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.


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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.


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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.

 


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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.”

 

 


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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.


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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.


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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.”


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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.”

 


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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.


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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.


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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.”


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Rush frequency impacted by time & score

Posted by Chris Brown on October 15, 2014 – 5:44 pm

The Bills run game has had its share of struggles not just this past week against New England, but the past three games. A good part of why is rooted in being behind on the scoreboard. Trailing in the game has contributed to calling more pass plays than usual, which is why Buffalo’s run percentage is down from what it was last season.

Last year when the Bills had the number two rushing offense in football they ran the ball 49 percent of the time. Over the last three games here is the run to pass figures for the offense.

Houston – 24 runs, 44 passes
Detroit – 22 runs, 43 passes
New England – 23 runs, 38 passes
—————————————-
Total – 69 runs, 125 passes

Three game run percentage – 35.5%
Three game pass percentage – 64.5%

“Obviously it’s very frustrating, but at the end of the day, the other teams do a great job of having a good game plan for trying to come in and trying to stop our running game. It’s going to take a group effort,” said C.J. Spiller. “Everybody has to do their job from the offensive line o the running backs to the tight ends to the receivers. It’s not going to be one person that just waves a magic wand around us and automatically change. It’s going to come from a group effort and we will. We’re working hard at it. The good thing is that we have another shot on Sunday to try and correct the mistakes.”

 


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Teammates backing EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2014 – 2:15 pm

Though the naysayers outside the walls of One Bills Drive have been very critical of Bills QB EJ Manuel, his teammates remain confident that their quarterback will get things done.

“My confidence is the same,” said C.J. Spiller. “It’s not a one man show but obviously in this league, the quarterback is really the focal point and the emphasis of wins and losses of teams. Obviously he didn’t have his best day and he didn’t get a lot of help either. We still have faith in him. He’s our starting quarterback. We’re going to back him.

“People are going to try to divide us and point fingers saying who should start and who shouldn’t start but we have all the confidence in the world that he’ll get the job done. Yesterday was one that just got away from him. He’ll learn from his mistakes, he takes it tough. But he’ll be fine, we’ll back him and we’ll make sure he’s ready for Detroit.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Texans’ ‘D’ wary of Bills team speed

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Goodwin, Spiller added to injury report

Posted by Chris Brown on September 25, 2014 – 3:29 pm

The Bills had a pair of additions to their injury report Thursday. C.J. Spiller was added to the report with a chest injury, but was a full participant and is not expected to miss any practice time the rest of the week. Marquise Goodwin however, saw his injury designation changed from an illness to a head injury. Head coach Doug Marrone confirmed that Goodwin is currently going through the league-mandated concussion protocol.

Player Pos Injury Participation Thursday
Marcus Easley WR Knee DNP
Randell Johnson LB Knee DNP
Chris Williams G Back DNP
Marquise Goodwin WR Concussion DNP
Keith Rivers LB Groin LP
Da’Norris Searcy S Ankle LP
Sammy Watkins WR Ribs FP
Robert Woods WR Ankle FP
EJ Manuel QB Abdomen FP
CJ Spiller RB Chest FP

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Penalties magnified with no turnovers

Posted by Chris Brown on September 22, 2014 – 2:45 pm

A team that has a high number of penalties in a game can sometimes get away with it if they win the turnover battle. On Sunday in what was a turnover free game between Buffalo and San Diego, the Bills’ 11 penalties were magnified.

The most costly infraction were the two defensive penalties in the red zone that gave the Chargers a fresh set of downs in first-and-goal situations. Defensive penalties gave San Diego five first downs in the game. Meanwhile on offense two of their longest plays from scrimmage were wiped out by penalty. C.J. Spiller’s 29-yard run and Robert Woods 21-yard catch were also taken away by penalties.

“Against a good team like that, a playoff team, a team that’s very experienced, you can’t have many mistakes, especially the penalties,” Spiller said. “You need every yard you can get. Just because of the way the game was going. Obviously, we see that they were trying to milk the clock and keep our offense off the field. Every chance we got we should have taken advantage of it because we didn’t get too many.  At the end of the day it is what it is.  We’ll correct those mistakes.  The only thing we can do is get better.”

After facing a team that made the playoffs last year Spiller believes the players on his team see the difference.

“We’re not where we want to be,” he said. “Penalties really killed us, that’s no excuse. Now we see where we need to be at to be a playoff contender.  I don’t think they made too many mistakes yesterday and that’s what playoff teams do.  You have to minimize those mistakes and the penalties.  We have to do that to take that leap.  But I think we’ll be fine.  There’s a lot of football left to be played.  It’s just one loss.  Obviously, it’s disappointing.  The only thing we can do is regroup and get ready for the Texans.”


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Fan Friday 9-19

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

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

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

BrianGriffo

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

kochsteve44

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

 

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

rahdoo

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

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

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

 

4 – Chris,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

5 – Hey Chris,

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

Thanks,
Tommy H.

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

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills go back to back on Spec. Tms. POW

Posted by Chris Brown on September 17, 2014 – 10:13 am

In Week 1 it was K Dan Carpenter earning AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. In Week 2 C.J. Spiller took the honors thanks in large part to his 102-yard kick return for a touchdown, Buffalo’s first six-point score of the game in the win over Miami. It’s not often that players on the same team win the conference Player of the Week honor back to back.

In fact this is the first time Bills players have won AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors back to back since 1994 when P Chris Mohr in Week 2 and Steve Christie in Week 3 won in consecutive weeks.

One could make the case that Carpenter could’ve won the award again in Week 2. After his 11-point performance including the game-winning FG in Week 1 at Chicago, Carpenter had a 17-point day against Miami.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fred: We’ve got to keep our heads on straight

Posted by Chris Brown on September 15, 2014 – 8:55 am

The Bills are 2-0 for the first time since a 3-0 start in 2011. Having been on that 2011 team and see that club finish 6-10 Fred Jackson isn’t going to let anybody feel good for too long about winning their first two games.

“We’re excited about being 2-0 but we just have to keep coming to work,” said Jackson. “It’s a great start but it’s just a start. We know we have to keep coming to work and that there will be more tests throughout the season and as long as guys keep making plays we like our chances.”

Offensively speaking Jackson has two areas in particular where he feels they’ve got to improve and fast.

“Even with a win you have to look around and see what you can do better,” he said. “Third-downs, we can do better on third downs. Red-zone, we’ve got to focus on that. There’s a lot that we can take away from this game. We’ve got to score more points and we know that as an offensive unit. Our defense did a great job, and we’ve got plenty of stuff we can work on offense.”

Buffalo finished 1-for-6 (17%) in the red zone and 5-for-15 (33%) on third down.

“At the end of the day, the offense we’re looking at 17 percent, that’s unacceptable in the red zone,” said C.J. Spiller. “To get where we want to go we’ve got to be a whole lot better. We’ll look at the tape, see the things that we probably missed and clean it up and try to come back next weekend and be a whole lot stronger. On third down, we were 33 percent, nowhere near what our goal is. There are some things we’ve got to clean up to put us in a better position to be able to be efficient.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone addresses C.J. on kick return

Posted by Chris Brown on September 6, 2014 – 9:34 am

The Bills primary kick returner on Sunday will be C.J. Spiller. In his weekly interview on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Friday, head coach Doug Marrone explained his process in reaching that decision.

Marrone was asked if Spiller was chosen because Marquise Goodwin is not fully healthy. Here was his response.

“I would say Goodwin is healthy, but he’s banged up so we went in there with C.J. and C.J. is a great kick returner,” said Marrone. “We feel we have three great kick returners. We’re very fortunate. We have C.J. and Marquise Goodwin and Sammy Watkins. So we have three guys we feel we can put back there.”

Spiller having done it for his entire college career as well as his first two seasons in Buffalo is looking forward to the return duties.

“I’ve done it before so it’s nothing new to me, it’s like second nature,” Spiller said. “I’ve done it my whole career so it’s not like it’s something that’s brand new. I feel comfortable fielding the ball and protecting it and giving us the best field position possible.”

When asked if Spiller has free license to bring any fieldable kick out on a return no matter how deep it is in the end zone, Marrone indicated that it’s more a case of kick hang time than distance.

“We have some rules,” he said. “If it’s nine yards deep and it’s not a long hang time let’s take it out, but if it’s nine yards deep and a five second hang time let’s take a knee. It all depends on what we want to do. If it’s right for us yes we want him to take it out.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills