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Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 2-10

Posted by Chris Brown on February 10, 2017 – 11:32 am

Into the offseason we go. Franchise and transition tag window opens next week with the NFL Combine and free agency on the horizon. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills rank the following in likelihood from high to low. Romo, tyrod, rookie qb, someone else not mentioned starting.

Jonathan Yedin
@jonyedi

CB: I’m going to put Tyrod first on this list only because he’s on the roster and under contract. Right now he’s the path of least resistance. He’s an asset that’s already here. A lot of national reporters are operating under the assumption that he’s as good as gone. I don’t subscribe to that contention. I believe it could go either way.

A rookie quarterback is a distinct possibility because regardless of what happens with Tyrod Taylor the team will have to add at the position. Obviously if the team moves on from Tyrod it would only increase the likelihood of that happening, and then this would move to the top of the list in terms of likelihood. But even if Taylor remains a Bill, EJ Manuel is a free agent. They’ll probably need another arm.

Romo is probably more likely to end up in Chicago, Houston or even Kansas City. At age 37 and with a long injury history it’s not an investment that looks all that attractive. There’s no denying his talent and his won-loss record, but at this point in his career the risk seems higher than the reward.


2 –
@ChrisBrownBills Tyrod unwilling to take a pay cut (don’t blame him), does that cement his dismissal?

Lyndsey D’Arcangelo
@darcangel21

CB: The reports that Tyrod is unwilling to restructure his deal with the Bills makes sense. First, despite the popular opinion that his contract is cost prohibitive, Taylor would be tied for 16th among starting quarterbacks in terms of average salary if the Bills pick up his option.

The past two seasons Taylor has finished seventh and ninth in Total QBR (ESPN metric).

Business-wise Taylor knows in a thin free agent quarterback market that he would be at the top of the free agent list if he was released by Buffalo, where he could potentially sign an even larger contract than the one he has with Buffalo.

Does it cement his dismissal?

I think that’s a strong way to paint the situation. While a lot of NFL business decisions are made because of money, I think the bigger factor in this particular decision is the collective opinion of the Bills front office in terms of whether they believe they can do better at the position than Taylor.

The front office has understandably been tight lipped on that subject.

That doesn’t mean money won’t be a factor. It’s probably 1A. But you have to be convinced that your product on the field can be more consistent and productive with someone besides Taylor. Then the next step is determining if that someone you have in mind is an asset you can realistically acquire.


3 –
@ChrisBrownBills You’re in charge on Draft Day. Do you take QB Trubisky or WR Williams?

Jimmy
@ItsjustJimmy

CB: This is a pretty easy decision to make based on what I think will happen in the draft. Of course as I’ve mentioned in this column before we’ve yet to see what’s acquired by the Bills in free agency. That could change their approach in the draft.

But in an effort to provide an answer I will say that this quarterback class does not appear to possess more than one prospect who is going to help a team on the field this year.

Trubisky is probably the closest thing and he’s a quarterback who couldn’t get on the field before this past season. All that being said I don’t think Trubisky falls out of the top three picks. Cleveland, San Francisco or Chicago all need quarterbacks, so one of them will take him off the board long before Buffalo is on the clock.

Going under the likely scenario that he’s off the board my preference in this particular draft is to wait on drafting a quarterback. None of the other QB prospects are NFL ready and that will continue to be a trend with the college game separating further and further from the NFL game (no huddling, no audibles, no calling plays). So that would leave me taking Mike Williams at 10 under your parameters.


4 –
@ChrisBrownBills Which RFA’s do you think the #bills will tender and at which comp. level?

Coach
@MoneyAce1984

CB: I think it’s a lock that they tender Mike Gillislee and Ryan Groy. Both had exceptional individual seasons for the Bills last year. In fact I think it wouldn’t be surprising if they tried to sign both players to long term deals to keep their cap figures more manageable.

Colton Schmidt had a bit of an up and down season last year. With a new coaching staff there’s always the chance that they could prefer someone else to Schmidt. Special teams coordinator Danny Crossman is still on the staff so that may help Schmidt’s cause.

The other thing to remember here is tendering Schmidt at the low level does nothing in the way of compensation protection. Schmidt was undrafted, so tendering him at the low level only gives you right of first refusal.

I’d be surprised if IK Enemkpali is tendered a qualifying offer.


5 –
@ChrisBrownBills any time frame on Kyle Williams’ decision on retirement?

Ian Campbell
@comedianian98

CB: When we spoke to Williams at the Pro Bowl it was clear he was still decompressing from the season. He did say he was encouraged by his initial conversations with new head coach Sean McDermott, and it’s clear his teammates are trying to get him to return.

I would anticipate that the club would ask that he make a definitive decision before free agency opens in March.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-24

Posted by Chris Brown on June 24, 2016 – 11:24 am

The offseason break for the players is underway. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Thanks for your tireless work on covering the Bills! Here is my question. Will the Bills be able to carry Seantrel Henderson on the Non Football Injury list, while he is attempting to gain his strength, build his weight back up and determine if he can resume his football career? This will open a roster spot for the team through camp and maybe beyond.

CB: Yes, the non-football injury list is an option for Buffalo with Henderson should your scenario prove to be the case come training camp. Henderson was at 306 during minicamp when he was doing workouts in the weight room on his own in practices. He wants to get up to 325 to 330 pounds when he’s back playing again. We’ll know if the five and a half weeks between now and training camp proves to be enough time for him to accomplish that. If not, the NFI list would seem to be a distinct possibility.

 

2 – Chris,

I’m curious if you think P Colton Schmidt had trouble holding for K Dan Carpenter last season?  In his interview with Brian Moorman he mentioned how difficult it was for him to hold kicks, since he never did it in college.  Is it possible the chemistry wasn’t there between the FG kicker and the holder, and the unit suffered as a result?

Thanks,
Ed

CB:
I give Schmidt a lot of credit for being so honest. There were at least two misses for Carpenter last season that I recall which could’ve been attributed to a less than ideal hold by the Bills punter. One was because the snap was off line and there wasn’t enough to get the ball down and spin the laces out, though I can’t remember the game. On the whole though I felt Schmidt acquitted himself well on holds.

I felt the chemistry was pretty solid between the two with the operation of the kick. I expect it to be even better this year based on what I saw in the spring practices.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Do you think that the defense can make it back to a top tier defense in the NFL?
Troy Davis

CB: This is one of the questions we intend to address during our Camp Countdown, which commences on July 4th. I think there are a host of reasons Buffalo’s defense has a chance to be a top 10 unit again. Much of the talent is still on this roster from the last two times they finished in the top 10 (2013, 2014).

They have upgraded their defensive coaching ranks with the addition of Rob Ryan, John Blake and Ed Reed.

Fixtures in the middle of their defense are healthy again (Aaron Williams, Kyle Williams). Rookie additions look poised to make an impact early (Ragland, Washington and eventually Lawson). And no longer is Ryan trying to blend his proven defensive scheme with elements of Jim Schwartz’s scheme that some players clung to in 2015.

 

4 – Chris,

Thanks for keeping those of us on the away team up on how our Bills are doing.

I haven’t heard anything about Nick O’Leary since the one game last year. What’s the story?

Thanks again for all you do.
Go Bills
Ken Remington

CB: O’Leary is a tight end who didn’t see quite as much action in the spring practices as other tight ends battling for the No. 2 job behind Charles Clay. Blake Annen, who we profiled on Buffalobills.com recently and Chris Gragg got the most work after Clay during the team periods of practice. Both run well and offer more size and athleticism than O’Leary. What O’Leary needs to do is highlight his versatility as much as possible when put in a move tight end role or H-back set.

With true fullbacks on the roster though that task may prove difficult. It’s clear the offensive staff was giving Annen and Gragg most of the reps after Clay. Jim Dray is the clear blocking tight end for this offense. So O’Leary has to have a strong camp to outperform one of the other tight ends and stick.

 

5 – Chris,

The Bills just signed another FA RB??  With the uncertainly at both the RG & RT positions, and almost NO depth to provide any real backup for either position, Whaley is worried about RB’s. Wait until there is a injury to the OL. The Bills need to get their act together in a hurry.  What say you??

Fan in TN

CB: After taking a breath you probably saw the main reason Boom Herron was signed as a free agent. Karlos Williams weight gain and lack of availability in the practice setting was the main reason. Without him taking reps, it would’ve put additional strain on the backs still healthy.

After watching five running backs go down to injury last summer at training camp at the same time, I think you could understand why they made the move.

Offensive line has some depth. Granted none of them are household names, but there’s a veteran C/G in Fernando Velasco, a backup guard in Ryan Groy. Cyril Richardson is still on the roster after serving on the practice squad last year.

I respect the concern for a lack of depth. Undrafted rookies usually aren’t the answer for depth in a win now type of season. I think early in camp if it’s obvious their young depth players aren’t coming along I expect they’ll address things up front.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Schmidt doing his part in punt game

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2015 – 3:24 pm

The Bills got more than a decade’s worth of solid punting from Brian Moorman, who unfortunately had to do a lot more of it than any Buffalo supporter would’ve liked. Now Colton Schmidt in his second year with the Bills has been putting together some consistent efforts.

Schmidt was one of the better performers Sunday for Buffalo with a net punting average of 41.2 and a long of 53 on a five punt day. That 53-yarder was probably the best of the day for him. Backed up at the two-yard line, Schmidt punted from his own end zone, launching the 53-yard effort out of bounds to prevent any return at the Cincinnati 45.

Schmidt now ranks 4th in the NFL in gross punting average with a mark of 48.5. He’s also 8th in the league in net punting average this season with a mark of 42.4.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-16

Posted by Chris Brown on October 16, 2015 – 10:55 am

A pivotal AFC game Sunday for the Bills. Buffalo will have to be at their best to beat a streaking Bengals club. Fortunately it looks like they’ll have some of their main horses back in the lineup. Here are your latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

W/ 23 hurt and Darby playing so well, any chance Leodis moves to Safety when healthy?

SJHNatFan

CB: First, Leodis to me is a cornerback through and through. Yes, he’s very physically gifted, but I’d be surprised if he lines up at safety. McKelvin is the type of player who needs a singular role out on the boundary. And though he is ‘wiry strong’ I don’t believe playing in the middle of the field and dealing with big tight ends is a good fit for him. Whether the coaching staff feels differently is another story.

Since I’ve been getting a lot of questions I’ll take the time here to explain that McKelvin is eligible to begin practicing with the team again on Wednesday in London. He’s looked good doing football-like rehab work on the sideline the last few weeks. Just because he begins practicing next week does not mean he’ll be immediately added to the 53-man roster.

Once he begins practicing the clock starts on a 21-day window in which the Bills can have him practice without counting toward a roster spot. They can activate him to the 53-man roster at any point in that time frame.

In my opinion he will not step into the starting lineup when he returns. Ronald Darby and Stephon Gilmore have been playing lights out football. This is a good thing because it doesn’t rush McKelvin onto the field. With as quick and sudden as things happen at that position there will be an acclimation period for McKelvin who will undoubtedly be a bit rusty.

Where I do see him making an impact is on punt return where the team is in need of field position help. This season the Bills are averaging just 7.3 yards a punt return, which ranks 23rd in the NFL. McKelvin for his career has averaged almost 11 yards a return (10.9). Imagine the value of giving an offense an extra 10 yards of field position every time they step on the field for a possession.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills can we call @robertwoods Bobby Lumber?

acurthoys

CB: I’m going to assume you’re referring to the way Robert Woods has been blocking downfield. I know that just about everybody noticed his two-for-one block on Tyrod Taylor’s touchdown run last week when he took out a pair of Titans defenders to let Taylor get the edge on his 22-yard quarterback draw. But Woods has had other strong blocks downfield this season.

I think the most important thing to note about the receiving corps and their blocking downfield is how on a day when there were just 10 completions they were determined to make an impact anyway, and their blocking was the way they accomplished that.

“As a receiver, you never know when your time is going to come, whether it’s a pass or a block,” said Woods. “Like a key block, running downfield, blocking the safety. You never know when your time is going to come. This time it wasn’t a pass play, it was that block for Tyrod.”

Woods also had a tackle on kickoff coverage last Sunday. Hard not to like a receiver that’s willing to do some of the dirty work.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills would Bills ever do a multiple QB package once Tyrod is healthy? Our trick plays seem to be getting shut down all the time.
RealBryanWatson

CB: I think anything is possible, especially since in Week 1 against Indianapolis it was Matt Cassel under center with Tyrod Taylor split wide on the first play of the game. I should also note that the man who re-invented the ‘Wildcat’ package at Arkansas, which soon migrated to the NFL a few years ago is Buffalo’s quarterbacks coach, David Lee.

I get the sense that Greg Roman doesn’t try to trick defenses as much as he tries to confuse them, and to me there is a difference. One is rooted in a gadget play, while the other is based on pre-snap shifts, motions and alignment, but I wouldn’t rule your suggestion out at all.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

Loving the new studio set up and all the coverage!
My question is why are we not utilizing Tyrod and his God-given talents??  Where is the read option?  Where are the designed runs and roll outs?  Why don’t we spread teams out with our INSANE talent at WR and then run it down their throats and not let them stack the box….aka what the Pats did.  I’m just a little frustrated – I know we beat the Colts but they don’t look all that great this year so far and we can do better.  Love to hear your thoughts, thanks!

Chris

St. Louis
CB: I understand your frustration. Even when Taylor ran for 76 yards last week only one carry, his touchdown run, was a designed run play. Other than that his other runs were scrambles to elude pressure.

I’m no offensive coordinator and Greg Roman has more football knowledge in his pinkie finger than I’ll ever have. I do think there has been a concerted effort to protect Taylor from injury, which as we saw last week is a very real risk. So the read option and designed runs have been few and far between.

That being said, when your run game and offense in general is struggling there should be a package of plays featuring Tyrod as a run threat that you can turn to just to jumpstart the offense.

Buffalo leads the league in three-and-out percentage at almost 32 percent (31.7%). The league average is 20.6 percent. Granted they haven’t had two of their top rushers in McCoy and Karlos Williams and Sammy Watkins has missed the last two games, but their defense as good as it is won’t be able to hold every opponent down like they did in Week 5.

So when the offense has a couple of consecutive three-and-outs, making use of Taylor’s legs (when healthy) is something I’m not opposed to just to get the offense back on track. Perhaps with all the weapons back in the lineup that won’t be necessary, but I think your point is a valid one.

 

5 – Chris,

Can Colton do kickoffs? He’s got a strong punters leg? Why not try/practice Colton kicking off. Other teams employs their punter to kickoff. Dan had done kickoffs in the league before the rule changed. If Dan could kick how many yards would they truly be losing? 5-10? Doesn’t seem like much instead of having another player active on game day.

CB: Rex Ryan said Colton Schmidt is the backup kickoff man to Dan Carpenter now that Billy Cundiff has been moved off the roster. I want to believe Carpenter can reach the end zone, but returners are more aggressive now than they were the first year the kickoff was moved to the 35-yard line. Unless it’s seven yards deep or more most returners will bring it out.

That at least creates the chance for a long return whereas if it’s kicked more than seven yards deep a return man is taking a knee. To say it’s just a five to 10-yard difference is a bit of a misnomer. A return man in this league just needs one coverage player to fall down or get out of their lane and it’s a big play and either a field position advantage is lost or there are six points on the board for the opposition.

 

London game bonus question
Chris,

Your Blog is my 1st read every morning. Thanks for keeping us transplanted Buffalonians informed on our Bills.

Since I’m not living in Buffalo Area, but PA how do we watch Bills-Jags. Have NFL Ticket but understand will be only Streamed. Any help appreciated.

 

Go Bills from East Berlin PA

Fred

 

CB: You’re right you will be able to watch the game on live stream via Yahoo on your smartphone, computer, game console or smart TV. The game will also be broadcast on television in the Buffalo and Jacksonville, Fla., markets and shown on Sky’s cable network in Britain.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

A solid start for special teams

Posted by Chris Brown on September 14, 2015 – 10:37 am

Often lost in Buffalo victories is the performance by the Bills’ special teams units. On Sunday Danny Crossman’s group was on point.

Colton Schmidt had five punts with a solid gross average of just over 50 with an impressive net punting average of 46.2 and a long of 63. His early punts in the game were critical to the field position battle with Indianapolis. The Colts’ first four drive starts were their own 20, own nine, own eight and own four-yard lines. The result of those drives? Punt, punt, INT, punt.

Indianapolis’ average drive start for the game was their own 19-yard line, while Buffalo’s was their own 35. That stat belongs to the Bills special teams unit.

Randell Johnson’s fumble recovery off the muffed punt return by Phillip Dorsett helped the Bills seal the game as it led to an insurance field goal midway through the fourth quarter.

On punt returns for the day Indianapolis had a total gain of one yard.

Dan Carpenter was perfect on field goals and extra points with a pair of 40-plus yarders and all three extra points.

Kickoff specialist Jordan Gay had three touchbacks on six kickoffs with all three going through the back of the end zone. On Gay’s shortest kick, his coverage picked him up. His kick that went just a yard deep in the Colts end zone to start the second quarter was brought out just five yards to the Colts’ four-yard line when Chris Hogan dropped him.

And on a day when Buffalo was flagged for 11 penalties for more than 100 yards, the Bills’ special teams units were responsible for just one.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Spec. teams area for improvement – punting

Posted by Chris Brown on July 9, 2015 – 3:03 pm

Buffalo’s special teams had a renaissance year last season finishing second overall in the well respected Dallas Morning News comprehensive rankings put together by Rick Gosselin. But there’s always room to improve and there’s one area in particular that coordinator Danny Crossman believes can make a jump this coming season.

Crossman has some short list items as any coach does from one season to the next, but near the top of that list is the punt game. That’s not to indicate that Colton Schmidt struggled last season. As a rookie he performed rather well as he got adjusted to the NFL game. But Crossman wants to see an improvement when it comes to net punting, which means reducing return yardage, improving hang time, forcing fair catches and avoiding touchbacks.

Part of what worked against Schmidt and the punt coverage unit last season was the majority of his kicks were on the opponent’s side of midfield, which negatively impacted gross punting average. That affects net punting average and provides a greater risk for touchbacks off a bounced ball.

“When you talk about punting the football early in the year most of our punts was what we consider plus-50 so we weren’t going to have the big gross and we were going to have an okay net as long as we weren’t getting touchbacks,” Crossman said. “We knew based on where we were we were going to have a high number of inside the 20s and inside the 10s and that’s sort of how the year played out.”

On 86 punts Schmidt had just six touchbacks with 31 punts downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, which was tied for fourth-best in the NFL last season.

“As a coach you want to be better on everything,” said Crossman. “We need to punt the ball better and we still need to be better in coverage even though we were pretty good at it.”

As a side note, kickoff specialist Jordan Gay also doubles as a punter and will try to give Schmidt some competition in training camp this summer.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Crossman on having a kickoff specialist

Posted by Chris Brown on January 29, 2015 – 11:10 am

Bills special teams coordinator Danny Crossman had to break in a rookie punter and a kickoff specialist in 2014. On the whole both Colton Schmidt and Jordan Gay performed well for Buffalo. Whether Buffalo’s new head coach Rex Ryan feels a kickoff specialist is necessary is something that will likely be decided in the coming months.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show this week, Crossman sounded like he wants to continue developing both young kickers on Buffalo’s roster, but he knows he doesn’t have the final say.

“We haven’t gotten that far yet in the evaluation stage,” said Crossman of keeping a kickoff specialist. “I’m a firm believer if a guy is outstanding at what they do they’ll find work. We were happy with both of those guys and what they were able to do for us. Jordan was a big help in an area where we were lacking a little bit in terms of what he was able to do on kickoffs. Number one touchbacks, but even the returns that did come out against us the drive starts average on the returns was so much better than the touchbacks because of the distance and the hang time and the coverage guys that we added and made it a strength for our special teams.

“There’s a lot of upside with (punter) Colton Schmidt too after he came in right at the start of the season this past year and performed well.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Where Bills kickers finished well

Posted by Chris Brown on January 8, 2015 – 9:05 am

As we covered in a feature story appearing on Buffalobills.com today (Thursday) Buffalo’s special teams made major improvements from 2013 to 2014. Though they don’t get much exposure or credit here’s a look at where the Bills young kickers and veteran Dan Carpenter excelled.

Punter Colton Schmidt
5th in punts (86)
7th in punts downed inside the 20 (31)
10th in downed punts
15th in fair catches (20)

Kickoff specialist Jordan Gay
2nd in maximum hang time (4.87 seconds)
4th in average drive start allowed (20.1 yard line)
8th in touchbacks (49)
9th in percentage of kickoffs returned (37.3%)

Kicker Dan Carpenter
2nd in most makes overall (34)
2nd in most makes from 50-yards plus (6-8; 75%)
4th in FG/XP rating (5.7) (courtesy of ProFootballFocus)


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Field position a big factor in Bills win

Posted by Chris Brown on October 26, 2014 – 10:00 pm

Coming into Sunday’s game the Bills were one of the better teams in average drive start for their offense, and worst drive start for their opponent. Those numbers played out Sunday and were a key factor in the victory.

Buffalo had what looked like a comfortable 24-7 lead in the first half, but by the time the teams were headed to the locker room the lead was cut to seven. After the Bills offense went three-and-out to start the second half the game was there for anyone to seize control. But Bills punter Colton Schmidt bombed a 52-yarder down to the Jets’ 19 and Larry Dean and Boobie Dixon wrapped up Jeremy Kerley for no gain on the return. Then a holding penalty on the Jets backed them up to their own 10-yard line.

“Colton Schmidt hit the ball and that ball hit the ball and that ball bounced in there and I thought that was a big point in the game because I think we actually flipped the field and had the field position and kept them in there with the punts and the turnovers and the things like that we were able to score points,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “In my mind I thought that was a big, big deal.”

The Jets went three-and-out and punted from their own eight-yard line. Leodis McKelvin fielded the punt and returned it 24 yards to the Jets’ 27 virtually guaranteeing points for Buffalo. Dan Carpenter eventually delivered a 36-yard field goal to put Buffalo up 10.

On the ensuing kickoff the Bills cover unit didn’t bite on the attempted throwback pass that was supposed to go from Percy Harvin to T.J. Graham and Harvin was dropped at the Jets’ three-yard line. In the third quarter the Jets’ three drive starts came at their own 10, own 3 and own 14 yard lines.

At game’s end the drive starts added up to spell a significant advantage for Buffalo’s offense, which was also helped by the six takeaways turned in by Buffalo’s defense setting up short fields.

For the Jets their average drive start was their own 19. The Bills average drive start was their own 49. That’s a 30-yard drive start difference in average. A huge edge.

“Obviously the defense putting us in all those positions against a tough defense we were going against, the field position was huge,” said Kyle Orton. “We took advantage of enough opportunities to pull away.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

NFL investigating laser pointer interference

Posted by Chris Brown on October 5, 2014 – 11:26 pm

It happened on a few occasions in the game. There was a green laser pointer being used by someone in the stadium at Ford Field Sunday and they were trying to distract QB Kyle Orton and holder Colton Schmidt on pass plays and attempted field goals. Kicker Dan Carpenter was the first to notice it.

“When I noticed it they were shining it on Colton on the 50-yard attempt,” said Carpenter. “It was shining on Colton (Schmidt) on the hold. As far as that goes I guess I understand that the NFL Security is looking into it to see if they can figure anything out.”

Carpenter’s 50-yard attempt was no good off the upright. The kicker would not say whether the laser pointer affected the quality of Schmidt’s hold on the kick.

Kyle Orton also was the subject of the attempted distraction during the game.

“Early on I felt it a couple of times right after I got the ball, so I communicated with the refs and with coach Marrone and let him handle that,” said Orton.

Marrone said after the game that NFL Security is handling the investigation to see if they can ascertain through film review of the game the origin of the laser pointer.

“We told the NFL security on the miss, that there were some lasers we could see down on the carpet,” said Marrone.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

New elements of kicking game fare well

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2014 – 9:22 pm

Heading into Sunday’s season opener, the Bills had a new kickoff specialist and a new punter. Coming out of their overtime victory special teams coordinator Danny Crossman has to be pretty pleased with how they performed.

Colton Schmidt in his first ever appearance for the Bills had five punts in the game. Four of them he dropped inside the 20-yard line effectively flipping the field for most of the contest. His net average was an outstanding 43.2, just a tenth of a yard above his preseason average when he was still with the 49ers.

Buffalo’s coverage unit was good too, but two of Schmidt’s punts were fair catches. In total the Bears had minus-one yard on two punt returns Sunday.

Kickoff specialist Jordan Gay had six kickoffs, five of which went for touchbacks.

“I didn’t see the stats, but we talked about rookie punter versus rookie punter (in this game) and we talked about from the special teams challenge was going to be the field position battle,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “Early on (Schmidt) had the not so good one out of the way early and then he hit some really good punts. We let them out the one time on the pass interference call when we had them down there on the six. On our kickoffs the one time they brought it back we stopped them. Our specialists did a nice job.”

Marcus Easley had a pair of tackles on coverage teams and Dan Carpenter was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals including a 50-yarder.


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Posted in Inside the Bills