Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 9-9

Posted by Chris Brown on September 9, 2016 – 11:54 am

Finally it’s time for the regular season! Here is the latest edition of your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris…

Was Dan Carpenter’s 2015 season a fluke or is there real concern? And is the rookie Marshall Morgan a legit replacement if needed or might they sign another vet?

Thanks…
Rick McGuire
(mclennon99)

CB: I think Carpenter’s only problem last season was extra points. He was 23-27 on field goals, so his field goal percentage was in the same relative range it always is. He missed four attempts in 2014, three in 2013 and five in 2012 (his last year with the Dolphins).

The extra point issue is difficult to explain. Carpenter has pointed to the fact that his hamstring injury a week before training camp cost him valuable reps. He basically missed all of camp and did not kick much in the preseason. So his preparation going into the season was not what it typically is. His swing wasn’t sharp and the extra point results made it evident.

The good news is this preseason Carpenter appears to be back to his old reliable self. His two 52-yard field goals at Washington on grass pretty much eliminated any doubt that anyone might have that he’s back. So I’m anticipating a solid season from Buffalo’s kicker.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for answering my last question directly. It seems concerning a long term deal for Gilmore that if they can’t make a deal that the only thing left would be to use the tag next year, but that too would result in a high salary based on the existing salaries that are in place.

Bob

CB: I think both sides would prefer a long term extension. GM Doug Whaley said himself it’s going to be a process. I think there are a lot of things that have to be worked out in terms of average annual salary, guaranteed money, bonuses, etc.

There have also been extensions signed by other cornerbacks of late that have soared above the perceived market value for top corners (see: Josh Norman) and have been more in line with what the Bills might be more apt to hand out (see: Darius Slay).

Hopefully the prospect of the franchise tag will be enough of a deterrent for both sides to reach a multi-year extension.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills What is the key matchup you are looking at this Sunday against the Ravens? #GoBills

Karl Feltes@Karl_79

CB: Key matchup for me is LeSean McCoy against Baltimore’s linebackers. I like the matchup for Buffalo because McCoy’s speed and elusiveness is a bad match for the Ravens. Baltimore’s linebackers are stack and stuff types not run and hit linebackers. If Greg Roman can get McCoy isolated in one-on-one matchups in space at the second level he’ll be a very big headache for Baltimore’s defense.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills what do you think about @buffalobills winning 9 or 10 games? #gobills

Magic Mike Ferrara@notwhipped4life

CB: I think it’s realistic. The main reason why is I think Tyrod Taylor’s play at quarterback will take the next step. The advancements I’ve seen in his game has me confident that he’ll be able to pull out two to three games in the end that perhaps the Bills were unable to win in years past. Those two or three wins I believe will be the difference this season.
5 – Chris,

Why does it seem there is no concern for the back-up quarterback position? EJ has shown flashes but his inconsistency of play scares me. Week 7 against the Jags, EJ posted a 19.2 QBR with a 2nd quarter, 3 consecutive play meltdown. This resulted in a fumble recovered for touchdown, interception recovered for touchdown and an interception in a game we should have and needed to win but didn’t.

With Tyrod being a quarterback who isn’t afraid to use his legs, I feel it is more likely the our QB2 keeps us from reaching the Superbowl than the #3 wideout battle, the running back depth or who is going to play OLB with both Lawson’s out. Do you think the Bills will look to add a vet QB before the start of the regular season? How does EJ’s production rank compared to other back-ups in the league? How has his play looked in practice?

Brady from Vermont

CB: I know that a lot of fans lost their faith in EJ Manuel as a backup QB after watching that Jacksonville game. Everyone remembers the three major errors, and I’m not saying they should be dismissed. What also shouldn’t be dismissed is the fact that after those mistakes, Manuel helped the Bills climb back into that game and ultimately take the lead late before a horrible pass interference call on Nickell Robey-Coleman gave the Jaguars an extra set of downs leading to the winning TD late in the game.

After his second interception in the second quarter, which followed his sack fumble that was returned for a TD and his INT that was returned for a TD, EJ Manuel went 8-12 passing for 80 yards on the last two drives of the half with a touchdown pass capping one drive and the other leading to a field goal.

In fact for the rest of the game after those three straight turnover drives in the second quarter, Manuel for the rest of the game went 20-30 passing for 248 yards and two touchdowns. He led the team on drives that helped the Bills score 21 of 28 unanswered points with Corey Graham providing the go ahead TD on an interception return.

As the saying goes adversity often reveals a person’s true character. After that disastrous four or five minutes of the game, Manuel came back and got his team back in the game. I still remember Greg Roman in the locker room after the game telling Manuel that he showed him something in the way he played after those turnovers.

It was a hugely disappointing win, but Buffalo’s offensive coordinator respected Manuel’s resolve and ability to bounce back.

I’m not trying to be an apologist for Manuel, but the guy works his rear end off and I believe is a much better backup than most of what the rest of the league has in their No. 2 spot.

Take a look around the league at some of the names and you’d be hard pressed to find even a few teams with better options.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex: The best EJ Manuel I’ve seen

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2016 – 2:19 am

Lost in the news about ACL knee injuries for Chris Gragg and Jonathan Dowling, and Rex Ryan’s decision to sit a lot of his starters in what is typically the last dress rehearsal for a team’s first unit on both sides of the ball, was another solid outing by EJ Manuel.

Manuel’s numbers don’t look great in the end, but he was the victim of spotty pass protection and some dropped passes as he played almost the entire game Friday against Washington.

He finished the game 21-39 passing for 221 yards with an interception on the last play of the game that was forced into coverage to try to get a game-winning touchdown pass to Walt Powell.

Overall Ryan has been impressed with the growth he’s witnessed in his backup quarterback.

“I thought he played really well and if we can protect him we would be in business,” said Ryan of Manuel’s performance. “That’s unfortunate. We’ve got to do a better job in protection. But I thought he played really well and he’s done that. I told you guys I feel really good about our quarterback situation including EJ.”

Manuel’s ball location on the whole was good, despite being under duress much of the game. He was also decisive when it came to where he was going with the football and though he was sacked twice his internal clock seemed to be in sync with Washington’s pass rush.

“I think every time we put him out there he’s done a great job. He threw the touchdown at the end, but sure enough, it’s OPI (offensive pass interference) so the touchdown is called back.”

Ryan was referring to Manuel’s touchdown pass to Powell two plays prior to Manuel’s final throw that was picked off. Powell was flagged for offensive pass interference.

“But I really liked the way he played. I love the way he competes. He’s got a great look in his face. He loves competing. You know what? Sometimes quarterbacks take a little longer to develop. I think this is the best EJ Manuel I’ve seen.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex encouraged by QB performances

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2016 – 2:00 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan was quick to praise not only the performance of his three quarterbacks, but the state of their quarterback position with Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel and Cardale Jones.

“I loved the way our quarterbacks played,” said Ryan. “It might not be reflected in our quarterback rating because we had four or five drops. The quarterbacks can’t throw it and catch it. We protect our quarterbacks, we can throw it.

“We have a great quarterback situation. We have a proven starter, a proven backup and (Cardale Jones) is a young man who just keeps getting better and better. I liked the way EJ played also. If you take away the drops he’s probably still on the field rolling.

“We almost have an ideal situation. We know we’re not forced to play a rookie quarterback, but you’re giving him opportunities to get better and if his game grows then maybe you can give him more.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex: EJ has nothing to prove to this team

Posted by Chris Brown on June 9, 2016 – 1:23 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan was asked a handful of questions about QB EJ Manuel. His status on the roster, his confidence in his backup quarterback and finally if he feels Manuel has anything he has to prove to his Buffalo teammates.

Ryan said seeing Manuel’s day in and day out work ethic alone is enough to convince you he has nothing to prove.

“(He has) nothing (to prove). I think the big thing about EJ and what everyone respects is how hard he’s working and the fact that he’s trying to get better,” Ryan said. “That’s evident in the way he’s practicing, and obviously he’s got a good work ethic and studies, so we’ll see.

“We hope we don’t have to use him because that means something happened to our starting quarterback, Tyrod, but we feel pretty good about having him there. We love that we have Cardale as a third quarterback, so we like our quarterback situation.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

NFL QB spending: high for Eagles, low for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on May 12, 2016 – 4:17 pm

The salary cap gurus at Spotrac.com have put together a list of the NFL’s team by team cash spending for 2016 on quarterbacks. Not surprisingly, the Philadelphia Eagles top the list at more than $43.5M. It represents more than 21 percent of their total team cash spending for 2016. In contrast the Bills rank significantly lower on the list.

Buffalo is 31st in 2016 cash dollar spending at just over $4M. That’s due to the presence of two quarterbacks on the roster, who are still on their rookie contracts (EJ Manuel, Cardale Jones) and a starting quarterback in the final year of what was a modest free agent contract (Tyrod Taylor). The only team with lesser spending than the Bills are the Jets, who have three quarterbacks still on their rookie deals in Geno Smith, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg.

Here’s a look at the full list.

Quarterback Team Cash Allocation

RANK
TEAM
PLAYERS
2016 CASH DOLLARS
2016 CASH %
1 4 $43,650,973 21.05%
2 3 $30,950,000 19.50%
3 3 $29,736,718 19.25%
4 4 $23,965,000 16.33%
5 3 $23,540,335 13.46%
6 3 $23,337,500 16.27%
7 3 $22,410,000 19.44%
8 3 $22,089,573 14.79%
9 4 $19,915,000 15.29%
10 4 $19,050,000 13.36%
11 4 $18,880,000 12.56%
12 4 $18,775,000 12.65%
13 2 $18,675,000 10.76%
14 3 $18,648,738 13.06%
15 4 $18,160,000 11.91%
16 4 $17,622,539 12.91%
17 4 $16,106,216 9.46%
18 4 $14,025,000 9.88%
19 5 $13,221,875 11.91%
20 3 $12,807,000 0.56%
21 5 $12,777,881 8.49%
22 5 $12,417,285 8.74%
23 4 $12,280,000 8.35%
24 4 $10,302,383 6.05%
25 4 $9,710,000 6.77%
26 4 $8,321,984 5.49%
27 5 $5,717,682 3.76%
28 3 $5,025,000 3.33%
29 4 $4,981,236 3.13%
30 4 $4,660,635 3.28%
31 3 $4,616,632 2.98%
32 4 $2,064,491 1.36%

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Posted in Inside the Bills

QB Jones won’t alter EJ’s spot on depth chart in 2016

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2016 – 9:17 pm

The drafting of QB Cardale Jones with the last pick in round four is not expected to have any impact on EJ Manuel’s role as the number two quarterback on Buffalo’s roster in 2016.

Bills GM Doug Whaley said Jones will come in as the team’s third quarterback and get to work on building his game from the ground up after making just 11 starts and attempting just 270 passes in his college career. Whaley also said they feel more than comfortable with Manuel as their backup to Tyrod Taylor.

“Very comfortable,” said Whaley. “If you look around the league we think he’s as good a number two as most out there. He’s a No. 2 for a reason as are a lot of other guys. We think he could come in and hold serve if Tyrod loses some playing time. He’s a consummate professional and he’s going to try to get better and better each day.

“Granted everybody is going to say, ‘Oh look at the Jacksonville game.’ But we were leading before that last drive and he came back from a 28-point deficit. If we win the game everybody is talking about it being the biggest comeback victory since Frank Reich. So we think the guy has some talent and we know we’re comfortable with him as our number two.”

Manuel is entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2016 and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-29

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2016 – 5:15 pm

Day two of the NFL draft. Right now the Bills hold the 49th and 80th picks. What do they do tonight? Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Hey Chris, who do you expect with be their at pick 49?

ryan marx 

CB: I think it’s hard to know what’s going to be left if the Bills stay put at 49 overall. If the value on defense keeps getting pushed down they could go on that side of the ball again. Players like Myles Jack, Reggie Ragland and Jarran Reed all figure to go early tonight in round two. But there’s still good talent after that like Kevin Dodd, A’Shawn Robinson and Kamalei Correa. On offense you’ve got Connor Cook, but he’ll probably go in the top two picks tonight.

I took a look at the best talent that’s on the board that might be a good fit for the Bills.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills any chance bills trade up to select a top remaining linebacker?

Zach @ZWinterberg

CB: I don’t think you can rule anything out with Doug Whaley at the wheel. He’s not afraid to make a deal if it makes sense for the team. Based on the old trade value chart the Bills would have to give up a third-round pick to get up to the top of round two tonight from their current spot at 49.

There’s also going to be competition to move up that high with reports that Dallas wants to get up there, probably to take a shot at Connor Cook. Myles Jack and Reggie Ragland would be great for Buffalo, but the price to go to the top of round two might be too much.

Perhaps they choose to wait to see how the first few picks unfold and if one of their top players is still on the board they make some calls.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills any chance Bills move Manny Lawson to MLB now that Shaq is starting OLB opposite Jerry Hughes?

Matt Dermod

CB: Since we saw that transpire late last season I think it’s an option. Manny Lawson is a player that is valued by Rex Ryan. He’s stated more than once that he’s one of the smartest players he’s ever coached. He can fill roles at OLB, DE and inside at LB. His versatility gives the Ryans options.

So while I don’t think it’s the most likely scenario, it’s possible. Personally I think Lawson takes on a jack of all trades role because mentally he’s more than capable of playing different roles week to week.

 

4 – Hey Chris,

Not much is mentioned about Robert Woods and his future with the Bills.  I know he is going into his contract year and has some to prove in 2016.  Do you think the Bills will want to get him under another contract?  I know he had a down year in 2015 due to a groin injury but I think Robert is a very underrated receiver and I would really hate to see him leave the team.  Thanks for all your insight.  Jillian

CB: It’s pretty clear to everyone that the contract extension priorities on the roster are Tyrod Taylor, Cordy Glenn and Stephon Gilmore. I like Robert Woods and I too believe he’s underrated. To his credit he played hurt last season and almost had a 50-catch season.

Unfortunately with the other players in front of him on the list for extensions it’s probably a wait and see situation for him.

 

5 – Chris,

With all the talk about Tyrod Taylor as the starting QB for the Bills and talk about the Bills drafting a QB this year, what has been going on with EJ Manuel?  I have been a big EJ fan since he came in the league and I would like to know what the Bills staff’s plans are for him and what are the chances he will be with the team after his contract is up next year?  What is really preventing him from Starting for the Bills?

CB: Manuel is expected to serve as the backup this season, the final under his rookie contract. What happens beyond that I believe is tied to the other quarterback the Bills acquire, presumably through the draft. If the hypothetical rookie makes a lot of progress and convinces the offensive staff he could handle a backup role in 2017 then Manuel probably is not re-signed. If the progress isn’t happening at a rate the staff feels comfortable with, perhaps EJ is brought back on a short term deal.

As for your last question on what is preventing him from starting for the Bills, it’s Tyrod Taylor. The seventh-highest rated quarterback in the league, a 3.33:1 touchdown to interception ratio and a solid deep passing game.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-8

Posted by Chris Brown on January 8, 2016 – 10:50 am

Into the offseason we go. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Why did it take Rex so long to compromise his own defensive philosophy to fit the players?

LoretoB10

CB: In fairness to Rex Ryan, he recognized how married some of the players were to the previous scheme and tried to incorporate some of those concepts from last year into his scheme. By midseason he realized that wasn’t working and scrapped it to have the players focus only on his scheme.

Unfortunately there were players who refused to buy in, and Ryan’s scheme, or any other for that matter, doesn’t work unless all 11 players execute their assignments. Preston Brown addressed that when I asked him a few questions about it after the Washington game.

“Guys have got to buy into the system, especially on the defensive side,” said Brown. “We don’t really know how good we could’ve been because everybody wasn’t doing what they were supposed to do on each play. We can’t say it was the scheme or everybody is not playing with effort. Mentally everybody wasn’t there.

“We have to understand that everybody has to be working as one and we haven’t done that this year. Everybody has been kind of doing their own agenda on our side of the ball. So it’s something that we need to get covered and handle these last couple of games and years down the road.”

When I asked Preston why the defense had players being selfish and doing their own thing this was his response.

“I’m not sure. Everybody keeps saying last year we were a top four defense and everybody was still thinking about last year. We’ve got to get over that,” said Brown. “It’s not last year and guys were still thinking, ‘Oh we did this last year.’ Well we’re not doing that this year. So we’ve got to understand that we’re doing a different scheme and a different system and it works if everybody does it the right way.”

Complete buy in by the defensive players didn’t happen until the last two weeks of the season according to the players I spoke with and we saw good results over the final two games. So when the players tell me and media members that Rex is not at fault with what happened to the defense and that it’s on the players, I take them at their word.

For the record Rex tried to appeal to the players in different ways to get full buy-in knowing it wasn’t there. I wrote about that this week. But the bottom line, as Sammy Watkins said, is it’s on the players to take control of how players prepare, practice and play on game days. And if someone is being selfish or slacking they need to be called out by teammates.

That’s why Watkins and Brown stepped forward as leaders late this season. They don’t want to see what happened to their defense because of a couple of selfish players happen again.

 

2 – Chris,

I’m still trying to make sense of this season, as results have been significantly below expectations.  There have been too many games where the team has been unprepared, undisciplined, and let games get away from them that they should have won.

Why move up in the draft and give up so much in 1st round draft picks to select Sammy Watkins and not find a way to incorporate him more into the offense.  Other WRs Calvin Johnson, Beckham, Antonio Brown defenses focus on, and yet their Offense still get them the ball.  Why do they mainly use Sammy for only deep passes or screens that never seem to work.  How about running Sammy across the field like Andre Reed always did or the way the Patriots utilize Edelman and just have the QB lead him on a pass as he runs a short crossing route and then takes off?

CB: The main reason why Watkins wasn’t made more of a focal point of the offense was two-fold. First, Buffalo was committed to being a run-first attack. Second, offensive coordinator Greg Roman has said they wanted to bring Tyrod Taylor along steadily to see how much he could capably handle on a week to week basis. They were trying to help him progress while limiting setbacks and gradually gave him more rope as the season wore on.

Once they felt comfortable that Taylor could handle more you saw the deep passing game flourish. Since the bye week only two other receivers had more yardage than Watkins 900 in the last nine games. They were Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. For a first-year offense with a first-year quarterback you have to walk before you can run, and rely on the run before you rely more on the pass

Under Roman’s guidance the Bills did that. It probably would’ve been effective enough to reach the postseason had the defense not taken a step back. I think moving forward Watkins will continue to be a dominant weapon as the rapport between him and Taylor continues to develop.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills how long of contract terms are Glenn and Richie looking at receiving and possibly getting?

Brady_P

CB: Glenn is the one who will be cashing in with a long-term deal. At age 26 he’s entering the prime of his career, so a long term deal would make sense and he plays at a position that commands more pay in terms of average salary. Incognito is 32-years old, so I’d be surprised to see anything more than a three-year contract. Probably a two-year deal with a team option for a third.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills Given that releasing EJ Manuel would save no money & leave the team with dead money, can you see any upside to releasing him?

cdevaney

CB: The question here with EJ Manuel is can you do better at backup quarterback than EJ?  If the front office feels the answer is yes, Manuel’s dead money on the cap of a little over $2.8M is not crippling with the cap likely to be up around $153M for 2016.

So when money doesn’t impact the decision GM Doug Whaley largely lets the performance on the field determine make the call.

It’s my belief that the Bills will add a backup quarterback prospect from the draft. Someone they feel they can develop behind Tyrod Taylor. Is it likely such a prospect would be more NFL ready than Manuel? No.

So it’s possible they keep Manuel on the roster until they see more of whatever quarterback they draft or add looks in their offense. But it wouldn’t shock me if the organization decides to turn the page.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills what is the outlook for the Bills to receive a compensatory draft pick this year? #fanfriday

lophus89

CB: Taking a more in depth look at things with some help from the front office as to who qualifies as a free agent addition and a free agent loss (the rules are endless) the Bills may be entitled to one compensatory pick this year.

The Bills added – Alex Carrington, Jerome Felton and Tyrod Taylor (Charles Clay – transition player???)
The Bills lost – Erik Pears, Da’Norris Searcy, Lee Smith and C.J. Spiller

Harvin and Incognito were not unrestricted free agents because they had contracts that were terminated. And Clay will be argued by the Bills as someone who should not count because he was a transition player. We’ll see if the league disagrees because there is precedent with transition players counting toward the free agent add count, but if not the Bills should get one compensatory pick this year.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-20

Posted by Chris Brown on November 20, 2015 – 12:49 pm

The Bills are trying to pull off an impressive trifecta in their gauntlet run through the division, and the hardest hurdle to clear is next with the Patriots in Foxboro Monday night. They’re 2-0 so far. We’ll see what Monday night holds. Here are your latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

any chance they let robert woods do something besides block this week?

Snowbird_Killer

CB: I know Woods hasn’t had a whole lot of opportunities to make plays in the passing game lately. Part of the reason is the reduction in pass attempts the last few weeks. Tyrod Taylor has averaged just over 18 pass attempts a game in his last three appearances. It’s not like they haven’t made an effort to get Woods the ball. His eight targets in the last two games are second only to Sammy Watkins. Charles Clay and LeSean McCoy are the only other players who have been passing targets the last two games.

So while Woods hasn’t been able to make a giant impact in the passing game, when the Bills do go to the air he is a part of the plan. The passing game has just taken a back seat to the run game of late.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

biggest matchup advantage the Bills have this week?

BenCiraolo27

CB: I really like Charles Clay in this game. Patrick Chung is a box safety and Devin McCourty is average at best in coverage. I believe Clay could have a day against the Patriots in the passing game and serve as a valuable underneath and seam target for Tyrod Taylor.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

the last few games, Bills have put a healthy DT on the inactive list, do you expect that to change against Blount?

lophus89

CB: I don’t know that LeGarrette Blount’s presence on the opponent’s roster necessarily demands that another defensive tackle be active Monday night. The Jets’ Chris Ivory runs every bit as tough as Blount, and in my opinion runs with more power and Buffalo had a DT inactive last Thursday night.

The inactive list is put together with a lot of factors in mind. Injuries, game plan, matchups, etc. So I understand why you might expect with a big back that more DTs would be active, but knowing that Carrington and Mario can play end or tackle you have enough versatility in your defensive linemen that all of them do not need to be active on game day provided everyone is healthy.

 

4 – Chris;
I would be interested on your thoughts for handling Gronk ?
My thoughts are assigning someone to shadow him every play, a player who is big enough and tough enough to match him physically . My thoughts, Hughes or Lawson on D, maybe Gregg or Gray who know TE plays ??
We need to think outside the box on him.

Jim in Florida


CB:
I had a new idea about how to handle Gronk that came to me this week. Unfortunately with Leodis McKelvin’s status up in the air I’m not sure it will work. In any case, with Julian Edelman out of the lineup Buffalo can afford to deploy their defensive backs differently.

Let’s assume for now that Leodis McKelvin is available to play. If that’s the case I would put McKelvin outside opposite Ronald Darby, leave Nickell Robey in the slot and put Stephon Gilmore on Rob Gronkowski.

He’s the most physical defensive back on the team. He can clearly run with Gronk and has the physical skill set and size to defend passes against him. Without game-breaking threats elsewhere you can afford to put your top corner on Gronk in my opinion. You’ve got nothing to lose as I see it.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Will EJ be the backup QB on Monday or not dress? #Bills

BuffaloWingWear

CB: Rex Ryan said that EJ Manuel is his backup for the rest of the season and that last Thursday night was a special circumstance in making Josh Johnson the backup QB and making Manuel one of the team’s seven inactive players.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Why EJ and the WR corps will be in sync

Posted by Chris Brown on October 25, 2015 – 7:30 am

They’ve only had one start together this season, but EJ Manuel’s history with the healthy receivers on the roster goes deeper than that. So although Buffalo is shorthanded at the receiver position Manuel feels good about the on field chemistry with the receiving targets who will be suiting up Sunday.

“It helps a lot because our rapport off the field is so close so I can talk to him about anything,” said Manuel. “If it’s an adjustment that he saw during the game or that I saw on a certain route in practice we can talk about it and get it fixed.

“We still have some targets. Woods does a great job. Hogan does a great job. D-Mo (Denarius Moore) is going to do a great job for us at wide receiver as well. (Marcus) Easley. Then our tight ends, I think (Charles) Clay had something like nine catches last week. He’s a big target and I think he poses a matchup against any linebacker or safety.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Roman: EJ can become great

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2015 – 12:18 pm

EJ Manuel said Thursday that he’s still a young quarterback with a lot to learn, but offensive coordinator Greg Roman believes Manuel has a very high ceiling. He sees rare potential in Buffalo’s former first-round pick.

“As a quarterback, it’s probably the toughest job in professional sports. There’s a lot of moving parts, a lot of things you have to negotiate every play,” Roman said. “We simply want to execute with consistency, play after play after play in machine-like fashion.  When you really watch the elite quarterbacks in the National Football League, one of the characteristics of these people is they are simply in a machine like fashion, doing what they’re supposed to do over and over and over. I think EJ’s got the type of makeup to really go down that path.”

Roman does still believe there are a good number of things on Manuel’s to-do list, but at the top of the list is trusting his preparation and ability when he steps between the lines Sunday.

“I think he’s gotta trust his eyes, trust what he sees and stay in the moment. Trust his preparation and let it rip. If you prepare with no conscience, you can play with no conscience,” said Roman. “I feel like he’s preparing that way. He’s got to bring that to the game. Nobody has the right to go out and wing it unprepared. You’ve got to earn the right to go out and let it rip and he’s been doing that. It’s just like a test in grade school—you go in there, you don’t know what’s going on. You go in there and you know the answers to the test—you’re having a good day. Recess is going to be great.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Facing Marrone doesn’t register with EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2015 – 11:02 am

Bills QB EJ Manuel is in an opportune situation to exact a bit of revenge on the head coach that benched him last season. Manuel will be making his second straight start in place of an injured Tyrod Taylor. But when it comes to Sunday’s game against the Jaguars where Doug Marrone is an offensive line coach, Manuel is more focused on the Jaguars defense that he’ll be facing.

“Obviously I know coach Marrone and coach (Nathaniel) Hackett who are both on their staff now. I’m not playing against them though, I’m playing against their defense,” said Manuel. “That’s my main focus, preparing for Jacksonville’s defense. The other stuff is kind of an afterthought.”

The media then asked Manuel if he felt he was held back in the previous offensive scheme under the previous coaching regime.

“I was young. I think it wasn’t necessarily what the offense was or anything like that,” he said. “I was young and I had a lot to learn. There’s still more for me to learn. I’m still young. I think a lot of this position is about experience so I can’t say there’s anything about the offense that made me feel limited. I know now once I went through that process and the benching and watching other guys play in my mind I just thought I should be more aggressive. Take more shots and take advantage of the opportunity.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Where EJ feels he’s different

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2015 – 10:56 am

Bills QB EJ Manuel will make his second straight start on Sunday. Coming out of the Cincinnati game, Manuel feels there’s one particular area where his personal approach to the game was very different.

“I think the biggest difference for me is when we were down not allowing the flow of the game necessarily change my confidence or change my flow about how I felt about my performance or what I was going to do the next drive,” he said. “As a quarterback, you need to stay even keeled, and that was probably the biggest thing that felt different.”

Buffalo did struggle with poor field position for much of last week’s game. They didn’t have a drive start better than their own 20-yard line with six of their 10 possessions beginning inside their own 20. In fact their average drive start was their own 15-yard line.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Tyrod Taylor not practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2015 – 7:19 am

He split reps at quarterback with EJ Manuel on Wednesday, but at Thursday’s practice, Taylor was not in attendance.

Taylor, who missed last week’s game with a knee injury, was working his way back and even said that he did significantly more work overall in Wednesday’s practice. Perhaps it was too much as Taylor was not even out on the practice field.

EJ Manuel is expected to take all the first team reps in practice today (Thursday). This certainly puts Taylor’s availability for Sunday against the Jaguars even more in question.

Head coach Rex Ryan will be addressing the media post practice.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Why Bills must break slow start trend

Posted by Chris Brown on October 18, 2015 – 9:05 am

Over their last two games the Bills have gotten off to slow starts on offense. Part of the problem has been the absence of some of their top playmakers on offense, most notably LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins. There’s a good chance that both will be in the lineup Sunday against undefeated Cincinnati. Hopefully it helps to jump start an offense that has just one field goal combined in the first half of their last two games.

What will make the task all the more difficult is Cincinnati’s defense. They’ve allowed just 28 total points in the first half of their five games this season. The Bengals have allowed just one touchdown in the first half in 2015 along with seven field goals.

Buffalo will have to break their own trend and Cincinnati’s stingy defensive front Sunday, and they may have to do all that without their starting quarterback who is a game time decision.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

EJ and Tyrod close teammates

Posted by Chris Brown on October 17, 2015 – 10:34 am

There’s a decent chance that EJ Manuel has to start in place of an injured Tyrod Taylor, who is still a game time decision for Sunday’s game against undefeated Cincinnati. Working together all offseason the two coastal Virginia natives have developed a strong working relationship.

Both signal callers were headed to the quarterback room Thursday evening to grind more film in preparation for the Cincinnati Bengals.

“We extremely close. We’ve grown up,” said EJ Manuel. “I’ve known Ty since sixth grade so even being from the same area, now being up in the NFL and playing together with him being the starter and me being the backup we have a stronger bond, and we communicate very well, not just with football, but off the field as well, but we’re really close.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-16

Posted by Chris Brown on October 16, 2015 – 10:55 am

A pivotal AFC game Sunday for the Bills. Buffalo will have to be at their best to beat a streaking Bengals club. Fortunately it looks like they’ll have some of their main horses back in the lineup. Here are your latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

W/ 23 hurt and Darby playing so well, any chance Leodis moves to Safety when healthy?

SJHNatFan

CB: First, Leodis to me is a cornerback through and through. Yes, he’s very physically gifted, but I’d be surprised if he lines up at safety. McKelvin is the type of player who needs a singular role out on the boundary. And though he is ‘wiry strong’ I don’t believe playing in the middle of the field and dealing with big tight ends is a good fit for him. Whether the coaching staff feels differently is another story.

Since I’ve been getting a lot of questions I’ll take the time here to explain that McKelvin is eligible to begin practicing with the team again on Wednesday in London. He’s looked good doing football-like rehab work on the sideline the last few weeks. Just because he begins practicing next week does not mean he’ll be immediately added to the 53-man roster.

Once he begins practicing the clock starts on a 21-day window in which the Bills can have him practice without counting toward a roster spot. They can activate him to the 53-man roster at any point in that time frame.

In my opinion he will not step into the starting lineup when he returns. Ronald Darby and Stephon Gilmore have been playing lights out football. This is a good thing because it doesn’t rush McKelvin onto the field. With as quick and sudden as things happen at that position there will be an acclimation period for McKelvin who will undoubtedly be a bit rusty.

Where I do see him making an impact is on punt return where the team is in need of field position help. This season the Bills are averaging just 7.3 yards a punt return, which ranks 23rd in the NFL. McKelvin for his career has averaged almost 11 yards a return (10.9). Imagine the value of giving an offense an extra 10 yards of field position every time they step on the field for a possession.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills can we call @robertwoods Bobby Lumber?

acurthoys

CB: I’m going to assume you’re referring to the way Robert Woods has been blocking downfield. I know that just about everybody noticed his two-for-one block on Tyrod Taylor’s touchdown run last week when he took out a pair of Titans defenders to let Taylor get the edge on his 22-yard quarterback draw. But Woods has had other strong blocks downfield this season.

I think the most important thing to note about the receiving corps and their blocking downfield is how on a day when there were just 10 completions they were determined to make an impact anyway, and their blocking was the way they accomplished that.

“As a receiver, you never know when your time is going to come, whether it’s a pass or a block,” said Woods. “Like a key block, running downfield, blocking the safety. You never know when your time is going to come. This time it wasn’t a pass play, it was that block for Tyrod.”

Woods also had a tackle on kickoff coverage last Sunday. Hard not to like a receiver that’s willing to do some of the dirty work.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills would Bills ever do a multiple QB package once Tyrod is healthy? Our trick plays seem to be getting shut down all the time.
RealBryanWatson

CB: I think anything is possible, especially since in Week 1 against Indianapolis it was Matt Cassel under center with Tyrod Taylor split wide on the first play of the game. I should also note that the man who re-invented the ‘Wildcat’ package at Arkansas, which soon migrated to the NFL a few years ago is Buffalo’s quarterbacks coach, David Lee.

I get the sense that Greg Roman doesn’t try to trick defenses as much as he tries to confuse them, and to me there is a difference. One is rooted in a gadget play, while the other is based on pre-snap shifts, motions and alignment, but I wouldn’t rule your suggestion out at all.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

Loving the new studio set up and all the coverage!
My question is why are we not utilizing Tyrod and his God-given talents??  Where is the read option?  Where are the designed runs and roll outs?  Why don’t we spread teams out with our INSANE talent at WR and then run it down their throats and not let them stack the box….aka what the Pats did.  I’m just a little frustrated – I know we beat the Colts but they don’t look all that great this year so far and we can do better.  Love to hear your thoughts, thanks!

Chris

St. Louis
CB: I understand your frustration. Even when Taylor ran for 76 yards last week only one carry, his touchdown run, was a designed run play. Other than that his other runs were scrambles to elude pressure.

I’m no offensive coordinator and Greg Roman has more football knowledge in his pinkie finger than I’ll ever have. I do think there has been a concerted effort to protect Taylor from injury, which as we saw last week is a very real risk. So the read option and designed runs have been few and far between.

That being said, when your run game and offense in general is struggling there should be a package of plays featuring Tyrod as a run threat that you can turn to just to jumpstart the offense.

Buffalo leads the league in three-and-out percentage at almost 32 percent (31.7%). The league average is 20.6 percent. Granted they haven’t had two of their top rushers in McCoy and Karlos Williams and Sammy Watkins has missed the last two games, but their defense as good as it is won’t be able to hold every opponent down like they did in Week 5.

So when the offense has a couple of consecutive three-and-outs, making use of Taylor’s legs (when healthy) is something I’m not opposed to just to get the offense back on track. Perhaps with all the weapons back in the lineup that won’t be necessary, but I think your point is a valid one.

 

5 – Chris,

Can Colton do kickoffs? He’s got a strong punters leg? Why not try/practice Colton kicking off. Other teams employs their punter to kickoff. Dan had done kickoffs in the league before the rule changed. If Dan could kick how many yards would they truly be losing? 5-10? Doesn’t seem like much instead of having another player active on game day.

CB: Rex Ryan said Colton Schmidt is the backup kickoff man to Dan Carpenter now that Billy Cundiff has been moved off the roster. I want to believe Carpenter can reach the end zone, but returners are more aggressive now than they were the first year the kickoff was moved to the 35-yard line. Unless it’s seven yards deep or more most returners will bring it out.

That at least creates the chance for a long return whereas if it’s kicked more than seven yards deep a return man is taking a knee. To say it’s just a five to 10-yard difference is a bit of a misnomer. A return man in this league just needs one coverage player to fall down or get out of their lane and it’s a big play and either a field position advantage is lost or there are six points on the board for the opposition.

 

London game bonus question
Chris,

Your Blog is my 1st read every morning. Thanks for keeping us transplanted Buffalonians informed on our Bills.

Since I’m not living in Buffalo Area, but PA how do we watch Bills-Jags. Have NFL Ticket but understand will be only Streamed. Any help appreciated.

 

Go Bills from East Berlin PA

Fred

 

CB: You’re right you will be able to watch the game on live stream via Yahoo on your smartphone, computer, game console or smart TV. The game will also be broadcast on television in the Buffalo and Jacksonville, Fla., markets and shown on Sky’s cable network in Britain.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Play calling middle ground with Tyrod & EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on October 15, 2015 – 5:44 pm

There still isn’t a definitive decision on who will be starting at quarterback for the Bills on Sunday. EJ Manuel did take the majority of the reps for a second straight day in practice Thursday, but head coach Rex Ryan still has the door open for Tyrod Taylor to start. So if Manuel does in fact start is his skill set similar enough to that of Taylor to allow offensive coordinator Greg Roman to keep a lot of their offensive approach the same?

“I think each guy is different in their own way,” said Roman. “You can’t just say we’ve got this game plan for this quarterback, and this game plan for the other guy, because there are 10 other guys out there, too. And there’s only so much data space during the week for them to assimilate a game plan and all the adjustments.

“I think there’s got to be a middle ground you try to achieve. You try to tailor it to one guy (no pun intended), but at the same time there’s enough carry over that the rest of the offense can assimilate it to a high-enough level to go out and execute it.”

Roman said he doesn’t see playing Manuel in place of an injured Taylor necessitating a change in plan or approach as much as an adjustment in how the plan is accomplished.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of changing too much,” he said. “I think it’s a matter of what box do you pick out of.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex not counting out Tyrod for Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on October 14, 2015 – 9:30 am

On Monday Bills head coach Rex Ryan admitted that Tyrod Taylor was very sore coming out of last Sunday’s win over Tennessee. Amid reports that Taylor could miss multiple games with a knee injury, Ryan said he’s not counting his starting quarterback out of Sunday’s pivotal AFC clash with the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals.

In an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio Wednesday morning, Ryan said he’s not going to underestimate Taylor’s toughness.

“I would not rule out Tyrod Taylor as starting this week,” said Ryan. “Even though it’s widely reported that (he won’t play). We’ll see. That’s a possibility, but I certainly wouldn’t count Tyrod Taylor out. He finished this game this past week. He’s got heart, he’s got toughness and a lot of ability.  So I definitely would not rule him out.”

Ryan was also asked about the team having to rally around EJ Manuel if he did in fact have to start Sunday. Ryan made it clear that there is belief and confidence in Manuel after he made tremendous strides with his personal game this offseason.

“We have a lot of confidence in EJ Manuel,” Ryan said. “That’s why we traded Matt Cassel. He had a terrific preseason. In fact he had one of the highest quarterback ratings in the NFL in the preseason. He had four touchdowns and no interceptions. We’re really happy with him if in fact he is playing quarterback.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

EJ knows what his promotion means

Posted by Chris Brown on September 23, 2015 – 4:21 pm

With the trade of Matt Cassel to Dallas, EJ Manuel is now the team’s backup quarterback behind Tyrod Taylor. Manuel knows how the urgency of his role changes now being in the number two spot.

“For me, I’m in the second position now, I know I am one play away from getting back on the field,” Manuel said.
“I have to do my job as a backup now, be prepared and be ready to go if my number gets called any of these Sundays.”

Rex Ryan said the trade of Cassel would not have happened had the organization not believed in the way that Manuel raised his game and level of play through the preseason. Manuel was asked how it feels to know the coaching staff has that kind of faith in him.

“It feels great.  I’ve been saying since the preseason, I feel like I did what I was supposed to do showing what I can do and showing my growth as a quarterback,” said Manuel. “Really happy to hear Coach say that about me.”

Manuel also appreciated what Cassel did for Buffalo’s quarterback room and his game personally.

“We’re definitely going to miss Matt, I reached out to him last night once I found out,” said Manuel. “I’m excited for him, getting an opportunity in Dallas. I learned a bunch from him, not just football X’s and O’s, but also how to be a professional. I think he really helped our room, so we’re going to miss him.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills