Inside The Bills

Why EJ played again in the second half

Posted by Chris Brown on August 29, 2015 – 9:27 pm

Everyone thought EJ Manuel’s day was done after a pair of successful touchdown drives to start the game, but he returned in the third quarter with the second offensive unit. Head coach Rex Ryan explained why.

Ryan said part of the issue was the offense scored too quickly and it led to very little work for Manuel.

“That was tremendous and that’s what was strange about it,” said Ryan of the quick touchdown drives. “I was going to go two series and two series and two series (with the three quarterbacks), but then they scored and I’m like, shoot I’m going to go back to EJ because he had only thrown two balls albeit one for a zillion-yard touchdown. That’s why I wanted to get him a little more work too. He did a great job. I think he missed only one throw.”

Ryan had high praise for all three QBs saying they’ve all raised their level of play in the preseason.


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Steelers will be good test for ‘D’

Posted by Chris Brown on August 29, 2015 – 1:26 pm

Buffalo’s defense is coming into the season with a lot of high expectations, which is why this game against the Steelers will be so beneficial. Pittsburgh has one of the more prolific passing offenses in the league so it’s the perfect preparation for the regular season.

“They have a great running back in Bell, a very patient runner who can make all the cuts. He can jump two or three backs based on what he sees so it’s a big test for us,” said Kyle Williams. “Obviously you have Antonio (Brown) and Heath Miller and the usual suspects with Ben out there so they can do some things over the top. It’s going to be a good test for us so we’re going to have a fun time going out getting ready and prepared to play them.”

Williams admits it’s still not quite like regular season football, but they’ll be able to use their matchups as a bit of measuring stick for when the games do count.

“It’s always a fun test. You’re not throwing a whole game plan together and spending a lot of time getting prepared for them,” he said. “But you will be able to play some base defenses against a really talented football team and see if you can match up in situations like that.”


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EJ preparing the same as always

Posted by Chris Brown on August 29, 2015 – 12:20 pm

The Bills are giving EJ Manuel the start against Pittsburgh later this afternoon. While it’s certainly an opportunity Manuel isn’t treating it any different than any other playing opportunity in this quarterback competition.

“Not too much different aside from going first in the game. As far as preparation it’ll be the same,” Manuel said. “Going with the first team offensive line will be great, those guys are very smart. I think going with the other groups has helped me because I’m more responsible to make sure we make the right checks. (Kraig) Urbik has done a great job getting those guys in check as well with the second team O-line, but it’s helped me a bunch, but not too different.”

Manuel will likely have many of the same receivers with him on the field knowing Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Chris Hogan and Percy Harvin are not expected to dress.


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Pre-snap communication a focus for ‘D’

Posted by Chris Brown on August 29, 2015 – 10:16 am

There are always areas of a unit’s collective performance that can be improved. Buffalo’s defense is looking to be tighter with their pre-snap communication Saturday against the Steelers.

Bills ILB Preston Brown referenced last week’s game against Cleveland and how they got caught before they finished their pre-snap communication a couple of times.

“A lot of teams are trying to no huddle us a lot through the preseason which is different, but we’ve got to hurry up on the ball and on that 4th-and-1 they caught us so we’ve got to make sure we’re lined up and ready to go because there’s so much communication that sometimes we’re not ready so we’ve just got to get the talking down early,” Brown said.

Overall team communication has been good according to Brown, but having a sense of urgency in getting every pre-snap check called and executed before the play is where they want to be better.

“Each day were getting better in communication because that’s the biggest thing, you don’t want to have a miscommunication that leads to big plays,” said Brown. “So we’ve been working on it each day, getting better at communicating, and we’ve been doing well throughout camp.”


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Rex not putting more stock in 3rd preseason game

Posted by Chris Brown on August 28, 2015 – 12:26 pm

The third preseason game is typically the last dress rehearsal for the starters on the roster knowing they’ll play very little if at all in the preseason finale next week. But head coach Rex Ryan is not attaching any more importance to this third preseason game against the Steelers than any of the other preseason contests.

“About as much stock as I put in all the other ones, not much,” he said. “But with that being said I always say they’re all important. Every game is important. I don’t say well here is the dress rehearsal, I don’t believe that. Every day you’re evaluating and all that kind of stuff. It’s not that this game is more important than the other games. I don’t look at it that way, unless we win, then I’ll be like, ‘Yeah absolutely.’”

Ryan said all three quarterbacks in the current competition with see time with the starting unit on offense.


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WR Davis making most of his snaps

Posted by Chris Brown on August 24, 2015 – 9:47 am

With all the top receivers down it’s given undrafted rookies like Andre Davis the opportunity to shine. On the heels of his fourth down touchdown catch with 1:31 remaining in the win over Cleveland, Davis is looking to build on it.

“It definitely gave me a confidence boost,” said Davis of his performance against Cleveland. “All week I prepared to go in the game and when I got my shot to make a play, it came down to that play at the end of the game. EJ confided in me and had confidence in me to come back to me after the pass interference call, he gave me another chance and I made it happen.”

Davis realizes he’s seeing a lot more action than most undrafted rookies would, but he’s trying to do the most with the chances he’s being given in practice and the preseason games.

“Yeah I definitely feel like I’m making the most of my opportunity,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of great guys that went down, so learning from them and them being out and them helping me out, that helps me out even more being on the field. So it definitely presents me a good chance.”


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Hogan expects to be fine in time

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2015 – 10:47 pm

He knew the way his ankle got twisted up that it wasn’t good in the first half of the Cleveland game. After getting carted off he admitted he was a bit concerned, but WR Chris Hogan should be good to go after some time to heal.

“I was a little nervous about it and the doctor saw me and the initial exam he said everything was intact, which was a huge relief on my part so I’ll be back in a couple of weeks,” said Hogan. “I’m feeling pretty good, a day-to-day kind of thing. I’ll probably be out on the field working out and doing some stuff. I’ve already been doing stuff in the training room. I’m in there as much as possible trying to get this thing healthy and get better as fast as I can.”

Hogan is not optimistic about being ready for the Pittsburgh game, but hopes he’s good for the preseason finale in Detroit.

 


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RB Hill can’t believe how things have unfolded

Posted by Chris Brown on August 18, 2015 – 10:42 pm

When undrafted rookie RB Bronson Hill was signed by the Bills it was just Boobie Dixon that was injured. Fred Jackson soon followed with a hamstring injury and there’s been a domino effect at the running back position ever since. Five of Buffalo’s running backs are injured after Karlos Williams (surgical procedure), Bryce Brown (hamstring) and LeSean McCoy (hamstring) have all been sidelined in the last two days. It’s left Hill as the starting back heading into Thursday night’s game against the Browns.

“It’s quite the dream come true,” said Hill. “Two weeks ago I was just sitting on the couch waiting for a call and now I can possibly start an NFL game. It’s what I asked for so now it’s up to me to do something with it.”

Hill has been working hard to learn as much of the playbook as possible, but he still doesn’t know it all.

“The offense is pretty complex and two weeks is a very short time,” said Hill. “Karlos, he went through rookie minicamp and OTAs and things like that. I’m still far behind, but the coaches are working with me and making me understand it, so I should be alright.”


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Bills QB snaps in Carolina preseason game

Posted by Chris Brown on August 16, 2015 – 3:30 pm

Rex Ryan and his offensive staff have made a concerted effort to keep snaps as even as possible throughout the offseason and training camp and the case was much the same in the team’s preseason opener.

Although EJ Manuel worked with the third unit and Tyrod Taylor with the second string, their snaps were almost equal. Here’s a look at the snap count for each of the three QBs from Friday’s game against Carolina.

Tyrod Taylor – 25
EJ Manuel – 24
Matt Cassel – 20

Matt Simms saw 12 snaps of work.


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Rivera wary of Rex’s multiple defense

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2015 – 1:56 pm

Carolina head coach Ron Rivera has known Rex Ryan since he played linebacker for his dad, Buddy Ryan, in Chicago in the mid-80’s. So he’s all too familiar with the unpredictable nature of Ryan’s play calling. And in a preseason game setting with a new roster, Rivera knows Ryan is going to be even harder to figure out.

“I hate it. I really do because they can do anything,” said Rivera of Buffalo’s defense. “When that happens you’re kind of guessing as coaches. It’s hard to see the game because unless you’re hitting it right on anything can happen. Guys could be running around free, the quarterback may not have any time. Your running back may not have an opportunity to run. It’s going to be tough on our offensive line to handle it. I expect Rex to be as aggressive as he normally is.

“On the offensive side I think we feel a little more comfortable. We know what they’re capable of on the offensive side and we expect a physical running style. Coach (Greg) Roman coming from San Francisco we expect that running game to carry over.”


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Rex to Bills fans: Don’t peak too early

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2015 – 1:06 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan has a very healthy respect for the impact Bills fans can make at home games. He experienced it first-hand when he was head coach of the Jets. That’s why he’s already pumped for the team’s first preseason game Friday. But much like the team has yet to peak, Ryan is asking Bills fans to pace themselves and save their best for the regular season.

“I know our fans are excited. I expect we’re going to have a huge crowd,” Ryan said. “I think that would be good. I don’t want our crowd peaking too early. We don’t need to just unload on Carolina. Let’s just save it for our first game (against Indianapolis). Let’s get in there and show excitement. I know our fan base will be in our stadium and I’m looking forward to it.”

As for what he expects from his team, Ryan is hoping players perform in a way that facilitate the efforts of the coaching staff to make accurate evaluations.

“I know it’s not the regular season games, but these games are important,” he said. “And when you look at that obviously we’re still evaluating our roster and it’s not life or death like it is in the regular season because the outcome is secondary. But that being said you still want to win. I don’t care you still want to win. I hate losing, but that’s what you look for.”


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Bills rooks anxious, but not nervous

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2015 – 10:58 am

Buffalo’s top three rookies have all made an impact at Bills training camp. Top pick Ronald Darby and Karlos Williams have taken advantage of opportunities created due to injury, while John Miller has stepped right into a starting role showing no signs of being a rookie. That exposure to playing time against Buffalo’s starting offense and defense in camp has helped to calm any nerves any of these three rookies might have heading into their first preseason game Friday against Carolina.

“Starting off, I was a little nervous and things like that but coming out here each day and going against the receivers we have and the speed they have, I’m not as nervous at all,” said Darby.

“I’m feeling anxious, man, just to get out there,” said Miller. “My first preseason game, go out there and compete against somebody different, really see where I’m at and kind of gauge myself because I hold myself to higher expectations so it’d be good to get some, go against some other guys and get to hit on them a little bit.”

“The more reps a back can get, especially a young back the better feel you have for the game,” Williams said. “Especially with the backs I’m with here with Shady and Boobie and Bryce and Fred. The experience in the backfield, the locker room and the meeting room is definitely going to help, but the more reps I get against live action the better it’s going to be.”

 

 

 


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Roman: Focused on fundamentals for Friday

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2015 – 3:37 pm

Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman is known for his creative football mind, but none of that creativity is expected to be on display Friday in the team’s first preseason game. Instead the focus will be on basic plays and fundamentals to help the offensive staff get an accurate evaluation of some of the players who are not starters on Buffalo’s roster.

“Number one thing we want to get done is start to really really just build into the way we play a game and that starts with a lot of little things,” Roman said. “And we’re really not trying to reinvent football here and scheme it up. We want to get guys out there, let them work on basic fundamental things and evaluate how that might look when we apply schemes.

“But especially with a lot of younger players, you really want to see them do basic things so you can make a true evaluation on them. Was it really his ability or was it the scheme that got him open or am I throwing a bubble screen for … three bubble screens for 250 yards and a perfect quarterback rating or is it because I’m grinding through a lot of different situations. So it’s a great opportunity and I know the players are looking forward to it.”

 


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Watkins: Vanilla or not we’ve got to win

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2015 – 10:32 am

The Bills coaching staff and the players have all said that fans should expect to see some basic play calling on offense and defense in the team’s first preseason game Friday against Carolina. But Sammy Watkins believes vanilla offense or not the team still needs to win their matchups.

“It means a lot to this organization just to see what kind of team and coaches we got,” Watkins said. “Pretty sure we won’t be showing everything and I’m pretty sure the team won’t be showing everything, so it’s gonna be kind of vanilla and basic. But that’s when it shows up, you’ve got to beat the guys in front of you.”


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Schwartz’s ‘D’ looks ready for real games

Posted by Chris Brown on August 28, 2014 – 4:45 pm

They say that preseason statistics don’t hold a lot of water, but Buffalo’s defense under Jim Schwartz looks ready for the regular season.

Through four preseason games the Bills defense ranks 11th in red zone defense (50% TD rate), ninth in pass defense (192.5 yds/gm), fourth in total defense (273.5 yds/gm), third in run defense (81 yds/gm) and is first in yards per carry allowed (2.75).

Schwartz’s charges are also 14th in points allowed (20.3), which is the category Buffalo’s new defensive coordinator has at the top of his list. They’re also third in interception rate (4.31%).

Where Schwartz wants his unit focused is on tightening their third down defense. Their conversion percentage allowed of better than 46 percent is not where they want it heading into the regular season.

“That’s a big down for us. That’s something where we must get off the field so we need players smart enough and with good game situation skills and can manage situations like that,” Nickell Robey told Buffalobills.com. “That’s one part of the thing that we have to get in this tune-up game. I feel like tackling is another emphasis that we have to get, stopping the run is the first one because in order to stop the pass you’ve got to stop the run. But getting off on third downs has to happen.”

Buffalo’s defense made corrections in practice this week based largely on some of the failed efforts to stop the third and longs last week against Tampa.


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EJ has good day

Posted by Chris Brown on August 9, 2014 – 2:21 am

In preseason start number two Bills QB EJ Manuel looked to be in sync with his receiving corps from the very beginning. It led to a high completion percentage for the second-year quarterback and helped the offense consistently move the football.

“He had command of the offense and command of the huddle. He had some passes that he probably wishes he could get back, but he was very composed back there, but he had a lot of energy and that’s what we need,” said C.J. Spiller.

“Yeah he had great poise,” said Sammy Watkins. “Our whole offense came out and we proved the point that we can drive the ball. That just comes with running different plays. We kind of opened up the playbook a little bit and had more plays and scouted their defense a little bit and EJ did a great job of driving us down the field.”

Manuel finished the day 9-13 passing for 96 yards and a passer rating of 90.7. He also completed passes to six different receivers on his nine completions, effectively spreading the ball around.

“First three series were pretty good,” said Manuel. “I thought we moved the ball up and down the field. I would have loved to cap it off with a touchdown. I think that’s the next phase of us finishing, especially in these preseason games, leading up to the first game in Chicago. I thought the O-line did a great job protecting, receivers obviously got open and ran great routes and getting open against their man coverage and things like that. C.J. Spiller obviously had a great game with his limited carries so I was very pleased with how well we came out and played.”


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‘D’ had takeaways on the brain

Posted by Chris Brown on August 9, 2014 – 2:18 am

The Bills defense was top three in interceptions last season and top two in takeaways. On Friday night Buffalo’s defenders despite undertaking a new scheme showed they’re ready to pick up where they left off in 2013.

“That’s the main thing we want to pride ourselves on as a defense is getting takeaways as well as sacks. We did a good job of that last year,” said Da’Norris Searcy, whose second quarter INT led to a field goal. “We want to continue that going into this year. This year our goal is to get even more. That’s a good way to get our hands on the ball and we came up with them.”

Searcy’s pick came on a cover two look by Buffalo’s defense with Carolina QB Matt Blanchard simply overthrowing his intended target.

Manny Lawson had the first takeaway. After Jarius Wynn forced a quarterback fumble, Lawson lunged onto the ball for the recovery at the Carolina 28. A touchdown soon followed.

“Our defense is ball hungry and our offense capitalized off us getting turnovers for them,” said Lawson. “That’s one of the things we pride ourselves on as a defense.”

Jonathan Meeks closed out the turnover tally with an interception in the waning moments of the game to preserve the team’s two-point lead for the win.

“Once that first turnover happens everybody intensity level goes up even more and everybody is trying to get their hands on another one,” said Searcy. “I think we got three of them so it was a good day overall.”


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Panthers inactives

Posted by Chris Brown on August 8, 2014 – 7:23 pm

Here are the Panthers inactives for tonight’s game against the Bills.

QB Cam Newton
K Graham Gano
WR De’Andre Presley
RB Jonathan Stewart
S Tre Boston
S Roman Harper
DE Craig Roh
DT Linden Gaydosh
DT Drake Nevis
DE Charles Johnson


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Bills ‘D’ feels they’ve ironed out kinks

Posted by Chris Brown on August 8, 2014 – 4:10 pm

Buffalo’s starting defense performed admirably in Hall of Fame game. It’s the second and third units that had some things on their to-do list for their next preseason outing tonight. Though it was a short practice week the players are confident they’ll perform soundly tonight against Carolina.

“Those little things, those mental errors we had in the game and we came out (to practice) and fixed them,” said Duke Williams. “Guys should be on point this week. We played well as a defense, but we could be better. We have the talent out there from the line to the linebackers and defensive backs. As we tighten up those kinks we should be looking alright as a defense.”

Williams stands a good chance of seeing playing time early tonight against Carolina.


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Jackson: Panthers ‘D’ a firm test

Posted by Chris Brown on August 8, 2014 – 3:30 pm

Even though Carolina’s defense is expected to be without DE Charles Johnson (hamstring) and free agent safety pickup Roman Harper (toe) tonight, Fred Jackson knows when it comes to total defense there aren’t too many teams with a better unit than the Panthers.

Carolina ranked second in total defense in 2013, second in run defense, second in points allowed and first in sacks. For a Bills offensive unit trying to get a handle on exactly where they stand and how much more work is in front of them, Fred Jackson sees Carolina as a supreme test.

“It’s a great measuring stick,” Jackson told Buffalobills.com. “When you get to go up against a team as good as they are defensively you want to see how your offense stacks up. I know they want to do whatever they can to keep us from scoring points. It’ll be a great game and one that I’m excited about. Going against those guys is just going to bring out the best in both units.”


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