Inside The Bills

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 “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 “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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Easley tries to close out strong

Posted by Chris Brown on August 31, 2012 – 2:02 am

As a wide receiver one might look at Marcus Easley’s receiving line and see just a single catch for 20 yards. What they’ll miss are the back-to-back plays that gave the Bills the lead to erase what was a 21-point deficit Thursday night, and potentially have an impact on his roster status.

Down 31-24 early in the fourth quarter the Bills were set to receive following a Lions’ field goal drive. A penalty on the initial kickoff moved the ball back five yards to the Lions 30. Easley fielded the second kick and did not hesitate. With a gaping hole on the right side of the return formation the tall receiver hit it and was at top speed by the time he reached his own 40.

Very quickly it was a one-on-one match with the kicker, 41-year old Jason Hanson. Easley cut to the sideline and it was over. A 100-yard kick return to pull Buffalo to within a point.

An extra point would’ve tied it, but the Bills went for two. After a false start penalty, Tyler Thigpen took the snap from the Lions’ seven and fit a pass into Easley’s bread basket on a quick slant to give the Bills the lead (32-31) as Easley fought to break the plane of the goal line.

“I just tried my best, I fought as hard as I could,” said Easley. “First and foremost, make the catch, and then try to push my way in—use my size to my advantage at that point.  I just fought as hard as I could and tried to get in the end zone.”

Though the lead was short lived, those two plays weren’t lost on Bills head coach Chan Gailey.

“Huge,” said Gailey. “That’s a great lesson for our kickoff coverage team. They gave us a second chance and from five yards back we returned it all the way.”

Easley isn’t sure of the significance of the plays he made against the Lions in the final opportunity for evaluations.

“I mean, it can mean all kinds of things,” he said of his game Thursday. “It was definitely a sigh of relief—I wish it would have happened a little bit earlier.  I wish I had been a little more consistent.  I’m just glad it happened, and it’s all in the coaches hands now.  I’m just hoping for the best. But, like I said, I felt really good about the game, so whatever happens happens.”

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Bunch of Lions sitting

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2012 – 7:00 pm

The following Lions are sitting this one out.

RB/KR Stefan Logan
WR Titus Young
CB Chris Houston
S Louis Delmas
CB Dwight Bentley
RB Kevin Smith
LB Travis Lewis
LB Stephen Tulloch
DE Kyle Vanden Bosch
DT Corey Williams

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Kyle Williams sitting tonight

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2012 – 6:50 pm

Kyle Williams is going to be sitting tonight’s preseason finale out.

Williams did suffer a minor wrist injury in last week’s game against Pittsburgh and practiced on a limited basis this week, so the Bills are erring on the side of caution with Williams. Dwan Edwards is expected to start in place of Williams at defensive tackle.

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Troup would be eligible to come off I-R

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2012 – 5:02 pm

One Bills fans sent me a question asking if Torell Troup would be eligible to come off of injured reserve with the new I-R rule that was passed in an agreement between the league and the NFLPA today. Here’s the answer.

Troup would be eligible. Here’s what the directive stated for players that were put on I-R prior to this rule change coming down today.

Since this rule is being adopted after the cutdown to 75 players, for 2012 only, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to a transition procedure that permits clubs to return to their 53-player active list one player placed on Reserve/Injured since the start of preseason training camp.  This selection of that player must be made no later than 9:00 p.m. ET tomorrow, Friday, August 31.

The problem is if the Bills do that then they’ve used their one I-R exception up already for the entire season. Knowing there could very well be other players in the near future that sustain injuries that may be lengthy but not season ending,  I would not expect Troup to be given this designation. In addition Troup still has a good bit of rehab ahead of him and the Bills are not hurting for depth at defensive tackle right now.

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More time for Rogers tonight

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2012 – 12:54 pm

Bills CB Justin Rogers, who came off a hamstring injury to go about 15 plays last week against the Steelers will get more time tonight.

Rogers only played in the slot last Saturday against Pittsburgh, but will line up on the boundary as well with the team shorthanded at cornerback. Buffalo does not have the services of Terrence McGee or Ron Brooks for the game tonight.

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Moats, Morrison update

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2012 – 11:51 am

It looks like Arthur Moats has the starting strong side linebacker job all but locked up.

Moats will start at SLB for the third time in four preseason games tonight against the Lions. His chief competitor for that job, Kirk Morrison, will again see time at middle linebacker, much like he did against the Steelers last week.

Kickoff tonight is at 7 pm as the game airs live on WKBW-TV Channel 7.

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Brooks doesn’t make trip

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2012 – 10:51 am

Bills CB Ron Brooks did not make the trip to Detroit for the preseason finale.

Brooks suffered a foot injury according to head coach Chan Gailey, who said Brooks got stepped on in practice. He did leave Tuesday’s practice early. With Terrence McGee also not making the trip for this game, Buffalo is shorthanded at cornerback with only five dressing for tonight’s game and Aaron Williams and Stephon Gilmore only expected to play 10 plays.

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Fitz recalls importance of preseason finale

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2012 – 8:20 am

Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will only get about 10 plays of work Thursday night with the rest of the starting offense in the preseason finale against Detroit. But a former third and second string signal caller earlier in his NFL career, Fitzpatrick understands the significance of the last preseason game for the guys on the back half of Buffalo’s roster.

“The fourth game is one that for me has been big in my career when I was young just in terms of getting out there, getting the time, being able to perform, show what you have learned and your handle of the offense or defense,” said Fitzpatrick. “This is for those guys that are kind of on the edge and the young guys to get out there and kind of showcase what they can do. As a guy who has been in that situation, and was in that situation a lot early in my career, I understand how important it is for them.”

Fitzpatrick in this preseason is 21-43 passing (49%) for 208 yards and a touchdown with a passer rating of 70.6.

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How Tarvaris will be evaluated

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2012 – 7:46 am

It’s not going to be an easy situation for Tarvaris Jackson tonight against the Lions in Buffalo’s preseason finale at Ford Field (WKBW-TV Channel 7). The task may prove just as tough for the coaching staff when it comes to evaluating his performance.

That’s because with only three days of exposure to Buffalo’s offensive scheme, there is a limited amount of the offense he can effectively execute. In the last full practice before tonight’s game, Jackson got four team reps in 11-on-11 and a handful of others in 7-on-7. So for Buffalo’s coaching staff they have to evaluate Jackson’s performance a bit differently.

“What you have to look at when you’re making a decision like this is potential,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “That’s what you’re looking at. Do we think he can learn it eventually? Do we think that he can play in this system eventually? That’s the decision we’ll have to make because there’s not enough reps. There’s not going to be enough looks to make a clean decision. We’re going to have to make that decision about which direction to go.”

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Wood: O-line still needs work

Posted by Chris Brown on August 29, 2012 – 11:05 am

Last week Andy Levitre said the offensive line was performing average at best and his head coach agreed. This week heading into the last preseason game Eric Wood knows the men up front have to take a step forward even though their time on the field against the Lions will be brief.

“It’s going to be valuable in the 10 plays we play to go out and build some confidence as well and also there are going to be a lot of guys getting reps there that are going to be on this team and probably play for us this year,” said Wood. “So this last game is going to be a big one.”

Wood believes part of the reason air tight execution has proven difficult to grasp is the state of flux that the tackle position was in due to Erik Pears’ groin injury as well as other circumstances.

“At times we’re where we need to be and at times we’re not,” said Wood of the team’s play. “We’re playing pretty inconsistent just like you’d expect with a group that hasn’t got a lot of work together. Part of that is my fault with my injuries. Pears has been banged up and we’ve had a competition at left tackle.

“We still need some time to jell, but if we can play like we have at times when we’ve played well I think we’ll have a really solid offensive line. If we play inconsistent we’ll look as bad as we have at times this preseason. But I think over these next couple of weeks leading into New York we can make some big strides.”

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Fitz can relate to T. Jack’s situation

Posted by Chris Brown on August 29, 2012 – 9:28 am

Ryan Fitzpatrick knows what Tarvaris Jackson is dealing with trying to cram a brand new offensive system in his brain in a span of two weeks.

Fitzpatrick had to do the same thing when he was traded from St. Louis to Cincinnati just prior to the 2007 season.

“It is a tough time to come in because we are not going to start with the basic formation install with him,” said Fitzpatrick. “We kind of start with the game plan next week so you end up doing a lot of memorization each week and he does not really have those fundamentals of the offense to fall back on. Like I said, I did it and it was not the easiest thing in the world. It seems like he is the kind of guy who is really going to work at it.”

Fortunately for Fitzpatrick he only appeared in one game in 2007 for the Bengals and never had to attempt a pass. The following season Fitz started 12 games for the Bengals.

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New non-participants

Posted by Chris Brown on August 28, 2012 – 3:58 pm

The Bills had a few new non-participants in practice Tuesday including a couple of offensive linemen.

Those who were sitting we’re as follows.

Terrence McGee
James Carmon
Zebrie Sanders
Erik Pears
Mark Anderson

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Jackson’s whirlwind day and a half

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2012 – 5:31 pm

Bills QB Tarvaris Jackson hasn’t gotten much sleep having caught the 11:30 pm (Pacific time) red eye flight east last night so he could be in Buffalo for practice Monday afternoon. Here’s a look at his last 24-36 hours in his words.

“My agent called and he told me (about Buffalo), and I actually talked to the GM from Seattle and he said Buffalo gave him a call and said there was some interest there,” said Jackson. “So he said, ‘It’s a possibility, we’ll let you know tomorrow.’ So I went through a regular day going to meetings, lifting and stuff and while I was in a meeting my agent gave me a call and said, ‘Go home and wait for me I’ll give you a call. You’ve been traded.’ That’s how it went down.”

After it was down to his contract being finalized, Jackson hopped the late night flight from the west coast.

“It was 11:30 last night,” he said. “That was my first red eye. I’m not really looking forward to those anymore. It was cool. I was excited about getting here. Whatever it took. As a quarterback playing you just want to feel like you’re wanted. That’s all I really want. So I’m here to do whatever they tell me to do to be the best I can be.”“

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Anderson, Pears declared out this week

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2012 – 5:07 pm

Bills DE Mark Anderson and RT Erik Pears won’t be making an appearance in the team’s preseason finale.

“Mark is going to sit this week,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “We made the decision he and Erik (Pears) are both going to sit this week.”

Both Anderson and Pears are dealing with groin injuries. The coaching staff doesn’t want to risk aggravating those injuries further and not have a chance to have both players available for the season opener at the Jets.


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