Inside The Bills

Kouandjio getting work at guard

Posted by Chris Brown on October 16, 2014 – 4:31 pm

Bills second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio has begun working at guard in addition to his offensive tackle position. Head coach Doug Marrone confirmed that the move began two weeks ago.

“Two weeks ago I had told (offensive line) Pat (Morris) obviously I work with him and I said, ‘(Cyrus) is really moving well. We need to see if we can develop him in playing tackle and guard,’” said Marrone. “If he keeps going the way he’s going we could get a spot for him somewhere just like a lot of other people.”

Marrone has had Kouandjio lined up at guard with the scout team in the practice setting.

“I think he’s done a nice job. Of any of the players who haven’t been playing I see him as one of the most improved,” said Marrone. “From what you’ve seen of him in the preseason and what you see now when you watch it, his movement skills have truly been a 180 from what we saw in preseason. So I’m really excited about that. Since his movement skills have increased we’re seeing where we can develop him and where he can fit.”

What was most encouraging to Marrone concerning Kouandjio’s development is the game is slowing down for him.

“I think for him and my conversations with him and you can ask him about it, one of the things he said to me which was most important, I asked him, ‘How’s it going?’ He said, ‘It’s getting slower for me.’ That is a good thing. As a coach that’s the one thing I always like to hear. You can see it in how he plays. I think it’s slowed down for him and in the beginning I would’ve said he can only play right tackle from what I saw. But when I saw his movement skills increase and really doing a 180 I said, ‘Let’s throw him in there because I know things happen faster.’ It’s a much harder transition from going outside to in, rather than going inside out.”

 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-3

Posted by Chris Brown on October 3, 2014 – 11:30 am

Big cross conference game at Detroit Sunday and the Lions are a bit gimpy on offense. Let’s get to your questions this week on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - @ChrisBrownBills is there any chance Kouandjio begins to take some snaps at Guard. Tackles appear locked in. Pears hasn’t played well.

WKuze13

CB: Head coach Doug Marrone made it clear a little over a week ago that there are no plans right now to give Kouandjio snaps at guard. I think at this point in time the preference is to have him master offensive tackle, particularly on the right side. He played primarily left tackle in college and flipping to the right side has been an adjustment. Marrone said he is encouraged by Kouandjio’s progress, so I don’t think they want to put too much on his plate and compromise his development at tackle with the responsibility of learning another position.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills Do the players get brand new jerseys every game?

Arreguy23

CB: The general answer here is no. According to @billsequipment  most players wear the same jersey each week, unless there is irreparable tearing or other damage to a jersey. This most often happens with offensive and defensive linemen just from all the grabbing and pulling. In that case players are issued replacements.

There are of course exceptions. Players like Mario Williams have memorabilia deals where each game worn jersey is turned in, and sometimes players exchange jerseys with friends on other teams. Fred Jackson was the latest example when he swapped game worn jerseys at the end of last week’s game at Houston with Ryan Fitzpatrick.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills I wanted to know why Urbik is a backup this year. Do you know?

ThePrideOfLima

CB: It’s hard to know exactly why Kraig Urbik fell out of favor with the offensive staff and has been moved to a backup role. There is no question that based on Buffalo’s moves this offseason that they were looking to make changes there with the signing of Chris Williams and the drafting of Cyril Richardson. I feel Urbik is more than capable of manning one of the starting guard spots, but that’s just my opinion. Head coach Doug Marrone has him serving primarily as the backup center behind Eric Wood, but I believe he can certainly step in at guard.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

My question concerns the buzz about the jet sweep since Percy Harvin and Cordarelle Patterson are taking the league by storm. We have Marquise Goodwin, why isn’t he on the field more to do stuff like this? I would think he would play more if nothing else than because of his speed. Is he injured or just not performing well in practice? I think he should be on the field more.

Thanks for all your coverage, GO BILLS!
Michael

CB: You’re right that Goodwin has not been on the field very much. He’s played a total of 30 snaps in four games. He does have one end around that went for four yards. He’s at a position where the Bills are deep and spread formations are not all that prevalent in Buffalo’s offense anymore. Under former head coach Chan Gailey the four-wide set was their most popular. If that were still the case now I think he would get more work on offense.

I think ideally the offensive coaches want to have a package of plays in each week for Goodwin, but the inability of the offense to stay on the field has compromised those plans to a degree. There’s no question that Goodwin’s presence on the field forces defenses to respect the deep ball, and it creates room underneath for Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods to operate.

 

5 – Chris,

No one, including reporters is really talking about EJ’s strength in throwing the ball. I’m not referring to skill, but the velocity of his throws.

Jim Kelly mentioned it on air mid-game last Sunday – and to me, it was far more obvious prior to his statement. Seems he lobs the ball versus throwing in there quickly and tight.

Are the coaches on EJ about this? I feel he’d be a better QB if he can aster throwing a tight, fast spiral. His balls seem to be all over the place mid-air. Or is this just what EJ mechanisms are about?

Cheers,
Mike Barwick

CB: I have noticed that myself, even in the practice setting. EJ never really winds up and fires it to get it in a tight window. I think sometimes his long delivery gives the illusion that the ball isn’t moving fast, but he is certainly capable of throwing a fastball. I’ve seen it at times, but with the physical ability to throw it on a rope I wouldn’t mind seeing it more when he gets another chance to play.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-5

Posted by Chris Brown on September 5, 2014 – 11:45 am

Well Bills fans the regular season is here. Let’s hope Buffalo can get off to a good start in Chicago, even though the Bears do very well when they open the season at home (18-3) since 1984. On to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net or on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris,

How is Chris Williams doing at left guard?  Is he getting any competition from any of the other guys?  Having signed him as a free agent, is it still possible that the Bills will look to one of their other offensive linemen to take the spot?

Paul Blachowicz
Lancaster NY

CB: This is a hard one to answer because he’s been in and out of the lineup so much this preseason. He missed the last three preseason games with a back injury so it’s been difficult to judge any kind of progress in terms of chemistry with his new line mates in games. His teammates have taken well to him and head coach Doug Marrone said he is the unequivocal starter at left guard, even though rookie Cyril Richardson spelled him in the lineup when he was out. Richardson looks like the only realistic threat to Williams’ position in the starting lineup and Williams play would really have to falter for that to happen the way it looks right now.

 
2 – Hi Chris,

My question is why does everybody from analysts to announcers call EJ a mobile, read option type QB? From what I can tell running is not the strongest part of his game at all. Sure he’s had a few good runs when the defense is in man coverage and it’s wide open but just about every QB in the league can do that. Maybe he’s not being decisive enough and isn’t running full speed, but his acceleration doesn’t seem to be all that which is what I would think is a QB’s best friend when scrambling. When he’s throwing the ball well I have no problem with him being our QB, but it seems to me he’s getting this stereotype which doesn’t fit him.

Dan

CB: I’m going to assume that you’re referring mainly to TV broadcasters. Unfortunately I don’t hear the television broadcast because I’m working the game too in the press box. If there are a lot of references to EJ being a mobile QB I haven’t heard it. Yes, he has the mobility to make yards with his legs when things break down or to escape a collapsing pocket, but he has even said himself he wants to be a passing QB that can run when absolutely necessary.

 

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills Has Cyrus gotten any looks at guard in practice, or solely at tackle?

RDotDeuce

CB: Cyrus Kouandjio has been working strictly at offensive tackle. I have not seen any reps for him at the guard position. First of all Kouandjio is a very long-limbed player and knowing a guard needs to really win on leverage inside, it may prove more difficult for him than other taller tackles that a coach might want to shift in to guard. Second, it’s clear that the coaches want to get him as many reps as possible at tackle. He just turned 21-years old, he’s still growing into his frame and simply needs time on the job. The more reps he gets every day in practice at tackle the shorter the learning curve gets for him to be ready to contribute.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills will we see vanilla Defense scheme allowing Cutler 6 seconds to pick secondary apart?

Kenjones1999

CB: I think here are two things you need to keep in mind regarding Sunday’s opponent and Buffalo’s defense. First, Cutler never needs six seconds to get the ball out. The Bears offense is largely based on three step drops. It’s very difficult to sack Cutler, which is why Chicago gave up the third-fewest sacks in the league last season (30).

All that being said the Bills defense will not be vanilla. I’m assuming you’re referring to how Jim Schwartz often relied on his front four to rush the quarterback in Detroit and routinely dropped seven into coverage. That won’t happen a whole lot this season. The reason why is for the first time in a long time Schwartz has quality cover corners in Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin, which gives him the liberty of sending extra rushers on passing downs.

I’m not certain we’ll see a lot of extra blitzers this week because of how quickly Cutler gets it out, but through the course of the season we’ll see a variety of looks from coach Schwartz.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills Great work Chris! Does #1 on depth chart chart for kickoff returns (Spiller) mean more 1st down touches for Freddy?

superdoops74

CB: I would not assume that Fred Jackson will see more first down work following a kickoff return by C.J. Spiller. Spiller addressed that very question this week, so I’ll let him explain why that might only be in the case in a few situations this season.

“If Fred sees me break a 50 or 60 yarder (on a kickoff) he’ll start the offense off,” said Spiller. “If not I’ll just stay out there and start the series, but the good thing is he’s always watching making sure that I’m good. That’s what it takes, another set of eyes because you want to make sure you’re full speed and you can give your team the best of your ability. I do a great job of judging when I need to start on the offensive series and when I need to come out. I have no worries at all about that.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Pears performing well

Posted by Chris Brown on July 23, 2014 – 2:24 pm

While there is a competition going on at right guard, as we covered in Wednesday’s practice notes, there does not appear to be much of a battle to this point at the starting right tackle spot.

A lot of people outside the organization assumed that second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio would be quickly challenging veteran incumbent Erik Pears for the starting right tackle job. As head coach Doug Marrone sees it Pears has put himself in a good position in the early going to retain his starting gig.

“I think Cyrus is coming along. The closer you are to the ball the tougher it is to play in this league,” said Marrone. “Erik really feels healthy. He was coming off an injury last year and has really performed well. It’s still going on (the competition). Nothing is locked in stone yet. It wouldn’t be smart of me to say anything is locked in stone. Everyone has to go out and prove that they can do it. We’ll see how it goes as camp goes along, but Erik has done a very good job so far.”

Pears did play hurt last year, which compromised his effectiveness at times. Also Kouandjio just turned 21 on Monday and is relatively young in football. His learning curve might prove to be a bit steeper than some anticipate.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kouandjio: Bills fans on par with ‘Bama fans

Posted by Chris Brown on July 21, 2014 – 1:34 pm

University of Alabama product Cyrus Kouandjio knows all too well the passion that Crimson Tide fans have since he experienced it first hand, but after seeing Bills fans in a full froth at the team’s first night practice Sunday night he’s thinking ‘Bama fans have an equal.

“They’re up there, to tell you the truth,” said Kouandjio when asked if Bills fans match the passion of ‘Bama fans. “It’s different up here. It’s different up here. They’re a lot more into it. I like all the dressing. That’s the NFL I guess. That’s NFL football.”

Kouandjio saw most of his time in practice at right tackle with the second unit.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-27

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

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

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

Thanks, Jillian

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

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

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

 

2 -  Hey Chris,

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

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

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

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

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

Regards,
Ron Jacobs

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

5 - @ChrisBrownBills

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

Z_bass10

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

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

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


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Posted in Inside the Bills

New combo on left side of O-line

Posted by Chris Brown on June 5, 2014 – 11:29 am

With starting LG Chris Williams not on Han at voluntary OTAs the combination up front had a surprising change on Thursday.

Starting at left tackle is Chris Hairston and kicking inside to left guard is Cordy Glenn.

Head coach Doug Marrone briefly experimented with Glenn at guard early in training camp last year, but with Glenn clearly his best tackle in 2013 he left him on the blind side.

Hairston has a long way to go after being unable to practice, let alone play, for almost a full calendar year being on the reserve non-football illness list. But the current coaching staff, which inherited him, is at least interested to see why he can offer on the left side before considering the two rookie tackles they drafted in Cyrus Kouandjio and Seantrel Henderson.

We’ll see what develops from here on out.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-23

Posted by Chris Brown on May 23, 2014 – 12:22 pm

OTAs are coming up next week. In the meantime enjoy the holiday weekend and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Here now are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Thanks for all the great draft coverage! I personally loved the way the Bills really focused on beefing up the offensive line this year, in addition to the Watkins pick of course! It seems like some great picks at truly great value. I was wondering, if Seantrel Henderson pans out – and he has 1st round talent at LT, could he eventually start there, with Glenn moving to LG? Don’t get me wrong, Glenn is a really good LT, but I imagine a starting line of Henderson, Glenn, Wood, Richardson/Urbik, Kouandjio being among the most dominant lines in the entire league. Thoughts on this?

Thanks again,
Josh

CB: While you certainly have every reason to be optimistic I think you’re getting a bit ahead of yourself. I think all of the linemen drafted this year have talent, but it’s hard to project their immediate future until the pads go on in training camp. There are some proud veterans on this roster so the influx of young talent will ramp up the competition. Henderson most definitely has the skill set to play in the NFL. What he needs to demonstrate is consistency not only in his play, but in his commitment as a pro. Kouandjio might need a little time on the job before he’s challenging Erik Pears for a starting role and we’ll see what Richardson can do.

The picture you’re painting might be more realistic for 2015, and with the way Cordy Glenn played last year, I’m not sure he’ll be on the move even then if that level of play continues.

2 - @ChrisBrownBills

Why would @buffalobills ever pick Bon Jovi’s Lawyer to help sell the team?

MarkSciubbaDoe

CB: I think you need to understand that the Bills organization was seeking one of the most renowned firms when it came to managing estates and trusts. Proskauer was named “Law Firm of the Year” for Litigation–Trusts & Estates in U.S. News-Best Lawyers 2014 “Best Law Firms,” the only firm to receive this prestigious designation in that category. So this is more of what led to the decision to retain them.

It just so happens that Proskauer Rose, which has a gigantic client base in their entertainment department, also has represented Bon Jovi. It’s not clear if they still do at this time. I would think that relationship no longer exists otherwise it could be construed as a conflict of interest.

 

3 – Hey Chris,
There has been a lot of varying reports trying to explain the compensation the Eagles will be receiving for the Bryce Brown trade.  Most of those reports are very confusing to read and have people scratching their heads.  Correct me if I’m wrong here, but didn’t we basically trade Stevie Johnson for Bryce Brown straight up?

Whatever we get for Stevie is what we give to Eagles?…right?  Only exception to this line of thinking or simplification is if we end up getting a 3rd for Stevie because he performs and Bryce underperforms we only are on hook for a 4th….right??

BTW…loved our draft.  Loved the aggressiveness of Whaley.  It was very refreshing and sent a jolt of excitement in the fan base.  Even if it doesn’t pan out I’m still glad he was aggressive.  When u r 6-10 forever and u keep the same draft approach its by definition insane.  Everyone is saying playoffs or bust.  Honestly if we go 9-7 and EJ looks like he takes steps fwd…I will see this season as a success.  Looking fwd to getting out of this 6-10 rut!
Thanks for your time and go Bills!
Tim
NJ

CB: Here’s the easiest way to look at it. If the compensation from the 49ers remains a fourth in 2015, it goes to the Eagles. If Stevie Johnson hits undisclosed performance benchmarks and improves Buffalo’s conditional pick from San Francisco to a third, then the fourth-round pick the Bills owe the Eagles would push forward to the 2016 draft, since they would not have a fourth-round pick to give Philadelphia in 2015.

Bills fans should root for Stevie to do well in San Francisco this season. If he excels Buffalo will have seven picks in 2015 (a 2nd, two 3rds, two 5ths, a 6th and a 7th).

 

4 – Chris,

Thanks for all your news that you provide to Bills fans outside of the Buffalo area.

My question is regarding the off-season training of EJ, while not at the Bills facility. Knowing that OC Hackett, scaled back the offense last year; is there anything that EJ is doing during the off-season to get a much better understanding of the playbook?? or is EJ just working on his mechanic’s ?? Seems like a little waste of time, if EJ is not in some way learning a bit more of the playbook during this down time.

Thanks
Don Busching
Norwalk, VT

CB: EJ has been diligently working on every aspect of his game. That includes mechanics (footwork, deep throws), playbook and working with teammates having worked with some out in California this offseason on their own. I’m confident people are going to see a different EJ on the field this year.

 

 

5 – Hi Chris,

Russ Brandon and Doug Whaley are always quoted as saying that they will “do whatever it takes to make the Buffalo Bills a better football team.”

With that understanding, how does trading away Stevie Johnson (1,000 yard/season, 26 TDs, veteran WR, one more weapon for EJ Manuel) make the Buffalo Bills a better football team?

At the very least, Stevie would draw coverage away from Sammy Watkins!

This is such a typical move for the Bills–make progress with the drafting of Sammy Watkins, trade away good talent in Stevie.  It’s similar to the Marshawn Lynch trade.  Draft CJ Spiller, trade away pro-bowler Marshawn.  I just don’t understand.  What are the Bills not telling us?  On paper these moves make no sense.

Please help me, and many Bills fans, have a better understanding.  PLEASE no “company line” answer.

Michael Mirras
Discouraged Season Ticket Holder

CB: On the field here’s is why the move was made. Buffalo acquired Mike Williams by trade, a true outside receiving threat with proven touchdown production. They traded up to get the best receiver in the draft in Sammy Watkins, another true outside threat. Williams will draw attention from Watkins.

Perhaps even more important Robert Woods is a receiver this coaching staff believes in a lot. There was more than one assistant who believed by the end of last season that he would be the best receiver on the roster. That dynamic changed with Williams and Watkins added to the roster. In order to help Woods flourish in the current corps of receivers Stevie had to be moved from the slot receiver role so Woods could fill it.

It’s believed that Woods can be an even more productive receiver in the slot. Right now he has the most chemistry with EJ Manuel as OTAs are set to begin. What’s more his precise route running provides more consistency for a quarterback looking to take the next step in his on field performance than the unconventional route running of Johnson.

As Doug Whaley has said the aim this year is to help EJ Manuel take the next step in his development as a franchise quarterback. Providing him with the most dynamic receiver in the draft and a proven scorer in Mike Williams, both of whom can high point the ball as well as anyone, and then a reliable receiver in the slot in Woods they believe will enhance Manuel’s chances of succeeding.

In essence it was a bit of musical chairs and when all the moves were completed at the receiver position Johnson did not have an available seat. He would’ve been the team’s fourth receiver at a hefty price tag moving forward.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kouandjio knows about winning

Posted by Chris Brown on May 10, 2014 – 12:20 am

He’s got an awful lot of wins under his belt after playing his college ball at Alabama under head coach Nick Saban. Bills second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio is ready to help make the Bills winners as well.

“I want to win. I want to go to this NFL team and win some championships,” he said. “Out of the three years that I played at Alabama in college, I won two national championships. I want to continue doing that. I want to be successful.”

Kouandjio attributes the hard coaching he received at Alabama as a reason why he feels he’s ready to continue that winning formula in Buffalo.

“It’s a tough environment and a tougher program and you see that helps guys that come out of that program go high, we hope, every draft,” said Kouandjio. “I appreciate going through that program.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kouandjio is tight with Fluker

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2014 – 11:17 pm

Bills second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio was naturally tight with former Alabama teammate and fellow offensive tackle D.J. Fluker. Fluker played right tackle while Kouandjio manned left during their national championship season in 2012. Fluker went 11th overall to the San Diego Chargers in the 2013 draft. Now Kouandjio will join him in the NFL.

“It was fun, me and him were on the same wavelength,” said Kouandjio of Fluker. “To be a tackle, you have to be a different cat. You can’t lose at all. So you have to have some type of mentality, something different about you for you to win every single rep. Because you could get five pancakes in a game, and if he [the D-lineman you’re lined up against] gets one sack on you, then he’s the hero of the night. You have to win every rep. And Fluker’s mentality, it lines up with that. You’ve got to be ruthless. I loved him. I loved it.”

Kouandjio said he’s also tight with former Alabama guard Chance Warmack.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kouandjio another pre-draft visitor

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2014 – 9:48 pm

Buffalo’s second round pick Cyrus Kouandjio was the Bills’ last pre-draft visitor, but here on draft weekend he’s the second straight player drafted by Buffalo to make a trip to One Bills Drive prior to the draft.

Top pick Sammy Watkins was also one of Buffalo’s 29 pre-draft visits this spring. The last time Buffalo’s top two picks were both pre-draft visitors was 2012 when Buffalo took Stephon Gilmore and Cordy Glenn.


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Bills take OT Cyrus Kouandjio

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2014 – 8:07 pm

The Bills with their second-round pick have addressed their offensive line with Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

Kouandjio is a big offensive tackle at 6-6 1/2 and 322 pounds. He played left tackle at Alabama, but likely will try to challenge incumbent right tackle starter Erik Pears.


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Fan Friday 5-9

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2014 – 5:47 pm

1 - Chris,

Great reporting and look to your articles before anything else in print, keep it coming. We were missing 40% of our O-line last year compared to previous year.  It showed, difficulty running over the middle; and getting Spiller or Freddie out in space(screen passes etc.) seemed a rarity compared to the previous year.  Much is made of acquiring that big receiver which would be great but to me strengthening the O-line is the first priority. A better offensive line allows EJ more time in the pocket to go through progressions, keeps him safer, allows receivers to get further downfield for long ball, a better running game, and frees up TE’s for the passing game instead of helping out with pass protection. Whether the top 3 tackles are off the board or if the Bills opt for a top TE or wideout, can they get a quality starting RT tackle in the second round??   Your thoughts?

Freddie

CB: I think offensive line could certainly use some reinforcements. Whether there’s a starting caliber player might depend on where the Bills see a player like Nevada’s Joel Bitonio. He played tackle, but is he a guard in their eyes? Cyrus Kouandjio is a tackle, but still raw and has to learn on the job. The talent entering round two tonight would seem to favor tight end a bit more. I do like Bitonio and I think Jack Mewhort is an underrated lineman too. But again Mewhort is seen by some clubs as a guard and not a tackle. I like Antonio Richardson from Tennessee, but I don’t know that he’ll go in round two. Kouandjio might be the best option even though there are teams concerned about his knee.

 

 2 – Chris,

I was wondering if the Bills made an attempt to resign Jim Leonard? Also I was wondering if Leonard got the majority of snaps while Byrd was out in the beginning of last season? In my opinion the defense actually played better without Byrd in the beginning of the season. They seamed more consistent against the run on early downs and better on third down. Did the Bills attempt to keep Leonard around for another season or do they have really seem to have faith in getting a quality starter out of Searcy, D.Williams, or Meeks? Also how much of a rotation is there at the safety positions? Are the two starters out there for most of the game or do they come out for subpackages and clear running situations? Thanks for your feedback.

Dan
Western MA

CB: Jim Leonhard is still a free agent. He’s best suited for the Rex Ryan style defense, which he knows like the back of his hand. I wouldn’t be surprised if he signs with Cleveland at some point. He did tell us at the end of the year that he wants to play one more season and then he’s going to retire. It’s time for Buffalo, which is changing defensive schemes to get some younger players on the field there.

 

3 -Hey Chris,

Thanks again for all your hard work. Do you know how much the NFL takes weather into consideration when making schedules? I’m frustrated as the cold is one of Buffalo’s advantages and the 2 hot weather teams we play at home (San Diego and Miami) are scheduled for our first 2 home games and not only do we only get 1 December home game but our last 2 home games are against the Browns and Packers, the 2 cities that play in colder weather than us! Just looking for your thoughts an if you think we’re getting a raw deal similar to the byes/long rests our opponents got last year (noticing the Jets got a long rest and their bye for our 2 games for 2nd year in a row also). Thanks again.

Sean from Staten Island

CB: Believe it or not the Bills actually request that they have as few December home games as possible because they often prove difficult to sell out. That request was honored by the league this year as Buffalo has just one December home game this season.

 

4 – Hi Chris…as a former season ticket holder for 20 years and now a resident on Naples Fl I enjoy keeping abreast of the Bills moves through your reports and the website.  Thank you.

My question is why there is not more enthusiasm about Tony Moeaki and his potential contributions at tight end. Wasn’t he once considered a dynamic player when with Kansas City.  If the bills believe he can deliver they could concentrate on other areas rather than go tight end in the draft.  Your thoughts on Tony please…

BobbyG, Naples Florida

CB: I can tell you that GM Doug Whaley and head coach Doug Marrone are excited about him. They feel he can recapture the production that made him a dangerous threat in the passing game. He’s battled injuries, but if he can stay on the field he can definitely be a contributor.

 

5 – Chris,

Does Jenkins fit what the Bills are looking for in an athletic tight end? Does he have the speed to be a juke type of tight end. I think he’s the second best tight end beside Ebron. Is he a viable candidate in round 2?
CB: I think Seferian-Jenkins could be a fit. He’s not the most athletic tight end, but he is athletic for his size. He has some run after catch ability, but he’s not going to be juking anybody out after the catch. He can be a productive weapon and I think in a thin tight end class he’ll be somebody’s second round pick.


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McShay on the reviews of OT Kouandjio’s knee

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2014 – 4:56 pm

ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay routinely talks to NFL clubs during the pre-draft process and he has spoke to 10 about Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio, who was reportedly failed medically by some teams at the NFL combine back in February. Kouandjio tore his ACL in 2011 and had surgery. He has played each of the last two seasons without missing a game or a practice, but the x-rays and MRIs performed in Indianapolis obviously revealed something that didn’t sit well with some NFL team doctors.

McShay said the reviews on Kouandjio’s long term viability in the NFL with respect to his knee have been all over the map.

“I’ve gotten so many mixed reviews in terms of the durability and how concerned teams are,” said McShay. “I’ve talked to six different teams that have passed him (medically) and I’ve talked to four other teams that have either failed him or put a mark next to him where it’s going to significantly affect his draft grade. I haven’t talked to any other teams about him so that’s a sample there.

“As a football player I have him graded out as an early second round prospect. I thought he really struggled with consistency this year. The beginning of the year he had some bad tape, the middle of the year I thought he got a lot better. At the end of the year he struggled in that bowl game and it was not a fair fight in terms of facing an undersized and very fast defensive end in Oklahoma, but he’s got to get used to it and adjust and I didn’t think he adjusted very well.”

“He gets off of balance a lot and his technique has got to improve. But the guy is almost 6’7” and 322 pounds. Forget his 40 time, he moves pretty well. He’s light on his feet and he’s got long arms, almost 36 inches. Big hands, 10 and a quarter inches. He can play. He’s going to be able to play at the level if the durability holds up and if he gets good coaching and continues to develop.

“He’s just not where he should be and he definitely should’ve gone back to school. There’s still a chance he’s a top 40 pick and if you get him early in the second round it’s a pretty good deal. If you’re comfortable with his medical and you have a good offensive line coach that you trust and you’re not forced to start him day one you get a good deal in Kouandjio. Three years down the road we might be talking about a good starting tackle in the NFL.”

Kouandjio was Buffalo’s last pre-draft visit last week, no doubt in part to get one last look at his surgically repaired knee.


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OT Kouandjio has lengthy pro day

Posted by Chris Brown on April 8, 2014 – 3:01 pm

After his knee was reportedly rejected by some NFL clubs at the combine, Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio set out to convince NFL scouts otherwise. That opportunity came on Tuesday in Tuscaloosa.

NFL.com reported that Kouandjio apparently asked scouts in attendance if there was anything they wanted to see him do in addition to what he had planned for his pro day workout. Scouts put him through a battery of position drills.

He also confirmed that he’ll have a private workout with Tampa Bay. Kouandjio also reportedly improved his vertical leap by six inches from 25 to 31 inches.

Some believe Kouandjio could still be a late first round pick if his knee checks out.


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Could ’14 draft be repeat of ’13 at OT?

Posted by Chris Brown on March 19, 2014 – 11:42 am

As we profiled in first installment of our On The Clock series driven by Michelin and Dunn Tire this morning – The Rise of the Right Tackle - the 2013 NFL draft saw four tackles go off the board in the first 12 picks and all three started their careers at right tackle. This spring three offensive tackles could all come off the board before the draft is out of the top 10. Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews, Michigan’s Taylor Lewan and Auburn’s Greg Robinson are the three prized prospects to anchor down important edge roles for NFL offenses.

Many consider Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews to be the most polished of the top three tackles, something Matthews doesn’t mind hearing.

“Being considered a polished player, someone who’s done a lot and played well in my life, I’ll take that as a (compliment),” he said. “At the same time, I still feel like there’s a lot I can get better at. Definitely wouldn’t say I’m at my peak – a lot more I can learn, a lot more I can get better at. So all those things (are) stuff that’s motivating me, and I’m just trying to prove I am capable of being the best lineman.”

Though Auburn’s Greg Robinson is considered raw by comparison, some believe his ceiling as an NFL tackle is higher than Matthews.

“I’m not at full potential right now. I still have a lot to go,” he said. “I started last year was my first season starting. Like the guys they have ahead of me like Jake Matthews, he started since he was a freshman. That’s just something I feel I need to prove.’’

And Michigan’s Taylor Lewan is more athletic than given credit for, though more are coming around to his agility and power combination following a strong combine workout. Many also like his on field demeanor as he brings a nasty demeanor to his game.

“I like to think I’m very consistent and I play through the whistle,” said Lewan. “That’s one of my weaknesses, too, as everybody likes to comment on. But no doubt about it, I like to play through the whistle and do whatever I can to put people in the dirt as much as possible.”

It was thought that a fourth tackle could go in the top 15 as Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio was considered a dark horse for the top half of round one, but concerns surrounding a knee surgery may change that.


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Dr. Andrews on OT Kouandjio’s knee

Posted by Chris Brown on March 6, 2014 – 3:09 pm

Renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews is refuting the reports that came out during the NFL Combine about Alabama OT prospect Cyrus Kouandjio’s surgically repaired knee. Reports last month indicated that several teams failed Kouandjio on his physical due to a “botched surgery” on Kouandjio’s knee after he tore his ACL and MCL his freshman year. Andrews said that’s simply not the case.

CBSSports.com’s Jason LaCanfora is reporting that Andrews has proclaimed Kouandjio’s knee as fit and healthy. Andrews, who is based in Alabama works closely with the Alabama program and has been monitoring Kouandjio’s knee since he enrolled in Tuscaloosa.

Kouandjio played in every game his college career and according to the report never missed a practice or needed extra treatment in the training room.

Now Kouandjio must improve his workout numbers at the Alabama pro day next Wednesday March 12th to re-establish himself as a first-round caliber offensive tackle in the 2014 NFL draft.


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OT Kouandjio fails physical for some teams

Posted by Chris Brown on February 22, 2014 – 4:16 pm

kouandijo-blog

He’s been widely considered a top five offensive tackle, but according to NFL.com Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio has failed his physical here with some teams in the medical exams at the NFL Combine due to some unfortunate circumstances.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapaport said the tackle has a knee condition.

Kouandjio tore his ACL his freshman year and apparently the surgery was not a success with respect to the long term. It could cost him millions. Unfortunate.

For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here.


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When OT Kouandjio felt like a taco

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2014 – 6:38 pm

Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio is a giant man. Measuring in at 6’7″ and 322 pounds he’s a fit offensive lineman. Knowing the medical exams are taken very seriously by all 32 NFL clubs, he knew his time in the exam room on Thursday was going to be lengthy.

That’s because in his true freshman season, Kouandjio tore his ACL. Any NFL prospect that has had a major injury is going to get worked over in the exam room and Kouandjio was no different.

In fact the Alabama tackle was poked and prodded so much that he had no time to do media interviews on Thursday. He didn’t step into the NFL media room until Friday afternoon.

“Yeah, they were tweaking me,” Kouandjio said. “Actually I was laying in an MRI machine for two hours and 30 minutes. I felt like a taco.”

For those that haven’t experienced the MRI machine it surrounds a patient’s entire body. They’re put on a backboard that slides into a short cylindrical tunnel. Fortunately for Kouandjio no teams found his knee to be an issue of concern.

“No issues,” he said. “I got some sleep in there. That first night we get, like, two or three hours of sleep. So I got a good two hours and 30 minutes in the taco.”

At 6’7″ 322 pounds that’s one heck of a taco.

For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here.


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Winner of the eyeball test

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2014 – 3:09 pm

It’s only been two days of NFL Combine coverage here in Indianapolis, but the eyeball test may be locked up already by an offensive tackle.

Alabama LT Cyrus Kouandjio is put together. He measured in Friday at 6’7″ and 322 pounds. The scary thing is he has a similar body type to that of Bills Hall of Famer Bruce Smith. He looks like he’s chiseled out of stone and doesn’t even have love handles. Folks 98 percent of offensive linemen have love handles. Here’s a look at my winner for the eyeball test at the NFL Combine.

Kouandjio is forecast as a mid to late first round pick.

Cyrus Kouandjio

For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here.


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