Inside The Bills

WR Hopkins gives Bills ‘D’ praise

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 11:56 pm

The Bills defense put together a pretty good day in Sunday’s loss, giving up only 16 points on the road, logging three takeaways and stuffing Houston’s fifth-ranked rushing attack. It was enough to earn praise from Houston WR DeAndre Hopkins.

“Coming into the game we knew that they are a tough defense,” Hopkins said. “They don’t get the credit that they deserve. They have a lot of great talent there. They do a great job of hustling to the ball. They have a lot of great players on the defense. You can’t take too much from their defense. They did a great job of shutting down the run game. Players made plays, this is the NFL. They came out and they had a mission to stop the run and that’s what they did.”

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For Bills’ offense 2nd down is key

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 11:15 am

Through the first three games this season the Texans’ defense has been outstanding on third down. Their unit ranks first in the league in third down conversion percentage allowed with opponents moving the sticks just over 27 percent of the time (27.3). Buffalo’s offense has ranked just 24th in third down conversion percentage (36.6%), which is why against Houston the Bills should do their best to convert a down earlier.

Converting a first down on second down is obviously a bit tougher if you haven’t set up a medium or short distance situation, but against the Texans that may not be a problem.

On first down Houston’s defense gives up four yards or more an astounding 61.7 percent of the time, more often than any defense in the league. Opponents are gaining an AVERAGE of 5.9 yards on first down against the Texans.

That leads to a lot of favorable down and distance situations on second down. That’s also a big reason why the Texans’ defense is last in the league when it comes to allowing conversions on second down. Houston is letting opposing offenses move the sticks on SECOND down 42 percent of the time (41.9%).

The Texans’ surrendering of conversions on second down is 15 percent higher than on third down, so Buffalo’s offense wants to stay close to Houston’s average given up on first down (5.9) to set up a good chance for second down conversions instead of even getting to third down.

And running the ball on second down would be perfectly fine if the Bills are in anything that’s 2nd-and-6 or less because Houston is giving up a difficult to believe 6.84 yards on second down, which ranks 30th in the NFL.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Will size matter?

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 10:55 am

The first two games of the season the Bills offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and it helped lead to a pair of victories. Last week the men up front could not reset the line of scrimmage downfield against San Diego and it played a part in their 12-point loss in Week 3. Today against the Texans the Bills have a decided advantage in size up front when it comes to size, but will it make a difference?

The Texans defensive line (and Jack LB) average 290.75 pounds per man. That’s almost 30 pounds a man they’re giving up to the Bills offensive line, which averages 329 pounds. That should help Buffalo’s desires to establish the ground game with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson and perhaps Boobie Dixon as well.

Houston is ranked 25th against the run, and they’ve been working on their run fits all week in an effort to correct some of their problems. They also signed veteran NT Ryan Pickett who goes a hefty 340 pounds himself.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills want Fitz to hit magic number of 25

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 10:30 am

Bills fans have seen enough of Ryan Fitzpatrick to know that if too much of the burden to win is put on his shoulders it generally doesn’t lead to positive results. That same trend has continued with his new team in Houston.

Last week with the Texans down 14-0 at the half had to throw more to climb back into the game, and though Fitzpatrick had a pretty solid second half, he crossed a dreaded pass attempt threshold that has not been kind to him.

In his 10-year NFL career when Fitzpatrick throws more than 25 pass attempts he is 18-45-1 as a starter. When he throws 25 or less he’s 12-6.

When he attempts 30 or more passes his winning percentage drops even further (9-37 record – win pct. 19.5%).

According to in conjunction with Advanced Football Analytics, the Texans are averaging one interception for every 25 drop backs.

So it would behoove the Bills to really stuff Houston’s run game and put more of the game on Fitz’s shoulders knowing if he reaches the 25-pass attempt threshold the odds are in Buffalo’s favor to not only get an interception along the way, but a victory as well.

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Houston has up tempo card to play

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 8:47 am

After last week’s inability to mount a comeback in their loss to the Chargers, Bills fans are wondering about Buffalo’s formula for winning games. The Texans have much the same approach to winning as the Bills, but last week they too could not come back from a 14-point halftime deficit losing 30-17 to the Giants. However, they did unveil a pretty effective part of their offense that they’re likely to make use of again.

The Texans rolled up a team record 328 yards in the second half against the Giants, but they only outscored New York over the final two quarters by a point (17-16) in what became a 13-point loss.

What led to all that yardage was Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien choosing to go to a no-huddle offense. As soon as he did Ryan Fitzpatrick staged a pair of scoring drives on back-to-back possessions. The problem was he didn’t turn to it until the fourth quarter.

In the second half, Fitzpatrick played well, going 16-of-21 passing for 250 yards and a touchdown as well as running for a touchdown.

If Buffalo does get ahead of Houston in this one the Texans may pull that card out of their hand a bit sooner Sunday.

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Should Bills blitz Fitz?

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2014 – 5:40 pm

Ryan Fitzpatrick is a quarterback who has always gotten the ball out quick, which is why he is a very difficult quarterback to sack even when under heavy pressure or facing a blitz. Buffalo has already faced two such quarterbacks in Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers, who deliver the ball quickly negating any aggressive attempt to take the QB down. So the question is do the Bills blitz Fitzpatrick?

Fitzpatrick has only been sacked twice in three games so far this season, which is a typical low number for the former Bills QB. However, blitzing Fitzpatrick has been effective in negatively affecting his passing game.

Fitzpatrick and the Texans rank 25th in the league in blitz passing situations. When facing the blitz Fitzpatrick’s passer rating drops from 91.8 to 68.9.

So while sacks may not be the end result when it comes to blitzing Fitzpatrick, there is evidence that blitzing to force hurried throws can be an effective approach against Fitz too. The key as Kyle Williams sees it is putting the Texans in longer down and distance on third down.

“He knows for the most part what the defense is trying to do and he can get rid of the ball,” said Williams of Fitzpatrick. “We’ve already seen that in two of our games this year with Chicago and San Diego. Veteran quarterbacks that know where they’re going with the ball and they get rid of it quickly. We have to win on first and second down and keep them behind the chains and make him hold the ball a little longer.”

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Do similar offensive approaches mean much?

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2014 – 10:23 am

With a pair of head coaches for Sunday’s game between the Bills and Texans, whose offensive philosophies mirror each other in many ways, one might wonder if Doug Marrone and Bill O’Brien are filling in their defensive coordinators on how to prepare for the Houston and Buffalo offense. asked coach Marrone that very question in our weekly ‘Coffee with the Coach’ segment presented by Tim Horton’s. As Marrone sees it the similarities won’t have either defense any more prepared than usual.

“No, I think obviously you see it on film,” said Marrone. “I think our philosophies are similar, but around the league a lot of those philosophies exist. We’re trying to establish the run first, picking the matchups and deciding what we want to do. You do that week to week. We’re excited about it and it’ll be a great challenge. We know that they have a very good staff and they have good players and we feel the same way about our team. It’ll be a good game for us.”

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Goodwin, C. Williams doubtful

Posted by Chris Brown on September 26, 2014 – 1:23 pm







The Bills Friday injury report officially declared WR Marcus Easley and LB Randell Johnson out of Sunday’s game at Houston. Doubtful is LG Chris Williams, so rookie Cyril Richardson is expected to make his first NFL start Sunday. WR Marquise Goodwin is also doubtful and it has been confirmed that he sustained a concussion.

Here’s the full injury report for Sunday.

Player Pos Injury Participation Friday Game Status
Marcus Easley WR Knee DNP OUT
Randell Johnson LB Knee DNP OUT
Chris Williams G Back DNP DOUBTFUL
Marquise Goodwin WR Concussion DNP DOUBTFUL
Ron Brooks CB Illness DNP PROBABLE
Keith Rivers LB Groin LP PROBABLE
Da’Norris Searcy S Ankle LP PROBABLE
Sammy Watkins WR Ribs FP PROBABLE
Robert Woods WR Ankle FP PROBABLE
EJ Manuel QB Abdomen FP PROBABLE

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Texans’ ‘D’ wary of Bills team speed

Posted by Chris Brown on September 26, 2014 – 9:37 am

Houston safety D.J. Swearinger said it earlier in the week and no one in the Texans’ locker room or on their coaching staff is denying Swearinger’s statement that the Bills have the fastest collection of skill players on offense in the league.

Texans’ defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel felt his safety’s statement about Buffalo’s skill position speed was pretty accurate.

“Well, speed is always dangerous,” Crennel said. “They’ve got a lot guys that run fast and play fast. When you are not able to match the speed, then you have to make sure you’re in position, use your leverage and use the proper techniques so that you can make a play. And then generally if you can keep it from being a one-on-one game with speed and then use more than one guy to help contain the speed, then you give yourself a chance.”

“They’re fast. They’re fast across the board,” said Houston head coach Bill O’Brien. “Obviously (Sammy) Watkins is fast. C.J. (Spiller) is fast. Fred Jackson is fast. (Robert) Woods is fast. I would agree with D.J. there. I haven’t seen all the teams yet. Maybe he has. He might know better than me. They’re one of the faster teams that’s for sure. I don’t think there is any slow teams in this league though.”

“You have to be pretty aware of it because they have players,” said Texans’ OLB Whitney Mercilus. “C.J. Spiller, also you’ve got Sammy Watkins, so the thing is you’ve got to be very attentive to some of those guys and all that.”




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Texans RB Foster to be game time decision

Posted by Chris Brown on September 25, 2014 – 4:42 pm

Texans RB Arian Foster has been practicing this week on a limited basis after missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury. Houston head coach Bill O’Brien said that his feature back will be a game time decision along with the team’s punter Shane Lechler.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Mario not worried about Houston reception

Posted by Chris Brown on September 24, 2014 – 4:47 pm

He played the first half of his career in Houston and was the Texans number one pick in 2005. Mario Williams is now returning to Houston for the second time as a Bills player. His first was in 2012. But if you ask him how he thinks he’ll be received by the Texans’ fans it’s not something he’s concerned about.

“I don’t know. I don’t really care,” said Williams. “I don’t understand why that’s even a topic of discussion. I’m playing football man. At the end of the day the guy on the other side of the ball on Sunday is what I’m worried about. I’m not worried about it. No.”

In his first meeting against the Texans, Williams had seven tackles including a sack.

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Gailey defends pass game

Posted by Chris Brown on November 5, 2012 – 2:02 pm

Bills head coach Chan Gailey has been asked a lot about the perceived lack of a deep passing game in Buffalo’s offense. In his weekly appearance on Bills flagship WGR Sportsradio 550 Gailey defended their approach in the passing game.

Gailey was asked if his play calling choices are hampered to the point where he’s calling a game different because they can’t throw downfield.

“No, not at all,” said Gailey. “Do you know how often Houston threw the ball down the field yesterday? Two times. The same as us. The key is consistency and completing and putting the ball in the end zone when you get down there. That’s the key to the whole thing. It’s not how many times you throw the ball down the field. It’s whether or not you’re completing the balls you’re throwing and then can you run after catch sometimes and make plays that way. Very few people throw it down the field bombs away like Daryle Lamonica. The just doesn’t happen anymore.”

The Bills currently rank 27th in yards per pass play (10.6).

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Can’t knock the run ‘D’ in this one

Posted by Chris Brown on November 5, 2012 – 9:08 am

Arian Foster got off to a solid start against the Bills with 62 yards on his first seven carries, but he only had one big carry for 21 yards. What’s more come the second half Buffalo’s run defense clamped down on him forcing the Texans to beat them in other ways.

In the third quarter Buffalo’s defense held Foster to 16 yards on eight carries, and through the Texans final touchdown drive he actually lost yardage to total just 15 yards on 11 second half carries to that point.

“I definitely think we made some progress as far as that goes on our run defense and other aspects of the game, but we’ve still got a long way to go,” said Nick Barnett. “We’ve got to get up field and cause some turnovers and make a play on the long ball. We didn’t. We let a couple of little sneak boots come out of there on throwbacks and we have to be more technique-sound on that.”

Foster finished with 111 yards on 24 carries, but got a lot of garbage yards at the end when Houston was trying to kill clock and shorten the game. For more on Buffalo’s improved run defense check out John Murphy’s Bills Focus package in the Media Center on

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Mario turns it up

Posted by Chris Brown on November 4, 2012 – 11:07 pm

It didn’t come in a winning effort, but there was no denying that Mario Williams had his most complete game in a Bills uniform on Sunday.

Ironically, it came in a stadium where he had played home games for the previous six seasons. Nonetheless Williams was far more active than he had been in any other game this season registering a team leading seven tackles including a pair for loss, a sack and a quarterback hit.

For more on Williams game and what he thought about it check out Kyle Zamiara’s story on Mario’s performance on the home page of Monday morning.

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Texans DE critical of Bills red zone offense

Posted by Chris Brown on November 4, 2012 – 10:32 pm

The Bills went 0-for-3 in the red zone Sunday in the loss to Houston. Texans DL Antonio Smith apparently has an opinion on defending Buffalo’s offense in the red zone.

“The spread offense, in my opinion, is not that good in the red zone,” said Smith. “It is short things and if you play the run well, then there are not many plays they can run.”

Truthfully the opinion is a bit misguided since the Bills were a top 10 red zone offense coming into the game in terms of touchdown percentage.

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George on meeting President Bush

Posted by Chris Brown on November 4, 2012 – 9:07 pm

Right before the game the country’s 41st President was carted out to midfield for the coin toss. George Bush (1988-1992) was suddenly at midfield flipping the coin. For Bills co-captain George Wilson it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“It was incredible,” said Wilson. “I didn’t expect it. To say you’ve met a President is a lifetime memory and a lifetime experience. He was looking at me and smiling at me, and I was smiling back. I got to shake his hand twice. I’ll carry it with me for a long time.”

Wilson made sure to shake his hand and say hello before he was escorted back to his golf cart.

“I said hello, Mr. President, good to see you today,” said Wilson. “That’s a lifetime memory for me.”

Sounds like the Senator handled himself well.

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Much of Bills game plan left on shelf

Posted by Chris Brown on November 4, 2012 – 9:06 pm

The Bills had what they felt was an effective game plan for Houston, but it was the Texans’ own plan defensively that eliminated any opportunity for Buffalo’s offense to use much of what they wanted to run.

“We had a lot of stuff that we didn’t get to because of how they were playing us,” said Ryan Fitzpatrick. “That’s just the way it is with our team and the things that we do. When teams play against us that’s the biggest thing teams try to do is stop the run, stop C.J., stop Fred and make you beat them with the pass. That’s what the Texans came into the game saying and that’s what they did.”

The chief problem was Houston’s use of a regular front seven against Buffalo’s three wide set. The kept their third LB in instead of subbing him out for a nickel corner and dared the Bills to beat them with the pass. Buffalo didn’t execute often enough.

“It’s something we need to evaluate and figure out and have a good plan for and we’ve got to be able to take advantage with our guys on the outside as well,” said Fitzpatrick.

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Why Run ‘D’ turnaround must begin today

Posted by Chris Brown on November 4, 2012 – 9:30 am

The Bills run defense has without question been a disappointment through the first seven games this season. The players say they have discovered a new found accountability to one another and intend to carry that over to today’s game against Houston. But if Buffalo wants to stay in a very muddled AFC race their run defense will have to be the most improved part of their performance. Here’s why.

Over the next two games (counting today) they’ll face two opponents that rush more than any other club in the NFL. Houston and New England have more rushing attempts per game this season than anyone else. The Texans average a league-leading 35.4 rushes per game. New England is second with 34.5.

Not surprisingly, both clubs stand first and second in rushing touchdown as well (New England 12, Houston 11).

What’s ironic is Buffalo averages more rushing yards per game (150.3) than both teams (New England 149.6, Houston 140.9). So if the Bills can tighten up their run defense to just a respectable level it figures to significantly impact their fortunes.  And as defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt has said, it starts with the front four.

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Gailey senses new found accountability

Posted by Chris Brown on November 3, 2012 – 1:00 pm

Chris Kelsay laid it all out in a riveting bye week commentary in which he said not every defensive player was giving their all on every play in the Tennessee game in Week 7. He promised that players would be shaken down if they were not pulling their weight. Head coach Chan Gailey saw a different team in practice this week as a result.

“I think that they understand accountability to each other better at this point than maybe they ever have,” he said. “We made that point of emphasis. I think they understand that better. Hopefully that does carry over to the games.”

We’ll find out on Sunday.

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Texans to give kick return opportunities?

Posted by Chris Brown on November 3, 2012 – 10:51 am

The Bills lead the league in kick return average (30.8) and face a Texans team that is in the bottom third of the league in kick coverage in Houston (23rd). Part of the problem has been their kicker Shayne Graham, who is struggling to get his kickoffs deep.

Through the Texans’ first seven games, Graham and the Texans are last in the league in touchback percentage (25.6%) which is almost half the league average (50%). Part of the reason the percentage is so low is because they have the second fewest touchbacks in the league (11) and the fourth-most kickoffs (45).

“I don’t think you can all of a sudden say if he’s kicking it two yards deep say it’s got to be out of the end zone,” said Houston head coach Gary Kubiak. “You can do what you can do. He does directional kick pretty good. The thing we’ve noticed he kicks off pretty well early in games and as the game goes on, they’re not as good. So we tried to focus on that trying to keep him focused on some things we think can help him.

“We’re going to have to be smart some of the things we do kicking the ball, too. If you know you can’t kick it out of the endzone then you better know where you’re kicking it and how you’re going to cover, so we’ve got our hands full there. Hopefully we can start to improve that this week.”

Bills head coach Chan Gailey is hopeful Houston’s struggles lead to opportunities for Leodis McKelvin and Brad Smith.

“I am seeing opportunities,” said Gailey. “I don’t want too many kickoff returns. You don’t want to go out there and have a chance for five or six, but the two or three they may kick you hope we get good returns on them to get good field position or points on them which happened in our last game.”

Brad Smith returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown in Buffalo’s last game in Week 7 against the Titans. Houston is last in the league in average drive start allowed giving opponents an average start of their own 26-yard line. Conversely, they’re last in their own average drive start, with a mark of their own 18.5-yard line.

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Posted in Inside the Bills