwan Edwards might be the other defensive tackle alongside Troup in the rotation. I think a guy like Carrington has to prove he can put pressure on the passer at the end position. He did that at Arkansas State as an end in a 4-3 front (21.5 sacks). As far as the secondary is concerned not a whole lot changes going from a 3-4 to a 4-3. The coverages are largely the same, though the means by which they disguise some looks might be different.
I don’t know that you can tie Byrd’s success as a rookie to the scheme. Personally I think Byrd’s best season was 2011. I felt his all-around game was as good as I’ve seen it. He’s not just a takeaway guy, he’s shown he can be more than that.
4 – Hey Chris,
I remember you mentioning that one of the best things the current Bills management has done is to build the front lines. I was just wondering if the Bills found that the best player available in the first round was a DT like Devon Still from PSU, would they consider drafting him and moving Dareus to DE like Haloti Ngata has done at times for the Ravens? Do you think they would draft the DT to continue getting depth at DT? Or would they go to the next best player not at DT?
CB: The way the Bills operate is they take the best player on the board when they’re on the clock. If there are a couple of players of comparable value and one is at a position of need then they’ll take the player at the position of need.
Devon Still by the way is trumped at the DT position by some underclassmen. Most scouts I’ve spoken with maintain that Michael Brockers from LSU, Jerel Worthy from Michigan State and Dontari Poe from Memphis are all superior to Still.
5 – Chris:
I always enjoy your interviews and film breakdown with the coaches in your top 10 series. I was wondering if you see a time where Coach Gailey will turn over the play calling to Offensive Coordinator Curtis Modkins, and exactly how much is Coach Modkins involved with the game planning and game day decisions? What are your thoughts on Coach Bicknell being on the radar for other teams as Offensive Coordinator and eventually getting interviews for Head Coaching Positions? I believe he may be on many teams short list soon.
CB: Thanks for the kind words on our Top 10 Performances of 2011 Series. We enjoyed bringing it to you and for the dedicated fan it’s a great way to get some film room insight from Buffalo’s coaching staff. Our last installment of the series will run this Tuesday.
As for play calling duties Chan Gailey when he was hired did say he would eventually hand off those responsibilities to Curtis Modkins, but I don’t think he’s there yet. I think once Gailey feels as though his offense is a smooth running machine week in and week out, only then might he turn over the reins.
With respect to coach Bicknell, it would not shock me if he started drawing interest around the league for OC positions. Knowing he was a successful offensive coordinator in NFL Europe it would not surprise me at all.
Tags: 4-3 defense, Bob Bicknell, Chan Gailey, Curtis Modkins, Dave Wannstedt, Fan Friday, Kirk Morrison, Shawne Merriman, Top 10 Performances of 2011
Posted in Inside the Bills
Marcell Dareus played in a 3-4 in college at Alabama, but is nonetheless excited about playing nose tackle in Buffalo’s new 4-3 scheme under new defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt.
Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio at the Super Bowl in Indy, Dareus talked about the team’s new 4-3 front.
“I can’t wait to get back and get a feel for coach with the 4-3 scheme and see what they want me to run and what we’ll be doing,” he said.
Dareus believes the transition to Wannstedt as DC will be a smooth one since the veteran coach was on the staff last season.
“It’ll help because he knows our personnel and he knows what guys can do so he can piece us together the way he wants to,” said Dareus. “I think we’ll be okay.”
Tags: 4-3 defense, Dave Wannstedt, Marcell Dareus
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt, who is transitioning his unit to a base 4-3 front, has had success on the defensive side of the ball throughout his career because he’s kept things simple and let the talent on his side of the ball just play. It’s an approach that Bills GM Buddy Nix, a former coach whose experience was rooted in defense, subscribes to as well.
“To me having coached defense for years and that doesn’t mean I know everything about it, but if you can keep things simple and keep it basic where guys play hard it leads to more consistency,” said Nix. “If you’re having to think and play defense you’re usually a step late. I think some of that will help us (under Wannstedt). We had too many missed assignments, and I’m not blaming anybody. We also didn’t have good enough players at some positions.”
Nix is right, to have a simple scheme work well you need quality talent. The success of Tony Dungy’s simple but successful ‘Tampa 2’ scheme was having players like Warren Sapp, Ronde Barber and Derrick Brooks and later in Indy it was Dwight Freeney, David Thornton and Bob Sanders. So the Bills still need to boost the level of talent on the defensive side of the ball with a pass rusher high on the list, but this new direction is a welcome one on the part of the players and the front office.
Tags: 4-3 defense, Buddy Nix, Dave Wannstedt
Posted in Inside the Bills
Alright Bills fans, the offseason is underway. As a reminder Buddy Nix is scheduled to address the media on Monday. We’ll have full coverage for you on Buffalobills.com. Now to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 –Hey Chris,
I hate that I’m looking at the draft already but what do u think is the most important position we should be looking at in the upcoming draft and if RG3 was available could he be drafted by us?
CB: I think with all the momentum that Robert Griffin III is entering the draft process with he’ll be long gone when the Bills pick 10th. A lot of prognosticators have him pegged for Cleveland at 4th overall. I’m not convinced he’s a fit for that West Coast offense knowing he makes very few plays in the pocket. I think the Bills should stay the course with Fitz and get a pass rusher first at 10 and go from there. If not then an end the debate left tackle prospect that starts from day one.
2 –Hey Chris,
Thank you for your time and dedication in all you do for us Bills fans.
My question is in regards to the 3-4 defense vs the 4-3 defense for the Bills moving forward. As most are aware, in order to run a successful 3-4 defense it is imperative to have a great NT and a pass rushing OLB that can consistently get to the QB. While we have the former in Dareus, we lack the latter, which is arguably the hardest to find, whether it be FA or the draft. In addition, with Kyle Williams being our best defensive player, while certainly adequate due to his tenacity, he is not an ideal fit for the NT or 5-tech positions.
With that said, it occurs to me that the 4-3 defense affords the Bills to have both great defensive tackles on the field, in their ideal positions, at the same time. Furthermore, it would seem to me that it would be easier to find a 4-3 DE (ie Quenton Coples or Whitney Mercilus) than a 3-4 OLB, that may take longer to teach how to play the position.
If the Bills were to make the transition at this stage, in my opinion I don’t think there would have to be too much a tranformation, personnel-wise, because #1- the Bills run out of 40 fronts quite often, and #2- unlike the Tampa 2 defense that was run under Dick Jauron, which required smaller faster players, this new 4-3 defense would take on a more traditional form where bigger bodies are used (which is mostly what we have now).
I just feel that the 3-4 defense requires so many solid linebackers, of which we clearly do not have. The strength of the 4-3 defense, however, is the defensive line, where the Bills have plenty of solid depth and talent.
My question to you is, wouldn’t it make sense to focus on the strengths of the defense instead of constantly searching and hoping you find what you are looking for?
Thank you again,
Matt, Kingston NY
CB: A well thought out query. All I will say is that with Wannstedt now the defensive coordinator I’m pretty confident you’ll get your wish. And if it does come to pass I would envision Merriman as a pass rushing DE with a draft prospect or two on the way in as well.
3 – The Bills teams of the early 90s that went to 4 straight Super Bowls had great success with the “hurry up” -or “no huddle” offense, as devised by Ted Marchibroda and run by Jim Kelly.
Fitz does seem a bit laid back -slow on the draw. I don’t see why Gailey won’t try it.
CB: They did try it in the season finale and it worked quite well against a leaky Pats defense as they rolled up 21 points in the first quarter.
The reason they didn’t turn to it more in the 2011 season was because their defense was so subpar. When you run a hurry up or no huddle offense you need to have at least a decent defense because you’re going to go three-and-out on occasion. Even if you score you’re scoring quickly and putting your defense back out there that much faster and at times for more possessions per game with that offensive approach.
Knowing Buffalo’s defense this past season set a record for most yards given up in a season in team history, imagine if you sped up that process and put the defense out there even more with a hurry up attack? Doesn’t sound all that wise to me.
I do think Fitz is good in that style of attack, but until the defense has proven itself as an improved unit then it’s not a prudent approach on offense.
I know that Freddie is seeking an extension to his contract that runs out after the 2012 season. What do you think the chances he gets extended, say 2 years on top of next year, more guaranteed $ or signing bonus? Do you feel he is worth that? I know he is a young 30, but you know what they say about running backs over 30. It seems he and CJ would make a great combo for the next few years, I just don’t know if I see it happening. If you factor in Fred’s injury, I think it makes it more difficult. The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league and I don’t see our front office taking the risk.
If they do offer an extension, what do you think the $/#’s should be? What’s fair in your mind? And…will CJ “share” more reps or be relegated back to a back-up? He looks too explosive to be kept off the field.
CB: I’m pretty confident the front office will take care of Fred and sooner rather than later. He’s grossly outperformed his current contract. More importantly he’s the heart and soul of the team. If you don’t do right by the most respected guy in the locker room it’s going to cost you more in there than it will in the team’s wallet.
I think you’re not far off with your guess. I’d expect a two or three year extension on top of current deal with some good faith up front money to show appreciation for what he did this past season when he was a league MVP candidate before getting hurt. Fred’s injury was also a fractured fibula, something one can easily come back from. Cracked bones are a lot better than torn ligaments.
I believe C.J. will be worked in a bit more, but I still see Fred as the feature back in 2012 with C.J. getting his extra touches out wide as a receiver. He impressed me out there and he’s at his most dangerous in space anyway.
5 –Hi Chris,
Thanks so much for keeping us continuously updated. I have a question regarding Fitz: I still think he can be a top 10 QB — he reads things quickly, unlike some of our past QBs who perhaps had better physical attributes. But he has to be more consistent and cut down on the turnovers. To me, a top QB knows when to throw the ball away and go on to the next play, especially on 1st or 2nd down. I don’t recall EVER seeing Fitz do this. Do you know whether it is something that has been brought up to him, or whether they work on it in practice?
Thanks, Ray P.
CB: I think Fitz fell victim to a number of things this season. Loss of talent due to injury, a deterioration of his mechanics in the middle of the season and the pressure to make more plays when key playmakers were lost to injury.
All that being said you are right that Fitz rarely throws the ball away. He doesn’t take a lot of sacks because of it (he was the least sacked starting QB in the league this past season), but he did throw the most interceptions (23). Though I can think of 5 INTs off the top of my head that came off tipped passes, it’s still too many. Part of that was forcing the ball, part was inaccuracy (e.g.: Giants game) and part was receivers not making a play.
When Fitz feels supported by a successful ground game or when the team is up on the scoreboard he generally takes less risk. At least one of those things was not happening during the seven-game losing streak and it put more pressure on him to make things happen. Fitz is at his best in a balanced offense. If they have to lean too much on the passing game that’s where he sometimes gets in trouble.
Tags: 4-3 defense, Fan Friday, Fred Jackson, hurry up offense, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Posted in Inside the Bills
Happy New Year Bills fans! As always I’ll be on the live blog here on Buffalobills.com during the Bills-Pats season finale, so join me during the game for observations, questions and comments. We’re up right before kickoff. Now to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 – Chris,
I would like your thoughts on some of these concerns I find to be “holding” Buffalo back if you will.
Second, with Dareus providing a nice push in the middle of the line, could that help sway our current 3-4 back to the 4-3? Our run “D” is still stale, and with the likes of Williams and Dareus in the middle, teams would very much struggle to establish an effective running attack on us.
Thanks again for all you do for the BILLS!!!!!!
CB: I wouldn’t be surprised if it were up for debate this offseason by the coaching staff. The thought of Williams and Dareus alongside one another in a 4-3 front is intriguing. Of course without a proven pass rushing right defensive end on the roster it’s a hole that would absolutely need to be filled to pull it off.
I also think figuring out the linebacker situation would be next. Nick Barnett is more of a 3-4 inside linebacker, but in a 4-3 he’d presumably have to be outside (probably weak side) at 230 pounds. Problem there is if Merriman makes a successful return and from what I know the odds of that are better than most believe, then you take a strong run defender out of the equation there no matter who you sit down. Sheppard would likely be the MLB in that front and the strong side would again be a position to be filled, though Moats would at least have the size to play there at 252 pounds.
Buddy Nix said two years ago that you don’t want to be flipping back and forth. You want to commit to something eventually, and he indicated committing to the 3-4 was the plan. Plans can obviously change, but they’ve drafted the past two years with the 3-4 in mind. We’ll have to see if any of that changes moving forward.
2 – Hi Chris,
Thanks for taking our questions.
Since Spiller has been starting, I don’t understand why we give up on the run game so early. A good example would be the Miami game. Spiller had about 90 yards on only 12 carries. Early on in the game he had about 50 yards including 2 carries where he gained about 40 yards and scored a TD. The Bills seem to give up on running the ball when the game was still in play, but after passing took over we had 3 INT’s and another Loss. I realize when you get way behind you need to go to the passing game but the Bills give up on the run way too early. What do you think?
CB: Chan has been asked about this more than once by the media and I think the answer is simple. Coach Gailey told me earlier in the year they’re a team that uses the pass to set up the run. Their most popular formation is the 4-by-1 set (4 WRs, 1 RB) though they’ve worked in more two tight end sets in the second half of the season.
That is what their identity is so when they fall behind by more than a touchdown on the scoreboard they have no qualms about airing it out.
I’m in favor of seeing more run game knowing how successful the O-line has been this year in opening holes for the backs this season. Combine that with the fact that Jackson was almost unstoppable this season and the emergence of C.J. down the stretch and you wonder if there might be some consideration for a change in offensive philosophy in 2012 though I wouldn’t count on it. I get the sense that the Gailey and his offensive staff feel the run game is so successful because the passing game sets it up. In talking to Gailey he seems to feel if they just get the passing game a bit more consistent they’ll really be rolling, much like they were early in the year.
3 – Chris,
Hi, thanks for keeping us all updated on everything Bills. My question isn’t Bills related but just a general football question. Why do they keep the stat of Yards Per Attempt instead of Yards Per Completion?
Jimmy in Hamburg
CB: They do keep that statistic, it’s just not commonly listed on most quarterback stat lines. Here is the list of the top 10 QBs for yards per completion through Week 16 (prior to this weekend’s games).
1 – Matt Schaub – 13.93
2 – Tim Tebow – 13.91
3 – Eli Manning – 13.69
4 – Carson Palmer – 13.66
5 – Aaron Rodgers – 13.54
6 – Kevin Kolb – 13.39
7 – Cam Newton – 13.2
8 – Michael Vick – 12.96
9 – Tom Brady – 12.96
10 – Ben Roethlisberger – 12.81
For the record Fitz ranks 30th at 10.88 per completion, but because this is commonly not a statistic relied upon to determine QB effectiveness you often do not see it listed. An example of how it’s not an accurate factor in determining QB play is the fact that Drew Brees ranks 24th in this category.
4 – Chris,
With the season winding down, will the Gailey put some of the untested players in as trial to see what they can do. Most of the drafted rookies have played well, but Aiken hasn’t seen any targets at WR. The team picked up Sam Young but he has been inactive most games. In terms of pass rush, Eddins looks fantastic in the preseason and with the release of Coleman, could he be elevated and given a chance? Same goes with Kyle Moore. Most Bills fans would like to see Jasper but he might still be raw.
Josh – Los Angeles
CB: As you probably saw this week, Mike Jasper was elevated to the active roster. I think if he sees time on the field it will probably be in goal line or field goal barring an injury at the guard position. Kamar Aiken could possibly see time with Brad Smith not expected to play this week, but Derek Hagan has been getting more reps of late.
Robert Eddins is still on the practice squad and unless there’s an injury at tackle I don’t anticipate seeing Sam Young either. Kyle Moore did get a lot more playing time last week.
5 – Chris
The team has made some interesting moves onto the roster and practice squad in the last few weeks. They’ve added several TE, a 3-4 DE and waived Coleman.
What do you think is the driving factor for Whaley & Nix behind these moves? Are these driven by injuries/current needs or do you see these guys as players they want for next year? If so – when do the contracts expire for these recent additions (will they be F/A this offseason)?
The DE move and waiving Coleman seemed odd – given we seem to have plenty of DL and no pass rushing OLB. Are there no 3-4 OLB prospects on other team’s practice squads (like Pitt or GB)?
Tim from Syracuse
CB: I think at this stage of the game the Bills are probably taking a look see at some players they had interest in and want to see what they can do in live games. I believe that was the motivation behind Kyle Moore getting more time on the field this past week. Most of the others have been precipitated by injury.
Most of the contracts of the recent additions expire after this season. However, a few of them are exclusive rights free agents, which make it rather easy for the Bills to re-sign them if they so choose. Some of the younger players can also be re-signed as future free agents, which is done in January to retain those player rights and add them to their offseason roster.
Tags: 4-3 defense, Antonio Coleman, Buddy Nix, C.J. Spiller, Chan Gailey, Fan Friday, Kamar Aiken, Kyle Moore, Mike Jasper, Robert Eddins, yards per completion
Posted in Inside the Bills