Do or die time for the Bills this weekend in Cincinnati. Got to decide if they want to be part of the AFC playoff race Sunday. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills FF,any thought to Incognito going to C and Groy LG? Groy has been ok at G when needed but IMO was a factor in SEA loss at C
CB: When there’s a significant loss on the offensive line, as is the case with Wood lost for the season to a broken leg, coaches often want as little disruption as possible when addressing the void in the lineup. Ryan Groy is expected to be the answer in the pivot.
First, and probably most important, Groy has operated as the swing center-guard since spring camps. He’s snapped to all three quarterbacks on the roster. He’s played a number of roles across the front including guard, tackle eligible and tight end on run plays. That equips him with a firm working knowledge of what everyone is doing on every play, which provides him with the wherewithal to make pre-snap checks efficiently and consistently.
Knowing how critical the communication is from the center in Buffalo’s offense, having Groy with the knowledge base necessary is essential in the pivot.
I’m not saying that Richie Incognito couldn’t play center, but with literally zero reps there since the day he arrived in Buffalo it’s not something you can just ask him to do with a week of practice. Incognito is a Pro Bowl guard. Moving him to address the need at center would be like robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Which goes back to the old adage that you don’t change two positions to address one.
Groy at center makes the most sense as I see it.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
The collapse of the secondary is it players or coaching that’s to blame?
CB: Stephon Gilmore said it’s on the players to make plays. It’s his opinion that the coaches are putting them in position to make plays on the ball. That would seem to run in concert with Rex Ryan who said the majority of the issue is technique related.
Opponents are taking a different approach in attacking the Bills DBs and more often than not the Bills coverage players are not making the necessary adjustments in their coverage technique. That means playing proper leverage as a defender, footwork, driving to the hip of the receiver. All those things factor in, but based on what the coaches and players are saying it’s player error more than anything else.
3 – Chris,
Why doesn’t Time Warner Cable carry the Buffalo Bills programming on MSG in my area?
I looked online and it lists the shows on the guide where I live, but when you tune in it shows all NYC programming. But it will show the Sabres games. I am confused about this.
I live in Wayland, NY 14572 which is in northwestern part of Steuben County. My understanding is that everybody west of Syracuse would get the Bills programming. If you could find a reason for this it would be greatly appreciated thanks
CB: From what I have been told MSG only provides their WNY programming like our Sunday pre-game show, Bills All Access, at 11 am and the Rex Ryan Show (Sundays 11:30 am) as far as Rochester. If you draw a vertical line on a map from the middle of Rochester down through the rest of WNY everyone west of that line gets WNY programming on MSG. If you are east of that line, which I believe you are in Wayland, you get MSG’s NYC programming.
My solution for you would be to contact Time Warner Cable and demand MSG’s Western New York programming. You live in WNY, so it only makes sense.
4 – Chris,
I really would like to see Robert Woods as a Bill for the next 4 years. Can you give us an idea of what salary he is expected to command in free agency?
CB: Woods is on pace to set single-season career highs in receptions and receiving yards. His market value based on his average numbers the first four years would approach $9M per season. That might seem exorbitant, but that’s what the market bears.
Jacksonville’s Allen Hurns just signed a four-year deal this year for just over $40M. His numbers are marginally better than Woods, so it’s reasonable to think that Woods could command a contract in the neighborhood of $9M/year knowing the receiver market isn’t flush with players in their low to mid-20’s with his kind of experience.
Woods is just 24-years old. The only players with comparable age and superior numbers are Alshon Jeffery, Michael Floyd and Kamar Aiken.
I’m not optimistic that the Bills would pay that kind of money for Woods, knowing they’re likely to pay Sammy Watkins big money when his rookie deal is up, provided he can find a way to stay healthy in the next year or so of course.
5 – Chris
We heard an awful lot about Dez Lewis this offseason and with all the injuries at WR why hasn’t he been brought up to the 53 we’ve brought up 1 WR off the practice squad but not Dez not sure I understand has he fallen off I mean we really need help and he seemed to help last year and it was reported that he worked hard in the offseason and looked like he had improved in training camp what’s your thoughts
CB: Dez Lewis looked like a world beater in the spring practices and appeared like he had a chance to make an impact as the team’s third receiver. But when the pads went on in training camp he disappeared. He has never been able to re-establish the same kind of consistency in his game since.
It’s disappointing to see, but it’s a different game when the pads go on and some players can make the adjustment and some can’t. Hopefully Lewis can re-capture some of what made him look so promising in OTAs this past spring.
Tags: Bills All Access, Bills secondary, Dez Lewis, Fan Friday, MSG, Rex Ryan Show, Richie Incognito, Robert Woods, Ryan Groy
Posted in Inside the Bills
Knowing how tight things have been at the receiver position, head coach Rex Ryan put the onus on a few receivers in particular to perform heading into the team’s third preseason game at Washington.
Ryan was asked for an assessment of the play in camp of a few wideouts and did not mince words.
On Dez Lewis
“I haven’t seen that big of an improvement from him,” Ryan said. “He’ll get some opportunities and he’s got to stand up if he wants to make this team. He’s got to earn it, nobody’s going to give you anything. I love having a big-size guy that should be a red-zone threat but eventually you got to come down with some plays.”
On Greg Salas
“I think he’s proven that he’s a reliable target. The thing that he hasn’t proved over his career is that he can stay healthy,” Ryan said. “And again this year, he has the hamstring, so that’s a concern. But when he’s out there, we know he’s a fine receiver.”
On Walt Powell
“I would say he’s probably not as consistent as we’d like, but you know you’re going to get great effort from Walt,” said Ryan. “He’s a courageous kid but that’s kind of what we’re trying to focus on, is him being more consistent and I’m talking about with everything. Alignment, assignment—all that type of stuff, his technique. Those are the types of things we keep harping on and I think if he can do those things, he’s got good skills, so we just keep working with him and I know he’s a hard-working kid so hopefully he’ll get even better.”
Finally Ryan confirmed that neither Kolby Listenbee nor Marcus Easley are close to returning to practice field anytime soon. When asked if either could be designated for the Reserve/PUP list Ryan gave indication that it was premature to consider it.
Tags: Dez Lewis, Greg Salas, Rex Ryan, Walt Powell
Posted in Inside the Bills
While Bills head coach Rex Ryan will be the first to acknowledge that a few receivers have made some nice plays through the first week of camp, he does not believe anyone has begun to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
Ryan is looking at the wideout contingent beyond what is widely perceived as the top two in Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods.
“I think when we start getting into the preseason games and the scrimmages and all that, maybe then we’ll see somebody separate,” said Ryan. “Greg Salas is a guy that made a great catch on a third and two, (Thursday). Tyrod was really patient he took away the first three options, then hit the deep and he makes a great catch. But, he’s got some savvy, great hands, so there’s a comfort level there.
“But then you get a guy like (Greg) Little who shows up, making some big plays and (Jarret) Boykin’s had his moments. We talked about Dez (Lewis) already. But to say all that the answer simply is no, nobody has separated themselves.”
Tags: Bills training camp, Dez Lewis, Greg Little, Greg Salas, Jarrett Boykin, Rex Ryan
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Has Dez Lewis secured a place on the roster? And does he have any exp of kick/punt returning? #bills
CB: We will have a feature story on Dez Lewis this Monday on how he has advanced his game entering his second season. I think if Lewis continues on his current path he will undoubtedly be on the 53-man roster. But what he did in the spring has to continue in training camp when the pads go on, especially for a 6-4 receiver like Lewis. In fact Lewis’ game should go up another notch knowing how he can assert his physicality on the field. Hopefully that proves to be the case. As I wrote today in ‘What we learned about the Bills in offseason practices’ he has the inside track on the No. 3 receiver role.
His punt/kick return experience is minimal. He had just two punt returns in college and no kick returns.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills how serious is Karlos’s weight issue. Have Gilislee and J Williams over taken him in terms of a roster spot#bills
CB: There is no debating that Karlos has a formidable task in front of him. He has so much weight to lose that Rex Ryan said this week that getting him back to his playing weight by the start of training camp might be too much in too short a period of time.
His weight loss has to come in stages. So in late July when players report it’s unlikely that Williams will be at his playing weight of 230 pounds. Depending on what his report weight is Williams practice regimen could be limited to avoid the risk of injury. When you’re carrying excess weight, especially at a position like running back you’re risk of injury increases significantly, with hamstrings being the most susceptible to problems.
So I would expect a similar approach early in camp with Williams where he’s doing individual position drill work and then going to the side to work with the strength and conditioning staff to continue to shed weight.
As for the running back pecking order, it’s clear that the offensive staff is high on Jonathan Williams. In minicamp with LeSean McCoy’s ankle injury keeping him out of team work and Karlos Williams weight keeping him out of team work, Jonathan Williams was first in the rotation at the position followed by Mike Gillislee.
Jonathan Williams has a lot of the same physical skills of Karlos Williams. If Karlos Williams’ weight loss process last into the preseason I think it’s very possible that Jonathan Williams is your backup running back and Gillislee remains the third back as he was last season.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you think Kyle Williams will be more effective in a shared rotational role with Adolphus Washington?
i carn’t spel@NickTheCrowe
CB: I believe that Kyle Williams will still be a starter on this defensive line in 2016. Will he play as many snaps as Marcell Dareus or Adolphus Washington? Probably not. But I expect him to start at right defensive end next to Dareus and kick inside at times on obvious passing downs. Washington will man left defensive end with Dareus on the nose.
It’s my belief that Williams is still a very effective and productive player even at 33-years old. I suppose we won’t know for sure until we see how he looks in training camp in return from a bad knee injury that required surgery. But most seem to forget this guy is a four-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman. He’s a grinder. So I don’t see a rotational role for him unless that knee injury robbed him of his trademark explosiveness off the snap.
4 – Chris,
Does it concern you that Rex is simplifying his scheme to appease his players? It concerns me that we won’t be running the same system that has such a long track record of success, because players aren’t smart enough to pick it up. How did the Jets defense pick it up in the first year, but here we are in year two in Buffalo and they have to simplify the checks. Not very encouraging. Maybe this team needs to put a greater premium on intelligence, like Belichick does; you have to be a college graduate to be a Patriot.
CB: After talking to Preston Brown about that very thing I’m not concerned. I asked Brown directly as to whether the defensive scheme has been pared down. He said the only part of the defense that has been “altered slightly” (his words) is there aren’t quite as many pre-snap checks on certain down and distances. Otherwise Ryan’s defensive scheme is largely the same.
The key difference this year is Ryan is no longer blending elements of the old Jim Schwartz scheme from 2014. Rex tried to blend elements of Schwartz’s successful scheme in 2014 with his own as an olive branch to the defensive players who were successful and productive in that system. By midseason he knew it was a mistake.
So going into this season it’s Ryan’s more traditional 3-4 system that has a proven track record in this league for 15-plus years. What’s more the players have completely committed themselves to learning the scheme. So I would not be concerned about the effectiveness of Rex’s scheme. I think it will work with a lot more success this season for the reasons mentioned above.
5 – Dear Chris:
Thank you for all of your coverage that you do on the Bills day after day, hope you continue the game day chat box, very helpful.
My question is regarding Shaq Lawson; is there a timetable for his return as of yet? What for surgery/operation was done on his shoulder? Could he potentially miss the start of the regular season and most of training camp, as reports I have read so far have indicated, or could he potentially rehab his heart out in time to make the end of training camp, as shoulder injuries can take time to heal. This is very much concerning me as I have not much info on how long it could be until he gets back to full health.
John from Pennsylvania
CB: I think the most important thing is that Shaq’s surgery was successful. Now the rehab process begins, but rehabbing from this procedure is going to take time, typically four months or more knowing each case is different. So I believe it’s likely that Lawson misses training camp and the preseason. The team has stated he’s also likely to miss the early stages of the regular season.
What benefits the Bills coaching staff is they have time to adjust their plans for the loss of Lawson from their defensive lineup. It’s reasonable to believe he’ll be good to go for at least the second half of the season. At what point in the first half of the season he returns is a timetable that can’t be pinned down until he’s further along in the rehab process.
Tags: Dez Lewis, Fan Friday, Jonathan Williams, Karlos Williams, Kyle Williams, Mike Gillislee, Shaq Lawson
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills who do you think is going to be our rookie of the year?
CB: I think the player who has the best opportunity to be rookie of the year is Reggie Ragland. With Shaq Lawson expected to miss a portion of the regular season coming off shoulder surgery it removes him as a likely candidate. Then add in the fact that Ragland is a recognized name from his widespread exposure at Alabama and that he’ll be playing a position where he can rack up a lot of statistics, and I believe the opportunity is good for Ragland’s play to stand out.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills do you see Sterling Moore as the nickel corner or will Robey keep his spot?
CB: I certainly believe that Moore will be some of Robey’s stiffest competition. His time in the slot to this point has been somewhat limited, though I did see him line up there for a handful of snaps in the open practice session this week.
Moore does have a size advantage on Robey at that role (who doesn’t), but Robey has near perfect technique. He has to otherwise he’s not playing in the NFL. I know the coaching staff like Robey a lot, so I think Moore would have to clearly outplay him to unseat him from that role.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills what receiver has stood out in OTA’s.
CB: The receiver that has stood out the most has been second-year man Dez Lewis. He’s made a lot of plays. Now Robert Woods has made a ton of plays too in the OTAs, but I think Lewis is the biggest surprise. Lewis has added good lean muscle mass to his 6-4 frame and has not only demonstrated good ability to win on passes in traffic, but has also shown the ability to get separation. He can thank his improved route running for that.
He’ll have legitimate competition in veterans like Jarrett Boykin, Greg Little and Leonard Hankerson, but so far so good for Lewis in trying to nail down a role in Buffalo’s receiving corps.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills who do you think will get the punt/kick return duties for 2016 #bills
CB: There are a few candidates as seems to be the case every year, but the names have changed. CB Javier Arenas and WR Walter Powell have seen the most consistent work on returns. It’s safe to say that Marquise Goodwin and Kolby Listenbee will be given opportunities on kick return when available just based on pure speed.
I think Listenbee is a good bet for kick return. Punt return is a bit tougher to call only because both Arenas and Powell will be fighting for roster spots and the job may ultimately fall to someone else, like perhaps Robert Woods who has plenty of return experience.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills any chance Colin Kaepernick ends up in Buffalo?
CB: I’d be a bit surprised if Kaepernick winds up in Buffalo. I realize a lot of people are trying to connect dots knowing that Kaepernick had his greatest success in the NFL under Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Unless the 49ers are giving Kaepernick away and want to cover part of his salary, I don’t believe Buffalo takes a run at him.
The main reason is his $11.9M cap figure. Knowing a Stephon Gilmore extension is a priority for the Bills and that an extension for Tyrod Taylor is likely if he performs as expected I can’t see Kaepernick making much business.
The other reason I could see the Bills not being interested is Buffalo finally has some stability at the quarterback position with Tyrod Taylor as its starter. Adding Kaepernick would bring some uncertainty to the position in terms of depth chart hierarchy. If for some reason Taylor struggled in a game or two and Kaepernick was on the roster, fans would be calling to insert him into the lineup.
Most importantly I don’t know that the Bills or any other NFL club is convinced that Kaepernick would make them decidedly better at the quarterback position. His effectiveness as a quarterback has suffered the last couple of seasons. Kaepernick’s career stats are better than Manuel’s, but his completion percentage is largely the same as EJ.
I get the argument that his game could potentially be revitalized under Roman, but unless you can get him for cheap in terms of compensation and at a severely reduced salary (something Kaepernick has balked at before) I don’t know that it’s a reclamation project I’d be interested in. Whether the Bills are interested would largely hinge on what Roman believes he could accomplish with him.
Tags: Colin Kaepernick, Dez Lewis, Fan Friday, Javier Arenas, Kolby Listenbee, Marquise Goodwin, Nickell Robey, Reggie Ragland, Special teams, Sterling Moore, Walter Powell
Posted in Inside the Bills