Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 4-8

Posted by Chris Brown on April 8, 2016 – 11:50 am

The Bills were busy in free agency this week with a handful of signings and more visitors in today. Let’s get to your questions this week from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Do you think that the defense’s transition back into a full 3-4 scheme will make them better this year?

Joe DeRosa 

CB: I’ve got to believe it’s going to help. Trying to merge the Bills’ 2014 scheme with Rex’s scheme last year was done in an effort to appease players who were successful in the old scheme. As Ryan himself admitted halfway through last season it didn’t work.

It convinced Rex to go back to what he knows works and that’s his scheme, which is a more traditional 3-4. Now that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to see multiple fronts from one week to the next and from one series to the next. The system is rooted in a traditional 3-4, but what makes Ryan’s scheme so confounding is the variety of fronts that he throws at offenses through the course of a game.

Buy in by the players is critical because his scheme demands complete understanding and mastery of it to execute it properly. Some players didn’t want to commit to that kind of study. One such player is no longer on the roster. Fortunately I think we saw the results of that player buy in over the last two games last season and what it can mean for the defense. Provided that buy in from the players continues and some key adds are made in the draft (couple of starters please?) I think the defense will be better.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills what are the chances bills trade up or down in the first round and why?

Matt 

CB: I think there is a greater likelihood that the Bills move back in round one than move up. First and foremost the Bills need capable and talented bodies for their roster. They not only need to land a starter or two in this draft (LB, DL), they need reinforcements for depth at a few positions too (CB, S, OL, WR, TE).

The two additional compensatory picks in rounds four and six were huge. It’s my belief that Doug Whaley would like to keep all eight of those picks in a perfect world. He’d have to part with some of those if he wants to move up.

The way that moving back in round one becomes a reality is if the Bills have a limited number of first round grades for this year’s class.

Let’s hypothetically say they have legitimate first round grades on just 16 players in this draft class. Perhaps they only have 16 prospects they deem as truly worthy of a first round draft choice. If the Bills are on the clock at 19 and all 16 of those prospects are already off the board, I think moving back becomes more likely.

Whaley and his staff likely have a few players they like that they believe will be there at 19, but if none of them are available why sit there and reach for a player that doesn’t match the value of your pick? Slide back a few slots add another draft choice somewhere on day two and match a prospect with the appropriate value.

 

3 – Dear Chris:
My question is on who the Bills will be looking for in this year’s draft. I know the Bills will be looking to re-tool the defense, and I assume they will be transitioning to a 3-4 with Rex. My question will they be looking for an inside linebacker like Reggie Ragland to put next to Preston Brown or a player with a body type like Nigel Bradham say Jaylon Smith?

Also at D-line will they draft a defensive end like DeForest Buckner/Shaq Lawson, or will they draft a defensive tackle like Jarran Reed or Austin Johnson, plus what do you think our top needs are overall?

Sincerely: John from PA.

CB: I think the key ingredient that needs to be added at linebacker in a prospect is speed. With the league in subpackage defense just about two-thirds of the time you need linebackers who can cover ground and handle coverage assignments with backs and athletic tight ends.

I wouldn’t mind Ragland as a prospect, but I’m not convinced he can cover the type of athletic tight ends and backs we see at the pro level every week. With that in mind I’d prefer a more athletic type linebacker like a Darron Lee.

Bradham was Buffalo’s fastest linebacker and he’s in Philadelphia now, so that speed at linebacker has to be replaced as I see it.

As far as defensive line goes I think both end and DT are both on the table. I don’t expect Buckner to be there at 19 and it’s unlikely that Lawson is either. Both are versatile guys you can position up and down a 3-4 front.

Jarran Reed has a chance to be there. His value isn’t as high because he doesn’t offer as much in terms of pass rush. But I wouldn’t have a problem lining him up at nose tackle and flanking him with Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams and let them win on the edge.

 
4 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you think the Bills will go about training camp differently this year? Due to the top players getting injured last yr..

@Jiillyy

CB: I’m not sure there’s much they can do differently. There are strict guidelines set out in the CBA as to how often players can practice during training camp, days off, etc.

What we witnessed last summer with all five running backs going down I believe was an anomaly. The receivers who went down with injuries late in camp was a domino effect. When you lose two receivers in one day it immediately puts more strain and demand on the bodies of the receivers who are left. It’s more reps for them.

Now to the coaches’ and athletic trainers’ credit they backed things off on the healthy players still practicing, and signed more players to help fill the void.

Training camp is a grind, and the Bills do everything in their power to keep players on the field and healthy. There is also a responsibility on the part of the players to do right by their body day in and day out so they can perform at their best. Their body is their livelihood.

Buffalo does make use of GPS technology to track the workload of players each day at camp, so they’re all closely monitored as a means of being proactive and backing players off when the analytics dictate it’s warranted to prevent injuries before they happen. But nothing is perfect.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills You think there’s a player in this year’s draft that could become Buffalo’s next QB in the event that they can’t keep Tyrod?

Jordan Hanson 

CB: I think that’s difficult for anyone to predict, even those with the trained eye, like NFL scouts, player personnel executives and general managers. I think what you need to keep in mind is Buffalo has every intention of keeping Tyrod Taylor for the long term provided he continues on his current trajectory of performance.

And there’s no reason to think that he won’t. People are wondering why a contract extension hasn’t happened yet for Tyrod. I personally think it benefits both parties to wait for a few reasons.

First, Buffalo’s cap situation for 2016 is not conducive to working out a long term extension for Taylor. The market value at his position alone makes such an undertaking difficult for year one of an extension, which would be in 2016.

Second, the Bills, understandably so, want to see more from Taylor before they make a sizable commitment to Taylor. There’s recent Buffalo history where they jumped the gun in handing out a long term deal to a QB (see: Ryan Fitzpatrick).

I think the Bills want to believe in Taylor as their starting quarterback, but one year of solid production isn’t enough to go on when you’re talking about the multi-million dollar commitment a quarterback contract demands.

Third, Taylor stands to get a much more lucrative contract from Buffalo if he can back up last year’s production with even more production and wins in 2016.

So while it’s true that Taylor’s agent can stand on the table and argue that his client is underpaid this year at $3-plus million for 2016, even he knows that waiting and letting his client perform and build more of a starting QB resume this fall will only benefit his negotiating duties in getting Taylor a lucrative long term contract.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-1

Posted by Chris Brown on April 1, 2016 – 12:16 pm

Back from vacation to resume our weekly Fan Friday forum. The draft is now less than a month away. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Do you see the Bills improving on Defense this year? They lost a couple guys but I don’t think they could fall any further.

iamthelegenddd

CB: I think a lot will hinge on what the Bills are able to add to the roster defensively via the draft. I believe they have to come away with at least two plug and play starters on defense. Buffalo has eight picks and they’ve done a good job of late of finding instant contributors beyond the first round (Darby, Woods, Alonso, Brown, Karlos, Miller). If that continues in this year’s draft I’m optimistic they can rebound from last season’s disappointing results.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills what moves will be made next year in order to pay Tyrod and Gilmore?

9thekid

CB: Contrary to popular thinking the Bills cap situation for 2017 is quite healthy. Last I checked Buffalo was projected to be about $50M under the cap next offseason, which should afford them more than enough space to handle sizable long term extensions for both Gilmore and Taylor.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills qb to develop behind taylor, who in the draft would it be? cardale, hogan, hack or cook? #billsfans

Srothenburgh

CB: I think among the quarterbacks you mentioned the only one that gives me pause is Kevin Hogan. While GM Doug Whaley is right about Hogan’s pro readiness having worked in a pro-style system and his vast game experience at Stanford, I just can’t see his throwing arm allowing Buffalo to do all the things they do with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback.

I watched Hogan throw at the NFL Combine with my own eyes and while I respect his game, I can’t get past his lack of arm strength. He’s a strict West Coast system, horizontal passing game QB. That’s not what the Bills do. They drive the ball down the field a good deal with Sammy Watkins. That element of Buffalo’s passing game is critical to their success.

That’s why I can’t see them drafting a quarterback that isn’t capable of executing those kinds of plays. Cardale Jones certainly has the arm strength to do that. Hackenberg’s arm strength is good enough, though he probably needs some refining of his mechanics, and Cook has demonstrated enough examples in the Michigan State offense that pushed the ball downfield to convince me he could handle that as well.

So I’d say those other QBs you listed would all be on the table for Buffalo.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills in your opinion what’s more important need in draft LB’er or true NT, true 3-4 DE for Rex system?

rockydm92

CB: I think we need to take into account not only Rex’s system, but the offensive trends in the league and where the depth on Buffalo’s roster lies. Right now there is not only no depth at linebacker, but limited options for starters.

I think the most pressing need position is LB, but there is a need for an additional pass rusher and those players go early. So although LB is the bigger need, the value in drafts typically dictate that you get your pass rusher first and second level players later.

Of course if the right value at LB falls into their lap at 19 (e.g. Ragland, Lee) you can make a very good argument to take them in round one.

As for nose tackle, it’s a deep defensive tackle draft, so if there is a position where Buffalo can afford to wait it’s there as the talent goes into the fourth round this year.

 

5 – Hey Chris,

I am curious about Jaylon Smith with this most recent news he will miss at least the whole 2016 season and maybe more, he was easily my favourite player entering the draft before all of this happened, how far in the draft do you think he could fall and do you think the Bills would have any interest should they have a chance at selecting him? Also should a receiver like Laquon Treadwell still be available at the Bills selection do you think they would go that direction over an offensive tackle or a defensive player ? Thank you.

Alexander, Toronto

CB: I think a lot will depend upon the medical re-check that takes place on April 14-15th in Indianapolis where doctors will perform a full examination on his surgically repaired knee again after taking an initial look in late February.

Doctors will be assessing his progress over those six weeks between exams and put together a prognosis for his future playing career. Teams will have their own physicians formulate their best opinion on what kind of career Smith can expect to have and develop an appropriate draft grade off of that.

The first installment of our On the Clock series focused on the medical component of the pre-draft process last month and highlighted Jaylon Smith’s situation and how it was not all that different from Willis McGahee.

Whether he’ll be a first round pick will hinge on how team doctors believe Smith can recover. He told NFL Network’s Mike Mayock at the Notre Dame pro day this week that he’s leg pressing 600 pounds and squatting 400 pounds. But it will all come down to the medical.

I hate to tell you this, but I don’t think Laquon Treadwell will be a day one pick. So I don’t see the Bills or anyone else taking him in the first 31 selections.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Why Ryan is sold on ‘D’ being better in ’16

Posted by Chris Brown on February 25, 2016 – 7:58 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan came in with a lot of promises about his defense in 2015 and the end result with a ranking of 19th in the league did not meet the expectations. But what happened in the last two games of 2015 has him convinced it can be used as a springboard for this year’s defense.

Ryan, who has admitted more than once that he made a mistake in trying to blend the successful components of Jim Schwartz’s scheme in with his own last season, said he finally scrapped that idea completely in Week 16. What was witnessed were two of the better back-to-back defensive performances of the season, and it was done without five starters on defense. It has Ryan convinced the defense will be able to hit the ground running from the start in 2016.

“At the end of the year the thing I was encouraged about was we figured it out,” he said. “The communication part of it improved more than anything from coach to player and player to coach. I think that bodes so well for us moving forward. I’m excited about it.”

Ryan had been appealing to his players all of last season to come to him with honest feedback during games for what play calls they prefer over others based on what had happened in games. The players largely did not do so whether it was during the week of preparation or during games. It didn’t change until Week 16.

“They now know when I ask for feedback I mean that,” Ryan said. “I want that and when they finally did it we were a lot more effective. It’s my system, but its ours as a team and it’s theirs as players. We saw it late in the year and in the fourth quarter of the last game and I told them, ‘Here are our options what do you prefer?’ And a guy would say, ‘I like this one.’ And we went with it. That’s always worked best for me. Having the input from our players and the coaches.

“That’s what I’m really excited about taking off from there, from that point. Will there be some things we’ll tweak with the system? Of course. There are always ways you’re trying to get better, but we know we have to get better on defense, but I truly believe we will. Being together and going through the growing pains we did will benefit us going forward.”

Buffalobills.com Combine coverage is presented by NAPA Auto Parts.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Ryan: Brown has to take ownership of defense

Posted by Chris Brown on February 24, 2016 – 9:05 pm

He had the job of running the defense out at the outset of the 2015 regular season, but near the end of the campaign head coach Rex Ryan put Manny Lawson in that role when the unit’s effectiveness was compromised. Lawson was out of position on the inside, but that was what the defensive staff felt was best for the unit at the time. Now entering 2016, Ryan needs Brown to re-assume that role as quarterback of the defense and do a great job.

“I think if everything stays the same and we have all our players back then Preston has to be more vocal and there has to be more ownership that way,” said Ryan. “It’s not good enough to just know your job. You’ve got to bark it out and be the quarterback back there. And he can do it. He’s a smart enough kid and his dad is a football coach. So he’s got to come out of his shell.

“(Jets LB) David Harris was a quiet guy, but on the football field he ran the whole thing. He’s got to grow into it. It doesn’t happen overnight. I think when you come into a new system it’s tougher to play, but yeah I expect Preston to be able to take that step and he needs to.”

Buffalobills.com Combine coverage is presented by NAPA Auto Parts.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-22

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2016 – 12:07 pm

Some coaching hires for the staff the last week or so. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills What’s the biggest lesson learned between Wk1 and Wk16 defensively with this team?

vapor311

CB: I think the biggest lesson learned by the players was that if there was more accountability player to player on defense, there would’ve been unanimous buy in and the defense would’ve performed more consistently and been more effective in Ryan’s scheme. That didn’t happen until after the embarrassing defensive performance at Washington when the players that did buy in called out the players who didn’t. We saw improved collective play from the defensive unit after that.

I believe the biggest lesson learned by Rex and the coaches is just how multi-faceted a lot of their defensive talent is particularly some of their defensive linemen like Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes specifically. Dareus and Williams are athletic enough to play end in a 3-4 look and Hughes can be an end in a 4-3 look or an OLB in a 3-4. He’s that versatile.

There are other examples at LB and in the secondary, but Rex has expressed that a year with those players has provided him with a better grasp of everything that players like that can do, not just their primary strengths.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

Here is my concern. It seems to make more sense for a coach to change their scheme to fit the players than change the roster to fit the scheme. Why has Rex Ryan, the great defensive mastermind who was figured out and canned in NY, been reluctant to implement a scheme where our star defensive line can pass rush like they have proven they are good at doing and rely upon a better cover based defense? We consistently get beat while trying to change in and out of “complex” blitz packages that always seem to come up short while letting the QB find a quick under or hot route. What should we expect for the future I’m so desperately trying to not give up on? Suddenly find myself hoping for a Sean Payton and Jim Schwartz led team and I can’t stand the coaching turnovers.. But I have to admit Ryan’s defensive scheme is old news…

-Losing faith in OR

CB: Rex took steps to try and mold his defensive scheme to the talent of the personnel. As mentioned above Ryan admitted that he is in a much better position to coach to some of the players’ versatile strengths now that he knows the depth of their talents having worked with them for a year. I know that’s small consolation in light of how the defense underachieved, but I don’t think it’s something that should be taken lightly.

Rex referenced Jerry Hughes specifically saying he now realizes that Hughes is so much more than a hand in the dirt type, rush the passer player. That he can do a number of different things well. He also said the big difference he noticed at the end of the season was that players were finally giving him answers when he asked for their opinion.

It was his contention that his offer to the players from the very beginning of the season to give him feedback fell on deaf ears until the last two games. Rex in making in-game adjustments would ask for the opinion of the players. Until the Dallas game he said those appeals were not met with answers and he couldn’t understand why.

Once he got some more input from players we saw the difference. Buffalo’s last two games were their best back-to-back defensive performances of the season in terms of points allowed (6 and 17). And that was without a handful of defensive starters (Darby, Gilmore, A. Williams, K. Williams, Bradham). So Ryan is encouraged that the proper give and take now exists between the players and himself and the value of that should not be discounted.

 

3 – Happy New Year Chris:

Do you think the Bills organization will make a play for Miami Dolphins Olivier Vernon?

Thanks from a true Bills fan in NewportNews, Va.
Gary Truesdale

CB: I would be surprised if the Bills pursued Olivier Vernon only because he’s going to command a sizable price tag and GM Doug Whaley has made it clear that they’re going to be pursuing “dust settle” type free agents. The focus this offseason will be for the Bills to re-sign their own, chiefly Richie Incognito and Cordy Glenn.

Buffalo’s cap situation needs some restructuring this offseason before we reach free agency and Bills Senior VP of Football Administration, Jim Overdorf will be tasked with that as he has in the past. But knowing the priorities that Incognito and Glenn are combined with their cap situation I wouldn’t expect to see a top tier free agent like Vernon to be on the Bills radar.

 

4 – Chris,

Hypothetical of course.  Just what if, with all the defensive needs and offensive tackle needs, Laquon Treadwell and/or Connor Cook were available at pick 19?  How are we going to fill our need at receiver?  Not in free agency as per Whaley’s statement and later in the draft will not fill that need either.

Jim (Skaneateles)

CB: I do believe the Bills will make efforts to land a true No. 2 receiver that can draw attention away from Sammy Watkins. Robert Woods played more than half the season with a severe groin injury and might be best suited for the slot. Percy Harvin is a player the Bills would like to return to the fold, but has to get healthy first and is not a lock to return.
I know the Bills would like to add size to the position as evidenced by the reserve/future signings of Greg Little and Jarrett Boykin. But I don’t think they’re putting all their stock in those two wideouts.

Unfortunately this year’s receiver class doesn’t offer a lot of quality size. There are 6-1 and 6-2 guys aplenty, but the 6-4 and 6-5 targets of quality just don’t exist in this year’s class. I suppose there could be a prospect or two that could possess a ‘big receiver’ game because they play bigger than their listed size. I’ve still got homework to do on the 2016 draft class, but Treadwell would be a tempting option.

Personally I don’t think Connor Cook is worthy of a first-round pick. In a draft without a lot of elite QB talent I suppose it’s possible he’ll be moved up a lot of draft boards as the draft draws closer due to supply and demand, but Treadwell is a more worthy first-round pick to me than Cook. That being said I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bills found better value at another position in round one.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills What are the fates of Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes? Are they staying or leaving?

TandAFootball

CB: I feel good about the playing futures of Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes in Buffalo. I’ll actually have more on Kyle Williams in a story on Buffalobills.com slated for Monday. Hughes is a cornerstone piece for this defense moving forward, which is why he was signed to the long term contract extension last offseason.

Mario Williams situation is a lot more precarious, chiefly due to his cost-prohibitive contract. I think it would be difficult for any defensive player to live up to a contract that has a cap figure of almost $20M for 2016 ($19.9M). With Buffalo’s cap situation in a restrictive position right now, addressing Mario’s contract will probably be pretty high on Jim Overdorf’s to-do list.

There are a few paths they can take with it as we all know. What kind of steps Mario and his agent are willing to take is the big question.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mario: Calls on defense were different

Posted by Chris Brown on January 4, 2016 – 1:09 am

Buffalo’s defensive effort was one of their better performances of the season in the season finale win over the Jets Sunday. DE Mario Williams felt part of the success was rooted in a different defensive approach.

“I think the calls were definitely different in general, especially that last play,” said Williams of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s third interception. “That was a call from the field. That was called from myself, and talking to the DB’s. The play there that was originally called… we ran that a few times… more than a few times before. And just getting input from players out there on the field because we’re the ones who have to go out there and execute it. And it turned out great.”

Manny Lawson explained further.

“A lot of it had to do with trust,” said Lawson. “From player to coach and coach to player. We went out there and we got a feel for them, we felt exactly what they were trying to do and then we communicated to the coach and told them what we think would work better for us and our coaches trust us to go out there and get it done.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-1

Posted by Chris Brown on January 1, 2016 – 11:52 am

Happy New Year Bills fans! Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills who has a legitimate chance of making a case for a starting job Sunday?

ChimeraTony

CB: I don’t know if this one game is enough to vault a reserve player into starter status for 2016. I think there have been some players that have done a good job of performing when given the opportunity here at the end of the season.

Corbin Bryant, Mike Gillislee and AJ Tarpley are a few players that come to mind. I think Mario Butler has had his moments as well. Jonathan Meeks is expected to get an extended opportunity Sunday. We’ll see if he can make himself part of the offseason conversation as well.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Chris, fans near & far see dysfunction again, which is very frustrating. Is there anything you understand that we may not?

XKC4338

CB: I think the one thing that I have learned in the last 16 years with this club is that change sets the timeline to success back. Every time you make a change in this league, whether it’s to your front office, coaching staff, offensive or defensive scheme or wholesale changes with your personnel you lengthen the timeline toward reaching success.

Sometimes change is necessary, but when such changes are made immediate success is rare. So despite the fact that most of us were convinced that the Bills were destined for the playoffs we lost sight of the fact that the team was going to have a new offensive scheme, new defensive scheme, new coaches on the whole and a new quarterback who was new to all the players around him.

The history of the league has taught us that such widespread change usually does not result in a won-loss record good enough to reach the postseason.

In fairness to the Bills a lot of that change was thrust upon new owners Terry and Kim Pegula. Their head coach quit and their starting quarterback retired. So change had to happen. That change unfortunately set back the clock to playoff success.

I realize fans are impatient. We’ve been waiting a long time to reach the postseason, but time and again the league more often rewards clubs that stay the course than they reward the clubs that constantly vote for change.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills if Mario leaves who fills that void? Clearly our pass rush stunk this year so where do we go from here?

FriarJeff

CB: I think if that proves to be a move that the Bills decide to make they’ll need to look for a pass rusher high in the draft. They’re already heavily invested in Jerry Hughes over the long haul, as well as Marcell Dareus. That’s why a high draft choice makes the most fiscal sense. Team a young, promising pass rusher with Hughes on the other end and it doesn’t impact your cap as much as a high-price free agent.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills how could Rex Ryan best defend his coaching this year in light of the team’s underachievement? Injuries, schedule, other?

kevinkresse

CB: I think injuries were certainly a big part of the problem. Losing Aaron Williams and Kyle Williams turned into a big problem from both an execution and a leadership perspective. Aaron ran the secondary and had a firm grasp of the defensive system. You didn’t have for the last 14 games of the season. Kyle missed the last 10 games. Those two losses were the most damaging.

As we all know there were a host of others that kept the offense from progressing as it wanted to as well, which is why they didn’t really take off until the second half of the season.

Rex did admit that he wasn’t sure there was full buy-in from all the players on defense. It was something he had never experienced before and it may have caught him off guard as to how to best handle it. Players at this level are supposed to be pros, which means coaches coach and players play. You can argue that perhaps Rex should’ve enacted strict consequences for those kind of actions, but a player owes it to his teammates and coaches and ownership to execute his assignments within the scope of the scheme to the best of his ability on every play and do what’s necessary during the week to ensure that.

That ultimately led to underachievement on defense this season.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills Do the Bills plan to keep Gillislee into next year along with Karlos and Shady?

sjpusat

CB: I think that’s a safe assumption. Rex Ryan all but said that Gillislee has earned the right to be here next year. There is a question as to whether he’ll be an exclusive right free agent or restricted free agent based on his accrued season time. Either way I anticipate the Bills will get him under contract this offseason.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Whaley: Defense will be a focus in offseason

Posted by Chris Brown on December 29, 2015 – 11:56 am

Bills GM Doug Whaley couldn’t deny that the defense did take a step back this season in its first season under head coach Rex Ryan. Whaley acknowledged that improving the defensive side of the ball will be a focus this coming offseason, but he’s confident that Ryan, his defensive staff and the personnel will be able to improve the performance of the defense in 2016.

“Defensively we did take a step back,” Whaley said in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. “We expected there to be a transition, but we didn’t expect there would be a drop off based on our history of our defense and Rex’s history of coaching defense we didn’t expect a drop off like that. So we’ll make a concerted effort to fix in the offseason just like last year. We made a concerted effort to make the offense better and we accomplished that goal.”

When asked why the defense took a step back this season, Whaley pointed to a few key things.

“There was a lack of consistency there and that goes along with changing parts due to injuries and getting adapted to the scheme,” he said. “I think it was a combination of Rex trying to tweak a little bit from what he normally does to fit our personnel and our personnel trying to fit what they used to do to what Rex does. So that contributes to the lack of consistency and again the injuries with Aaron Williams, Kyle Williams and Nigel Bradham. So you had young guys in there that are trying to adapt to this as well.

“At times you saw we showed we can be a pretty good defense, but the lack of consistency really killed us. That will be a major emphasis in the offseason is to be as consistent as possible.”

Whaley understands the fan frustration with the disappointing performance of the defense this season, but he’s resolute in his belief that it will be better in 2016 for a host of reasons.

“If you look at it in totality you have a head coach that’s been a defensive coordinator or a head coach for 11-plus years and this is only the second time his defense is not ranked in the top 10 and the other time he was 11th,” said Whaley. “So if you look at it analytically or look at the percentages he’s not going to be a bad coach. He’s going to improve that defense. So we have the basis to take a step forward. If you take that 16 years off of it and look at a first-year coach, first year ownership and first year quarterback I think we’ve got something to build on.

“I think it’s just a combination of those guys getting more comfortable with the scheme that is really complicated and bringing in some parts that fit a little better.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-18

Posted by Chris Brown on December 18, 2015 – 11:30 am

The third game against the NFC East this Sunday. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Do you think that the team is lacking quality player leadership right now? With huge games coming up, I’d have a lot more confidence in the Bills chances of winning if they had a leader on the field like Fred Jackson or Kyle Williams. Guys who should be filling this role like Mario Williams or Marcell Dareus just seem to be complaining. Who do you think can step into that leadership over the last few weeks to help the team make the playoffs?

Dan in Uganda

CB: I think the leadership is pretty solid on this team. The issue this year is there is new leadership that is kind of feeling its way. Tyrod Taylor has asserted himself as more of a leader in the second half of the season. He’s in a natural leadership position, but it’s hard to lead when you haven’t done anything yet. But I feel like Taylor has successfully navigated that as the season has worn on.

Eric Wood is a solid leader on offense, LeSean McCoy has put pressure on teammates to perform and follow his lead. On defense it’s a bit more complicated. With Kyle Williams and Aaron Williams no longer on the field the defense lost its two best leaders. Manny Lawson has tried to fill that void as has Corey Graham, but it’s been hard for them to help keep the defensive play at a consistent winning level, for whatever reason.

There’s no debating that the defensive play has been largely uneven for most of the season.

 

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills How do you think Rex is going to get the defense back up to snuff?

darcangel21

CB: I think it’s safe to say that he and his defensive staff will be doing a lot of work in the offseason to devise a more effective way to deploy their defensive scheme and devise a way to re-generate an effective pass rush even when opposing offenses are getting the ball out in less than 2.5 seconds.

There will also be personnel changes in the offseason, as there are every year, but I believe there will be some recognizable names on this unit that will be moved off the roster. Ryan’s history shows that he does have certain player types that he deems as fits for his defensive system.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills Know it’s early, but: top need in the draft, to your eyes? DE?

WillatFIRE

CB: I think there are a lot of current personnel situations that have to unfold first before one can accurately assess some of the top needs for the Bills in the draft. For example, what does the future hold for the playing career of Aaron Williams with his neck injury? Can Seantrel Henderson continue to improve or does his illness compromise his effectiveness as a player?

It’s clear that Cordy Glen and Richie Incognito are priorities to be re-signed, but what about Nigel Bradham? If he’s not back there are holes to be filled at linebacker. Will there be a couple of cap casualties with some of the team’s cost prohibitive contracts or will they be restructured?

I just think there are too many unknowns right now to clearly say this or that is the team’s top positional need.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills who has the better chance of being re-signed. Glenn or Bradham?

A_Smolka_17

CB: I would say Glenn at this point. One of the big positives this season is how the offensive line has come together, particularly the left side with Glen and Incognito. From what I understand both Glenn and Incognito are among the top priorities for the club this offseason.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

I know it’s that time of the year you probably don’t look forward to having to answer these questions, but I’ll try not to be too negative. I’m just wondering what you think this team can do to right the ship at this point for next season? It seems like this defensive personnel isn’t going to return to greatness under Rex. Do you think they should stick with this coaching staff and scheme and try to rebuild the defense to fit the scheme? I for one have had enough with Rex and think we should look for a coach that is willing to use a 4-3. I know you believe in continuity of scheme, but I can’t condone tearing apart a defense we just finished putting together after 4-5 years of drafts and FA additions.

Dan
Western MA

 

CB: I’ve addressed a number of fans when I’ve appeared on local radio shows and the John Murphy show, who are demanding another coaching change. My response is the Bills are on their seventh coach in 15 years. What has all that change gotten them?

I realize as well as any fan out there the level of frustration of not having a playoff team. I’ve been here covering this team for every one of those years and the five years before it.

As hard as it is you have to separate the last 15 years from what the Bills are trying to build now. You can’t lump Rex Ryan and his staff in with everything else. I know everyone feels it fits because Buffalo is unlikely to make the playoffs again, but to scrap the whole thing because the defense underachieved this year is not the solution.

It’s my belief you need only to re-tool the defense, move some cost prohibitive contracts off the books, add some good fits, re-sign your starting offensive linemen who are up and continue to develop depth.

Rex Ryan himself admitted he made some judgment errors with his defensive personnel and how he deployed them and tried to mesh his scheme with some of the successful principles that worked last season.

As I mentioned above, what changed was how opposing offenses attacked his defense. Week 2 against the Patriots, Tom Brady provided the blueprint for beating Buffalo’s pass rush, blitz packages etc. Get the ball out in less than 2.5 seconds. Future opponents followed suit.

It’s my contention that with Rex’s creative mind and the staff that he has that they will devise ways to counteract that approach.

It’s a cat and mouse game in the NFL where offenses evolve and change to defeat defensive strategies. Then defenses come up with answers for those new problems and have the upper hand. It goes back and forth. Unfortunately in a year where much was expected from Buffalo’s defense, opposing offenses figured them out and had a definitive answer.

Now it’s on Rex Ryan and his staff to find new ways to maximize their talent and reclaim their status as one of more creative and effective defensive minds in the game.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-4

Posted by Chris Brown on December 4, 2015 – 2:21 pm

As Rex Ryan said his team is out of mulligans. A win streak has to start this weekend against Houston. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,
My Bills related question is regarding Tyrod Taylor NEVER going under center.  I think this is really limiting our play action and he also very rarely keeps the ball on a read option limiting its effectiveness.  Why is this?  Also – are we every going to throw a screen/quick slant to Sammy or ever get him in motion – this is nearly as intolerable.  I’m also starting to see Robert Woods as a solid #3 with Hogan #4 and dire need of a large WR #2…thoughts?

Sincerely,
Chris
St. Louis

CB: Taylor has been under center, but it has been relatively rare. You’re right about him keeping the ball a lot on read option plays. In my opinion there were a handful of plays against the Patriots where if he kept the ball he had an entire side of the field open to him with as strong as New England’s defense was flowing in the direction that LeSean McCoy was headed on those plays.

I don’t know if his knee injury has made him more hesitant to take off and run on read option plays. I can’t imagine the coaching staff has advised him against taking off and running on those to protect him, otherwise you wouldn’t call such plays in the first place.

I understand your frustration with quick slants or receiver screens with Sammy. I think if you’re having trouble getting Watkins the ball as was the case in the second half last week why not put it in his hands at the line of scrimmage and see what he can do from there?

The team has two very capable blocking receivers in Woods and Hogan, so it would stand to reason that you could put them all in a bunch formation and throw Watkins the ball. You might only get four yards, but if someone falls down on defense you might get a lot more.
 

2 – Chris,
There is no doubt Rex is a great motivator, but penalties come when emotion takes over. Emotion can burn out over time and cloud judgement, purpose burns longer and sharpens judgement. Do you believe we get too high early, can Rex channel emotion more at the end of a game than at the beginning?

Jim in Florida

CB: I think you can make an argument that while this team does get off to some great starts, finishing has been a problem. This is most apparent in one particular statistic, which for most of the season has been a strength for the team. Buffalo has the number one run defense in the NFL in the first half. No other team gives up fewer rushing yards in the first half of games than Buffalo. In the second half however, the Bills rank 27th in run defense.

It’s only one arbitrary statistic, but it does speak to the up and down play of the team this season. Buffalo’s most inefficient quarter in terms of points for and against is the third quarter where opponents are outscoring them by almost a 2:1 margin (44 points for; 84 points against).

There are other team stats that point to a drop off in the second half of games as well and in a conversation I had with Manny Lawson he agreed that something has been missing particularly in the fourth quarter of games. He and other leaders have tried to impress a sense of urgency upon the other players, but for whatever reason the units on offense, defense and special teams can’t collectively raise their level of play to a point where they can consistently finish games and win.

3 – @ChrisBrownBills what is up with the D? I understand there are injuries, but this unit is avg/bad after 2 years of solid/elite play.

BrettsterBills

CB: The struggles of the defense are perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2015 season. A defensive unit that proved capable of switching from Mike Pettine’s scheme to Jim Schwartz’s scheme from 2013 to 2014 and improve to become a top five unit in the league, a solid run defense and the best third down unit in the league has slipped in a lot of areas this season.

There’s no need for me to outline where the fall off has occurred. The players claim that Rex Ryan’s scheme is something they’re still trying to master. Why that is the case this late in the season is unclear. New schemes at most typically take a team 6-8 weeks into the season to fully grasp and play fast on Sundays.

Ryan admitted last week that he made the mistake of trying to blend some of the successful principles of last year’s defensive scheme in with his own scheme. After seeing that wasn’t working he scrapped some of the defensive concepts from last year and went exclusively with his own scheme.

Whether that presented a whole new learning curve midway through the season is unclear.

What is clear is the results haven’t been there. With so much talent on that side of the ball these results were totally unexpected. But facts are facts. Now we’ll have to see what they can scrape together by way of performance over the last five games.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills interest in Kaepernick next year?

kgunoffense

CB: I would be surprised if the Bills have interest in Colin Kaepernick. He’s a career 60 percent passer with great athletic ability. Fortunately the Bills have grade ‘A’ intel on Kaepernick as a person, leader and worker from offensive coordinator Greg Roman. If the reports out of San Francisco this season are accurate, Kaepernick lacks in two of those categories.

His skill set is similar to Tyrod Taylor. Taylor however, in my opinion, is a better leader, more dedicated worker and the numbers say a more accurate passer.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Can you give us bills practice squad roster as of now?

RonAdamczyk

CB: Running back Mike Gillislee will be called up to the active roster, but he’s currently on the practice squad with the following players.

WR Dezmin Lewis
WR Walt Powell
CB Sammy Seamster
CB Merrill Noel
DE Cedric Reed
LB AJ Tarpley
G Cyril Richardson
TE Nick O’Leary
DT Jerel Worthy


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex: I now know what our ‘D’ should be

Posted by Chris Brown on November 28, 2015 – 3:25 pm

At the outset of the season head coach Rex Ryan tried to combine his defensive system with some of what worked so successfully for the Bills defensive unit last season. The results were mixed through much of the first half of the season. Now headed down the stretch Ryan has swung the majority of the defensive scheme to what Ryan’s schemes have always been about, which is a myriad of blitz packages and simulated pressures. To his credit Ryan admits now that he probably tried to make everybody on defense happy coming in the door knowing the unit was very successful last year.

“I made a mistake in trying to tie in what was effective the year before, running similar defenses to what they did the year before, but to me, especially when you play New England, that’s probably not the way to go, obviously evident by our Week Two performance,” said Ryan. “I knew better. I was sitting back there telling [defensive coordinator] Dennis Thurman, ‘I know better,’ and I should have taken that approach instead of saying, ‘Hey, we have this talent. We can do this. This is what we know how to do.’

“Well right now, this is our defense, and this is what we’ll be moving forward. And each game is different. This game, they’re going to screen you a zillion times. They run all kinds of different things. The quarterback is different. I’m not saying he’s Tom Brady. He’s not, but he runs. There are different challenges on each opponent, so will it look exactly like it did this week? I doubt it. Do we think we’ll be effective? Absolutely.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-30

Posted by Chris Brown on October 30, 2015 – 11:21 am

It’s the bye, but we’re still grinding here at Buffalobills.com. A big 2015 midseason report coming on Monday on Buffalobills.com, the good and not so good, broken down several different ways. Here are your latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills any updates on when the defense from last year is going to return?

IrishTsmith

CB: While I understand your frustration there are some encouraging signs on defense. Run ‘D’ has been top five all season, pass defense has been top 5 in the league since the bad day against the Patriots. Pass rush has to step up and I think it’ll be back to where it was last year. A better pass rush helps their third down ‘D’, which right now is middle of the pack.

 

2 – Chris,

I know the schedule was addressed a few years ago with Buffalo having to face many teams coming off a bye or Thursday night game.  That is happening again this year.  First was the Pats and not the Giants.  Look at how those games turned out.  Granted, those were also our worst penalty games too.  Between the refs and scheduling, it seems like the NFL is making it very difficult for the Bills to have a fair opportunity to show they can be good.  Can anything be done about this?

Thanks for everything you do.

Very frustrated and loyal fan in Virginia
Barbra

CB: You’re right that three of Buffalo’s first five opponents came off extra rest and prep time to face the Bills (Pat, Giants, Titans). Even when the Bills have an advantage of the bye this week it’s mitigated by the fact that Miami played Thursday night this week, so they’ve got three extra days to prepare for Buffalo.

The Bills will get extra time to prep for the Patriots coming off the Thursday night game against the Jets.

Believe it or not Buffalo’s situation is a bit more favorable than some other clubs this year in terms of opponents getting extra rest and prep time.

Truthfully with the Thursday night schedule running from Weeks 2 to 15 there are at least 13 teams with at least one game against a team getting extra rest. I don’t get the sense that the NFL sees the extra rest on the back end of a Thursday night game as much of an advantage, since that team is at a disadvantage getting only three days prep time heading into their Thursday night game. They likely see it as a wash.

 

3- Hi Chris,

It’s hard to get a true perspective on Tyrod’s passing struggles from the TV broadcasts. Is he not finding open receivers quickly enough? Are receivers not open a lot of the time? With our team talent in that area it’s hard to believe we’re being defended that well.

James

CB: With his last game being the Titans game I can see why you’re concerned about this. I do believe more often than not Buffalo receivers are gaining separation. I think it’s a matter of trust on Taylor’s part as to what he’s seeing.

The biggest hurdle here is Taylor’s inexperience. We have to remember he had 14 game appearances in the regular season before this year and those weren’t even starts. They were largely mop up duty type appearances where he handed off in games that were over with just one start. So I think there are some parts of the game where Taylor is still feeling his way at this level.

So he might just miss someone completely or he might not trust what his read is telling him. It’s the process a quarterback goes through when they’re new.

 

4 – Chris,
I’m reading where Sammy says, “Give me the Damn Ball”, can u imagine designing a game plan around him with his work history ?? He hasn’t proved he’s durable enough to get the ball 8-10 times a game.
No doubt he’s a fine athlete, can anyone explain why he is injured so much. What are ur thoughts ?

Jim in Florida

CB: I don’t think there’s an easy way to explain his recent injury history, primarily because in college he was never injured. Didn’t miss a practice or a game in his college career. Granted the game is more physical in the NFL, but he’s just had a rough stretch.

He’s clearly more frustrated by the injuries than the fans. All he wants to do is contribute and a competitor like him can’t stand being sidelined when he knows his talents can help the team. Hopefully he’ll be good to go out of the bye and can stay on the field for the last nine weeks.

 

5 – Chris,

Assuming both are healthy, I would love to see Karlos and Shady in the backfield together. They are both really good in the passing game and both are playmakers. Any chance this happens?

Joe Roberts

Orlando, FL


CB:
I wouldn’t rule it out. Knowing how varied Greg Roman likes to be with his formations and pre-snap motion, I think Karlos and McCoy in a split backfield or I-formation is not out of the realm of possibility. If Roman believes there’s an advantage to be had with such a look he won’t hesitate to make use of it.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex: Our DL didn’t get enough chances at Dalton

Posted by Chris Brown on October 18, 2015 – 7:10 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan knew that Andy Dalton takes some long drops than some of the other quarterbacks Buffalo has faced this season. It should have spelled greater opportunities for Buffalo’s defensive linemen to get some heat on the Cincinnati QB and some sacks. But Buffalo’s sideline boss admitted he didn’t dial up enough opportunities for his big men up front.

“A couple of them are my fault,” Ryan said. “I went with some three-man rush stuff and never let my guys go as much as I should have. I think on the one third and long we thought we had a pretty good call and the guy sat back there forever and that one was on me. I thought we had great coverage downfield and we put our cover guys out there and I don’t think our guys had enough shots at him, but we’ll see. We’ve got to take a long, hard look at what we’re asking our guys to do.”

When asked if his defense has an identity this was Ryan’s response.

“I don’t think our team does. When you look at it we haven’t been healthy number one and some guys in and out of the lineup,” he said. “We’ve lacked some consistency on both sides of the ball. We’ve been penalized too many times on special teams in particular. We’re a work in progress right now. I still think when it’s all said and done I think we can be special. We’ve got to get guys healthy and we’ve got to really focus in and hone in on what we’re doing.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Formula for Bills ‘D’ may be to simplify

Posted by Chris Brown on October 10, 2015 – 2:37 pm

The Bills defense is more talented than most in the NFL, but that hasn’t always shown itself through the first month of the season. Part of the reason why is defensive communication. Too often the defense is still moving players around to get into the best possible play call for what they anticipate is coming from the opposing offense. The problem is the defensive alignment isn’t always set and ready, especially when opponents got to the no huddle, up tempo approach. It’s something each of Buffalo’s first four opponents have turned to at times. So what’s the solution?

In a word, simplify. Buffalo’s defense is so talented that even if they’re not in the best possible play call their players are good enough to still make a play. DT Kyle Williams believes there could be times where reducing their many options in their defensive system might be better so their talent can take over.

“We’ve had some guys coming in and out. We’ve been going up against a team that’s going hurry-up, no huddle, throwing different formations at you and going at a quick clip. They’re getting the ball in and out of the quarterback’s hands—that’s a challenge on its own,” Williams said. “When we’re getting stuff like that, we might bring it back down a little bit so we can line up and play fast. But we have to know when we have to do that, and when we don’t have to.”

Williams is expecting more quick pass game from the Titans Sunday, just like their previous opponents.

“It’s like everything else, if you’re having trouble stopping the run or whatever it may be, you’re going to see as much of that as they feel like they can handle, until you get it stopped,” he said. “We have to be prepared for it.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex: I challenged our defense on purpose

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2015 – 10:28 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan wasn’t overly concerned about his team’s pass defense against Pittsburgh Saturday. While he wasn’t thrilled that they gave up big plays he said going into the game he purposely challenged them on the back end with play calls and a lack of blitzing.

Ryan said the plan was to force his secondary to communicate more to prepare them for stressful times in the regular season.

“I put us in a lot of situations again challenging us,” said Ryan. “I was going to challenge us with different coverages and make them communicate and quite honestly we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be. We’ll learn a lot off of tape, but you can’t just go out there and say, ‘I’m a great player.’ And not communicate. I think it was a great thing for us. Now we challenged our guys in the second half and they responded. That (Pittsburgh) team is talented now. That kid from Clemson was killing us.”

Ryan was referring to Martavis Bryant who had three catches for 138 yards and a touchdown.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mind games for Bills defense

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2015 – 8:59 am

Rex Ryan is supremely confident that he has an elite defense, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to rest on his laurels as a coach because he has a unit blessed with great talent. That’s why Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman put in some multi-faceted adjustments on the fly for their first team defense Thursday night.

“When you have a good defense or an elite defense you challenge them mentally to do things,” said Ryan. “Dennis and I were talking and we put on some checks, some audible checks, calls they never heard and we said, ‘Make it work. Here are the two things we’re going to combine and just based off formation.’

“So we challenged the heck out of them mentally as well. You make adjustments in this league. I want our guys to understand it’s not just one or two defensive calls. We’re very multiple in what we do and we do it for a reason. We take advantage of what we’re seeing and what we’re getting, protections and so forth and we’ve got to be ready to go with it, but I thought they did a nice job and responded well to it.”

Ryan not only has high end talent, he’s got veteran talent that can adjust to mixing play calls in their scheme among other things. Buffalo’s head coach insists they still haven’t shown much of their defensive concepts for the regular season, but it won’t keep them from throwing adjustments on the fly at their players.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex ranks his Bills ‘D’ vs. his others of the past

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2015 – 2:57 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan has been hesitant to compare his new Buffalo defense with that of other defensive units he’s coached in the past. A former player of his however, put him to the test as NFL Network’s LaDainian Tomlinson asked him to compare his Buffalo defense to those that he had in Baltimore and New York.

“We’ll see. I think in the Baltimore days, obviously that 2000 defense probably is a little different, and you go with the 2006 defense which led the NFL in more categories than any defense in the history of the game. That’s similar to what we have here,” Ryan said. “When I look back on them – my first year with the Jets we led the league but I think this is a more talented group than that. No slight to them but I believe that we’re more talented here.”

Buffalo’s defense finished fourth in the NFL last season overall. Ryan has stated repeatedly that it’s their intention to finish number one.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Being No. 1 ‘D’ easier said than done

Posted by Chris Brown on July 28, 2015 – 10:07 am

As ambitious as head coach Rex Ryan has been when it has come to claiming his defensive unit in Buffalo will be number one even he knows how hard it is to achieve the league’s top ranking.

In our Camp Countdown we examined just how feasible it will be for Buffalo’s defense to finish first in the league this season. But even Ryan knows what a tall order that is.

“The Bills did have an outstanding defense last year,” said Ryan. “I guess my expectation is set much higher. When you talk about leading the league in defense, that’s obviously the goal that we’ll have as a goal as a team…and it’s easy to say, it’s hard to get to.

“I’ve been there a few times. It starts with just eliminating all mental mistakes. That can’t exist. If you’re going to have that kind of defense, you have to have great communication. Obviously you need to have great skill and great talent which we have but it’s that communication eliminating the mental mistakes but make that opponent play us physically. Now you take our physical talent with an outstanding group of talented players and quite honestly an outstanding scheme so I think when you combine those things, we’ll see where we end up.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-27

Posted by Chris Brown on February 27, 2015 – 11:39 am

NFL free agency is just over a week away. The Bills are expected to be players. For now let’s get to this week’s edition of questions from you the Bills fans on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

My question is- What veteran quarterbacks do you feel that could be available to help the Bills immediately? Definitely not Cutler, the Bills have already proven once you get under his skin he’s done competing!  Maybe Sanchez?  Do you think he can turn the corner in his leadership and playing ability?

Kevin E.
Colorado by way of Hamburg, NY

CB: Josh McCown is the obvious target right now. I think the Bills will see if any veteran quarterbacks that don’t have a future with their current clubs are released in salary cap moves prior to the start of the new league year before pouncing on another free agent target. Rest assured they are dead set on adding a veteran quarterback to their roster in some way.

 

2 – Chris,

Thanks again for the great coverage of our Bills, my question revolves around the defense going back to a 3-4. How do you see the front seven shaking out? Is Dareus the nose tackle or do we go with him and Kyle Williams at defensive end and add a big bodied space eater? I’m also curious about the linebackers, I’d think you’d put Alonso and Brown inside, Mario on one side and then I’m lost. If Hughes stays in the fold does he play the other side? Where does this leave Bradham who emerged as a solid player? I look forward to your input thanks again.

Will.
GO BILLS!

CB: With respect to the defensive line you have to remember that Ryan’s system is not a traditional 3-4 with a true nose tackle. They don’t have a true two gap, head up on the center nose. They play more of a shade alignment with two defensive tackles. I think Mario Williams will split time at defensive end and outside linebacker depending on the down and distance.

Manny Lawson will shift to strong side linebacker much like he did in Pettine’s defense two seasons ago. If Jerry Hughes is back he’ll presumably rotate in and out with Lawson and likely flip back and forth between and end and outside linebacker role.

As for the full-time linebackers I think it will be a feeling out process for the defensive staff. They have 2013 tape of Kiko Alonso in this defense, but they do not have any feel for Preston Brown in that system. They also don’t have the current version of Nigel Bradham in this defense aside from perhaps the last two games of 2013 when he began to show flashes of his true ability. So how they align those three will take shape through the course of the OTA practices.

The secondary obviously remains largely the same with the decision of free agent Da’Norris Searcy being the only possible departure.

 

3 – Chris,

Has Shane Carden from ECU been on anyone’s radar at OBD? I live in the Carolinas so we get more coverage about this guy. He’s playing in the senior bowl as well. He has reputation for being an accurate thrower (to me this should be the top consideration for a QB). Maybe a steal in the mid/late rounds. Thoughts from the insiders?

John

CB: Obviously the Bills scouting department is aware of Carden. He was a throwing quarterback at the NFL Combine last week. Carden set all kinds of records at East Carolina, but my concern lies with his throwing mechanics and arm strength. I don’t think he has the arm to cut passes through the wind that we often find here in Buffalo come November and December.

A lot of his passes float and hang in the air too long. He also has a propensity to throw off his back foot. There’s no debating his career was a very productive one. He broke all of David Garrard’s passing records at ECU, but I’ll be surprised if he’s taken before the seventh round. At best he’s a career backup in the league by most accounts.

 

4 – Hello Chris,

Thank you for all your hard work keeping those of us away from Buffalo updated on the best team in the NFL!

While I do not dismiss Rex Ryan’s abilities as a coach or motivator, my defining image of his tenure in New York was the newspaper cover image of a Jets clown car with coach Ryan at the wheel.  Traditionally the team has eschewed flamboyant personalities in the past.  Has the team discussed this with him, or can we expect the seemingly endless diatribe of controversy, arrogance and inanity that plagued the Jets?

James

CB: I think you can probably take his handling of his press conference with the NFL media at the NFL Combine as an example of what to expect. He sidestepped several opportunities to be bold with a prediction or two for the 2015 season. He also dodged loaded questions about his former team. So I’m anticipating a little more self-restraint from coach Ryan this year. We’ll see.

 

5 – Chris
It seems that with the restrictions in the NFLPA agreement, it is difficult to work with players except during certain dates in the offseason ?
If we had some interesting players, could a team rather than sign them to a contract, perhaps open a Football Training School with free tuition and room and board to develop their skills? Those popping out would be offered a contract etc. don’t use team coaches, rather qualified instructors with experience in positions we have a need.

Thanks
Jim in Florida

CB: Unfortunately I don’t see the NFLPA agreeing to that in any way. The players fought for time away from the game to reduce the pounding on their bodies through the offseason with limitations on padded practices and live hitting. They’re not going to agree to do that in a separate training academy. Most players do that on their own.

I suppose there could be street free agents interested in that kind of arrangement, but who is paying for it? NFL owners are not going to incur another cost to make that happen. I just think it’s unrealistic.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

MMQB gives Bills ‘D’ MVP honor

Posted by Chris Brown on December 15, 2014 – 4:14 pm

Buffalo’s defense handed Aaron Rodgers the worst single game performance of his career. Their play also earned them an MVP nod from Monday Morning Quarterback from the early games on Sunday.

Here’s what MMQB’s Chris Burke wrote about the Buffalo performance.

MVP: The Buffalo defense

Not often does a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, with an offense as potent as Green Bay’s, look as out of sync as he did Sunday. Several times, Rodgers fired to … well, nobody in particular, with his receivers going anywhere but where thePackers’ quarterback expected. Even Jordy Nelson dropped a couple balls, including one that may have gone for a 94-yard touchdown.

Still, the majority of the credit here belongs to the Bills defense and coordinator Jim Schwartz. Buffalo sacked Rodgers just once, but they pressured him constantly and worked aggressive coverage downfield. The secondary came up with two interceptions, both by safety Bacarri Rambo, while the Packers’ receivers were left looking for flags repeatedly.

The final nail in Green Bay’s Week 15 coffin came courtesy of Mario Williams, who swung around the left side of the offensive line to swat the ball from Rodgers’ hand, forcing a safety.

“They really get after you with their four-man rush, which is the typical Jim Schwartz defense,” Rodgers said earlier this week. “He’s a very talented coach and always has some schemes that put pressure on the offense.”

Rodgers had thrown multiple interceptions in just one other game this season: a 44-23 loss in New Orleans. (He’s still yet to throw one at Lambeau Field.) He was just 8-of-24 for 70 yards in the first half, his quarterback rating dipping from 42.2 at the break to 34.3 when all was said and done. That’s the lowest mark of his career.

 


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