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Inside The Bills

Marrone on coaching evaluations

Posted by Chris Brown on December 30, 2014 – 11:51 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone and his staff just finished their exit interviews with all the players on Monday. Soon after the process of evaluating the job turned in by Buffalo’s assistant coaches will commence. Marrone laid out how that process will unfold.

“We’ll all get together and we’ll evaluate it,” said Marrone. “I’ll get all the information and that’s what we’re gathering right now statistically of that nature. There’s a lot that goes into an evaluation for everyone, like I’m sure there is with the evaluation of myself as the head coach. We’ll look at that and those discussions will go with our owner, myself and Doug (Whaley) and then the offensive staff, defensive staff and special teams. Everyone is evaluated from me on down.”

Marrone said that process would take about two weeks time before any decisions on made on the future of anyone on the staff.

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Pettine on what makes a successful LB

Posted by Chris Brown on February 1, 2013 – 2:23 pm

Ray Lewis

Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has worked with some pretty special linebackers in his NFL coaching career, most notably Ray Lewis. So he has a good idea of the kinds of qualities that he feels are needed to be a successful linebacker at the pro level.

“First of all is the mentality and the passion,” said Pettine. “They’ve got to love to play. When you have that mentality it shows up how you prepare to play. I was fortunate to be around Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas. To the guys with the Jets and the common theme was they were guys that loved to play. You’re not necessarily looking at great athletes, but I think the mentality has to be there especially to play linebacker.

“You see a lot of guys that have the talent to play in this league, but they don’t have the intangible stuff. When they have both that’s when they’re special.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-1

Posted by Chris Brown on February 1, 2013 – 12:55 pm

Here’s the latest Super Bowl week edition of Fan Friday with your questions from and from Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - opp57 Jan 27, 7:48am via Web

@ChrisBrownBills is E.J. Manuel a good fit for Buffalo?

CB: It’s hard to say who is and isn’t a fit since there isn’t a definitive approach to what Buffalo’s offense will look like. Yes, we know that the offense will be rooted in the west coast system, but it has been very varied and unpredictable under Nathaniel Hackett when he was at Syracuse. Hackett naturally prefers to be unpredictable.

At the same time Hackett will be looking to improve and advance the offense and suit it to Buffalo’s personnel. Manuel certainly offers the physical skills necessary to play at the NFL level. His decision making and deep ball accuracy have been questioned by some. A good number of talent evaluators out there do not think he’s a finished product suitable to lead an offense from day one.

As to whether he fits what Buffalo wants to do I’ll let Buffalo’s offensive coordinator answer that.

“Everybody could have a chance in a system like this because I could tailor it to them,” Hackett said. “Figuring out everybody across the board and who it is and then trying to fit that person into the system is the biggest critical factor.”

2 - Chris,

I’ve heard it talked about amongst fans for a long time, do you ever foresee the Bills re-aligning to the AFC North by swapping with Baltimore? I think the proximity of Cincy, Cleveland and Pittsburgh would create outstanding rivalries, with all 4 teams being within a few hours’ drive of each other. Baltimore would seemingly be a better fit for the East, being that NY, NE and Miami are all along the coast as well. Your thoughts?


CB: I have felt the same way for a long time. When realignment occurred in 2002 I thought that was the best case scenario for the Bills long term, but I think the preservation of classic rivalries like Miami carried the day and kept Buffalo in the East. Geographically it makes way too much sense. Unfortunately I don’t foresee a change, especially with the Baltimore-Pittsburgh rivalry being the fiercest in the NFL in my opinion.


3 – NL_RandyK 10:01am via Twitter for BlackBerry®

Hey @ChrisBrownBills what are chances #Bills draft 2 QB’s? Besides backer and maybe free safety, what are other needs?

CB:  I tend to believe that will not be the case. Buddy Nix mentioned a month ago that he said they will try to draft one and perhaps add another in free agency. I think the free agent crop is thin, but it’s my feeling that Nix and his staff would prefer to add a veteran free agent in addition to rookie. Whether the opportunity presents itself to acquire a pair of quarterbacks along those two avenues is another story.


4 – Hi Chris….
As always thanks for the great coverage. I wondered what the environment must be like at one Bills Drive now that the GM, Head Coaches and OC and DC are in place….are these guys meeting together to talk about talent….thanks


CB:  We have a story that will appear on the website about the nuts and bolts of what the new coaching staff is doing at this time. They’re evaluating cut-ups of the Bills 2012 season by position and as offensive and defensive units. Every player will have a report put together on them by the staff. There will also be a good deal of time spent by the staff on reviewing their offensive and defensive schemes, how they apply to the talent on Buffalo’s roster and how said systems can be improved for the better. All of this takes a good deal of time.


5 – Chris
Thanks for your great work.  My question is about Tarvaris Jackson.  Initially, when the Bills traded a draft pick to Seattle for him and became responsible for his 2012 salary, everyone assumed he would become the Bills backup QB and Thigpen (who had been unproductive in pre-season) would be cut.  Then the Bills said Jackson did not know the offense well enough to be the backup, and Thigpen stayed on the roster after final cuts. But Jackson remained inactive for every game, and by mid-season the Bills said it was impossible for Jackson to learn the offense well enough to play because there was not enough practice time to give him snaps with the first team offense.  Jackson remained inactive the entire season and is now an unrestricted free agent. 

If the Bills’ explanation is correct, and it is impossible for a veteran QB to learn the Bills offense during the season because there is not enough practice time, why did the Bills give up a draft choice to get him when training camp was over?  

CB:  Buddy Nix has said more than once that the Tarvaris Jackson trade was a move made purely for insurance. With the Vince Young situation not working out, Buffalo had a short window to address the vacancy at the QB position without a lot of options out there short of a trade. Jackson was acquired for a seventh-round pick in the event that Ryan Fitzpatrick was hurt and out for an extended period of time. Short of a long term injury to Fitzpatrick, Jackson was never going to see the field.

To be fair to Jackson, he knew and understood the offense. The bigger issue was the previous coaching staff did not see Jackson under live fire before in their offensive system. That gives coaches ulcers when they have to put a player on the field without any prior knowledge of what they’re capable of when the real bullets are flying.

So while Jackson did his due diligence to learn the offensive system he was never afforded the opportunity to execute it in the practice setting due to time constraints. That left the previous coaching staff without any way to develop confidence in Jackson since they never saw him execute it effectively. It was very much a catch-22.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Morris: Running QBs don’t change blocking

Posted by Chris Brown on January 29, 2013 – 9:15 am

Bills offensive line coach Pat Morris knows the running quarterbacks that are executing the read option are all the rage right now in the NFL. But he doesn’t see it changing much with respect offensive line play.

“The quarterbacks running hasn’t changed the ability to drive block and reach block,” said Morris. “You may leave one guy free for the quarterback, but you’re still run blocking and pass blocking. The quarterback might be changing, but the linemen are still linemen.

“In terms of pass protection it’s basically the same. Probably the least changed position would be the offensive line because you’re still going to have to block the same type of people. Maybe on the perimeter and some of your schematic on defense is different, but for offensive line, your count may be different. The quarterback sometimes takes care of that eighth guy and usually you might have to adapt and change to it. It might make your assignments a bit easier with your count if you run that stuff.”

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Marrone was zeroed in on Pettine

Posted by Chris Brown on January 28, 2013 – 11:33 am

When Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon wrapped up a press conference announcing he was taking over day-to-day control of the organization, he and GM Buddy Nix, Asst. GM Doug Whaley and Sr. VP of Football Administration Jim Overdorf hopped a plane to Arizona to interview head coaching candidates, they quickly knew who they wanted to hire. Once they hired Doug Marrone less than a week later, Marrone took a similar approach in landing his defensive coordinator.

In introducing his coaching staff, Marrone confirmed that after his own press conference announcing his hiring a couple of weeks ago, he took off for New Jersey to meet face to face with Pettine

“I think what you’re looking for is someone that has caused a lot of problems for offenses around the NFL,” said Marrone. “Someone that you don’t ever want to play against. I think when I was going through my mind and talking to people in the league they kept coming around to one name. You talk to Russ Brandon or Buddy, my main priority that if I was going to be their choice as soon as we had gotten this done literally, after the press conference that day I jumped on a plane and went right down to see Mike. I couldn’t be happier with that choice. I couldn’t be more excited with the staff we put together. Obviously we’re going to work hard and take it from there.”

Fortunately for Marrone, Pettine was in a situation where his contract was expiring with the Jets.

“I’ve always been an admirer,” Marrone said. “You’re always looking to attack defenses even at the college level. To me what I had in mind was a system schematically that I wanted to run. That came from an origin like our offensive system. When I was looking at people that grew with that system and kept growing with that system and kept pushing that system, it just led to one person.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Crossman has respect for Bills and fan base

Posted by Chris Brown on January 14, 2013 – 4:51 pm

Bills new special teams coordinator Danny Crossman was happy to land the job with Buffalo. In a team statement he indicated how much respect he has for the Bills as an organization as well as its fan base.

“Most important is the opportunity to work with an outstanding NFL franchise that has a passionate fan base,” said Crossman. “I know how much this team means to the community having grown up in a hardworking, blue-collar city. I’m excited to help this organization on the field with the support of our fans.”

Crossman is an El Paso, Texas native, who played his college football at Pitt as a defensive back.

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Marrone: Experience coveted on spec. teams

Posted by Chris Brown on January 14, 2013 – 4:46 pm

The Bills hired their special teams coordinator Monday as they announced the addition of Danny Crossman, who was most recently the special teams coordinator of the Detroit Lions (2010-2012). Head coach Doug Marrone made it clear that he coveted experience in the man who would fill the role for the Bills.

“Many games are won and lost with special teams,” said Marrone in a team statement. “It was important to our players and the organization to hire someone with experience. You want to make sure that you have someone that has experience and that can evaluate the full roster so that we know that we are getting the most out of our special teams units. It is obviously one third of the game and it is a very important part of it. That person has to deal with everyone on the team. It is different than your unit groups as far as offensive line, defensive backs or any other position—he is truly dealing with everyone.”

Crossman was a former defensive back himself and went to the Super Bowl as a special teams assistant with the Carolina Panthers in 2003.

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Report: Jets Asst to join Pettine w/Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on January 9, 2013 – 9:37 am

Immediately after reports came out that the Bills are going to hire Mike Pettine as their defensive coordinator there were subsequent reports that Assistant defensive backs coach Jim O’Neil will join Pettine on Buffalo’s defensive staff.

That according to New York Daily News Jets beat reporter Manish Mehta.

O’Neil worked primarily with the safeties under Jets DBs coach Dennis Thurman, who is expected to be the Jets new defensive coordinator based on Rex Ryan’s comments at his season wrap up press conference Tuesday.

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Report: Pettine hired as Bills DC

Posted by Chris Brown on January 9, 2013 – 9:27 am

Jets head coach Rex Ryan said his defensive coordinator Mike Pettine would not be back with his club and would be interviewing Tuesday for Buffalo’s defensive coordinator post. According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, a day later Pettine has been hired by the Bills for that very position.

Pettine’s defenses have ranked in the top 10 in each of his four seasons with the Jets. At his season wrap up press conference Rex Ryan said he wished Pettine well, unless he went to the Bills.

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