Inside The Bills

How Lewis intends to lead

Posted by Chris Brown on October 8, 2013 – 11:35 am

He hasn’t called a play in the huddle or thrown a pass in a regular season game with his Bills teammates. So how will he be an effective leader without any play to back up his words?

“It’s not difficult,” said Lewis. “You go out here on the practice field and you show everybody you know what to do. The mike points, the plays, you know the protection and guys feel comfortable with that. As long as I have three days to practice and
jell together and get timing with the wide receivers, but as long as you know what you’re doing guys will rally behind you.”

“He’s stepping into a pretty stable offense,” said Eric Wood. “We’ve had some injuries and stuff, but for the most part everyone has played. There are not a lot of moving parts around him, which will be good and he’s got reps within this offense before. I don’t think there’s as much chaos as people think. We just conducted a pretty extensive walk through and no mental errors and putting the ball in the right places.”

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8 man fronts expected by Bills offense

Posted by Chris Brown on October 8, 2013 – 10:35 am

With Thad Lewis now starting at quarterback for the Bills, Buffalo’s offense is fully expecting opposing defenses to put eight men in the box in an all out effort to stop the run. Their intent is to put the game on Lewis to win for Buffalo, but Eric Wood says the Bills won’t be dissuaded from running the ball by eight-man fronts.

“You’ve got to throw them out of it or you have to be effective running the ball,” Wood said. “Our backs have done a great job of making people miss and C.J. (Spiller) showed last week if you put that safety down there and he misfits on a hole that’s a big time play.

“I like Adrian Peterson’s theory on eight and nine man fronts from last year. I thought his theory was great. If he sees an eight or nine-man front he’s thinking home-run because all he has to do is get past the second level and he’s out the gate as opposed to maybe the third level. He credited them loading the box to a lot of his big runs last year. I think that’s the mindset you have to have as a running back. See it as a challenge, almost a compliment that they have to put an extra guy in there and then you try to smoke that safety.”

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Where Tuel’s head is at

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2013 – 5:44 pm

For Bills QB Jeff Tuel the past five days have been anything but easy. Despite the injury to EJ Manuel, Tuel is going to remain the backup quarterback with Thad Lewis starting and he surrendered his jersey number to Brian Moorman, who re-signed with the club over the weekend. But captain Eric Wood said Tuel’s head is on straight and he’s in a healthy frame of mind.

“I talked to Jeff and I don’t know if disappointed is the word,” said Wood. “As a competitor he probably wanted to get the start, but he understands the coaches thinking. A mature kid and a guy that’s going to do all he can to help Thad this week and that’s a good mindset to have.”

Tuel is now wearing jersey number 7.

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Wood: Browns actions post EJ hit “classless”

Posted by Chris Brown on October 4, 2013 – 12:20 pm

A lot of Bills players along the sideline were incensed after EJ Manuel was injured on a hit by Browns safety Tashaun Gipson near the sideline. Players weren’t outraged by the hit at the end of the play. They were ticked that Browns players were celebrating the hit that injured Buffalo’s QB.

“The hit was fine, what ticked me off was the way they acted afterwards,” said Bills co-captain Eric Wood. “I hope our defense never acts like that when they injure an opposing quarterback. You’ve got to show some class in that situation. There’s a few guys over there that obviously didn’t.”

Wood said it wasn’t only Gipson that was celebrating the fact that Manuel was down injured after the play.

“You’ve got (Browns safety) T.J. Ward yelling at Kiko (Alonso), a former college teammate, ‘I told you to warn him that we were going to get him.’ That’s classless,” Wood said. “Every team has probably got them. I’m not going to say that nobody on our team has ever done that, but it ticks you off when someone on the other team does it for sure.”

Wood however, doesn’t believe the hit was in retaliation for Alonso’s hit on Browns QB Brian Hoyer that knocked him out of the game in the first half.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I think most plays in football come down to such split second decisions that I don’t think necessarily that it was a hit in retaliation.”

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Unwavering faith in EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2013 – 9:25 am

Bills fans were understandably concerned about the progress of EJ Manuel following last week’s game when he took eight sacks in a 27-20 loss. His teammates and coaches however, have not wavered one bit.

To a man they have faith that EJ will improve off of last week’s setback.

“I think he’ll rebound well,” said Eric Wood. “Just working with him for the past few months, I think every time a challenge has presented itself he’s kind of stepped up and things that he had done wrong, whether it had been an assignment or whatever, he’s not generally repeating mistakes and that’s one of my favorite things about working with him. He’s working hard daily to improve, kind of like we all are. We’re all fairly new to this offense and there’s some different things for all of us to do
individually. The key is to improve as the year goes on.”

Veteran Fred Jackson believes that everyone on the offense learned a hard lesson last Sunday.

“That’s one thing we can take away from that game—we got a lot thrown at us and we didn’t handle it
well,” said Jackson. “I think that will be something we all face as a challenge this week, knowing that we could see a lot of stuff like that from this team this weekend.  We get to look at it on film, see some of the things they do, be able to
come out and handle that, and stay on the field, pick up blitzes and throw hots and things like that.”

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Sacks happened for a reason

Posted by Chris Brown on September 23, 2013 – 1:01 pm

Through the first two games the Bills were able to keep EJ Manuel pretty clean, surrendering just one sack. On Sunday against the Jets they gave up eight. Eric Wood knows the reasons why.

“Miscommunications, guys getting beat. Just them getting a chance to tee off on us,” said Wood. “You just have to stay ahead of the chains on them. It’s a lot like our defense. When we get up on teams or when we’ll get up on teams our defense will tear people apart and you saw when Carolina got in obvious passing situations last week how easy we were able to get sacks and pressure on cam Newton. That’s kind of the name of the game in the NFL and we set ourselves up for it terribly yesterday.”

Wood says they have to run the ball more effectively because it’s an effective way to protect your quarterback, but that there is more to it than just that.

“We’ve got to complete some more balls and that’s going to happen,” said Wood. “We have to have better protection, but we’ve got some young guys and we’re going to get better as the season goes on, but yesterday was unacceptable.”

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Wood: Red zone execution was terrible

Posted by Chris Brown on September 23, 2013 – 12:29 pm

The Bills went 0-for-3 in the red zone on Sunday when it came to punching the ball in for a touchdown. Buffalo had to settle for three field goals as gaining yards inside the Jets 20 proved hard to come by. Eric Wood didn’t think much of their efforts.

“Just a lot of mistakes on offense, and red zone execution was terrible,” said the Bills co-captain. “If we score on a couple of those when we were down there it’s a totally different ball game. We don’t give up six sacks because they’re not able to tee off on us.”

On Buffalo’s three red zone opportunities they ran a total of 10 plays. All together those 10 plays gained a total of 13 yards. The three third down situations Sunday went as follows.

3rd-and-8 – incomplete pass

3rd-and-6 – one-yard gain

3rd-and-5 – incomplete pass


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Bills admit Jets ‘D’ had some wrinkles

Posted by Chris Brown on September 23, 2013 – 1:17 am

For the most part they were well prepared for what the Jets have in their arsenal of blitz calls, but Eric Wood and Fred Jackson both admitted that the Jets threw some defensive looks at Buffalo that were tough to identify.

“You have to give them credit. They did things that are different (and) that’s their defense—create some confusion,” said Fred Jackson. “It worked for them on a couple of plays there. We have to get better at seeing those things and make the plays when we have the opportunity.”

“They did a pretty good job of stacking the box early and throwing a few different looks that gave us trouble identifying, but we didn’t execute well enough against it,” said Wood.

EJ Manuel was sacked eight times in the game, the most sacks surrendered by Buffalo in a game since giving up nine to Indianapolis on Dec. 11, 2000.

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Wood: Our ‘D’ readied us for Jets ‘D’

Posted by Chris Brown on September 21, 2013 – 10:44 am

As we profiled on the home page of this morning, both EJ Manuel and Geno Smith might be seeing more familiar defensive looks pre-snap on Sunday than they have seen to this point from an opponent in their young careers because of the similarities between their own team’s defense and that of their opponent this week in the Bills-Jets matchup. Bills center Eric Wood also found it helpful when it came to putting together the line call assignments.

“Yeah absolutely,” Wood said. “We feel it’s an advantage that we’ve seen this all summer. There are some differences, but some of the looks are the same and some of them are tough to prepare for so having seen these all summer has made some of the assignment installation easier.”

We’ll see on Sunday if that leads to more effective execution and faster tempo for the Bills with what is anticipated to be improved pre-snap recognition.

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Offense must get in sync sooner

Posted by Chris Brown on September 17, 2013 – 1:20 pm

Buffalo’s offense is right in the middle of the pack in terms of points per game through the first two weeks of the season, but the players on that side of the ball all believe they have to start games off much better than they have in the first two games.

Through the first two games, the Bills have not put any points on the board in the first quarter. In fact, 35 of the team’s 45 points on the season have been scored in quarters two and three.

“We obviously have to get better earlier in games,” said captain Eric Wood. “We’ve shown we get better as games wear on. I don’t know if that’s our tempo wearing on the defense, us getting more comfortable or what, but we’ve got to start the game better and we know that. That’ll be a premium coming up.”

“Just being more consistent I would say,” said Robert Woods. “We seem to have some slow starts. I feel if we start off early and play well we could go a long way.”

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Bills not big on winning time of possession

Posted by Chris Brown on September 9, 2013 – 1:23 pm

The New England Patriots won the time of possession battle in Sunday’s season opener with the Bills by better than 15 minutes. That’s more than a quarter’s worth of game clock as the Pats held onto the ball for 37:43 to Buffalo’s 22:17. But winning time of possession is not high on the Bills’ priority list. Moving the ball quickly and scoring points is the main aim.

Bills captain Eric Wood explained that based on their style of play on offense, winning time of possession could prove difficult.

“I don’t think we’re going to win a lot of time of possession battles this year and we’re fine with that,” said Wood. “We just need to run more plays. We would’ve liked to have their number of plays (89) (Sunday) and wear them down a little bit more because when we were able to put drives together I felt our tempo was great. But when we do go three and out our defense gets hung out to dry. But they’re in good condition too, they’re prepped for it. They know what’s going to happen.”

The key to maintain tempo on offense for the Bills are positive plays, completions in the pass game and no penalties. Third down conversions are obviously a part of that.

“I think the biggest thing is getting the first one of the drive,” said Scott Chandler of third down conversions. “Then you start to get the defense on their heels. We’ve got to be better. Obviously, we had some short ones that we didn’t convert.  We had some in key situations that we didn’t convert. If we could have sustained a drive or two in the second half I think it would have been a different game.”

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When the Bills will slow tempo down

Posted by Chris Brown on September 9, 2013 – 8:37 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone effectively explained why his offense remained in their up tempo no huddle style late in the game. Clinging to a one-point lead he and his offensive staff felt they had to score more points to win the game and understandably so, knowing a one-point lead with almost five minutes on the clock is unlikely to stand up against the Patriots. So they remained in their no huddle attack. But there are times when the Bills will slow it down to eat up clock. Here’s when.

According to team captain Eric Wood, the Bills need to be up by a couple of touchdowns before they gear down their offense and focus on chewing up time on the game clock.

“I think you have to be up two scores to slow us down, that’s the strength of our deal,” said Wood. “We want to stay aggressive. Up one point, I don’t think we switch our offense. We were all on board for it. It wasn’t like we were second guessing it at any point. We wanted to go down and score touchdowns. Even looking back, they’re sitting on a knee at the end. It’s maybe one less knee they take because we still go three and out.”


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Wood wanted no distractions during season

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2013 – 7:18 pm

One of the chief reasons Eric Wood pushed to get a contract extension done now was so it wouldn’t distract him during the regular season knowing he was entering the last year of his contract.

“It was extremely important,” said Wood. “From this point on, all of my focus is on no contract, no outside distractions and that was extremely important. I thought if it did linger on I was mature enough that it wouldn’t affect my play, that it wouldn’t affect my preparation, but deep down just knowing that the risk of something happening or maybe a poor performance could effect a contract, that could definitely come in to play.”

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Wood feeling good about O-line

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2013 – 5:56 pm

Bills C Eric Wood just signed a long-term contract extension with the Bills late Friday. He’s confident that with Colin Brown being the only change on their front five from last year that they’ll be able to hit the ground running in 2013.

“I feel great about it,” Wood told “Luckily this year we’ve stayed pretty injury free and we’ve taken a lot of reps with that first unit and got a lot of snaps in the preseason. So we head into the regular season pretty confident in the group that we have and we expect a lot out of ourselves.”

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Defense is more physical

Posted by Chris Brown on August 17, 2013 – 12:40 pm

Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has demanded an attacking, aggressive, relentless defensive approach and through two games in the preseason he’s gotten just what he wanted. Even the players on the offensive side of the ball have taken notice.

“You can hear the hits from the sideline, and that’s something we haven’t had,” said Wood. “It’s a lot of the same guys as last year. They’re just playing with an attitude. We love watching it. That gives us a spark now. Earlier we didn’t do a whole lot with it, but they bailed us out a couple of times. Once we got rolling, we weren’t battling back from 14-0; it was 3-0. That’s huge.”

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Why players believe things will be different

Posted by Chris Brown on August 17, 2013 – 9:34 am

The Bills have talked before about changing the losing culture that has enveloped the franchise since the turn of the century. Players have willingly bought in before, but under Doug Marrone and his staff, it sounds like the players genuinely believe things will be different this time around.

“We’re breeding an attitude around here,” said Wood. “We are trying to be the toughest team out there each week. You don’t do that by going out there and laying an egg in the preseason. You go to the practice field each day and you go to preseason games with an attitude.

“That’s something we talk about: our attitude out there. The toughness we play with is something we have to do week-in and week-out. Nobody respects us in the league and we know it. Nobody cares that we’re 2-0 in the preseason. We won the games and we feel good about it, but we don’t care about our record in the preseason. But we want to be the toughest team through the two weeks we have had.

“The right attitude is going to put us in a position to win games. Being tougher is going to help us win games. Now, do these games count? No. But the feelings we’re getting, getting used to winning, that’s important.”

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Eric Wood likes feel of this ‘new’ better

Posted by Chris Brown on July 26, 2013 – 9:52 pm

He’s been through three coaching regimes as he enters his fifth season with the Bills in the NFL. Eric Wood has been optimistic with new staffs before, but Doug Marrone’s collection of coaches has him as confident as he’s been in a Bills uniform that this change will truly be for the better.

Having seen previous coaching changes come up short with his own eyes, Wood wasn’t going to talk too big and gush about the staff. He knows talk is cheap. It is pretty evident though that the Bills center and his teammates believe in these coaches.

“I like this coaching staff we’ve assembled,” said Wood. “I like the group of guys we’ve assembled. I like our attitude right now.  I like our scheme.  At this point, that’s about all you can say.  We’re going to be tougher this year, but until you get on the field you don’t know that.  And we can say we’re going to be smarter, and healthier,  but until we’re out there, that’s up for debate.”

Kevin Kolb echoed Wood’s sentiments about the coaching staff throwing his support behind the approach of Marrone and their plans for the offense.

“I’m very confident in what we’re doing as an offense and what we’re doing as a team and the strides we’ve taken and the way that coach Marrone structures this entire thing I’m a believer,” said Kolb. “That’s the number one important thing for me right now. Moving forward hopefully we get to do it together. Whatever happens of course I’m here for the team and I’ll do whatever it takes.”

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Bills blitz scheme productive

Posted by Chris Brown on May 23, 2013 – 4:01 pm

The defense had a productive day in the final OTA practice session of the week for the Bills. It was probably the most effective blitzing day for Mike Pettine’s crew this spring. In defense of the offensive line they were without two of their top three offensive tackles. Still, it’s an encouraging sign for a defense that found sacks hard to come by.

There was a stretch during team work where the defense had four sacks in a span of eight plays. Practice even ended with a sack, but as we’ve heard before it’s typical to see the defense ahead of the offense at this point in time.

“It is a bit easier for the defense knowing they just have to react,” said center Eric Wood. “That being said we’ve had some missed assignments that have been pretty brutal but that’s going to happen when you install a new offense. Missed guys, missed blitzers, that just completely blows up the play, and then you watch the film and two guys were open on the back end and if one guy maybe picks up a block or makes his assignment then it’s a great play. You’ve kind of got to take the good with the bad in these early stages of an offense and understand that on the back end we’re going to come out all right.”


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Fan Friday 5-17

Posted by Chris Brown on May 17, 2013 – 12:31 pm

Time for the latest edition of your questions from and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris,

I don’t see how anybody can say that the Bills are good on the offensive line. The loss of Levitre left a gaping hole there. RT is a question mark, since Pears was injured all last year, and Eric Wood seems like he might be injury prone.

CB: I think your concerns about left guard are legitimate, but beyond that Buffalo has capable players for the starting roles and depth behind them. At tackle you have Cordy Glenn on the left and Chris Hairston on the right. Erik Pears is still limited, but when healthy more than capable himself on the right side.

Kraig Urbik is your right guard with Wood in the pivot. Depth-wise you have Zebrie Sanders as a tackle guard option once healthy. Beyond that it is a green group in terms of playing experience, but that’s the case for most of the league.


2 – Chris,

With the new high tempo offense, can we expect Doug Marrone to try to take a lead by choosing to receive this year?

Please say it is so,

Len in NYC

CB: I’ll have to ask him about that to be sure, but most NFL head coaches have found that the research shows if you choose to defer you typically wind up with the last possession of the first half. Obviously by deferring you also get the first possession of the second half. Those back-to-back possessions are seen as valuable in the eyes of many coaches. However, if your defense is substandard it might be wiser to choose to receive first if you win the toss. I’ll see if we can get an answer on coach Marrone’s philosophy on that.


3 – Hi Chris:
Now that the draft is over and we still need some positional fills, who do you  think the Bills will go after in FA to fill those voids (like OL, LB, CB)?

Thanks for delivering!
Mike from Orlando

CB: I think cornerback could prove to be the most pressing need. Buffalo has some interesting young talent at corner among the undrafteds, but there’s already a good deal of youth at the position. I wouldn’t be surprised if they added a veteran to that group at some point.


4 – Dear Chris,

My questions are about Brad Smith, I have heard he has looked good this spring as a WR. Is this his only role now or could he still be a wildcat/#3 game day QB? Will coach Marrone even employ the wildcat? If not could Smith be on the trade block at some point this off season?


Either way I wish him the best the coming season. He’s a real asset as a triple threat and that seems to be something this new staff seems to value.

I hope to hear from you soon on this as I’m sure I’m not the only fan to be wondering about Brads future here. As always GO BILLS!!!

Scott Kane,

CB: Yes, Brad Smith is strictly a receiver and a return man at this point. Based on coach Marrone’s comment on the Wildcat after the draft, I highly doubt we’ll see it as any respectable part of Buffalo’s offense.

Smith to his credit has performed well in OTA practices. He and T.J. Graham have probably benefited the most from the absence of Stevie Johnson on the practice field.

As for the trade block, I think we’re a bit ahead of the game at this point. There’s a lot of evaluation that needs to be done by this coaching staff.


5 – Hi Chris,

Firstly, thank you for your coverage. As a Bills fan since 1986 living on the other side of the world, I am more than appreciative of all informed coverage.

Two quick questions: have the Bills had talks with Brandon Moore. if not, why not?

Secondly, it is all but impossible to follow college football from here. However, I have watched Keith Pough’s highlights. Admittedly, highlights can be very misleading, but he looked terrific. Why was he not drafted? What chance does he have of making the team?

Jeff Wallace,
Sydney, Australia

CB: Thanks for the kind words. To my knowledge the Bills have not talked to Brandon Moore. Obviously, Bills head coach Doug Marrone knows him extremely well. He was the Jets assistant offensive line coach, who turned him from a defensive lineman to a very successful guard on the offensive side. So there’s a relationship there. At age 33, he’s probably not what the Bills are looking for knowing they want to build this roster from the ground up with players that will be here for the long haul.

However, if they do not like what they feel they are getting from the guard spot you can’t rule out the Bills making a phone call to the veteran.

As for Keith Pough, he’s a bit undersized and did not perform well at the Combine, especially when it came to his 40 time (4.87). He also played at a lower level of college competition at Howard. That doesn’t mean he can’t make an NFL roster, but it discourages NFL clubs from taking a chance on him with a draft choice. Signing him as an undrafted offers less risk. I do know that the Bills are high on him among their undrafted group.

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Bills on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on May 14, 2013 – 7:16 am

The Bills are just firing up OTAs and players will be on the local airwaves to talk about it this morning.

Eric Wood will be on WGR 550 at 7:30 am this morning on the Howard Simon show.

Arthur Moats will be on WCMF 96.5 FM at 7:45.

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