Inside The Bills

Marrone’s QB change may have secondary effect

Posted by Chris Brown on October 5, 2014 – 8:11 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone did not make an easy decision this week in electing to insert QB Kyle Orton into the lineup for this Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions. In seeking better production at quarterback, it effectively delivered a message to the other 10 starters on offense.

“Again we just need everyone to do a good job on offense,” Marrone told Buffalobills.com. “When you make a change like that at the quarterback position it creates a great awareness for everyone else around him that, ‘Hey if the coach can do it at that position, it’s a whole lot easier for him to do it at another position.’ Really the increase in production is not just one person, so we all have to pick it up on offense.”

Marrone is hoping his tough call earlier this week will put every starter on offense on notice and motivate them further to do more for the success of the unit.


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Dareus performing admirably

Posted by Chris Brown on October 1, 2014 – 6:36 pm

His offseason wasn’t the kind that any NFL player would want to have, but coming off his best individual game this season this past Sunday, Dareus is a full month into the season and his commitment to the straight and narrow has left his head coach encouraged.

“He’s been to work. We’ve had zero issues,” said Doug Marrone of Dareus. “He’s worked hard in the weight room. He’s worked hard on the practice field. Not one issue with anything. From that standpoint I’m proud of that. He’s doing what he should do to be a pro. That’s what you should do in this league and that’s what’s expected of you.”

Dareus had four tackles, including three for loss, a sack and a quarterback hit in last week’s loss to the Texans.


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Marrone: We are a playoff caliber team

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2014 – 4:47 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone in making the decision to start Kyle Orton at quarterback this Sunday in Detroit, was asked if he believes Buffalo is still a playoff caliber team. This was his answer.

“Absolutely we have a playoff caliber team,” he said. “We have to play better than we have been playing the last two weeks.”

Production at the quarterback position was one of the areas that Marrone was obviously looking for improvement, which prompted the switch to Orton.

“This decision was based on what’s giving us the best opportunity to win,” said Marrone.

 


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Richardson to make 1st start at LG

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 11:40 am

Replacing the injured Chris Williams in the lineup will be rookie fifth-round pick Cyril Richardson, who will be making his first NFL start today. That means that Buffalo will have two rookies starting on their offensive line Sunday as Richardson joins right tackle Seantrel Henderson in the lineup up front. Though head coach Doug Marrone did admit that Richardson will have some challenging matchups in the game, he harbors no qualms about making use of the two young players.

“I’ve always been a firm believer that you draft them to play,” Marrone told Buffalobills.com. “You don’t draft them to sit down and watch and wait a couple of years, and I’m talking about offensive linemen specifically. You would hate to try to develop someone for two or three years and then you find out that they can’t play. Shame on us if we do that.

“People will ask how we feel about starting two rookies on our O-line, but I’m not nervous about that. I have the opposite approach. I’m excited. It’s an opportunity for us to see where our young football players are at.”


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Do similar offensive approaches mean much?

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2014 – 10:23 am

With a pair of head coaches for Sunday’s game between the Bills and Texans, whose offensive philosophies mirror each other in many ways, one might wonder if Doug Marrone and Bill O’Brien are filling in their defensive coordinators on how to prepare for the Houston and Buffalo offense.

Buffalobills.com asked coach Marrone that very question in our weekly ‘Coffee with the Coach’ segment presented by Tim Horton’s. As Marrone sees it the similarities won’t have either defense any more prepared than usual.

“No, I think obviously you see it on film,” said Marrone. “I think our philosophies are similar, but around the league a lot of those philosophies exist. We’re trying to establish the run first, picking the matchups and deciding what we want to do. You do that week to week. We’re excited about it and it’ll be a great challenge. We know that they have a very good staff and they have good players and we feel the same way about our team. It’ll be a good game for us.”


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Marrone: Encouraged by Searcy’s progress

Posted by Chris Brown on September 25, 2014 – 4:45 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone addressed his situation at safety this week with Da’Norris Searcy trying to return from an ankle injury suffered last week.

There’s a chance Corey Graham could see some time at safety along with Duke Williams, but Marrone is encouraged by the progress Searcy has made in practice through the course of the week.

“I feel good as long as there’s no setback between now and the game,” said Marrone in reference to Searcy. “I think he really looked good out there (Thursday) on a limited basis. As long as there’s no setback, it’s not a concern.”

 


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Chargers converting despite no run game

Posted by Chris Brown on September 21, 2014 – 10:38 am

It’s not often that an NFL team converts 50 percent of their third downs when they’re run game is producing less that 80 yards rushing per game. But that is the case for the Chargers, who come to Buffalo with the sixth-best third down conversion rate in the league. Bills head coach Doug Marrone provided his take on why he thinks San Diego has been able to move the sticks even when their run game isn’t helping all that much.

Not surprisingly, Marrone credits Chargers veteran QB Philip Rivers, who somehow seems to find a way to keep the offense on the field.

“He’s a very good player and I think when you look at them from a standpoint of rushing they’re probably not happy with the average per rush that they have, but they continue to keep running the football,” said Marrone. “What it does is they’ve been in great situations as far as 3rd-and-4 or less, probably more than any other team in the league. When you give a player like Philip Rivers and the skill players that they have that type of down and distance, they’re going to convert more often than not. We’ve got to do a good job of keeping the chains in our favor and getting those tackles for loss and put them in situations where they have to go further to get those first downs. That’s what we’re going to have to do if we’re going to be successful.”

“Mainly, we look for yards per carry,” said Philip Rivers of his team’s run game. “That’s what you look at. Last week, we were pretty balanced, really, almost 50-50 and ended up over 100 yards but per-rush wasn’t really good. In the Monday night game against Arizona, and although that was the 2013 number one rush defense in the league, there’s still no excuse for it. We know we’ve got to run it better and we’re going to continue be more balanced and stick with it. One thing we are, we’re not going to abandon it. We’re going to stick with it because when we’re balanced, that’s when we’re at our best. We all know we’ve got to run it better. And it’s all of us, me included. Getting us to the best runs. And then getting everybody involved in making things go.”


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Marrone: We’ll need fans at full throat again

Posted by Chris Brown on September 18, 2014 – 10:00 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone was quick to credit the fans after Buffalo’s win last Sunday against Miami in his postgame press conference. He’s appealing to the fans again to provide the same volume of support this Sunday when the Bills host the Chargers.

Marrone was asked if he could tell Bills fans that this 2-0 team will be different than the ones that have come before them and come up short concerning the postseason.

“I can’t tell them about the long haul, but all I know is this. We need them this weekend,” said Marrone. “I think they’ll be a big difference in this game. On third down and things like that, so if we have the same type of crowd and the situational awareness of our crowd they can be a big help for us. I can’t discuss all the other things that have gone on in the past.”


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Starters on special teams have set tone

Posted by Chris Brown on September 17, 2014 – 11:32 am

The Bills not only have back-to-back winners for AFC Special Teams Player of the Week in Dan Carpenter and C.J. Spiller, they’ve got a host of starters playing important roles on their special teams units under coordinator Danny Crossman. Head coach Doug Marrone said the impact of their core special teamers and starters from offense and defense on those units has been critical.

“There are about 30-something positions on special teams. You have four or five, sometimes you can have six, core players that can play a majority of those four. Then, all of the sudden, due to injuries you start having to watch out about those snap counts with everyone. We do have starters on most teams, at least one phase of it,” said Marrone.

“For Robert Woods to go down there and make that play, which was a great play, we pointed that out to the team. Brandon Spikes blocked for CJ Spiller. We pointed that out. Leodis coming from 50-something yards downfield to be in the mix for the blocked punt. I think that just goes to show the type of effort that our starters are giving on special teams, which I think is important,” Marrone said. “Corey Graham is playing all over the place. You can sit there and preach that as a coach, but when those players go out there and the rest of the team can see it on the field then that will make you better. We’ve been playing well on special teams right now and we need to keep going.”

The Bills currently rank second in the league in kick return average and fifth in the league in punt coverage.


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Up tempo will be used when time is right

Posted by Chris Brown on September 16, 2014 – 11:26 am

Over the first two games this season the Bills have not cracked the 60-play mark on offense. The Bills had 56 plays on offense in Week 1 and 59 last Sunday. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has the ability to turn up the tempo of the offense at a moment’s notice, but head coach Doug Marrone has chosen to take a more methodical approach on offense the first two weeks. It’s hard to argue with the results. Marrone shed some more light on his plans regarding offensive tempo the first two weeks.

“I think it’s the way the games have gone,” he said. “We’ve had our no huddle packages in both games. It’s just a matter of picking and choosing, strategically, when we want to use them. There was a point where we were going to use it (last Sunday), but, at that time, we felt it was better to slow it down because the defense was on the field for a little bit. We have it in and I think we’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

In Week 1 with a high-powered offense like Chicago’s there was no point in going fast because it would provide the Bears attack with more possession as well. In Week 2, the Dolphins, who have an up tempo capability with their offense as well cranked up the tempo in the third quarter and had a pair of very long drives, which put 10 points on the board. The Bills still had the lead, and their defense needed a break, so speeding up the tempo with their offense was not the play at that point in time.


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Rotation at CB will continue

Posted by Chris Brown on September 16, 2014 – 9:36 am

In Week 1 Stephon Gilmore wasn’t available to play so Leodis McKelvin and Corey Graham started. But come Week 2 Gilmore was healthy along with McKelvin and Graham. Gilmore and Graham started the game, but by game’s end Gilmore had 53 snaps and McKelvin 33 including a late INT. Head coach Doug Marrone confirmed that the Bills are going to continue rotating their top three corners during games provided all three are healthy.

“All three (are starters),” said Marrone. “I’m not trying to play games. We’ve been rotating them from day one since they’ve been back. I keep saying the same thing. Everyone is trying to pin, ‘Who are the two (starters)? Who are the two (starters)?’ But we’ve got a pretty good deal going if we have three guys.

“I firmly believe, with the level that they’re playing, that those three players will produce more than if it’s just two. We only have an opportunity one or two of those guys maybe wearing out, whereas now we have all three and it’s a long season. We’re in good shape until something separates.”

Marrone means if one of those three is performing really well they’ll see more of the work. Such was the case with Corey Graham. He had a solid Week 1 when Gilmore was out and started in Week 2 where he played 91 percent of the snaps. Gilmore and McKelvin split time in Week 2 with Gilmore seeing 53 snaps to McKelvin’s 33.”

When Marrone was asked specifically if McKelvin and Gilmore’s snap counts would increase he couldn’t give a definitive answer, knowing both are limited by soreness coming off their offseason hip surgeries and Gilmore coming off an additional groin injury suffered right before the season opener.

“I don’t know if I can expect their snap count to increase, only because we haven’t started practicing again this week,” he said. “Again, I think we’re going on basically just how they feel, as far as coming off the injuries from last week. I still think the same thing. If you ask me what the best thing is I would say, ‘Hey, we have three corners that 33, 33 and 33 and play those percentages, we would be a better team.”

Marrone said moving forward they’ll keep playing Gilmore, McKelvin and Graham.


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Marrone on EJ’s game

Posted by Chris Brown on September 15, 2014 – 9:38 am

EJ Manuel’s stat line looked pretty good in the win over Miami as he went 16-26 for 202 yards and a touchdown, good for a 98.6 passer rating. Here was head coach Doug Marrone’s assessment of Manuel’s play from his sideline vantage point.

“I thought he did well,” said Marrone. “He had some opportunities early on. The deep ball to Sammy was there. That was the perfect strike. A couple things that we need to take advantage of in the red zone that I said before, but he made some big plays down the field. Again, he’s progressing well. That’s two good games now for him, where he’s improving and seeing things. It’s the same thing that I told the players; it’s a long season. We’re a good football team that just needs to keep getting better and better each week.”

Marrone was referring to Manuel’s perfectly thrown ball down the right sideline that Watkins had in his hands, but Brent Grimes knocked away at the last second as he was falling to the ground. It wound up being an incompletion.

 


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The fans meant a lot

Posted by Chris Brown on September 14, 2014 – 7:19 pm

It was unanimous in Buffalo’s locker room following their 29-10 win over Miami, Bills fans played a role in the victory.

“Do our players feel that (energy from the fans)? Absolutely,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “To sit here and say our fans weren’t a big part of it (is ridiculous). Those third downs and I know there was a another penalty that the fans caused. It was outstanding. That’s why I think that this is one of the toughest places to play.”

“It’s definitely a way to get us amped up,” said Mario Williams of the crowd noise. “Whenever you’ve got the home crowd behind you and their yelling and screaming and getting pretty hyped out there it definitely relays to the field.”

“It was beyond what I expected, the fans were so amazing and I felt the energy the whole day while we were out there, they never let up,” said Corey Graham, a Buffalo native who had 10 tackles and three pass breakups. “It was unbelievable, I never in a million years dreamed that it would be that special.”

“It means a lot just to have our fans out here and engaged,” said Sammy Watkins. “They helped us with the win. It was amazing and the team, we just have to keep giving the fans and the community something to believe in. I think if we keep winning, they’ll keep believing in us.”

 


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EJ on offensive progress

Posted by Chris Brown on September 14, 2014 – 7:11 pm

There’s no doubt that the Bills offense wasn’t thrilled with their 0-for-3 mark in the red zone in the first half, but getting points is the thing, and to come through with a touchdown drive come the second half was something EJ Manuel felt they could hang their hat on.

“We want to score every drive,” he said. “I think it’s even more important when they go out there and score, especially later in the game because we hadn’t touched the end zone until that point after C.J. [Spiller] had the great kick return. It’s a good thing for our offense to show that we’ve having growth, and we’re becoming a more mature offense.  Again, our defense put us in the situation to be able to do that.”

Head coach Doug Marrone didn’t deny they left points on the field, but wasn’t going to criticize the offense, which got points on six of their 11 possessions (not counting kneel down at end).

“I’m not going to say disappointed,” he said. “I look at it as we won the game, but there were opportunities there that we have to just get better at and take advantage of, but there were definitely opportunities there.”


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Bradham’s improved play to be seen today

Posted by Chris Brown on September 14, 2014 – 9:20 am

On more than one occasion Bills head coach Doug Marrone has praised the improved play of Nigel Bradham, who has recommitted himself to the game and performed admirably all preseason. In his weekly Coffee with the Coach interview presented by Tim Horton’s, Marrone gave an idea as to the areas of Bradham’s game where fans will see the most improvement.

“One, he has the ability because of his speed to be a three-down linebacker, which is important because he can be on the field the whole time,” said Marrone. “He’s always been a good tackler for us and that helps us against good rushing clubs. But he’s been very consistent and he’s played extremely well and has really stepped up his game. So you’re going to see someone who can play three downs, cover backs, that can make tackles and a take on linemen. He’s really become a complete linebacker.”

Bradham is expected to be on the field for nickel packages as one of the two linebackers.


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Aaron does more in practice

Posted by Chris Brown on September 11, 2014 – 4:09 pm

Aaron Williams, who was limited in practice Wednesday with a concussion, was also limited in practice Thursday, but did more according to head coach Doug Marrone.

“He did more than individual, so he’s practicing and working on some plays,” said Marrone of Williams. ‘Again, we won’t know that decision. We’ll go day by day and see how he feels.”

Williams left last week’s game in the second half.


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Before game locker room was different

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2014 – 9:23 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone said he could see it before he left to go out on the field Sunday. The mood in his locker room was different. His players sensed it too. How big a role their collective attitude had in the win we may never know, but they believe it was a factor.

“It was an excited team that was looking forward to this opportunity to go out and play a game and make a statement,” said Fred Jackson. “We were able to do so. We played against a good team and they did some great things and we were able to come away with the win. Now it’s on us to continue to work and do the same things we did this week to prepare for Chicago. As long as we continue to do that we’ll be in a lot of football games.”


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A new approach on 4th down?

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2014 – 10:20 am

Last season the Bills had all of 14 fourth down situations in which they chose to go for it. They converted just four of them. In the preseason the Bills were pretty aggressive in choosing to try and convert on fourth down. Might we be witnessing a more aggressive approach on the part of head coach Doug Marrone when it comes to an offense’s last chance to move the sticks?

In the preseason the Bills went for it on fourth down nine times in just five games. That pace would more than double their total from the 2013 season. Sometimes coaches experiment a bit more in the preseason, which may account for one or two of their fourth down attempts. But in our exclusive ‘Coffee with the Coach’ interview presented by Tim Horton’s, we asked coach Marrone if fans should expect a more aggressive approach on fourth downs this season.

“I think it depends on the situation that we’re in, who we’re playing, what our philosophy is going into it, but yes there’s a good possibility that that can happen,” Marrone said. “A lot of it depends on where you are in the game and where you are on the field, so there’s a lot of things that go into it prior to going into the game.”

So in situations where time, score and field position all cater to a ‘go for it’ approach it sounds like Marrone will leave his offense on the field on fourth down.


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Bills high on LB Brown

Posted by Chris Brown on September 6, 2014 – 11:40 am

He’s starting in place of suspended LB Nigel Bradham this week, but looking beyond the opener the future is bright for rookie third-round pick Preston Brown. Though Buffalo’s personnel department deserves the majority of the credit for targeting Brown in the draft, they didn’t get any argument from head coach Doug Marrone on Brown’s abilities.

That’s because Marrone faced him in college while he was the head coach at Syracuse in the Big East conference. Buffalo’s head coach was impressed with him then and he’s impressed with him now. In fact Marrone believes Brown’s rookie training camp was on par with that of Kiko Alonso’s rookie camp last year.

“When I first watched the film, my impression was this reminds me of how Kiko was last year,” said Marrone. “I know that’s saying a lot, but when Preston first came out on the field, he was doing that—running around, making plays, like Kiko was. That was my first impression.  Having played against them (Louisville) for a couple of years in college, I knew a lot about him. I thought he moved a lot better in person here than I thought he did when I was coaching against him. Those cats (at Louisville) were good on defense now.”

The Cardinals under Charlie Strong in fact were the top ranked defense in the nation one year, with Brown the team’s leading tackler his last two seasons.

“He’s a very good tackler, obviously, he has all those tackles,” said Marrone. “He matched up on some of our better players well in  man to man.  We tried to match up with him and he shut us down.”

Brown will make his first NFL start Sunday.


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Marrone addresses C.J. on kick return

Posted by Chris Brown on September 6, 2014 – 9:34 am

The Bills primary kick returner on Sunday will be C.J. Spiller. In his weekly interview on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Friday, head coach Doug Marrone explained his process in reaching that decision.

Marrone was asked if Spiller was chosen because Marquise Goodwin is not fully healthy. Here was his response.

“I would say Goodwin is healthy, but he’s banged up so we went in there with C.J. and C.J. is a great kick returner,” said Marrone. “We feel we have three great kick returners. We’re very fortunate. We have C.J. and Marquise Goodwin and Sammy Watkins. So we have three guys we feel we can put back there.”

Spiller having done it for his entire college career as well as his first two seasons in Buffalo is looking forward to the return duties.

“I’ve done it before so it’s nothing new to me, it’s like second nature,” Spiller said. “I’ve done it my whole career so it’s not like it’s something that’s brand new. I feel comfortable fielding the ball and protecting it and giving us the best field position possible.”

When asked if Spiller has free license to bring any fieldable kick out on a return no matter how deep it is in the end zone, Marrone indicated that it’s more a case of kick hang time than distance.

“We have some rules,” he said. “If it’s nine yards deep and it’s not a long hang time let’s take it out, but if it’s nine yards deep and a five second hang time let’s take a knee. It all depends on what we want to do. If it’s right for us yes we want him to take it out.”

 


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