Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 7-4

Posted by Chris Brown on July 4, 2014 – 11:42 am

Happy Independence Day everyone! A proud day to fly the flag. Here now are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Given the new additions on offense do you see the Bills being run heavy or pass heavy? With Dixon and Brown there won’t be enough carries to go around. Getting 4 RB’s the ball seems like a tough task. Given the league is pass heavy and Watkins is in the fold how is the ball going to go around. Its a pass heavy league and EJ will need to throw 300 yards often. How do you see this shaking out?
Thanks,

Sean

CB: It’s my contention that the Bills want to be a run heavy team, but not to the point where they’re grossly imbalanced. Last year is a perfect example. With a rookie quarterback in 2013 the Bills ran the ball more than any other team in the league, but they still only ran the ball 49 percent of the time (546 times on 1,116 plays).

Every team in the league strives for balance as much as possible, but I believe Doug Marrone wants to be able to run the ball whenever he wants regardless of whether the defense knows it or not.

And as much as you want to call it a pass heavy league here’s a look at the 12 teams that ran the ball the most last season. Eight of them were playoff teams including the last two NFC teams standing last year. Yes, some of them also threw it ton (New England, Denver), but it wouldn’t surprise me if Marrone wanted his offense to be similar to that of San Francisco. The 49ers ran 52.5 percent of the time last year, and knowing the pace at which the Bills want to run their offense if they’re successful they’ll be more plays and thus more opportunities for more backs to carry the football.

Don’t kid yourself there will be a pecking order and some backs will see less of the field than others, but if their offense operates as they anticipate there will be more than enough carries to go around.

2013 Total rush leaders
1 – Buffalo – 546 rushes
2 – Seattle – 509
3 – San Francisco – 505
4 – Philadelphia – 500
5 – NY Jets – 493
6 – San Diego – 486
7 – Carolina – 483
8 – Cincinnati – 481
9 – New England – 470
10 – Tennessee – 462
11 – Denver – 461
12 – Green Bay – 459

2 – Hi Chris,
With all the talk around EJ Manuel and his progression, I have a question. I’ve listened to Coach Marrone and Coach Hackett say how good he is coming along, then I hear Marrone talk about the playoff drought. If EJ Manuel doesn’t pan out by the 3rd or 4th game, is he willing to pull EJ and replace him with either Lewis or Dixon? I am also curious as to why he has not been asked this by the reporters, because as fans we want a winning team as well. I’m curious as to why Marrone hasn’t been asked this and what his response would be. Just bought my season tickets this morning for the first time!! GO BILLS.

Thanks,

Lee
CB: First, thanks for supporting the team. We look forward to seeing you out there this fall. The reason coach Marrone hasn’t been asked this question is because coaches don’t like to deal in hypotheticals, especially those that deal with replacing players in the lineup. So if the question was asked it wouldn’t be answered.

Now to speculate on the situation you present is difficult. The organization has said from the day they drafted him that they’re all in on EJ Manuel. That plan is not going to be scrapped if he gets off to a slow start. That being said every plan has a breaking point. What that breaking point is for this coaching staff however, is hard to pin down now.

I think the staff is under more pressure to win in light of the ownership void. They know victories validates them as coaches, but only coach Marrone has to what lengths they’ll go to get wins and he’s not going to cross that bridge until he comes to it.
3 – Hey Chris,

I’m still trying to form a conclusion of whether or not the Sammy Watkins trade was a good one.

Don’t get me wrong, I was one of the people jumping off of my couch yelling “Sammy or Mack!” when the trade first scanned across the screen.  But after the dust has settled, and now that we are in OTAs and such, we tend to come back to reality and realize that afterall….Sammy is just one guy.  Yes Sammy is a playmaker, but statistics show that most rookie WRs do not produce heavily.  Plus you factor into the equation that Manuel was very inconsistent (to say the least) with his accuracy…along with a bunch of other variables working against Sammy.  So with all that being said, I guess I have 2 questions for ya.

1)  Would YOU have done the trade or would you have stood pat and taken say…Ebron or Beckham for much cheaper of a price in the 1st round?

2)  Since you were in the war-room, what was Buddy Nix’s reaction to the trade?  In the video and pictures of the warm room, everyone was clapping, cheering and celebrating the pick.  Buddy, however, was the ONLY one NOT celebrating.  I know it’s just Buddy, but he is still an advisor that has a wealth of knowledge and a history of not making trades on draft day.  So I’m just curious if you got the sense that he wasn’t thrilled about the value that was given up.

As always, Thanks for all you do.

And GREAT work on your draft coverage.

Sincerely,

Tim in NJ
CB: I think if I believed that Sammy Watkins was the best player in the draft and I had an opportunity to get him I would certainly take a swing at it. Doug Whaley said himself he wasn’t their top receiver, he was their top player in the entire class.

Yes, there’s no doubt there are variables that can impact Watkins’ production. He is dependent on quarterback play and such, but I think A.J. Green is a good indicator as to what Sammy can be in his rookie season. Green was also the fourth pick in the draft and he played with a young quarterback at the time in Andy Dalton. Green had 65 catches for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns as the number one receiver in the Cincinnati offense. I don’t think those are unrealistic numbers for Watkins.

As for Buddy’s reaction in the room, you have to remember the dynamics at work there. It was the first draft Buddy was attending since stepping down as GM. It was Doug Whaley’s first draft and he just completed a huge deal. I think Nix was being respectful of Whaley’s role now. It was Doug’s room, Doug’s draft and Nix was letting Whaley and the personnel staff enjoy the moment.

And so you know Whaley and Russ Brandon consulted Nix on about a dozen occasions through the course of the draft, most often when they were done having conversations with other clubs on the phone. So Nix is still a highly respected man in that personnel department.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

Thanks again for all you great coverage.  Makes it easy for us not living in Buffalo to get our daily fix of the Bills.

Two questions about the defense:  Is Marcell Dareus facing a suspension from either the team or the NFL for his drug charge and driving incident?  And are you concerned about Jim Schwartz’s defensive scheme looking a lot like Dave Wannstedt’s scheme from two years ago.  Both Jim and Dave said they rely on the front 4 to get pressure on the QB and our D from two years ago was not exciting, never blitzed, and seemed to never be aggressive or in control.  Mike Pettine’s D was exciting, aggressive, and confusing for offenses.  Which Defense do you expect to see more of this year?

Pat

CB: Thanks for the kind words. With Dareus the cases are just going to have to play out and based on their results the NFL will decide if disciplinary action is warranted. So they’ll have to reach their conclusions before the league steps in if at all.

As for Schwartz’s defense I’m not concerned about the Wannstedt comparison. Schwartz is a cutting edge coordinator in this league. He’ll blitz a whole lot more than Wannstedt ever did. And if I have to trade in 10 sacks in exchange for the best third down defense in football (Detroit was #1 last year) and a top 10 run defense (Detroit was 6th last year) then I’ll do it.

 

5 – Chris,

I’m interested in you thoughts on how Mike Caussin has been a Bill since 2010. He has almost no NFL production to his name and has an injury history, but continues to keep getting camp invites year after year. Does he have immense potential? Has he shown something in camp in previous years that keeps him around? I’m just used to seeing guys with his history off the roster after a max of 2-3 years. Thanks for all your work.

Nick in Baltimore
CB: I think what’s most appealing about Caussin’s game is his athleticism. He’s a pass catching tight end that has uncommon agility for a man his size. He’s also trying to develop as a backup long snapper to Garrison Sanborn. Yes, injuries have largely derailed his career. That’s why this is likely a make or break camp for him with tight end as deep as it’s been in a while in Buffalo.


Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Analytics point to LB Bradham as star in waiting

Posted by Chris Brown on July 2, 2014 – 12:29 pm

Even before the devastating ACL injury suffered by Kiko Alonso Tuesday in an offseason workout, which will likely cost him the 2014 season, there was some buzz about Bills third-year LB Nigel Bradham. ProFootballFocus had Bradham listed as their Secret Superstar for Buffalo in 2014. Now Bills fans are hoping that becomes the case now more than ever.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show this spring, PFF writer Peter Damilatis explained why they expect Bradham to have a breakout season in 2014.

“The one thing I like about Bradham is I feel he can sit in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense, but I think he can be a solid 4-3 strong side linebacker,” Damilatis said. “He has a fearlessness in attacking the run at the point of attack. We would see a lead blocker like a fullback coming in to clear the way and Bradham would stick in there and stonewall him and blow up the entire play.

“Despite playing a quarter of the snaps of a lot of other guys like Kiko Alonso and Mario Williams he actually had the best run defense grade of any linebacker on the Bills roster and the eighth best run defense grade of any inside linebacker in the NFL, which is pretty remarkable for someone who played just 26 percent of the team snaps.”

Bradham lined up mainly as a strong side linebacker in Buffalo’s defense under DC Jim Schwartz in the spring practices, and that job could be his to lose with Keith Rivers expected to replace Alonso on the weak side.

Damilatis said that Bradham’s numbers for tackling efficiency and yards allowed in coverage also indicate the third-year linebacker is in for a big season in 2014 if he gets on the field more.

“When you add it up his tackle rate is among the top 10 linebackers as well. He’s a very sure tackler,” Damilatis said. “One thing I also saw from him is he have some pretty good coverage skills too. He was in the top 10 for yards allowed on coverage snaps. Buddy Nix talked about Bradham being a capable three down linebacker and our metrics indicate that.”

 


Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-27

Posted by Chris Brown on June 27, 2014 – 11:42 am

We’re in the quiet period of the offseason, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t issues about the team to discuss. Here now are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hey Chris,
My question is about the defense and new DC Jim Schwartz.  I know Marrone has said that they will keep the terminology the same for the players, but what does that exactly mean?  I know Schwartz and Pettine have different philosophies but do you foresee Schwartz maybe trying to become more innovative with his D?  In my opinion I think that Rex Ryan and Mike Pettines defense is spreading into the league and can be a new look for NFL defenses.  I know the Chiefs acquired Bob Sutton who has a Jets backround and the Saints have Rob Ryan.   I really like the way Pettine disguised plays and also the way he looked for players that can be versatile.  It just seems like it’s a defense that is spreading into the league and it is very aggressive style, something that needs to match the explosive offenses that are continuing to evolve.  So I guess my question is do you think that Schwartz watched film and talked with Marrone about keeping some of the same looks and ideas that Pettine installed last year and maybe just putting his flavor on it?  What are your thoughts about it?

Thanks, Jillian

CB: I think coaches inherently trust the elements of their schemes that made them successful coordinators or coaches in this league. Jim Schwartz was a coveted head coaching candidates a half dozen years ago because of the way he ran his defense. It’s a scheme that has a long running track of success on third down and against the run, two of the chief problem areas for Buffalo’s defense.

In speaking with Schwartz on a couple of occasions it’s my belief that he’s been in the league long enough to know that you have to adapt to changing trends in the NFL or you’ll be left behind. I do believe some of his defensive scheme has adopted some of the language from Pettine’s scheme for the sake of continuity, but Schwartz believes in his system and he should. The Lions finished sixth against the run and first in third down defense last season.

So while I think there is a healthy respect for the schemes run by Pettine and the Ryans, there are other ways to be successful on the defensive side of the ball. Knowing Schwartz’s scheme is likely to address the two most glaring problems of Buffalo’s defense leaves me feeling encouraged that the team’s new defensive coordinator will have the right answers, they may just be different from what you witnessed here last season.

 

2 -  Hey Chris,

I love your work.  Everyday I look forward to the latest Bills news.  Thanks for keeping us updated.  Living in Dallas, all I get is Dallas Cowboys news.

Here is my question for you, “Can you give any insight on exactly what and how players are graded during the OTA practices?”

Thanks
Shawn Sieracki
Dallas, Texas
CB: Happy to help Shawn and thanks for the compliments. I’m going to turn this one over to defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who I believe effectively explained what’s evaluated in the spring practices when there are no pads.

“The only thing we’re really evaluating with players now is their ability to grasp scheme and things like that,” said Schwartz. “The stuff that you’re seeing on the practice field, we’re not judging players on how they finish plays.  It’s a non competitive situation.  We want to learn, we want to learn their role in the defense.  We want to learn how everything fits together, and they are being judged on that and their work ethic.  But the on field stuff, it’s all about technique right now.  When we get to training camp, we’ll start judging them more on wins and losses.  Wins-whether it comes to a coverage or a pass rush or things like that—you have to be careful about judging too much on that stuff out there.  It’s non-contact; it’s not really football.”
3 - Chris

Thanks for your coverage of the Bills.  Is Buddy Nix still affiliated with the Bills? What is his role and did he have any input in the recent draft?

Regards,
Ron Jacobs

CB: Yes, Buddy is still affiliated with the Bills. He no longer works in the office, but is a special assistant to the personnel department. I know that GM Doug Whaley called on him a few times in the pre-draft process to scout a few prospects near his region where he lives in Tennessee.

He was also present in the draft room for all three days of the 2014 draft, sitting in the first row. Having been in the draft room for the whole weekend, Doug Whaley and Russ Brandon went to speak to him on about a dozen occasions.

Many of them appeared to deal with the conversations that Whaley and Brandon had with other NFL clubs concerning trade talks, and as you know Whaley made a handful on draft weekend. It’s clear to me that Nix is still a respected veteran voice in Buffalo’s personnel department.

 

4 – Chris,
Given the new additions on offense do you see the Bills being run heavy or pass heavy? With Dixon and Brown there won’t be enough carries to go around. Getting 4 RB’s the ball seems like a tough task. Given the league is pass heavy and Watkins is in the fold how is the ball going to go around. It’s a pass heavy league and EJ will need to throw 300 yards often. How do you see this shaking out?

CB: Here are the things you need to consider when weighing this question. Will the Bills simply have EJ Manuel carry the offense and throw it all over the field? It’s unlikely. Doug Marrone is a head coach who believes in a run game. Unless he’s got an all-world quarterback that will be his approach. The only difference is Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett will run it at a pace that no one can keep up with.

The pace of the offense last season was compromised by inexperience when injuries struck at quarterback and a new signal caller was starting seemingly every week. All three quarterbacks are a year invested in the system so that is no longer an issue.

So provided they gain the yardage they believe they on the ground consistently, it’ll translate into more first downs, more plays, more yardage and ultimately more points. With more plays there are more carries to go around.

Running as much as Buffalo did last season (they had more total rushes than any team in the NFL in 2013) they’d like to run more this year, as they only ran the ball 48 percent of the time. Keeping the injury factor in mind (See: C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson in 2013), Buffalo now has the depth at running back to carry on should one or two of their backs suffer injuries.

The offensive line has also been beefed up with size and strength not only among the starting unit (Chris Williams), but among the reserves (Seantrel Henderson, Cyril Richardson, Chris Hairston, Cyrus Kouandjio). Pass protection is part of it knowing the Bills gave up the fourth-most (48) in the league last year, but it’s about being able to run the ball even when the opponent knows it’s coming.

C.J. and Fred will be the principal players in the run game, but Spiller and Jackson are both versatile talents and will be utilized in the passing game as well. With the depth at running back as well it wouldn’t surprise me if there are multiple backs on the field at the same time.

Hackett always talks about putting the five best skill position players on the field with the five linemen and the QB. One would think that Spiller and Jackson more often than not would be among that group with Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon not far behind.

 

5 - @ChrisBrownBills

What is the competition for RT looking like right now between Pears and Cyrus?#bills

Z_bass10

CB: It’s hard to really make a call on it before the pads are on in training camp. I will say that early in the OTAs, the coaches rotated Kouandjio in with the first unit for a bit less than half the snaps. By the close of OTAs, Kouandjio spent most of his time with the second unit outside of a day when he spent a practice at left tackle due to a lack of numbers on hand.

Kouandjio has to adjust to the speed of NFL pass rushers. He found going against the likes of Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes challenging as you might understand. Pears held his own in the spring practice setting.

For me it’s a competition that’s going to have to wait until St. John Fisher when the pads are on and perhaps well into the preseason.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-2

Posted by Chris Brown on May 2, 2014 – 11:45 am

The draft is next Thursday (finally). Here are some of your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net about the draft and other topics concerning the Bills. Be sure to follow our wall to wall draft coverage on Buffalobills.com and live on the @johnmurphyshow, which can be found on the Bills app or locally on WGR Sportsradio 550.

1 - Hey Chris,

In my opinion, Coach Marrone’s biggest mistake in year one was not having an experienced NFL quarterback on the roster to fill in for EJ. Boy, did the Bills ever pay for that oversight. How, then, is it possible that Doug Whaley has NO PLANS to sign a veteran QB for 2014? Can you shed some light on the thinking at One Bills Drive? Because it sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

Also, something I thought to be a no-brainer now looks as though it’s not going to happen……Why haven’t the Bills signed Jim Leonhard?!?

Thanks for everything,

Kenny in Indiana
CB: I would argue that it was not an oversight. They had Kevin Kolb on the roster. He was supposed to be EJ’s backup, but a preseason concussion landed him on injured reserve two weeks before the season started. The free agent market was a barren landscape of quarterback talent. Fortunately they swung a trade to land Thad Lewis, who is a player the front office and coaching staff is very high on as a backup.

He is the reason why they chose not to pursue a veteran free agent option. He’s had a year in the system and he and EJ now have a full time quarterback coach, who by the way worked previously with both of them (EJ at the Senior Bowl, Thad in Detroit).

As for Leonhard my only guess is he was seen as an ideal fit in a new defensive system last year that he was wholeheartedly familiar with and could teach to the younger players. Now with the scheme change he may not be seen as quite the same fit.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

The transition from Buddy Nix to Doug Whaley has seemed to go very smoothly.

My question is about Doug Whaley’s basic draft philosophy. Buddy Nix was on record saying he didn’t like to move in the draft, whether it was up or down.

I would love to see the Bills move down in the 1st round this year, pending a dance partner, to get more pick(s).  There appears to be a lot of talent in the 2nd & 3rd rounds. Do you think Doug Whaley will be more proactive to move down in the draft than Buddy?

P.S.  I hope 2014 is the year you get to report about more wins than losses!
Trade Down Tim

CB: I do think that Whaley is more aggressive by nature to make a deal. He was very honest about keeping all options open with their pick at nine. That includes trading up, which I think is a distinct possibility. We’ll see what happens, but at the pre-draft press conference I was encouraged by this comment from Buffalo’s GM.

“If you have a calculated system, and you use that approach, and the deal makes sense, and you see hey, we can move down to this point and still get a guy that we’re excited about, pick up another pick, then don’t be afraid to make the deal,” Whaley said.
3 – Chris,

I saw a rumor going around on nfl.com saying that Houston is “trying very hard to move down to acquire draft selections” and that Buffalo is a potential trade partner.  I would like this move and I hope Buffalo goes for the #1 pick.  I would love to see them pick up Greg Robinson or Sammy Watkins.  Do you think this is a good possibility?  Who do you think they would be chasing after to give up picks to make sure they land?

Thanks,

Alec……..Adams, NY

CB: I tend to doubt the Bills will move up to the top spot. Even the Bills at nine would have to give up an awful lot to make that happen. That being said I do think that moving up to a spot between 4 and 6 is a possibility if the right player is still on the board for them. There’s no way to gauge the likelihood of that happening because there’s no way to tell whether the compensation offered will be accepted for such a move to occur. I do think if the right talent is sitting there on the board Buffalo will at least make an attempt to make something happen.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

With the passing of Mr. Wilson how will this affect spending for the organization in the coming months? Certainly, the staff had a license to spend when he was alive but given that his estate needing to be settled, was a plan put into place so the day to day and free agent spending would not have cash limits. I  just wonder when a player needs to be paid millions of dollars to sign who writes that check now?

Thanks,
Chris Z.

 

CB: As team President and CEO Russ Brandon and GM Doug Whaley said at the pre-draft press conference their operations as a football club are unaffected moving forward. Here are their direct quotes.

Doug Whaley – “The ownership situation has no bearing on us trying to win football games.”

Russ Brandon – “In regards to the ownership transition, it’s business as usual in every facet of our operation.”

 

5 – Chris,

Does Austin Seferian-Jenkins fit what the Bills are looking for in an athletic tight end? Does he have the speed to be a juke type of tight end? I think he’s the second best tight end beside Ebron. Is he a viable candidate in round 2?
CB: He is a round two prospect so I suppose he is an option if Ebron isn’t the pick in round one, but I just don’t see him as a fit for Buffalo. He is a giant man, but he does not have the athleticism of Ebron. Apparently no one else does in the class at the position either. Seferian-Jenkins has above average athleticism for a tight end his size (6’5 ½” 262), but there are work ethic questions about him and some off the field issues. There’s not a lot of wiggle to him after the catch as he generally tries to run through defenders. He’s still a work in progress when it comes to blocking.


Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-7

Posted by Chris Brown on February 7, 2014 – 2:06 pm

Buffalo’s coaching staff is now complete with the hiring of Rob Moore as receivers coach. Now preparations for the NFL Combine will ensue. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - @ChrisBrownBills

With some mock drafts saying TE Eric Ebron for us that would be a huge upgrade and the big addition the offense needs. Can Buffalo afford Byrd and LT Albert?

JamesKnapp

CB: I think Branden Albert is unlikely based on what Bills GM Doug Whaley said on the John Murphy Show last week. He indicated that they will continue to take a measured approach to free agency and not break the bank on high-priced free agents. Albert would certainly fit into the high-price category.

Here’s what Whaley said at the Senior Bowl a couple of weeks ago.

“We were extremely happy (with our free agents last year),” Whaley said. “I think we’re going to stay that course, value picks, guys that can come in and contribute and we get a real good return on our investment. They’re not going to be big splash guys.”

That being said I do believe they will make every effort to re-sign Jairus Byrd to a long term contract extension.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills Thoughts on Rob Moore ? Cuse guy!

Mikefromplayers

CB: I know Rob Moore’s coaching experience is not lengthy on paper, but having met him here at One Bills Drive and being very familiar with his playing career from the time he was in high school I believe he has a lot to offer Buffalo’s receiving corps. He has an interesting approach that I think will cater well to both the youth and the proven vet in Stevie Johnson in the receivers room.

For those that don’t know his playing career all that well he was a two-time Pro Bowl receiver in his 10-year career and was 1st Team All-Pro in 1997 when he led the league in receiving with 1,584 yards on 97 catches and eight touchdowns.

I anticipate his transition to this staff will be seamless having worked with Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett in the past.

 

3 – Hi Chris,
Thanks for your continued hard work into the offseason. My Question is in regards to this upcoming draft. Buddy Nix always had the take the “best player on the board” Mentality. Do you see anything changing now with Whaley, and maybe start drafting more with the mentality of positional need??

I think the Bills are a lot closer to being a legit playoff team and its only a few “holes” that need to be addressed, And not just take a player just because they are a good football player.

Thanks, Tim in St.Catharines Ont.

CB: I don’t think GM Doug Whaley would debate that they still have a few positions in need of a upgrade. The difference now compared to a few years ago is they don’t have a dire need to plug a hole at almost any position.

Could they use a top flight size WR, a game breaking TE or a young offensive tackle? Absolutely, but they won’t be in deep trouble if they don’t. And with that in mind I think now more than ever they can truly go for the best player on the board.

I think if they’re in a situation where player grades between the top two or three players on the board is negligible they’ll address what they feel is a position of need, but beyond that Whaley seems to believe now more than ever they can go best player on the board regardless of position.

 

4 – Hi Chris,
Thanks for all your info you translate to us fans! My question is, why did we not see what Moeaki or really what Gragg had to offer this season near the end?  Why do teams sign players and never play them? It’s not as though Moeaki was a practice squad player. I really thought the Bills would have liked to see him get on the field and show what he can bring! Your thoughts??
Eileen in Niagara Ont.

CB: I think the offensive staff did want to make more game day use of the two tight ends, but game situations and circumstances compromised those plans. I can say that both players will be in the fold all offseason, which should afford the coaching staff more than enough time to gauge where both should appear on the depth chart as well as the roles they might play.

Also remember that even though the fans didn’t see much of them, the staff saw Gragg every day in practice for all of 2013 and got a month-long look at Moeaki in the practice setting to make some judgments on him. So while the book on those two for fans might be short, it’s not for the coaches. They’ll have a plan for both of them.

 

5 – Hey Chris,

A quick question about Stephon Gilmore. I’ve wondered why he has been so inconsistent and the game against the Steelers indicated to me some of his problems. In a game against a smaller receiver like Antonio Brown, Gilmore seemed overwhelmed and slow. I think his problem is that he plays like a smaller player when he should be using his size as an advantage over smaller receivers by jamming them at the line. Why doesn’t Gilmore play more like Revis? The talent, in my opinion is there, but I feel Gilmore is being used incorrectly.

Thanks,
Tommy in Pittsford


CB:
I think you’re missing the obvious here. Gilmore’s broken wrist, which required surgery prevented him from using the greatest strength of his game. His ability to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and steer and muscle them around is 75-80 percent of his game. The guy played with one arm and one hand for essentially 10 games last season. He had pins in his wrist.

Essentially he had to play cornerback completely different than he had ever done before, which is why in your words he played like a smaller corner than he looked. When he finally was fully healed you began to see the Gilmore everyone expected. Unfortunately the injury made 2013 somewhat of a lost year for him.

 


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Nix still playing role for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2014 – 1:40 pm

He’s listed as a Special Assistant for the Bills, and was to help the organization in a variety of football-related roles. One of those roles includes scouting the talent at the Senior Bowl in Mobile this week.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show, Bills GM Doug Whaley said he likes being able to lean on his predecessor as a sounding board and talent evaluator.

“He’s a great resource for me and I would be remiss if I didn’t use him,” said Whaley. “Any major decision or free agent we think about bringing in and ask him what he thinks. After this BLESTO meeting we’ll give him a list of the top rated guys and have him look at those guys. We’ll give him some of the free agents that we’ve pegged as interesting. So he’s a resource and with that wealth of knowledge I’d be remiss if I didn’t pick his brain and use him to our fullest advantage.”


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-24

Posted by Chris Brown on May 24, 2013 – 11:51 am

Be sure to remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice for our country on this Memorial Day weekend. There’s a reason we can all have backyard barbecues this weekend. Let’s get to the latest edition of your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
I think we can still get players like Charles Woodson, etc . to further help this year if we can get them at the right price? Don’t get me wrong. I love what we have done so far this off season and draft.

CB: Sure you saw that Woodson returned to the Raiders where his career started on a one-year deal. I don’t know that he’s cornerback material anymore at his age. That being said I will say I’d feel better if the team added a veteran cornerback.

I think the team is well stocked with inside slot defenders, but outside where you need more size, Gilmore and McKelvin are the projected starters. Crezdon Butler (6’1”) and T.J. Heath (6’1”) both offer good size, but not much experience.

The free agent market at corner however, doesn’t offer much. There are a lot of vets that are past their prime. Still, a vet that could be plugged in should injury strike that can still get the job done even for a four to six game stretch could prove valuable.

 

2 - Hi Chris,

I enjoy your articles and videos every day during the off season!

Buddy before he stepped down said there will be more veteran players released from their teams to make more cap room, etc.

What are any of the dates between now and training camp when teams will have to make decisions on keeping or releasing players?

Please keep up the good work, 40 year Bill’s fans like me can’t get enough updates and info.

Thanks again!

Bob S

CB: The releases that Buddy was referring to were due strictly to cap room being hard to come by for some NFL clubs. It’s not really any roster reduction dates that will prompt that between now and the start of training camp.

Offseason rosters are now at 90 players, but only the top 51 count toward the salary cap. The first cutdown from 90 to 75 players happens the last week in August, with the cut to 53 just a few days later.

 

3 – Hi, Chris! As a former WNYer, and a long time Bills fan living afar off in NJ, in the midst of huge numbers of Giants, Jets, and Eagles fans, thanks for helping me stay abreast of all things Bills related.  I was excited to see the schedule come out and find that I will be in the New Orleans area while my favorite team is playing the Saints! What’s the best way to get tickets to that game where I will be sitting among fellow  WNYers?  Keep up the great work, my friend!

Michael C.
Edison, NJ

CB: I’d recommend getting in touch with the local Bills Backers chapter in New Orleans. They can probably tell you where to park to tailgate and might be able to help you with tickets at the Superdome. Here is their info from the Bills Backers page on Buffalobills.com.

Big Easy Bills Backers
The Bricks Courtyard Bar & Grill
735 St. Joseph St.
New Orleans, LA
504-525-2396

 

4 – Chris,

After years of being one of the oldest in age from top to bottom run nfl operations the bills have emerged with young executives and coaching staff to possibly being one of the youngest. Can you comment on this ? Also have you seen Bill Polian walking the halls at 1 Bills Drive? Just asking ! As always enjoy your work…….

Wally J.  in Fredericksburg, Va.

CB: Thanks to our crack research staff the Bills front office (Brandon, Marrone, Whaley) is the youngest in the league in terms of average age, which we blogged last week. And no, no Bill Polian sightings.

 

5 – Dear Chris:

Great draft coverage and congratulations on predicting EJ Manuel as the 1st pick.  Can we play “What if”?  What if the Jets used their 2nd pick on Manuel instead of their 3rd on Geno Smith?  What would the Bills have done with their pick at 16 overall?

Thanks,

Neil in Jamestown, NY

CB: I think there’s a strong chance they would’ve tried to move back again, and there were multiple suitors for their pick at 16.


Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Manuel pick impacted Nix’s decision

Posted by Chris Brown on May 14, 2013 – 9:47 am

Buddy Nix’s decision to step down as GM of the Bills Monday had a lot of contributing factors, and Nix didn’t deny that selecting QB EJ Manuel in round one a few weeks ago played a role.

In a one-on-one interview with Buffalobills.com, Nix said drafting Manuel made it easier to settle on the decision to step aside.

“I feel a lot better about it because of that,” said Nix in reference to the Manuel pick. “We’ve got two good veterans here and another rookie that will make him have to earn it. When (he’ll start) I don’t know that’s up to the coaches. That’s up to coach Marrone. He’ll decide when the guy is ready to play, but I don’t have any doubts that he’ll be successful here and in this league.”

 


Tags: ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Nix believes he saw things through

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2013 – 5:08 pm

Outgoing Bills GM Buddy Nix has said more than once that he wanted to see things through with the organization and get it back to being a winning team. Though the won-loss record has yet to show that, Nix believes he has done so as he now steps aside.

In a one-on-one interview with Buffalobills.com, Nix explained why he felt he positioned the team for success.

“Yeah, obviously you’d like to see the win-loss results, but somebody asked about what I think is going to be remembered about my legacy,” said Nix. “It’s according to who is looking at it I guess, but I think it’s going to be determined in the next two or three years. I think the good times are coming and that’s not to put any pressure on the head coach now, he knows there’s pressure anyway in this
business. But I think our roster is good, I like the draft class and I like our rookies, so I think we’re fixing to have some exciting times.”


Tags:
Posted in Inside the Bills

Buddy on what changed

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2013 – 5:05 pm

Outgoing Bills GM Buddy Nix said right after the draft that nothing had changed concerning his status as the team’s top personnel man. Now three weeks later he’s stepping aside. In a one-on-one interview with Buffalobills.com, Nix explained what changed.

“Russ (Brandon) and I talk a lot,” said Nix. “Our offices are right here together and Doug Marrone too, we talk about everything. We started after the draft. At the time we were so consumed with the draft going into it and even right after talking about the guys we got. Then after things kind of settled down and we tried to figure out the right timing and to me that’s the big issue here. This is the best time.”


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Scouting calendar told Nix it was time

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2013 – 2:40 pm

As outgoing GM Buddy Nix said at his press conference announcing his transition from GM to a Special Assistant for the Bills, there is never a good time personally to retire, but for the Bills in his mind it was the best time. Here’s why.

As Nix explained it the scouting season for the 2014 class begins next week, so to step aside now would make for the cleanest break for a transition to a new GM.

“Starting next week, I already had a flight and was scheduled to go to St. Pete to start on the 2014 Draft. You sit there for 10 hours a day and listen to reports one right after the other on the 2014 draft prospects,” said Nix. “To be honest with you, my energy level is as good as it has ever been, but I was not all excited about that trip.

“We have got some young scouts that are fired up about it and that is the way it should be. That is the way I was. The best time, and again for us, is before we start the process for next year.”


Tags: ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

What Buddy said about Whaley

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2013 – 12:33 pm

With the decision by Buddy Nix to step down as GM of the club Monday, it creates the natural assumption that Assistant GM Doug Whaley will be promoted to the now vacant role. What Nix said about Whaley just a couple of months ago supported that assumption.

While at the NFL Combine Nix was asked about his own future with the Bills and while he said he still had the zest to do the job he also mentioned Whaley specifically.

“I think you’re maybe less than confident in what you do if you can’t put your replacement in place, and we did ours,” said Nix this past February. “I was on the job three months when I hired Doug and nothing’s changed with him. My energy level or anything hasn’t changed. Look, I’m not going to do this until I’m 100, I promise you. I’d like to know I’ll be around until then, but I’ll decide that. I’ll sit-down with Russ and we’ll do what needs to be done, but to put a timetable on it, I started something and I’d like to see it through.”


Tags: ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Trade with Rams was set Tues. before draft

Posted by Chris Brown on May 6, 2013 – 9:30 am

When the Bills were on the clock with the eighth overall pick they executed their trade with the Rams in short order. Here’s where you can watch how quickly it happened.

Buffalo GM Buddy Nix tells Buffalobills.com in a the Bills Inside the Draft Room feature that the trade had been set in place two days prior to round one.

“I talked to them about two days before the draft, probably Tuesday and said this is what we’d do and we’ll see what the situation is. You can’t make those before pick time,” said Nix. “Is their guy going to be there? Is the one we want still be there when we move down? We talked about it and laid the groundwork for it and said we’ll talk again at pick 6 or 7.”

Nix also said he knew that Tavon Austin was the impetus for the deal even though the Rams never told him that was their guy.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills had chance to move up in Rd. 1

Posted by Chris Brown on May 6, 2013 – 8:05 am

The NFL draft is more than a week in the rearview mirror, but Buffalobills.com takes you inside the draft room on draft day on April 25th to see how things came down on day one when the Bills landed EJ Manuel.

Bills GM Buddy Nix, who narrates how things unfolded on draft day, revealed that Buffalo had a chance to move into the top five in a deal with Detroit. But Nix had no interest in moving up.

“Not at all,” Nix told Buffalobills.com. “You’ve got to give up too much to move up. We had guys that we thought would be there and had our favorite there so we weren’t interested in moving up.”

Bills head coach Doug Marrone also provides background on the goings on in the draft room in this Bills draft special on Buffalobills.com.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

How Bills scored on draft trade

Posted by Chris Brown on May 1, 2013 – 11:54 am

The value looked relatively close when people assessed the trade between the Bills and Rams on day one of the draft, which allowed Buffalo to move down to 16 in round one and pick up an extra second-round pick and a seventh-round pick. But according to a new online trade value calculator the Bills came out on top in the deal.

The draft pick value calculator weighs trades and produces a value on the deal. Buffalo’s trade with St. Louis gave the Bills a trade value of 118. Anything over 100 indicates better than even value on the deal. If the value on the trade is under 100, that team “lost” the trade.

“I think getting the two extra picks and being able to fill an extra couple of needs was huge,” said Bills GM Buddy Nix. “We didn’t have a seventh and we wind up with a tight end that we wanted to get and we would not have been able to do that. Obviously the extra second is almost like a first to us.”


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills competed with 14 teams to land WR Rogers

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2013 – 11:55 pm

The Bills knew they liked the talent of Tennessee Tech WR Da’Rick Rogers. The problem was so did half the NFL, so after the draft was over it was far from a sure thing that Rogers would agree to terms with the Bills. But Rogers came to Buffalo for a few reasons, which Bills GM Buddy Nix laid out.

Nix appearing on the John Murphy Show laid out the reasons why he felt Rogers saw Buffalo as a good spot for him.

“There were 14 teams after him after the draft and we were able to get him,” said Nix. “I think there were a lot of reasons (President and CEO) Russ (Brandon) and (Senior VP of Football Administration) Jim (Overdorf) have been pretty close with his agent. Plus his agent also represents Robert Woods and they had worked out together during the pre-draft process and knew each other.

“I think Da’Rick felt comfortable here. Plus he was one of our 30 (pre-draft) visits and he sat in my office and I told him how it would be here. He can either make a living playing football or get a job. I think he understands, plus he went to dinner with our coaches here and I think he liked it.”

Nix believes Rogers understands he’s got to make good on this opportunity.

“This guy is talented and he can play,” said Nix.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Nix thinks Bills roster is better

Posted by johnmurphyshow on April 30, 2013 – 6:30 pm

The draft is done, the undrafted free agents are signed, and the veteran free agents have settled in.

Bills General Manager Buddy Nix says the Bills roster is better now than it was back on New Year’s Eve, the day after last season ended.

‘Absolutely. We’re younger, we’re a young team,” Nix said. “We got speed and some versatility. We brought some toughness to this team. It’s not any reflection on the guys that were here, they did a good job for us. But we needed to get better in some areas and speed was one of them. Because of the way our defense is, we needed some guys who can play more than one spot. I think we were able to do that.”

Nix made the comments in an appearance on The John Murphy Show. The entire interview is available here


Tags: ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills had a 1st/2nd round grade on Da’Rick Rogers

Posted by johnmurphyshow on April 30, 2013 – 5:15 pm

The biggest name among the 16 undrafted players the Bills signed Monday undoubtedly belongs to WR
Da’Rick Rogers. The Tennessee Tech wideout was not drafted after three failed drug tests at the University of Tennessee. He finished his college eligibility with some pedestrian numbers put up last year, at Tennessee Tech.

But Bills GM Buddy Nix says the team had a first-to-second round grade on Rogers, when it came to football ability. The Bills GM talked about Rogers on The John Murphy Show.

“Being from Tennessee, I’ve known his background,” Nix said. “He’s from Calhoun, Georgia, I knew him when he was playing in high school. The guy’s got tremendous talent. He’s made some bad decisions. It’s gotten him in trouble. Got him out of the University of Tennessee, from an All-SEC performance in his sophomore year, and he goes to Tennessee Tech where he has a so-so year. He played down to the level of competition, really. But this guy’s talented. He can play. The ball’s in his court. He goes by the rules, and does like he’s supposed to, or he goes somewhere else.”

Nix said the Bills had several meetings with Rogers prior to the draft, and he sat down with the talented receiver in Orchard Park when he made a visit to One Bills Drive. At that meeting, Nix spelled out for Rogers what the team expected from him.

“He was one of our thirty visits,” Nix said. “He sat in my office, and I told him how it would be here, and what we expected. He can either make a living playing football or get a job. I think he understands that.”

The Bills GM says Rogers experience of being bypassed in the draft despite having first round ability, may serve to motivate him moving forward.

“I think he’s humbled. I think he’s probably got a chip on his shoulder.”

The entire interview with Bills GM Buddy Nix is available here


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone and Nix on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2013 – 11:08 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone and GM Buddy NIx will both be on the radio airwaves today (Tuesday). Here’s where you can find them commenting for sure on Buffalo’s newest player, LB/DE Jerry Hughes.

Coach Marrone

Sirius Radio with Rich Gannon –   11:40 am

CBS Sports Radio with Tim Brando –  12:05 pm

Buddy Nix
Sportsradio 1270 AM The Fan – Buffalo –  2:40 pm

TSN Radio –  3:05 pm

 


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Pettine’s defense puts premium on versatility

Posted by johnmurphyshow on April 29, 2013 – 8:20 pm

The Bills pulled off a rare player-for-player trade Monday, sending third year LB Kelvin Sheppard to the Colts in exchange for fourth year LB Jerry Hughes.

And while both the Bills and Colts are willing to part with young defensive talent, the trade seems to be more a product of finding a right fit for the defense. At least that’s what Bills GM Buddy Nix said, in an appearance on The John Murphy Show.

Nix was asked if Sheppard was not a good fit in the new defensive scheme being installed by Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine.

“I think that’s part of it,” he said. “Kelvin is a true middle linebacker–a guy that’s going to play from C-gap to C-gap and he can do that downhill.”

“But Mike Pettine made this statement during the draft,” Nix told host John Murphy. “The days of the Mike linebacker and the strong safety have just about fallen by the wayside. Everything has moved over. You’ve taken the Mike now, and he’s moved over. You’ve moved Will to Mike. And now you walk up Bryan Scott as a nickel linebacker, and he’s now the Will. Those guys got to be able to run and cover.”

Nix says the Bills have stressed versatility in the linebacker moves they’ve made in recent months.

“We got Moats there in the middle-he can play two spots. We got Kiko Alonso in there–he can play two spots. Nigel Bradham can play Will or Mike. That is what we’re coming to.”

The entire interview with Bills GM Buddy Nix is available at Buffalobills.com\johnmurphyshow


Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills