Inside The Bills

Sept. 7th has been good to Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2014 – 8:36 am

There are certain dates that will live in infamy for the Bills organization, none of which will be re-listed here. But there are also some dates that have been particularly kind to the team and their fans. One such date is today, September 7th.

There is not only one or two good things that happened to the Bills on September 7th, but three in their 54-year history. They are as follows.

September 7, 1980 – Streak ends Bills beat Dolphins
September 7, 1986 – Jim Kelly makes his Bills debut
September 7, 2003 – Bills open season with 31-0 win over New England Patriots
So two of Buffalo’s most noteworthy season-opening victories and the debut of the only player to have his number retired in team history. Not a bad trio of events. Could there be a fourth here today in Chicago for the Bills organization?

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Pats make teams pay

Posted by Chris Brown on December 29, 2013 – 2:10 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone is more than aware of how effective the Patriots are when it comes to making opponents pay for their turnovers. In his weekly radio appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550, he pointed to New England’s ability to score points off turnovers and their record when they are unable to force at least one in a game.

“Going into this game the thing I preached to our team all week was you can’t let this team force a turnover on us. When you look at what New England has been able to do from a forced turnover factor it’s really unbelievable how they’ve been able to play and how they’ve been able to win.

“If New England doesn’t force a turnover, they’re 11-and-17. That’s about the only losing record that they have in any category that you can look at.”

New England stands third in the league in points off takeaways with 88 so far this season. The league average is 57.


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Why we’ll see run, run, run on 1st-&-10

Posted by Chris Brown on December 29, 2013 – 1:01 pm

If the season long numbers are any indication, when the Bills have the ball today in their season finale against the Patriots we’ll see an awful lot of run plays on 1st-and-10.

We’ve seen for a while that the Bills aren’t shy about running the football on 1st-and-10. They lead the league in run percentage on that down and distance at a gaudy 64.1 percent. With Thad Lewis at quarterback that figure is likely to hold true, especially in a road atmosphere and armed with the second-ranked rushing attack.

Making it even more likely is the fact that most New England opponents have found good success running on 1st-and-10 against them. Patriots opponents gain at least four yards running on first down more than half the time (51.4%), which sets up favorable down and distance on second down.

Not surprisingly, opponents choose to run on 1st-and-10 against New England almost 54 percent of the time (53.8%).


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Lots of long drives given up by Pats

Posted by Chris Brown on December 29, 2013 – 11:56 am

The Patriots have stayed successful this season as a team because their defense despite its many key losses to injury have remained a top 10 unit when it comes to points allowed (9th). However, they’re giving opponents ample opportunity to put the ball in the end zone.

New England stands 30th in the league in 10-play drives allowed. They’ve surrendered 30 10-play drives this season, which is five above the league average.

The Bills are coming off a win over Miami in which they had their longest drive of the season in terms of a plays, a 19-play 92-yard drive. They also had 94 and 80 yard drives the week before at Jacksonville that each covered nine plays.

Buffalo is no doubt hoping to have a similar play volume in today’s game knowing it means they’re not only controlling the pace of the game, but they’re also keeping the ball away from Tom Brady.


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2 Bills 2014 opponents hinge on today’s game

Posted by Chris Brown on December 29, 2013 – 9:30 am

Fourteen of the Bills’ opponents are already mapped out for the 2014 season (counting their division opponents twice). Buffalo faces their division rivals twice each, the AFC West and the NFC North next year. The two remaining opponents will come via the intra-conference teams that finish in the same place in their respective division following today’s games. And though the fourth place team in the AFC North and the fourth place team in the AFC South are locked in their respective positions regardless of how they fare in Week 17, Buffalo’s spot in the AFC East is not set.

Buffalo will face the AFC North team that finishes in the same place as them at home and they’ll face the AFC South team that finishes in the same place as them on the road in 2014.

Right now in the AFC North, Cleveland is locked in the fourth spot and Houston is locked in the fourth spot in the AFC South.

Should Buffalo not pull out a win at New England, the Bills would have those two teams as their final two opponents for the 2014 season.

With a win however, the Bills could finish in third place in the AFC East if the Jets were to lose today, and that would make Buffalo’s AFC South opponent Jacksonville and their AFC North opponent either Pittsburgh or Baltimore.


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Bills fortunes vs. Pats all about 4th quarter

Posted by Chris Brown on December 28, 2013 – 3:00 pm

All too often the Bills have let potential victories against the Patriots slip through their fingers by getting outplayed in the fourth quarter. New England is again a strong fourth quarter club this season.

It’s common knowledge that the Patriots are a top-five scoring offense with 410 points on the season, 389 of which have been put up by the offense. However, it’s the fourth quarter where New England’s point production has truly shined.

While the point differential in the first three quarters of games with their opponents has been marginal, the Patriots have proven to be vastly superior come the fourth quarter.

In the final stanza of their games this season New England has outscored their opponents by a nearly 2:1 margin (160-86). Their point differential in the fourth quarter of games (74) accounts for 80 percent of their point differential on the season (92).

Not surprisingly, over the last 25 meetings the Patriots have outscored Buffalo in the final stanza of their games by a wide margin. In fact the Pats have outscored Buffalo in the fourth quarter of those 25 games since 2001 by almost a 2:1 ratio (214-106).

The only two times the Bills have posted victories in that stretch (2003 opener, 2011 Week 3) they won the fourth quarters (10-0, 17-7). Buffalo has to outscore New England in the fourth quarter if they want to have a chance of posting their first win at Gillette Stadium.


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S McCourty doubtful, OT Solder ques for Pats

Posted by Chris Brown on December 27, 2013 – 4:36 pm

The Patriots have a host of questionable players on their injury report for Sunday’s game with the Bills. Their safety Devin McCourty, who has also been a Bills killer in recent meetings is doubtful with a concussion. OT Nate Solder is also questionable after he too suffered a concussion. Here’s the rundown of Patriots players on their injury report.

OUT
WR Josh Boyce – Ankle

DOUBTFUL
DB McCourty, Devin – Concussion

QUESTIONABLE
CB Arrington, Kyle – Groin
CB Dennard, Alfonzo – Knee / Shoulder
WR Dobson, Aaron – Foot
LB Fletcher, Dane – Groin
S Gregory, Steve – Finger / Knee
DE Ninkovich, Rob – Ankle
OT Solder, Nate – Concussion
LB  Spikes, Brandon – Knee
OT Svitek, Will – Ankle
WR Thompkins, Kenbrell – Hip
RB Vereen, Shane – Groin

PROBABLE
WR Amendola, Danny – Groin
QB Brady, Tom – Right Shoulder
OT Cannon, Marcus – Ankle
TE Hoomanawanui, Michael – Knee
CB Talib, Aqib – Hip


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Brady confirms prep that Bills ‘D’ demands

Posted by Chris Brown on December 27, 2013 – 9:29 am

Patriots QB Tom Brady has seen defensive schemes like that of the Bills before. At the same time he admits that with the myriad of defensive looks and disguises that Mike Pettine’s defense offers, he and his offensive unit will need to be familiar with an awful lot of pre-snap formations.

There’s a lot to prepare for, no question,” said Brady. “It’s one of those defenses that does a lot of different things. Similar to how when we played the Jets; they’ve got a lot of calls and a lot of looks, and they try to confuse you. They’ve got a lot of coverage looks, a lot of front looks, a lot of blitzes, so they put pressure on you in a lot of areas. I think it’s just – you’ve got to study what they do, kind of like we do every week. It’s just a lot of mental preparation.”

Brady’s stat line in Week 1 against Buffalo was 29-52 passing for 288 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He was sacked twice and had a passer rating of 76.4.


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Pats DE Ninkovich added to injury report

Posted by Chris Brown on December 26, 2013 – 7:12 pm

The Patriots had another defensive player added to their injury report Thursday. DE Rob Ninkovich was added to the injury report with an ankle injury. He was listed as a limited participant. Starting S Devin McCourty missed practice again following last week’s concussion.

Did not practice
WR Josh Boyce – ankle
CB Devin McCourty – concussion

Limited in practice
CB Kyle Arrington – groin
OT Marcus Cannon – ankle
CB Alfonzo Dennard – knee/shoulder
WR Aaron Dobson – foot
LB Dane Fletcher – groin
S Steve Gregory – finger/knee
DE Rob Ninkovich – ankle
OT Nate Solder – concussion
LB Brandon Spikes – knee
OT Will Svitek – ankle
WR Kenbrell Thompkins – hip
RB Shane Vereen – groin

Full practice
WR Danny Amendola – groin
QB Tom Brady – right shoulder
TE Michael Hoomanawanui – knee
CB Aqib Talib – hip


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Several Pats DBs nicked

Posted by Chris Brown on December 26, 2013 – 10:07 am

The New England Patriots have a lengthy injury report this week, which includes several starting defensive backs as limited participants.

Starting S Devin McCourty (concussion) did not practice. Starting CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee/shoulder), S Steve Gregory (finger/knee) and primary subpackage CB Kyle Arrington (groin) were all limited in practice Wednesday. RB Shane Vereen was also limited with a groin injury.

Did not practice
WR Josh Boyce – ankle
CB Devin McCourty – concussion

Limited in practice
CB Kyle Arrington – groin
OT Marcus Cannon – ankle
CB Alfonzo Dennard – knee/shoulder
WR Aaron Dobson – foot
LB Dane Fletcher – groin
S Steve Gregory – finger/knee
OT Nate Solder – concussion
LB Brandon Spikes – knee
OT Will Svitek – ankle
WR Kenbrell Thompkins – hip
RB Shane Vereen – groin

Full practice
WR Danny Amendola – groin
QB Tom Brady – right shoulder
TE Michael Hoomanawanui – knee
CB Aqib Talib – hip


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Bills-Pats moved to 4:25 kickoff

Posted by Chris Brown on December 22, 2013 – 10:21 pm

The Bills season finale at New England was to kick off at 1 pm, but the game has been flexed.

The NFL announced Sunday night that the Bills-Patriots game will now kick off at at 4:25 PM on CBS.


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Painfully close to be fixed by consistency

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2013 – 5:45 pm

The Bills were again painfully close to a victory over the Patriots. In season openers the last three times Buffalo has faced New England it has been a tight game. Unfortunately New England has escaped with the victory in each of those contests.

In the past three season openers against New England, the Patriots have won all three games by a combined five points. Here’s a look at the results from the 2006, 2009 and 2013 openers.

2006     9/10      at New England   19-17 (L)

2009     9/14      at New England   25-24 (L)

2013     9/8        vs. New England   23-21(L)

“I think it is a league that’s close. I really do,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “I think there’s great parity in this league and I’ve always believed that. Some teams can’t hang in there long enough and I can’t speak for other teams, but the teams I’ve been on in this league it’s always close. It’s always those little things and you try to make bigger things out of it than it is.

“You look at all the statistics and everything like that, but there are always going to be those four or six or eight plays that are out there, that if you make this play and do this and do that you wind up second guessing what play would’ve sparked the win. But at the end of the day it’s the little things, doing all the little things right.

“When you have that structure and you can do all the little things right, then your consistency goes up quite a bit because there is talent on this team. We have to just get the consistency out of (the talent) and we (as coaches) have to do a better job too now.

“We’re going to get better. We’re going to push the heck out of this team and this team is going to push the heck out of us coaches. They rely on us and we rely on them.”


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All 6 Bills WRs up today

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2013 – 12:51 pm

The Bills have all six of their wide receivers on the 53-man roster up today. It serves as solid indication that Buffalo’s offense is going to be spreading the field a good deal against the Patriots today.

Most NFL clubs when facing the Patriots formidable front seven, which was ninth in the league against the run in 2012, spread the field in order to run the ball. Most expect Buffalo to do the same.

Four of Buffalo’s six receivers (Marcus Easley, Chris Hogan, Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods) are playing in their first career NFL regular season game today.


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C.J.: EJ unaware of the volume at the Ralph

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

Bills rookie QB EJ Manuel has played in some loud college stadiums before, but as far as his veteran teammates are concerned he knows nothing about the volume that can be generated at Ralph Wilson Stadium by Bills fans on a successful Sunday.

“He doesn’t have any idea,” said C.J. Spiller chuckling. “Hopefully he doesn’t think its Doak Campbell; this is Ralph Wilson (Stadium). It’s going to be loud and we expect that. We need our fans to be loud, but in order for them to do that, we have to do good on both sides of the ball. In all three phases of the game, we have to keep those guys into it. We saw a couple years ago when we won, how they helped us by being loud. It’s going to be our job to make sure we keep those guys in the game.”

“It’s going to be fun for them,” said Eric Wood of the rookies. “They’ve not experienced something like Ralph Wilson is going to be on Sunday and I’ve told them that. These coaches, I’m getting them ready. An opener against New England, it’s going to be wild and loud. I’m excited for them to get to experience it.”


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Dareus: Week 1 vs. Pats is tone setting game

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2013 – 9:40 am

Bills DT Marcell Dareus like a lot of his teammates can’t wait for kickoff at 1 pm today. What’s different this time around is the coaching staff and the players have worked diligently to change their identity as a team. The first true test to back up all their efforts to do that is with results in the opener against New England.

As Dareus sees it they’ll know where they stand rather quickly.

“Everybody knows this is kind of a set the tone game, see where we’re at,” he said. “I look at the first five minutes of the game as a gut check, to see where we’re at, what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do this season. Just go to chop at the wood and try to finish creating our identity as a team and as a unit.”

Dareus said he and his teammates aren’t so concerned about who their playing, they’re more focused on how they themselves are playing. A sound game with no mistakes is their focus.


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Carpenter’s career numbers at the Ralph

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2013 – 8:35 am

Dan Carpenter will be handling kickoff duties today at Ralph Wilson Stadium in the opener against the Patriots with Dustin Hopkins sidelined with a groin injury. Here’s a look at Carpenter’s career numbers in Orchard Park.

Carpenter is 5-7 on field goal attempts for a 71.4 percent success rate. His only two misses came from 40-yards plus. He’s a perfect 8-8 on extra point attempts.

“The thought is to come in here and do what I’ve always done,” said Carpenter. “I’m going to work hard, try to get better
every day. If it comes down to the game, I’m going to try to kick them all out of the end zone and be 100-percent on field goals. That’s all I can do. That’s all I can worry about. That’s all I’m concerned about-to help this team win.”


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EJ to decide on knee brace in warm-ups

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2013 – 5:35 pm

During the practice week EJ Manuel wore a light weight brace on his surgically repaired knee. Whether he wears it against the Patriots in the season opener is a decision he’ll make Sunday during warm-ups.

“I haven’t had any hesitations, it feels fine. It feels strong,” said Manuel of his knee earlier this week. “I can do all my normal movements that I would do if I didn’t have the brace on. Just have the brace on for extra comfort. I’ll see. It depends how it feels.”

Manuel said he’s never worn a knee brace in a game before.

“I’ve had to wear like a neoprene sleeve before. It feels fine though. I didn’t feel any different when I was running. When you play football your body takes over and you don’t worry about an injury. Doesn’t really matter what you have, so when you’ve got guys flying at you like (Vince) Wilfork and those kinds of guys, you need to get out of there. I won’t be thinking about it at all.”

What Manuel did make clear was that the choice about wearing the knee brace will be his decision.

“If I don’t want to wear it, I just don’t want to wear it,” he said. “It’s kind of my choice. We’ll see.”


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Leonhard hoping for a lot of snaps

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2013 – 3:22 pm

Bills newly signed S Jim Leonhard is very familiar with Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme having been one of the primary play callers in the system for the better part of four of his eight NFL seasons. Jumping back into it after being two years removed hasn’t been an issue in practice this week, which is why he’s hoping to have a sizable role in Sunday’s game plan.

“I know the majority of the defense,” said Leonhard. “Obviously going from it being Rex Ryan’s defense now to Mike Pettine’s defense, he put his own twist on things, changed terminology and things like that. Just kind of re-learning everything. I feel comfortable with it. I’m excited. I don’t know what my role will be, what the opportunity is going to be, but I’m excited for whatever it is.”

Leonhard, who is known as one of the sharper players in the league, doesn’t believe he’ll have any issues reacting at the speed he’ll need to against a high-octane offense like New England.

“Yeah, I don’t think it will be a problem mentally,” he said. “I’m excited just for the opportunity to get ready for whatever role they throw me in. Hopefully it’s a lot of snaps. As a competitor you obviously want to play a lot. I know there are some talented guys in this secondary so by no means do I think I’m just going to come in here and get a job. You’ve got to go out there and earn every snap.”


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Pats OC McDaniels on his green WR corps

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2013 – 11:49 am

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in heading into the 2013 season with the youngest receiving corps he’s had in years. With three rookies in Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson, it’s an inexperienced group. Here’s his outlook on his group of very green wideouts this year.

“They’re all anxious to get started,” he said. “They’ve got an enthusiasm about them. They’re all three capable of playing in our offense. We’ve already moved them and played multiple roles, multiple positions with them, which in our system is a really big plus for us to have some flexibility with those guys. They’ve shown that they will study and work at the mental side of the game to be able to be flexible and play at multiple spots that we need them to.

“They are all competitive and they’ve all been productive in different roles throughout the course of the spring and the preseason. And at the same time, we understand that this will be their first opportunity to play in a regular season game, and we’re going to try like I said to put them in the best positions to be successful at what they’re doing. So, it’s exciting to have them get started, but they’ve got a lot of veteran, experienced players around them. Certainly we are not going to throw them out there and not have a good idea of what exactly we are going to do with them.”


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Ball security a thorn for Bills vs. Pats

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2013 – 8:36 am

Coaches talk all the time about how turnovers affect the outcome of games. Knowing how the Bills-Patriots series has gone over the last several years, the turnover table accurately follows what coaches preach about protecting the football.

In the last six meetings the Bills have committed an astounding 24 turnovers, with nine in their two meetings in 2010, six in their two games in 2011 and another nine in the pair with New England last season. Over that same span the Patriots have just one-third that amount (8).

As much publicity as the Patriots offense gets for rolling up points and their defense gets for stopping the run, it’s New England’s ball security that has been a relative constant for them as well.

The Patriots have led the AFC in turnover ratio and total takeaways in each of the last three seasons. Here are their figures.

2010 – 41 takeaways – +25 turnover ratio
2011 – 34 takeaways – +17 turnover ratio
2012 – 38 takeaways – +28 turnover ratio


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