Inside The Bills

Team rallying behind Stevie

Posted by Chris Brown on December 16, 2013 – 10:39 am

Bills WR Stevie Johnson made the decision Sunday to play against Jacksonville, despite getting the news of his mother’s unexpected passing the day before. Keeping that news to himself until after the game has earned him added respect in Buffalo’s locker room from teammates that are ready to prop him up at this difficult time.

Team captain Fred Jackson, in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 said they’re ready to help Johnson through this difficult time in any way that they can.

“I know I just speak for all my teammates when I say we really appreciate him for doing what he did (Sunday),” said Jackson. “That’s got to be one of the hardest things in the world to do trying to move past the death of your mother. We really do appreciate him for coming out and sticking with us. All we can do is ask him what he needs from us.

“We’ll just kind of pick his brain for what he needs from us to help him through this. He’s going to need us. That’s why he was out there yesterday. The best way to deal with something like that is going where you’re comfortable, and being a football player the best place to go is out on the football field.”

Jackson heard about the time coach Marrone spent with Johnson on Saturday after getting the terrible news and said he would not have expected anything less from their head coach.

“With coach Marrone he’s a guy who has been where we are. He knows the grind that we go through. He knows what we put ourselves through week in and week out. He’s more of a personable coach,” Jackson said. “He’s a coach you can approach and talk to about anything and that’s just an example of it.

“He wants to be kept in the loop of what’s going on with us. He doesn’t want us to keep our personal lives from him. He wants to give us the advice that he feels like he can to help us through any situation, whether it’s football or personal for something going on at home. He wants to be a part of it and that’s when you know you have a coach that you love to play for and that’s coach Marrone for us. Guys wouldn’t expect anything less with that conversation he had with Stevie because that’s the kind of coach he is.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Why Marrone thinks EJ will succeed

Posted by Chris Brown on December 14, 2013 – 10:41 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone has said more than once that he believes EJ Manuel will succeed in this league, while also admitting he still has a lot to learn. In his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Marrone explained why he has complete faith in Manuel’s abilities and how they’ll eventually reveal themselves on a consistent basis for Buffalo’s offense.

Marrone was asked about the balancing act with Manuel in terms of helping him know when it’s prudent to take what a defense gives you and when it’s right to take a risk.

“It’s like any quarterback. You have to know who you are and what you can do and throw that football if you believe it,”
said Marrone. “Where the management starts is when it’s 3rd-and-3 and you have a couple of players running five yard routes and one guy running the go. The percentage of completing the five yard route is pretty good compared to throwing the go and that’s where you really have to manage the quarterback on where to go.

“If you feel that someone is coming open and you trust that receiver and think he’s going to make that play and you think you can throw it and your guy can catch it then you’ve got to throw that football. If you sit back there and you start seeing shadows or you get spooked, a lot of that comes from lack of experience being out there. The ones that can overcome that and keep getting better on their vision of the field become very good quarterbacks. The ones that can’t tend to struggle throughout it.

“The thing about EJ that is different and the reason it’s a little more for me than trust. I believe in him and have faith in him because he has shown that he can do that. What we haven’t done is do it consistently enough because people are switching up and doing more on us than what they’re showing and what we’re preparing him for during the week. My point on that is we’re preparing him for the coverage that we see in the four game breakdown and they’re switching it up even further on him, which is a good thing because we’ve got guys that can make plays, but with our teaching we have to keep him coming along at a faster rate.

“We put Goodwin and T.J. out on that field in Atlanta and all of sudden they show cover two and they hadn’t played cover two. Now they’re throwing in cover two every now and then, and you go from one coverage to another coverage and another coverage, and that’s when you have to be good. Running a route to beat man, running a route to beat zone. The quarterback going from taking his matchups from man to taking his matchups to zone. And it’s not just the quarterback and receivers. Backs are picking up pressure or getting out in underneath coverage and the line is trying to give him enough time. That’s where we have to provide better protection.

“We’re in a process where the preparation and everything gives you the knowledge. If this happens I do this. If this happens I do that. You know that sitting in a room. Now you get out there and there are 325-pound guys running at you. There’s disguising going on and they’re showing me this and the ball is snapped and it’s bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. And it’s not just EJ Manuel, everyone is going through that with all the young quarterbacks every single week to see that and recognize it and be able to pull that trigger so they can make that play. You get to that top level of the top four or five quarterbacks and you’ll never have that to worry about again.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Brandon to evaluate Toronto Series

Posted by Chris Brown on December 4, 2013 – 10:26 am

Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 this morning, Bills President and CEO was asked several questions about the viability and prudence of the team’s Toronto Series, in which they play one regular season home game north of the border every year at the Rogers Centre. Brandon made it clear that he’s evaluating that along with a host of other aspects and ventures of the organization in this his first year of running the franchise’s day-to-day operations.

“One of the things I said to the fans on January 1st of this past year was that I was going to review every phase of this operation and this series comes within that framework,” Brandon said. “There’s a full evaluation that will take place on all of our business relative to what this series means and I’m going to look at it very closely because, what’s good for business, obviously Toronto has been positive for us down here. We’ve had great growth in the Southern Ontario marketplace over the last five years back here at Ralph Wilson Stadium. That has been a big positive. It has been a challenged market there and certainly has not translated in to enough wins for us there. As I mentioned almost a year ago, we’re going to look at everything and this will be within something I look at.”

Brandon was also asked if he was staying true to his position that the organization’s most important goal is winning, knowing the struggle it has been to win games in Toronto with the team now 1-5 in games played at the Rogers Centre.

“It’s also about being viable and that’s one of the things that we’ve talked about for many years here,” he said. “Look at it from the standpoint of where we’ve been on the ticket side. We’ve taken the game out of the market which essentially has taken 70,000 seats out of the market and have truly only sold out two of our home games. We’ve manufactured sell-outs in the other four or five. We’re trying to find ways to obviously keep this franchise viable which we’ve done a very good job at and this series has obviously contributed to that. With that being said, nothing comes above winning. When I took over the reins on January 1st, I said that was the number one focus and that will be the number one focus. That’s one of the reasons that this will be reviewed in a grand manner.”

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Bills on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on November 18, 2013 – 12:35 am

Here’s where you can find Bills players on the local and national radio airwaves Monday.

WGR 550 – Fred Jackson Show – 8:00 am w/Howard Simon Show

WGR 550 – Eric Wood Show – 4:00 pm w/ Schopp and Bulldog

Kiss 98.5 – Janet and Nick –  9:30 am – EJ Manuel

Sirius NFL Radio – 9:30 am – Da’Norris Searcy


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Spiller lined up at WR unlikely

Posted by Chris Brown on November 15, 2013 – 9:59 am


Bills RB C.J. Spiller has not seen the majority of the work at running back since Week 4, due mainly to injury. Now healthy Spiller’s workload hasn’t increased much. With Buffalo down bodies at receiver however, might he be a consideration to line up at wideout this week?

Bills head coach Doug Marrone was asked that very question in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Friday morning. By the sound of Marrone’s answer, Spiller won’t be a consideration to help fill the void at receiver.

“Put him at wide receiver,” asked Marrone upon hearing the question. “Well I think in the backfield it’s much easier to hand him the football than it is to throw him the football, especially vertically down the field. Intermediate throws I have no problem, screens, intermediate routes, but it’s really difficult to push that ball downfield to running backs at any position. The only route that backs run that push vertically down the field that you see in offenses in this league, and you see this with Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush, are wheel routes.”

Marrone said with Robert Woods out and Stevie Johnson iffy that they will go into the game with four receivers if necessary and make use of their three tight ends to supplement the receiving corps.


C.J. Spiller has lined up at wide receiver in the past. Back in 2011 when injuries ravaged the receiver position, the feature back lined up out wide and had five catches for 39 yards against the Giants in Week 6. Defensive backs played off in coverage for fear of getting burned deep by Spiller and Ryan Fitzpatrick hit him with a lot of underneath throws since he had so much room to work.

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The evaluation of EJ moving forward

Posted by Chris Brown on November 13, 2013 – 10:12 am

The Bills made EJ Manuel their number one draft choice for a reason. As Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon said in his weekly radio appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 said, it’s because “we believe he’s the guy.” So how will the organization move through the evaluation process and how long might it last before they definitively determine that he is in fact ‘the guy.’ Brandon offered the following answer.

With EJ he’s started and finished five games. Let’s keep him on the field,” said Brandon. “He’s 23-years old. He’s seeing things for the first time in this league. We all know that it’s different from college. So I’m excited about keeping him on the field and see where his growth is by the end of the year.

“We were very pleased with where he was heading before he was injured in Cleveland. Last week was not his best effort or from any of us. But I think that’s where we have to go to see how he progresses along, with his full complement of players as well. Marquise wasn’t in for much of the first four games of the year. Robert Woods was out in Pittsburgh. Stevie was out for most of the Cleveland game. We’d like to see him with his full complement of players as well.”

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Brandon doesn’t see any hangover effect

Posted by Chris Brown on November 13, 2013 – 10:09 am

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon made his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 this morning and was asked if he’s witnessed a hangover effect from the disappointing loss at Pittsburgh last week with the players and coaches.

While Brandon admitted that it was a game where he felt they “didn’t finish in any phase of the game,” he said he hasn’t seen any hanging heads at all this week at One Bills Drive.

“Not at all,” said Brandon. “I really don’t. I think our guys have come in and they’re ready to play and they get ready for the work week. I like how this group approaches everything, especially coach Marrone and the staff. I know the guys are excited about being home to play the Jets. I’m anticipating that we’re going to bounce back.”


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Brandon: EJ should be ready to go Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on November 6, 2013 – 9:41 am

Bills President and CEO in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 was asked about the likelihood of EJ Manuel playing this Sunday at Pittsburgh.

Brandon said team medical director Dr. John Marzo cleared Manuel and that the Bills starting QB is full go for practice today.

“He’s been rehabbing. Last week it was really ramped up as coach Marrone said,” said Brandon. “He responded very well and we anticipate that he will continue to respond well to a full workload of practice. As that goes on each and every day, coach Marrone will evaluate his progress along with coach Hackett and if he’s ready to roll on Sunday he’ll get the green light.

“Unless he has any type of setback through the course of practice he should be ready to go on Sunday.”

We’ll have practice updates here on this afternoon.

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Run game a tale of two halves

Posted by Chris Brown on October 28, 2013 – 9:23 am

The Bills productive rushing attack was true to form in the first half rolling up respectable yardage and posting a fat yards per carry average, but that all changed in the second half.

Buffalo’s two main ball carriers on Sunday were Fred Jackson and Tashard Choice. In the first half the two combined for 69 yards on 14 carries for an average of 4.92 yards per rush. That was right around what New Orleans was surrendering on the ground this season (5.1).

Come the second half however, the Saints dropped a safety in the box and the run game was suddenly stymied. Granted the Bills had to pass more being down on the scoreboard, but when they tried to run early in the second half they were stuffed. Jackson and Choice had eight carries for 11 yards for an average of 1.38 per rush.

Making his weekly radio appearance on Bills flagship WGR Sportsradio 550, Jackson admitted they did not make the proper second half adjustments to counter what New Orleans defense was doing.

“You’ve got to give them credit,” said Jackson. “They made some second half adjustments and we didn’t. That’s something we have to be better at. We have to be better at making second half adjustments. One of the things they did was keep a safety down in the box the entire time in the second half. We have to see that and we have to adjust. That’s something that’s going to fall on us as players. When we see that we have to let them know what’s going on when we get to the sideline and get the adjustments made.”

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Fred: We probably spurred coach to challenge

Posted by Chris Brown on October 28, 2013 – 9:00 am

Bills RB Fred Jackson and his offensive linemen were convinced that he broke the plane of the goal line on his second down and goal carry from the two-yard line. So convinced that they spurred head coach Doug Marrone to challenge the play.

Jackson admitted as much in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Monday morning. He also revealed a conversation he had with the head official Terry McAulay after his review of the play under the hood.

“Yeah I think it had a lot to do with a lot of us,” said Jackson of Marrone challenging the play. “The offensive line knew that I was in. I knew I was in. The ref even came up to me after the challenge and said, ‘You probably were in. We just couldn’t see it on the TV copy. For you guys to be as ecstatic as you were I wouldn’t doubt that you were in. We just couldn’t see it.’
That probably had a lot to do with me because I knew I was in, but they just didn’t have enough evidence to make the call.”

The call on the field that Jackson was short of the goal line stood, with Jackson and the Bills needing third and goal to punch the ball into the end zone.

Marrone has said he plans to change his process of challenging plays moving forward.

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Brandon: EJ hopefully back “next month or so”

Posted by Chris Brown on October 16, 2013 – 9:36 am

It wasn’t an official timetable by any means, but Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon did hint at a loose period of time when Manuel might be able to return from his knee injury.

“He’s here constantly going through the rehab process with our training staff,” said Brandon in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. “Hopefully he’ll continue to progress. I don’t have a timetable at this point, but hopefully we can get EJ back on the field as soon as possible. I know that’s what he wants too. Coach (Marrone) will address it later today. Hopefully we’ll have him back in the next month or so.”

Bills head coach Doug Marrone is scheduled to address the media at 2 pm.


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Bills hoping Goodwin impact is two-fold

Posted by Chris Brown on October 12, 2013 – 12:19 pm

Marquise Goodwin’s return to the lineup today against Cincinnati is welcome one. His prowess on kick returns is obvious, but head coach Doug Marrone believes he can have just as big an impact on offense in the passing game.

“On offense he’s someone that can catch and score,” said Marrone late this week in his weekly radio show. “If you’re playing man coverage and he catches the ball and has a little bit of separation he has the ability to take it to the end zone. Anytime he gets the ball in his hands you have a chance for an explosive play.

“When we brought him in here everybody knows about his speed. It is what it is. I mean the guy was in the Olympics. His catching ability that’s the thing where he’s really done a good job. He catches the football extremely well. We’re excited about having him back because he’s a guy who can run down the field and you tell the quarterback to throw it as far as he can because you can never overthrow the guy. And that makes him easier to target.”

Naturally Marrone is hoping for some help in field position, or better yet points, with Goodwin returning kicks, as well as Leodis McKelvin, who sounds like he’ll be returning to full-time duty on punt returns now with his hamstring fully healthy.

“As far as special teams we’ve all seen what he can do in the preseason and we haven’t had a lot of opportunities with our punt returns and kickoff returns,” said Marrone. “We have top guys on returns in Leodis and Marquise Goodwin. The more opportunities we can provide those guys the better chance we have of scoring in those situations.”

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Marrone convinced QB Lewis is ready

Posted by Chris Brown on October 11, 2013 – 10:44 am

He’s only had two practices with the first team offense, but head coach Doug Marrone is convinced that QB Thad Lewis is ready for his big opportunity this Sunday against Cincinnati.

Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 this morning, Marrone discussed how opportunities like this do not come along often and how Lewis is ready to seize it.

“There’s no doubt that Thad is ready,” said Marrone. “Some guys they have to understand this in this profession. This is a great opportunity. In this league sometimes you don’t get the opportunity. When you have this opportunity whether it’s Thad Lewis or anybody else that’s what you have to do, take advantage of it. And in most cases it’s a one shot deal. Some people can handle that because there is pressure to that and some people can’t. The ones that can handle it have a chance to play in this league, the ones that can’t aren’t going to be able to play.”

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Brandon refutes open trade talks on Byrd

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2013 – 9:26 am

Bills S Jairus Byrd is expected to be in the lineup on Sunday against the Bengals. A recent report however, described the organization being open to talks about trading the Pro Bowl safety. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon refuted that report.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this week that the Bills are open to trading Jairus Byrd after being unwilling to do so earlier this season. The NFL trade deadline is Oct. 29th.

When asked about the report in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Wednesday morning, Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon refuted the report and said the organization’s position has not changed.

“I don’t know where these reports come from,” said Brandon. “It’s no different than what we talked about before. Our focus is getting JB back on the field and hopefully that will be this week. We are not actively seeking a deal. It’s not a topic of conversation in our building.”

When asked if moving Byrd would be ruled out if propositioned by another team Brandon answered generally.

“It’s the same thing I’ve always said, when someone calls us we’ll pick up the phone and answer it relative to any subject relative to our peers in the league,” said Brandon. “So I wouldn’t rule out picking up the phone.”



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EJ update

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2013 – 10:08 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone appeared on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Monday morning and was asked to provide an update on EJ Manuel on the heels of his LCL knee injury and if a timetable on his possible return was available.

“I don’t have an exact timetable now,” said Marrone. “We’re waiting for everything to calm down. I talked to EJ he’s excited. He doesn’t want to be injured. He’s excited to get back. As soon as everything calms down he starts with the rehab and he’ll go 100 miles per hour because the last one he came back a lot faster than people thought.”

Manuel did return a week earlier than anticipated from his first knee injury sustained in the team’s second preseason game against Minnesota.

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Bills to still add another QB

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2013 – 9:51 am

After promoting Thad Lewis from their practice squad to the active roster to start on Sunday against the Bengals, Buffalo has plans to add another signal caller.

Bills head coach Doug Marrone confirmed on his weekly radio appearance on flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 that they need to add a third healthy quarterback. It just won’t be on their active roster.

“We have to bring one in on the practice squad,” said Marrone. “We have to bring one in because we need another arm. Someone that maybe we can develop down the road in the future.”

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Bills on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2013 – 11:58 pm

Here’s where you can find Bills players and coaches on the local radio airwaves Monday morning.

8:00 am – Fred Jackson Show on the Howard Simon Show (WGR 550)
9:10 am – Kiko Alonso on with Janet and Nick (Kiss 98.5)
5:00 pm – The Eric Wood Show on Schopp and the Bulldog (WGR 550)

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Loss of CBs has altered defensive approach

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2013 – 9:16 am

Losing Stephon Gilmore at the tail end of the preseason, followed shortly thereafter by Ron Brooks, the team’s top nickel back and now potentially Leodis McKelvin this week, Buffalo defensive coordinator Mike Pettine had no choice but to alter some of his more aggressive plans for the Bills defense here in the early going of 2013.

Bills head coach Doug Marrone confirmed as much in his weekly appearance on the Howard Simon show on the Bills Radio Network.

“Absolutely. Anytime something happens whether it be injury and you start moving people (around) everybody has strengths and weaknesses. You do have to start making adjustments and it becomes a chain reaction,” said Marrone.

“The philosophy is to go out there and play, but to be smart. We’re not just going to leave those guys out there all the time. We’ve got to mix it up. In this league if you put yourself in one situation they’re going to find it and take advantage of it. You try to make sure you can disguise it and do the things you’re doing so you can be aggressive and do what you need to do to win.”

Leaving cornerbacks out on islands less is one of the more likely measures being taken moving forward.

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Marrone: McKelvin a likely game time decision

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2013 – 8:59 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone in his weekly appearance on the Howard Simon show on the Bills Radio Network provided an update on the chance Leodis McKelvin has of playing on Sunday against the Ravens.

“I think he’s got a chance,” said Marrone. “I think it’ll be one those things where we go out before the game. He practiced (Thursday) on a limited basis. He went out there and ran around and I think that’ll be a game time decision.”

Marrone confirmed that if McKelvin can’t go that Aaron Williams would line up at corner in his place, much like he did last week against the Jets when McKelvin left the game in the first half. Knowing McKelvin is also the team’s primary punt returner, the Bills head coach also relayed that if McKelvin is not dressed that Jim Leonhard would again handle punt returns as he did last Sunday.

Knowing the high impact nature of the cornerback position with the stopping and starting and turning and bursting that has to take place, that puts a lot of stress on the hamstring. McKelvin knows if his hamstring is not right, it makes playing the position almost impossible.

“Your hamstring is one of your key parts if you want to play this game,” he said. “If you don’t have your hamstring you’re not going to be able to do anything. You can’t open up and you can’t be the guy you want to be especially in the times that you really need to burst or stay on top especially in this defense. It’s critical that your hamstring needs to be right.”

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Bills on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on September 26, 2013 – 5:00 pm

Here’s where you can find Bills players and executives on the local radio airwaves Friday morning.

7:30 am – Manny Lawson on w/ Janet and Nick (Kiss 98.5)

7:30 am – Aaron Williams on w/ Shredd and Ragan (103.3 The Edge)

8:10 am – Doug Marrone on The Howard Simon Show (WGR 550)

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