Inside The Bills

Crossman: Veteran additions grew the culture

Posted by Chris Brown on October 29, 2014 – 5:38 pm

He wanted veteran core special teams players as part of his four main special teams units (kick return, kick coverage, punt return, punt coverage) after a trying first year of running Buffalo’s special teams. Now halfway through his second season as Bills special teams coordinator, Danny Crossman is pretty pleased with the growth in team culture on his special teams squad.

Crossman credits players like Boobie Dixon, Corey Graham and Brandon Spikes for convincing younger players of the value of special teams to the outcome of games. It quickly emboldened incumbent special teamers like Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley, Ty Powell, Duke Williams and Ron Brooks to take on more of a lead by example approach for the new arrivals on the roster. Soon the importance and commitment to special teams play reached critical mass.

“The plan up to this point has worked. We’re excited,” Crossman said. “The guys we brought in for leadership as well as performance have done both at a high level. The biggest thing is that leadership. I think some of the other guys have stepped up who were here a year ago and some of the new younger guys that we added this year. Right from the get go they’ve been brought into that culture of what our expectations are and not only coach driven, but player driven. Anytime you get that you’re going to be successful.”

 


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Marrone on adding another RB – “Probably”

Posted by Chris Brown on October 20, 2014 – 4:05 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone is down a pair of running backs for the foreseeable future. Without Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, Marrone has just Boobie Dixon and Bryce Brown healthy at running back. He also has FB Frank Summers. So when asked about the possibility of adding another back Marrone said the chances are good.

“Probably. I think we’ll probably do something,” he said. “I think a lot of it depends on where Fred is at, but yeah I would say yes we could bring somebody in. We’ll have to discuss those things.”


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What Brown & Dixon learned from Fred & C.J.

Posted by Chris Brown on October 20, 2014 – 2:12 pm

Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are both out indefinitely after suffering injuries Sunday, but since Bryce Brown and Boobie Dixon were added to Buffalo’s roster in the offseason, the team’s top two backs made sure to help their two backups learn the offense and handle any and all assignments. Now all of the time they invested in Dixon and Brown needs to pay off. Both Brown and Dixon feel they’re ready due in large part to the efforts of Jackson and Spiller.

Both Brown and Dixon were asked what they’ve learned from Jackson and Spiller since they’ve been on Buffalo’s roster.

“I just learned the rhythm of the offense and the pace that I have to work at to hit the holes clean,” said Dixon. “They’ve been doing it for two years now and this is my first year so I’m still trying to get in rhythm with it. But I’m learning the tempo I have to have to hit the holes and keep the offense going.”

“Those guys have taken me under their wing and they’ve helped me out,” said Brown. “Watching C.J. and watching Fred, guys who have had success and played on a high level for many years, that benefits me. I know people say it’s frustrating (not playing), but I had an opportunity to watch these guys and learn from these guys. I told them (Sunday night) that I’m praying for their speedy recovery because those guys are the heart and soul of our team. Whether they’re on the field or not we can’t win without them so their presence is definitely needed.”

 


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Jackson confident in Dixon & Brown

Posted by Chris Brown on October 20, 2014 – 10:22 am

Bills RB Fred Jackson left Sunday’s game at the end of the first quarter with a groin injury. Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Jackson made it clear he has some rehabbing to do to recover from his groin injury, but also expressed his level of confidence in Bryce Brown and Boobie Dixon, who will have to pick up the slack in Buffalo’s rushing attack with both Jackson and Spiller out indefinitely.

When asked about Brown specifically, Jackson believes he can be a full-time feature back.

“He is an every down back,” said Jackson. “He can do it all. He’s a guy who can carry the ball 20-25 times. He’s a guy who can pass protect his butt off and run routes well out of the backfield. We won’t miss a beat with a guy like him. He’s a guy who is going to come out and can produce. We know what he’s capable of doing. I’m excited to see him get his opportunity. It comes at a time when we’ve lost a couple of guys who were valuable to the team, but that’s why we have Bryce and Boobie. They can step in and shoulder that weight and we don’t expect to miss a beat.”

One concern is who will be the chief third down back to handle pass protection, something Jackson did on a full-time basis. As Jackson sees it both Brown and Dixon are more than capable.

“They will (be able to handle it),” Jackson said. “It’s one of the things that we work on every day and they do a tremendous job working with us. It’s something I have a lot of pride in and I consider myself the best running back in the league when it comes to pass blocking. But those guys can do it and they will get the job done. We had a chance to go through it during training camp and I’m extremely excited about what they can do. It will be fun to watch them go out there and compete and make some plays for our team.”

Jackson intends to be around the team during his rehabilitation to assist Brown and Dixon in their preparations for the Jets this week.

“I’m going to be as involved as if I was playing,” said Jackson. “I want to be able to talk to those guys on the sideline and what I’m seeing when I watch the Jets and break them down and see what the tendencies are. So I’ll be around.”

 

 

 


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Marrone update on RB situation

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2014 – 7:37 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone didn’t reveal a whole lot about the injuries sustained by C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, but he sounds like he’s already planning to be without both of them come next Sunday against the Jets.

“Yeah, they’re out,” said Marrone. “C.J. [Spiller] will be out for an undetermined amount of time. I think that’s out there already, from what they told me. We’re going to look at Fred [Jackson]. We really don’t have any timetable on that. We have Boobie [Dixon] and then, obviously, we have Bryce [Brown]. It’s not like we have to go out on the street to get somebody to come in. I have no problem bringing up Bryce. We talked about him last week, which I hoped wasn’t a jinx.”

Spiller reportedly has a broken collar bone, while Jackson’s groin injury will be re-evaluated on Monday.


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Dixon ready to go in wake of Fred, CJ injuries

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2014 – 7:32 pm

Fred Jackson left the game in the first quarter with a bad looking groin injury. C.J. Spiller was carted off with what’s been reported as a broken collar bone. There’s a very good chance that the duties of the run game will fall squarely on the shoulders of Boobie Dixon and Bryce Brown. Dixon knows he was largely brought in to be the go-to guy if there were a rash of injuries at running back. After this week’s casualty list he assures that he’s ready for an increase in his workload.

Dixon has respect for Jackson and Spiller, as well as gratitude. The two backs have been schooling Dixon up on the protections knowing Dixon is new to their offensive scheme.

“Watching Fred and watching C.J. they got me ready,” said Dixon. “They’re talking to me all the time, letting me know what I need to do, what I need to be looking at. Where my eyes need to be. So when my time came, I was ready (Sunday). It’s a credit to them also.”

When asked if their potential absence from the lineup this coming week changes things, Dixon doesn’t see it that way.

“I don’t think it does,” he said. “We’re all pros. It’s the NFL. One guy goes down, another guy has to step up. We got me, we got Bryce. We got Frank.  And I think we’re ready to go.”

In Sunday’s game Dixon averaged 3.9  a carry as he rushed 13 times for 51 yards.


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Orton a calming presence on final drive

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2014 – 7:09 pm

Bills QB Kyle Orton did not have the best day when it came to protecting the football or in getting rid of it when the pocket broke down (sacked six times), but he did come through when the game was on the line. Almost as important as his play making on that final drive was his demeanor in the huddle when they got the ball back with 3:07 to play at their own 20-yard line.

By all accounts in the huddle on the last drive, Orton was upbeat, confident and most importantly relaxed.

“He was poised, he even came in there and cracked a smile at one time,” said Boobie Dixon. “He was like, ‘C’mon guys, we got this. It’s not as much pressure as it really is.’ He made us feel comfortable, he kind of relaxed us, he settled us down and got the job done.”

“Kyle did a great job keeping us under control,” said Chris Hogan. “His poise is pretty unbelievable in a high pressure situation like that. He helped us when we were in long situations, either at the end when we had to get everyone up there and clock it. He did a great job that whole drive.”

“He’s a leader,” said Sammy Watkins. “He knows what he’s doing with the ball. He puts us in the greatest situations. He knows how to help us out on the field, put us in different areas. That’s what we need in a veteran quarterback.”

On the final drive Orton was 8-12 passing for 105 (gross) yards and the game-tying touchdown pass to Watkins.


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Will Dixon see more action on offense?

Posted by Chris Brown on October 5, 2014 – 9:20 am

Through the first two weeks of the season Boobie Dixon got a handful of carries, but over the last two games he has not seen any action on offense for the Bills. Might he see action today against the Lions? We posed that question to head coach Doug Marrone in our weekly Coffee with the Coach segment, presented by Tim Horton’s.

Marrone explained that executing a balance of work with a two back system with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson is challenge enough. Adding Dixon into the mix is even more challenging, but didn’t dismiss the possibility of seeing Dixon in the offensive backfield again soon.

“It’s probably a little bit of the way games have unfolded and with the way C.J. (Spiller) has been playing,” Marrone said. “He’s running much harder than he did last year probably because he’s healthy. Fred is averaging 4.8 yards a carry, so we’re trying to get him some more carries in the game. So it’s very difficult to work the third back in.

“I do believe in the two back system, but it’s difficult to work the third back in. That’s not to say he won’t be out there. He’s ready to go and he gets reps in practice and we like what we see, it’s just difficult to manage that situation.”


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Fan Friday 9-19

Posted by Chris Brown on September 19, 2014 – 11:45 am

Week 3 and the Chargers are coming in. Should be a tight game. Let’s get to your questions this week on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - @ChrisBrownBills Does potentially bad weather this weekend favor the Bills?

BrianGriffo

CB: I would tend to think so. Buffalo’s run game is vastly superior to that of San Diego’s. The Chargers have found it difficult to get their run game on track, though in their defense they’ve faced to pretty strong defenses in Arizona and Seattle. But without starter Ryan Mathews (sprained MCL), who is not expected to play a rainy day would favor Buffalo’s ground game.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Will we see Bryce Brown at all this year ?

kochsteve44

CB: That’s difficult to determine at this point. It seems clear that the coaching staff wants a fullback active (Frank Summers) with three tailbacks on game day (Dixon, Jackson, Spiller). If one of the top three backs sustains an injury then it’s likely we see Brown, but if not, based on the first two weeks he’ll be the inactive player from that position group.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills Who is more primed for a ‘letdown’ both after big emotional wins. SD, does have the cross country trip.

rahdoo

CB: You are correct the Chargers do have to come east, which is never easy. They’re leaving a day early (today) to get their body clocks adjust to the time change. Last year San Diego was 3-2 playing in the Eastern time zone including their AFC Wild Card playoff win at Cincinnati.

Against the Bills they’ve dropped three of their last four played at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

I don’t know that either team is more susceptible to a letdown than the other. Both are coming off big wins. I think the Bills strengths match up more favorably than the Chargers strengths, but that advantage is not a big one.

 

4 – Chris,

What is Marquise Goodwin’s role on this team? He played sparingly in Chicago, and overall has not produced much at all since the Jets game at Home last season. Are the coaches going to use him?

He is a 3rd Round pick that seemingly is not on the radar screen with the offensive coaches.

In limited playing time last year, he had 3 TDs on only 17 receptions.

How does a man with 4.27 wheels not get the call to test deep once or twice a game? Or get a bubble screen once a game?

I would hate to see a similar fate for Goodwin, as our other speedster TJ Graham, who was a 3rd Round pick as well.

Thanks,
Brian
CB: Through the first two weeks Goodwin has gotten 21 plays out of a total of 116, which is about 18 percent of the snaps. The fact of the matter is the Bills took steps to upgrade their receiving corps with Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams the primary additions. Both sit at the top of the depth chart with Robert Woods.

That leaves Goodwin in the fourth spot, but through the first two weeks the Bills have largely used 11 (1 back, 1 TE, 3 WR) or 12 (1 back, 2 TEs) personnel. There have been few four-wide sets.

I don’t know this, but it appears as though the Bills have a specific package of plays in the game plan for Goodwin each week, and that package only spans 10-15 plays. Could it increase based on the opponent? Yes. Could it stay the same the whole season? Yes again.

Obviously injuries at the receiver position will also impact how much Goodwin sees the field on offense as the season wears on. Ultimately it’s up to the coaches how much or how little they choose to use him on offense.

 

5 – Hey Chris,

After watching the Bills lately, it seems like Hackett and Marrone have the offense operating very well. My one question is, why don’t they use Dixon and Jackson earlier, to wear down the defense, and then later in the game use CJ to really explode?

Thanks,
Tommy H.

CB: I don’t want to speak for coach Marrone, but Spiller’s home run ability is the difference maker here. Knowing that any carry or reception by Spiller could go the distance almost mandates that he be on the field throughout the course of the game. I also think that Spiller and Jackson offer good differing changes of pace, where Dixon and Jackson might be too similar and allow the opposing defense to get a better read on run plays.

 


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Dixon, Spikes added to injury report

Posted by Chris Brown on September 4, 2014 – 4:37 pm

injury-report-header

 

 

 

Bills RB Boobie Dixon and LB Brandon Spikes were both added to the injury report after they could not participate fully in practice Thursday.

Dixon suffered a hamstring injury in practice, while Spikes was limited by a knee. Head coach Doug Marrone didn’t deny that Dixon’s injury is “a concern.”

“You always have to be concerned when that happens and they can’t finish,” he said. “So yes that’s a concern.”

Stephon Gilmore, who was limited in practice Wednesday was a full participant Thursday coming off a groin injury.

Did not practice
TE Lee Smith – toe

Limited in practice
RB Boobie Dixon – hamstring
LB Brandon Spikes – knee
S Jonathan Meeks – neck

Full practice
WR Sammy Watkins – ribs
LB Randell Johnson – ankle
CB Stephon Gilmore – groin


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Offensive players not concerned

Posted by Chris Brown on August 29, 2014 – 12:09 am

The Bills offense knows they didn’t finish the preseason the way they wanted to, but it hasn’t dampened the unit’s confidence in their ability to move the ball and score points.

Bills C Eric Wood said preseason results shouldn’t be shaking anyone’s belief on the offensive side of the ball.

“You just have to put it behind you and not lose your confidence,” said Wood. “I have a lot of confidence in this offense. We’ve put in a ton of work and I’m not going to get down because of a couple of preseason games.”

RB Boobie Dixon admits there were some struggles at times this preseason, but he’s convinced they’ll be straightened out by the opener in Chicago.

“We’ve really just got to watch the film and then we’ll figure that out,” he said. “Right now it’s just that everybody’s got to stay positive and stay together. We can’t let all the outside noise throw us off track. It wasn’t pretty but it was the pre-season still. We’ve got the regular season coming up and we’ve got a chance to write it next week so that’s what we’ve got to focus on.”


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Bills coaches have special teamers identified

Posted by Chris Brown on August 20, 2014 – 1:09 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone was asked about the importance of the last two preseason games as it pertains to jobs on special teams. Marrone gave strong indication that the core special teamers for their squad have largely been selected.

“I think we have that group,” Marrone said. “We’ll just wait. Obviously we’re still in a process, but I feel very comfortable about the guys that we have identified right now. I think when the roster is set, and we get down to the final cuts, we’ll talk about that role for those players.”

Buffalo signed free agents like Boobie Dixon and Corey Graham to provide some veteran leadership on special teams this offseason.

 


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