Inside The Bills

Special teams edge tilts heavily toward Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on December 21, 2014 – 2:30 pm

More often than not the Bills have won the special teams battle in their games this season. On paper Sunday’s game might present the most lopsided matchup of special teams for Buffalo this year.

Oakland ranks last in the league in opponent average drive start at better than an opponent’s own 33-yard line. For their offense the situation is no better. Their average drive start on offense ranks ranks last in the league as well at less than their own 24-yard line.

Part of that has little to do with special teams. Oakland has the sixth-most giveaways this season with a total of 27. That combined with just 11 takeaways gives the Raiders the worst turnover differential in the NFL at minus-16. Bills head coach Doug Marrone addressed the Raiders’ special teams in his weekly Coffee with the Coach segment presented by Tim Horton’s on Buffalobills.com.

“A lot of it is with the turnovers,” said Bills head coach Doug Marrone of Oakland’s field position issues. “That’s the first thing that you look at. The second part is the opportunities. They have 30 more punts than we have this year. When you give teams in the NFL that many opportunities someone is going to take advantage of it.”

And take advantage they have. Opponents are averaging almost 12 yards a return on Oakland punts making the Raiders the second-worst punt coverage unit in football. It explains why the Raiders have given up nine punt returns of 20 yards or more, which is the most in the NFL this season.

Raider opponents also have the highest collective kick return average in the league at a fat 31.9 average per return. A little more than 94 percent of the time Oakland opponents return a kickoff for more than 20 yards, more than 25 percent about the league average.

This despite the fact that the Raiders have the seventh-best touchback percentage in the league (62.2%) with veteran kicker Sebastian Janikowski.

Perhaps most surprising is the unit is coached by former Bills special teams coach Bobby April, who had some of the best special teams units in football during his time coaching in Buffalo (2004-2009).

Suffice to say that Buffalo return man Marcus Thigpen is likely to have his share of opportunities today.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-19

Posted by Chris Brown on December 19, 2014 – 11:03 am

There’s a lot on the line this week for the Bills. Fun having games that mean something here in December. Try to keep from biting your nails down to the nub Bills fans! Merry Christmas! On to your questions now from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 -  @ChrisBrownBills

How’s the raiders run D stack up against a possible run game?

GmoDLo

CB: We’ll be addressing that in our weekly Scouting Report on Buffalobills.com late today (Friday), but Oakland has struggled to stop the run. They give up 125 rushing yards to their opponents per game. Now that number is a bit skewed, knowing that a good number of their opponents have been up on the scoreboard on the Raiders, and run the ball a lot in the second half to shorten the game and kill clock.

However, they’re a respectable 12th in yards per carry average allowed (4.0). Still it’s worth mentioning that there is no other team in the league whose opponents choose to run on them more than the Raiders (48% of plays overall), so I would expect Buffalo to lean on their run game in this matchup.

Furthermore I think the Bills run game will have a good measure of success against the Raiders, especially after seeing the offense commit to the run game last week with 33 carries against the Packers in a tight game last week. Their 33 carries was the most since the Week 2 win over Miami.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

What is the plan moving forward for the QB situation? Sticking with Orton for multiple years or EJ or free agency?

ZachDrohweder

CB: I think the only thing that we can say at this point is that EJ will be part of the quarterback equation in 2015. Orton has a player option for next season, so that is his call to make, not the team’s. Beyond that I believe everything will be evaluated at season’s end by the personnel department and the coaches. Then a course of action will be laid out with their options prioritized. I know that’s probably not the answer you’re looking for, but I’m not going to pretend to know the plan when one has yet to be formulated.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Chances Jim Schwartz is back?

theadamritter

CB: I think it will be predicated on how many job openings there are for head coaching positions at season’s end. Typically there are about a half dozen every offseason. Buffalo’s defense with their fourth new coordinator and fourth new scheme under Schwartz is rivaling some of the best defensive units in team history. They’re currently in the top five in six major defensive categories (Total ‘D’, pass ‘D’, sacks, 3rd down ‘D’, points allowed, takeaways).

Long story short, if there are six NFL head coach openings, I’d expect Schwartz to be a candidate for about half of them due to his long resume of defensive success, and his five years of head coaching experience at the NFL level.


4 –
Hey Chris,

Was just wondering what it takes to get in touch with Goodell or someone in the NFL look at the refs actions ? Can & will Marrone step up & air these differences ? The Denver game & others this year have had some really questionable calls & actions in game.

CB: I don’t disagree with your disappointment on some of the calls this season, the Denver game in particular. I think in many ways it’s the judgment calls that create the most controversy, but as far as having questionable calls addressed, each NFL team can send in plays to the league’s officiating department to contest them or ask for further explanation or clarification.

Doug Marrone does this on a weekly basis. Unfortunately he and every other coach in the league is not permitted to publicize the results of those league reviews of questionable calls in the days following when the game was played. Really a team doesn’t get much more than an apology of, ‘We’re sorry, we got that one wrong.’

If the officiating department rules that the official who made the call was incorrect in his ruling on the field, they’re graded accordingly.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Rules? Why was the Manziel Fumble/Inc. not ruled Intentional Grounding? Seems as if it wasn’t a fumble, then it was IG.

TomPellvis

CB: It was my opinion that it was fumble. Manziel would’ve been protected under the old ‘Tuck Rule’ if it was still in existence, but since it’s not that was a fumble play as I saw it. He double clutched, but in no way was trying to throw the ball. The officials as you know ruled it an incomplete pass. I think the reason they could not rule intentional grounding was because first and foremost Manziel was outside the tackle box. When that happens an intentional grounding call is off the table.

Even if he was in the pocket the direction of the pass could not be ascertained since it essentially bounced off of Kyle Williams and into the end zone. Had the “pass” (ahem… fumble) traveled far enough to determined its direction/target then perhaps the official would’ve been able to make a judgment call on intentional grounding – again had he still been inside the tackle box. That however, was not the case on that play.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Spiller update

Posted by Chris Brown on December 19, 2014 – 8:31 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone provided an update on C.J. Spiller as he has not yet been added to the active roster.

“I think he looks good. He really does,” said Marrone. “It’s just a matter of waiting until the end of the week and making a move there. The only concern I have is – it’s not really being in shape, but to be able to play and run plays in and out, in and out, in and out and to make sure his conditioning is right at that level. It seems to be okay. I think it will just get better. I know he looks explosive. He’s moving well.”

A roster decision on Spiller is likely to come later today (Friday).


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Thigpen update

Posted by Chris Brown on December 18, 2014 – 2:35 pm

injury-report-header

 

 

 

 

Buffalo’s primary punt returner was added to the injury report Thursday with a foot injury.

Head coach Doug Marrone said Thigpen experienced some swelling in his foot Thursday and could only practice on a limited basis. It’s not expected to impact his availability for Sunday’s game.

Player Pos Injury Participation Thursday
Marcus Thigpen WR Foot LP
Dan Carpenter K Right Groin LP
Jarius Wynn DE Knee LP
Chris Gragg TE Knee LP
Da’Norris Searcy S Hamstring LP
Stephon Gilmore CB Shoulder LP
Duke Williams S Concussion LP
Boobie Dixon RB Chest FP

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Brandon: Marrone has changed culture

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2014 – 9:40 am

He made comments earlier this week at the Monday QB club luncheon, and on Wednesday morning Bills team president Russ Brandon reiterated his conviction that head coach Doug Marrone has effectively changed the culture of the team.

Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Brandon reinforced his commentary from earlier in the week that Marrone has the team on the right path for sustained success.

“Culture is a major thing and holding each other accountable and coach Marrone has done an incredible job over this past year,” said Brandon on the Howard Simon show Wednesday morning. “I think you need to look and reflect on some of the things that happened over this past year, which are major game changers.

“We had the death of an owner in March, a team in transition for the entire year from an ownership standpoint. We also, which gets lost in the shuffle, we had a major renovation of the stadium and our team was displaced for four months in OTAs and minicamps. We had a prolonged training camp because of the renovations. We had the sale of the franchise during the season, which is unprecedented, and we had a historic snowstorm where the team was displaced.

“Coach Marrone has done an unbelievable job of leading this franchise, keeping everyone together and holding people accountable. To be in the position we are today is a credit to him.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Pack’s ‘O’ make you defend entire field

Posted by Chris Brown on December 14, 2014 – 11:10 am

When looking at how incredibly precise, efficient and explosive Green Bay’s offense has been this season one wonders how even on the broken plays they’re still able to gain big chunks of yardage. A lot of it points back to Aaron Rodgers, but as head coach Doug Marrone sees it the Packers don’t allow defenses to cheat or shade to one side of the field or the other.

“It’s speaks for itself how good they are offensively,” Marrone said. “If you just had a quarterback and a running back, you wouldn’t be at the numbers that they are. If you just had a quarterback and one wide receiver, you wouldn’t be at the numbers they are. Their offensive line, you look across the board and those guys are five tough sons of a guns that get after it. They deserve a lot of the credit for the success that they’ve had.

“You have to defend the whole field. When you have to do that from a defensive standpoint, no matter who you’re playing against, it becomes difficult. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to get the defense to defend the whole field because, when you get defense to do that, you can make bigger plays.

Marrone said the Packers force defenses to cover the whole field with their route patterns and their formations.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fired up Packers ‘D’ expected by Marrone

Posted by Chris Brown on December 13, 2014 – 2:59 pm

While Bills fans see a Packers defense that surrendered 37 points to the Falcons last week and perhaps an opportunity for the Buffalo offense to get back on track, head coach Doug Marrone sees something different.

Marrone believes Green Bay’s defense will come out motivated to redeem themselves after allowing Atlanta to climb back into the game this past Monday night.

“I think what that convinces me of is they’ll come in here and their defense will be ready to go right off the bat,” said Marrone in his weekly appearance on Coffee with the Coach presented by Tim Horton’s. “There has been a lot of focus on that. Julio Jones and Matt Ryan are two of the better players at their positions in the league and they were able to take advantage of some man-to-man opportunities and really played well. Defensively they had a big lead at the time, but they haven’t played that poorly all year in the secondary. It’s actually been the strength of their defense. What it does is it gives you some optimism where we might be able to run the ball and throw the ball just as well. We’ve been challenged all year offensively so our job is to make sure we’re efficient.”


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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

Marrone on Orton’s 3rd-and-1 decision

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 4:40 pm

Facing a 3rd-and-1 at the Denver 25-yard line in the second quarter, Kyle Orton rolled right, and instead of going for the first down marker near the right sideline or throwing it away, the Bills quarterback chose to slide a yard short of the first down marker. Orton said after the game he wished he had thrown the ball away. Head coach Doug Marrone offered his thoughts of the play after watching the game tape.

“I think what Kyle said yesterday it was exactly right—it was a poor decision,” said Marrone. “Meaning, if you throw the ball away and no one’s open, we’re OK with that from that standpoint, because we know he’s not someone who’s going to be able to run and get the first down.

“My conversation with Kyle was, if the decision’s made to go and run for the first down, you need to go get that.  He wasn’t the only player yesterday—we had a couple of times with some of the receivers who had the ability to get the first down, and wound up losing ground and coming up a little short.  It’s something that we’ve got to get better at in consistency and awareness. We all have to do a better job in that.”

Marrone confirmed Monday that Orton will start Sunday against Green Bay stating that he believes Orton gives Buffalo the best chance to win.


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Broncos had field position edge

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 12:50 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone thought going in that field position would be huge in their game with Denver and he was right.

The problem was Denver had the advantage for virtually the entire game. Both teams had 11 possessions in the game. For the Bills only two of their 11 possessions began outside their own 20-yard line. Those two possessions that began beyond their own 20 came off interceptions by Corey Graham and Stephon Gilmore. Both Graham and Gilmore actually returned the interceptions into Denver territory, but they were called back on penalty.

“Yeah it was frustrating,” said Graham. “Obviously you want to get points whenever you can. I was trying my best to get (to the end zone). It was unfortunate that we weren’t able to score points or that I wasn’t able to score points on that. But you’ve just got to keep playing.”

The two penalties on Buffalo’s interceptions wiped out 76 return yards and a drive start that could’ve been at the Denver 20 wound up at the Bills’ 40, and a drive start that could’ve been at the Denver 38 instead started at the Bills 26.

Meanwhile for Denver their two worst drive starts were their own 20 and own 25. They also had a pair of drive starts in Buffalo territory (not counting the third at the end of the game when Manning kneeled out the clock).

At the end of the game the average drive start for the Bills was their own 19. For the Broncos it was their own 42.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Players say Marrone shouldn’t take heat

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 12:48 am

After Sunday’s loss to Denver that included 11 penalties for 98 yards for the Bills, head coach Doug Marrone took responsibility for the team not playing more disciplined against Denver. When his players heard about that they said there’s just one place the blame should go and that’s on them.

“That’s my fault. No doubt about it,” said Marrone in his postgame press conference. “I have to do a better job. That’s my fault that falls on me.”

Bills TE Lee Smith disagreed.

“We definitely appreciate that,” said Smith of Marrone taking the blame. “That means he has our backs, but it’s not on him. We’re the ones out there. He’s not the one out there getting penalties, we are. Sure, he might not have mentioned it during the week as much as he wishes and maybe he’s beating himself up about it, but it’s on us as players and we’ve got to get it fixed.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Field position could help level the matchup

Posted by Chris Brown on December 7, 2014 – 11:20 am

In the opinion of most outside observers the Broncos have a decided advantage in today’s game with the visiting Bills. Some have even gone so far as to predict an unprecedented result. Where there appears to be a decided advantage on paper is with Buffalo’s special teams.

Denver has invested heavily in their offense and defense, but special teams has fallen a bit by the wayside in terms of the talent they chose to acquire and the production they’ve gotten from that unit.

Buffalo’s punt (7th) and kick coverage (4th) are both ranked in the top 10 this season and have helped to provide some of the best field position in the league to the Bills offense. Knowing Denver’s return units are in the bottom third of the NFL (23rd & 27th), Buffalo’s specialty units should be able to provide a field position edge. And by Doug Marrone’s account it sounds like they’ve got a sizable special teams game plan.

“It’s big. We’ve talked to our players about it,” said Marrone in his weekly ‘Coffee with the Coach’ segment presented by Tim Horton’s on Buffalobills.com. “That’s an area where we need to win that battle. Obviously we have to make some things happen and make some plays in that area. We have a lot of things in in that area and hopefully we’ll be able to take advantage of some of the opportunities that present themselves.”

Of course the Broncos did take a step to address their field position disadvantage on Saturday as they promoted K Brandon McManus to the active roster from the practice squad. He was their full time kicker, but was replaced on field goal attempts by Connor Barth, but Barth is not strong on kickoffs. So McManus will handle those duties.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Denver’s move away from Manning planned?

Posted by Chris Brown on December 7, 2014 – 9:23 am

Since the Broncos lost to the Rams they have flipped the script on their offensive identity. Following the road loss to St. Louis, Denver has relied heavily on the run and gotten plenty of production out of C.J. Anderson, who has posted back-to-back 160-yard rushing days in their last two victories. But why move the offensive identity away from the sure fire first ballot Hall of Fame QB in Peyton Manning now with four games left in the regular season?

Has the change been opponent specific or is there something else at work here?

I asked coach Marrone in our weekly Coffee with the Coach segment presented by Tim Horton’s on Buffalobills.com. Marrone obviously has seen the shift in offensive philosophy as well, but why it’s happening is anyone’s guess.

“That’s a great question. You really don’t know. They went into the St. Louis game and they didn’t play well and wound up losing that game,” said Marrone of the Broncos. “C.J. Anderson was inserted due to injuries at running back and he ran the ball very well. I think in this league all of us don’t want to be one-dimensional. So you want to show that you can run and pass and be 50-50.

“You don’t know whether strategically they decided they were not going to throw it as much, we’re going to concentrate on the running game. You don’t know how they’re going to come after us. So it’s kind of a wait and see as to how this game goes, but make no mistake about it every defense starts their planning with stopping the run.”

With Denver showing the ability to win both ways Buffalo’s defensive approach will be no different. After witnessing Manning’s 50 percent completion outing last week, something that has happened only 12 times in his 252-game career, it makes one wonder if there are other reasons for the shift.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills have leadership for December games

Posted by Chris Brown on December 6, 2014 – 4:31 pm

They’ve played in meaningful December games before. Heck they’ve played in meaningful January games before. That’s the main reason why players like Corey Graham, Brandon Spikes and Boobie Dixon were signed by Buffalo in the offseason. With players that haven’t experienced being in true playoff contention on this roster, the Bills added veteran players capable of showing the way. Now they hope in the biggest December game for Buffalo in 10 years that the experience pays dividends.

“That was one of the things we talked about before I signed here,” said Corey Graham on the John Murphy Show this week. “They wanted guys with character and leadership who have played at the highest level. So everything was factored in when I was brought here. So I try to lead by example and help guys. I show the young guys how to study, prepare and hopefully win.”

Head coach Doug Marrone has noticed a change for the better in leadership this season in comparison to year one on his watch.

“We’ve brought in some players who have helped quite a bit. There’s been much better leadership from within the team,” Marrone told Buffalobills.com. “So there are a lot of things that are going on from a positive standpoint that we need to continue to build on to make sure none of this adversity, whatever it may be, affects (our success).”

“It’s going to be a great challenge,” said Dixon. “These are the type of games you live for. You got the big dogs, the AFC Champions, going into their house, the crowd is going to be against you. There’s just so much motivation that goes into it. It’s one of those moments where you just sit back and say, ‘Ok, it’s here.  And then when its time on Sunday you go out there and let it go, lay out for your teammates, play hard until the end and see what happens.”

“It’s different. There is a little more on the line,” said Graham. “Games are a little bit more important especially for a team that prides itself on defense. It gets colder and teams can’t throw as much and so it favors the defensive teams and you look forward to those games. I’ve played in a lot of those games and it gets bigger and bigger as time goes on.”


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Bills top 3 WRs limited

Posted by Chris Brown on December 4, 2014 – 3:32 pm

injury-report-header

 

 

 

 

Bills head coach Doug Marrone isn’t concerned about whether they’ll be available on Sunday, but it’s clear that each of Buffalo’s top three receivers are at less than 100 percent.

Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Chris Hogan were all limited in practice Thursday as the team prepares for a big road date at Denver. Fellow WR Mike Williams also sustained a calf injury in practice Thursday and was limited too.

Player Pos Injury Participation Thursday
Jarius Wynn DE Knee DNP
Chris Gragg TE Knee DNP
Dan Carpenter K Right Groin LP
Bacarri Rambo S Hamstring LP
Sammy Watkins WR Hip LP
Marcell Dareus DT Hip LP
Chris Hogan WR Hamstring LP
Robert Woods WR Ankle LP
Mike Williams WR Calf LP

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills LBs exceeding expectations

Posted by Chris Brown on December 3, 2014 – 12:06 pm

There were some promising new additions and a hold over who hadn’t shown much in his first two NFL seasons, but without Kiko Alonso, what the Bills were going to get from their linebacking corps in a new defensive system offered a bit of the unknown. The hope was just that the run defense would be better and someone would be able to fill the pass coverage role of Alonso on third downs. Through three quarters of the season Buffalo’s linebackers have exceeded expectations.

Preston Brown has been a highly productive rookie, Brandon Spikes has helped the run defense and Nigel Bradham has put together a breakout season.

“I really like our linebackers,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “Each one of them brings a lot to the table. Nigel Bradham is having an outstanding year. Preston is almost the equivalent to what we had with Kiko last year. A three down player that can do a lot. Brandon Spikes has brought leadership and toughness to our group. I’m happy with how we’re playing at that position.”

Marrone admitted this week that he wasn’t certain at the beginning of the season whether his linebacking corps would come together as well as it has in light of the new faces and scheme.

“I thought it would be a challenge,” he said. “I don’t think it’s like before when we were talking about Jairus Byrd. When you lose somebody like Kiko and the year he had you wonder where do we go and who do we have to replace him? And then all of a sudden Preston Brown really pops. Two years in a row we’ve popped the draft with two linebackers that are three down linebackers that are two outstanding football players. Along with Nigel Bradham really doing a 180 and turning around and playing lights out in comparison to what he did in the past.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Searcy earning his keep

Posted by Chris Brown on December 1, 2014 – 4:11 pm

Now standing in second on the team in interceptions, it hasn’t just been his plays on the ball that have made Da’Norris Searcy a valuable part of Buffalo’s defense. His two picks Sunday however, were welcomed by his head coach.

“He’s really done a very good job for us in the two years I’ve been here,” said Doug Marrone. “Last year, his role was more down in the box and I thought he did an outstanding job on that and special teams last year. So it doesn’t surprise me if you watch him practice and you’ve been around him, he studies film and he works hard.”

Searcy (3 INTs) only trails Leodis McKelvin (4 INTs) for the team lead in interceptions and McKelvin is done for the year with a fractured ankle.


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Spiller health update

Posted by Chris Brown on December 1, 2014 – 3:28 pm

Bills RB C.J. Spiller, who was placed on I-R – designated to return after suffering a shoulder injury in the win over Minnesota, has been making good progress in his efforts to return before the end of the regular season. Head coach Doug Marrone provided an update.

“We’re hoping to see C.J. to start coming back,” said Marrone. “That designation is coming up.”

Under the rules of I-R designated to return Spiller can begin practicing again with the team Dec. 3rd if he’s fit to do so. When asked what kind of progress Spiller is making Marrone said the running back is making good progress.

“He’s excited,” said Marrone, who would not confirm whether Spiller would be practicing with the team Wednesday.

Spiller would not be able to return to the active roster and play in a game until Week 16 at Oakland.


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Marrone appealed to players to win for fans

Posted by Chris Brown on November 30, 2014 – 6:14 pm

At halftime the Bills were down only 3-0 thanks in large part to a defensive effort that kept scoring opportunities for the Browns to a minimum. Head coach Doug Marrone appealed to his players to rally for the fans in the second half and the team delivered.

“It was great,” said Da’Norris Searcy, who had a pair of interceptions Sunday. “We knew they were upset they couldn’t be there with us (in Detroit), but we knew they were back at the Ralph cleaning it out for the next home game.  Coach Marrone said, ‘These fans love you. They want to see you win back at the Ralph. Let’s bring a win back to the Ralph.’ We wanted to come out and win for the fans.”

Now at 7-5 the Bills are still in the playoff hunt in the AFC with four games to play.

“It’s great. In the end, we’re still in the hunt, so it was a good win,” said Searcy.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone on the most necessary improvement

Posted by Chris Brown on November 30, 2014 – 10:50 am

He had pointed to it for a few weeks and coming off a game in which they were as successful as they’ve been all season, head coach Doug Marrone is sticking with it as the most necessary area of improvement if the Bills are to follow through and become a playoff club.

When he was asked this week for the one most important improvement to finish the season off and qualify for the postseason Marrone pointed to red zone execution.

“It’s been our red zone production and the ability to run the ball better than we have, especially in the red zone where we haven’t been efficient,” said Marrone. “I think we saw that against the Jets where we went 3-for-3 in the red zone and really pull away from a team. If you go back and look at the games where we haven’t played well we ended up kicking a lot of field goals and not really being able to score. I think at the end of the day when you have those opportunities, and we’ve had many, we’ve got to make sure that we score. That’s the one area that if we improve upon and keep going the way we’re going in the red zone then I think we’ll be in very good shape.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills