Inside The Bills

Bills see unbeaten team as measuring stick

Posted by Chris Brown on October 18, 2015 – 11:12 am

It’s a team that is rolling right now. The Cincinnati Bengals are one of five remaining unbeatens in the NFL heading into Week 6. The Bills know if they can hang with this team it’ll say a lot about their fortunes for the 2015 season.

“It’s a big game for us. They’re hot, they’re playing well. They’ve been where we want to get,” said Richie Incognito. “They’ve been to the playoffs the last four years and it’s a good measuring stick for us to see exactly where we’re at because we gutted one out in Tennessee. We didn’t play as well as we wanted to play, we got the win. So coming in and playing a hot team like this that is rolling on offense and has a very sound defense, it’s a good test for us.”

Safety Corey Graham is actually happy that the Bengals kept their unbeaten record intact last week when they came back from 17 down in the fourth quarter to beat the Seahawks in Seattle 27-24.

“It’s good. I’m kind of happy that they won in Seattle and found a way to get a victory against Seattle,” Graham said. “To have an opportunity to go out there, especially as a defense and play against an offense that’s undefeated and a team that’s undefeated with an offense that’s playing well. That’s big for us.”

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Bengals Eifert a headache in the red zone

Posted by Chris Brown on October 18, 2015 – 10:15 am

The Cincinnati Bengals offense has taken off this season and many credit TE Tyler Eifert for being the piece that has put the unit over the top. Opposing defenses can no longer focus their attention on WR A.J. Green and just roll a safety over the top. They now need to account for Eifert, who has been carving up defenses in the middle of the field and the red zone.

Eifert has five touchdowns in five games, including two last week as Cincinnati overcame a 17-point fourth quarter deficit on the road at Seattle to win in overtime. The tight end makes catches in traffic and fights for the ball. He’s also someone Andy Dalton looks for in the red zone.

“He’s doing well. I saw the game from last week,” said Corey Graham. “He did really well last week. He’s running a lot of seam routes. He’s catching the ball well. He’s catching tough balls. He had some times where they were contested and he found a way to bring it down. Obviously as a quarterback when you’ve got more than one threat it helps you and Andy is getting the ball around to all his guys and they’re making plays for him.”

Eifert is a big reason why the Bengals are second in total red zone conversions with 16 touchdowns in five games.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Why Bills must break slow start trend

Posted by Chris Brown on October 18, 2015 – 9:05 am

Over their last two games the Bills have gotten off to slow starts on offense. Part of the problem has been the absence of some of their top playmakers on offense, most notably LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins. There’s a good chance that both will be in the lineup Sunday against undefeated Cincinnati. Hopefully it helps to jump start an offense that has just one field goal combined in the first half of their last two games.

What will make the task all the more difficult is Cincinnati’s defense. They’ve allowed just 28 total points in the first half of their five games this season. The Bengals have allowed just one touchdown in the first half in 2015 along with seven field goals.

Buffalo will have to break their own trend and Cincinnati’s stingy defensive front Sunday, and they may have to do all that without their starting quarterback who is a game time decision.

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EJ and Tyrod close teammates

Posted by Chris Brown on October 17, 2015 – 10:34 am

There’s a decent chance that EJ Manuel has to start in place of an injured Tyrod Taylor, who is still a game time decision for Sunday’s game against undefeated Cincinnati. Working together all offseason the two coastal Virginia natives have developed a strong working relationship.

Both signal callers were headed to the quarterback room Thursday evening to grind more film in preparation for the Cincinnati Bengals.

“We extremely close. We’ve grown up,” said EJ Manuel. “I’ve known Ty since sixth grade so even being from the same area, now being up in the NFL and playing together with him being the starter and me being the backup we have a stronger bond, and we communicate very well, not just with football, but off the field as well, but we’re really close.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

QB Johnson could offer Cincy intel

Posted by Chris Brown on October 13, 2015 – 10:05 am

The Bills signed QB Josh Johnson on Tuesday to be the team’s third quarterback. While Johnson certainly offers depth at the position, there’s something else he could potentially provide.

Johnson spent almost the entire offseason with the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo’s opponent Sunday. The undefeated Bengals boast the league’s No. 2 offense, which ranks 5th in the NFL in passing and 4th in scoring.

As a quarterback Johnson could presumably offer some intel on the Bengals offense even though he had been with the Jets and Colts since his release from Cincinnati in late August.

Buffalo’s defensive staff has faced Marvin Lewis and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson before, but in a pivotal early season AFC matchup every little bit helps.

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Watkins outlook is encouraging

Posted by Chris Brown on October 12, 2015 – 3:22 pm

He put himself through a full workout during pre-game warmups Sunday in Nashville, but the Bills medical staff ultimately determined the best course of action for Sammy Watkins ailing calf was to wait another week. Watkins was inactive against the Titans, but it’s left head coach Rex Ryan optimistic about the receiver’s availability Sunday.

“I was really encouraged with Sammy. How Sammy went through even with his workout before the game,” Ryan said. “We thought it was best to give him a little more time. Sometimes you can go on the practice field and all that, but that game speed is a little different and the intensity is certainly different. We thought it was best to just hold him out of that game and get him really ready for this one. I feel good about Sammy.”

Buffalo plays host on Sunday to the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals, so having a weapon like Watkins for an offense looking for more big plays in the passing game could provide a big boost.

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Bengals inactives

Posted by Chris Brown on October 13, 2013 – 12:45 pm

Here are the inactives for the Bengals in their game today with the Bills. Cincinnati has CB Leon Hall and DE Michael Johnson back in the lineup as both players are active.

CB Brandon Ghee
RB Rex Burkhead
CB Chris Lewis-Harris
OL Mike Pollak
G Tanner Hawkinson
WR Ryan Whalen
DE Margus Hunt

Posted in Inside the Bills

Bengals top 10 on 3rd down on ‘O’ & ‘D’

Posted by Chris Brown on October 13, 2013 – 9:35 am

The Cincinnati Bengals are one of just a handful of teams that are good on third down on both offense and defense. Here’s a look at where they stand heading into today’s game against the Bills.

Cincinnati ranks 8th in third down conversion percentage on offense (41.2%) and 7th in third down defense (33.3%). They’re one of just five NFL clubs to rank in the top 10 on both sides of the ball on third down. Here are the other clubs that currently rank in the top 10 on third down on offense and defense through Week 5.

Team                     3rd down ‘O’ rank             3rd down ‘D’ rank
Indianapolis                        2nd                                          5th
Cincinnati                            8th                                           7th
New Orleans                      7th                                           9th
Tennessee                          10th                                         3rd
Miami                                   9th                                           10th


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Unknown QBs have succeeded vs. Bengals

Posted by Chris Brown on October 13, 2013 – 7:51 am

It’s a bit of a strange quirk for the Cincinnati Bengals, not only this season, but in past seasons as well. In 2013 they’ve beaten quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. On the other hand they lost to Cleveland’s Brian Hoyer in his first NFL start. And the list for Cincinnati doesn’t end there.

As ESPN Coley Harvey points out Cincinnati tends to struggle against the unknown quarterbacks, who have had spot starts due to injury.

Bruce Gradkowski in 2006 and 2009.
Shaun Hill in 2007.
T.J. Yates in 2011.
Brian Hoyer in 2013.

What’s encouraging for the Bills is Gradkowski in both his victories and Hill did not throw for more than 200 yards in their three games against Cincinnati and still won.

Thad Lewis with a good run game today shouldn’t have to light it up today either.

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This could be week for kick return chances

Posted by Chris Brown on October 12, 2013 – 6:24 pm

Through five games the Bills have just four kick returns as they’ve faced some big-legged kickers who have not given their return unit an opportunity to improve Buffalo’s field position beyond the 20-yard line. This week however, could prove to be different.

Buffalo’s four kick returns rank 31st in the league in terms of opportunity. Only Atlanta has had fewer chances to return kicks with just three through five games.

Naturally Buffalo’s touchback percentage is the second-highest in the league through five games at 86.7 percent (26 touchbacks on 30 kickoffs). Again Atlanta is the only team with a higher rate and they’re a dome team.

This week the Bills face a Cincinnati kickoff man in Mike Nugent, who ranks 30th in the league in kickoff touchback percentage. Less than half the time has Nugent successfully forced Bengals opponents to take a touchback on a kickoff (10-22, 45.5%).

For Marquise Goodwin, who returns to the lineup this week from a broken hand, those are kickoff percentages he’s ready to work with.

“We’ve had four kick returns and I have zero, so I’m really looking forward to it,” Goodwin told “It’s been a journey for our team and coach (Danny Crossman) always expresses to us in the meetings that it’s all about opportunity and we don’t get many. So hopefully we’ll get a few more opportunities this week to try to maximize field position for the offense to get us rolling. So if he kicks them in bounds we’ll try to get as many as we can and return and get good field position.”


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How Goodwin built strength back into hand

Posted by Chris Brown on October 11, 2013 – 10:49 am

A broken hand is not an easy injury from which to return for a wide receiver. Coming out of surgery and the removal of the cast Marquise Goodwin’s hand had little to no grip strength. Buffalo’s athletic training staff has remedied that with a host of hand strengthening tools for the receiver.

“I remember when I first got the cast off I could barely hold a ball in my hand, let alone holding a tissue without my hand being sore,” Goodwin told “But now I’ve got some pretty good grip strength so I’m able to catch the ball and hold onto it better. I’m just trying to get it stronger and stronger each week.”

Here’s a look at one of the hand “gadgets” as Goodwin calls them.

Goodwin gadget











It’s similar to a stress ball, but with rubber band loops around the outside. Goodwin slides his fingers in the rubber band loops so he has to work to open his hand just as hard as he has to work to close his hand to squeeze the ball.

“This one is for opening and closing, just a lot of things to strengthen my fingers and my hand,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin feels he has made noticeable progress with his hand strength, which is important knowing Bengals defenders will be making every effort to slap the ball out of his hand on returns and after receptions on Sunday.

“That defense is really good at going after the ball and stripping the ball,” said Goodwin. “Ball security is going to be a big deal this game and knowing I have a hand injury they’re going to come right for it. So I’ve got to hold it high and tight with both hands and maintain possession of the ball.”

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Marrone on Stevie’s status

Posted by Chris Brown on October 11, 2013 – 10:05 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone said he was going to speak with Stevie Johnson late Thursday to check in with his wide receiver, who is traveling back from the west coast after attending a family funeral. Even though he did touch base with his top wideout, there’s a lot of information that still has to be gathered when he sits down with Johnson upon his arrival back in Buffalo concerning his status for Sunday’s game.

Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Friday morning, Marrone explained what he still needs to get from Johnson to make a better assessment about his availability for Sunday.

“I spoke to him yesterday. He’s coming in today,” said Marrone. “I really don’t know until the trainers look at him and see how he’s feeling. It’s a long flight. After we talk to him it can either be yes he’s playing or we might have to wait and make it a game time decision. But I’m not really sure right now. I really think it’s still day to day.”

Marrone explained that he has to make sure that Johnson is right physically coming off the lower back injury from last week’s game and right mentally after losing a close family member this week.

“For me there are two situations,” Marrone said. “One is obviously the injury, which hasn’t been able to be treated as well as it would be if he was here. He’s traveling a long distance to the west coast. Then the mental part of it where it’s really tough on him. It’s someone he was very close with and there’s family involved so mentally you have to see where he is at also.”

Johnson’s official status for Sunday’s game will be provided this afternoon.

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Bengals injury update

Posted by Chris Brown on October 10, 2013 – 3:30 pm

Here’s the update on the Bengals injury situation heading into Sunday’s game wit the Bills.

The only big news is it appears that CB Leon Hall will be able to return to the lineup after being out with a hamstring injury, though he has only practiced on a limited basis this week. Starting DE Michael Johnson however, is expected to miss Sunday’s game after suffering a concussion last week.

Player Pos Injury Participation   Wednesday Participation   Thursday
Brandon Ghee CB Thigh DNP LP
Mike Johnson DE Concussion DNP DNP
Mike Boley LB Hamstring LP LP
Leon Hall CB Hamstring LP LP
Mike Pollack G Knee LP FP
Andre Smith T Shoulder LP FP

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Changes for rest of offense with Lewis in

Posted by Chris Brown on October 10, 2013 – 9:21 am

Anytime a new quarterback enters the starting lineup there is an adjustment to be made by the other 10 players on offense, especially when the new signal caller hasn’t had a lot of snaps with the first unit. Such is the case for the Bills this week with Thad Lewis now in at quarterback. Here is where some of the changes lie for the other 10 on Buffalo’s offensive unit.

“Major things that we’ll just have to get used to are just snap counts and things like that. The way he calls the cadence, how he takes control of the no-huddle,” said Fred Jackson. “As far as play calling I don’t see much changing at all. We’ll just have to do whatever we can to make him comfortable. Do whatever we can as skill positions to make his job easier.”

For Jackson and C.J. Spiller that means providing an effective ground game for Lewis to work off of with play action passing and some deep shots here and there.

If we can get the running game started early it’ll take a lot of pressure off of him. Take a lot of pressure off our receivers and make their job easy,” Jackson said. “That’s what we want to get done. That’s what myself, C.J. (Spiller), the offensive line, what we’re going to pride ourselves on is going out and being able to get this running game going early and taking a lot of pressure off of those guys.”

Of course lining up with an unproven quarterback, Jackson and Spiller are expecting a lot of eight man fronts from the Bengals on Sunday. But that’s much of what they’ve seen the past few games with a rookie QB in the lineup anyway.

It’ll be the same situation,” said Jackson. “They’re going to do everything they can to get us out of the running game and make him beat them. I know that’s the challenge he’s looking forward to. It’s a challenge we’re looking forward to. To be able to establish that running game like we’ve been able to thus far this year and hopefully we can continue to do that and get better at doing it.”


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Never nervous Lewis

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2013 – 6:12 pm

For a quarterback with just one start on his NFL resume, Sunday’s game against the Bengals might seem a bit daunting, but Bills QB Thad Lewis is not the least bit nervous about his first start with Buffalo.

“No nerves at all,” said Lewis. “I’ve done if before. I’m still playing football. It’s not like anything changed. I’m doing the same thing I’ve done, I’m just able to play this Sunday.”

Bills head coach Doug Marrone indicated earlier this week that there are no restrictions with Lewis concerning the playbook and installing a game plan this week. Lewis confirmed Marrone’s statement.

“My command of this offense is high, it’s not like I’m going in there and coach says we can’t run this because you can’t do
it,” said Lewis. “He’s putting in the game plan, I’m putting in the time I need to to prepare to run this game plan, and we’re going to run it.”

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Bengals seeking tape on QB Lewis

Posted by Chris Brown on October 8, 2013 – 10:51 am

The Bills defensive staff was working hard to scrounge up tape on last week’s opposing QB Brian Hoyer. With just two games in Cleveland’s offense, Mike Pettine had to dig a little deeper for Hoyer footage. The Cincinnati Bengals will be doing much the same this week as they try to prepare for Bills QB Thad Lewis.

Cincinnati DC Mike Zimmer has already been through the process before having had to prepare for Hoyer the week prior to the Bills game against the Browns, but Cincinnati lost to Cleveland two weeks ago.

The Bengals coaches may also lean on Lewis’ former college teammate, LB Vincent Rey, who is on the Cincinnati roster.

Either way Lewis might be able to pull a few surprises on Cincinnati’s productive defense.

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Gilmore to have pins removed Tuesday

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2013 – 5:40 pm

Bills CB Stephon Gilmore is getting very close to returning to the lineup after suffering a broken wrist that required surgery back in late August.

Originally given a prognosis of 6-8 weeks, this is week 6 in his recovery. Already medically cleared to practice, Gilmore provided an update on when he will be the pins removed from his wrist.

“I’ll get them out (Tuesday), depends on how my wrist feels, I’ll probably wear a little hard case on it, listen to the trainers and go from there,” said Gilmore. “I’m going to practice, see what the coaches want me to do. Take it from there.”

Gilmore intends to play with a protective plastic brace on his wrist.

“It’s something I have to deal with. I had the surgery. I have to wear it to protect it from pain, if it’s pain,” he said. “Eventually, I wont have to wear it. You got to adjust a little bit and get used to it.”

Gilmore doesn’t have the green light yet for Sunday’s game, but if he does return to the lineup it would be a heck of an assignment as he could be matched up with Cincinnati WR A.J. Green.

“I’m real eager, I just want to do what I can to get back on the field to help this team produce wins,” he said. “Whatever I can do to help the team win, I’m down for it.”

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Last yr in Cincy was 1st big comeback

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2011 – 2:34 pm

In the moments after the dramatic comeback win over New England last Sunday several Bills were referencing their comeback win against Cincinnati in Week 11 last year when they came from 17 down at halftime to win 49-31. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson recalled their conversation at halftime of that game.

“I remember Stevie asking me if I had ever come back from a deficit that big and I was just kind of talking to him about my first NFL game, the first one I got into, I said, ‘Yeah,'” said Fitzpatrick. “I told him about it at halftime and he said, ‘OK, let’s go do it.’ And that’s what we did.”

“Just in the huddle I was asking Fitz if he’s ever had a comeback,” said Johnson. “He told me he was a part of one. And I was like, ‘Let’s do it.’ And he said, ‘Let’s go.’”

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Marvin Lewis planning to win

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2011 – 8:26 am

Every NFL coach expects to win every week and Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis apparently is pretty confident his team is going to even their record at 2-2 when they host the Bills on Sunday.

“We just have to continue to work at the things we’re not doing as well,” said Lewis of his young team. “There’s really not a big change. We’re early in the year. We’ve got a lot of season ahead of us. And you know, at the end of this week when we’re 2-2, there’s going to be probably the other third of the league that’s going to be in the same situation. So I think we have to understand that.”

Lewis made these comments pretty early in the week, and while a coach has to lead confidently I don’t know if you want to make those feelings public for a Bills team that is rolling. Buffalo’s players will have plenty of time to read and digest Lewis’ belief that his team is going to post a victory and prepare accordingly.

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Longest streak now Buffalo’s

Posted by Chris Brown on September 25, 2011 – 8:14 pm

In ending their 15-game losing streak to the New England Patriots, the Buffalo Bills not only ended the longest current win streak by one NFL club over another, they also now own the longest current winning streak over an opponent.

The Patriots’ 15-game streak was the longest current active streak in the league, until it was broken Sunday in Buffalo’s 34-31 win over New England. The longest one is now Buffalo’s current win streak over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Buffalo has won 10 in a row against Cincinnati dating back to the AFC Championship game on Jan. 8th, 1989. Buffalo has won 10 straight since then, and ironically face the Bengals in Cincinnati this coming Sunday.

Posted in Inside the Bills