Inside The Bills

Spiller update

Posted by Chris Brown on December 19, 2014 – 8:31 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone provided an update on C.J. Spiller as he has not yet been added to the active roster.

“I think he looks good. He really does,” said Marrone. “It’s just a matter of waiting until the end of the week and making a move there. The only concern I have is – it’s not really being in shape, but to be able to play and run plays in and out, in and out, in and out and to make sure his conditioning is right at that level. It seems to be okay. I think it will just get better. I know he looks explosive. He’s moving well.”

A roster decision on Spiller is likely to come later today (Friday).


Tags: ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

C.J. has been hitting the weights

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2014 – 5:26 pm


Bills RB C.J. Spiller was back on the practice field for a third straight week, only now he’s fully cleared. He has not yet been added to the active roster off injured reserve yet. A  final decision is expected to come later in the week based on how he looks in practice. Spiller shared some of rehab regimen for his shoulder coming off surgery when he appeared on the John Murphy Show earlier this week.

“Just starting back lifting,” said Spiller in reference to weight work with his surgically repaired shoulder. “Getting the range of motion that’s the biggest thing. Just taking it day by day. The biggest thing for me was not rushing it. I think it was a blessing and a curse at the same time because it let me get a mental aspect of the game and a view on different things in life. I understand now what it takes on how to prepare and don’t take things for granted.”


Tags:
Posted in Inside the Bills

Gilmore, Duke, Spiller limited

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2014 – 2:51 pm

injury-report-header

 

 

 

 

The Bills had a player out with illness at practice Wednesday along with a handful of other players limited due to injury.

Scott Chandler missed Wednesday’s practice as he was sent home sick. A few of Buffalo’s defensive backs were also limited including Duke Williams, who is going through concussion protocol.

C.J. Spiller was limited in practice as well.

DID NOT PRACTICE
TE Scott Chandler – illness

LIMITED IN PRACTICE
K Dan Carpenter – groin
S Duke Williams – concussion
CB Stephon Gilmore – shoulder
S Da’Norris Searcy – hamstring
RB C.J. Spiller – shoulder
TE Chris Gragg – knee
DE Jarius Wynn – knee

FULL PRACTICE
RB Boobie Dixon – chest


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Spiller charged up to return to full practice

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2014 – 11:56 am

Bills RB C.J. Spiller has been participating in practice the last two weeks, but was not fully cleared for contact until Monday. Now able to practice fully Spiller is charged up to be back in the fold with his teammates.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show Tuesday, Spiller made his excitement to begin the practice week on the field evident. He explained what he’ll be looking to get accomplished this week leading up to the game against the Raiders in Oakland Sunday.

“When you’ve been off for two months it’s just how your legs feel and getting back into a rhythm. I’ve been going through some thing the last couple of weeks to dust off some of the rust that I had. This will be a critical week for me to see how I do in the live practice and bump around a little bit. So I’m looking forward to it and I can’t wait.”

Spiller admitted he’ll have a bit of a mental hurdle to clear, but believes if he’s able to play in the game that after the first contact he’ll be fine.


Tags: ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fuel Up to Play 60 “Be the Change” Forum

Posted by buffalobills.com on December 10, 2014 – 4:49 pm

IMG_0242
Nearly 200 students and teachers from Western NY were on hand at the ADPRO Sports Training Center on Tuesday for the annual Fuel Up to Play 60 “Be the Change” forum.  The students, from Orchard Park, Niagara Falls, Grand Island, Buffalo City, Rochester City and Rush Henrietta Schools,  were joined by Running Back C.J. Spiller, Bills’ Nutritionist Dan Liburd and dairy farmer Jason Kehl, from  Strykersville NY.

IMG_1254

Students gathered to learn how healthy eating and physical activity can benefit them not just in school but for a lifetime.  It’s all a part of Fuel Up to Play 60, a national partnership between the National Football League and the American Dairy Association, to encourage students to eat healthy foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, and low fat and fat free dairy products) and exercise 60 minutes daily. The participants also received leadership and communication training to help find their voice in order to drive healthy change within their schools.

IMG_1326

 

Check out the photo gallery.


Tags: ,
Posted in Community, Corporate, Inside the Bills, Off the Field

Fan Friday 12-5

Posted by Chris Brown on December 5, 2014 – 11:20 am

The biggest December road game in quite some time is just two days away. Nice to see a game that matters here at this point in the season for the Bills. On to your questions now from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hello Chris
I have a couple questions. When will the coaching staff see that the QB play was not the problem? EJ could throw a pick a game and not fumble. Plus he had the strength in the pocket plus agility to avoid half the sacks Orton has had. It is play calling I feel. We run such a mellow offense. Out of 73 starts for Orton he has 8 comebacks. EJ had I believe 4 in just 14 starts. We should have let him continue to develop. Orton has continually been trying to make up for his mistakes. (Pick six in Detroit. That game should have never been that close)
Secondly do they hope CJ may come back with the IR they placed him on? Thanks again for all your coverage of the best team in sports.

Jedediah
Palm Coast, FL

CB: Your numbers for Orton and Manuel are pretty much on the mark. Orton does have eight fourth quarter comebacks in his career. Manuel has one fourth quarter comeback and three game-winning drives, one of which came in Week 1 against Chicago in overtime with the score tied.

I think head coach Doug Marrone explained the quarterback move for what it was. At the time Manuel was struggling to complete passes with consistency. He was missing open targets and it was costing them yards and points and that ultimately costs you games.

Marrone had to decide between development of EJ Manuel or winning games. Winning games trumped Manuel’s development. Orton doesn’t have the physical assets that Manuel possesses. That’s obvious.

What Orton does have however, is the knowledge of where to go with the football regardless of the situation or defensive look. He can diagnose disguised coverages faster and his knowledge allows him to make decisions quicker. I think that results in Orton being more willing to give his receivers opportunities to make plays by taking a bit more risk than Manuel was willing to when he was in the lineup.

That being said Manuel has been working hard on his personal game and I think being able to focus on just himself the last two months has helped Manuel immeasurably. Whether he gets another opportunity this season will likely be tied to Orton’s health.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

What do you think Hughes trade value is? Would you package him and Spiller for a first rd. Pick?

crazyeyes7711

CB: First, I will say I don’t think it’s the primary intention of the Bills to trade either player. In an ideal world they keep both players in the fold. Will it happen? That depends on the intentions of the Hughes and Spiller camps.

In your hypothetical trade situation I think you’re underselling Hughes and Spiller as a package. Hughes is going to have double-digit sacks in back-to-back seasons and is just entering his prime. Spiller is still an elite physical talent no matter what his rushing production numbers say. One first round pick for both of them is far from an acceptable offer.

A first and a second round pick is what would be more equitable. We have to remember that they’re both former first-round draft choices themselves.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

What’s Goodwin’s % to play?

8three7six6zero

CB: If you want to know if he’ll dress on Sunday I think there’s a decent chance that happens knowing some of Buffalo’s top receivers are nicked up. He can serve as insurance. If you want to know how many snaps he’ll get that’s tough to peg. He got all of two snaps last week on offense and was targeted once. After Marcus Thigpen’s debut performance on returns last week Goodwin is unlikely to re-assume those duties.

Goodwin has just 70 snaps on offense this season. That’s partly due to him being unavailable due to injury, but that’s more than 100 fewer snaps on offense than Mike Williams (194), who has been inactive for three games. Goodwin has been out of the lineup for six games.

The former third-round pick has just six targets this season and one catch for 42 yards.

 

4 -  @ChrisBrownBills

What position will be the top priority to improve in the offseason?

JaredBailey23

CB: I think the clubhouse leader position-wise is the offensive line. Though the unit has played a bit better of late there just hasn’t been enough consistency up front, so I could see that being addressed in the offseason. Where they come down on the quarterback position is something else that bears watching.

Other positions could be added to the priority list based on potential player departures in free agency.

 

5 – Chris,

I understand that opponents are working on eliminating Sammy’s impact on games and work on keeping him from beating them. That said, I still think they are under utilizing Sammy, specifically on WR screens. It would be one thing if they were running WR screens on the opposite side of the field as Sammy, but the majority of the time Sammy is lead blocking. I saw this at least two times on Monday night’s game.

I get what Marrone is saying, but their actions don’t always coordinate entirely with what they say.

Thoughts?

Thanks,
Elliott

CB: They have worked to find more ways to get Watkins the ball. We saw some receiver screens last week against Cleveland. I think there would be some merit to stacking receivers at the line with Watkins being the wideout who is second in line on the stack. That could help him gain early separation.

Watkins was targeted nine times last week, but had just three receptions. Part of the problem at times was ball location. Watkins has a wide catch radius, but even he couldn’t make the play on some errant throws. The timing and execution has to be better when Watkins is targeted.

We’ll see if they can get that fixed against a pair of very aggressive corners this week in Denver.


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

The rules on Spiller’s availability

Posted by Chris Brown on December 3, 2014 – 12:18 pm

With C.J. Spiller participating in practice today with his teammates it kick starts a practice window. Here’s how it all works.

Spiller’s participation today begins a 21-day practice window in which he can work with coaches and teammates and not count toward the active roster. He cannot be activated until Dec. 16th, the Tuesday after the Packers game, and would be eligible to play in games at that time. A roster move would also need to be made at that time to add Spiller to the 53-man roster.

Spiller suffered a shoulder injury back in Week 7 against the Vikings.


Tags:
Posted in Inside the Bills

Spiller health update

Posted by Chris Brown on December 1, 2014 – 3:28 pm

Bills RB C.J. Spiller, who was placed on I-R – designated to return after suffering a shoulder injury in the win over Minnesota, has been making good progress in his efforts to return before the end of the regular season. Head coach Doug Marrone provided an update.

“We’re hoping to see C.J. to start coming back,” said Marrone. “That designation is coming up.”

Under the rules of I-R designated to return Spiller can begin practicing again with the team Dec. 3rd if he’s fit to do so. When asked what kind of progress Spiller is making Marrone said the running back is making good progress.

“He’s excited,” said Marrone, who would not confirm whether Spiller would be practicing with the team Wednesday.

Spiller would not be able to return to the active roster and play in a game until Week 16 at Oakland.


Tags: ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-28

Posted by Chris Brown on November 28, 2014 – 10:24 am

Big AFC conference tilt Sunday with Cleveland that will have a large impact on whether or not the Bills can stay in the playoff race. On to your questions now from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Dear Chris,

First of all, let me thank you and the rest of the extraordinary staff at Bills.com for providing me with so much information about my Bills. As a Bills Backer from Austria, Europe it feels like I’m right there in Buffalo, getting all the valuable insights I need. This service is simply second to none!

My question is what will the Bills do with Boobie in the offseason? Since C.J.’s status is up in the air, it would make even more sense to keep him here for another year.

Thanks again for all the great work you do and I am already looking forward to the next piece of information on the web!

Stefan

CB: We appreciate the compliments, thanks. Well the good news is when the Bills signed Dixon this past offseason it was a three-year contract agreement, so he’s signed through the 2016 season. So I don’t think you’ve got anything to worry about regarding Dixon’s immediate future with Buffalo.

 

2 – Hello, Chris.

As always, your coverage has been fantastic.  Thanks for all your effort and insight.

My questions relate to the rules regarding the game-day roster of 45 players.  I admit that I know nothing of the origins of that rule, and acknowledge that it is not specific to the NFL (the NHL has healthy scratches to the line-up as well, for example).  However, as a fan, I am frustrated that the rule even exists.  Is seems like a completely arbitrary and contrived barrier to putting the best players on the field.  I understand that roster limits of some sort are necessary to maintain competitive balance and contain cost, but once the 53-man roster exists, what sense does it make to restrict it further?  The fans certainly do not benefit when a coach has to choose between a 4th WR or a special teamer – when having both would optimize the team’s performance in both those phases of the game.

Can you please shed some light on this rule for me?  Who benefits from it?  Do the players insist on it via collective bargaining for some reason (I would think they would oppose it to give as many players a shot to play)?  Do the owners/management teams save money on contracts for the players that sit?

I can think of many reasons why it would be better to have all 53 players suit up for a game, and not one for why it is better that 8 players sit out.  I am hoping you can share some rationale that makes the rule seem like it makes the game better, and not worse.

Thanks,
Walter
CB: The game day limit is actually 46 players now after they did away with the emergency third QB. The whole purpose forcing teams to have seven inactive players from their 53-man roster is to create better competitive balance.

Yes, all NFL clubs deal with injuries due to the physical nature of the sport, but some teams experience more than others at different times in the season. So when a team may have five injured players who are not fit to play in the same week, giving them just 48 healthy players, the NFL believes it is too much of a competitive imbalance to let their opponent dress all 53 of their players if they’re a fully healthy club.

Does that kind of imbalance exist very often? Probably not, but there have been instances where the injury lists have been rather lopsided leading up to a game and could create such an imbalance if the game day 46 rule did not exist.

I think coaches would love to have all healthy players available to them on Sunday, but the NFL Competition Committee hasn’t seen fit to change the rule.

 

3 – Chris,

Down 10 with 8 or 9 minutes, 4th and 6 on Mia 47 Doug Marrone chose to punt because “the percentages of converting a 4th and 6 are not great”. If you are using this analytic thinking, don’t you have to ask yourself “what are the percentages of winning when you give your opponent the ball back with 8 minutes down 10 points. Rewind to the KC game and they go for it on 4th and 10 when you have the opportunity to make it a 1 point game with all 3 timeouts and the 2 minute warning. I just don’t see the consistency in his analytical thinking, sometimes a little common sense trumps percentages.

My question is, does Marrone have access to percentages and analytics to make a real time game decision?

CB: I think the reason you don’t see the consistency in his analytical thinking is because he doesn’t go strictly by the numbers. Coach Marrone does make use of analytical data, but for him it’s just part of the puzzle, not gospel.

Personally I think it’s a wise approach. The number crunchers who demand that a team should go for it on 4th-and-4 at their own 45 because the numbers say they’ll convert more than 50 percent, or whatever figure it might be, are not taking into account the variables involved in those numbers.

There are instances like a team being down by 21 points in the fourth quarter with five minutes left. If that offense has that 4th-and-4 situation they’ll go for it based on time and score. Even more notable, the opposing defense will play soft as they would be in a position where they’re willing to give up yardage in exchange for time on the clock being up three scores.

That successful conversion by that offense is a part of that overall success rate of teams on 4th-and-4 at their own 45. And that’s just one situation that’s part of that number which would give any coach pause, especially if a situation they face in their game is in stark contrast to that (e.g. 4th-and-4 at their own 45, down three points in the third quarter).

Treating analytic figures like that in a vacuum is foolish for NFL head coaches and they know it because they don’t tell the whole truth. That’s why coach Marrone has stated that while he does take statistics into account much of the time he goes by feel, which takes into account how his offense is executing, how the opposing defense is performing, how his own defense and special teams have been able to control field position. Time and score, etc.

Analytics like that are largely based on a number of different circumstances in a 4th-and-4 situation. To take them all to make a singular decision that is also a 4th-and-4 situation at the same yard line is flawed.

 

 

4 – Hi Chris,

Are the Bills planning to move CJ Spiller off the roster? My reasoning: He has had maybe 2 1/2 good years in total. Yes, he has talent, but he does not show up consistently. With work, I think Bryce Brown could replace Spiller. He is not as flamboyant as Spiller, but he is bigger, and has equal speed. Also, would the Bills draft a Fred Jackson like running back next April? Jackson is 33, and nearing the end. Jackson has maximized his potential, something I don’t Spiller has done.

In summary, keeping Brown, using Dixon as a change of pace back, and drafting a Fred Jackson clone would create a formidable running attack.

Your thoughts,
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

CB: It’s my belief that in a perfect world the Bills would like to return Spiller to the fold for next season and beyond. I think your opinion on Bryce Brown is valid. He is more of a north-south runner than Spiller.

As for whether the Bills would draft a running back will hinge largely on Spiller’s future, so until that scenario unfolds it’s difficult to ascertain the direction the Bills will go in late April.

Jackson signed a one-year extension this past summer and I’m expecting the Bills to honor that so long as Jackson’s abilities don’t fall off a cliff. And there’d no indication of that.

 

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

What’s going on with Goodwin?

MHouck7

CB: I think Marquise Goodwin’s availability has been a tough thing for the coaching staff to deal with this season. He’s been nicked this season, and there are a few games where he was active and played, but was unable to finish due to injuries suffered in game.

There’s no question that Goodwin’s abilities can make him an asset on offense or special teams, but if there’s a concern about him finishing games that will give coaches pause in giving him a large role or perhaps dressing him at all on a Sunday.


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

Dixon tips hat to teammates for POW honor

Posted by Chris Brown on November 26, 2014 – 5:20 pm

Bills RB Boobie Dixon became the third player on the roster to win AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors Tuesday, thanks mainly to his blocked punt against the Jets that Manny Lawson recovered for a touchdown in the 38-3 victory. Dixon gave credit to his teammates for making the award possible.

“It was great. It was a great honor,” said Dixon. “First thing I’ll say, shout out to my teammates for pushing me and supporting me. We go into war together.  They’re the ones that motivate me to do what I do.  It just felt good.”

The Bills are the only team with three players earning Special Teams POW honors this season. Dan Carpenter and C.J. Spiller were the others.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-14

Posted by Chris Brown on November 14, 2014 – 11:58 am

Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Question on the Bills offensive philosophy.  When Marrone and Hackett were first hired by the Bills, there was a lot of talk from them about the up tempo style of offense they ran at Syracuse and has become so common place in college football and with some NFL teams.  They seemed to be big believers in running a LOT of offensive plays, limiting the defensive adjustments that could be made by calling the plays at the line, and dictating to the defense through their pace and related “matchup” problems the lack of substitutions could create for a defense–not to mention the notion of tiring out a defensive pass rush by forcing D-linemen to stay on the field for an entire series.

They started with that philosophy last year, but after EJ got hurt, they seemed to reduce the use of the up tempo offense citing the inexperience of the backup QBs.  In the preseason, we saw a little more of the up tempo pace, albeit with very very limited success due to EJ’s continued struggles with execution.  And so once again, they seemed to deviate from that philosophy.

But now with an experienced QB in Kyle Orton, execution and understanding of the playbook doesn’t appear to be as much of an issue.  Yet we haven’t seen much use of that up tempo style except in two minute situations–which Orton seems to have done quite well with, as evidenced by the Detroit game, the Vikings game, and even the 4th quarter of the Patriots game when they were behind two scores but still in striking distance midway through the quarter.

Have Marrone and Hackett simply abandoned the up tempo “philosophy”?  If so, why?  The QB doesn’t seem to be an issue.  Granted, the O-line is a bit on the young side in certain positions.  But perhaps an up tempo pace would help the O-line out if the defensive line can’t rotate fresh legs all the time.  Or might we see a return to the up tempo pace on a regular basis (instead of just two minute situations) at some point in the near future?

Thanks,
Jeffrey S.

CB: I think what needs to be remembered here is the collection of youth on offense. At the receiver position and now with two new additions in the offensive backfield in Bryce Brown and Boobie Dixon. I think that is what has the offensive staff convinced that a more methodical approach leads to better overall execution. There is little value in upping the tempo if your players can’t execute consistently because that puts your defense back on the field all the faster.

Now while your point about how Orton has run the offense in two-minute situations is well taken, you need to remember that defenses typically play differently in those situations as well. Just like offenses tend to pass more at those times in the game, defenses tend to play more conservatively, giving up yards in exchange for time on the clock.

So the success you often see in two minute situations aren’t as likely during other parts of the game. It’s clear the coaching staff believes that moving at a steady pace with a huddle is the best practice. So I don’t anticipate it changing any time soon.

 

2 – Hello Chris
I have a couple questions. When will the coaching staff see that the QB play is not the problem? EJ could throw a pick a game and not fumble. Plus he had the strength in the pocket plus agility to avoid half the sacks Orton has had. It is play calling I feel. We run such a melo offense. Out of 73 starts for Orton he has 8 comebacks EJ had I believe 4 in just 14 starts. We should have let him continue to develop. Orton has continually been trying to make up for his mistakes. (Pick six in Detroit. That game should have never been that close)
Secondly do they hope CJ may come back with the IR they placed him on? Thanks again for all your coverage of the best team in sports.

Jedediah
Palm Coast, FL

CB: I think Buffalo’s coaching staff would disagree with you. As coach Marrone said when he made the quarterback change, he needed more production from the position. EJ’s completion percentage had dropped below 60 percent and was missing open receivers. They were simply leaving too many yards on the field. For an offense that was starved for points it was a conscious decision by Marrone.

You can make an argument that they should’ve left EJ in to keep developing, but the pressure to reach the postseason trumped Manuel’s on field development.

As for C.J. Spiller we’ll have to see where he’s at when we reach Week 16, the first week he’ll be eligible to return off of I-R. It’s too early to tell where he’ll be in his healing at that point.

 

3 -  @ChrisBrownBills
Will we be able to afford to keep Hughes and Dareus with both their contracts up in the next 2 years?

connordomiano

CB: It’s my understanding that the Bills would like to re-sign Jerry Hughes and that’s job number one on the defensive side of the ball. Picking up Dareus’ option buys them time to address his contract. The catch here is the top three salaries on the team right now are Dareus, Kyle Williams and Mario Williams. Investing another big contract in the defensive line could be argued as an imbalanced approach to the salary cap putting a large percentage of it in just one position group.

At the same time it’s hard to argue with a unit that has largely carried the defense the last season plus which leads the league in sacks and is a top 10 run defense.

The Bills will need to be creative, and I am far from a cap expert, but with the salary cap continually going up in this era of NFL prosperity there is probably a way to make it all work.

 

4 -  @ChrisBrownBills

What are the Bills future plans with the HB position? Any chance they can make a run at Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson?

killerbeekevin

CB: I think we first need to take a look at who will still be under contract next season. Fred Jackson signed a one-year extension this past summer. Brown and Dixon will still be under contract for 2015. So the only free agent is C.J. Spiller and it’s my understanding that the Bills would like to keep their former first-round pick in the fold. And Spiller has said more than once that he would like to remain with the Bills.

Whether the two sides can agree on terms is the obvious question. If for some reason they cannot only then do I see them exploring other possible options.

You’re also assuming that Peterson and Ingram will make it to the free agent market. I think it’s unlikely to happen with Ingram with the production he’s put up when healthy this season. Peterson’s off the field matters may change the conversation in Minnesota, but he’s still a dynamic player and the linchpin of the Vikings offense.

 

5 – Hi Chris;

I appreciate all the updates you and John do all week long to keep us up to date on all things Bills-related.

Can you update us on the  Mike Williams situation? I know the furor over his agent’s supposed request for a trade was negated by Mike, who says he wants to play  here. Since then, we haven’t heard anything about him. Is he still on the ’benched’ list? Will he return? He seems to have vanished into thin air and no one seems to talk about him! Thanks for your feedback.

Darlene  in PA

CB: Coach Marrone has been pressed on this subject with the most recent flurry of questions coming this week. With the offense last in the league in red zone touchdown percentage and the acquisition of Mike Williams executed to help the offense in that area specifically, he was asked why Williams has been inactive in two of the last four games.

Coach Marrone cited a number of different reasons including the challenge of only dressing 46 players on game day and the needs of special teams and versatile players. He also flatly stated that right now a couple of other players are performing better than him.

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett also hinted at how Williams and Kyle Orton are still working on their on field chemistry where Orton can trust Williams on any given play to be in the right place at the right time. These appear to be the biggest hurdles in Williams getting on the field.

He was active Thursday night and got four snaps on offense and six on special teams. He was targeted once in the red zone.


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

Fan Friday 11-7

Posted by Chris Brown on November 7, 2014 – 5:12 pm

Alright Bills fans, giant game this week against the Chiefs. Big AFC playoff implications. Got to get a win at home. For now on to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hello Chris,

Thank you for keeping us Bills fans up to date with all the great insider news! My question is very simple. With such a stout defensive line and very talented linebackers, and a talented secondary why is it in your opinion the bills give up so many pass yards?

Jeremiah T.

CB: What the Bills have surrendered in pass defense is somewhat understandable. For the most part the Bills have been a stout run defense all season long. This often forces an opponent to become one-dimensional, like the Jets offense was a couple of weeks ago.

As a result New York dropped back to pass a lot. Tom Brady was a bit of a different story. He got into such a rhythm passing that the Patriots chose to go with a pass heavy approach and it worked for them. The New England game however, has been the exception rather than the rule.

Buffalo is a very respectable 13th in the league against the pass. To be able to couple that with the eighth-ranked run defense is pretty good.

Often times in the league some of the top run defenses in football don’t have a pass defense ranking nearly as high. It’s because their run defense is so effective it forces opponents to pass to gain yards and score points, usually to try to climb back into the game.

When teams with stout run defenses have a respectable lead in games, they’ll often give up pass yards in exchange for killing time on the game clock. To see Buffalo in the top half of the league against the run and the pass is pretty impressive.

 

2 – Chris,

After Chris Hogan’s catch at the goal line against the Vikings, do you think that coach Marrone is gonna use him more every week???

Thanks,

Chris from NY


CB:
I think things are certainly trending in that direction. He has a good rapport with Kyle Orton and Orton trusts him to execute his route assignments and be in the right place at the right time. Hogan is one of the receivers who participates in Orton’s Tuesday throwing sessions on their off day. So that on field chemistry can only grow and get stronger.

Hogan does all the right things to make himself a better contributor in Buffalo’s offense, so yes I do think he’ll see more playing time as the year wears on.

 

3 – Chris:

Thanks for your coverage, research and opinions.

I ask for your opinion on a few things:
A)  Will CJ Spiller opt out of his final year or elect to rebound next year to improve his potential on the free agency market.

B) Do you think the Bills want him back or are they ready to move on?

C) Will Mike Williams get out of the Head Coach’s Dog House or is he done and will not dressed once the receivers are all healthy?

D) Will the Bills continue to carry a Kickoff Specialist since injuries have impacted the roster and Guy’s touchbacks have seemed to decline?


CB:
Here are my answers in letter order.

A – I think he will make himself a free agent to be.

B – I think the Bills will make an effort to re-sign Spiller

C – Mike Williams to his credit is putting in extra work on special teams during the practice week to get on the field that way. It’s hard to really get to the bottom of what’s keeping him off the field, but seeing a player like Chris Hogan emerge, who does all the right things and puts in the extra work and is reliable might be an indicator.

D – Jordan Gay has been a solid kickoff specialist this season. The only reason is touchback percentage dropped recently (it was at almost 75%) was because the Bills faced a couple of teams who give the green light to their returners even when the ball is kicked nine yards deep (Minnesota, NY Jets).

Gay’s benefit to the team is two-fold. First, it saves Carpenter’s leg through the course of the season. It also takes hits off the bodies of the kick coverage men on his unit when he gets touchbacks because they don’t have to go make a play. It’s hard to know where Gay’s role will go in the future, but he’s performed pretty well this season in my opinion.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

Last year I wrote you and was kinda hard on you, and I appreciate you writing back, I live in Florida, grew up in WNY. Love the Bills, probably too much,  I was at the New England game, I talked to a lot of folks, CJ Spiller is our question, listen to all of the interviews, please could you pass on to him, he always says, always says he will only take what they give him, nobody will give him anything, take more than what they give him, stay inbounds, put your head down and get another yard. It’s time for this team to get some attitude, the fans are mad, we are furious, we have a good team and it is being wasted.

Chris am I out of line, or do you see players that are not working? I really think this team is only as good as our weakest link. Spiller and Gilmore are terrible, they play with no heart, please pass it on , we do not like watching Spiller running out of bounds, its depressing, thanks for listening, go Bills,

Doug Collins

CB: Don’t worry about the harsh words the last time. I know more often than not it comes from the passion you fans have for your team. No offense taken. As for C.J. and Gilmore however, I don’t think you could be more wrong about them not having heart.

They’re two of the harder working players on the team. Their commitment in the offseason is exemplary and both are often putting in extra time after practice.

You’re not alone in being frustrated that C.J. Spiller isn’t more productive in Buffalo’s offense. Obviously now he’s focused on just getting healthy after his shoulder injury, but Spiller wants to succeed more than anybody.

One thing that I’ve talked to Mark Kelso about in the past is how Spiller might benefit from lining up in the backfield deeper. Spiller is so fast that he gets to the line of scrimmage where the hole should be before it actually opens up for him. Arriving so early the hole is not established and he has to find another option, and often chooses to bounce it outside.

Kelso has explained to me, and it makes sense, that if he lines up deeper in the backfield he’ll arrive at the line of scrimmage in better time with the blocks being executed and the hole will be there for him to exploit.

The Kansas City Chiefs do this with Jamaal Charles. Another speedy back, Charles lines up deeper in the backfield and arrives at the line in proper timing with the linemen. I don’t know that it’s a cure all, but if he’s able to come off I-R before the season is over or let’s hope for the postseason I’d like to see if that could fix things.

As for Stephon Gilmore I think he’s played better as the season has gone on. He’s not giving up big plays and he’s been physical with some of the bigger, stronger receivers this season.

 

5 – Chris,
First off, you do a great job keeping us rabid Bills fans informed and do it in a professional manner. Thanks!
I’m sure you are probably sick of hearing about fans complaining of poor officiating.In the NHL, between the intermissions,the officials watch video and are in contact with the league about the calls they made & missed. They make a concerted effort to get better so they make less mistakes during the game-sort of like a coaching staff making adjustments. Could you please let us fans know if the NFL does this and,if not,WHY?
Players,if they make too many mistakes, get cut. Coaches lose too many games,get fired. There is accountability. Doesn’t seem to be the case with NFL officials.

Tom Dinder

CB: To my knowledge NFL officials do not review their calls from the first half at halftime. First and foremost halftime is rather brief (about 10-12 minutes for officials). Officials are schooled up in the offseason and are prepped for the season by attending NFL training camps to get ready for the preseason and regular season.

I do know that coaches will ask officials to keep an eye on certain things as the game unfolds, but beyond that there isn’t much else that’s done proactively by NFL officials as I understand it.

Thanks for the kind words.

 


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

Spiller making good progress

Posted by Chris Brown on November 3, 2014 – 4:50 pm

He’s on injured reserve with the designation to return following a shoulder injury back in Week 7, but C.J. Spiller is optimistic a return by the end of the season is possible.

“You’re a competitor. You want to be out there. You want to be out there to help your team win,” said Spiller in the Bills locker room Monday. “This is the most I’ve ever missed in my playing career since I’ve been playing this game, which is going on 21 years now. So it really sucks, but I’ve still got a good positive outlook on it. I’m doing everything I can to make sure the guys are prepared on Sundays. I’m still watching film, looking over the game plan so I can stay in touch with everything so it’s not a foreign language when I return. Hopefully come playoff time I’ll be ready.”

Spiller was reluctant to weigh the chances of him returning before the end of the regular season.

“I don’t want to put a percentage on it. I’m just taking it one day at a time,” he said. “Everything is looking good and feeling good. So rehab is going really well, so I don’t want to put the chance of anything on it. If I’m good to go I’ll go.”

What Spiller was most relieved about was being designated as the I-R player to return meaning his season was not necessarily over after sustaining the injury.

“It was a big relief. It was something that was new. I had never been in that position before,” he said. “That just shows they have faith that we’ll have an opportunity to be in the playoff hunt. So anytime you can get another playmaker back during that time it’s always important. So I’m relieved about that and I’ve been taking it one day at a time.”

 

 


Tags: ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-24

Posted by Chris Brown on October 24, 2014 – 12:27 pm

A big division tilt with the Jets on Sunday at MetLife stadium before the bye. Here are your questions this week from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills. Keep them coming.

1 – Hello Chris, thank you for keeping us Bills fans up to date with all the great insider news!

My question is very simple. With such a stout defensive line and very talented linebackers, and a talented secondary why is it in your opinion the bills give up so many pass yards?

CB: The passing yards given up by most NFL defenses are sometimes a byproduct of having a good run defense. In the Patriots game for example, Buffalo completely shut down the Patriots run game, so New England turned to their passing game. Unfortunately Tom Brady got hot and there were some miscommunication problems in the secondary according to the players.

In most cases strong run defenses make opposing offenses one-dimensional and the opponent turns to the pass game. So a good number of teams that play great run defense give up more yards through the air. Generally it’s because the opponent is behind on the scoreboard because they’ve been punting the ball away because they’re unable to run and hold onto the ball through a balance attack.

The Bills aren’t a true representation of that rule because they’ve been behind on the scoreboard a good deal, even in their last two victories. But their run defense is ranked in the top five and often forces opponents to start throwing to move the ball. More passing yards are then racked up and the Bills pass defense ranking suffers. Hope that spells it out.

 

2 – Chris,

Thanks for the work you do. When I talk to my fellow fans the thing I hear most often is some variation of “Why do they keep trying to run Spiller up the middle?”  I’ll admit I ask the same thing when I see this electrifying player disappear into the line. Does coach Hackett hear the same criticism that I do? Spiller is great in space, and the the inside of the line is our weakest position. Has he been asked about it? Do you think he’s capable of adjusting his offense to utilize Spiller’s strengths? Or is he happy with the results he is getting?

Thanks again,
Brian

CB: As the players and coaches have explained the lack of success up the middle is an all-encompassing problem. Their inside zone runs used to be their bread and butter plays going all the way back to running them under former head coach Chan Gailey. They have been less successful of late including the carries by C.J. Spiller. Spiller, before he got hurt, told us he has to trust his eyes more and that the hole will be there when he arrives.

The linemen have blamed themselves for not effectively controlling the line of scrimmage on a consistent basis. Coach Marrone has also put it on himself and his offensive staff to devise more effective ways to get more productive run plays for all of their backs.

 

3 – Hey Chris,

Some sites say Orton is making $5.5 mil a year on a two-year deal. Other sites say $3mil this year. Are they wrong or is he getting $3mil salary this year and a $2mil signing bonus for this season?

Thanks for the clarity!

Go Kyle, Go Bills!

CB: It is a two-year deal and the total value is $11M. The other reports you’re seeing are just breaking down the money differently based off of base salary, signing bonus amortization and guaranteed money. Signing bonus is paid out as soon as the contract is signed, but that money is averaged out over the length of the contract when it comes to the salary cap hit.

 

4 – Hi Chris:

I can’t for the life of me figure out why our offensive coaches won’t use Fred and CJ on the field in the backfield together (Pro Set)? The only time I can recall seeing this formation was a couple years ago in the red zone and they scored on the play. It seems like a no brainer to have two of your best playmakers in the backfield together. It’s a matchup nightmare given their pass catching abilities. It also dictates to the defense, because they are forced to respect their abilities and account for both. I wish this message could be personally relayed to Nathan Hackett. Thanks for your time and I appreciate all the insight.

Regards,
Nick U.

CB: They have been on the field together at the same time, albeit sparingly, this season. Now neither are available, but I understand your point. I thought with the running back talent in reserve on this roster (Brown, Dixon) that there would be less of a risk in using both Jackson and Spiller on the field at the same time. I know they have a specific package for that split back look, and they have been on the field at the same time with Spiller split wide. There just wasn’t a lot of it prior to the two of them getting hurt.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

I have been following the Bills for years in Ohio and NC and you truly do a great job bringing Bills coverage to people outside of WNY.

My question is about the pass interference/defensive holding call against Sammy Watkins on the sideline in the Detroit game that was picked up and given an explanation of “all contact was legal” by the ref. I almost had a coronary when that happened and am sure Coach Marrone felt the same way. The CB was all over Sammy on that play and for the flag to get picked up blew my mind. Has there been any reasoning from the league or officials as to that play?

Thanks for everything
Chris in NC
CB: Thanks for the kind words Chris.

Unfortunately there’s no good answer for you on pass interference and defensive holding because it’s a judgment call by the officials. On that play it was a 3rd-and-8 with Watkins beyond five yards and standing at the first down marker when Darius Slay was flagged for defensive holding. We have a great look at it at the 1:35 mark of our ‘Wired for Sound’ feature from that week when we had Watkins wearing the mic. You’ll see the flag is thrown. Later it was picked up.

At that time it was the third flag picked up of the season that would have benefited the Bills. I think every NFL team understands it’s going to be a judgment call. What really makes it difficult for teams to accept is when the call is changed after it is made or wiped out completely, especially in the competitive atmosphere of a game.

The Bills just like any other club handle those issues internally with the league’s head of officiating, Dean Blandino.


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

The timetable for Spiller under short-term I-R

Posted by Chris Brown on October 21, 2014 – 1:59 pm

With C.J. Spiller placed on injured reserve – designated to return, or short term injured reserve, he will have the ability to return before the regular season is over, but not for much of it. Today, Oct. 21st is the first day that the clock starts on his possible return. Here’s how the timetable lays out under the short term I-R rules.

The short term I-R rules state the following.

A player who has been designated for return is ineligible to practice until six weeks have elapsed since the date he was placed on Reserve, and is not eligible to return to the Active/Inactive List until eight weeks have elapsed since the date he was placed on Reserve. The business day (prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time) that the player is placed on Reserve counts as the first day.

That means that Spiller will not be able to even practice with his teammates again until Wednesday Dec. 3rd in Week 14. Two weeks later if all goes well he could then be added back to the active roster on Dec. 16th and be eligible to play in Weeks 16 at the Raiders, and 17 at the Patriots.

This is a smart move by the club because if the Bills are still in the playoff hunt, they’ll be able to make use of Spiller in games that could very well be critical to qualify for the postseason the last two weeks of the year. Not to mention the fact that the other backs on the roster could sustain injuries of their own between now and then. Having the ability to bring Spiller back into the fold at the end of the season could prove valuable.


Tags: ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

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.”


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

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.”

 


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

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.


Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

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.


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Hackett on using C.J. and Sammy

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2014 – 10:55 am

They are two of the most physically gifted players in the entire league, but in the eyes of some C.J. Spiller and Sammy Watkins haven’t been utilized enough in Buffalo’s offense. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett commented on the number of offensive plays run by the Bills the participation of Spiller and Watkins in those plays.

Through the first six games Spiller and Watkins have had the ball put in their hands on 28 percent of the offensive plays run, with 107 combined carries and receptions out of 382 plays run. When asked if they need to get more involved more often Hackett said that is always the plan.

“Of course. There are all kinds of things and those kinds of things need to be executed the right way,” Hackett said. “Sometimes it looks like they might not have been a priority, but they probably were and some circumstances changed that. I think whenever you have those guys on the field you always want to try to highlight them as much as you can.”

Hackett denied that Watkins was ignored in last week’s game against the Patriots because he was being covered by Darrelle Revis.

“No, I think we wanted to utilize him in certain situations,” said Hackett. “We wanted to let him work on him a little bit and then once we came out in the second half we targeted him and he started doing a good job so it’s one of those things where he’s young and we wanted him to get a feel for everything and then we start feeding him.”

Hackett also said they’d like to feed Spiller the ball as much as possible too, but he again came back to execution.

“(C.J. is) another guy we have to keep feeding him the ball and get him up field,” said Hackett. “When you get that opportunity to make a play the key is to take advantage of it. The thing with C.J. is he wants to sometimes do too much. We always say, ‘See three, get three.’ If he focuses on that he’ll hit his stride again.”


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills