Inside The Bills

Dennis Thurman to call defensive plays

Posted by Chris Brown on December 30, 2016 – 1:13 pm

Head coach Rex Ryan called it his defense, and with his brother listed as Assistant head coach/Defense, Rob Ryan also had a hand in play calling. With both men fired this week, it only made sense to think that defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman would run the defense Sunday against the Jets. Interim head coach Anthony Lynn confirmed that Friday.

“Dennis Thurman is calling the defense on Sunday,” said Lynn.

Thurman and the rest of the coaching staff met with Lynn late on Thursday to go over all the game day responsibilities and who would be in charge of what. Thurman on Thursday gave the impression that who calls the defense isn’t that important as long as the players on the field understand it and can execute it.

“The one thing about this defense is it carries itself,” he said. “If you know it and understand it, it doesn’t really matter who is here and who’s not here, coach-wise. So, the bottom line to it is we are going to go ahead business as usual. We are going to play our defense hopefully to the best of our ability. That is what it’s all about, we have to come out and execute on Sunday. If we don’t execute, then we’ll continue to look like we have in probably four of the last five games. Not very good.”

 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-9

Posted by Chris Brown on December 9, 2016 – 12:26 pm

It’s a do or die week for the Bills. Step 1 of as win four straight scenario for Buffalo’s playoff aspirations. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Dennis Thurman said D is still a work in progress. Nearly 2 years have passed what are the issues? Players or the scheme?

David Marciano@rockydm92

CB: I think there are a lot things that have cropped up along the way for the defense that have compromised its consistency. Last year losing Kyle Williams and Aaron Williams, two main directors of communication last year was a big issue. Mario Williams dissension was another problem as was Rex Ryan’s decision to try to blend some of the successful concepts from Jim Schwartz’s scheme in with his. He admitted himself that was a mistake.

This year I think the absence of Marcell Dareus (suspension/injury) for half of the season hurt, as well as the loss of Aaron Williams again. That compromised the consistency of play at safety.

Adding Rob Ryan to the staff improved red zone defense greatly in the first half of the season. It’s hard to determine why the goal to go defense has struggled so much of late to devalue what were impressive numbers when they were defending inside their own 20.

The other big problem this year has been a lack of takeaways. After getting 12 in the first six games, the Bills have just two in their last six games for a total of just 14, and they both came in Stephon Gilmore’s two interception game at Cincinnati. Fourteen takeaways is seventh-fewest in the NFL.

Then I think there is an issue with mental toughness. The ability to respond when adversity strikes. Players have admitted that it is an issue that has proven tough for them to overcome.

We’ve all witnessed substitution problems with changing personnel groupings and getting calls in on time before the offense snaps the ball. It has happened far too often for an NFL club, and stretches back even to last season. That has to get fixed. There’s no excuse for having 10 men on the field or 12 men in the huddle. That’s an operational, chain of command type thing that has to be rectified.

The scheme has been tweaked and changed over the past two years to try to reduce the volume and allow the talent of the players to come through, and the miscommunication on plays has been reduced. Players admit they still struggle with responding and making something positive happen when the opponent steals the momentum of a game.

So in a long-winded way I think both scheme and the players are responsible for the shortcomings of the defense.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills 

Hey Chris,

Another year of great work man! Why has Jerel Worthy not been in lineup more? When hes been in, was making plays.

Dave@billsguy34

CB: I don’t disagree with your assessment. Since Marcell Dareus has come back the defensive line rotation has usually left Worthy as the odd man out. However, Adolphus Washington has been getting less playing time of late. The last four games he’s gotten 18, 20, 24 and 10 snaps. Worthy’s snap counts have been 22, 10, 1 and inactive.

Washington and Worthy to me are similar players. I think Washington has hit a bit of the rookie wall, so perhaps Worthy sees a bit more time down the stretch.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills is it a possibility that Sammy Watkins or Cordy Glenn gets traded at the end of the season always being injury prone?

S.Radford
@radfordboyz1220

CB: I think trading Watkins or Glenn is highly unlikely. Glenn is the team’s most talented lineman. Even Eric Wood would tell you that. He just signed a giant extension and has missed just two games this season with a high ankle sprain. He’s not going anywhere.

While I understand your frustration with Watkins lack of availability due to injury it doesn’t take away the fact that he’s a dynamic, game changing player. You don’t trade that commodity away. You have him at an affordable price on his rookie contract next year, so seeing how healthy he can stay in 2017 is definitely worth it knowing how he can change the complexion of a game.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills how many 4th Quarter comeback wins does Tyrod have?

Henrik Ek
@leroyek

CB: By my count he has two. Last year Week 5 at Tennessee and this season Week 12 against the Jaguars.

 

5 – Hi Chris;

As always many thanks for keeping Bills fans current on the team.  The past couple of games I have gotten the feeling that Rob (and Rex) are calling more of the defensive plays than Dennis has been.  I felt all along that would be the case once Rex brought his brother on board.  Is this actually the case?

Bryon
Plattsburgh NY
CB: I took a look at this last week in Oakland and it appeared that Assistant HC Rob Ryan was calling the plays from the sideline with defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman organizing personnel groupings. Earlier in the year Thurman was calling the plays, but it seems like those duties have vacillated back and forth through the course of the season. Based on observation it seems like Rob Ryan has handled more of those responsibilities the past few games. We’ll try to get that confirmed this coming week.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Seymour to get more work at nickel corner

Posted by Chris Brown on November 27, 2016 – 9:28 am

Last week Kevon Seymour saw more work at nickel corner than he had previously, but it was still just 15 snaps against Cincinnati. Nickell Robey-Coleman actually got more work by game’s end with 23 snaps. Today it looks like both will see work in the slot again, and Seymour could get more of the work.

“Seymour and Robey-Coleman are both going to play,” said defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman. “What we have to do is utilize our personnel the way we feel is going to give us the best opportunity to get guys covered back there. We decided to mix it up to have as many up and ready to go as we can and let them go out and play.”

Buffalo’s defensive staff has been more conscious of using better height and length matchups against bigger and taller receivers in the slot. Knowing the primary slot receiver for the Jaguars is Allen Hurns, who goes 6-3 and 201 pounds, Seymour could see more of the work in the slot this week.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Thurman: Tannehill has improved

Posted by Chris Brown on October 23, 2016 – 10:07 am

The Bills seem to have Ryan Tannehill’s number. He has a 2-6 record against Buffalo in his career and a career passer rating of 76. But Buffalo’s defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman believes that the Dolphins signal caller has advanced his game this season.

“You can tell he’s improved,” said Thurman. “He seems much more confident in what they’re asking him to do. He’s throwing the ball with confidence. Seems to have a really good relationship with 14 (Jarvis Landry) and they have nice receivers outside with (Kenny) Stills and (DeVante) Parker. You know, we have a job to do on Sunday. It’s not going to be easy.”

The knock on Tannehill in his career has been his inability to hit the deep ball with consistency, but he’s been able to connect on a couple here and there through the first five weeks of the season.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Thurman: Football means a lot to people of L.A.

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2016 – 8:43 am

While Bills fans certainly feel for the NFL fans of St. Louis, who lost their team with the Rams returning to Los Angeles, Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, who grew up watching the Rams in L.A. he knows the significance of that team’s return to the city of angels.

“It means a lot to the people of Los Angeles,” Thurman said. “You know without football for 22 years or something to that effect. I grew up as a kid watching the Rams–wasn’t a Rams fan, I was a Cowboys fan– but I knew a lot of the Rams players when I was growing up. George Allen coaching, Jack Pardee playing, Roman Gabriel playing, you know watching James Harris play quarterback out there I was very familiar with them. You know, to the people of L.A it means a lot. Football is important to them.

“But L.A is also one of those cities where there are things to do, places to go. If you’re not playing well, nobody is showing up. The Rams are playing well, so I’m expecting a packed Coliseum on Sunday.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Dennis Thurman’s best football memory at Coliseum

Posted by Chris Brown on October 8, 2016 – 10:41 am

By now most know that the Bills have a host of players who are USC alumni (Nickell Robey-Coleman, Reggie Bush, Kevon Seymour, Robert Woods). There is also a contingent of Bills coaches who played and/or coaches at USC including defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman and secondary coach Tim McDonald.

Thurman was on the USC 1974 national championship team, but that game didn’t take place at the L.A. Coliseum. So his best memory was when he was a cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys in 1978.

“You know, I have a lot of memories. I played a lot of college football games there, coached a lot of college football games there,” said Thurman. “Played a few when I was with Dallas coming back home and probably the most memorable was going there and playing in the NFC championship game in 1978 and beating the Rams and going to the Super Bowl.”

The Cowboys however, would lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIII 35-31.

Rams head coach is also a USC alum where he played safety alongside Ronnie Lott. Fisher played five seasons in the NFL under Rex and Rob Ryan’s father Buddy Ryan as a safety and returner for the Chicago Bears. He additionally coached under Ryan as a defensive backs coach with the Philadelphia Eagles.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Thurman: Very few things that Z. Brown can’t do

Posted by Chris Brown on September 30, 2016 – 9:59 am

Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman is not one to hand out praise easily. So when he had some for Bills ILB Zach Brown it served as indication as to just how productive he has been through the first three games this season.

Zach is a very talented individual,” said Thurman. “Physically he’s as gifted as most linebackers in this league. He can run, he can hit, he can cover, he can tackle well, he can blitz. I mean there’s very few things that he can’t do. Anytime you see a guy that has talent, you want to maximize that talent, get it out of him, and Zach’s playing at a high level for us right now.”

Brown is tied for the league lead in tackles with 34.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Thurman called defensive plays

Posted by Chris Brown on September 26, 2016 – 9:53 am

It’s not the first time and it probably won’t be the last, but defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman called Sunday’s game for Buffalo’s defense and Rex Ryan could not have been more pleased with the results.

“Dennis Thurman did a great job of calling the game,” said Ryan. “Then my brother’s contribution in the red zone looked pretty decent I think.”

Buffalo’s unique 1-3-7 defensive formation, used most on third down, with Kyle Williams the only defensive lineman, three linebackers and seven defensive backs including four safeties had Arizona’s offense thoroughly confused. The Cardinals did not convert a third down for the first 20 minutes of the game and finished 5-of-15 on third down conversions. They were also just 1-for-3 in the red zone after Rob Ryan did a two-year study on Arizona’s red zone tendencies under Bruce Arians in preparation for the game.

When asked if Thurman calling the plays was a change from the norm, Ryan simply explained how everything went down in terms of delegating responsibilities on the defensive side of the ball.

“Yeah, he was calling it,” said Ryan of Thurman. “Here’s what happens, we present it. So I came up to Dennis and said, ‘Look, we’ve played this guy a long time, this is what in my opinion we need to go to.’ So we put in a turbo package that we were ready with. Then we dialed them up on down-and-distance what we wanted to do. So his (call) sheet has everything specific to the plan. It was a joint effort of the entire defense. Some of the contributions that some people made was absolutely huge.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills DBs focused on fixing technique

Posted by Chris Brown on September 24, 2016 – 11:19 am

Buffalo’s defensive backs did not have a productive day last week against the Jets. To their credit they put most of the blame on themselves and their own playing technique. Knowing it’s a copycat league, the Bills secondary has focused on fixing their techniques and having some different plans for Arizona Sunday.

“As DBs we go to our toolbox and we switch up leverages,” said Nickell Robey-Coleman. “We switch up the way we use our hands, the way we pressure at the line. So it’s about going back into that toolbox.

“After playing the Jets for the eighth time they knew what leverage we were playing and did a good job of attacking our outside leverage. Making us flip our hips and coming back inside. But we’ll make some adjustments and go back out there and showcase it against the Cardinals.

“That’s the thing about being a DB. You’re playing a certain technique or leverage and if nobody is going to stop it why stop using it. But now they’ve got a little jump on us so we’re going to switch it up a bit.”

Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman believes the reasons the defensive backfield was victimized can be effectively corrected.

“It’s about competing,” he said. “You know, you’ve got to get on the practice field and correct the things that you didn’t do right. There are things that can be corrected, and some of it falls on us as coaches. But we have to work together. And if we do, we have a chance to get it corrected. We expect our guys to play the way they’re capable of playing and we’ll see what happens on Sunday.”

Thurman does acknowledge that Arizona’s passing game is a sizable challenge with Carson Palmer at the controls.

“When he’s comfortable and things are right, and he hits that back foot and he hitches up one step and there’s no pressure around him, he can carve you up,” said Thurman of Palmer. “I mean he’s really a good quarterback. He throws the ball well. He can make all the throws, has a group of excellent receivers. So yeah we have our hands full on Sunday.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Game time here for LB Steward

Posted by Chris Brown on December 5, 2015 – 2:05 pm

His rookie season got off to a rough start with a sprained MCL in the preseason. Now healthy again Tony Steward will be stepping in for an injured Nigel Bradham Sunday. So how ready is the Bills sixth-round pick?

As defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman sees it he has to be ready.

“He doesn’t have a choice,” said Thurman flatly. “He’s going to get his opportunity. And that’s what you look for as a player, you look for a chance to go out and see where you are. It’s a little tougher on rookies than most. But you never know.  We’ll put him out there and we’ll see what happens.”


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Texans mix up personnel groupings a lot

Posted by Chris Brown on December 5, 2015 – 10:40 am

The Houston Texans have made use of a large number of personnel groupings on their current winning streak. They had 12 different groupings against the Jets and another nine against the Saints, both victories. Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said they’re not going to get too wrapped up in all the different packages Houston can throw out on the field.

“We try not to get caught up in that,” said Thurman. “We always say they only have five eligibles. You gotta go cover whoever’s eligible, the guys who throw the football, whether they’re a runner or receiver. You have to deal with them. You can’t get caught up in who they are.  A lot of times who they are doesn’t necessarily mean what they’re doing, because they can do the same thing. Just change up their personnel grouping.”

Cecil Shorts has been used in a number of ways by the Texans. He’s taken direct snaps in their Wildcat package, he’s thrown flea flickers for touchdowns and last week took a shovel pass while in motion and scored a touchdown.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Execution trumps play calling

Posted by Chris Brown on November 7, 2015 – 4:13 pm

More than one of Buffalo’s coaches said it this week. When it comes to performance on the field, execution carries the day. That’s not to say that play calling doesn’t matter, but in the eyes of Buffalo’s coaching staff execution is what will improve the team’s consistency from start to finish in a football game.

“It’s not about any calls that are made,” said defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman. “It’s never about a call. It’s really about how you execute the call and we have to go out and we have to execute, and we have to get our job done.”

“It’s the execution of the play call, not the play call itself. If you just think you’re going to go out there and with my call sheet I’m going to out coach you this way or whatever, it’s the execution of the calls and that’s the thing that we’re trying to make sure we’re dialed in on. Is there a give and take on what you’re asking your players to do? I think there’s always some of that.”

The coaches on defense admitted they simplified the scheme slightly, but it’s ultimately on the players to make plays within the framework of the scheme.


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Thurman: Job one is points allowed

Posted by Chris Brown on October 23, 2015 – 4:29 am

Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman isn’t too keen on all the criticism leveled at Buffalo’s defense, particularly the lack of pass pressure and sacks. For Thurman defensive performance is much broader than that and all the aspects of defensive play can be summed up with one simple statistic as he sees it. Points allowed.

“We’re not worried about pass rushing,” said Thurman. “We’re not worried about what you guys are worried about. We’re worried about wins and losses. We need to play better as a defense. I’m more concerned about how many points we’re giving up. I’m not worried about individual statistics. The points we’re giving up, I’m not happy about that.”

When asked if pass pressure is important, Thurman didn’t deny that it wasn’t, but again went back to focusing on the overall picture on defense.

“So is tackling. We missed some tackles.  It’s overall performance,” Thurman said. “You guys want to focus on one thing—it’s more than that. It’s point allowed, missing tackles, missing assignments. When you’re going well and you’re playing well, then no one’s concerned about one individual thing. We’re not going to be concerned about one individual part of our defense. We’re concerned about every part of our defense. We need to play better.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Underneath coverage key to pass rush

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2015 – 10:05 am

Through the first four games of the season the Bills vaunted pass rush has been rendered ineffective due mainly to opposing quarterback getting the ball out in less than 2.5 seconds on average. Andrew Luck, Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill and Eli Manning have all succeeded with a quick pass game to negate any pass pressure generated by Buffalo’s men up front. Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman has a solution to reverse that trend.

“It’s one of those situations where if the ball is coming out in under two seconds it’s a little hard to get the type of pass rush that you want to generate,” said Thurman. “At the same time everybody has a job to do and quarterbacks have been throwing the ball fairly quickly against us and we know it. So we gotta do a better job of our underneath coverage.”

Coverage on the boundary was very good against the quick game last week. Evidence of that could be seen in the receiving statistics of Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle. The pair was targeted 18 times in the game and had just six receptions. The middle of the field is what has to be guarded more effectively, especially knowing that Titans TE Delanie Walker is one of Marcus Mariota’s favorite targets.


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Big WRs not a bother for Robey in slot

Posted by Chris Brown on September 26, 2015 – 9:44 am

One of the newer offensive trends in NFL passing games is to make use of a size receiver in the slot. In Week 1 the Bills saw that from the Colts when they used Andre Johnson inside. This week they’re likely to see the Dolphins move Jarvis Landry in to the slot. Landry is just 5-11, but he carries a broad frame and is great on contested passes. Bills slot corner Nickell Robey however, isn’t worried about facing bigger receivers inside.

“It’s actually… I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging because it’s kind of easier because I’m always dealing with quicker guys,” Robey said. “But now I’ve got more big-bodied guys so it’s more slower routes, more developing routes. So it’s not like little quick routes like (Julian) Edelman or (Danny) Amendola. It’s more like down the field routes, across the field routes, out breaking routes.

“But the big guys being inside I don’t really see a switch up in my job. The routes are just more slow developing thant he normal quick game I always get. I usually get quick slant, quick outs, option routes. I’m used to things like that, but now I’m getting bigger guys like Andre Johnson, you get longer routes, deeper routes, across the field routes.”

Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman doesn’t raise much of an eyebrow to the bigger receivers moving inside either.

“It’s no different than them using another tight end,” said Thurman. “Some of these wide receivers are the same size as tight ends, height-wise. Some of them are weighing in an excess of 230, 235 pounds. So just like using another tight end. They’re trying to manipulate the middle of the field. They figure the safety and linebackers can’t cover them. So I believe that’s one of the reasons why they’re doing it.”

Thurman and head coach Rex Ryan have a lot of faith in Robey inside. The only area where that big-bodied receiver can be an issue is in the red zone.

“Oh jump ball, jump ball for sure,” said Thurman. “They’re smart. All they want to do is score points and that’s one way to use your height to your advantage – definitely down in the red zone. But it’s becoming the in vogue thing to do and so you’ll continue to see more and more of it.”


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Rerouting Gronk easier said than done

Posted by Chris Brown on September 20, 2015 – 10:25 am

Teams have tried and tried again to find the best way to stop Pats TE Rob Gronkowski and time and again they’ve come up empty. One tactic that is probably advisable is to collision Gronk at the line of scrimmage before he gets a head of steam going downfield. Bill DC Dennis Thurman isn’t opposed to that approach, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to neutralize him.

“That’s a part of it,” said Thurman. “Teams have tried a number of different things against him with minimal success. I mean the guys a very talented player. You know like Rex (Ryan) said yesterday, heck if you were having the draft all over again he’d go much higher than where he went. I mean he’s a very talented man, he gets the job done for them. I understand how and why they use him the way that they do. We have our work cut out for us, but we feel like we are up to the task.”

At the same time there a rhythmic nature to the Pats offense and throwing a wrench in the works to get them off track can be tough when they’re rolling.

“They execute well and it starts with their quarterback. They’ve been doing it for years,” said Thurman. “You anticipate that they’re going to make some plays. We have to make our share of plays and we feel like if we do we’ll be okay. They’re a tough cover. They’re hard and difficult to deal with because of the guy pulling the trigger. He’s as good as it gets in the game so our expectations are that he’ll play well so we have to play well.”


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Fan Friday 9-18

Posted by Chris Brown on September 18, 2015 – 11:26 am

The Bills are 1-0 with a pretty important early season matchup with the Patriots up next. Be loud Bills fans! Here is this week’s edition of your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hey Chris thanks for all the hard work you put in!

Are the Bills keeping three QB’s because of the chance a running QB (Taylor) is likely to be injured?

Danny in Scottsdale, AZ

CB: I think the Bills intended to keep three quarterbacks from the very beginning. The performance of all three in the preseason I believe cemented their spots on the 53-man squad. Cassel’s value is in his experience and Manuel’s play in the preseason convinced the offensive staff that he’s on the right track with his progress as a young signal caller. Taylor obviously won the job.

 

2 – How will the contract extension for Marcell play into our ability to re-sign some of the other Bills on contract years? Including the usage of a franchise tag do you see the Bills being able to retain Glenn, Bradham, and Gilmore as a big three? Do you think that leaves enough for McKelvin( is he on a final year?) and Harvin?

Thanks!

-Michael

CB: The Bills bought themselves some time with Stephon Gilmore by picking up his fifth-year option, so he’s not up until after the 2016 season. Nigel Bradham and Cordy Glenn are the other big names that are coming due after the 2015 campaign.

The good thing that the Bills did was spread out Dareus’ guaranteed money over the first two years with singing and option bonuses in addition to his guaranteed base salary. The deal is relatively cap friendly until the last two years when his base salary balloons to more than $12M.

Bradham and Glenn are the two that figure to be addressed. The linebacker would be much easier to sign than the left tackle, knowing the market rate for left tackles is far higher than at LB. Knowing how thin the Bills are depth-wise at both positions it’s going to be interesting to see how the decision making plays out with those two players.

The good news is the salary cap continues to go up and up and up, and with the revenues projected where they are for NFL clubs this year the cap is expected to take another sizable jump this offseason. That makes re-signing players like Bradham, Gilmore and Glenn more realistic.

Leodis McKelvin signed a four-year extension that runs through 2016.

3 – Hey Chris,
With the extension of Dareus, Could you give bills fans an update on how long we will have our d line for?
Thanks!!!

Danny in Scottsdale

CB: The contracts of Kyle and Mario Williams are the ones set to expire first following the 2017 season. Jerry Hughes’ deal runs out in 2020 and Dareus is after the 2021 season. Now we all know circumstances crop up at other positions that can necessitate some difficult decisions at defensive line, so to assume that the line will be together for another four seasons might be foolhardy. I do think it’s safe to say we’ll see the group together through at least 2016.

 

4 – Hello Chris,

As always, thank you for providing the fans this opportunity. With our limited exposure to Ronald Darby, we don’t really get to see his progression. I understand the need for him to struggle and that the preseason is a good place to throw him to the wolves. I am curious how much he has progressed since he came in? Does he learn quickly from his mistakes? Any information would be helpful.

Thank you!

Cory

CB: I will let defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, a former NFL cornerback himself, handle this one. Here’s what he said this week about Darby’s progress.

“He continues to work on his craft, he’s a very talented young man. We believe the sky is the limit for him, we expect him to play well,” said Thurman. “If he’s out there we’re expecting him to play well. We don’t look for him to play like a rookie. We know at times that he may get himself in trouble but if he’s focused on what his assignments are we feel like he’s talented enough to get the job done.”
5 – Chris,

Why do the Bills make comments about the Pats? All that does is fuel the fire. Every time they talk smack they get beat down.

Sam

CB: I think we all know that Rex Ryan has a track record of not being afraid to say what he believes. Coach-speak doesn’t really exist for Ryan and that filters down to his players, who he encourages to speak their mind and say what they believe. I don’t think there has been anything this week other than players speaking confidently and believing that they can beat New England. That’s a healthy and necessary mindset to have going into a game against an opponent of this caliber.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Corbin Bryant set to start vs. Indy

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

He’s filled in on the interior of Buffalo’s starting defensive line before, but on Sunday DT Corbin Bryant will be doing it in a game that counts.

With Pro Bowl DT Marcell Dareus serving a one-game league imposed suspension Sunday, Bryant will start in his place. The third-year player has quickly become someone Buffalo’s new defensive staff believes they can rely on.

“He has gone out and he has performed well. That is why he is starting,” said defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman. “You don’t get a chance to start in the National Football League unless you are performing. He has gone out, he is performing, he has done his job, we are confident in him that he will go out and get it done, just as Marcell [Dareus] would have gone out and gotten it done. We don’t feel like there will be much of a drop off, if any. We expect him to go out and perform at a high level.”

Bryant had nine tackles including three for loss with a pair of sacks and quarterback hits in three preseason games.


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Mind games for Bills defense

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2015 – 8:59 am

Rex Ryan is supremely confident that he has an elite defense, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to rest on his laurels as a coach because he has a unit blessed with great talent. That’s why Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman put in some multi-faceted adjustments on the fly for their first team defense Thursday night.

“When you have a good defense or an elite defense you challenge them mentally to do things,” said Ryan. “Dennis and I were talking and we put on some checks, some audible checks, calls they never heard and we said, ‘Make it work. Here are the two things we’re going to combine and just based off formation.’

“So we challenged the heck out of them mentally as well. You make adjustments in this league. I want our guys to understand it’s not just one or two defensive calls. We’re very multiple in what we do and we do it for a reason. We take advantage of what we’re seeing and what we’re getting, protections and so forth and we’ve got to be ready to go with it, but I thought they did a nice job and responded well to it.”

Ryan not only has high end talent, he’s got veteran talent that can adjust to mixing play calls in their scheme among other things. Buffalo’s head coach insists they still haven’t shown much of their defensive concepts for the regular season, but it won’t keep them from throwing adjustments on the fly at their players.


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Thurman: D’s willingness to learn has been key

Posted by Chris Brown on July 20, 2015 – 2:31 pm

Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman admired Buffalo’s defense from afar when he was still coaching with the Jets. But more than their playmaking ability, speed and consistent quarterback pressure, Thurman was impressed with something else after getting the chance to coach the unit.

“The thing that really impressed me more than anything—their willingness to learn something new,” Thurman told Buffalobills.com. “They had a great defense a year ago. They’ve been exceptional as far as coming in and wanting to learn this defense, the little nuances of it.  It’s a different defense from the one they were accustomed to a year ago. But they’ve taken to it and they’re trying to make it their own.”

Thurman says that desire to learn the new scheme and the major concepts behind it are critical if they want to be a playoff club this season.


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Posted in Inside the Bills