Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 12-30

Posted by Chris Brown on December 30, 2016 – 11:28 am

A lot of change this week, with more to come this offseason (23 unrestricted free agents). Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills 

What is the general mood/feeling amongst the players right now, post Rex firing?

Matthew Rule
@MatthewtheRule

CB: I think players are disappointed and feel some measure of guilt, knowing the results on the field played a role in the decision that ownership made on Rex Ryan. At the same time there are some players like Sammy Watkins and other vets, who in the wake of the change made at the head coaching position feels there needs to be more discipline and harder coaching at the top.

Knowing there are 23 unrestricted free agents on this roster, there are also a number of players who are going to be supremely motivated to good the best possible product on tape this Sunday. Chief among them is EJ Manuel, who has an opportunity to put fresh game tape out there to show where he has advanced his game.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Why are the Bills the way that they are?

Christopher Gump
@gumpcd0315

CB: I think the easiest way to explain it is when you haven’t found a viable solution for your head coaching position, you have to make a change in an effort to find the right fit and improve. But that constant change also makes it hard for a team to gain traction and make progress. That’s where this team is right now.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Who is more likely to re-sign with Buffalo, Gilmore or Woods?

Dave
@Billsfanhanes

CB: Good question. I’m not going to pretend to know Doug Whaley’s priority list, but I think Gilmore is probably a more important component. As encouraging as Kevon Seymour’s rookie season has been, keeping Gilmore in the fold would be a good thing. For that to happen though I think his presumed asking price will have to come down a bit.

As for Woods, it’s a hard one to gauge. I think the organization respects Woods’ game and his willingness to play hurt. But the market for receivers with his kind of production will put him close to $9M per season. If the team wants to add a different kind of skill set to the receiving corps, then it might be hard to justify that kind of spending for Woods.

I’m not saying he isn’t worth it. I just don’t know if in Buffalo’s offseason planning they deem that kind of figure to be money well spent when they’re likely to look at other options, and other positions for that matter, where they need help.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills
Are we looking at keeping Hunter? I think he’s a good fit in our O.

Jamal
@mrmajic73

CB: This is one of those other options I was referencing in the above answer on Woods. There is no debating that Hunter’s skill set is tantalizing. The Bills aren’t the first team to be attracted to his physical skill set. What they have to determine is whether Hunter has the sense of urgency and professionalism to do things the right way every day, in every practice and in every game.

Hopefully they’ve been around him long enough (three quarters of this season) to have a healthy handle on the type of work ethic he has and whether a quality receivers coach (Sanjay Lal is one by the way) can develop his game further.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills Seems DBs took a step back this year. What impact do you think the loss of Donnie Henderson had on the defense this season?

Justin Crow
@jcrowrva

CB: I certainly understand the question because the consistency of defensive back play did take a step back this season, or at the very least was inconsistent. When asked specifically about it, defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, who is a former cornerback himself, did admit that lapses in technique proved to be their biggest issue.

What’s tough to answer is who at fault for that? Is it the coaches for not drilling it more often in practice? Is it the players for not adhering to it enough in game situations?

You have to believe if the coaching staff knows technique is the problem in a game (e.g. Week 2 against the Jets), then they’re going to emphasize it more in practice. Are they drilling it in a way for players to effectively understand and apply properly? Are the players equipped physically to execute the technique being taught, or must a different approach be taken? Are the players being professional in trying to fix the errors they made in previous games?

You can get pretty deep down that rabbit hole before you find an answer.

I think the defensive back play did see a noticeable uptick in the second half of the season, so there was effective coaching and player improvement. This team is going to finish in the top 10 in pass defense. Part of that is due to the team’s struggling run defense, but pass defense has improved since some of its struggles in the first half of the season.


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Darby has no issue with speed of NFL game

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2015 – 1:19 pm

Bills top draft choice, CB Ron Darby, is facing the same transition as every other rookie on Buffalo’s roster. There are a lot of new things at the NFL level. Often times rookies talk about adjusting to the speed of the NFL game. In Buffalo’s rookie minicamp however, Darby is the fastest player on the field, so speed is of no concern.

“I’m blessed with speed myself, so it’s not an issue for me,” Darby said. “I’m just focused on a lot more technical stuff—the way routes break down, the way receivers cut, things like that. It’s more technical. The more film you watch the easier everything will be.”

Darby has been working a lot the past two days to get his head around to locate the ball, as the quarterbacks, perhaps by the coaching staff’s design, have been testing Darby deep a good deal.

The rookie cornerback has had no problem going stride for stride with any receiver he faces, but his technique is a bit inconsistent when it comes to exactly what secondary coach Donnie Henderson is looking for. As Darby himself said it’s all part of the process.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

How Henderson fixed McKelvin’s game

Posted by Chris Brown on February 6, 2015 – 9:36 am

Before Bills DBs coach Donnie Henderson arrived in Buffalo, the knock on Leodis McKelvin was that he didn’t make enough plays on the ball. His coverage would be air tight, but he couldn’t knock balls away, let alone intercept them. Since 2013, when Henderson walked in the door, McKelvin has been a different player.

In 2013 McKelvin led the team in pass breakups, then this past season, despite playing in just 10 games, he led the team in interceptions with four. In an appearance on the John Murphy Show this week, Henderson talked about what he did to fix McKelvin’s game.

“When I came here I was trying to find some of his problem areas,” Henderson said. “His biggest issue is he’s so fast and quick that when I evaluated him his problem was getting his head around and finding the football. When you’re playing man coverage as much as we do you’ve got to find the football. So I talked to him about how to do that and it’s really about repetition. As you get down the field you’ve got to get your hips around and you’ve got to get your eyes back, but you’ve got to have a belief in your mind that you can run with anybody. As fast and as quick as he is he can run with anybody.

“So we took it from stepping and replacing and moving his foot laterally, next thing was to get your hips around and when I say, ‘Ball’ you get your head around. So we took it step by step and with the progress we’ve made over a period of time he’s got it where he understands it now.”

McKelvin is expected to be fully cleared for football in mid-March after suffering a fractured ankle in Week 11 at Miami this past season.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Donnie Henderson to remain on staff

Posted by Chris Brown on January 15, 2015 – 1:07 pm

The Bills named a handful of assistant coaches who will serve under new head coach Rex Ryan Thursday. They include defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, DL coach Karl Dunbar, LBs coach Bobby April III, DBs coach Tim McDonald, TEs coach Tony Sparano Jr., Asst. DL coach Jeff Weeks, special teams assistant Eric Smith and asst. strength and conditioning coach Jason Oszvart. Even though McDonald has the same title as incumbent DBs coach Donnie Henderson, Henderson will remain on the staff.

Head coach Rex Ryan made note of Henderson being retained in his introductory press conference Wednesday. Henderson, who coached with Ryan in Baltimore, will coach defensive backs with McDonald.

Special teams coordinator Danny Crossman was retained by Ryan as well, which was also announced Wednesday. An announcement about other holdover assistants from the previous coaching staff is forthcoming.


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DBs coach Henderson big mentor for Aaron

Posted by Chris Brown on July 15, 2014 – 9:45 am

His first two seasons with the Bills were a little rocky. A second-round pick, Aaron Williams was expected to be a solid cover corner. What Williams battled more than the receivers he faced was his own self-confidence. In less than a season under defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson, Williams in his own words, ‘got his mojo back.’

On Buffalobills.com’s Camp Countdown we covered some of the reasons Aaron Williams will excel in 2014. While Henderson was not listed in terms of what will help him succeed in the future, Williams largely credits him for rebuilding his self-confidence, and the results last season were obvious. In addition Henderson also aided Williams in his transition to safety, teaching him some of the nuances of the position.

“Being with Coach Henderson, he really helped me out with how to be rangy like Jairus has been for us the last few years,” said Williams. “It takes repetition and practice. I think my rookie year I played safety for our scout team for a little bit. It’s never just been about cornerback. I’ve always tried to help my craft out anyway possible. I think moving to safety, it helps me. My man coverage is a lot better, I’m obviously good in the box and my range, and I’m perfecting it a little more. I keep studying film and seeing other players like Jairus and Earl Thomas and other great safeties like Troy Polamalu. See what they do and what makes them great. Match my game and how can I increase my value in the backfield.”

Retaining Henderson on his staff was huge for Doug Marrone after some of the other defensive staff defections to Cleveland with Mike Pettine. Marrone considers Henderson one of his most valuable assistants.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Williams confident ‘D’ won’t change much

Posted by Chris Brown on March 5, 2014 – 1:40 pm

He has yet to meet with new Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and under NFL rules he’s not allowed to talk scheme with coaches in the offseason, but Aaron Williams isn’t worried about their defensive system undergoing wholesale changes.

“I haven’t met with Coach Schwartz yet, but speaking with Donnie (Henderson) in the offseason and just checking up on him and seeing how he is doing, we haven’t talked any football yet, but I feel real confident that nothing major is going to change,” said Williams. “There might be a few things here and there, but I think team wise once we get all the pieces together we will be fine.”

Williams signed a multi-year contract extension Wednesday with Buffalo.


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Schwartz & Henderson combo solid for ‘D’

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2014 – 12:41 pm

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was the defensive coordinator in Baltimore and had Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz as a defensive assistant and Bills secondary coach Donnie Henderson as his secondary coach as well. He believes the combination of the two on Buffalo’s defense will do a lot to raise their overall performance to an even greater level than where it was in 2013.

“Schwartzy is a tremendous mind with ideas and energy and obviously I think the world of him,” said Lewis. “He’s done a great job as a coordinator and a head coach and now he’s taking a step back to be a coordinator again.

“Donnie is a guy who I owe a lot to. He’s a tremendous secondary coach who does a great job with the players. He’ll be a great extension and great resource for Jimmy on how to attack and how to defend. And that’s what you want. When you’re in that coordinator’s chair you want a guy that can come in and help you with the plan and if you ask him a question he’s going to give you a creditable answer that you can rely on.”

Henderson has also been a defensive coordinator in the NFL, as well as Bills LBs coach Fred Pagac.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Effectiveness of coaching evident

Posted by Chris Brown on September 30, 2013 – 11:46 am

When a team that is admittedly in its fledgling stages on offense with a rookie quarterback and has a secondary with its top four players out of the lineup can put together a winning performance against the Ravens following a subpar performance the week before you know Buffalo’s coaching staff is doing a lot of things right.

Whether it was offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and Doug Marrone choosing to go with an approach in stark contrast to the first three weeks with power run personnel groupings or secondary coach Donnie Henderson getting a beat up defensive backfield to play its best game of the season, Doug Marrone’s staff is making a difference.

Just hearing the mindset of the players convinces you of that fact.

“We’re going to bring it, regardless of the injuries,” said Mario Williams. “Last week, when I was asked the question, it was tough as far as how many guys were out and blah-blah. I told you we were going to bring it regardless. We hold our guys to a very high standard, that’s a straight reflection of the coaching staff we have here in place.”

And when you get comments like this from the opposition, you realize that a good coaching staff is probably worth two to four extra wins a season.

“They did a good job of having us off balance at first,” said Terrell Suggs of Buffalo’s offense. “When you have a team off balance you can open up the playbook, and that’s what they did.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Nassib best prospect in the draft?

Posted by johnmurphyshow on February 6, 2013 – 5:27 pm

There’s going to be no shortage of opinions in the next three months on the prospects in this year’s NFL Draft. But one draft expert surprised many this week, with the man at the top of his list.

Former NFL Scout Russ Lande has Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib at the top of his list of 200 prospects. And tonight on The John Murphy Show, Lande will talk about why he’s got Nassib as the best prospect.

Lande is Director of Scouting for the Nationial Football Post. He’s worked in the league as a scout for the Rams and the Browns.

He posted his Top 200 NFL Draft Prospects this week on the National Football Post. And he fives SU’s Nassib his highest grade, 8.60. The next highest graded QB is Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson at 33, followed by USC’s Matt Barkley (37th), NC State’s Mike Glennon (43rd) and West Virginia’s Geno Smith (44th).

We’ll ask Lande about his ranking at 8pm tonight, and have him explain how he arrived at Nassib as the number one prospect.

Also tonight, at 720pm, we’ll be joined by new Bills Defensive Backs Coach Donnie Henderson in studio. And at 820pm, we’ll dive into football analytics with Khaled Elsayeed of Pro Football Focus. He claims the sack stat is overrated, “the most abused stat out there.”

As always, we’ll have time for phone calls from listeners.

The John Murphy Show airs tonight from 7-9pm on the flagship station of the Bills, WGR Sports Radio 550.


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Posted in Inside the Bills