Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 12-19

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

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

1 -  @ChrisBrownBills

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

GmoDLo

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

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

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

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

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

ZachDrohweder

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

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Chances Jim Schwartz is back?

theadamritter

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

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


4 –
Hey Chris,

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

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

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

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

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

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

TomPellvis

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

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


Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-12

Posted by Chris Brown on December 12, 2014 – 1:25 pm

Time for another edition of Fan Friday. On to your questions now from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,

What are the illuminated numbers for when the Bills are on Defense? We sit on the visitors side of the Bills Stadium and often wonder if it signals to the defense.

Tony Pariso
CB: The fluorescent number cards held up by a Bills sideline assistant when the Bills defense is on the field is a cue card. The number on it identifies the personnel grouping of the opposing offense on that particular play. For example, a card that has an 11 on it means 11-personnel, which is one back, one tight end and three receivers. If it’s a 22 that means two backs and two tight ends. The number in the tens column identifies the number of backs in the grouping. The number in the ones column identifies the number of tight ends in the grouping.

Knowing you’ve got five lineman and a quarterback, you can do the math to figure out how many receivers you need to get to 11 total players based on the number of backs and tight ends.

It’s just a simple identifier tool for the defense so everyone is on the same page and can focus on the defensive play call and any pre-snap checks.

 

2 – Chris:
In the week that the Bills had to play the Jets in Detroit it was stated by Coach Marrone that it was a tough week because he prefers a set routine in preparing the team and he feels the players like a set routine. The way the team performed and had energy against the NY Jets after all the upheaval with the weather, do you think coaches should re-think the need to have a set routine?  Do you think by following the same routine a team could get stale and cause players to lack energy and concentration.  I feel it may be best to change practice routines and schedules during the season which may keep players sharp and fresh.

Thanks
Joe
Blasdell

CB: I think the coaching staff makes an effort to tweak certain aspects of the practice week to keep players on their toes, but largely football players and coaches are creatures of habit. I don’t know that it’s fair to take one isolated performance in a neutral site situation with a lot of upheaval to the normal schedule and let that convince you that the schedule should be altered every week.

 

3 – Hi Chris,

Is it possible that the Bills will give a free agent a chance at being the franchise QB? I am actually targeting Kirk Cousins from the Redskins. He has one year left on his contract, but I really don’t see him as a fit for the Buffalo Bills. Obviously, EJ Manuel will be given another chance, but Cousins is a bomber, and I think it would be exciting to watch Cousins with our current wide receivers. I would most definitely keep Kyle Orton as insurance, he has more than proven himself.

Your thoughts,
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

CB: I think the quarterback position could be a very fluid situation this offseason. You have EJ Manuel under contract and I still believe you have to work with him and develop him further. Giving up on him after just 14 starts seems foolhardy. Ryan Tannehill didn’t look like much in his first two seasons, but now in year three he’s demonstrated bona fide progress and has grown into the role for Miami. The Dolphins stuck with him and he’s rewarding them for that despite a change in offensive system this year.

Whether the Bills choose to stick with Orton as the veteran or bring in another is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to offseason decisions that must be made.

 

4 – Chris,

Can you give fans an update on the RT position. How has Henderson been doing? Fans are probably upset at Cyrus’ development since he got beat out by a 7th round pick. What is the future for Cyrus. I really don’t see him playing guard in the future. The Bills thought he had first round talent. I know Henderson may have been a steal. With no first round pick next year, it looks bad their 2nd round pick can’t be active on game day.

CB: Henderson has had his share of ups and downs this season. He has had some steady games and some unsteady games, but that inconsistency is to be expected with a rookie who is starting at this level for the first time. His athleticism and physical gifts are unquestioned and his work ethic has been pretty solid all year.

Cyrus Kouandjio is much younger in football than Henderson. Henderson played four years of college ball and all through high school. Kouandjio played two years of high school ball and declared early for the draft. Kouandjio is also just 21-years old.

He’s still growing into his body frame. Kouandjio needs to get stronger and needs reps. I think the team has to be patient with him and let him grow and learn for a couple of years. In time he could very well justify being a second-round pick, and the Bills knew when they picked that they’d have to wait on him a bit.

Kouandjio will never have the athleticism or feet that Henderson does. That’s God-given. Had Henderson not had all the off the field red flags, he’d have likely been a first-round pick for what it’s worth. I believe Kouandjio will be a contributor in time, but that’s what it’s going to take before he maximizes his potential. Time.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

Now that TV networks hire former referee’s for insight during the broadcast, would the Bills be able to hire a former ref to be on the staff and be on the sideline to assist the Head coach with challenge calls for example?

Thanks Travis

CB: That’s a pretty clever idea. Knowing how there seems to be an expert for every part of the football operation, why not a former official on your staff? I’ll have to check to see if there are rules against doing that. The only thing that I could see preventing that is a coach being concerned that it would indicate that he doesn’t know the challenge system well enough.


Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-5

Posted by Chris Brown on December 5, 2014 – 11:20 am

The biggest December road game in quite some time is just two days away. Nice to see a game that matters here at this point in the season for the Bills. On to your questions now from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hello Chris
I have a couple questions. When will the coaching staff see that the QB play was not the problem? EJ could throw a pick a game and not fumble. Plus he had the strength in the pocket plus agility to avoid half the sacks Orton has had. It is play calling I feel. We run such a mellow offense. Out of 73 starts for Orton he has 8 comebacks. EJ had I believe 4 in just 14 starts. We should have let him continue to develop. Orton has continually been trying to make up for his mistakes. (Pick six in Detroit. That game should have never been that close)
Secondly do they hope CJ may come back with the IR they placed him on? Thanks again for all your coverage of the best team in sports.

Jedediah
Palm Coast, FL

CB: Your numbers for Orton and Manuel are pretty much on the mark. Orton does have eight fourth quarter comebacks in his career. Manuel has one fourth quarter comeback and three game-winning drives, one of which came in Week 1 against Chicago in overtime with the score tied.

I think head coach Doug Marrone explained the quarterback move for what it was. At the time Manuel was struggling to complete passes with consistency. He was missing open targets and it was costing them yards and points and that ultimately costs you games.

Marrone had to decide between development of EJ Manuel or winning games. Winning games trumped Manuel’s development. Orton doesn’t have the physical assets that Manuel possesses. That’s obvious.

What Orton does have however, is the knowledge of where to go with the football regardless of the situation or defensive look. He can diagnose disguised coverages faster and his knowledge allows him to make decisions quicker. I think that results in Orton being more willing to give his receivers opportunities to make plays by taking a bit more risk than Manuel was willing to when he was in the lineup.

That being said Manuel has been working hard on his personal game and I think being able to focus on just himself the last two months has helped Manuel immeasurably. Whether he gets another opportunity this season will likely be tied to Orton’s health.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

What do you think Hughes trade value is? Would you package him and Spiller for a first rd. Pick?

crazyeyes7711

CB: First, I will say I don’t think it’s the primary intention of the Bills to trade either player. In an ideal world they keep both players in the fold. Will it happen? That depends on the intentions of the Hughes and Spiller camps.

In your hypothetical trade situation I think you’re underselling Hughes and Spiller as a package. Hughes is going to have double-digit sacks in back-to-back seasons and is just entering his prime. Spiller is still an elite physical talent no matter what his rushing production numbers say. One first round pick for both of them is far from an acceptable offer.

A first and a second round pick is what would be more equitable. We have to remember that they’re both former first-round draft choices themselves.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

What’s Goodwin’s % to play?

8three7six6zero

CB: If you want to know if he’ll dress on Sunday I think there’s a decent chance that happens knowing some of Buffalo’s top receivers are nicked up. He can serve as insurance. If you want to know how many snaps he’ll get that’s tough to peg. He got all of two snaps last week on offense and was targeted once. After Marcus Thigpen’s debut performance on returns last week Goodwin is unlikely to re-assume those duties.

Goodwin has just 70 snaps on offense this season. That’s partly due to him being unavailable due to injury, but that’s more than 100 fewer snaps on offense than Mike Williams (194), who has been inactive for three games. Goodwin has been out of the lineup for six games.

The former third-round pick has just six targets this season and one catch for 42 yards.

 

4 -  @ChrisBrownBills

What position will be the top priority to improve in the offseason?

JaredBailey23

CB: I think the clubhouse leader position-wise is the offensive line. Though the unit has played a bit better of late there just hasn’t been enough consistency up front, so I could see that being addressed in the offseason. Where they come down on the quarterback position is something else that bears watching.

Other positions could be added to the priority list based on potential player departures in free agency.

 

5 – Chris,

I understand that opponents are working on eliminating Sammy’s impact on games and work on keeping him from beating them. That said, I still think they are under utilizing Sammy, specifically on WR screens. It would be one thing if they were running WR screens on the opposite side of the field as Sammy, but the majority of the time Sammy is lead blocking. I saw this at least two times on Monday night’s game.

I get what Marrone is saying, but their actions don’t always coordinate entirely with what they say.

Thoughts?

Thanks,
Elliott

CB: They have worked to find more ways to get Watkins the ball. We saw some receiver screens last week against Cleveland. I think there would be some merit to stacking receivers at the line with Watkins being the wideout who is second in line on the stack. That could help him gain early separation.

Watkins was targeted nine times last week, but had just three receptions. Part of the problem at times was ball location. Watkins has a wide catch radius, but even he couldn’t make the play on some errant throws. The timing and execution has to be better when Watkins is targeted.

We’ll see if they can get that fixed against a pair of very aggressive corners this week in Denver.


Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

BENRUS Best Dressed – QB EJ Manuel

Posted by buffalobills.com on November 24, 2014 – 5:31 pm

bestdressed-ej12

The BENRUS Best Dressed series presents one well-dressed player with a product from the military-inspired lifestyle brand. Fullback Frank Summers won in week 11.

As the winner of BEST DRESSED, EJ Manuel received a BENRUS Sky Chief Watch. The Sky Chief, engineered in 1940, was worn by World War II Aviators and can be considered one of the greatest timepieces in history. Today, BENRUS acknowledges the significance of The Sky Chief and its ingenuity in a contemporary, modernized model available for purchase on benrus.com.

BENRUS, LLC was founded as a watch company in 1921. For over four decades, it manufactured legendary timepieces for the U.S. military. Giovanni Feroce, internationally recognized as one of today’s most successful American CEO’s, is building BENRUS into a multi-billion dollar, military-inspired lifestyle brand. Mr. Feroce currently serves as CEO and Chairman of BENRUS, LLC.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Corporate, Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-21

Posted by Chris Brown on November 21, 2014 – 9:01 pm

Despite some crazy logistics this week, here’s Fan Friday with questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Over the past couple of years here are moves that GM Doug Whaley really “hit on”;

(1) Trading ILB Kelvin Sheppard for DE Jerry Hughes = A+

(2) Drafting LB Kiko Alonso = A+

(3) Drafting WR Sammy Watkins = A+,  price was pretty steep, but gives the Bills a legit #1 WR in awhile

(4) Drafting LB Preston Brown + A,  this guy has been a very nice surprise on the defensive side of the ball

(5) Signing QB Kyle Orton = A+  ( I was writing to you back in July for the Bills to sign Orton, glad Coach Marrone finally switched Kyle Orton to #1 QB.  I thought he should have a week sooner, if the Bills had, Bills beat Texans in Houston)

(6) Signing of free agent kicker Dan Carpenter, he’s been clutch when kicks are needed the most.

Question:  Since the Bills do not have a #1 draft pick in 2015 and RB Spiller is not going to command a large contract to resign, can’t GM Doug Whaley take that $$$ and Resign DE Jerry Hughes and extend DT Marcel Dareus long-term ?

Bills really need to try and keep their defensive line together, they are the strength of the team.  I think it was a mistake years ago when the Bills let Pat Williams and Ted Washington depart.

Randy

South FL
CB: I had a blog post on this very subject earlier this week when GM Doug Whaley addressed the future of both Hughes and Dareus this week on Bills flagship station WGR this week. Here’s what Whaley said about Hughes and Dareus.

“Those guys are great players. We would love to have them, and those are the things we’ll discuss at the end of the season, which we do every year,” Whaley said. “We don’t negotiate in the media, but they’ve brought tremendous production to our defensive line and helped to make our defense one of the best in the league and we’re going to do whatever we can to keep them.”

I believe the Bills know the defensive line is the linchpin of their defense and with the unit much improved against the run this season they’ll make a strong effort to keep Hughes in the fold even though three of their highest paid players are their other three starting defensive linemen.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

Big Buffalo Bills fan here in Northern Ireland.  Great job you and John Murphy do in covering the bills.

Couple of questions, how is EJ getting on and what do you think the future is at the qb position the bills this season and beyond this season?

Many thanks
Paddy

CB: Thanks for the compliments. EJ is doing well. Head coach Doug Marrone last week acknowledged that he is making progress with his personal game. We covered some of what he’s been working on since assuming the backup role.

As for the future at the position there are some moving parts there. Orton has a player option for next year in his deal with Buffalo. Manuel is obviously still under contract.

It’s my belief that the last six games will have a lot to do with the direction the team takes at that position. I realize that a good number of outside observers are of the opinion that EJ Manuel’s career is over with Buffalo. I don’t share that opinion.

He still has yet to have a full regular season worth of starts in his time with the Bills (14 starts) and it’s my contention that kicking dirt on him is premature regardless of what his statistics say.

 

3 – Hello Chris,
Thanks for all of the info and insight every week. I am a long time follower but this is my first time writing in. My question is in regards to Mike Williams and all of the Fan unrest in his lack of playing time. I too feel that he has been grossly underutilized. I think a good solution would be to give him reps at tight end in a two tight end formation. We have all witnessed his toughness and willingness to “bang heads” not to mention some good down field blocking.

This could create some real matchup nightmares with the opposition. It would force the defense to cover with a safety because a linebacker couldn’t cover him and it would open up Sammy and company as well. Do you think it could work or is he too”small” for TE? And has anyone at OBD tinkered with this? I would think they would want their big play makers on the field as much as possible. Just a thought. Thanks again!

Greg T.

CB: I believe there is merit to those fans who contend that Mike Williams is talented enough to help this offense, especially in the red zone where the team has struggled of late. Williams was targeted once in the Miami game in the red zone, but the pass was broken up.

Even if they favor receivers like Chris Hogan over Williams between the 20s to get them down the field, and Hogan performed well against Miami, you can certainly make the argument that Williams can help this team score touchdowns in the red zone. Eighteen of his 23 touchdowns scored with Tampa Bay early in his career were within 20 yards.

Hopefully what we saw in terms of his use against Miami only increases down the stretch. Making him a detached tight end is something I don’t think I’d anticipate.

 

4 – Chris,

Can you tell us why the Bills have covered some mid-field, low level seats at RWS?

Thanks for your insights,

Mike Riggie

CB: The reason the first few rows have been tarped is because from a seated position it’s impossible for fans to see over the players and coaches gathered on the sidelines and see the action on the field. As a result those fans in the past would stand, and that would force the fans behind them to stand creating a chain reaction. All the fans behind them would have to continually stand up to see the action every time the fans in the first few rows did so.

The solution was to cover those seats and not sell them to fans to eliminate the problem.

 

5 – Hey Chris ,

Just a quick hit . Seeing as the NFL is said to be a copycat league & the regime before this one at Buffalo & others in the NFL have some success with a 5 wide set how come this OC NEVER uses it ? Especially with the talent at the WR position …

Thanks Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: One of the most popular formations in the league right now is 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR). One of the reasons is it’s one of the more unpredictable formations pre-snap. You can run or pass out of this formation in a variety of ways and a lot of offensive coordinators like that, which is why it’s so prevalent.

It’s Buffalo’s most popular formation this season as well. Five wide basically says we’re throwing, unless you’ve got Michael Vick at QB and you’re running out of a spread set.

The most popular formation under the head coach that preceded Doug Marrone was four wide with one back.

Believe it or not the five wide look isn’t as popular as you might think. Four wide is more popular. What’s interesting is there were a couple of plays last week against the Dolphins where the Bills went five wide. I doubt it will increase in frequency in Buffalo’s offense, but we’ll see.


Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

EJ production in practice encouraging

Posted by Chris Brown on November 18, 2014 – 12:29 pm

A couple of weeks ago we provided an update on what EJ Manuel has been working on since he was replaced in the starting lineup by veteran QB Kyle Orton. On Tuesday in an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Bills GM Doug Whaley addressed where EJ Manuel’s development stands now serving in the backup QB role.

Whaley was asked specifically if he felt it was a lost season for Manuel having only appeared in the first four games.

“We believe it’s not. It goes back to our original plan,” said Whaley. “When we first drafted EJ we had the plan of having a veteran quarterback come in and mentor him until we thought he was ready. When Kevin Kolb went down with an injury it thrust him into the starting role quicker than we expected. Now since then we have re-set to the original plan.

“Since EJ has taken a step back everybody in the building has been impressed with his work ethic. We’ve seen an improvement in the way he attacks practice and his production in practice.”

Whaley also addressed the popular debate as to whether Manuel was ‘Buddy Nix’s pick’ or ‘Doug Whaley’s pick’ in the 2013 draft.

“We were all on board with the pick,” he said. “It’s one of those things when it’s Buddy it’s going to be attached to Buddy, just like Sammy (Watkins) is going to be tied to me. When you’re going through a scouting process especially with the guys in the top four to five rounds you’re going to have five to six opinions. What we do is we collectively come up with a Buffalo Bills opinion. So EJ Manuel is a Buffalo Bills pick and all of us were on board with it.”

When asked how the Bills will know when EJ Manuel is ready for prime time again, Whaley said you don’t for sure until they’re in a real game environment.

“That’s one of those things that you can never really gauge until the bright lights come on,” he said. “What you do have to see is progress and not repeating the same mistakes that he was doing before and improving on anything he needed to when he was in the starting role.”


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone sticking with Orton

Posted by Chris Brown on November 17, 2014 – 2:02 pm

Even though Buffalo’s playoff hopes have been severely damaged with the last two losses it isn’t going to change head coach Doug Marrone’s plans at quarterback.

Ask Monday if he’s considering making a change again at QB, Marrone said he’s not.

“Right now I plan on sticking with Kyle, and I believe in every player, not just the quarterback player, who gives us the best chance to win,” he said. “That’s the way we’re headed this week.”

As for EJ Manuel, Marrone provided the following in terms of an update on Buffalo’s backup QB.

“He’s doing a nice job. He’s working,” said Marrone. “He’s doing everything we’re asking him to do.”


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-14

Posted by Chris Brown on November 14, 2014 – 11:58 am

Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Question on the Bills offensive philosophy.  When Marrone and Hackett were first hired by the Bills, there was a lot of talk from them about the up tempo style of offense they ran at Syracuse and has become so common place in college football and with some NFL teams.  They seemed to be big believers in running a LOT of offensive plays, limiting the defensive adjustments that could be made by calling the plays at the line, and dictating to the defense through their pace and related “matchup” problems the lack of substitutions could create for a defense–not to mention the notion of tiring out a defensive pass rush by forcing D-linemen to stay on the field for an entire series.

They started with that philosophy last year, but after EJ got hurt, they seemed to reduce the use of the up tempo offense citing the inexperience of the backup QBs.  In the preseason, we saw a little more of the up tempo pace, albeit with very very limited success due to EJ’s continued struggles with execution.  And so once again, they seemed to deviate from that philosophy.

But now with an experienced QB in Kyle Orton, execution and understanding of the playbook doesn’t appear to be as much of an issue.  Yet we haven’t seen much use of that up tempo style except in two minute situations–which Orton seems to have done quite well with, as evidenced by the Detroit game, the Vikings game, and even the 4th quarter of the Patriots game when they were behind two scores but still in striking distance midway through the quarter.

Have Marrone and Hackett simply abandoned the up tempo “philosophy”?  If so, why?  The QB doesn’t seem to be an issue.  Granted, the O-line is a bit on the young side in certain positions.  But perhaps an up tempo pace would help the O-line out if the defensive line can’t rotate fresh legs all the time.  Or might we see a return to the up tempo pace on a regular basis (instead of just two minute situations) at some point in the near future?

Thanks,
Jeffrey S.

CB: I think what needs to be remembered here is the collection of youth on offense. At the receiver position and now with two new additions in the offensive backfield in Bryce Brown and Boobie Dixon. I think that is what has the offensive staff convinced that a more methodical approach leads to better overall execution. There is little value in upping the tempo if your players can’t execute consistently because that puts your defense back on the field all the faster.

Now while your point about how Orton has run the offense in two-minute situations is well taken, you need to remember that defenses typically play differently in those situations as well. Just like offenses tend to pass more at those times in the game, defenses tend to play more conservatively, giving up yards in exchange for time on the clock.

So the success you often see in two minute situations aren’t as likely during other parts of the game. It’s clear the coaching staff believes that moving at a steady pace with a huddle is the best practice. So I don’t anticipate it changing any time soon.

 

2 – Hello Chris
I have a couple questions. When will the coaching staff see that the QB play is not the problem? EJ could throw a pick a game and not fumble. Plus he had the strength in the pocket plus agility to avoid half the sacks Orton has had. It is play calling I feel. We run such a melo offense. Out of 73 starts for Orton he has 8 comebacks EJ had I believe 4 in just 14 starts. We should have let him continue to develop. Orton has continually been trying to make up for his mistakes. (Pick six in Detroit. That game should have never been that close)
Secondly do they hope CJ may come back with the IR they placed him on? Thanks again for all your coverage of the best team in sports.

Jedediah
Palm Coast, FL

CB: I think Buffalo’s coaching staff would disagree with you. As coach Marrone said when he made the quarterback change, he needed more production from the position. EJ’s completion percentage had dropped below 60 percent and was missing open receivers. They were simply leaving too many yards on the field. For an offense that was starved for points it was a conscious decision by Marrone.

You can make an argument that they should’ve left EJ in to keep developing, but the pressure to reach the postseason trumped Manuel’s on field development.

As for C.J. Spiller we’ll have to see where he’s at when we reach Week 16, the first week he’ll be eligible to return off of I-R. It’s too early to tell where he’ll be in his healing at that point.

 

3 -  @ChrisBrownBills
Will we be able to afford to keep Hughes and Dareus with both their contracts up in the next 2 years?

connordomiano

CB: It’s my understanding that the Bills would like to re-sign Jerry Hughes and that’s job number one on the defensive side of the ball. Picking up Dareus’ option buys them time to address his contract. The catch here is the top three salaries on the team right now are Dareus, Kyle Williams and Mario Williams. Investing another big contract in the defensive line could be argued as an imbalanced approach to the salary cap putting a large percentage of it in just one position group.

At the same time it’s hard to argue with a unit that has largely carried the defense the last season plus which leads the league in sacks and is a top 10 run defense.

The Bills will need to be creative, and I am far from a cap expert, but with the salary cap continually going up in this era of NFL prosperity there is probably a way to make it all work.

 

4 -  @ChrisBrownBills

What are the Bills future plans with the HB position? Any chance they can make a run at Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson?

killerbeekevin

CB: I think we first need to take a look at who will still be under contract next season. Fred Jackson signed a one-year extension this past summer. Brown and Dixon will still be under contract for 2015. So the only free agent is C.J. Spiller and it’s my understanding that the Bills would like to keep their former first-round pick in the fold. And Spiller has said more than once that he would like to remain with the Bills.

Whether the two sides can agree on terms is the obvious question. If for some reason they cannot only then do I see them exploring other possible options.

You’re also assuming that Peterson and Ingram will make it to the free agent market. I think it’s unlikely to happen with Ingram with the production he’s put up when healthy this season. Peterson’s off the field matters may change the conversation in Minnesota, but he’s still a dynamic player and the linchpin of the Vikings offense.

 

5 – Hi Chris;

I appreciate all the updates you and John do all week long to keep us up to date on all things Bills-related.

Can you update us on the  Mike Williams situation? I know the furor over his agent’s supposed request for a trade was negated by Mike, who says he wants to play  here. Since then, we haven’t heard anything about him. Is he still on the ’benched’ list? Will he return? He seems to have vanished into thin air and no one seems to talk about him! Thanks for your feedback.

Darlene  in PA

CB: Coach Marrone has been pressed on this subject with the most recent flurry of questions coming this week. With the offense last in the league in red zone touchdown percentage and the acquisition of Mike Williams executed to help the offense in that area specifically, he was asked why Williams has been inactive in two of the last four games.

Coach Marrone cited a number of different reasons including the challenge of only dressing 46 players on game day and the needs of special teams and versatile players. He also flatly stated that right now a couple of other players are performing better than him.

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett also hinted at how Williams and Kyle Orton are still working on their on field chemistry where Orton can trust Williams on any given play to be in the right place at the right time. These appear to be the biggest hurdles in Williams getting on the field.

He was active Thursday night and got four snaps on offense and six on special teams. He was targeted once in the red zone.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone not thinking about changing QBs

Posted by Chris Brown on November 14, 2014 – 11:20 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone was asked point blank Thursday night if he is giving any thought to possibly re-inserting EJ Manuel into the offensive lineup at quarterback. This was his response.

“Right now that’s not something that’s crossed my mind at all,” said Marrone.

Orton did sustain a toe injury in the game against the Dolphins, but with 10 days between games it’s unlikely to keep him out of the Jets game.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

What EJ has gained over the past month

Posted by Chris Brown on November 1, 2014 – 9:26 am

As we profiled on Buffalobills.com today (Saturday), EJ Manuel has taken steps to improve his personal game within the scope of Buffalo’s offense. A big part of that is his commitment to being a more aggressive player who makes decisions with authority in the passing game.

In talking with Buffalobills.com, Manuel shared some of what he’s learned and tried to apply to his game over the past four weeks.

“If you turn the ball over, obviously you don’t want to do that, but at the same time you’ve got to play aggressively,” he said. “That’s one thing that’s helped me with the scout team reps I’ve had is let it rip. Obviously you don’t want to be wild or reckless in your decision making, but at the same time you want to try to fit this ball in against (Stephon) Gilmore, what better corner to practice on. So I think all those things in combination are going to help.”

I asked Manuel if and when he does get back on the field this season, how might these past four weeks of work help him most. He wasn’t certain, but he is confident that the way in which he has attacked the past month will only help him.

“I think it’ll be one of those things where time will tell. I’m just going to continue to work hard and try to take the positives out of it and look at it for what it is.”


Tags:
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-31

Posted by Chris Brown on October 31, 2014 – 11:41 am

It’s the bye week so focus on your fantasy rosters this week Bills fans. Here are your questions this week from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills. Keep them coming.

1 – Hey Chris ,
Was wondering a couple of things when it comes to EJ & his history with the Bills & prior to . When EJ First came to the Bills the HC & OC led us to believe that they wanted him to have a veteran mentor (which was to be Kevin Kolb) to either sit behind & learn or play & have some one that has played the position to bounce things off of to learn from . So I am wondering why everyone is in such a uproar over this switch ? They are just going back to plan A correct ?

The second part to the question is every article or write-up on EJ prior to him being drafted by the Bills had pointed out a lot if not all of his short comings as a player, It seems from a fan stand point that when it comes to the most important position on a NFL team the Bills come up short when it has come to their decisions at that position both past & present. Were any of those articles or opinions taken into consideration while thinking of drafting him? It seems as though the only people high on EJ were those at one Bills Dr. Then to pass on available QB’s this past draft (if for nothing else to ramp up competition) they pass again on others that had as much if not more potential & better resume than EJ as a backup plan. Personal opinion it seems as though the coaches of this regime in A LOT of different ways show more rookie tendencies than the players !!

Thanks for your time & as always your insight on this & all our fan questions !!
Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: Yes, there was a plan to have a veteran quarterback on hand from the get go and that was Kevin Kolb. He began training camp as the first QB through in the rotation, but it was a competition for the starting job. I think most were expecting Kolb to be the starter at the outset and if EJ came on he’d succeed him. We all know that plan went off the rails early.

I would disagree that every time the Bills have tried to pick a quarterback it has been the wrong quarterback. I’m not absolving quarterbacks drafted in the past for the trajectory of their careers with the Bills, but you do need to look at the circumstances around them.

Constant coaching turnover particularly at the coordinator position with different schemes and systems coming through during a young quarterback’s developmental stages is extremely disruptive to a QB’s progress and growth.

Let’s take J.P. Losman and Trent Edwards’ time with the Bills as an example. Two young quarterbacks who saw a lot of change in their short time with the club.

Losman’s rookie season was 2004. Tom Clements was the offensive coordinator under Mike Mularkey. The next season Mularkey takes play calling responsibility from Clements. After Mularkey is moved out the system changes, Steve Fairchild comes in as the new coordinator with a new system in 2006. After 2007, Edwards’ rookie year, he leaves to coach in college and Turk Schonert is inserted and tweaks the system again. By the 2009 season Losman is gone and Dick Jauron a week before the opener fires Schonert and promotes Alex Van Pelt to run the offense.

A year later Chan Gailey is the head coach with a completely different offense. Edwards’ tenure last only a couple of games into 2010 when he’s benched and eventually released as the Ryan Fitzpatrick era begins.

Now would Losman or Edwards ever fully got it and been successful quarterbacks in this league? Maybe not. Some might even say probably not, but the circumstances that existed in terms of coaching changes and scheme certainly decreased the chances of either of those two developing properly at the NFL level.

There is a value in continuity in the NFL. Organizations like Green Bay, Pittsburgh and the NY Giants have proven it. They limit turnover in an effort to let their players develop and flourish. Does it always work? No, but it has a track record of far more success than failure.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills.

Any news on how EJ is getting on? Also really impressed by his attitude on the sidelines on game day from what I have seen.
rmstrong_1982

CB: By all accounts EJ has been a pro’s pro. We’ll have an in depth story on the work Manuel has been putting in over the past month since he assumed the backup role on Buffalobills.com Saturday. Some great insight from EJ and quarterbacks coach Todd Downing on Manuel’s trust in the system and the extra work he puts in early in the morning with Kyle Orton and long after practice is over on the field. Check it out tomorrow!

 

3 - @ChrisBrownBills

Just curious why Mario Williams snaps have decreased over the past few weeks?

TheRealSeanK

CB: This was a question that both defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and head coach Doug Marrone addressed. Here was Schwartz’s response to Mario Williams drop in snap count the past three weeks.

“I don’t count reps,” said Schwartz. “I’m just worried about performance and production. If our defense is being productive then that’s the only thing we care about. Everybody else can worry about stats and snap counts and everything else, it’s about trying to win the game and doing what we think is best to win the game.”

It’s likely that Schwartz believes in quality over quantity with Mario Williams. I believe him when he says he doesn’t count reps, but perhaps in reviewing game tape he’s found that Williams’ gives him more quality reps (pass rush chiefly) when he plays between 38-45 snaps than when he plays 48-55 snaps a game. The other possibility is Jarius Wynn when he goes in is providing very little drop off in play.

Last week’s game is a good example. Wynn played 44 snaps to Williams’ 40. Wynn had three tackles, a sack and a quarterback hit. Williams had three tackles, a half sack and a forced fumble. Schwartz says they care about performance.

If Wynn is performing leave him in there. In a tight game when the outcome is on the line I’m sure Mario will be in the game.

Coach Marrone earlier this season indicated that he wanted to keep Williams fresh for important third down pass rushes late in a couple of the recent games. This past week up 20 points it’s my belief they wanted to keep him out of harm’s way so as not to risk injury.

The direct beneficiary when Mario Williams doesn’t get his usual number of reps, which is usually around 75 percent of the snaps is Jarius Wynn. The rotational end has performed well this season, and just about every game the percentage of their two snap counts adds up to 100 percent because Wynn is often subbing in for Williams. It will be interesting to see where it goes in the second half of the season.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

Thanks for all the inside info, great reading your work all the time!  My question is regarding Marcell Dareus. He is having a phenomenal year but there still are the negative off the field events that took place in the offseason. Will he be facing any fines or suspensions for his incidents? It would be a shame to have him miss even one game.

Thanks again!
Chris

CB: Marcell is having a great season. Seven sacks in half a season for a defensive tackle, as Jim Schwartz said is pretty hard to do, and that’s coming from a guy who coached Ndamukong Suh.

It doesn’t appear that Dareus will be facing any league fines or suspensions this season for what happened this past offseason. It’s likely that he’ll face some kind of league discipline next year, much the way Nigel Bradham did when he was suspended for the season opener this year, for his off the field incident in the summer of 2013.

 

5 – Chris,

I think Hackett has completely failed on getting Mike Williams into the game plan.  I think Mike Williams could be a very effective WR.  The QB should be dropping back and the OC should have Watkins – Woods and Williams running patterns at the same time in a 3-WR set.  One of these 3 should be open every time.

Fred, Dixon and Brown should be pounding the ball. Seriously, I’m amazed some of these people get paid so much to be coordinators.  I think there are many individuals who could do a better job than Hackett.

Randy
South FL
CB: You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but I think we need to try and read between the lines here with respect to the lack of playing time for Mike Williams. I do agree that Williams is a rare talent. I’ve written many times that he is one of the five best receivers in the league when it comes to high-pointing the ball. You’d figure that would make him a weapon to use at least in the red zone. He did score 23 touchdowns in his first three seasons in the league.

At the same time Chris Hogan has emerged as a slot receiver and is producing. Now he and Williams do not line up in the same place in this offense for the most part, but one word I continually hear from both coach Marrone and Kyle Orton in praising Chris Hogan’s efforts is reliability. They comment often on how Hogan is in the right place at the right time on every play. That reliability is an enormous comfort to a head coach, a coordinator and a quarterback knowing how critical the timing is in Buffalo’s passing game.

A veteran offensive coordinator once told me the NFL is about first downs, not touchdowns. What he meant was in the NFL the talent is a lot more even than it is at the college level, so big play touchdowns aren’t nearly as prevalent. So you prefer to have players you can rely on to make the catches that get you first downs time and again to keep drives and possessions alive. It’s that consistency that wins more often in the NFL.

Do I completely agree with that premise? Not totally. Sammy Watkins has me thinking that three or four big plays look pretty good too. We’ll have to see if Williams play time changes in the second half of the season. To his credit he’s putting in a lot of extra time on special teams of late in an effort to get on the field more.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-10

Posted by Chris Brown on October 10, 2014 – 11:32 am

It’s been a historic week for the Buffalo Bills franchise. Sunday should be electric! For now let’s get to your questions this week on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,
Brandon Spikes only signed a one year deal in the off season, do you think the Bills will try and wrap him up long term?

Paddy, Vancouver Canada

CB: Spikes was brought in for a reason, to improve the team’s run defense. I think the one-year contract is very indicative of the club’s approach. It appears to be a let’s see how it goes approach. So it’s my belief that the powers that be will see how Spikes’ season plays out, and come the offseason they’ll assess his value and potential contributions for the team’s future.

I can say that in talking to Spikes he likes his teammates, coaches and the atmosphere here in Buffalo. He brings additional value with his veteran leadership, but I think it’s only fair for both sides to allow his full body of work to be reviewed before making any future decisions.

 

2 – Chris,

The #1 weakness for Bills is the Offensive Line. Same story for the past 14 years. Right now, I have no faith in either Right Guard or Left Guard. Our O-line has been a disaster.  I hope Richardson can play better than Chris Williams (who the Bills front office paid way too much for a below average guard).  I think the Bills front office should have done a better job in free agency at the guard position.

Not sure the Erik Pears experiment is going to work out.  With Pears at guard he has not been effective pulling for screen plays, sweeps or trap plays.

Question: I love Wood at center, but if the Bills guard troubles continue, perhaps the Bills could play Urbik at center and play Woods at guard again.

Next year Bills need to Upgrade – O-Line, Tight End position and perhaps Quarterback if progress is not made this season.

Randy
South Florida,………….   Thank you Terry and Kim Pegula!!!!

CB: Concerning your question about Eric Wood, I think he is at his most valuable position at center. That’s not to say he couldn’t play guard, which he did early in his career with the Bills. It seems as though they’re interested in letting Cyril Richardson learn the ropes when Chris Williams’ back doesn’t allow him to play.

That being said your idea isn’t a bad one. Kraig Urbik is the team’s backup center, so it is an option if the offensive staff feels it’s necessary to make a different kind of change at guard. I just think Wood is so valuable making the calls and performing in the pivot that I’d be hesitant to move him.

 

3 – Hey Chris,

My question is regarding the switch from Manuel to Orton.  My understanding is that the Bills are under pressure to win now, EJ just isn’t where he needs to be and so Marrone needed to make the decision before the losses got out of hand.  My question is, do you think that the plan they had going into the season regarding EJ and the offense is not working?  I mean the O-line is really struggling which is making the run game struggle which forced EJ the past 2 games to throw over 40 times. I wonder if part of this move is not only about winning but it could also be about protecting EJ and his psyche. So now Orton will come in and fans seem to think that he can do a better job, but he also needs the same formula as EJ, a good O-line a strong run game and defense and I’m worried that the Bills have a bigger issue than just QB. I was just wondering your thoughts about that.

Thanks for all your time, Jillian
CB: I think based on everything we’ve heard from coach Marrone on this subject that it was purely a performance decision. As coach Marrone said when he initially made the change at quarterback, he needs more production from that position. He was not getting enough positive plays from the quarterback position in the passing game and it was compromising their effectiveness on offense.

We’ll see where things go with Kyle Orton now in the lineup, but this is a performance-based business and I believe that was the crux of coach Marrone’s decision.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills How do you think the the Bills stop the short/quick passing game of the Pats this week

statmedic327

CB: Flooding the short passing lanes with defenders can help to disrupt some of the rhythm that Tom Brady relies upon in the Patriots’ passing game. How the Bills choose to do that remains to be seen. The general consensus by those outside the organization is to pressure Tom Brady, but that’s easier said than done even with a Buffalo defense that leads the league in sacks.

Kansas City had an awful lot of success rushing four and dropping seven into coverage. They dropped linebackers and their box safety into zones and defended the middle of the field pretty well, which is where Brady likes to work with his tight ends and Julian Edelman. Buffalo could take a similar approach if they so choose. They have comparable personnel to the Chiefs up front and at the second level.
5 – Hello, Chris,

In addition to your written work and videos on BB.com, I really enjoy your regular updates on the JMS.  You are very frank and insightful on those calls and I look forward to them each week.

My question relates to a subject I have not heard one person in the Buffalo print media nor BB.com family address since the announced QB switch – Kyle Orton’s motivation/determination.  I have always thought Orton has all the necessary QB skills.  Most importantly, he has the ability to read a defense and deliver the ball to the open receiver.  I felt EJ was sadly lacking in both case aspects.  However, I do not question EJ’s heart.  He took a beating the last two weeks and seemed to courageously get back on his feet and put the last hit behind him every time.  Do you think we can expect that with Orton?  My biggest concern regarding his signing apparently “out of retirement” was the possibility he was just looking for a paycheck to hold a clipboard and mentor EJ.  After nine years of bouncing around the league, does he have the personal motivation to lay it on the line for one more chance at football glory?

I have not heard nor seen anything, other than the circumstances around his signing, to create that doubt, but I have not seen nor heard anything to suppress it, either.  We will know soon enough, I suppose, once he gets under center.  However, it would be great to hear from inside the Bills family that Orton is the committed to going into combat with his teammates.  I truly believe the Bills have the skill players to make big plays on a consistent basis with a bunch of hungry young players surrounding a decent QB, and I hope the QB can mirror their intensity.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Thanks!
Walter
CB: I appreciate the kind words. I think there is a measure of motivation for Kyle Orton with this current opportunity. In talking to him he admitted to me that this team is constructed in much the same way as the 2005 Chicago team he had to quarterback as a rookie after Rex Grossman was injured.

Their defense was outstanding, they had good special teams and a strong rushing attack with Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson. Orton didn’t have to go out and win games there, and he may not have to do much of that here.

The benefit for the Bills is he’s a much wiser quarterback and a much more seasoned leader now than he was then.

I do believe the motivation could be at its highest this week, knowing his former head coach in Denver Josh McDaniels, is on the other sideline. McDaniels buckled to the pressure in Denver to start Tim Tebow, despite the fact that Orton led the Broncos to a 6-0 start.

I don’t know this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that coaching/organizational decision sticks in Orton’s craw perhaps more than any other. I don’t know that it does, and I’d never expect him to ever say that, but looking at all the decisions that went against him in his playing career, if I put myself in his shoes that one would sting the most for me.


Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Hackett will be back upstairs today

Posted by Chris Brown on October 5, 2014 – 11:20 am

When Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett first joined Doug Marrone’s staff in Buffalo his preference was to call plays from the coaches’ booth. After a short time last season Hackett and Marrone in conjunction with EJ Manuel decided it was better for Hackett to have direct communication with Manuel on the sidelines during games. So Hackett was down on the sideline to facilitate  Now with Kyle Orton starting today, Hackett will return to calling plays with a birds-eye view.

Being a veteran quarterback, who has essentially seen it all, Kyle Orton apparently feels comfortable enough being down on the sideline without having the offensive coordinator right next to him. If he needs to discuss things with Hackett, he’ll just pick up the sideline phone.

Quarterbacks coach Todd Downing will assume the sideline communication responsibilities, as he will be radio calling plays into Orton from the sidelines.

It will be interesting to see if Hackett’s return upstairs provides him with a different perspective and impacts his play calling today.


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-3

Posted by Chris Brown on October 3, 2014 – 11:30 am

Big cross conference game at Detroit Sunday and the Lions are a bit gimpy on offense. Let’s get to your questions this week on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - @ChrisBrownBills is there any chance Kouandjio begins to take some snaps at Guard. Tackles appear locked in. Pears hasn’t played well.

WKuze13

CB: Head coach Doug Marrone made it clear a little over a week ago that there are no plans right now to give Kouandjio snaps at guard. I think at this point in time the preference is to have him master offensive tackle, particularly on the right side. He played primarily left tackle in college and flipping to the right side has been an adjustment. Marrone said he is encouraged by Kouandjio’s progress, so I don’t think they want to put too much on his plate and compromise his development at tackle with the responsibility of learning another position.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills Do the players get brand new jerseys every game?

Arreguy23

CB: The general answer here is no. According to @billsequipment  most players wear the same jersey each week, unless there is irreparable tearing or other damage to a jersey. This most often happens with offensive and defensive linemen just from all the grabbing and pulling. In that case players are issued replacements.

There are of course exceptions. Players like Mario Williams have memorabilia deals where each game worn jersey is turned in, and sometimes players exchange jerseys with friends on other teams. Fred Jackson was the latest example when he swapped game worn jerseys at the end of last week’s game at Houston with Ryan Fitzpatrick.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills I wanted to know why Urbik is a backup this year. Do you know?

ThePrideOfLima

CB: It’s hard to know exactly why Kraig Urbik fell out of favor with the offensive staff and has been moved to a backup role. There is no question that based on Buffalo’s moves this offseason that they were looking to make changes there with the signing of Chris Williams and the drafting of Cyril Richardson. I feel Urbik is more than capable of manning one of the starting guard spots, but that’s just my opinion. Head coach Doug Marrone has him serving primarily as the backup center behind Eric Wood, but I believe he can certainly step in at guard.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

My question concerns the buzz about the jet sweep since Percy Harvin and Cordarelle Patterson are taking the league by storm. We have Marquise Goodwin, why isn’t he on the field more to do stuff like this? I would think he would play more if nothing else than because of his speed. Is he injured or just not performing well in practice? I think he should be on the field more.

Thanks for all your coverage, GO BILLS!
Michael

CB: You’re right that Goodwin has not been on the field very much. He’s played a total of 30 snaps in four games. He does have one end around that went for four yards. He’s at a position where the Bills are deep and spread formations are not all that prevalent in Buffalo’s offense anymore. Under former head coach Chan Gailey the four-wide set was their most popular. If that were still the case now I think he would get more work on offense.

I think ideally the offensive coaches want to have a package of plays in each week for Goodwin, but the inability of the offense to stay on the field has compromised those plans to a degree. There’s no question that Goodwin’s presence on the field forces defenses to respect the deep ball, and it creates room underneath for Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods to operate.

 

5 – Chris,

No one, including reporters is really talking about EJ’s strength in throwing the ball. I’m not referring to skill, but the velocity of his throws.

Jim Kelly mentioned it on air mid-game last Sunday – and to me, it was far more obvious prior to his statement. Seems he lobs the ball versus throwing in there quickly and tight.

Are the coaches on EJ about this? I feel he’d be a better QB if he can aster throwing a tight, fast spiral. His balls seem to be all over the place mid-air. Or is this just what EJ mechanisms are about?

Cheers,
Mike Barwick

CB: I have noticed that myself, even in the practice setting. EJ never really winds up and fires it to get it in a tight window. I think sometimes his long delivery gives the illusion that the ball isn’t moving fast, but he is certainly capable of throwing a fastball. I’ve seen it at times, but with the physical ability to throw it on a rope I wouldn’t mind seeing it more when he gets another chance to play.


Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Orton can relate to EJ’s current situation

Posted by Chris Brown on October 1, 2014 – 6:24 pm

The man who will replace EJ Manuel this week as the Bills’ starting quarterback is excited about the opportunity, but he can also relate to what Manuel is dealing with after being moved to the second unit. That’s because Kyle Orton has been benched himself.

“I’ve been there,” said Orton. “EJ is going to be a great quarterback. He’s got a long time to grow. I know when it happened to me early on in my career, I wasn’t happy about it at all. But looking back that time off that I had I really grew as a player and used it to my advantage and I’m sure he’ll do the same thing.”

Manuel’s teammates said the second-year quarterback handled his demotion like a professional.

“He took it like a man,” said Mike Williams. “He was still here early. He still practiced hard. He took some scout team reps. He took it like a professional and that’s what you want to see him do.”


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Wood & offense set to adjust to Orton

Posted by Chris Brown on September 30, 2014 – 8:27 am

Bills C Eric Wood admitted the quarterback change made Monday was not something he expected, but for him and the rest of the offensive unit there’s no time to spare. It’s about getting in sync with Kyle Orton.

In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Wood expressed disappointment that the offensive unit wasn’t better around EJ Manuel, but that their focus has to be getting ready for Detroit with Orton at the controls.

“It’s not a good feeling that as a unit up front, receivers that everyone didn’t protect him well enough, didn’t make plays for him well enough,” said Wood of Manuel. “It’s not a good feeling. A quarterback change at Week Five is not what we expected going into the season.  It’s not necessarily something we wanted by any means or have to go through.  If management thinks this is what we have to do to win right now, we’re on board.  I’ll do everything I can to make this transition as smooth as I can for Orton.”

At the same time Wood feels a sense of loyalty to Manuel and wasn’t shy in expressing that too.

“EJ knows that I’ll always have his back,” said Wood. “So I don’t feel weird saying that. We need to be better around him, for if and when he comes back. But this week I have to get on the same page as Kyle and I have to put in a lot of work with him.”


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone: We are a playoff caliber team

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

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

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

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

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

 


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Teammates backing EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2014 – 2:15 pm

Though the naysayers outside the walls of One Bills Drive have been very critical of Bills QB EJ Manuel, his teammates remain confident that their quarterback will get things done.

“My confidence is the same,” said C.J. Spiller. “It’s not a one man show but obviously in this league, the quarterback is really the focal point and the emphasis of wins and losses of teams. Obviously he didn’t have his best day and he didn’t get a lot of help either. We still have faith in him. He’s our starting quarterback. We’re going to back him.

“People are going to try to divide us and point fingers saying who should start and who shouldn’t start but we have all the confidence in the world that he’ll get the job done. Yesterday was one that just got away from him. He’ll learn from his mistakes, he takes it tough. But he’ll be fine, we’ll back him and we’ll make sure he’s ready for Detroit.”


Tags: ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fred: We made it harder on EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2014 – 10:29 am

While those outside the walls of One Bills Drive are openly critical of Bills QB EJ Manuel, co-captain Fred Jackson gave strong indication that now is not the time to make rash decisions with the offense. In an appearance on Bills flagship station, WGR Sportsradio 550, Jackson said part of the reason Manuel struggled was because they failed to adequately protect him.

“I think one of the things that we can do to help him as a total offense is keep him upright on his feet,” said Jackson. “If you look at the way he had to play yesterday he was constantly being flushed out of the pocket. He was constantly being hit every time he threw the ball. They did a great job of getting pressure on him. We didn’t handle line stunts well for the second week in a row so we can expect to see that again.

“I put EJ under pressure yesterday with some blocks that I missed. When he’s running around and his feet aren’t set it’s hard for any quarterback to be accurate in that situation. It’s on us to get that taken care of. He’s a quarterback who has proven if we give him time and let him stand in the pocket he’ll deliver some great plays for us. So it’s on us to get that done.”

Jackson said the onus is on the other 10 players, especially those being counted on to pass protect to provide him the time to survey the field and make throws, much like they did the first two weeks of the season.

“If we can keep a clean pocket for him and not have him get hit every time he’s throwing the ball that’s going to make his job easier,” said Jackson. “That’s something we can do better as a whole unit and take a lot of that pressure off of him. That’s what we’ve got to focus on.

“We can’t sit here and say it’s all EJ’s fault and when we go back and look at the film today we’ll see that. We’ll see that we didn’t do our job of protecting him and it’s the same old thing. When you don’t win the game the quarterback is going to take a lot of blame for it, but as an offensive unit there’s a lot of stuff that we can do a lot better.”

 


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fred’s words for EJ & offense

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 10:01 pm

Bills offensive co-captain Fred Jackson talked to EJ Manuel and a lot of other teammates after the difficult loss Sunday to Houston. For the young quarterback his words were simple.

“Keep coming to work,” said Jackson of his message to Manuel. “We’re playing in the NFL and guys are going to make plays. We just have got to keep coming in and prepare just like we’ve always done.  We can’t change anything.  We can’t think that it’s the end of the world. That’s just it. We’ve got to come out here and lean on each other. When we get opportunities we have to be able to take advantage of it.”


Tags: ,
Posted in Inside the Bills