Inside The Bills

Kouandjio to be with brother for draft

Posted by Chris Brown on May 1, 2015 – 9:18 am

Cyrus Kouandjio is younger than his brother Arie, but declared early for the 2014 draft and got to the NFL draft a year before him. Now with his older brother a part of the 2015 NFL draft class, Kouandjio will be with his brother and family this weekend.

“We’ll be down in Tampa with my family this weekend with him and watch the draft,” said Kouandjio.

Kouandjio will fly out of Buffalo this morning (Friday) as his brother, Arie, is projected as a third or fourth-round pick. Arie Kouandjio played guard at the University of Alabama. Cyrus followed Arie there out of high school and the two played together on the Crimson Tide’s offensive line with Cyrus playing left tackle and Arie playing guard.

Arie Kouandjio’s multiple knee surgeries are what could hurt him the most knowing medical evaluations differ from one team to the next. Cyrus Kouandjio knows all about that having lived it last year with some teams reportedly failing his surgically repaired knee at the NFL combine last year.

Cyrus has worked hard to calm his older brother’s nerves now that the process is coming to a conclusion.

“I try to tell him having been through the process, whichever team you’re going to you’re going to go to that team,” Kouandjio told Buffalobills.com. “It’s not about the draft, it’s about what you do once you’re on a team. He’s more focused on that and training every day and ready to get it over with.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-24

Posted by Chris Brown on April 24, 2015 – 11:32 am

Veteran voluntary minicamp is up this week beginning Tuesday and will roll us right into the draft Thursday night. Remember to stay close to Buffalobills.com online and on your mobile devices for full coverage of the Bills 2015 draft class as it happens. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any shot the Bills can get in on Rivers? Something like EJ and this year’s 2 and 5 or EJ and next year’s 1?

RealSteveRhodes

CB: The Philip Rivers trade chatter exists because of the quarterback’s comments, not the GM’s. Rivers has backed off his comments recently. That doesn’t mean that teams won’t be inquiring about the veteran QB’s availability. In a down year for quarterbacks it’ll be interesting to see what NFL clubs would be willing to offer, but I think the asking price would be very high if Tom Telesco even entertains an offer in the first place.

It’s my belief your trade proposals above would have to be improved to make a deal even remotely possible. Not having a one to offer this year I think removes Buffalo from consideration, and that’s if San Diego even decides to talk turkey. In a down year for quarterbacks I wouldn’t want to be hitting the reset button at that position, especially when my QB was an NFL MVP candidate for the first half of the season in 2014.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

2 players #Bills need this draft. MyCole Pruitt and Chris Bonner, what’s your thoughts, opinions?

mattgolden03

CB: While I think there are a lot of things to like about Pruitt’s skill set, I don’t know that he’s a match for what Buffalo is looking for at tight end. Buffalo has the versatile playmaker in Clay and a potential athletic understudy in Marqueis Gray. Chris Gragg is a good straight line athlete, so what’s left? In a power run scheme Buffalo needs a tight end that is an accomplished blocker. If they can offer short to intermediate pass catching ability all the better.

Prospects in this year’s draft class who fit that bill as I see it are Ohio State’s Jeff Heuerman and Delaware’s Nick Boyle. Heuerman probably comes off the board in day two and Boyle on day 3. Good, high character players as well.

As for Chris Bonner, I wouldn’t be opposed to using a seventh-round pick on the D-II QB prospect. For a 6-7 quarterback I’m impressed with the way he makes himself small in the pocket to avoid pressure, and then the feet he has for a 6-7 man, Bonner is pretty good at extending plays.

The basics of his arm mechanics are good. He’s got an over-the-top delivery. What he lacks right now is touch on the ball and arc. Too often he throws a laser no matter what type of route he’s targeting. Dropping throws in the bucket on deep outs or putting more loft on an over the shoulder pass are the things he needs work on.

What I think I like best about Bonner’s game is the way he’s able to avoid the inside rush in the pocket, keep his eyes downfield and re-set his feet to deliver the ball. His throws aren’t always great, but a feel for pocket pressure is tough to find in young QBs. I’m confident some NFL team will try to develop him.

 

3 – Chris,

What positions do you expect the Bills to target? With RB out of the way, do you see tight end as logical choice? Given they are trying to win this year it would make sense to draft someone to plug n’ play to start. The Bills could use depth on defense but it is more likely they will target a guard or tight end? Or where do you seem them going elsewhere with #50?

Sean Robbins

CB: I think offensive line will be a major focus at 50 and if the right value is there at offensive tackle or guard I believe that’s where they go. Players I like for the Bills at 50 (assuming of course they’re still on the board) are G/C A.J. Cann, OT Cedric Ogbuehi (provided the knee checks out), OT Donovan Smith and G Laken Tomlinson.

If none of those prospects are on the board at 50 I think that’s when best on the board truly comes into play. A good all-around OLB/DE would make the most sense for me knowing Manny Lawson is entering the final year of his contract, but I think defensive back, inside linebacker, defensive tackle are all on the table there if the offensive line options are gone.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

I’m a longtime Bills fan now living in Kentucky and really appreciate all the hard work you do reporting the happenings at One Bills Drive. It seems the Bills with the support of the Pegula’s have assembled an all-star coaching staff.  Are there any league rules that limit or restrict the number of assistants a team can hire or that can be on the sidelines during a game?

Thank you,
Mark from Louisville

CB: Thanks for the kind words. To my knowledge there is no limit to the number of assistants a club can have on a coaching staff. And you’re right it is an all-star staff.

 

5 – Chris,
First of all thanks again for the great coverage of the Buffalo Bills. My question is about the offensive line and in particular the two starting tackles from the 2014 season. I recall either Doug Whaley or Rex referring to guard and tackle as a need, I thought the addition of tackle was interesting. I know the Bills have seen Cordy Glenn as a tackle in the past but I’ve heard many times that he could be one of the best guards in football if kicked inside. With a new staff and o-line coach do you think they may see as a guard? If this were to be the case that leaves a hole at left tackle clearly. Leading to my next question which is do you think Seantrel Henderson could swing over to the left side? I thought he had his rookie woes early against some top flight talent (Houston game against Watt) but got better as the season went on. Do you think he could be a starting left tackle? This move would also lead me to believe that Cyrus Kouandjio could have a legitimate chance at winning the right tackle spot. Thanks again, I look forward to your insight on these potential moves.

Go Bills!
Phil Dabowl

CB: I think all options are open. Doug Whaley, Rex Ryan and my conversation with offensive line coach Aaron Kromer are all consistent. They will look to find what the best combination of five linemen is best for the starting offensive line. That means no move is off the table.

That being said it’s my belief that Cordy Glenn is the best tackle on this roster right now. The coaches might feel differently and they have a trained eye for what works best far better than I do. Asking Seantrel Henderson to flip to the left side is not outlandish, but I think in his second NFL season might be a bit premature.

There’s little question that Henderson has the physical skill set to play on the left side, but his NFL readiness for that position is the key question. I think Cyrus Kouandjio will also be given every opportunity to be an offensive tackle for this team as opposed to guard.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kouandjio on new OL coach Kromer

Posted by Chris Brown on April 14, 2015 – 9:20 am

Bills OL Cyrus Kouandjio has admitted his mindset wasn’t strong enough for the pro game as a rookie. He feels he’s fixed that now. That combined with a new offensive line coach in Aaron Kromer has given the former second-round pick a new outlook on his NFL career.

Kouandjio in his initial conversations with coach Kromer is optimistic about where things are headed for him personally with the Bills.

“We got into a lot of technique and a lot of protections,” Kouandjio told Buffalobills.com. “I loved hearing that. There are some O-line coaches that teach you and some that just coach you. The ones that just coaches you just tells you what to do on this blitz or with this defensive front, but a teacher teaches you something. They teach you a technique you may have never known before. He teaches you all the little things. I see both in him. It takes a great coach to be a teacher and a coach, so I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Kromer said all five starting roles on the offensive line are open for competition as everyone will have a clean slate with him.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-10

Posted by Chris Brown on April 10, 2015 – 2:33 pm

The preseason schedule is out with the 16-game regular season slate soon to follow. More on that below. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

#bills when will the 2015 regular season be out?

bailey_pinkston

CB: The precursor to the regular season schedule, the preseason schedule was released this past Thursday. It often signals that the release of the regular season schedule is coming soon. All indications are that the league will release the regular season schedule some time during the week of April 19th.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Petty or Grayson would be the perfect game managers for Buffalo’s new offense. Thoughts please???

mattgolden03

CB: Bryce Petty and Garrett Grayson are in that second tier of quarterback prospects after the top two. Both could merit consideration in round two. While I like Petty’s football IQ I still think there will be a steeper learning curve for him than Grayson, who played in a pro-style offense.

Grayson has had to read coverages and progressions. Petty has not. And while I don’t doubt that’s something Petty has been working on it’s just not the same as when the real bullets are flying.

If you believe one of them could come in as a rookie and effectively execute Buffalo’s new offense, which has a myriad of pre-snap shifts, motions and formations I think you might be expecting too much.

Frankly for 2015 you’re better off with either Matt Cassel or EJ Manuel in my opinion, which is why I’d be surprised if Buffalo invests in the quarterback position high in the draft, if at all this spring.

 

3 – Chris,

Given the current coaching staff’s desire to build a tough running team and a physical team,  do you see Justin Blalock as a possible signing to fortify the offensive line now that he is a free agent? Also, what are your thoughts of giving money to signing Mark Ingram over say resigning Spiller. Ingram has shown he can move the chains with power, rip off long runs with quickness and catch the ball.

Thanks,
Patrick

CB: While Blalock is a more than capable veteran guard I don’t believe the Bills want to add any more veterans up front. They have three veteran guards right now in Incognito, Urbik and Chris Williams. It wouldn’t surprise me if they felt that adding another would compromise the growth of a younger player like Cyril Richardson. So if they do add at the guard position I believe it’ll be in the draft, even though I see offensive tackle as a position more in need of depth than anywhere else on the line.

 

4 – Chris,

The Kouandjio article was encouraging to see.  I like to know that some players are working all year to be better and hope it works out for the kid.

What was his problem exactly last training camp?  Was he out of shape? Difficult time reacting? Diagnosing?  You would think his college experience gave him good game speed experience.  Thanks and can’t wait for this season to start!

Steve K
Kenmore, NY
CB: Yes, John Murphy’s article, which followed an interview with Kouandjio by phone certainly painted a picture as to how hard the second-year lineman is working. He was training out in Arizona all winter working on his techniques and getting coaching from former NFL OL LeCharles Bentley.

Kouandjio didn’t place blame anywhere but on himself for how his rookie season went. He said he didn’t think he had a strong enough mindset as he began his NFL career. To a certain degree that’s understandable. He turned 21 just last July and is still young in the game. Stepping up to the NFL level was probably a bit different even than what he experienced as a starter at Alabama in the SEC.

In the conversations I’ve had with him he sounds like his whole approach to the game has changed and he’s going full bore into his second NFL season. Add in the fact that he has hit it off quickly with new offensive line coach Aaron Kromer and he’ll be an interesting player to watch in training camp when the pads go on.

 

5 –  Chris,
FIve years ago I wanted the Bills to draft Ryan Mallett. He was a 1st round prospect, a Heisman candidate, a coach’s son, and a big QB like Big Ben. He fell to NE in the 3rd round, what happened? Why did the Bills not bring him in as compaction with EJ?

Tim Scouten

CB: There’s no debating that Ryan Mallett has a rocket arm for a quarterback. His over the top delivery looks great. Here’s the problem with his game. First, his accuracy. His career completion percentage of 53.2 percent is an issue, which shouldn’t happen for a quarterback with superior arm strength. His decision making is also suspect, especially when he has to get rid of the ball quick. Now every QB is subject to a bad decision or two when hurried. His have been more frequent over the years.

Perhaps the most important skill he’s lacking for Buffalo’s offense is the ability to extend the play. He is a pocket quarterback only. If the pocket breaks down and he can’t get rid of the ball the play is dead. That is not the case with each of the quarterbacks currently on Buffalo’s roster. It leads me to believe that offensive coordinator Greg Roman prefers some measure of mobility in his QBs to extend plays if and when protection breaks down.

Finally, there’s even less of a book on him than EJ Manuel. He’s played in just seven NFL games to EJ’s 14 career starts. If you bring in another unknown quantity at QB you run the risk of not finding out about exactly what he or Manuel can be.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-6

Posted by Chris Brown on February 6, 2015 – 12:04 pm

The NFL Combine is fast approaching and we’ll have full coverage on Buffalobills.com as always. In the meantime let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Would the Bills trade for Kirk Cousins?

RC from D.C.

CB: I think a trade is the least likely avenue the Bills take to acquire a quarterback with NFL experience. Free agency will probably be the first course of action. If they come up empty there then I believe a trade becomes a bit more likely.

The problem is the Bills are already a bit limited in assets they’d be willing to move being down a first and a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft. That’s not to insinuate a trade couldn’t happen, but I think it’s near the bottom of the list in terms of the ways they plan to acquire a QB.

The only way it moves up the list is if some team unexpectedly offers a quarterback the Bills weren’t anticipating would be available.

 

2 – Chris,

With Marrone gone, I don’t buy him playing guard. He struggled so much at RT during preseason, I doubt he could move inside. I’d like to see him play tackle. He has an injury history and the Bills should look for free agents instead of moving inside. More upsetting is that the Bills thought he has 1st round potential when Henderson played every snap and looks to be the starter going forward. Where do you see his progression going forward?

CB: I anticipate the Bills will be hitting the reset button with Cyrus Kouandjio with a new offensive staff coming in. I believe the approach under OL coach Aaron Kromer will focus Kouandjio’s attention at tackle. As I’ve said many times, Kouandjio is young in football. He’s just 21-years old and has not been playing the game very long.

He’s one of those players that will need time to mature into a reliable and technique-sound offensive lineman at the NFL level. Kouandjio is learning on the job, but he has the physical tools to be a solid right tackle.

Henderson’s ascent to starter at right tackle was not undeserved. He is an elite athletic talent. He too learned on the job as any rookie does, but has been playing football his whole life. His game is closer to reaching its full potential than Kouandjio’s, but I do expect Kouandjio to be pushing Henderson in camp.

 

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

I think EJ has all the potential in the world. Do you know if he has met or talked to Roman/Rex yet?

SJHNatFan

CB: There are strict rules under the CBA that prohibits contact between coaches and players in the offseason, even in Buffalo’s situation with a new coaching staff. So EJ Manuel and the rest of the roster cannot interact with the staff by phone or in person in any capacity from the end of the regular season until the offseason conditioning program begins in early April. So the answer is no, he has not met or talked with members of the Bills coaching staff.

 

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills

With CJ Spiller likely leaving the Bills, do you see the Bills drafting a RB? Or is it more likely they go after a FA?

pioniere

CB: I think your assumption of C.J. Spiller leaving is not an unusual one, but let’s see how things play out first. Should Spiller choose to sign elsewhere however, I believe they draft a running back. They need an influx of youth at the position and the draft is deep with running back talent this year.

 

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Between Gresham, Cameron and Thomas which TE would you be more in favor signing?

xhighway1

CB: I think just about anybody would love to have Julius Thomas. He’s the most dynamic receiving tight end of the three and that’s not just because he’s had Peyton Manning as his quarterback. I believe he’s the most savvy route runner of the three. What I like about him the most is he can use his speed to separate from defenders, and he’s physical enough to wall off defenders from the ball as well.

The rub is he’ll be the most expensive tight end on the market as well. As critical as the tight end is in Peyton Manning and Gary Kubiak offenses I think he’d be one of Denver’s top priorities this offseason.

Gresham is a physical talent that is comparable to Thomas, but he is a career underachiever. Coming out of college he had All-Pro physical talent, but it’s just never materialized the way I thought it would at the NFL level.

Cameron is a talented receiving tight end who creates mismatches, but I worry about his concussion history. Obviously NFL teams would be able to investigate that a lot better than I could, but at a position that’s susceptible to big hits I’d take a long, hard look at his injury history before making an offer.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-23

Posted by Chris Brown on January 23, 2015 – 1:11 pm

The new coaching staff is coming together. If you missed any of our Senior Bowl or Pro Bowl coverage check it out on Buffalobills.com. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

I don’t think Hughes, Urbik, Lawson, Spiller, Spikes or Rivers will return next year as the money will be spent in other areas. I think the Bills will soon extend the contracts of Dareus and Glenn.  Do you have any insight on this?

Thanks,
Joe

CB: I think the Bills will work hard to bring Hughes back into the fold. Spiller is expected to have other suitors. Urbik, Lawson and Rivers are all still under contract. Rex Ryan in a conference call this past season said Spikes was a player he liked because he has a grit and attitude to his game that appeals to him, for whatever that’s worth.

As for Dareus and Glenn, the Bills typically address free agents first before worrying about players that are still under contract, so while Dareus and Glenn are seen as long term building blocks for the franchise I don’t see them getting done in short order.

 

2 – Hi, Chris

Looking for help in understanding what has happened to the offensive line over the past three years.

Fact: Four of the current five starters were also starters on the O-Line in 2012.
Fact: The rushing game produced over 2200 yards in 2012; less than 1400 this year.
Fact: Now former coach Marrone has publicly stated that the problem with the run game is not Coach Hackett’s schematics.

So — if the line has basically the same players, with the same talent, with a couple years more experience, and the techniques and schematics are correct and being taught properly — why has there been such a marked regression in performance, culminating in last Sunday’s horrific 13 yards gained on 13 attempts?

You are close to the scene and obviously can sense better than we fans what is going on.  Please help.

Thanks much,
Jim D.

CB: There were a number of factors at work. First and foremost you had your top two running backs injured for a stretch of the season. Spiller missed seven games. I think anyone on the offensive line in 2014 would tell you that their play regressed from the year before.

In 2012 their offensive scheme ran out of a spread formation, which created bigger running lanes for the backs. That was not the case in 2014 as they chose to run between the tackles more often than not. I don’t know that the approach offensively always fit the backs they had carrying the ball. That combined with an offensive line that took a step back led to the lowest rushing total in team history in a 16-game season.

 

3 – Chris,

All Bills fans are disappointed, but so are the fans of the Ravens, Chiefs, Saints, Eagles, a few of them have $100 Million Quarterbacks !! There will be cries for EJ. You get better by practicing your skills, and proving in practice you’re ready to play. Do you feel EJ has shown he’s ready, how about Kouanjio and Richardson?
Jim in Florida

CB: I think the 12 weeks that Manuel had to focus on his personal game served him well over the last three quarters of the 2014 season. He also learned how to effectively prep yourself as a QB watching Kyle Orton get ready for games each week. From watching him the last month of the season in practice I felt his accuracy was improved. He was no longer thinking and concerned about throwing the perfect ball. He was just throwing.

I’m interested to see him as part of a competition for the starting job next year. Has he shown he’s ready? I don’t think we’ll know until we see him at training camp this summer.

As for Cyrus Kouandjio and Cyril Richardson they worked to make the most of their reps. It sounds like Kouandjio will be given real consideration at the guard position, even though it’s very new to him. I also believe competition will be brought in to battle the youngsters for roles on the roster.

 

4 – Hi Chris:  I understand that the Bills offense has been unbalanced between run and pass this past year.  What I’m unsure of is the major cause.  Could it be that the running backs were banged up this year?  Could it be that the offensive line never jelled?  Or could it be that most defenses dared us to throw by overloading the box and our pass game didn’t respond as well as hoped?  Like everything in life, there’s usually more than one reason.  But I was wondering if you could shed some light on what might be the most significant factor(s).

Warm wishes for the New Year!
Paul in Portland (Formerly Paul in Beijing)

CB: I hate to give a token answer, but I think it was all of the above. The running backs were banged up this year. There were times when defenses loaded up the box with extra defenders. The offensive line did struggle to jell at the start of the season due to Cordy Glenn’s undisclosed illness, which kept him out of the majority of the preseason. There was also a move by Erik Pears from tackle to guard, there was a rookie at right tackle and starting LG Chris Williams missed half the preseason due to a recurring back injury.

I also think at times the offensive approach moved away from the strengths of their skill position players in an effort to protect the football with more conservative play.

5 – Hello Chris,

First I’d like to say Happy New Year! Thank You for your news and blogs that us Bills fans love to get answers and info from.. your passion for the Bills is the same that we fans have, and you help us to believe.

My question is about the Offensive line.. I am sure most are wanting to know about the QB, but a big fix we need is on the O-line.

I am wondering what your thoughts(and i’ll get the fans thoughts in the comments section after) on

shifting around the line a bit. What about Buffalo using either their 2nd or 3rd round pick on one of the top 2-3 Centers in the 2015 Draft.. like Dismukes from Auburn, Grasu from Oregon, or Gallik from BC. We can then move Wood back to RG where he did well for us in his first 2 years before moving to Center.. he can still call the protections and he shows the ability to move around to run block very well and the aggression.

Then Chris Williams(we lost a lot when he got hurt) coming back to be the LG.. again, we hope he stays healthy. Glenn as the LT and putting the sophomore slump that seems to bite so many and bouncing back. And then Kouandjio and Henderson fighting for the RT position.

So.. LT Glenn, LG Williams, C Best avail in 2015 Draft, RG Wood, RT Henderson/Kouandjio

NE did something like this with a new Center this year in Stork and they seemed to find a good rhythm in the season… and we could even if need be bring in whomever is not the starter at RT out once in a while to line up next to the starter giving us a 6th Lineman as protection if need be.

Just looking for your thoughts.. as far as where instead of going out to get 2 new G’s in FA and maybe in the draft where a good Center can change it all up and be giving us depth also.

Thanks.. have a nice weekend watching the post season.

Brian Moss

CB: I think your thought about moving Eric Wood out to guard, where he began his NFL career is an interesting idea. However, I think the only way it happens is if the Bills bring in a veteran center, not a rookie by way of the draft. If they add an offensive lineman in the draft I would expect it to be more of a guard. But knowing they have a second-year guard in Cyril Richardson and possibly a second guard option in Cyrus Kouandjio they may elect to add a veteran guard as they did last year (Chris Williams).

I think Seantrel Henderson can only improve in his second season if he takes to good coaching with the new staff and his athleticism alone gives him a leg up on Kouandjio for the right tackle job.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-9

Posted by Chris Brown on January 9, 2015 – 11:44 am

The season is over and the head coaching search is underway. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Can you give Bills fans an update on the picks we get for the Stevie Johnson and Bryce Brown trades and where the picks could be for both players based on their playing time? Is it a 3rd for both players if they have a certain amount of games?

Josh

CB: Both trades were in exchange for conditional fourth-round picks. What most are not aware of is Buffalo was using one trade to facilitate the other.

While I don’t have the exact terms that would have bumped both picks to third-round selections I do know that both the pick acquired in the Johnson trade remained a fourth-round pick, as did the pick Philadelphia is owed by Buffalo.

Since the Bills original fourth-round pick in 2015 was traded to Cleveland in the Sammy Watkins deal, the fourth-round pick acquired from San Francisco for Stevie Johnson must be sent to Philadelphia for Bryce Brown.

So this spring the Bills do not have a first or fourth round selection. They have a second, third, two fifths, sixth and seventh.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for the great coverage and all that you do.  A lot has been made around the NFL about the NFC South and one of those teams making the playoffs with a record less than .500.  My question is that with the Bills finishing with a better record than the NFC South champion (Carolina 7-8-1) will they pick after them in the draft?  The draft normally goes by record but do things change once a team makes the playoffs?  Thanks for the response.

J-P from Corning, NY but now in Frederick, MD
CB: Yes, by rule playoff teams pick after non-playoff teams. So the Bills first-round pick at 19, which is owned by Cleveland comes before Carolina. In fact even the playoff teams with better records who were eliminated Wild Card weekend will pick ahead of the Panthers. The best Carolina can do if they lose to Seattle this weekend is the 25th pick in round one.

 

3 – Chris,

Watching the Bills this season always leaves me thinking how many games would they have won if we had a top QB. Despite some games that Orton played well, he is surely not the guy to lead the Bills to the playoffs. I was wondering if picking up Sam Bradford would be a possibility and keeping EJ as a backup. I was also thinking that even though our offensive line has struggled this year, would we take a QB with our 2nd round pick this year?

-Bennett

CB: Sam Bradford is an interesting consideration. He has more than three times the experience of EJ Manuel in terms NFL starts with 49 on his NFL resume, but what is of concern to me is his completion percentage. It’s 58.6 percent, which is exactly the same as EJ Manuel.

I think the Bills need better than that if they decide acquiring a veteran quarterback is the route to take again this offseason. Now I’ll admit it is slim pickings in terms of the free agent market, and Bradford might be seen as one of the better options available.

Buffalo has limited capital to offer in a trade for a QB knowing they’re without a first and fourth-round pick this year.

The plan going forward concerning the quarterback position is certainly going to be one of the more intriguing developments for the Bills this offseason. And as for taking a QB in round two of the draft I don’t think anything can be ruled out at this point, but I do believe quarterback might be addressed before the draft rolls around.

 

4 – Chris,

How do you assess the prospects of OGs Kouandjio and Richardson? Do they have a chance to start on the Bills’ O-line  or will the Bills be shopping for guards in free agency and the draft next year.

Thanks,
Bob

CB: I think Cyrus Kouandjio and Cyril Richardson are still seen as long term investments by the organization. As I’ve written here before Kouandjio is still very young in football. He turned 21 during training camp last summer and has not played football his entire life. There is talent there. I just think what he needs is time on the job. Richardson has the physical tools, but they need to be refined more.

With that in mind I think it would be prudent for the Bills to seek NFL ready help at the guard position, especially with Erik Pears a free agent this offseason. The draft is another possibility, but it would have to be addressed early (2nd, 3rd round).

 

5 – Hi Chris,

My question pertains to re-signing several key players. I’ve read that there is some questions about whether or not we can sign Jerry Hughes, and renegotiate CJ and Marcel’s deals to keep them here long term, while also finding some key free agents and solid draft picks. Don’t we have a considerable amount of dead money coming off the books at the end of this year (Fitz, Stevie, Anderson, Lindell)? Overthecap.com says that it is about $21.6 million. With that money freed up, and the expansion of the salary cap don’t we have enough room to work with to bring back Jerry and give Marcel and CJ a raise?

(If this doesn’t make the list of questions on the blog post I would still love to hear your thoughts about where we stand financially going forward and how we can keep our defensive and offensive playmakers in Buffalo.)

Kevin

CB: You’re right there is a good amount of dead money coming off the books. I have seen the dead cap number closer to $24M. Per GM Doug Whaley – they will make every effort to bring Jerry Hughes and C.J. Spiller back into the fold.

There are reports that NFL clubs are expecting the cap to go up about $10M this year, which helps as well. It’s certainly possible that Dareus’ contract will be addressed to reduce his $8M cap figure this year and extend it.

However, I don’t think Dareus’ contract has to be extended in order for the club to formulate competitive offers for Hughes, Spiller and possibly Da’Norris Searcy.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-12

Posted by Chris Brown on December 12, 2014 – 1:25 pm

Time for another edition of Fan Friday. On to your questions now from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,

What are the illuminated numbers for when the Bills are on Defense? We sit on the visitors side of the Bills Stadium and often wonder if it signals to the defense.

Tony Pariso
CB: The fluorescent number cards held up by a Bills sideline assistant when the Bills defense is on the field is a cue card. The number on it identifies the personnel grouping of the opposing offense on that particular play. For example, a card that has an 11 on it means 11-personnel, which is one back, one tight end and three receivers. If it’s a 22 that means two backs and two tight ends. The number in the tens column identifies the number of backs in the grouping. The number in the ones column identifies the number of tight ends in the grouping.

Knowing you’ve got five lineman and a quarterback, you can do the math to figure out how many receivers you need to get to 11 total players based on the number of backs and tight ends.

It’s just a simple identifier tool for the defense so everyone is on the same page and can focus on the defensive play call and any pre-snap checks.

 

2 – Chris:
In the week that the Bills had to play the Jets in Detroit it was stated by Coach Marrone that it was a tough week because he prefers a set routine in preparing the team and he feels the players like a set routine. The way the team performed and had energy against the NY Jets after all the upheaval with the weather, do you think coaches should re-think the need to have a set routine?  Do you think by following the same routine a team could get stale and cause players to lack energy and concentration.  I feel it may be best to change practice routines and schedules during the season which may keep players sharp and fresh.

Thanks
Joe
Blasdell

CB: I think the coaching staff makes an effort to tweak certain aspects of the practice week to keep players on their toes, but largely football players and coaches are creatures of habit. I don’t know that it’s fair to take one isolated performance in a neutral site situation with a lot of upheaval to the normal schedule and let that convince you that the schedule should be altered every week.

 

3 – Hi Chris,

Is it possible that the Bills will give a free agent a chance at being the franchise QB? I am actually targeting Kirk Cousins from the Redskins. He has one year left on his contract, but I really don’t see him as a fit for the Buffalo Bills. Obviously, EJ Manuel will be given another chance, but Cousins is a bomber, and I think it would be exciting to watch Cousins with our current wide receivers. I would most definitely keep Kyle Orton as insurance, he has more than proven himself.

Your thoughts,
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

CB: I think the quarterback position could be a very fluid situation this offseason. You have EJ Manuel under contract and I still believe you have to work with him and develop him further. Giving up on him after just 14 starts seems foolhardy. Ryan Tannehill didn’t look like much in his first two seasons, but now in year three he’s demonstrated bona fide progress and has grown into the role for Miami. The Dolphins stuck with him and he’s rewarding them for that despite a change in offensive system this year.

Whether the Bills choose to stick with Orton as the veteran or bring in another is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to offseason decisions that must be made.

 

4 – Chris,

Can you give fans an update on the RT position. How has Henderson been doing? Fans are probably upset at Cyrus’ development since he got beat out by a 7th round pick. What is the future for Cyrus. I really don’t see him playing guard in the future. The Bills thought he had first round talent. I know Henderson may have been a steal. With no first round pick next year, it looks bad their 2nd round pick can’t be active on game day.

CB: Henderson has had his share of ups and downs this season. He has had some steady games and some unsteady games, but that inconsistency is to be expected with a rookie who is starting at this level for the first time. His athleticism and physical gifts are unquestioned and his work ethic has been pretty solid all year.

Cyrus Kouandjio is much younger in football than Henderson. Henderson played four years of college ball and all through high school. Kouandjio played two years of high school ball and declared early for the draft. Kouandjio is also just 21-years old.

He’s still growing into his body frame. Kouandjio needs to get stronger and needs reps. I think the team has to be patient with him and let him grow and learn for a couple of years. In time he could very well justify being a second-round pick, and the Bills knew when they picked that they’d have to wait on him a bit.

Kouandjio will never have the athleticism or feet that Henderson does. That’s God-given. Had Henderson not had all the off the field red flags, he’d have likely been a first-round pick for what it’s worth. I believe Kouandjio will be a contributor in time, but that’s what it’s going to take before he maximizes his potential. Time.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

Now that TV networks hire former referee’s for insight during the broadcast, would the Bills be able to hire a former ref to be on the staff and be on the sideline to assist the Head coach with challenge calls for example?

Thanks Travis

CB: That’s a pretty clever idea. Knowing how there seems to be an expert for every part of the football operation, why not a former official on your staff? I’ll have to check to see if there are rules against doing that. The only thing that I could see preventing that is a coach being concerned that it would indicate that he doesn’t know the challenge system well enough.


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Posted in 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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Posted in Inside the Bills

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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Posted in Inside the Bills