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Inside The Bills

Super Bowl of Lobby Watching

Posted by johnmurphyshow on March 24, 2014 – 11:57 am

It’s the Super Bowl of lobby watching–day one of the NFL Owners Meetings in Orlando, Florida.

BuffaloBills.com is here with complete coverage of the three day event and we’ll be broadcasting The John Murphy Show live from the meetings tonight and Wednesday night.

NFL personnel have gathered in the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes Hotel in Orlando for day one of the sessions. The entire group, coaches, GMs, and top level club executives, held a meeting in one ballroom at 830 Monday morning, and then the group broke up around 10am. Head Coaches, GMs, and other football personnel went to a Football Operations session at mid morning. Later today, the NFL Competition Committee, chaired by Rich McKay, will hold a news conference to discuss some of the propsals on the table.

The Bills are represented here by President and CEO Russ Brandon, General Manager Doug Whaley, the club’s Executive Vice President for Strategic Planning, Mary Owen, the Senior Vice President of Football Administration, Jim Overdorf, and Head Coach Doug Marrone.

As of noon on Monday, the media gathered here at the Ritz Carlton have spent the day loitering outside the meeting rooms, taking video and pictures of NFL luminaries going from meeting room to meeting room, and waiting for the morning meetings to recess so that we can talk to the principals. We expect things to pick up shortly.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Britt looking for a fit

Posted by johnmurphyshow on March 21, 2014 – 6:37 pm

Free agent wide receiver Kenny Britt wrapped up his visit to One Bills Drive Friday afternoon and went on his way. He told reporters at the stadium that after visiting the Bills, Redskins, Patriots and Rams over the last few days, he expects to make one more visit, to the Carolina Panthers.

And Britt insists it’s not money that he’s after in his next NFL contract, it’s a good situation.

“To tell you the truth it’s the environment, the people,” Britt said. “I’m trying to get a great feeling about everything. Right now, it’s not about a contract, right now it’s just about going somewhere where I can establish myself and get back to the fun of football, and hopefully the coaching staff can help me.”

Britt said he met with Bills GM Doug Whaley and Coach Doug Marrone in Orchard Park Friday. He says the meetings went well, and he got a chance to tell the Bills brain trust what he can bring to a team.

“I’m a big physical receiver,” he said. “I play the game with a passion. I’ve been here (in the NFL) five years, so the mental part of it is easier than it was in my rookie year. I bring a lot to a team, emotionally, because I have a real passion about the game and I love it. Hopefully I land somewhere good and emotional just like I am.”

Britt said he expects to have a decision on his next team in the next 2-3 days.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-21

Posted by Chris Brown on March 21, 2014 – 11:39 am

Free agency is still up and running, but the focus will steadily move toward the NFL draft. In the meantime we answer some of your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,
In putting on your Draft Hat, who do you think the Bills will draft over the first three rounds? By position I would to see a LB, OL, TE.  It would not surprise me if they trade down in the first round again in order to gain additional picks.

Thanks very much, as always I appreciate your input.

Bob Hammond
Rochester, NY

CB: I think based on what they’ve acquired in free agency to this point (2 LB, 1 G, 1 CB, 1 RB) it has not changed much. Here’s why. I see the three positions you mentioned along with WR as their top four needs. Though they have added a pair of linebackers who each figure to have starting roles and play a lot, the depth at linebacker is not where it needs to be. So I do expect them to take a linebacker. I’m just not sure it’s going to be early.

On the offensive line with Erik Pears entering the final year of his contract and Chris Hairston’s status still up in the air pending a medical re-check this spring, offensive tackle is a position I expect to be addressed in the first two rounds. The same goes for wide receiver preferably one that is 6’3” or taller.

Tight end could be a consideration if the right kind of game breaking talent is there, but absent that opportunity I don’t think we see one added to the roster.

 

2 – Chris,

With so many underclassmen declaring for the draft. Do you anticipate a richer pool of undrafted free agent? 

Harris W.

CB: I think that is a very safe assumption. In fact talking to some NFL GMs at the NFL combine most of them seem to be more excited about the quality of talent they’ll be able to sign after the draft is over. With 100 underclassmen declaring for the draft this spring, it’s essentially three extra rounds of prospects that won’t get drafted. So the undrafted pool might be the deepest ever.

 

3 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for all of your combine coverage, its great. My question is about the draft. I think that the Bills need to surround EJ with more weapons before addressing the O-line in the later rounds. What do you think about getting Ebron or Watkins in the first and then someone like Gabe Jackson or Cyrus Kouandjio in the second? Or maybe a Martavus Bryant in the third? He is a big fast receiver that we are looking for. I think Ebron and Watkins would be a great explosive weapon for EJ. What are your thoughts?

Go Bills!
Mike 

CB: I think there is depth at offensive tackle where you could find a starting caliber player in round two.

If Sammy Watkins is there at nine the Bills will sprint up to the podium with the card. However, I’d be stunned if he’s still on the board past Oakland at five. I think ninth is too high for Ebron. I’d consider Texas A&M’s Mike Evans.

An offensive tackle I like for round two is Tennessee’s Tiny Richardson. If there’s a run on tackles late in round one however, I’m worried he won’t be there. We’ll see.

 

4 – Hello Chris,

I am struggling to figure out why the Bills are not on the QB needy teams list? What evidence was provided last year that EJ Manuel is at all capable of winning games yet alone a super bowl championship? His short passes were off target and thrown with way too much velocity. His deep ball was nonexistent. I’ve been a Bills fan for over twenty some odd years since I watched Ronnie Harmon drop the ball in the end zone in Cleveland. I have never felt compelled to ever write before but Myself and many, many others cannot sit by and watch another 3 years of this kid stink it up. Please tell Russ, Doug , Jim O, and Coach to move up and get the A&M kid. Everyone knows EJ is not the goods.

At the very least can someone at least acknowledge this and stop trying to convince themselves by trying to convince us, You don’t move back in the draft if you think the guy is the “guy” you take him at 8 or whatever they picked last year, Seriously I’m begging. I listen to Murphy and I realize how difficult it’s becoming to even be fan of this team any longer. We don’t need a receiver or tight end…We need a Quarterback! 

Thank you and enjoy your work.
Paul

CB: I’m going to respectfully disagree with you here. Ten NFL starts does not a career make. If that was the case Troy Aikman would’ve been run out of Dallas on a rail when they went 1-15 in his first NFL season as a starter. Buffalo’s personnel execs are all in on EJ Manuel, so giving up on him after 10 games, which truth be told had some encouraging and discouraging performances, would be foolhardy after investing a first-round pick.

You have to trust in your coaches to develop him and his work ethic to lead to appreciable improvement. You’re entitled to your opinion just like everyone else. I just think no matter what side of the fence anyone is on concerning EJ, all of it is premature.

 

5 – Chris,

The Bills QB’s: EJ, Tuel and Thad Lewis
Do you envision the Bills adding depth at the position in the draft say an Aaron Murray or Zach Mettenberger who may fall due to knee injuries, and may be perfect for the Bills to groom behind EJ this year.
Or do you think they prefer someone with more experience?   Along the lines of: Josh freeman, Chad Henne, Josh McCown

-Jim

CB: I’m going to let Bills GM Doug Whaley handle this one with a recent comment he made on the radio last week.

This was his response when asked in a radio interview if they planned to add a quarterback in free agency or the draft.

“At this time no, but again we will keep all options open,” Whaley said.

Whaley then went on to indicate that they’d be fine going into camp with the three quarterbacks on their roster (Manuel, Lewis, Tuel) along with their practice squad QB who was on the roster last year.

“Comfortable, very comfortable and then you throw Dennis Dixon in,” he said. “All those guys are going to be another year in the system, so if you bring someone else in they’ll be new in the system. So we’re comfortable with where we are with the quarterback position.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

With Chandler back Whaley liking TE group

Posted by Chris Brown on March 14, 2014 – 12:10 pm

Bills fans might not see much difference than that of a year ago, but with Scott Chandler back in the fold, Bills GM Doug Whaley believes their talent at tight end covers every requirement of the position.

In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Whaley gave his thoughts on the tight end group on Buffalo’s roster.

“I like the skill set that our tight ends bring to our roster,” he said. “You’ve got Lee Smith and his primary role is a blocking tight end. You’ve got Chris Gragg and the speed aspect he brings to the table. Chandler brings the size and then you have Tony Moeaki if you look in his past he’s a good combination guy with receiving skills and blocking. We’ve got the gamut covered so we think we’re pretty solid, but that doesn’t prohibit us from getting anybody that we think might be an upgrade.”

When asked if Moeaki’s role could be larger in 2014, Whaley confirmed that’s their intent.

“That’s the plan, but again it’s competition and we expect it to be heated competition,” he said. “We’re excited and as I always say competition makes everybody elevate their game.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Whaley: Adding another QB not likely

Posted by Chris Brown on March 14, 2014 – 10:34 am

This week the Bills parted ways with veteran quarterback Kevin Kolb. With three “green” quarterbacks on the roster, there is some thought outside the organization that they might consider adding a free agent with more experience to compete for a backup role. Bills GM Doug Whaley put that thought to rest Friday.

In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Whaley confirmed that right now there are no plans to add another quarterback though he would not completely rule it out.

“At this time no, but again we will keep all options open,” said Whaley.

When asked if the team would feel comfortable going into training camp with the three quarterbacks currently on the roster, EJ Manuel, Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel, Whaley said they would be.

“Comfortable, very comfortable and then you throw Dennis Dixon in,” he said. “All those guys are going to be another year in the system, so if you bring someone else in they’ll be new in the system. So we’re comfortable with where we are with the quarterback position.”

Dixon was on Buffalo’s practice squad as a quarterback last season.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Whaley pleased to plug Williams in on Bills OL

Posted by Chris Brown on March 12, 2014 – 1:12 pm

His free agent visit to the Bills on the first full day of free agency was a sign that Chris Williams was an early target for Buffalo to fortify their offensive line. Now that he’s in the fold, GM Doug Whaley couldn’t be more pleased.

“We’re excited about this start to free agency and our plans moving forward,” said Whaley. “With the signing of Chris Williams, I am particularly excited about the direction our offensive line is moving in because we wanted to address this position and we feel like we filled the need with a very good player.”

Williams also brings guard-tackle versatility to the offensive line as one of the only guards on the current roster that can also kick out and effectively play tackle in a pinch. Here’s a shot of the GM with his newest guard right after Williams signed.

DSC_7746


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Winter storm may impact Bills FA plan

Posted by Chris Brown on March 11, 2014 – 4:49 pm

The Bills have a free agent plan in place, which is expected to include visits by free agent players, perhaps as early as Wednesday. Mother nature however, may have something to say about those potential plans.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Western New York beginning 2 am Wednesday and lasting through 2 am Thursday. The storm is forecast to dump anywhere from 7-12 inches of snow on Buffalo and its surrounding suburbs. That could complicate arrivals at the Buffalo-Niagara International aiport, something GM Doug Whaley is well aware of.

“With looking at the weather you try to get him in here as soon as possible,” he said in an appearance on the John Murphy Show. “And knowing guys have a lot of dance cards we don’t want to get them skipped over if we can’t get them in. So it’s a tricky situation and we’re going to try to do the best we can.

“We’ve got faith in the Buffalo airport that they’ll stay open at least for a little while, or don’t cancel flights the whole day. So we’ll work as diligently as possible to get these guys in.”

Of course if the Bills can get a free agent visitor in before the storm hits, it could make getting out of Buffalo for the free agent player more difficult. That could help provide the added time needed to consummate a deal.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Aaron ready to step up at safety

Posted by Chris Brown on March 10, 2014 – 1:19 pm

Bills safety Aaron Williams, who was just signed to a contract extension last week, appeared on NFL AM Monday morning and was asked if he’s prepared to be the team’s number one safety if free agent Jairus Byrd signs elsewhere. Here was his response.

I’m prepared to be the guy if he’s gone,” said Williams. “I wasn’t able to be with him the first six games of the year with his foot injury and didn’t have the chance to be with him during training camp with his negotiations of trying to get a long-term [contract] last year. So if they need me to fill in for his role, we have guys behind us that are ready to step in and be productive for our team.”

Bills GM Doug Whaley was asked that same question, if Byrd signs elsewhere does he think Aaron Williams could be a number one safety. Whaley had a one word answer.

“Absolutely,” he said.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills plan to be active in free agency

Posted by Chris Brown on March 6, 2014 – 10:51 am

NFL free agency is fast approaching as teams can begin negotiating with agents for unrestricted players as early as Saturday with signings permissible Tuesday at 4 pm. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon addressed the level of involvement the team will have when the market opens.

Brandon appeared on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 this week and confirmed they will have a presence in the market next week.

“We’ll be active in free agency,” Brandon said. “We have a master plan on everything related to our current roster and going into free agency. And that starts right at the conclusion of the season from the Senior Bowl to the Combine and obviously there are pro days throughout the country over the next month. Our scouts and Doug (Whaley) and our player personnel people will be all over doing that. We have a plan going into free agency and a master plan tied into the entire roster.”

At the same time GM Doug Whaley has said repeatedly that they will not be pursuing “big splash” players. Whaley said they will pursue players of value not unlike the ones they picked up last offseason like Manny Lawson and Alan Branch.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Brandon on chain of command in front office

Posted by Chris Brown on March 6, 2014 – 10:46 am

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon thought it was ridiculous to even question how it functions, but when asked how personnel and contract values are set in Buffalo’s front office, he provided an in depth answer to eliminate any doubt as to how things trickle down from GM Doug Whaley when it comes to football and salary cap decisions.

Appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Brandon explained how personnel and salary cap decisions are delineated.

“I have great belief in our structure, and let me be real clear about this,” said Brandon. “When Doug Whaley was brought in as general manager he was given sole responsibility for the 53-man roster and the value equation on each player. So the composition of the roster and the value on players are totally his responsibility. So he directs the ceiling on each negotiation and he has full salary cap at his disposal and he’s empowered to deploy it as he sees fit.

“My belief is the general manager position is all about personnel and all about player acquisition. (Senior VP of Football Administration) Jim Overdorf is our lead negotiator on each contract. He takes his direction from the GM chair. He is one of the most respected individuals at his craft in this business.

“Every team has a lead negotiator. Jim and I and (Player Personnel Analyst) Kevin Meganck and Doug Whaley sits in on that as well. Quite frankly I don’t want Doug worried about which legal clause to put in a contract when he’s at a pro day, which he is (doing now). But make no mistake he sets the ceiling on each player and how the composition of the roster looks.

“I will tell you this, this organization has never been in more lock step. To offer any other commentary on that is really nonsense and sophomoric in my opinion.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills to tender Hogan, McClain, Summers

Posted by Chris Brown on March 3, 2014 – 5:08 pm

While the Bills continue to try to negotiate with some of their unrestricted free agents they do plan to tender their three exclusive rights free agents.

Bills GM Doug Whaley confirmed those plans Monday afternoon.

“We’ve tendered offers to all our exclusive free agents and tendered those guys to some contracts,” said Whaley.

Buffalo’s exclusive rights free agents were WR Chris Hogan, OL Antoine McClain and FB Frank Summers.

Players who are exclusive rights free agents can only re-sign with their current clubs so the trio of players re-signing is a formality that will likely be taken care of in the near future.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

How Whaley values safety position

Posted by Chris Brown on March 3, 2014 – 5:08 pm

Bills GM Doug Whaley provided an idea as to where the organization ranks safety in the defensive hierarchy by position Monday after they chose not to make use of the franchise tag on Jairus Byrd. When asked for the value he puts on the safety position, Buffalo’s personnel boss was clear that the type of scheme can play a role.

“It’s important. I think depending on scheme, in this scheme talking to coach Schwartz safety is going to be important a lot because of the communication and how he sets the back end of the defense and gets all the checks and balances from the sidelines,” said Whaley. “It’s an important part, but would it be the top rated piece I would start the defense? No, but it’s in the mix.  I think you’d have to go defensive end and corner before you go safety.”

More interesting was the question that soon followed. When Whaley was asked if Jairus Byrd is unable to be re-signed and is not back if he felt that Aaron Williams could handle the number one safety role. Whaley had a one word answer.

“Absolutely,” he said.

Williams was the one who actually made most of the calls in Buffalo’s defense last year when he was lined up at safety. In fact after the victory over the Jets last season when Jairus Byrd had two interceptions, he credited Williams with giving him an alert prior to the snap which put him in position to make one of his two INTs.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills were 1st team to meet with RB Williams

Posted by Chris Brown on February 26, 2014 – 10:11 am

As we told you last weekend, Boston College RB Andre Williams confirmed that he interviewed with the Bills at the NFL Combine. In a Monday Morning QB profile of the BC back, it was reported that Buffalo was the first team that interviewed him.

MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas is following Williams through the pre-draft process and essentially confirmed the approach in the interview room that the Bills take. As we outlined earlier this week, GM Doug Whaley, Director of College Scouting Kelvin Fisher go all football for the 15 minutes they have with a prospect and did just that with the BC power back.

Here’s an excerpt of what MMQB had on his meeting with Buffalo, and the other clubs behind closed doors.

The Bills immediately started rolling his game tape from last season, asking him about his pass protection responsibilities and the reads he was making. The Bengals, meanwhile, opened with a version of a psychological test: Williams first had to memorize a list of words, then perform a word association game (how is a fork like a spoon?), then organize a string of words and letters, and finally, recall the original list of words. Williams, who is writing a philosophical memoir called “A King, a Queen and a Conscience,” felt good about these mental gymnastics. More difficult was gleaning clues about what coaches and executives thought about his fortunes at the next level.

Vrentas said that Williams also met with the aforementioned Bengals, Ravens, Jaguars, Chargers and Giants. She also wrote that eight Bills coaches and personnel staff were in the room with him.

Williams is projected as a mid-round pick, an area in the draft where the Bills figure to consider a running back to groom behind Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Combine Interviews: What Bills focus on

Posted by Chris Brown on February 25, 2014 – 12:23 pm

There have been all kinds of stories about the kinds of questions that are asked in the NFL Combine team interview rooms when players step in for 15 minutes of questions during the formal interviews. A lot of teams try to ask tough personal questions or interrupt prospects to get them off of their script of the right things to say. The Bills don’t do any of that.

We went inside the interview room with Bills GM Doug Whaley in our exclusive two days with him at the Combine and got a feel for the approach they take with prospects. Here’s how the Bills make the most of their 15 minutes with a prospect.

“Our approach is we make them comfortable and we do that by talking football,” Bills GM Doug Whaley told Buffalobills.com. “We get them to relax by saying, ‘Hey this is all about football. We’re going to show you pictures and film of what you do. Tell us everything about the play. What’s the play call, what’s your responsibility, what are the checks? So they loosen up and are thinking, ‘Oh they’re not asking me about my mom, my dad.’

“Our scouts have already unearthed that information. We have that stuff. We want to know from the coaches’ aspect, how much they know about football, how intelligent they are about repeating it to someone and their recall. And when you get a guy comfortable then his true personality comes out when he’s in his most comfortable state.”

So by talking football with the prospects in the 15 minutes they have with them, they not only get a good feel of their football intelligence they also get a look at a player’s personality as a byproduct of the discussion.

“You can get a sincere evaluation of the guy’s personality, not only on the field, but off the field because you can see how he reacts to plays on the field watching himself,” said Whaley. “You can see how he reacts to plays not only good, but bad and the personality comes out.”

Whaley did not initially come to learn this part of the scouting Combine process with such an approach, but after seeing it in action under former GM Buddy Nix he was sold.

“I was a little skeptical the first time, because I came from the school where you sit down and talk to them and we got those scripted answers,” Whaley said. “Then when I got to Buffalo this was Buddy’s idea and I decided I would give it a chance and you can really see their personalities come out. More than I would’ve ever thought.”

For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here.


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Whaley: Extension for Dareus on radar

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2014 – 7:17 pm

Bills GM Doug Whaley covered a range of topics at the NFL Combine Friday with the WNY media. And while there are certainly more pressing issues in terms of personnel for Buffalo’s front office, Whaley did not deny that extending the contract of Marcell Dareus is on the list.

“It’s on our radar, but right now we prioritize things,” said Whaley. “With this system there’s a lot of things you want to get done. There’s a lot of things you can’t get done because of the cap situation. Limitations from the cap, not our cap situation. I believe our cap situation we can get done what we need to get done, but you won’t get done the laundry list of things that you want to get done.”

Dareus is entering the final year of his rookie contract from when the Bills made him the third overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, but with other personnel matters like Buffalo’s unrestricted free agents right now putting the front office under more a time crunch it sounds like Dareus’ contract situation is an item further down on the to-do list.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Whaley: Deepest draft in years

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2014 – 3:05 pm

With almost 100 underclassmen in this year’s draft pool, it’s made for the lengthiest list of talent in a draft than most veteran personnel executives can remember. Bills GM Doug Whaley doesn’t dispute that the 2014 draft class might be the deepest since teams have been picking college players.

“By sheer numbers it’s the deepest draft and a lot of these young guys are the most talented guys so we’re excited to have those guys in here,” Whaley told Buffalobills.com. “We’re excited to go through this process and get this draft board set and to bring in some talented players to help us win.”

Buffalobills.com asked Whaley if a starting caliber player could still be had at certain positions as late as round four. Whaley believes it’s possible this year.

“It’s going to give us a better chance to look good as scouts, but not only (as late as) round 4,” he said. “You’ve got to look at it this way. That’s another three rounds of guys who are not going to get drafted. So there’s a good possibility of hitting on some college free agents who will come in and help you as well.”

Buffalo found Nickell Robey last year after the draft, who went on to become the team’s nickel corner. With a deeper talent base this year, the odds of finding players who can make your roster that went undrafted figures to increase this spring.

For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here.


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New assistants give Bills added QB acumen

Posted by Chris Brown on February 20, 2014 – 4:33 pm

Buffalo’s new offensive assistants, QBs coach Todd Downing and senior offensive assistant Jim Hostler will provide many benefits to the offensive staff. One of which is the ability to adapt to whatever their quarterback picture looks like come training camp.

Bills head coach Doug Marrone said the quarterback coaching experience of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, combined with Downing and Hostler has put them in a position where they’ll be able to handle any QB roster combination in 2014.

“I think we don’t want to ever put ourselves in a position where as an organization we can’t get the best thing out there (on the field) for us,” said Marrone. “That’s a collaborative thing between myself and Doug (Whaley) and Russ Brandon and Jim Monos and (Director of College Scouting) Kelvin (Fisher).

“So for us what I felt is we brought in a quarterback coach, one who has worked with EJ before. We brought in Jim Hostler who I’ve been with and knows the system that we have. We’ve set ourselves up where we can go ahead and get a veteran quarterback if that’s what Doug would like to do. We can draft a quarterback if that’s what Doug wants to do. Or we can stay status quo if that’s what we want to do. So we’re prepared as a staff to go in any direction.”

For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

What Bills focus is during interview process

Posted by Chris Brown on February 20, 2014 – 2:49 pm

Over the next few days here at the NFL Combine the Bills and 31 other teams will be interviewing prospects for 15 minutes at a time in the evenings to get a better feel of the player and what kind of person he is. However, with a lot of prospects practicing their answers ahead of time it’s become more and more difficult to get a gauge on just what makes a player tick. Buffalo has a bit different approach to the whole thing.

They rely on their area scouts to handle the background information on players and to find out more about what makes a player tick, their work ethic, their passion for the game, etc. What GM Doug Whaley, his personnel staff and head coach Doug Marrone focus on is a player’s football IQ.

In an one-on-one interview with Buffalobills.com, Marrone explained the approach they take during their 15 minutes each with prospects.

“For us we more try to gear it towards football,” Marrone said. “We’ll go in and do a lot of prep work. The prep work for us is going back and cutting out tapes of them playing and then putting those tapes on and having them explain things to us. That takes out all the prep work and everything they have to do. They can’t go back to a whole season and remember everything. We do it that way and we concentrate on the football thing and let the scouts that do the background. We let them handle that.”

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For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-14

Posted by Chris Brown on February 14, 2014 – 12:14 pm

Another week of your questions with the NFL Combine on the horizon next week. Be sure to follow Buffalobills.com for full coverage from Indianapolis beginning next Wednesday. For now here’s this week’s edition with questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hey Chris,

I was just wondering if the Bills will get any compensatory picks in the draft this year and if so what round?  I’m thinking maybe one for the loss of Levitre and even maybe the loss of Rhinehart?

Thanks,
Tommy of Pittsford
CB: Unfortunately it looks like the Bills will not be getting anything by way of compensatory picks this year. As I blogged this week, the main criteria that a team needs to fill to even qualify for a compensatory pick is to have a net loss of free agents. Buffalo is even on free agents from last offseason in terms of the signings and losses that qualify under the league’s formula. They lost Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart and signed Alan Branch and Manny Lawson.

Now knowing the league has to hand out 32 total compensatory picks, the size of Levitre’s contract would’ve made Buffalo eligible for what’s called a ‘net value pick,’ but with a lot of free agent player movement last year it’s anticipated that all 32 compensatory picks awarded this March will be for free agent players lost.

 

2 – Dear Chris,

Thanks for all the work you and your staff does to keep Bills fans informed, My question is about the upcoming free agency, who do you think the bills might bring in on offense, defense and special teams to help the bills get back to the playoffs next year?

Also, just wondering about Brandon Coleman from Rutgers, is he eligible for the draft this year or is he a year or two away?  Also do you think that when he enters the draft do you think that the bills might keep Stevie around and pair him with Coleman and Goodwin, because I watched tape on Coleman and to me he seems like a perennial deep threat and a lot of defenses might have trouble containing him especially if he gets open down field?

Thanks for all your work, Chris from Upstate NY

CB: I think Bills GM Doug Whaley has made it clear that they will not pursue the big ticket free agents. You want to look at free agents who can come in and be either a solid starter or role players much like what we saw last year with Alan Branch and Manny Lawson.

As for Brandon Coleman, while his size is appealing to what the Bills need to add to their receiving corps, I don’t know that he’s the full package Buffalo is looking for. He has some intriguing qualities, but one that he lacks is physical toughness, which hurts him in getting off press coverage.

Now that can be improved with good coaching, but with some elements of his game needing development I think he’s a mid-round pick.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Buffalo looked for a veteran free agent receiver first before looking for a size receiver in the draft.

 

3 – Hey Chris,

The Bills in my mind took nice steps to becoming a playoff team, but there are still areas on concern.  The areas I have identified has needs are as follows, RG, OLB, RT, WR, CB.  The Bills should definitely try their hardest to bring back Byrd and Chandler.  If they do that then it sets them up perfectly in the draft to take playmakers.  I have always felt that the draft is the best place to find playmakers.  With that said do you feel like the Bills can fix most of their problems through free agency? I also know a lot of people that would love to see Sammy Watkins in a Bills uniform, any chance  the Bills go with a playmaker in the 1st round?

Thanks Chris,
Josh, Syracuse, NY

CB: I think some of your positional areas of concern are valid mostly notably LB, OL and WR. As I said above it would not surprise me if they look to try and land an affordable veteran receiver before turning to the draft.

I still do not believe Sammy Watkins will reach the Bills at ninth overall in round one. Even if he somehow slips out of the top five I would expect to see another team trade into the top 10 to get him. Now if the perfect storm unfolds and he is sitting there for Buffalo at nine it would be supremely difficult for the Bills to pass on him.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

There has been plenty of talk around OBD about getting a big wr.  Do you think the Bills could target a wr that has character issues but great talent.  Specifically Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt?  Another name that would seem possible is Emmanuel Sanders with Whaley’s Pittsburgh ties.  I know coach Marrone has said they have in house talent but I find that hard to believe that would be their top option going into the off-season.
Thanks.
Nate

CB: I think the injury concerns surrounding Hakeem Nicks and Kenny Britt compromise their attractiveness. Consistency with both players is also an issue. I don’t know that Sanders is much of an upgrade either.

Personally I’d prefer a proven veteran that can provide instant impact while the young players continue to develop and mature. I know he’s 33, but I wouldn’t mind Anquan Boldin on a two-year deal. He plays bigger than his height and would instantly be the most physical receiver on the roster and can still produce. Green Bay’s James Jones (29) is another player with a physical game, who can make plays and may prosper with a larger role.
5 – Dear Chris,

Nearly 100 underclassmen have declared for the draft this year. Players that might have been 6th or 7th round selections in previous years won’t be selected this year because of the larger than usual group of available ranked players. This is an opportunity for the Bills to scoop up good players if they can beat other GMs to them after the draft. My question is this; I’ve heard the team “priority free agent”. What does that mean? Is there a standard contract that all teams give to undrafted players that can be sweetened if a team has a special interest in one of the undrafteds? If so, are teams restricted in the number of sweetened contracts they can offer to these players? Finally, do you see the Bills being aggressive in this market?

Thank you,
Bob


CB:
The term ‘priority free agent’ is just a classification by draftniks to indicate a prospect who probably won’t be drafted, but will be a highly sought after college free agent by NFL teams. Yes, teams have the ability to sweeten an undrafted free agent contract for a player they highly covet. That usually comes in the form of signing bonus money.

The Bills are usually very aggressive in this market. How persistent and how much they are willing to raise the signing bonus money to land one usually depends on how much they value the prospect. It’s a case by case basis.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-7

Posted by Chris Brown on February 7, 2014 – 2:06 pm

Buffalo’s coaching staff is now complete with the hiring of Rob Moore as receivers coach. Now preparations for the NFL Combine will ensue. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - @ChrisBrownBills

With some mock drafts saying TE Eric Ebron for us that would be a huge upgrade and the big addition the offense needs. Can Buffalo afford Byrd and LT Albert?

JamesKnapp

CB: I think Branden Albert is unlikely based on what Bills GM Doug Whaley said on the John Murphy Show last week. He indicated that they will continue to take a measured approach to free agency and not break the bank on high-priced free agents. Albert would certainly fit into the high-price category.

Here’s what Whaley said at the Senior Bowl a couple of weeks ago.

“We were extremely happy (with our free agents last year),” Whaley said. “I think we’re going to stay that course, value picks, guys that can come in and contribute and we get a real good return on our investment. They’re not going to be big splash guys.”

That being said I do believe they will make every effort to re-sign Jairus Byrd to a long term contract extension.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills Thoughts on Rob Moore ? Cuse guy!

Mikefromplayers

CB: I know Rob Moore’s coaching experience is not lengthy on paper, but having met him here at One Bills Drive and being very familiar with his playing career from the time he was in high school I believe he has a lot to offer Buffalo’s receiving corps. He has an interesting approach that I think will cater well to both the youth and the proven vet in Stevie Johnson in the receivers room.

For those that don’t know his playing career all that well he was a two-time Pro Bowl receiver in his 10-year career and was 1st Team All-Pro in 1997 when he led the league in receiving with 1,584 yards on 97 catches and eight touchdowns.

I anticipate his transition to this staff will be seamless having worked with Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett in the past.

 

3 – Hi Chris,
Thanks for your continued hard work into the offseason. My Question is in regards to this upcoming draft. Buddy Nix always had the take the “best player on the board” Mentality. Do you see anything changing now with Whaley, and maybe start drafting more with the mentality of positional need??

I think the Bills are a lot closer to being a legit playoff team and its only a few “holes” that need to be addressed, And not just take a player just because they are a good football player.

Thanks, Tim in St.Catharines Ont.

CB: I don’t think GM Doug Whaley would debate that they still have a few positions in need of a upgrade. The difference now compared to a few years ago is they don’t have a dire need to plug a hole at almost any position.

Could they use a top flight size WR, a game breaking TE or a young offensive tackle? Absolutely, but they won’t be in deep trouble if they don’t. And with that in mind I think now more than ever they can truly go for the best player on the board.

I think if they’re in a situation where player grades between the top two or three players on the board is negligible they’ll address what they feel is a position of need, but beyond that Whaley seems to believe now more than ever they can go best player on the board regardless of position.

 

4 – Hi Chris,
Thanks for all your info you translate to us fans! My question is, why did we not see what Moeaki or really what Gragg had to offer this season near the end?  Why do teams sign players and never play them? It’s not as though Moeaki was a practice squad player. I really thought the Bills would have liked to see him get on the field and show what he can bring! Your thoughts??
Eileen in Niagara Ont.

CB: I think the offensive staff did want to make more game day use of the two tight ends, but game situations and circumstances compromised those plans. I can say that both players will be in the fold all offseason, which should afford the coaching staff more than enough time to gauge where both should appear on the depth chart as well as the roles they might play.

Also remember that even though the fans didn’t see much of them, the staff saw Gragg every day in practice for all of 2013 and got a month-long look at Moeaki in the practice setting to make some judgments on him. So while the book on those two for fans might be short, it’s not for the coaches. They’ll have a plan for both of them.

 

5 – Hey Chris,

A quick question about Stephon Gilmore. I’ve wondered why he has been so inconsistent and the game against the Steelers indicated to me some of his problems. In a game against a smaller receiver like Antonio Brown, Gilmore seemed overwhelmed and slow. I think his problem is that he plays like a smaller player when he should be using his size as an advantage over smaller receivers by jamming them at the line. Why doesn’t Gilmore play more like Revis? The talent, in my opinion is there, but I feel Gilmore is being used incorrectly.

Thanks,
Tommy in Pittsford


CB:
I think you’re missing the obvious here. Gilmore’s broken wrist, which required surgery prevented him from using the greatest strength of his game. His ability to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and steer and muscle them around is 75-80 percent of his game. The guy played with one arm and one hand for essentially 10 games last season. He had pins in his wrist.

Essentially he had to play cornerback completely different than he had ever done before, which is why in your words he played like a smaller corner than he looked. When he finally was fully healed you began to see the Gilmore everyone expected. Unfortunately the injury made 2013 somewhat of a lost year for him.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills