Inside The Bills

Hogan: Players have to adjust to defenses

Posted by Chris Brown on November 15, 2014 – 12:51 pm

On more than one occasion Kyle Orton has tipped his hat to the opposing defense citing their ability to make a good play call to counteract what the Bills had planned in a crucial situation in each of the last two games, both losses. As Chris Hogan sees it they just have to be better and make adjustments on the fly to make it a successful play anyway.

“That’s part of the game. Those guys get paid too,” said Hogan of their opponents making plays against them, particularly in the red zone. “They do their homework and they do their scouting and everything. You got to expect that sometimes when you get down there they’re going to have the right plays called and the right defenses dialed up for the plays we want to run down there.  That’s just part of the game.  We just have to, as players, adjust to it.”

 


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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

Hogan: Orton gave us push that we needed

Posted by Chris Brown on November 5, 2014 – 10:06 am

As we profiled on Buffalobills.com today, Kyle Orton’s insertion into the lineup has provided the offense with a stabilizing force at their most important position. He’s been a clutch performer, but more importantly he’s demanded more of each skill position player on offense and been specific in exactly what he needs from each of them so their offense can operate a peak efficiency. WR Chris Hogan explained how instrumental that’s been for Buffalo’s attack.

Hogan called Orton “demanding,” but in the same breath said that’s just what the young receiving corps needed.

“We’ve got a lot of talented guys throughout the skill positions, running back, receiver and everything,” Hogan told Buffalobills.com. “We just needed a guy to give us a little bit of a push and Kyle has come in and is taking advantage of the guys that we have at the receiver position and the running backs. Throughout the week he wants to get the ball in the hands of those guys and let us go out there and make plays.”

Hogan along with Sammy Watkins and others will be having a passing session with Orton on their off day this afternoon.


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Hogan set for homecoming

Posted by Chris Brown on October 25, 2014 – 12:15 pm

Bills WR Chris Hogan is all ready for what will amount to a homecoming game for him. The Ramapo HS grad and Wyckoff, New Jersey native will be playing at MetLife stadium Sunday, which sits just 35 minutes from his boyhood home. His family and more than 50 friends and supporters will also be on hand.

“I’m real excited. I’m really looking forward to this game,” said Hogan. “It’s always fun going back home and having family and friends being able to be there to support you. I’m really looking forward to going back home and getting a win before we head into this bye week.”


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Chris Hogan’s BOSE playlist

Posted by buffalobills.com on October 25, 2014 – 10:17 am

chrisH_bose_01E

This year BOSE, the Official Sound of the Bills, is going to bring insider access to fans by showing fans what songs Bills players listen to on game day.  For 12 weeks during the 2014 season, a different Bills player will be featured in the Player Playlist, presented by BOSE.  For week #8, it’s Bills WR Chris Hogan.  Check out the songs Chris will be listening to on Sunday to get him pumped up before he takes on New York.


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Posted in Corporate, Inside the Bills

Hogan’s goal line catch gets major pub

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2014 – 10:09 am

While Sammy Watkins’ catch tied the game before Dan Carpenter’s extra point last Sunday, Chris Hogan’s leaping 28-yard grab to convert a 2nd-and-20 to set the Bills up at the Minnesota two-yard line is getting more pub nationally.

ESPN’s Sportscenter ranked Hogan’s catch number 6 in its top 10 NFL plays of Week 7. ESPN Radio’s ‘Mike & Mike’ show ranked the catch No. 1 on its ‘Climb the Ladder Catches of the Week’ list. And NFL Network ranked it No. 5 on its X-Factor plays of the week.


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Orton a calming presence on final drive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Punt coverage on point

Posted by Chris Brown on August 9, 2014 – 12:57 am

The Bills punt coverage unit had a solid night as the three punts they sent at the Panthers resulted in no return yards for Carolina in the game.

Brian Moorman’s first punt was downed by Nigel Bradham at the Carolina 12-yard line and not returned. His second was fielded by Kenjon Barner, but Ron Brooks dropped him for no gain. Then in the second half Chris Hogan and Jacquies Smith teamed up to stop Barner again after a long punt by rookie Jake Dombrowski. Head coach Doug Marrone was pretty pleased with the effort.

“Our special teams have done a very good job of tackling,” said Marrone. “Obviously we had the missed play on the ball with Nickell, but I think special teams-wise Nickell had a nice play earlier that he made. T.J. Graham had a return. We don’t even have the first team returners out there, but we’re tackling well which is a good sign.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-7

Posted by Chris Brown on March 7, 2014 – 11:50 am

Free agency negotiating opens Saturday, Tuesday afternoon deals can be signed. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Can you give Bills’ fan an update about Chris Hairston? Is he injured? I would like to see him compete for right tackle. What do the coaches think of him? Do you see RT as a position of need?

CB: The Bills have not provided a medical update on Hairston to this point, however, when asked by a Bills fan as to whether he’ll be ready for spring workouts in April, Hairston said he would be (see below).

@C_Hairston75 Are you full go this spring? #Bills

— Bernie Lomax (@Welborn9) March 4, 2014

@Welborn9 yes

— Chris Hairston (@C_Hairston75) March 4, 2014

 

Hairston was on the non-football illness list last season, but he appeared to have a physical ailment in training camp. Whichever cost him his entire 2013 season is unclear. Even if he is cleared to resume his career in the spring I think the Bills will be a bit leery in counting on him and putting all their eggs in his basket as right tackle competition for Erik Pears.

So in the end I think they do look for offensive tackle help in free agency or the draft.

2 – Chris,

Why does it seem like everyone thinks we need  a WR and a TE ? What`s wrong with the core we have now? All our WRs except Stevie have 2 yrs. or less experience with room to grow. And Scott Chandler may not have the speed, but he can block, catch and find ways to get open. He may not be high profile, but he`s a guy that comes to work every play. If anything we need some run stuffing LBs.

Thank You!
Mike

CB: A lot of fans naturally gravitate to the playmaking positions so it’s not surprising that many of the Bills faithful are focused on a big WR or game breaking TE. Of course GM Doug Whaley has said more than once that a receiving talent that plays big would be a huge help to the passing game and EJ Manuel.

I don’t think that focus means fans don’t think some reinforcements need to be added at linebacker. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills add a linebacker in free agency and another in the draft.

3 – Chris,

With all the talent at the offensive tackle position this year in the draft, many draft analysts have the Bills selecting one with their first round pick.  In my opinion, this would be a mistake.  Offensive tackles are not nearly as valuable in the NFL as they were 20 years ago, and do not directly affect the outcome of a game like WRs, LBs or Safeties do.  With that said, I think the Bills need more game-changing playmakers (like WR/LB) of which many of the best are found in the first round of the draft.  So my question is do you think the Bills are better off with an offensive tackle round 1 or someone at a skill position like WR?

Thanks,
Eric from Hamburg

CB: I think both OT and WR are positions that need to be addressed by the Bills in the draft. Fortunately for Buffalo they are two of the deeper positions in the 2014 class.

In determining the better option at ninth overall, a lot will depend on what falls to them at nine. There’s only one, possibly two receivers worthy of the pick at nine. Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and some are now making a case for Texas A&M’s Mike Evans. I’m not certain the value is there for Evans as a top 10 talent, but he’s close.

If one of the top three offensive tackles is there for Buffalo at nine it’d be hard to pass up as I see it. Those players being Auburn’s Greg Robinson, Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan.

I wouldn’t rule out Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio provided his knee checks out. I think he’s underrated.

I respectfully disagree with your assertion that offensive tackles aren’t nearly as valuable now as they used to be. I think they’re more valuable because offenses are passing more than ever and with offenses going to more spread formations offensive tackles need to be able to pass protect one-on-one more effectively than ever.

So I think it is a worthy pick at nine for Buffalo if the value is there with who is available.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

When the Browns raided the Bills coaching staff I was afraid we lost valuable pieces of the puzzle. Coach Marrone  not only found great replacements but quite possibly upgraded the staff not to diminish the wonderful job done by Mike Pettine. Does it show the respect Doug Marrone has garnered around the league that he’s able to bring in such quality coaches?  It must send a signal that Buffalo not the worst landing spot for coaches.  As a longtime fan I always remember the woeful staff Kay Stephenson put together back in the 80’s. Is it a telling story on how head coaches are able to put together his staffs?  Thanks for the good work……..
Wally in Fredericksburg , Va

CB: I think Marrone is a respected coach and I think the talent that’s on this roster helps sell the job of defensive coordinator as well.

Your point about the Stephenson staff is duly noted. Unfortunately that’s been repeated by other head coaches who came after him, most notably Gregg Williams and Dick Jauron. Both did not hire strong staffs and it hurt player development, which is perhaps more important than ever in the league now.

Marrone is a refreshing step forward in that respect.

5 – Hi Chris

I follow the bills everyday on the mobile app, diehard fan who grew up in Buffalo, but reside outside of Indianapolis, and watches every game via the Sunday Ticket.

My Question- I know we have a lot of young receivers on the roster, and this past year was a year of developing and see who we got. I remember Chris Hogan catching my eye in the pre-season and the broadcasters talking about how they call him 7-11 because he was always open, in which he was, and he seemed to be catching majority of what was thrown to him. That was the first game against colts. Then I didn’t see him much out there til later on in the season, and again, when he finally got a chance, they referenced him as 7-11, always open, and he would get open and catch the ball. Very curious to why they wouldn’t play him more and mix it up more if he is “always open”. I don’t remember him not contributing much when he did get to line up. Seems like any time his number was called, he truly did get open and caught balls. But his number barely got called.

Thanks, Dustin
Indianapolis

CB: Thanks very much for you insatiable interest in everything Bills. With respect to Hogan, the good news is he was just tendered by the Bills as an exclusive rights free agent, so once he signs his contract tender he’ll be back on the roster for 2014.

Hogan does have reliable hands and runs consistent routes. The fact of the matter is there are receivers ahead of him on the depth chart that have simply been blessed with more talent.

The 7-11 thing comes from a nickname he picked up while with the Dolphins in training camp when Miami was the featured team on the HBO series Hard Knocks.

A lot of times receivers get caught up in a numbers game at the position and often don’t make the 53-man roster. Then if they do finding consistent playing time is an even bigger hill to climb. This is where Hogan finds himself on Buffalo’s roster.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills to tender Hogan, McClain, Summers

Posted by Chris Brown on March 3, 2014 – 5:08 pm

While the Bills continue to try to negotiate with some of their unrestricted free agents they do plan to tender their three exclusive rights free agents.

Bills GM Doug Whaley confirmed those plans Monday afternoon.

“We’ve tendered offers to all our exclusive free agents and tendered those guys to some contracts,” said Whaley.

Buffalo’s exclusive rights free agents were WR Chris Hogan, OL Antoine McClain and FB Frank Summers.

Players who are exclusive rights free agents can only re-sign with their current clubs so the trio of players re-signing is a formality that will likely be taken care of in the near future.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

CB Smith sick, WR Hogan has back injury

Posted by Chris Brown on October 31, 2013 – 1:38 pm

The Bills had a couple of reserve players added to their injury report Thursday.

WR Chris Hogan missed Thursday’s practice and CB Brandon Smith missed part of Thursday’s practice.

Hogan has a back injury and Smith was sick. That according to head coach Doug Marrone.


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Fan Friday 10-25

Posted by Chris Brown on October 25, 2013 – 1:18 pm

Here’s the latest edition of questions from you the fans on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - @ChrisBrownBills

I would like to know how many special teams tackles Easley has inside the 20.

jkempfbills12

CB: We actually did a feature story today on Buffalobills.com on Marcus Easley. Our contributing correspondent Mark Belcher crunched the numbers and found that Buffalo leads the league with 10 kickoff coverage tackles inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Easley has six of them. The Bills gunner currently leads the league with 13 special teams tackles this season.

2 - @ChrisBrownBills

Hey Chris,
Do you see Bills Blitzing a lot on Sunday or playing more conservative with Brees pulling the trigger?

TVanderklok

CB: I think you have to careful with how you handle Drew Brees in terms of being aggressive. Brees is third in the NFL in passer rating against the blitz with a mark of 118.4, so blitzing is not a simple answer. Here’s head coach Doug Marrone on how to handle a quarterback he knows quite well having coached him for three seasons in New Orleans.

In his weekly appearance on Bills flagships station WGR Sportsradio 550, Marrone said the following when it comes to defending Brees.

“One thing you can’t do is you can’t be the same, show him the same type of look and play zone or man too much,” said Marrone. “If you give him a dose of the same stuff they’ll get after you. That’s the same with all those elite quarterbacks. You have to keep them thinking throughout the play. Before the play start if they have a good bead on what you’re doing they have an advantage. So if they’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing and people are moving around and they’re trying to figure it out as they go you have a better opportunity.”

3 – Chris,

Thanks for all the work you do! Regarding EJ, is he still in attendance at practice? Will he be at the game Sunday either on the sideline or in the box with Hackett?

Go bills!
Max

CB: EJ is not typically in attendance at practice, but he is in all the team meetings and reviewing film on a weekly basis. He is also traveling with the team and yes he is sitting in the coach’s booth with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to get a different perspective on the game from above.

This is what they did with Thad Lewis when he was on the practice squad.

4 – Chris,

I notice that the Bills don’t have an individual QB coach for your young QBs. Normally this wouldn’t be as much a concern if there was vet there to help mentor the young guys, but this isn’t the case.

I know Hackett is listed as QB coach, but he’s also OC, and has never played the position or coached it at a professional level. Are there plans to get the young QBs coaching on mechanics, game-time discussions, and work on mechanics that will help bring them along? After watching EJ struggle with mechanics, I’m worried the Bills have made a mistake in not providing a QB coach who has done it before as a resource.

Thanks Chris!
Todd, Rochester NY

CB: You’re right Hackett is both the offensive coordinator and the quarterbacks coach. Head coach Doug Marrone did say when Kevin Kolb is fully recovered from his concussion that they’d like him to come around more and help the younger quarterbacks. We’ll see if that comes to pass.

 

5 – Chris,
Good pre-game coverage. Question:  How is it possible that Hogan is ahead of Easley on the WR depth chart.  I think Easley is a bigger, stronger WR than Hogan and has better hands and speed than Hogan. Makes no sense.  Very frustrating, reminds me back when Stevie was on the bench rather than starting when he was clearly the best WR option at that time years ago.

I think if Bills moved Easley ahead of Hogan they would be pleasantly surprised. I think once Easley demonstrates he can make plays they’ll have a hard time getting him out of the line up.

CB: I think you’re referring to the Cincinnati game in which Hogan saw his most playing time on offense. The main reason why he played more than Easley is he’s a backup slot receiver and Stevie Johnson missed that game with his back injury. Easley is strictly an outside receiver.

I think Hogan is also a quicker receiver in and out of his cuts than Easley, who is more of a long strider. Easley has build-up speed. Hogan is more sudden, which helps him gain quicker separation inside. That’s why he was a better fit.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-20

Posted by Chris Brown on September 20, 2013 – 11:44 am

The second big division game in three weeks coming up on Sunday. Don’t forget the 4:25 pm start this week. Here are some of the more popular questions from you the fans this week. Keep the questions coming on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 -  Hi Chris,

I noticed that Jamaal Westerman made the roster, however I know very little about this athlete. Can you you provide a bit of information as to how he made the team.

thanks & regards
from Richard in Los Angeles

CB: Westerman was a late free agent signee during training camp. The advantage he had was he spent three seasons in Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme with the Jets as a reserve OLB from 2009-2011 after New York signed him as an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers.

He split last season between Indianapolis and Arizona, and through his first two weeks here it’s clear he’s got an important role on special teams (39 snaps in 2 games) with a rotational role on defense where to this point he’s been used sparingly.


2 –
Hi Chris.

I’m curious about how our offense is called and I’m hoping you can shed some light. Does the Marrone/Hackett offense use simplified terms as part of the fast-paced attack? I would assume so, given the emphasis on fast execution and the fact that it’s an established trend made clearly successful by the likes of Peyton manning, New England and others…but I’ve read that our offense is based on the west coast system, which of course uses long, complex terminology…I’ve always believed that this simplicity is key to why manning and Brady-led offenses make fewer self-defeating mistakes than most other teams. Thanks…

CB: I know there was a detailed piece in the Boston Globe last year by Greg Bedard on the short-worded plays in New England’s offense. Sometimes just one word said it all. The Bills do similarly keep their play calls short for the purpose of moving faster as well. Oftentimes the plays are just three to five words. So your suspicions are correct.


3 –
Chris,

I read in two different articles that the new CBA says that if Carpenter is on our active roster on opening day and then we cut him after the Pats game we have to pay him the entire season veteran minimum of $630,000.00. Is that the way the CBA works now?

Thanks.
Long time Buffalo Fan

CB: Yes, that’s right, but that’s always been the case even prior to the new CBA in 2011. When a vested veteran player (4 accrued season in the league) is signed prior to the first regular season game so long as he is still on the roster the Saturday before the opener his salary for that season is guaranteed.

The Bills were really in a difficult spot due to Hopkins injury. They needed someone to kick and have to bite the bullet on Carpenter’s salary even though he’s unlikely to be here for the whole season.

This is why you often see NFL clubs wait until the Tuesday after the season opener to sign veteran free agents they might need to fill a hole on the roster. By signing a veteran player in Week 2 a  team is free to release said player without owing him his full season salary.

The Bills in this case didn’t have that option.

4 – Chris,

Don’t you think the Bills may get more from the WR position going with Easley and Hogan over Graham and Goodwin ?

I think Easley is ready to take the next step and Hogan has a knack for getting open.  Goodwin is now injured and Graham has yet to show he can gain separation and make plays.  Easley has good speed as well to try and stretch the field.

Randy C

CB: While I don’t disagree with your assessments of Easley and Hogan, I do disagree with your assessment of T.J. Graham.

Graham has been open, he just hasn’t been targeted much by E.J. Manuel. In fact on the final drive in the Carolina game alone he was wide open on three plays. What you have to understand is if Graham is not the primary or secondary read, it’s less likely that he’ll be targeted in the passing game.

Through two games he’s been targeted a total of four times.

We also need to consider the possibility that in an effort to not put too much on Manuel’s plate the offensive staff might only be having him read half the field on certain pass plays so he has only two reads instead of three or four in an effort to avoid sacks by getting the ball out faster.

But in watching the game film I can tell you Graham is getting separation and is getting open a good amount of the time.


5 –
Hi Chris,

Thank you for the great Bills coverage you provide day in and day out.

Question,  is tight end Mike Caussin on the Bills Injured Reserve list?  I know he was initially waived injured.  I don’t see his name listed in the injured reserve section of the Bills Roster on buffalobills.com.  I read he had season ending hip surgery on August 21.  Any word on how he is doing?

Thanks!
Richard

CB: Yes, Mike Caussin is on the Bills injured reserve list. He was waived-injured on Aug. 14th and when he was not claimed by another NFL club, he reverts back to Buffalo’s injured reserve list. And that’s where he is at this time.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Cornerback injuries cost Carolina

Posted by Chris Brown on September 15, 2013 – 10:58 pm

The Carolina Panthers were already down one cornerback in James Dockery, who was out with a thumb injury. They also had a young cornerback on the inactive list in Melvin White. In hindsight they would’ve preferred to have all the healthy corners up for Sunday’s game.

Carolina CB Josh Thomas went out in the first half with a concussion. CB Josh Norman missed time with a thigh injury and S Charles Godfrey was carted off with an ankle injury. All told the Panthers were down to just three healthy corners and it had an impact on the final offensive play of the game for Buffalo.

With six seconds left on a 2nd-and-1 at the two-yard line, Norman, who returned to the game had Chris Hogan in man to man coverage lined up outside. Reserve CB D.J. Moore had Stevie Johnson inside in the slot man to man. Moore isn’t typically the team’s slot corner, Captain Munnerlyn typically slides inside when defending three wide sets.

Hogan ran a slant inside while Johnson slid behind him on a corner route.

It looked as though Norman thought they were staying with their coverage assignment through the entire play, while Moore thought they would switch coverage assignments if they crossed their face. Moore stopped covering Johnson to switch to Hogan and bumped into Norman, who stayed with Hogan. Johnson was wide open for the game-tying TD.

“We got rubbed off, is basically what happened,” said Carolina head coach Ron Rivera. “We’re in man coverage right there. We’ve got to work through the pick, make sure we’re communicating and get through, and not get picked off. It was a tough situation, and unfortunately, it worked to their benefit.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

All 6 Bills WRs up today

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2013 – 12:51 pm

The Bills have all six of their wide receivers on the 53-man roster up today. It serves as solid indication that Buffalo’s offense is going to be spreading the field a good deal against the Patriots today.

Most NFL clubs when facing the Patriots formidable front seven, which was ninth in the league against the run in 2012, spread the field in order to run the ball. Most expect Buffalo to do the same.

Four of Buffalo’s six receivers (Marcus Easley, Chris Hogan, Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods) are playing in their first career NFL regular season game today.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Playing time thru 2 for WRs

Posted by Chris Brown on August 24, 2013 – 2:35 pm

Here’s a look at the snap counts for the Bills wide receivers through two preseason games.

Knowing their snaps on special teams could be an indicator as to a receiver’s chances to make the roster, below the table of their snap counts on offense are their special teams snap counts as well.

WR offensive snap counts thru 2 games
Name                                    Snaps
Robert Woods                   65
Marcus Easley                   63
Chris Hogan                        59
Brandon Kaufman           53
Marquise Goodwin         52
DeMarco Sampson          44
Da’Rick Rogers                  33
T.J. Graham (1 gm)          27
Brad Smith (1 gm)            11

WR special teams snap counts thru 2 games
Name                                    Snaps
Marcus Easley                   24
Chris Hogan                        16
Da’Rick Rogers                  16
Marquise Goodwin         14
DeMarco Sampson          12
Robert Woods                   10
Brad Smith (1 gm)            2
T.J. Graham (1 gm)          1
Brandon Kaufman           0

The coaching staff’s eagerness to get long looks at Easley and Hogan are obvious on both offense and special teams. Not seeing any time on special teams for Brandon Kaufman certainly doesn’t help his cause. We’ll have to see if he sees action on special teams this afternoon against Washington.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Do Hogan and Easley have edge in WR battle?

Posted by Chris Brown on August 17, 2013 – 1:27 am

Bills receivers Chris Hogan and Marcus Easley saw the most action at receiver early in the win over Minnesota Friday night. Hogan finished as the team’s leading receiver with four catches for 34 yards on seven targets. Easley was targeted five times and had three catches for 46 yards. With just one or possibly two open spots left at receiver, Hogan and Easley could be the pair with a slim lead on the rest of the competition.

It’s widely believed that Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin are locked in as the top four wideouts.

That leaves one, possibly two (if the team keeps 6 WRs) spots open for players like Hogan and Easley, who have been among the more productive reserve receivers to this point in camp and the game.

Head coach Doug Marrone has certainly noticed.

“Those guys have done a nice job in training camp, they’ve done a good job in special teams,” said Marrone. “They got a lot of looks out there, so again the more we can put them on tape the better they can get and develop. Marcus was out for a bit of time (in the spring). Hogan has been very productive for us, so I just think it’s a matter of having those guys out there. It’s going to be some tough decisions to make down the road on the receivers with the numbers. We’ve got some pretty good players and guys that are playing well at that receiver position.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Manuel’s decision making largely positive

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2013 – 7:13 am

Not all of his decision were sound on Sunday, but EJ Manuel made better and better judgments as the game went along. Here’s a closer look at EJ Manuel’s first NFL outing as we examine his decision making on some of his better plays in Sunday’s win over Indianapolis.

4:43 left 1st quarter – 3rd-and-6 at Colts 48 – Indianapolis shows cover-2 man defense and Manuel after going through his progressions chooses to tuck and run to a huge area of green space to his left and gains 24 yards on a scramble.

“I liked when they go ahead with two-man and it’s a critical third down and you see him run it and make a big gain,” said Doug Marrone. “I think those things are important for what we have to do moving forward.”

The drive ended with a field goal.

12:23 left 2nd quarter – 3rd-and-3 at Colts 20 – Off a three-step drop Manuel turns and fires in rhythm to Chris Hogan working a slant route over the middle for a seven-yard gain and first down.

11:16 left 2nd quarter – 3rd-and-2 at Colts five-yard line – Same drive and the Bills call a rollout for Manuel hoping the Colts would continue to play the receivers with inside technique so Manuel could put a pass on the outside shoulder of the receiver for a touchdown, but the Colts changed their coverage on the play with the defensive back playing outside technique. With a linebacker closing on Manuel and nowhere to go with the ball Manuel opts to throw it away out of bounds.

“He thought it was a great decision,” said Manuel of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. “Rolling out don’t try and make a play doing too much by trying to force a ball in there and then you get a deflection or an interception. We already have points. We’re in the red zone so throw the ball away and try to get three.”

Buffalo got a field goal on the drive.

1:13 left 2nd quarter – 2nd-and-5 at Bills 37 – Another three-step drop play where again Manuel is in good rhythm, cocks and fires a strike to Robert Woods working out of the slot for an eight-yard pickup and a first down.

:19 left 2nd quarter – 2nd-and-9 at Colts 17 – The Colts play cover two leaving Dorin Dickerson one-on-one down the seam. Manuel put the ball on his inside shoulder away from the defender in coverage to lead Dickerson into the end zone.

“I was just reading the defense there and they had two high safeties and Dorin ran the middle read and he was open and I just threw him the ball,” said Manuel.

“The two minute drill was impressive,” said Marrone. “We’re on the minus 5 and we’ve got three timeouts and a minute 50 left. To do that it’s very impressive no matter who you are so I was excited about that.

“What I’m looking for is how they react to things and are you just going to get better and better as the game went along. Not to say that he was settled in and everything was fine, that’s what it looked like. Now you just have to wonder how it’s going to be going forward, but you’re seeing some good things. I’ll tell you for a young guy going in there in my opinion I was very pleased.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Battle tight among secondary WRs

Posted by Chris Brown on August 11, 2013 – 10:15 pm

It seems as though the top four receivers slots are pretty much set with Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin manning those roles. Beyond that however, the battle for spots five and possibly six is heating up in the wake of the team’s preseason opener.

Chris Hogan was targeted three times and made a pair of receptions for 11 yards. That included a third down conversion on a 3rd-and-3 that led to a field goal for Buffalo. In fact all three times that EJ Manuel targeted Hogan was on third downs as Hogan worked primarily out of the slot Sunday.

Da’Rick Rogers was targeted just once in the game, but made the most of it earning praise from head coach Doug Marrone on his six-yard touchdown reception.

“Da’Rick Rogers really set the guy up nice, pushed him outside, ran the slant, scored the touchdown,” said Marrone.

Marcus Easley not only led all receivers in Sunday’s game with seven receptions for 94 yards, but now stands tied for the league lead in receptions after preseason Week 2 with Miami’s Chad Bumphis. He’s also second only to Bumphis in receiving yardage. Bumphis has 111 receiving yards.

Three of his receptions came on the first touchdown drive of the second half that was capped by Rogers. They went for 9, 29 and 13 yards respectively. He then caught four more balls on the next drive as Jeff Tuel was locked in on him for another 43 yards, good for more than half of the 68 yards on the drive.

“There were a lot of routes that we won. Easley made a couple of nice plays,” said Marrone.

And Brandon Kaufman tried to make himself a part of the conversation with a pair of catches for 34 yards, including a difficult grab along the sideline and a touchdown reception.

“I thought those guys were winning quite a bit out there. It’s got me interested moving forward,” said Marrone. “The one thing is those guys are going to have some opportunities and when they have those opportunities they’ll be able to separate themselves and we’ll keep evaluating. The good thing about it is that may be a tough decision down the road for us in how does that break up with those receivers? But that’s not a bad thing. I think we’ve got guys where all those guys I know can play at this level.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Receiver listings most interesting

Posted by Chris Brown on August 5, 2013 – 4:17 pm

depth-chart-bbcomThere aren’t a lot of surprises on the Bills first unofficial depth chart. At receiver though where there will be a lot of jockeying for position and roles, it worth noting how things are laid out here at the outset.

The top four receivers listed on the depth chart are Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. The next sets of pairings are as follows.

Brad Smith and Chris Hogan
Marcus Easley and Kevin Elliott
Da’Rick Rogers and DeMarco Sampson
Brandon Kaufman and Terrell Sinkfield

There are obviously still four preseason games to be played so these positions are likely to be shuffled somewhat before the preseason is over. Just knowing there are eight receivers in the mix for one or two of the final receiver spots should make for some heated competition.


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Posted in Inside the Bills