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 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

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 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 and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

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


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?


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?


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


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 and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

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


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?


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?


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

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


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 and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

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


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?


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.

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!


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

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



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

The pros of having Manuel as Taylor’s backup

Posted by Chris Brown on September 22, 2015 – 9:26 pm

In the wake of the Bills trade of Matt Cassel to Dallas, EJ Manuel becomes the permanent backup to starter Tyrod Taylor. Here are a couple of reasons why having Manuel as a backup to Taylor is a good thing.

1 – Scheme fit – EJ Manuel’s physical skill set runs far more parallel to Tyrod Taylor’s than Matt Cassel’s did. So although Cassel possessed the value of experience, had he been called into action for an injured Taylor during his time in Buffalo, the shift in offensive approach with Cassel in the lineup likely would’ve represented a dramatic change. There would be no read option and the number of deep shots down the field might be reduced. With Manuel now as the backup none of those elements of Buffalo’s offense goes away. 

2 – Development – As the third quarterback on the depth chart, opportunities for Manuel to truly advance and develop his game were limited to running the scout team each week. Now as the backup, Buffalo’s first-round pick will get at least a handful of reps during the week with the first team and be working more in concert with Taylor in preparation for and during games. It might not sound like much, but being in a similar situation is one of the main reasons Taylor was ready to win Buffalo’s starting job in his fifth NFL season.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

EJ focused only on improving

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2015 – 4:56 pm

Bills QB EJ Manuel thought he was the backup after seeing Matt Cassel released on Saturday. Three days later Cassel is back on the roster and Manuel is now the number three. Obviously Manuel is disappointed, but he could not have been classier when he met the media Tuesday afternoon.

After admitting he was disappointed the third-year quarterback immediately shifted his focus.

“I think for me it’s still important to get better,” he said. “I did what I was supposed to do, which was have a good preseason and play well in the games. This is just what it is.”

Manuel said he had no idea that Cassel was coming back.

“I didn’t know. Those things aren’t up to me,” he said. “I heard he had got released and obviously I texted him and told him thanks for all the stuff he did for me. But they re-signed him this morning so I’ve just got to go with it. Personally I have to continue to get ready for the games in case something happens to Ty or Matt, but my biggest focus is just on getting better so all the other stuff really hasn’t bothered me.”

Posted in Inside the Bills

Roman: Cassel best No. 2 at this moment

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2015 – 3:47 pm

Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman commented on the quarterback depth chart Tuesday. With Matt Cassel re-signed head coach Rex Ryan confirmed that the veteran is the number two quarterback behind starter Tyrod Taylor. Roman explained why.

“Matt would probably be the best suited at this moment to be our backup quarterback, but I have a lot of confidence in EJ as well,” said Roman. “Two different styles of players at the position, but I think to function as a backup it’ll probably be Matt right now and we’ll just see where that goes down the road, but we feel very good about Matt going in at any point in time.”

Roman’s comment clearly leaves the number two role subject to change at some point in the future, but Cassel is clearly the backup for the outset of the season.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-4

Posted by Chris Brown on September 4, 2015 – 12:08 pm

It’s a tough time of year for players as NFL dreams end for so many including at One Bills Drive. But we press on with your questions on email at and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Can you explain what the Bills will do going forward with Leodis? It looks like he won’t be on opening day roster, so can they put him on the PUP list or the short IR list? He is yet to practice/put on pads. How severe of injury is he recovering from? How long away is he from getting into shape/being ready to play? I like Darby starting but where is depth since Robey won’t play outside.


CB: One option is the Reserve/PUP list. If that is a choice they make with the cornerback it likely means that he was closer to being out six weeks than two or three. Reserve/PUP means that McKelvin would be eligible to return after Week 6 of the regular season, which would be Tuesday Oct. 13th. If they placed him on injured reserve/designated to return he would not be able to come back until the second half of the season and all indications are he would be back before that time.

Reserve/PUP probably makes the most sense if he’s still two or three weeks away because with all the time he’s spent off his feet he’ll need another two or three weeks to get back into game shape and sharpen his technique.


2 – Chris,

Do any of the three RBs that were signed have a chance at pushing for a roster spot in that crowded of a pool?


CB: Unfortunately no, but I would consider Bronson Hill or Cierre Wood for the practice squad. I like the preseason production they provided.


3 – Chris,
After both preseason games I believe that EJ has looked great so far. If not for about five drops his stat line would be more impressive than it already is. He seems accurate, he’s had good pocket awareness, and when he steps up he’s still looking to throw not just tuck it and run. He seems like he’s got the ability to run and throw where the other two QB’s rely on one or the other.

My question is how does he look throughout practices? I know you guys only show the highlights so does he look bad the rest of the time. For him not to be getting any first team reps playing the way he is confuses me.
Thanks for keeping a geographically challenged Bills fan up to date!

Jonathan H.

CB: In training camp when we were able to watch practice start to finish he wasn’t as consistent as Cassel and Taylor. Now that consistency improved as camp went along and you’ve obviously seen what he’s done in the games. Personally I just think that  EJ is a gamer, meaning he’s not going to look like the best player in practice, but when the lights come on and it’s game time, that’s when he plays his best.

While you’d like to see that consistency he’s shown in the preseason games also be present on the practice field, if you could only have one, you’d like him to be at his best in the game than practice.


4 – @ChrisBrownBills
Is Dan Carpenter fixable in the short term? Hamstring for K no cakewalk repair.


CB: Carpenter has been medically cleared to play so I don’t think it’s the physical nature of the injury that’s affecting him. Carpenter’s issue is his mechanics. The bottom line is he’s rusty from missing two and a half weeks of training camp with the injury. In my opinion he just has to get his rhythm back with his swing and he’ll be fine. Hopefully that happens sooner rather than later.


5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Why would anyone release Fred Jackson. Can someone tell us the real reason. That’s like the pats getting rid of Tom Brad


CB: As much respect as I have for Fred Jackson I also recognize that NFL clubs have to sometimes make tough decisions like this. I genuinely believe that the front office and coaching staff openly wondered if there was going to be a role for Jackson that used him often enough as they have in the past.

I think LeSean McCoy, when healthy is going to be an every down back, including third down. He’s a capable pass protector and a dangerous threat out of the backfield as a receiver.

With third down no longer seen as a role for Jackson it wouldn’t surprise me if they worried that there could be weeks where Jackson would be inactive. I think it would be more of a disservice to do something like that to Jackson and all he’s done for this team over the years.

So while it hurts everybody right now, including my wife who has called Jackson her favorite player for years, it’s better to give Fred the opportunity to really contribute for another club that has a bigger role in mind for him.

As Rex Ryan said himself he believes Fred can still play, but it sounds like he was going to be behind too many other backs on this roster to be a factor on the field week to week.

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