Inside The Bills

Familiarity with what Brees likes not an edge

Posted by Chris Brown on October 27, 2013 – 10:55 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone worked on a daily basis with Drew Brees for three seasons in New Orleans (2006-2008) as the team’s offensive coordinator. Working so closely with Brees, logic would say that Marrone probably has a pretty good handle on what kinds of plays Brees likes most in specific down and distance situations. Marrone in his weekly conversation with dismissed it.

Marrone maintains that being five years removed from the environment allows for a lot of change. He feels his best way to get a handle on Brees and the Saints offense now is through watching their most current game tape.

“I think you see it on tape, what they’re doing,” he said. “Drew (Brees) is a very competitive person. He gets better each week. There are things they do well. I don’t think it’s a strategic advantage as far as having worked there. I just know how competitive they are and how big of a job and how big of a challenge we have in front of us.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Best way to describe Saints offense

Posted by Chris Brown on October 27, 2013 – 9:53 am

He helped run New Orleans offense for three seasons under Sean Payton as the Saints offensive coordinator. So he has an idea on the philosophies of the New Orleans attack. In his weekly conversation with Marrone explained how he would describe it.

“I think aggressive is probably the best way to explain it,” he said. “They’re always looking to push the ball vertically down the field. They’ll keep you honest with the run game and go ahead with the play action, but they’re always looking for the shot down the field. And if they’re not there and you’re covering the shots deep they’re going to dump it off to Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas and then the task becomes tackling those guys.”

Marrone is right about the deep shots down the field that the Saints will take. New Orleans ranks fifth in the league in 20-plus yard completions with 27 in their first six games. On pass plays of 25 yards or more they also rank fifth with 19.

Buffalo has improved in preventing big plays, but still ranks 19th in the league in big plays allowed with 15 through their first seven games.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Another road game vs. team coming off bye

Posted by Chris Brown on October 27, 2013 – 8:51 am

For the second straight week the Bills are facing a team coming off the bye on the road. Buffalo squeaked by the Dolphins last week coming off their bye. Now they’re tasked with doing it against a Saints team that is 4-0 coming off their last four open dates.

Bills head coach Doug Marrone in his weekly conversation with said it’s often harder to plan for what a team that’s had ups and downs will do coming out of the bye week because they may try some different things. With a team like the Saints, who have been pretty successful on both sides of the ball they might be easier to prepare for. As Marrone sees it their early season success means they’re more likely to keep doing what has worked for them.

“I would think so,” Marrone told “They might look at some of the things that they’re not doing well and look at that, whatever that may be. But usually if they’re winning games and they’re successful you don’t really see that much change because what they’ve been doing has been working.

“Our players are rested we’re ready to go. We know they’re going to be hungry and get ready to get started down there. On the road again, back to back road wins, it’ll be a big accomplishment and that’s what we’re looking forward to doing.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Saints an example in offensive efficiency

Posted by Chris Brown on October 27, 2013 – 7:48 am

By now everyone is familiar with New Orleans as a perennial top 10 offense. Here’s a closer look at what makes them such a productive unit on offense.

The obvious initial answer is Drew Brees. His level of precision is elite particularly with his ball accuracy, but he’s a highly rated quarterback against the blitz (118.3) and on throws downfield (112). Here’s a rundown of where the Saints rank in the top 10. There are several specific offensive categories that help explain why New Orleans is routinely one of the best passing attacks and point producers in the NFL.

Category                              Rank      Value    NFL avg.
10-play drives                    7th           13           11
1st down efficiency          2nd          54.5%    47% (Pct. of plays 4+ yds)
3rd-&-1 conversions        4th           75%        62%
3rd-&-10+ conversions   4th           30%        20%
5 minute drives               3rd           12           8
1st possession points      4th           20           12
20+ yd completions         5th           27           22
Dropped passes               2nd          3.7%      7.1%
Fumbles lost                      2nd          2              5
Giveaway pts allowed    4th           17           37
Total giveaways               2nd          7              11
Net passing yds               2nd          311         245
Scoring efficiency             3rd           44.3%    33.3%
Deep ball pass rating      3rd           112         85
Penalties against              4th           30           43
Pts outside red zone      4th           61           42
Time of possession         1st           33:33     30

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-25

Posted by Chris Brown on October 25, 2013 – 1:18 pm

Here’s the latest edition of questions from you the fans on email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

I would like to know how many special teams tackles Easley has inside the 20.


CB: We actually did a feature story today on on Marcus Easley. Our contributing correspondent Mark Belcher crunched the numbers and found that Buffalo leads the league with 10 kickoff coverage tackles inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Easley has six of them. The Bills gunner currently leads the league with 13 special teams tackles this season.

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Hey Chris,
Do you see Bills Blitzing a lot on Sunday or playing more conservative with Brees pulling the trigger?


CB: I think you have to careful with how you handle Drew Brees in terms of being aggressive. Brees is third in the NFL in passer rating against the blitz with a mark of 118.4, so blitzing is not a simple answer. Here’s head coach Doug Marrone on how to handle a quarterback he knows quite well having coached him for three seasons in New Orleans.

In his weekly appearance on Bills flagships station WGR Sportsradio 550, Marrone said the following when it comes to defending Brees.

“One thing you can’t do is you can’t be the same, show him the same type of look and play zone or man too much,” said Marrone. “If you give him a dose of the same stuff they’ll get after you. That’s the same with all those elite quarterbacks. You have to keep them thinking throughout the play. Before the play start if they have a good bead on what you’re doing they have an advantage. So if they’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing and people are moving around and they’re trying to figure it out as they go you have a better opportunity.”

3 – Chris,

Thanks for all the work you do! Regarding EJ, is he still in attendance at practice? Will he be at the game Sunday either on the sideline or in the box with Hackett?

Go bills!

CB: EJ is not typically in attendance at practice, but he is in all the team meetings and reviewing film on a weekly basis. He is also traveling with the team and yes he is sitting in the coach’s booth with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to get a different perspective on the game from above.

This is what they did with Thad Lewis when he was on the practice squad.

4 – Chris,

I notice that the Bills don’t have an individual QB coach for your young QBs. Normally this wouldn’t be as much a concern if there was vet there to help mentor the young guys, but this isn’t the case.

I know Hackett is listed as QB coach, but he’s also OC, and has never played the position or coached it at a professional level. Are there plans to get the young QBs coaching on mechanics, game-time discussions, and work on mechanics that will help bring them along? After watching EJ struggle with mechanics, I’m worried the Bills have made a mistake in not providing a QB coach who has done it before as a resource.

Thanks Chris!
Todd, Rochester NY

CB: You’re right Hackett is both the offensive coordinator and the quarterbacks coach. Head coach Doug Marrone did say when Kevin Kolb is fully recovered from his concussion that they’d like him to come around more and help the younger quarterbacks. We’ll see if that comes to pass.


5 – Chris,
Good pre-game coverage. Question:  How is it possible that Hogan is ahead of Easley on the WR depth chart.  I think Easley is a bigger, stronger WR than Hogan and has better hands and speed than Hogan. Makes no sense.  Very frustrating, reminds me back when Stevie was on the bench rather than starting when he was clearly the best WR option at that time years ago.

I think if Bills moved Easley ahead of Hogan they would be pleasantly surprised. I think once Easley demonstrates he can make plays they’ll have a hard time getting him out of the line up.

CB: I think you’re referring to the Cincinnati game in which Hogan saw his most playing time on offense. The main reason why he played more than Easley is he’s a backup slot receiver and Stevie Johnson missed that game with his back injury. Easley is strictly an outside receiver.

I think Hogan is also a quicker receiver in and out of his cuts than Easley, who is more of a long strider. Easley has build-up speed. Hogan is more sudden, which helps him gain quicker separation inside. That’s why he was a better fit.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

TE Graham doesn’t practice for Saints

Posted by Chris Brown on October 23, 2013 – 4:12 pm

New Orleans leading receiver and Pro Bowl talent Jimmy Graham was injured in the Saints last game against New England in Week 6 with a foot injury. Despite a bye week, Graham still isn’t practicing for New Orleans.

Graham missed Wednesday’s practice. Here’s the rest of the injury report for the Saints.

Player Pos Injury Participation   Wednesday
Lance Moore WR Hand FP
Malcolm   Jenkins S Back FP
Rod Sweeting CB Hip FP
Jabari Greer CB Not Injury Related DNP
Zach Strief T Ankle DNP
Tyrunn Walker DE Knee DNP
Mark Ingram RB Toe DNP
Roman Harper S Knee DNP
Cameron Jordan DE Ankle DNP
Jimmy Graham TE Foot DNP

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone and Payton still talk

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2013 – 9:17 am

He was Sean Payton’s offensive coordinator in New Orleans from 2006-2008. In those three seasons Marrone filed away a lot of coaching lessons preparing the Saints offense. He also forged a solid working relationship with Payton, a colleague with whom he still speaks.

“We talk. I had a great experience down there, a great appreciation,” said Marrone of his time in New Orleans. “I played there in ’89 and went back and worked there.  We had some tough transitions, after Katrina, those memories are always going to be there. I have all the respect in the world. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have or didn’t spend the time
down there.  Like I said, I have a great appreciation. I wish him the best and we’ll go out there Sunday and compete against them.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Report: Saints TE Graham uncertain for Sun.

Posted by Chris Brown on October 21, 2013 – 9:15 am

On the heels of their win over Miami Sunday, the Bills now prepare for the daunting task of trying to get a win in one of the toughest places to play in the league, the Superdome in New Orleans. Their task could be made a bit easier however, if New Orleans is without one of their most dynamic receiving weapons this coming Sunday.

ESPN is reporting that Saints TE Jimmy Graham, who left New Orleans Week 6 game at New England with a foot injury is uncertain for this week’s game against the Bills, despite having a week off this past weekend with the Saints on the bye.

Sources told ESPN that Graham likely would’ve been sidelined this past weekend if New Orleans had a game on their schedule.

Graham leads the Saints in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns with six TDs in six games.

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Posted in Inside the Bills