Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 7-3

Posted by Chris Brown on July 3, 2015 – 12:04 pm

Happy 4th of July weekend everybody. Get your grill on! Here’s your latest round of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Any realistic chance that Buff can strike a deal for K. Cousins? I think he still has upside even though his value dropped.

killerbeekevin

CB: I’m not anticipating any moves at quarterback at this point. The Bills seem content to go into camp with the three quarterbacks they have battling for the job. Now if some QB of greater caliber than Cousins was available they’d get on the phone, but I don’t see the Bills giving something up for Cousins to add him to the fold.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Is Tyrod Taylor the next Bills QB?

Sportsworld716

CB: I think that’s a question that even the Bills coaches can’t answer at this point. Taylor clearly has the strongest arm of the three QBs in the competition. He’s got a pretty good head on his shoulders when it comes to processing information and reading things pre-snap. And we all know about his foot speed.

I think if he wants to be the Bills starting QB his ball location and overall accuracy will have to take a noticeable step forward. That’s not to say that Taylor hasn’t been accurate at times. I just think to separate himself from the other two it has to be more consistent than it was in the spring practices.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Since Greg Roman uses the Tight End so much.. Is there any chance that we carry 4?

CoreyCraig_

CB: I think there’s a very good chance the team carries four tight ends. There are just too many multiple tight end sets in Greg Roman’s offense to think they can get through a season with just three, even with a fullback expected to be on the roster as well.

 

4 – Hi Chris thanks for keeping us out of Staters informed.

My question is assuming our offense performs well and we make the playoffs, won’t we end up losing Greg Roman?

Then we go through establishing a new offense all over again. Is there an assistant who is an apprentice to him we can retain so we can keep some continuity, instead of constantly changing “the system”. That seems to be our biggest problem, we are constantly on a learning curve.

Thanks
Ron from North Carolina

CB:
Your point is a very valid one. The Bills have had extraordinary turnover at the coordinator position on offense. There’s little question that if the Bills reach the postseason for the first time in 15 years that Greg Roman will be a hot name when the head coaching vacancies open up next offseason.

I think the Bills are more focused on winning first. Then if they do, they’ll deal with the problems that come with winning later. I don’t think there’s a true apprentice on the roster now who is learning at the elbow of Roman.

They have a veteran offensive assistant in Chris Palmer and QBs coach David Lee has run offenses himself as well, but neither had a prior working history with Roman.

Roman is a valuable play caller and perhaps one of the best offensive coordinators they’ve had since Ted Marchibroda, but I get the sense that it’s a ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it’ approach.

 

5 – Hey Chris,
Thanks for everything Bills related.

From what I’ve read it seems as if Cassel has struggled to this point and EJ has actually taken a step in the right direction. It seems as if the coaching staff loves Taylor so my question is, do you think that if Cassel continues to struggle and is truly out played he could be cut?
Thanks again
Frank

CB: I think the quarterback competition is just getting started and there’s a long way to go before any roster decisions are made. That being said I’m pretty confident that with as loaded as this roster is spots on the 53-man squad are going to be at a premium. So keeping three QBs on the roster is probably far from a lock. More and more teams are only carrying two QBs, so if that proves to be the case one of the three competing for the starting role will be the odd man out. But to say it’ll likely be Cassel is very premature.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-26

Posted by Chris Brown on June 26, 2015 – 11:32 am

Let’s not waste any time and get right to your latest round of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

My first question is regarding Karlos Williams.. It is my perception that Buffalo seems overloaded at the Running Back position with quality backs on the bubble to make the team.. LeSean McCoy, Fred Jackson, Boobie Dixon, Karlos Williams, and Bryce Brown are all capable of carrying the football for this team.. Then there are the Fullbacks Felton and Connor carried as Running Backs.. I am not sure how many are going to be carried on the 53 man roster, but 7 is nuts.

I also know the Bills are moving a terrific Cornerback in Corey Graham to Safety, where I think his talents would be underutilized.. Duke Williams is the other option to start, but he seems like more of a reserve player than a starter from what I have seen on television. The question is why doesn’t the coaching staff try out Karlos Williams at Safety, a position he played for 3 years at Florida State before switching to Running Back?

He was a 5-star Safety recruit (2nd rated Safety behind Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in 2011) coming out of High School.. I would believe he would be qualified to go back to his old stomping grounds on defense and it would alleviate the dearth of talent at safety and reduce the number of Running Backs.. I am a FSU alum and watched every game to know Karlos is a freak athlete like Bo Jackson.. Really big, really fast and hits really hard.. I personally would love to see him make snot bubbles come out of defenders’ noses en route to a touchdown run, but for the sake of putting the best guys out on the field this makes sense to me.. Your thoughts?

Erik Kuhn

CB: I think while your thoughts of moving Karlos Williams to safety have merit based on his football history, I don’t know if that’s the kind of move you want an NFL rookie to undertake. In Buffalo’s multiple scheme with a lot of pre-snap adjustments putting that on a rookie’s plate who has not played the position in three years is asking a lot.

Not only that, but the safety position is about as deep as the running back position so he wouldn’t be added to a position in need of any more talent.

The Bills seem pretty happy with Williams at running back and he runs with real good body lean for a tall guy. I think they’re committed to keeping him at RB and he can contribute on special teams as a rookie.

I don’t think the team will keep seven backs. I’m anticipating 4 RBs and 1 FB. That’ll leave one RB and one FB on the outside looking in.

 

2 –  Chris,

Do you think it is a fair assumption that Cyrus K. may be a starter this year ???

Go bills…deep into the playoffs and then on the to the S. B.

Best
Richard B.

CB: I don’t think it’s an outlandish assumption to think that Cyrus Kouandjio could be a starter at right tackle. He’s done everything right in the spring practices. The caveat is we haven’t seen the new and improved Kouandjio in pads playing something closer to real football.

We’ll get a better idea when we get to camp just how capable Kouandjio is, but he’s worked his tail off this offseason.

 

3 – Hey Chris,

Always look forward to reading these on Friday. I am just recently a huge Buffalo Bills fan as of this season and it did not take long for me to be hooked on following Bills news and especially reading your questions! Last year I was not following the Bills news cycle but I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the QB battle this year.

My question for you is this, if you recall, how does Kyle Orton compare to the current QB battle underway? Has he seemed more of the same completion-wise or by TD/INT? I’m trying to see how any of the new QB’s or even EJ has compared to him.

Thank you so much!
-Brandon DuFrane
CB: This is a hard one to answer only because Kyle Orton did not have the benefit of any of these spring practices with the Bills that just concluded. He didn’t sign with the Bills until Aug. 30th last year, just eight days before the opener and after the preseason had concluded.

Orton felt his way in terms of absorbing the offense. Come season’s end he had 12 starts and finished with just over 3,000 yards passing with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with a passer rating of 87.8.

I think Taylor and Manuel have a better physical skill set than Orton, and Cassel is probably comparable in experience and diagnosing an opposing defense.

It’s also a vastly different offense this year’s QBs are running, but I think Orton would look a lot like Cassel if he were part of the competition in Cassel’s place.

 

4 – Hey Chris,

What ever happened to Cyril Richardson, the 6’5″ 343 pound linemen on the Bills? I haven’t heard anything coming out of camp about him and he had some promise this year after a good off season. What the latest with his development and chances?

Thanks,
Tony

CB: Richardson is still here on the roster. He’s been serving as a guard on the second unit. Most of his snaps have come with him on the right side. I think he’ll be more noticeable when the pads go on at camp and he’s able to exert his physical will on defensive linemen especially in the power run attack Greg Roman has drawn up.

 

5 –  @ChrisBrownBills
What’s the most likely scenario for amount of skill position roster spots…WR, RB, TE?

iamFlowbee

CB: I think as stated above, with a premium placed on tight ends in Greg Roman’s offense, there are likely to be four tight ends kept on the 53-man roster this year. I’d say probably five running backs and possibly just five WRs, though an argument can easily be made to keep six. Whether they have the room on the roster to do so is another question.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-19

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2015 – 11:33 am

The mandatory minicamp is in the books. Six weeks until training camp at St. John Fisher. Let’s get to your latest round of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
Is there anybody that is already on the squad that might have torn up the practice fields that we haven’t heard about yet because they didn’t get much playing time?  In other words, is there anybody on the team already that you think is either in line to break out or will push a current starter for a job more than expected?

Thanks,
Tommy of Pittsford

CB: There were a few players who performed admirably in the spring practices that didn’t get much time on the field last year, but I caution that football in the spring is not real football, so take these names with a grain of salt.

Marquise Goodwin had a strong spring. He was turning in plays left and right in the passing game. Now keep in mind that’s without Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin or Aaron Williams running around in Buffalo’s secondary. And the pads aren’t on, which is when the game gets more physical and cornerbacks are jamming receivers a lot harder at the line of scrimmage. We’ll see what he can do at camp.

Cyrus Kouandjio, as we’ve covered on Buffalobills.com, has improved his footwork and balance a great deal. We’ll see how he does in camp, again, when the pads are on.

Two other players that I thought fared well, who could take a step forward this season are S Jonathan Meeks and TE Marqueis Gray. Both made plays in the spring practices and offer high caliber athleticism at their respective positions.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Is Harvin slated for both return spots or just punts?

SJHNatFan

CB: From what I witnessed at OTAs and minicamp Harvin is only being used on kick returns. The primary punt return candidates included Leodis McKelvin and Marcus Thigpen.

 

3 – Chris,

In light of the draft where they added 1 TE and one RB, how does this affect the final roster? Roman likes to dress/have 4 TE’s but they

currently have 5 running backs. Are Boobie/Bryce on the cut list to watch? I am not a fan of drafting a developmental running back with a history of violence against women, I don’t see the value in picking a back. Boobie plays special teams as well. Do you see O’Leary as lock to make this team too? Wondering how you might this these position groups look after the draft?

CB: Adding O’Leary and Karlos Williams just deepens the pool of talent at their positions. I like what I’ve seen from both players in the spring practices. O’Leary catches just about everything thrown to him. I agree that there will probably be four tight ends on the 53-man roster.

The tough call will be at running back where Williams has made a good case for himself. You’re also forgetting the fact that they’ll keep one fullback too who factors into the RB equation. So it’s likely they keep 4 RBs and 1 FB and 4 TEs. That could also mean the team only keeps five wide receivers. You’ve got to trim numbers somewhere else if Greg Roman’s offense needs numbers at TE.

 

4 – Chris,

Could you share your thoughts and insights on our offensive line expectations? Our two glaring weaknesses from last season was the inability to protect or provide the QB position ample time to develop consistency in a passing game and the lack of developing a foundation with a running game.

Many feel the offensive line play led to the lack of a better QB play although the argument could easily be spun both ways.  Yet going into this next season our offense is mostly a mystery of what to expect.

Despite the influx of talent brought in during F/A one could argue that we will be no better off than a year ago with the only hope that the new offense and scheme applied will either swing the pendulum one way or the other.  Many feel that controlling the trenches is where it all starts regardless of how skilled your skilled positions are.  Still another unsettling feeling deep in the souls of us Bills fans.

Thanks for you time and efforts.
VanScottM

CB: I’ll start by saying perhaps the two most important additions for the offensive line were coach Aaron Kromer and OC Greg Roman. Both know how to organize and coach line play. That’s where the two biggest improvements were made. Richie Incognito is a perfect fit for a power run game and John Miller has been widely lauded as Buffalo’s best pick in the 2015 draft and is expected to start at right guard.

With Cyrus Kouandjio showing an improved skill set and Cordy Glenn in the best shape of his life I believe the unit can take a sizable step forward this year and perhaps rebound from their 25th ranked rushing attack last season and get back into the top 10.

 

5 – Chris:

A couple of questions:

Whom do you think will take Dareus’ place in game #1?

Do you expect 90 players will be there the first day of training camp or will that number be reduced because of OTAs? Jeff Tuel was just released, but Matt Simms took his place.

Thanks very much.
Tom

CB: Right now the guy the Bills have penciled in to take Dareus’ spot in Week 1 is Corbin Bryant. Rex Ryan confirmed that when asked. Now will it be Bryant exclusively in that spot for the entire game? Probably not. Stefan Charles might rotate in there as well.

I do expect 90 players at training camp. Coaches like to have as many bodies as they can at camp. Knowing the Bills intend to run two team units simultaneously at camp when they go 11-on-11 in practice, having 90 players will be all the more necessary.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-12

Posted by Chris Brown on June 12, 2015 – 1:09 pm

1 – Hey Chris,

I love these Fan Fridays, and thank you if you get to reading and responding to my question. With Michael Buchanan is it a possibility that he plays defensive end like he did in college and I think in his first year, and moving Jerry Hughes back to line backer as he did some coverage as linebacker as he did is his first year of with the Colts, if I’m not mistaken. So to summarize. Is it possible for that exchange to occur with the possibility if this free agent signing?

Thank you Chris,
Christian

CB: Buchanan has lined up exclusively at defensive end since he’s been on the practice field with the Bills. He’s a long and angular player. I think Buchanan will be fortunate to make the 53-man roster knowing the depth Buffalo has on the defensive line. So unseating Jerry Hughes is a pretty big leap to make. That being said I do think Hughes could see some time as a stand-up OLB in some of Buffalo’s defensive looks, where he rushes the passer that way instead of as a traditional end.

 

2 – CB,

Most teams carry 4 offensive tackles. Right now the Bills have 3. Do you see them signing someone? I assume they hope Cyrus can be their swing tackle or push Henderson. How many guards do you expect to make the roster. Rex wants to keep Urbik but they are very high in numbers (Williams, Richardson, others). They can’t keep all these guys. I hope John Miller wins the job. What your idea of the the line/backups will fare out?

CB: The Bills have a fourth OT in Tyson Chandler an undrafted rookie. There isn’t much on the free agent market in terms of proven talent. I do believe the Bills will try to add a fifth tackle at least for training camp. They need numbers there for reps and in the event of an injury. Knowing how thin the veteran free agent market is it’ll probably be a young player if it happens.

As for guards I think they keep three true guards and Kraig Urbik, who is a center and guard.

 

 

3 – Chris,

I appreciate the excellent reporting you provide for all of us Bills fans in Nevada.

How serious was Matt Cassel’s injury and where does he stand in his rehab?

Is there the potential for the tutoring that EJ is receiving from Steve DeBerg to be in conflict with what David Lee will teaching him?

Will coach Ryan or Thurmond be calling the plays on game day?

Thanks again,
Hank from Boulder City, NV
CB: Thanks for the kind words. Cassel’s foot injury was a very serious one last season. He is fully cleared to practice and insists his foot is fine. I think when we get closer to game speed in the preseason it’s something to keep an eye on. I’m not saying that because of anything I’ve seen in OTAs. I’m saying that because we know QBs are untouchable in the training camp setting, so in the preseason if he takes a hit or two on that foot it will bear watching to see how it holds up.

As for EJ’s tutoring from Steve DeBerg they did focus on throwing motion, release point and footwork, so I suppose there is a chance that DeBerg’s teachings could conflict with that of Bills QBs coach David Lee. I don’t anticipate there being any major differences however, between the two coaches where it would set Manuel back because the biggest focus was making his throwing motion more compact. Manuel had a bit of wind-up last year and needed to shorten it up. I’m confident David Lee likely came to a similar conclusion watching Manuel’s 2014 tape.

Finally, as it’s been explained to me, Rex Ryan will call the defensive plays on game day.

 

4 – Chris,

Thanks for all of the excellent year-round Bills coverage.  Knowing that the Bills have been among the league leaders the last couple of years in having to play teams off a bye week or extra rest, how does the schedule look this year in regards to that? How many games do the Bills face an opponent coming off a bye or three extra days of rest due to a Thursday night game?  Also, do the Bills face any division opponents coming off extra rest?

Thanks,
R.J.  Rome, NY

CB: The situation is a bit better for the Bills facing opponents coming off extra rest, but not by much. Buffalo has three games against opponents who will be coming off extra rest. The unfortunate part is they’re all clumped together in the first five weeks of the season, and yes one is against a division opponent.

In Week 2 the Bills will host the Patriots, who will be coming off an extra three days rest by virtue of their season opening Thursday night game against Pittsburgh.

In Week 4 they host the Giants, who will be coming off a Thursday night game in Week 3 and will also have three extra days of rest before facing the Bills.

In Week 5 Buffalo travels to Tennessee to face the Titans, who will have a full extra week to prepare coming off a Week 4 bye.

In Week 15 Dallas will technically have an extra day of rest going into their game against Buffalo because they play Saturday in Week 14, but that will be somewhat negated by the fact that the Cowboys have to travel to Buffalo. So in essence it’s three games.

Washington leads the league this year with five games against opponents with extra rest.

Buffalo has two games against opponents where they’ll have the extra rest and both are against division opponents (Week 9 vs. Miami, Week 11 at New England). Of course in between those two games is a Thursday night road game at the Jets.

Three straight games against division opponents is not a good draw at all, especially when the first two will be played in a four day span (Week 9 vs. Miami, Week 10 at Jets – Thurs. night). Basically the Bills face all three division opponents in a stretch of 15 days with two of them on the road.

That’s probably more of a disadvantage than playing teams off extra rest because of the importance of those games in the AFC East standings. Of course they could be the Packers, who play four division games in a row from Week 10 to Week 13. Ugh.


5 –
Hi Chris,
Just wondering what your thoughts are on one last years late round picks, Randell Johnson, and what his chances are of becoming a contributor? I didn’t hear much about him last year, but his instincts and tackling really stuck out to me last summer in the preseason. Now that a lot people are saying LB is a need I’m wondering if he can possibly fill it.
Thanks,
Dan

CB: I believe the coaching staff is hoping he can provide some valuable depth at linebacker, and they’re giving him every opportunity to prove himself. Through the OTA practice sessions Johnson has largely run with the second unit at outside linebacker. His length (6-4, 245) is perfect for a 3-4 front. Defensive coordinators look for long body types there.

There is a lot to process in this defense and I feel like he’s working his way through it. Right now I don’t see anyone really pushing him for that outside spot on the second unit, but that could change come training camp. Knowing his assignments well enough to just freely run and hit will be beneficial to his game.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-5

Posted by Chris Brown on June 5, 2015 – 11:45 am

Another week of OTA practices in the books. Let’s get to your latest round of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you think we are getting these (young offensive tackles) ready to step up in case we don’t re-sign Glenn? Some big money contracts are coming.

JameShoup

CB: You’re right there are some big money contracts on the horizon (Dareus, Gilmore, Glenn, Bradham). They can wait a little on Gilmore after picking up his fifth-year option, but the others will need to be addressed.

Knowing the lack of offensive tackle depth on this roster however, I think re-signing Glenn is a must. The only other true tackles on the roster are Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio and undrafted rookie Tyson Chandler.

Yes, they want to get Henderson and Kouandjio as much experience as possible, but Glenn is a cornerstone player. So provided they can make things work under the cap he is an important piece to Buffalo’s offensive puzzle.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

What can fans expect with this new offense and all these weapons?

golden1ne

CB: In a word, variety. Greg Roman is going to take advantage of all the weapons on offense with a system based on multiplicity. Multiple formations, pre-snap shifts and motions as well as multiple personnel groupings. I believe LeSean McCoy will still be the engine of Buffalo’s offense this season, but there is talent that can also take the cover off a defense. Roman won’t ignore those options.

The only unknown and hope is that one of these quarterbacks steps up and separates himself from the other two and becomes a reliable trigger man for the passing game.


3 –
@ChrisBrownBills

Hey Chris, Rex seems to be building an AFC version of the Seahawks. Duke Williams is a hard hitting safety, has he looked good?

BlackArtVision

CB: Duke has held his own during these OTA sessions, but the physical part of his game is obviously not on display in this kind of setting. I think what Williams has to prove to the coaches if he wants to win the vacant strong safety job is that he can direct traffic with the back seven on defense pre-snap.

The defensive coaches need to have confidence that he can make the right pre-snap calls and dole out checks and adjustments correctly and quickly.

 

4 – Hello Chris,
I know that the team used iPad play books last year.
Was that trial considered a good addition and will the team continue using them?

Thanks for the great work you continue to do with Murph.  I appreciate the closeness to the team that you provide.

GO BILLS!
Pete Tokarczyk
“Born and raised in Buffalo but now living on a mountainside in Kentucky”,

CB: Yes, the I-Pads are back this year. In fact the use of digital devices has become pretty commonplace with NFL clubs the last couple of seasons. The main advantage is coaches are able to update film reviews of practice, the practice schedule and game plans all by uploading revised material that the players can access from their devices.

Players also have access to as much film as they want to review on their own time from the team’s video library.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

I am really excited about the team this year with the off-season moves so far. Like many people though, my concern is at the QB position. The coaches have stated that it will be an open competition. The way it looks, unless E.J. Manuel shows major improvement, Matt Cassel will probably start. While I think Matt has the ability to win now and lead us to the playoffs with the talent around him, I don’t think he is the long term answer the Bills need. So my question is, how truly open will the competition be?

P.S. Thank you for all your efforts to bring us a look inside the Buffalo Bills.

Paul M.
Rochester, NY

CB: Rex Ryan has maintained that the competition will provide equal opportunities for the top three QBs and to this point it’s looked that way in OTA practices. Running two offensive units simultaneously has made it possible.

And I don’t think that approach will change until either one quarterback begins to separate himself from the other two or one quarterback falters and can compete with the others. So the first step very well could be the three-man competition shrinking to a two-man race.

It will obviously be the most closely watch element of training camp this summer.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-29

Posted by Chris Brown on May 29, 2015 – 11:44 am

OTAs are underway and the pace of practice is crisp. Players are getting a ton of work in during these sessions. Let’s get to your latest round of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills where’s Henderson lining up??

BlackArtVision

CB: In the first week of OTA practices Seantrel Henderson spent most of his time at left tackle with the second unit. Cordy Glenn was the starting left tackle with Cyrus Kouandjio manning the right side. Head coach Rex Ryan and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer have both stated that there will be a lot of rotation in these OTA practices between those top three tackles.

Buffalo has only four true tackles on the roster, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them add another before training camp just to have enough at the position to put on the field.

 

2 – Chris

Very disappointed that the Bills are willing participants in limiting access to one of their games, namely, the upcoming game in London. Sure, put it on digital, but also allow for normal distribution so fans less tech savvy or without internet access can have a nice big screen HD experience.

My specific question deals with the TV distribution: will the game just be on in Buffalo, or will other New York markets which normally see Bills’ games—Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton,e.g.—be able to watch on their televisions as usual.

Thanks for the info.
Sincerely,
James Delaney

CB: As it’s been explained to me the London game will be broadcast much like a Monday Night football game. Locally in Buffalo (and Jacksonville) it will be carried by CBS, but everywhere else it will be on a digital platform.

Those rights will be sold in the near future so for those folks in Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton and other upstate locales will have to keep an eye out for which digital platform landed the broadcasting rights. Some outfit like Apple, Facebook or Google figure to bid on it.

It will not be available on Sunday NFL Ticket on DirectTV.

It’s already been speculated that the NFL will probably look to strike a deal with one of those digital carriers who have the ability to stream on mobile devices. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but that’s where the technology is headed.

 

3 – Hey Chris,
I was wondering if u knew what Rex thinks of Jeff Tuel? I liked what I saw and wonder how far along he currently is and if he is going to be given the same chance to win the job.

Thanks
jmcabral86

CB: Coach Ryan has been pretty candid that it’s a three-man competition for the starting QB job and that Jeff Tuel is not one of those three candidates. He has not shared much about his view of Tuel as a quarterback, but to answer your question, no I do not believe, based on coach Ryan’s comments, that Tuel will be part of the competition at any point in this process.

 

4 – Hey Chris, my question is regarding the Bills offensive line.  As much as I am worried about it though, I do think without the draft in the books that we have some good competition.  I especially like the idea of Henderson moving to left tackle and Glenn moving to left guard.  Hopefully with all the work Kouandjio has put in he could work out and be the guy at right tackle with Incognito being at right guard.  My question to you is do you think this is a possibility? I wonder if our line wasn’t successful over the past two years because of the coaching and maybe they tried to force players to fit their scheme and not work to the players strength.  I notice that the coaches we have in place now like to play to the players strengths.  I would love your take on this.

Thanks for all your hard work as always,
Jillian

CB: While I don’t think you can rule out a Henderson to LT and Glenn to G move, I think it’s unlikely. The main reason why is because this team is down in numbers at the offensive tackle position. They have just four true offensive tackles on the roster with the fourth being undrafted rookie Tyson Chandler.

As I mentioned earlier I think they’ll keep an eye on the waiver wire to see if there’s a vet they can add for depth at the tackle position. But if nothing substantial develops on the open market, Glenn is probably the team’s best option at left tackle and Henderson and Kouandjio can fight for the right tackle gig.

 

5 – Chris,

I love reading your Fan Friday column on Twitter.  The coaches have talked about using 2 fields during training camp for the offense.  This is probably to get as many reps for all 4 QBs.  Would Greg Roman consider parking himself on a scaffold in between fields and call the plays using headsets just as in the game?  Thanks for considering my question.

Barry

CB: Rex Ryan addressed this very subject on the John Murphy Show this week. Essentially he said trying to watch both team sessions simultaneously is impossible. But that doesn’t mean they miss anything because they’ve got it all on tape to review. I suppose if he was up on scaffolding he’d have a better vantage point to watch both, but knowing all the pre-snap alignments and shifts that go on coaches want to watch the whole play. Trying to watch both units execute would prove supremely difficult according to Buffalo’s head coach.

“I tried to (watch both team sessions), and your heads on a swivel, you don’t see anything,” said Ryan. “You will pick it all up on tape, though.”

Ryan said this is the first time he’s implemented it as a head coach. He took it from offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who made use of it in San Francisco.

“We said, ‘Let’s give it a shot right now.’ It makes sense for development, especially for the younger players, and also about giving the reps to your quarterbacks,” Ryan said. “As we know, it’s a three man competition, they all need work. It’s not a true competition if you’re not going to give them work. I liked that today.  And I can understand the drill. I’ll be excited to watch the video, too, because now you get twice as many snaps (to evaluate).”
 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-22

Posted by Chris Brown on May 22, 2015 – 11:05 am

Alright Bills fans. OTAs start next week after the holiday, but let’s all be sure to take a moment to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we’re privileged to have in this country. Here is the latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Hey Chris does this mean that he will not appeal the decision?

JameShoup

CB: All indications at this point are that he will serve the one-game suspension handed down by the league for his synthetic marijuana possession traffic stop in Alabama last year. So I do not anticipate an appeal.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Why the NFL moving the extra point Attempt back 15 yards?

johnwhodey

CB: The NFL maintains that the old extra point has become too easy to convert and has become a boring part of the game. In an effort to demand more skill from the kickers and liven the play up they’ve made the extra point a 33-yard attempt instead of 20-yard kick. They’ve also now allowed for the defense to score on the conversion play whether it’s a one-point try to two-point try. So if t’s turned over by the defense they can return it for two points of their own.

As we covered on Buffalobills.com with K Dan Carpenter this week, it will be an adjustment for everyone, coaches, kickers and special teamers.

 

3 – Hi Chris

Thank you for keeping all of us up to date with the greatest NFL team.

The true concern about the Bills is the LB position on the defence. Bradham and Brown bring awesome passion and skill to the team, but it seems like we are missing a legitimate starter at MLB to anchor the unit.  Considering the defensive unit went from 10th to 4th (28th to 11th in rushing), and our lack of overall depth at the position I was surprised at the seeming lack of interest in bringing back Spikes, considering he and Brown were the only major plug-ins on D last season. Am I missing something in this regard?

I thought Spikes had stated publicly how much he likes the Buffalo organization.  Was this a management decision that wants players with greater role versatility, was he not happy being relegated to a 2 down role, was his asking price too rich for the team, or was there some behind the scene discord?  Any thoughts, or updates in this regard would be greatly appreciated.

James Bancroft

CB: With respect to linebacker I agree that depth is still an issue at the position. I think with the unit expected to play a lot of 3-4 veteran Manny Lawson is the natural fit at SAM linebacker, which was the role he played in 2013 in a similar defense under Mike Pettine. So you pick up a LB there.

Preston Brown is the milddle linebacker this season, with Ty Powell backing him up.

There was an interest in bringing back Brandon Spikes, but it was as a depth player. The Bills also had a set price they were willing to pay Spikes, which presumably was the veteran minimum. Spikes chose to wait to see if a better opportunity came up to get on the field more regularly.

He felt that opportunity existed where a couple of their starting linebackers will not be ready to go at the start of the season and he stands a good chance of playing at least early in the year.

There wasn’t any discord. It was just business.

 

4 – Hey Chris!!

Die hard Bills fan here from Toronto!!! Love all u do to keep #billsmafia updated!!!
So here’s my question. I love all the moves we made so far, I think we still have a hole at safety, why don’t we go sign a vet? Bernard Pollard?!?!?
Thx
Drew Martin
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!

 

CB: I think the Bills would respectfully disagree that they have a hole at safety. There is a vacancy with the departure of Da’Norris Searcy, but I think they feel good about the young talent they have in the pipeline and a veteran option that they have in their back pocket.

First, Duke Williams is the odds on favorite to land the job. For those that might not be aware, Williams had almost 600 snaps at safety last season as he almost split the work with Searcy 50-50. Williams is better in coverage than Searcy was and is a more physical player.

His main competition will be Bacarri Rambo and Jonathan Meeks. Two athletic players who have a bit more to prove than Williams. A dark horse in that competition will be second-year S Kenny Ladler a former undrafted rookie signee, who made the practice squad last year before suffering an elbow injury that landed him on I-R.

In Buffalo’s back pocket as a safety option is CB Corey Graham. He’s capable of playing safety and Rex Ryan clearly has that option on his radar as well. Personally I think it’s Duke Williams’ job to lose.

So that’s a long way of saying they don’t need Bernard Pollard.

 

5 – Chris,
Thanks for your outstanding buffalo bills coverage! You are the king!

Do you think that the return of Stevie Johnson would have been a realistic option Doug Whaley would have considered had Harvin signed elsewhere?

Thanks again!
Frank

CB: I never got the sense that a Stevie Johnson reunion was ever on the radar. I do know that Stevie enjoyed being back on the west coast near his native San Francisco. So I think his preference was to stay out west, which he was able to do in signing with San Diego.

I know Stevie had his detractors and his supporters here in Buffalo. Sometimes a second go round isn’t always the best idea. I think that applies in the case of Stevie Johnson.

 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-15

Posted by Chris Brown on May 15, 2015 – 11:41 am

Sorry for the one week hiatus. A lot of news going down last week. OTAs are less than two weeks away. Let’s get right to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 –  @ChrisBrownBills

just curious why Bills have Felton and Conner?

nschirra8

CB: Doug Whaley has stated many times that any time they have a chance to make an upgrade they’re going to do so. The John Conner signing this week is an example of that. While I don’t deny that it’s unusual to have two proven fullbacks on one roster, I think Whaley and Rex Ryan subscribe to the philosophy of creating as much competition as possible in the training camp setting.

Conner will push Jerome Felton and that makes both players better. Ultimately Felton is going to be this team’s starting fullback, but if there’s an injury Conner is a fantastic fall back option. Can Conner convince the coaches to make an exception and keep two fullbacks? With the depth of this roster that’s going to be difficult, but you can’t fault a team for trying to get better everywhere and driving up the level of competition.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for your continued pursuit of giving a small market team, big time exposure.

I know the McCoy/Alonso deal has been discussed ad nauseum and much like most Bills fans, I found myself conflicted and constantly flip-flopping on how to feel.  At the end of the day, the organization is making an aggressive play to enhance the offense, which is definitely something I support.  Having said that, seeing that the Bills were willing to commit heavy resources to a running back I’m uncertain of what to feel hypothesizing that we could have signed Demarco Murray for less money and still retained Kiko (whether to keep or to use as a potential trade asset).  Both backs are elite and I don’t wish to jibber-jabber over which one is better, but how can a cogent argument be made that McCoy > Demarco + Kiko?

Keep up the great work.
Best,
Robert F.

CB: While I think most would acknowledge that DeMarco Murray + Kiko Alonso is better than just LeSean McCoy, you’re operating under the assumption that Murray would be interested in signing with Buffalo.

It’s possible he may have been willing to sign with the Bills. We’ll probably never know, but Murray is a year older than McCoy. Unlike McCoy, who avoids the kill shots of defensive linemen, linebackers and safeties, Murray takes big hits. I think one could argue that the cumulative wear and tear on Murray is greater than on McCoy.

Now that doesn’t dismiss your argument that Murray + Alonso would be better than just McCoy, but I’m not convinced Murray would’ve signed here.

 

3 – Hi Chris, thank you to you and your team for all the off season coverage.
I have to think Suh signing this contract hurts us in two ways. 1, he bolsters the Dolphins defense and we have to go up against him twice a year. 2, did he set the market for Marcell Dareus as a free agent? Dareus was considered the best tackle against the run last year, and had more tackles and sacks than Suh. If Marcell doesn’t drop off this year wouldn’t he command the same contract as Suh? We saw what happens without Marcell in the lineup, just look at the Oakland game before and after his injury.  Do you think the Bills can afford to re-sign him, and if so, is that at the expense of asking Mario Williams to restructure his contract or full on releasing him?
Thanks
Paddy

CB: The Bills maintain that their cap structure will allow for a long term contract extension for Dareus. He’s the linchpin of the defensive interior for the long term future.

You’re right the Suh deal did set the market. I think in an ideal world the Bills have Dareus signed to a long term deal before the 2015 season commences. The more he performs on the field the more his price goes up, so it would behoove the Bills to seal a deal before September. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

 

4 – Hi Chris
Do the Bills have any definite plans for Marcus Thigpen? Is he still on the roster? Percy Harvin is arguably a better all-around player, but in all the mentions of Buffalo “weapons” I’ve not once heard Thigpen’s name.

Just curious
@GregTheBillsFan

CB: Thigpen is still on the roster yes. Harvin is clearly a better all-around player. Thigpen was a punt return specialist on this team last season after Leodis McKelvin broke his ankle. And while he did do a good job this roster became even harder for him to make with the offseason additions, Harvin chief among them. With McKelvin expected to be ready by training camp, the team’s primary punt returner will be back in the fold. So Thigpen, though very capable, may get caught up in a numbers game at the receiver position.

 

5 – Chris,
With the addition of Harvin, how do you expected the formations to look like? How does it change the role of Robert Woods, who had a great 2nd half of the season. Harvin might cut into Watkin’s targets, I like to see Watkin’s used more creatively.

Is Goodwin on the bubble to make the roster? I’d like to see a coach that will throw him the ball.

Sean

CB: I think the Greg Roman offense is going to be as multiple as possible with a myriad of pre-snap formations and shifts. So to give you an answer about formations would be like trying to hit a moving target. I expect Harvin to line up outside opposite Watkins, with Woods working more in the slot in this offense. Hogan would work the other slot in four-wide looks.

Based on Rex Ryan’s comments it sounds like Goodwin will get a far better opportunity to prove that he belongs on this roster than he did from the previous staff. I wouldn’t call him a bubble player, but from a pure numbers standpoint he’s going to have a challenge on his hands.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-1

Posted by Chris Brown on May 1, 2015 – 11:50 am

The 2015 NFL draft is underway so no need to drone on here. Let’s get right to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
With all the crazy coming and goings in free agency/ trades it is hard to keep track of where everyone is. I hope it might be possible, just before the draft, if you could list who we have gained and who has moved on. Thanks for a great job…
Erich

CB: Here’s a look at what was gained and lost prior to the draft this offseason.

Additions – RB LeSean McCoy, QB Matt Cassel, WR Percy Harvin, TE Charles Clay, FB Jerome Felton, G Richie Incognito, QB Tyrod Taylor.

Re-signed – DE Jerry Hughes, WR Marcus Easley, DE Jarius Wynn, WR Chris Hogan, K Jordan Gay, DT Corbin Bryant

Subtractions – OT Chris Hairston, LB Kiko Alonso, RB C.J. Spiller, OT Erik Pears, TE Lee Smith, TE Scott Chandler, S Da’Norris Searcy, LB Keith Rivers

Unsigned FAs  – LB Brandon Spikes

 

2 – Chris,
Thanks for all your great work and coverage. Do you think the Bills would consider Devin Funchess at 50? He’s super athletic and has some height that the Bills don’t have that would be great in the end zone. I think with him and the speed the Bills already have, the receiving core would be amazing.

Michael From Albany

CB: Funchess is one of the bigger enigmas in the draft. There’s no debating there’s some tantalizing talent there. Most NFL clubs see him as a receiver, and compare him to Carolina WR Kelvin Benjamin. I don’t think he plays as big as Benjamin does. He doesn’t fight enough for contested balls and that was in college. NFL cornerbacks could be a rude awakening for him.

He needs to bulk up and get stronger and he doesn’t have a wide frame like Benjamin. He’s an athletic mismatch no question, but I wonder if he can handle the more physical corners and safeties in the NFL. It’s my belief the Bills will look for a tight end type later in the draft to address their in line blocking. I suppose Funchess being the talent that he is would give any NFL club pause. With all the receiving talent they’ve already added I just can’t see him being a day two pick for Buffalo.

 
3 – Hi Chris,

Great job keeping us on the Bills.  As a Bills fan I was sorry to see Scott Chandler let go.  Do you think the Bills will be able to upgrade the tight end position with current players that were back up players by trade or the draft?  I felt he was under rated and poorly used at times.  The fact that New England signed him is an indication of his worth.  Please give me the your thoughts about the reasoning behind this situation.

Arizona Bills fan,
Max F. Stolzenberg, Jr.

CB: From what I understand Chandler was simply not a fit in Buffalo’s new offensive scheme. Greg Roman’s scheme demands a versatile, athletic player at the tight end position, who can line up in the backfield, as an H-back, detached or in line at tight end. Charles Clay does all those things, so they’ve upgraded by virtue of Clay being a better fit than Chandler.

Marqueis Gray also has the potential to fit provided he continues to progress at the position. He’s athletic and versatile too. As I stated above if they do add in the draft I’m expecting them to add a blocker.

 

4 – Chris,
With the team going “all in” for this year, what are the positions of need. Rounds 2-3 are really important on hitting on. Do you expect the Bills to add a guard to potentially start? It looks like Clay will
become a Bill so tight end maybe out? Are there more defensive holes to fix at either safety (Searcy) or linebacker (Alonso). What needs are left and will they skip on best player available and go for most
NFL ready?

CB: I think offensive line is a clear focus for Buffalo. They have just three offensive tackles on their roster and need to go with five to six to training camp. Linebacker is another position in need of numbers. They’ve got just five on the roster and need to go into camp with nine or 10. They could also use another tight end.

Ideally the Bills board offers value at offensive tackle or guard when they’re on the clock at 50 and value at linebacker when they’re on the board again at 81.

As for safety they’re stocked. Duke Williams, Bacarri Rambo, Jonathan Meeks and Kenny Ladler are all young options with potential.

I asked Doug Whaley if NFL readiness with a roster like theirs took precedence over a player with the higher ceiling. He told me no, that the player who has the better upside is the way to go no matter the state of your roster.

 

5 – Chris, as always, super job.

As excited as we all are about the Bills spending spree and the new/re-signed assets, I am concerned about having the monies to get Marcel Dareus and Stephon Gilmore deals re-done before they hit free agency.  Can the Bills find the funds to keep these 2 cornerstones of the defense, who should be around for years to come?

Thomas R. Veihdeffer

CB: The extension for Dareus is priority number one right now and I’m confident they’ll accomplish that. They just picked up the fifth-year option on Gilmore, but I think it’s possible they get an extension done with him as well sooner than the timetable applied to Dareus. The reason being if they can sign him to a contract that has an average annual value that’s a couple of million less per season than the $11M figure he’ll have under the fifth-year option it’s better for their cap situation in 2016.

The Bills like a lot of teams are banking on the recent trend of the cap going up a lot again next season. It’s gone up $10M each of the last two years, which is a sizable jump. They believe they can keep both in the fold and still sign Nigel Bradham and Cordy Glenn long term as well. We’ll see.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-24

Posted by Chris Brown on April 24, 2015 – 11:32 am

Veteran voluntary minicamp is up this week beginning Tuesday and will roll us right into the draft Thursday night. Remember to stay close to Buffalobills.com online and on your mobile devices for full coverage of the Bills 2015 draft class as it happens. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any shot the Bills can get in on Rivers? Something like EJ and this year’s 2 and 5 or EJ and next year’s 1?

RealSteveRhodes

CB: The Philip Rivers trade chatter exists because of the quarterback’s comments, not the GM’s. Rivers has backed off his comments recently. That doesn’t mean that teams won’t be inquiring about the veteran QB’s availability. In a down year for quarterbacks it’ll be interesting to see what NFL clubs would be willing to offer, but I think the asking price would be very high if Tom Telesco even entertains an offer in the first place.

It’s my belief your trade proposals above would have to be improved to make a deal even remotely possible. Not having a one to offer this year I think removes Buffalo from consideration, and that’s if San Diego even decides to talk turkey. In a down year for quarterbacks I wouldn’t want to be hitting the reset button at that position, especially when my QB was an NFL MVP candidate for the first half of the season in 2014.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

2 players #Bills need this draft. MyCole Pruitt and Chris Bonner, what’s your thoughts, opinions?

mattgolden03

CB: While I think there are a lot of things to like about Pruitt’s skill set, I don’t know that he’s a match for what Buffalo is looking for at tight end. Buffalo has the versatile playmaker in Clay and a potential athletic understudy in Marqueis Gray. Chris Gragg is a good straight line athlete, so what’s left? In a power run scheme Buffalo needs a tight end that is an accomplished blocker. If they can offer short to intermediate pass catching ability all the better.

Prospects in this year’s draft class who fit that bill as I see it are Ohio State’s Jeff Heuerman and Delaware’s Nick Boyle. Heuerman probably comes off the board in day two and Boyle on day 3. Good, high character players as well.

As for Chris Bonner, I wouldn’t be opposed to using a seventh-round pick on the D-II QB prospect. For a 6-7 quarterback I’m impressed with the way he makes himself small in the pocket to avoid pressure, and then the feet he has for a 6-7 man, Bonner is pretty good at extending plays.

The basics of his arm mechanics are good. He’s got an over-the-top delivery. What he lacks right now is touch on the ball and arc. Too often he throws a laser no matter what type of route he’s targeting. Dropping throws in the bucket on deep outs or putting more loft on an over the shoulder pass are the things he needs work on.

What I think I like best about Bonner’s game is the way he’s able to avoid the inside rush in the pocket, keep his eyes downfield and re-set his feet to deliver the ball. His throws aren’t always great, but a feel for pocket pressure is tough to find in young QBs. I’m confident some NFL team will try to develop him.

 

3 – Chris,

What positions do you expect the Bills to target? With RB out of the way, do you see tight end as logical choice? Given they are trying to win this year it would make sense to draft someone to plug n’ play to start. The Bills could use depth on defense but it is more likely they will target a guard or tight end? Or where do you seem them going elsewhere with #50?

Sean Robbins

CB: I think offensive line will be a major focus at 50 and if the right value is there at offensive tackle or guard I believe that’s where they go. Players I like for the Bills at 50 (assuming of course they’re still on the board) are G/C A.J. Cann, OT Cedric Ogbuehi (provided the knee checks out), OT Donovan Smith and G Laken Tomlinson.

If none of those prospects are on the board at 50 I think that’s when best on the board truly comes into play. A good all-around OLB/DE would make the most sense for me knowing Manny Lawson is entering the final year of his contract, but I think defensive back, inside linebacker, defensive tackle are all on the table there if the offensive line options are gone.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

I’m a longtime Bills fan now living in Kentucky and really appreciate all the hard work you do reporting the happenings at One Bills Drive. It seems the Bills with the support of the Pegula’s have assembled an all-star coaching staff.  Are there any league rules that limit or restrict the number of assistants a team can hire or that can be on the sidelines during a game?

Thank you,
Mark from Louisville

CB: Thanks for the kind words. To my knowledge there is no limit to the number of assistants a club can have on a coaching staff. And you’re right it is an all-star staff.

 

5 – Chris,
First of all thanks again for the great coverage of the Buffalo Bills. My question is about the offensive line and in particular the two starting tackles from the 2014 season. I recall either Doug Whaley or Rex referring to guard and tackle as a need, I thought the addition of tackle was interesting. I know the Bills have seen Cordy Glenn as a tackle in the past but I’ve heard many times that he could be one of the best guards in football if kicked inside. With a new staff and o-line coach do you think they may see as a guard? If this were to be the case that leaves a hole at left tackle clearly. Leading to my next question which is do you think Seantrel Henderson could swing over to the left side? I thought he had his rookie woes early against some top flight talent (Houston game against Watt) but got better as the season went on. Do you think he could be a starting left tackle? This move would also lead me to believe that Cyrus Kouandjio could have a legitimate chance at winning the right tackle spot. Thanks again, I look forward to your insight on these potential moves.

Go Bills!
Phil Dabowl

CB: I think all options are open. Doug Whaley, Rex Ryan and my conversation with offensive line coach Aaron Kromer are all consistent. They will look to find what the best combination of five linemen is best for the starting offensive line. That means no move is off the table.

That being said it’s my belief that Cordy Glenn is the best tackle on this roster right now. The coaches might feel differently and they have a trained eye for what works best far better than I do. Asking Seantrel Henderson to flip to the left side is not outlandish, but I think in his second NFL season might be a bit premature.

There’s little question that Henderson has the physical skill set to play on the left side, but his NFL readiness for that position is the key question. I think Cyrus Kouandjio will also be given every opportunity to be an offensive tackle for this team as opposed to guard.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-17

Posted by Chris Brown on April 17, 2015 – 12:03 pm

The second week of the voluntary offseason conditioning program is in the books. Veteran voluntary minicamp is a couple of weeks away. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Let us talk hypothetically.  TE-OL-LB are obvious needs.  But, should (UCLA QB Brett) Hundley still be on the board for the Bills in round 2, what do you think?

Jim (Skaneateles)

CB: I think GM Doug Whaley will keep all options open in round two knowing he can truly take the best player on the board with few holes on the roster. That being said beyond the first two quarterbacks (Winston, Mariota) I get the feeling that the general consensus around the league is none of the remaining quarterbacks are at a point in their development where they can help right away.

I don’t know for a Bills team trying to win right now that Hundley is a pick worth making in round two. I think they’d rather have a player that can step in and help as a rookie in the event of an injury or push an incumbent starter for the starting role at their respective position.

Naturally we have to see what is left on the board at pick 50, and that’s obviously very hard to predict. I think there will be enough quality talent at Buffalo’s need positions that you listed to convince them to go in that direction more than QB.

 

2 – Chris,

After reading Collision Low Crossers, the book about the 2011 Jets, it seems like Rex values a shutdown corner to take away part of the field, then blitz.

I assume Gilmore is close to being that type of player. Do you think McKelvin can hold up? What players off radar could come in and make plays on the defense where he likes to give all the players playing time (i.e. Robey, Cockrell, Johnson, Meeks, Charles). How do the reserves fit into his defense and which one you see making a big jump in 2015?

CB: First, yes I think McKelvin can hold up as a press corner. He’s coming off the two-best seasons in his career under secondary coach Donnie Henderson. Furthermore Ryan believes he has three capable outside press corners with Corey Graham being the third.

In terms of a reserve player on defense who could make a jump I believe Duke Williams is a prime candidate to start in the safety role vacated by Da’Norris Searcy. He got a good deal of playing time there last season, is a ferocious hitter and has a nose for the ball. The other players you mentioned are only going to take steps forward as well, which speaks well for the depth on defense.

 

3 – Chris,

I am not convinced Matt Cassel is the answer at QB we’ve been waiting for all these years. Will the Bills go after Colin Kaepernick? And if not, why not? He would make sense as a solid franchise QB with a winning track record who fits with a run first offense. I see him as a perfect fit.

Cordially,
Bradley Kaye

CB: While I don’t deny that Kaepernick had success in Greg Roman’s offense in San Francisco, to acquire him he has to be available. With all of the talent that the 49ers have lost this offseason (Crabtree, Gore, S. Johnson, Iupati, Culliver, Skuta, Borland, Willis) I cannot see them parting with the player they handed franchise quarterback money.

 

4 – Chris,

With the team spending lots of money for the 2015, wondering how it will play out in 2016 when they have other players to lock up. Dareus will command a huge contract. Gilmore will need his option picked up. Cordy Glenn and Nigel Bradham is set to be a free agent as well. These are core guys they like how is it possible to keep them? Next year is big for future free agents. Are they spending too much money now they may have to let one of those guys walk next year? As of now the Bills aren’t done spending and could add more.

Josh P.
CB: I think your concern is a valid one. They’ve already picked up the option on Stephon Gilmore, per Doug Whaley’s comments at the owners’ meetings, so that buys them some time with him. They are interested in extending Nigel Bradham and it would not surprise me if Glenn were on the list as well. Right now Marcell Dareus is the primary focus regarding an extension. After seeing the money that Ndamukong Suh got in Miami, I think we all know that it’s going to be a complicated deal to broker.

Knowing the money involved with be large, it puts a hold on the other players who are in line for extensions because in all likelihood the Bills will need to get creative to make Dareus’ extension work. That deal will undoubtedly have an impact on how and what they can offer to their other young core players.

The good news is that the salary cap continues to go up and up and up. So more room will be created just with the dawn of a new calendar year.

 

5 – Chris,

What positions do you expect the Bills to target? With RB out of the way, do you see tight end as logical choice? Given they are trying to win this year it would make sense to draft someone to plug n’ play to start. The Bills could use depth on defense but it is more likely they will target a guard or tight end? Or where do you seem them going elsewhere with #50?

Sean R.

CB: I think the offensive line is a distinct possibility at 50, but not knowing what will still be on the board makes it difficult to pin down. I think guard or tackle are possibilities there. If the right tight end prospect is there in round two I don’t think you can rule it out, but Buffalo has their starter in Charles Clay. Now if they plan to have two tight ends on the field at the same time, which in Greg Roman’s offense is likely a good amount of the time, they might look to find one on day two (rounds 2 & 3).

I see LB depth being acquired later in the draft.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-10

Posted by Chris Brown on April 10, 2015 – 2:33 pm

The preseason schedule is out with the 16-game regular season slate soon to follow. More on that below. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

#bills when will the 2015 regular season be out?

bailey_pinkston

CB: The precursor to the regular season schedule, the preseason schedule was released this past Thursday. It often signals that the release of the regular season schedule is coming soon. All indications are that the league will release the regular season schedule some time during the week of April 19th.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Petty or Grayson would be the perfect game managers for Buffalo’s new offense. Thoughts please???

mattgolden03

CB: Bryce Petty and Garrett Grayson are in that second tier of quarterback prospects after the top two. Both could merit consideration in round two. While I like Petty’s football IQ I still think there will be a steeper learning curve for him than Grayson, who played in a pro-style offense.

Grayson has had to read coverages and progressions. Petty has not. And while I don’t doubt that’s something Petty has been working on it’s just not the same as when the real bullets are flying.

If you believe one of them could come in as a rookie and effectively execute Buffalo’s new offense, which has a myriad of pre-snap shifts, motions and formations I think you might be expecting too much.

Frankly for 2015 you’re better off with either Matt Cassel or EJ Manuel in my opinion, which is why I’d be surprised if Buffalo invests in the quarterback position high in the draft, if at all this spring.

 

3 – Chris,

Given the current coaching staff’s desire to build a tough running team and a physical team,  do you see Justin Blalock as a possible signing to fortify the offensive line now that he is a free agent? Also, what are your thoughts of giving money to signing Mark Ingram over say resigning Spiller. Ingram has shown he can move the chains with power, rip off long runs with quickness and catch the ball.

Thanks,
Patrick

CB: While Blalock is a more than capable veteran guard I don’t believe the Bills want to add any more veterans up front. They have three veteran guards right now in Incognito, Urbik and Chris Williams. It wouldn’t surprise me if they felt that adding another would compromise the growth of a younger player like Cyril Richardson. So if they do add at the guard position I believe it’ll be in the draft, even though I see offensive tackle as a position more in need of depth than anywhere else on the line.

 

4 – Chris,

The Kouandjio article was encouraging to see.  I like to know that some players are working all year to be better and hope it works out for the kid.

What was his problem exactly last training camp?  Was he out of shape? Difficult time reacting? Diagnosing?  You would think his college experience gave him good game speed experience.  Thanks and can’t wait for this season to start!

Steve K
Kenmore, NY
CB: Yes, John Murphy’s article, which followed an interview with Kouandjio by phone certainly painted a picture as to how hard the second-year lineman is working. He was training out in Arizona all winter working on his techniques and getting coaching from former NFL OL LeCharles Bentley.

Kouandjio didn’t place blame anywhere but on himself for how his rookie season went. He said he didn’t think he had a strong enough mindset as he began his NFL career. To a certain degree that’s understandable. He turned 21 just last July and is still young in the game. Stepping up to the NFL level was probably a bit different even than what he experienced as a starter at Alabama in the SEC.

In the conversations I’ve had with him he sounds like his whole approach to the game has changed and he’s going full bore into his second NFL season. Add in the fact that he has hit it off quickly with new offensive line coach Aaron Kromer and he’ll be an interesting player to watch in training camp when the pads go on.

 

5 –  Chris,
FIve years ago I wanted the Bills to draft Ryan Mallett. He was a 1st round prospect, a Heisman candidate, a coach’s son, and a big QB like Big Ben. He fell to NE in the 3rd round, what happened? Why did the Bills not bring him in as compaction with EJ?

Tim Scouten

CB: There’s no debating that Ryan Mallett has a rocket arm for a quarterback. His over the top delivery looks great. Here’s the problem with his game. First, his accuracy. His career completion percentage of 53.2 percent is an issue, which shouldn’t happen for a quarterback with superior arm strength. His decision making is also suspect, especially when he has to get rid of the ball quick. Now every QB is subject to a bad decision or two when hurried. His have been more frequent over the years.

Perhaps the most important skill he’s lacking for Buffalo’s offense is the ability to extend the play. He is a pocket quarterback only. If the pocket breaks down and he can’t get rid of the ball the play is dead. That is not the case with each of the quarterbacks currently on Buffalo’s roster. It leads me to believe that offensive coordinator Greg Roman prefers some measure of mobility in his QBs to extend plays if and when protection breaks down.

Finally, there’s even less of a book on him than EJ Manuel. He’s played in just seven NFL games to EJ’s 14 career starts. If you bring in another unknown quantity at QB you run the risk of not finding out about exactly what he or Manuel can be.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-3

Posted by Chris Brown on April 3, 2015 – 11:45 am

The team’s offseason conditioning program begins on Monday. Prep for 2015 begins. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Thanks for all you do to keep Bills fans informed.

The perception in Tennessee seems to be that Andy Levitre has not lived up to his contract.  If he gets released, do you see any chance of him coming back to Buffalo?  Do you think that would be a good move at this point for the Bills?

Thanks.
Jason T
Philadelphia, PA
Go Bills!

CB: I wouldn’t rule it out, but I believe it’s unlikely. Levitre is still young enough to command a pretty sizable contract so were he to be released I think he’d still cost a hefty amount. And with Buffalo’s limited cap space now I don’t know that he’d fit from a fiscal standpoint.

 

2 – Hey Chris ,

WOW !  I can see this McCoy trade blowing up in the Bills face! Personally I think Whaley has made a HUGE mistake! He GAVE away a star in the making not to mention with the contracts of Hughes this year, Dareus & Gilmore next year & others he has screwed up the amount of the cap that he will have to work with & who he will be able to keep beyond next year.

Not to mention that if CJ had any thoughts of working with the team by seeing what he was worth as a FA & coming to the Bills & asking what kind of deal they could give that is gone because they instead of doing what they said trying to bring back their draft picks totally alienated CJ!

It was once said that they meaning the Bills were going to build through the draft & wanted to keep their own. Building through the draft is much more cost effective! If there was any chance of them picking up say Gurley that is probably gone to with the Shady deal. If they would have offers CJ $8 Mil a year he probably would have taken the deal & saved them cap space .

I really hope this pans out but I think it will back fire & make us look like what the rest of the league already thinks of us, a laughing stock
Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville
CB: I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one. Yes, there is no question the Bills gave up a good, young player in Kiko Alonso, but when you have the opportunity to land one of the top three running backs in the league who is just entering his prime and you’re coming off a season in which you finished 25th in the league in rushing you pull the trigger.

Buffalo had the fourth-best defense in the league last year without Kiko Alonso on the field. Alonso is coming off his second career ACL and also had shoulder surgery last year. I’m not saying he can’t come back from that, but that’s a lot of wear and tear on a 25-year old body.

To compare McCoy and Spiller is apples and oranges. McCoy can run inside and outside and handle a heavy workload. As much as I respect C.J.’s game history tells us a heavy workload more likely leads to injury for him.

The cap concerns you have were alleviated with McCoy re-doing his deal, which contained an extension to spread his money out more.

Concerning your comment on building through the draft, the Bills aren’t deviating from the philosophy. This was an offer that was presented to them out of the blue. When you have an opportunity like the Bills did to land McCoy you take it no matter what your philosophy is as to how to build your team.

With all due respect I think you need to put a little more faith in Doug Whaley as a GM.
3 – Chris,

With Kiko gone, who fills his spot inside? I think he would have been valuable and isn’t easily replaceable as people think due to the fact that he is a 3 down linebacker who can drop into coverage. Will they bring back Spikes?

CB: Spikes does remain an available option, but I think the Bills are only willing to re-sign him at their price. Buffalo has two capable three down linebackers in Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown. I expect the Bills to draft a linebacker in the middle rounds to build their depth and would expect them to look for an athletic backer. Manny Lawson probably moves back to more of a SAM linebacker role in Dennis Thurman’s defense so that brings another veteran to the LB corps.
4 – Chris,
How do compensatory picks work?  I know generally that if a team loses more free agents than it signs, they get awarded pick(s).  But how do you have a team if you’ve lost more players than you have received?  I don’t get it.

As a follow up, this has been an interesting offseason so far.  Do you see the Bills optimizing to try to acquire compensatory picks?

 

Thanks!

Len in NYC
CB: The basics of determining compensatory picks begins with a net loss of free agents as you mentioned, but there is a myriad of particulars as to what free agent signings count and what ones do not. For example if a free agent is signed after June 1st (now May 12th per reports) it doesn’t count toward your plus-minus free agent total. There are several other stipulations that govern the final total that’s too much to get into here.

Baltimore is one of those clubs that has turned acquiring compensatory picks into an art form. Very often they wait to sign free agents until after June 1st (now May 12th) so they don’t count toward their total and they’re routinely among the clubs getting the most compensatory picks the next year for their free agent losses.

As for the Bills, the acquisition of Clay (who from what I’ve been told will count), Harvin and Felton have Buffalo ahead of the game with Pears, Spiller, Searcy and Lee Smith signing elsewhere. So I’ve got the Bills at minus one. We’ll see how it all shakes out next March.

 

5 – Chris,

A question on free agency. If an agent is dealing with team “A” and team “B” and say one team comes in  higher than another, but the player prefers playing for the team with lower bid who has the final say. Does the agent have the right to say I’m working for you to get the highest salary possible? Is the player bound to sign the best offer?  With Josh McCown signing with the Browns, was the three-year deal probably the factor? It seems in the past for a veteran type backup two-year deals were the going rate .

Thanks for keeping us fans in the know, your the best.

Wally James
Fredericksburg ,Va

CB: Thanks for the kind words. Per your question the answer is no. Players hire the agent, not the other way around. So players determine ultimately who they want to play for. Now agents will sometimes try to steer or convince players to take the offer with more money, and in many cases they do. Some players do forget to think for themselves and do what they want and blindly follow their agent’s recommendation. But most know it’s their career and their decision.

Concerning McCown my understanding is Cleveland was willing to pay McCown a lot more than the Bills were willing to offer, so it was more about the total committed dollars than the length of the contract.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-27

Posted by Chris Brown on March 27, 2015 – 1:03 pm

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks Bills fans. Let’s get to what’s on your mind with your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Given the #Bills have only 6 picks N 2 in the top 150 how aggressive should we expect them to be in Undrafted Free agency?

vicious155

CB: I don’t expect the Bills to be especially aggressive in undrafted free agency. Here’s why. The roster is probably as deep as it has been in 10 years. There’s a good chance some of their late round draft choices do not even make the 53-man roster, let alone any undrafted rookie free agent signings.

That being said I believe they will sign a handful of college free agents, but unless some unexpected prospect goes undrafted and slips into the undrafted pool I don’t expect the Bills to go crazy once the draft is over.

 

2 – Chris,

I think Doug Whaley is a very good GM, but sometimes I wonder if he said what he really meant to. A question I had on the press conference he had a little while ago.

He said we would be a run heavy, play great D team until we had a franchise QB. That sounded like he was saying that EJ Manuel was not that guy. If he is saying that they no longer have faith in him. That would be new information.

CB:  I think your assumption is a bit misguided. What Whaley said about the offensive approach is accurate. What he also said about a franchise quarterback is also accurate. After 14 NFL starts he, along with everyone else, doesn’t know if EJ Manuel can be the team’s franchise quarterback. It’s not enough of a sample size to know for certain.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe Manuel could become a franchise QB. Here’s a good comment from Whaley to peg where he and the team stands on EJ heading into 2015 when he was asked about Manuel heading into his third year.

“A guy that has had some ups and some downs and a guy that knows that he has to produce,” Whaley said. “He’s excited. We’ve talked to him. He knows that this is a crucial year for him. He knows he has to step his game up to be consistent. We’ve seen flashes of good things. We’ve seen flashes of some things that he needs to improve on. We know he’s going to put in the work to be the best player he can be.”

 

So by having all this new offensive talent around the quarterbacks and a top five defense, not to mention solid special teams, the quarterback doesn’t have to be franchise caliber right now. If Manuel can win the job and develop into a franchise signal caller in a year or two, then all the better.

 

3 – Chris,

Do you see Randell Johnson as a player on the rise that might fit Rex’s defensive system? He’s raw and a good athlete from what I remember. With Rivers gone and Spikes up in the air, could Johnson see more of a presence on defense? He seems like a good fit on the outside as a pass rusher in 3-4 system.

CB: I don’t think Brandon Spikes’ future impacts Johnson because they have different roles. Johnson at this point is going to be serving as a depth player at LB behind guys like Manny Lawson and Jerry Hughes, depending on how the defensive staff chooses to line him up.

Johnson’s length is an asset in a Rex Ryan scheme at OLB. What also helps him is he has some experience from his college days as an outside rusher at Florida Atlantic. I just think it’ll be hard for him to get on the field on defense with all the veteran talent in front of him.

 

4 – Chris,

What do you think of Brandon Bridge as raw QB? Has the arm, body, and speed but its truly developmental. I know all the throws aren’t there yet but he has giant arm? With Roman’s work with Colin, do you seen him as maybe the best fit for the Bills in the draft?

CB: You’re right he is a developmental prospect all the way. He has a lot of the physical tools that NFL talent evaluators look for in a QB. The question is how long will it take? He’s only got 373 career pass attempts in college. He’s played in all of 20 collegiate games. And for his career he’s completed just over 50 percent of his passes. To say he’s green would be an understatement. I’d be wary of a quarterback who needs to step it up as much as he does when it comes to ball location, completion percentage and reading defenses. You just don’t know what he is and is not capable of, so he’s a difficult projection. I’d be surprised if he goes before the sixth round.

 

5 – Hey Chris,
I enjoy all the coverage you and the team provide throughout the year for bills fans everywhere.

With the best player available draft process that seems to be what all the perennial contenders use, does need play into the equation at all?

Thanks again for all your great coverage.

Justin from Eden
Transplanted to Lynchburg Virginia

CB: Yes, need does play into the equation. As Doug Whaley and many other GMs have said before you go with best player on the board, but if there are a couple of prospects on your board closely ranked and one is at a position of need, in that instance you would lean toward your positional need.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-13

Posted by Chris Brown on March 13, 2015 – 11:44 am

Happy Friday the 13th everybody. It’s been a busy week Bills fans so let’s get right to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,

Thank you for all of the work you do for the bills it’s great. I was wondering if the bills were interested in signing guard mike lupati from the 49ers. I don’t know if the 49ers will resign him, but he would be a great fit for the bills. He is one of the top guards in the league and could come to the same offense he’s been in with Greg Roman.

Thank you,
Max

CB: I never got the sense that the Bills had much interest in Mike Iupati. In fact I think their initial plan was to pursue free agent offensive tackles over guards. With a player like Bryan Bulaga now re-signed in Green Bay I suppose the focus could shift to guard. Of course the top guards are already locked up now too.

Where the Bills go to improve their offensive line will certainly be interesting knowing their options on the free agent market are certainly reduced.

 

2 – Chris,

A very good candidate to keep an eye on in the draft is Bo Wallace from Ole Miss, 6’4″, 217 lbs, awesome talent. What do you all think of the Bills chance of bringing him in and taking a long, serious look at him? Might be able to trade up to get him. Let’s hope the Bills include him in their prospects. Maybe you could buzz up the Bills brass and put a “bug in their ear”.

Thanks for your time.
IRT

CB: I don’t envision the Bills spending a draft choice on a quarterback now that they’ve got four on the roster, unless some prospect slips to them in some of the middle rounds that they can’t pass on. Buffalo’s willingness to trade for a veteran QB like Cassel and add a younger QB like Tyrod Taylor to go with EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel it’s hard to think they’d add a fifth.

 

3 – Hi Chris,

I was wondering about Marqueis Gray and what you might know about the new staff’s possible opinion of him. If I remember correctly, he proved to be a very athletic and versatile player. I recall seeing him line up as a tight end, h-back, fullback, and even from various receiver positions. I think a player like him, with such great versatility and decent skills at everything could be a great asset to the bills. And Greg roman has been known to covet versatile guys. What are your thoughts?

Billsmafia for life!
Tommy from Pittsford

CB: It’s hard to know just what the new Bills offensive staff thinks of Marqueis Gray, but what is working in his favor is his versatility. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman covets versatility in his tight ends and Gray is an athlete who can provide that. I think he’ll be given every opportunity to earn a role that will contribute weekly.

 

4 – Chris,

According to Wikipedia the Bills have Tampa Bay’s pick -the 1st pick in round# 5 of the 2015 NFL Draft. Why is that? I dont recall any deal with Tampa Bay other than the one for Mike Williams. BTW I dont see any compensation (6th round pick?) going to Tampa Bay from Buffalo for Williams?

Thanks
LeeD

CB: The Bills swung a trade with the Buccaneers on day 3 of the NFL draft last year. Buffalo gave Tampa their fifth-round pick in exchange for Tampa’s seventh-round pick in last year’s draft, and Buffalo also got Tampa’s fifth-round pick this year (2015). But Buffalo doesn’t have that pick anymore. They sent it to Minnesota in the Matt Cassel trade.

 

5 – Chris:

With a new coaching staff, does the league allow additional practice time,  OTAs for the Bills?  Also, Chris Williams was placed on injured reserve with a back injury.  Was their surgery to correct this condition and/or what is his current physical condition?

Conrad in Elma

CB: Yes, new coaching staffs get the benefit of an additional set of practices to implement their schemes to their new players. So Buffalo will get that extra set of spring workouts, presumably sometime in April.

As for Chris Williams’ back I do not know if surgery was required for his back condition. I do know that he has had back surgery in his past. In his rookie year he needed surgery to take care of a herniated disc. We’ll know more when the players show up next month for the offseason conditioning program.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-6

Posted by Chris Brown on March 6, 2015 – 12:30 pm

The Bills have been busy this week. Next week free agency opens when more additions figure to be made. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any chance Trent Cole wants to join Shady in Buffalo? Any shot Bills go for that?

_BNewman9

CB: If you’re thinking of signing Cole to replace Jerry Hughes I don’t know that you’re getting comparable value. So if saving money is the aim you could sign Cole, who will be 33 in October and he could serve the team in a rotational role as a pass rusher, perhaps platooning with Manny Lawson much like Hughes and Lawson did in 2013. Cole still has gas left in the tank, but a full-time role might be a lot to ask.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills

What about Hughes???

netz720

CB: The Bills would still like to get Hughes locked up long term, but it’s my belief that after Justin Houston was franchised in Kansas City and Jason Pierre-Paul was franchised in New York that the Hughes camp looked at the free agent market and likely felt they had an opportunity to be the most coveted pass rusher on the market.

Hughes doesn’t have the off the field issues of Greg Hardy and he doesn’t have the injury history of Brian Orakpo. There isn’t a free agent pass rusher with more sacks over the past two seasons than Hughes’ 20.

So once Houston and Pierre-Paul were franchised it wouldn’t surprise me if Hughes’ asking price suddenly increased. If getting the most money he can possibly get trumps the best possible fit for him to maximize his abilities on the field (Buffalo) that’s his prerogative. We’ll see where it goes between now and March 10th.

 

3 – Chris:

With most of the NFL Teams going to the lighter/quicker defenses because the NFL is more of a passing league, do you think that Rex’s “ground and pound” could give the Bills Offense an advantage if they shore up the OL.

I also feel with this philosophy EJ Manuel will be an improved QB. He will have more windows to throw into once defenses start cheating in the box by playing the run.   There were parts of EJ’s game that were good. Two of which were the 2 min offense and the ability to keep plays alive in the pocket when he didn’t have restrictions put on him.  Your thoughts?

Thanks
Joe
Blasdell

CB: I think your point is an astute one. San Francisco took that approach under Jim Harbaugh and Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman back in 2011. As most teams were building lighter and faster lines in the trenches the 49ers bulked up and punched everybody in the teeth. It’s a big reason why their run game was so successful.

I do believe such an approach can work again because the trend in the league is still gravitating toward passing. But if you don’t know what you have at quarterback the ground and pound approach knowing you have a good defense is the best route to take.

 

4 – Chris,

Love your work in keeping a long time Bills fan (50 yrs plus) in touch.
My ? Is..is there a scout assigned to any good players in Canada? Like the
Grey Cup QB’s?  Just wondering.
Thanks for keeping us retired folks
Informed!

John Lowry
Ft. Myers, Fl.

CB: The Bills absolutely scout the CFL. In fact they were one of the first teams in pursuit of former CFL’er Cameron Wake, but he chose to sign with Miami. Buffalo covers any and all avenues where potential NFL talent can be uncovered.

 

5 – Chris,

Thank you for providing continuous coverage of the Buffalo Bills throughout the offseason as it helps us remain interested in the team for 365 days a year!

My question has to do with a recent comment made by Commissioner Roger Goodell.  While I am aware of the uncertainty that comes with Ralph Wilson Stadium and its future, his comment puzzled me to an extent.  Mr. Goodell mentioned that while the Ralph is loved (by him and by many including myself), the stadium cannot compete with the newer parks.

Please feel free to correct me, but to my knowledge the Ralph is one of the bigger stadiums in the league, we, for the most part, have not had problems selling out the tickets, and we have made recent upgrades such as video boards, concession stands, and the likes.

I understand many newer stadiums and sports economics are designed to cater more towards corporations and the use of Personal Seat Licenses.  I’m not sure if the market of Western New York can be said to support the same modern marketing formula as many major cities utilize in the US at this day.  WNY is a unique and rock solid fan base quite capable of supporting the Bills and the Sabres on our own.  Not suggesting that we wouldn’t benefit from a new park, but what did Mr. Goodell mean?

What other “challenges” or shortcomings does the Ralph have in respect to competing with the newer stadiums (that are sometimes smaller than ours and perhaps features not considered in the recent upgrades)?  This is where I am a bit lost and hopefully you can shed some light into this confusion.

Thank you and Go Bills!
Ryan from Arizona State University

CB: You’re not wrong that Ralph Wilson Stadium is one of the larger ones in the league, but regular ticket sales no longer provide the kind of revenue that carry a team’s profits comfortably into the black. It’s the luxury suites and premium seat sales that drive the ticket sales revenue streams.

To maximize a stadium’s ability to provide additional revenues NFL owners want more of a focus on the premium seating and luxury suites, which cost more to boost ticket sales revenues ever higher.

A few years ago I would agree that Buffalo’s corporate tax base would not be able to sufficiently fill such premium seating, but with the surge in construction downtown, new businesses coming to Buffalo and the new medical campus coming together in the city there could be the corporate base required to support such an endeavor right around the time when the team and the city make a final determination as to what’s best concerning a future home for the Bills.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-6

Posted by Chris Brown on March 6, 2015 – 11:30 am

The Bills have been busy this week. Next week free agency opens when more additions figure to be made. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any chance Trent Cole wants to join Shady in Buffalo? Any shot Bills go for that?

_BNewman9

CB: If you’re thinking of signing Cole to replace Jerry Hughes I don’t know that you’re getting comparable value. So if saving money is the aim you could sign Cole, who will be 33 in October and he could serve the team in a rotational role as a pass rusher, perhaps platooning with Manny Lawson much like Hughes and Lawson did in 2013. Cole still has gas left in the tank, but a full-time role might be a lot to ask.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills

What about Hughes???

netz720

CB: The Bills would still like to get Hughes locked up long term, but it’s my belief that after Justin Houston was franchised in Kansas City and Jason Pierre-Paul was franchised in New York that the Hughes camp looked at the free agent market and likely felt they had an opportunity to be the most coveted pass rusher on the market.

Hughes doesn’t have the off the field issues of Greg Hardy and he doesn’t have the injury history of Brian Orakpo. There isn’t a free agent pass rusher with more sacks over the past two seasons than Hughes’ 20.

So once Houston and Pierre-Paul were franchised it wouldn’t surprise me if Hughes’ asking price suddenly increased. If getting the most money he can possibly get trumps the best possible fit for him to maximize his abilities on the field (Buffalo) that’s his prerogative. We’ll see where it goes between now and March 10th.

 

3 – Chris:

With most of the NFL Teams going to the lighter/quicker defenses because the NFL is more of a passing league, do you think that Rex’s “ground and pound” could give the Bills Offense an advantage if they shore up the OL.

I also feel with this philosophy EJ Manuel will be an improved QB. He will have more windows to throw into once defenses start cheating in the box by playing the run.   There were parts of EJ’s game that were good. Two of which were the 2 min offense and the ability to keep plays alive in the pocket when he didn’t have restrictions put on him.  Your thoughts?

Thanks
Joe
Blasdell

CB: I think your point is an astute one. San Francisco took that approach under Jim Harbaugh and Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman back in 2011. As most teams were building lighter and faster lines in the trenches the 49ers bulked up and punched everybody in the teeth. It’s a big reason why their run game was so successful.

I do believe such an approach can work again because the trend in the league is still gravitating toward passing. But if you don’t know what you have at quarterback the ground and pound approach knowing you have a good defense is the best route to take.

 

4 – Chris,

Love your work in keeping a long time Bills fan (50 yrs plus) in touch.
My ? Is..is there a scout assigned to any good players in Canada? Like the
Grey Cup QB’s?  Just wondering.
Thanks for keeping us retired folks
Informed!

John Lowry
Ft. Myers, Fl.

CB: The Bills absolutely scout the CFL. In fact they were one of the first teams in pursuit of former CFL’er Cameron Wake, but he chose to sign with Miami. Buffalo covers any and all avenues where potential NFL talent can be uncovered.

 

5 – Chris,

Thank you for providing continuous coverage of the Buffalo Bills throughout the offseason as it helps us remain interested in the team for 365 days a year!

My question has to do with a recent comment made by Commissioner Roger Goodell.  While I am aware of the uncertainty that comes with Ralph Wilson Stadium and its future, his comment puzzled me to an extent.  Mr. Goodell mentioned that while the Ralph is loved (by him and by many including myself), the stadium cannot compete with the newer parks.

Please feel free to correct me, but to my knowledge the Ralph is one of the bigger stadiums in the league, we, for the most part, have not had problems selling out the tickets, and we have made recent upgrades such as video boards, concession stands, and the likes.

I understand many newer stadiums and sports economics are designed to cater more towards corporations and the use of Personal Seat Licenses.  I’m not sure if the market of Western New York can be said to support the same modern marketing formula as many major cities utilize in the US at this day.  WNY is a unique and rock solid fan base quite capable of supporting the Bills and the Sabres on our own.  Not suggesting that we wouldn’t benefit from a new park, but what did Mr. Goodell mean?

What other “challenges” or shortcomings does the Ralph have in respect to competing with the newer stadiums (that are sometimes smaller than ours and perhaps features not considered in the recent upgrades)?  This is where I am a bit lost and hopefully you can shed some light into this confusion.

Thank you and Go Bills!
Ryan from Arizona State University

CB: You’re not wrong that Ralph Wilson Stadium is one of the larger ones in the league, but regular ticket sales no longer provide the kind of revenue that carry a team’s profits comfortably into the black. It’s the luxury suites and premium seat sales that drive the ticket sales revenue streams.

To maximize a stadium’s ability to provide additional revenues NFL owners want more of a focus on the premium seating and luxury suites, which cost more to boost ticket sales revenues ever higher.

A few years ago I would agree that Buffalo’s corporate tax base would not be able to sufficiently fill such premium seating, but with the surge in construction downtown, new businesses coming to Buffalo and the new medical campus coming together in the city there could be the corporate base required to support such an endeavor right around the time when the team and the city make a final determination as to what’s best concerning a future home for the Bills.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-27

Posted by Chris Brown on February 27, 2015 – 11:39 am

NFL free agency is just over a week away. The Bills are expected to be players. For now let’s get to this week’s edition of questions from you the Bills fans on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

My question is- What veteran quarterbacks do you feel that could be available to help the Bills immediately? Definitely not Cutler, the Bills have already proven once you get under his skin he’s done competing!  Maybe Sanchez?  Do you think he can turn the corner in his leadership and playing ability?

Kevin E.
Colorado by way of Hamburg, NY

CB: Josh McCown is the obvious target right now. I think the Bills will see if any veteran quarterbacks that don’t have a future with their current clubs are released in salary cap moves prior to the start of the new league year before pouncing on another free agent target. Rest assured they are dead set on adding a veteran quarterback to their roster in some way.

 

2 – Chris,

Thanks again for the great coverage of our Bills, my question revolves around the defense going back to a 3-4. How do you see the front seven shaking out? Is Dareus the nose tackle or do we go with him and Kyle Williams at defensive end and add a big bodied space eater? I’m also curious about the linebackers, I’d think you’d put Alonso and Brown inside, Mario on one side and then I’m lost. If Hughes stays in the fold does he play the other side? Where does this leave Bradham who emerged as a solid player? I look forward to your input thanks again.

Will.
GO BILLS!

CB: With respect to the defensive line you have to remember that Ryan’s system is not a traditional 3-4 with a true nose tackle. They don’t have a true two gap, head up on the center nose. They play more of a shade alignment with two defensive tackles. I think Mario Williams will split time at defensive end and outside linebacker depending on the down and distance.

Manny Lawson will shift to strong side linebacker much like he did in Pettine’s defense two seasons ago. If Jerry Hughes is back he’ll presumably rotate in and out with Lawson and likely flip back and forth between and end and outside linebacker role.

As for the full-time linebackers I think it will be a feeling out process for the defensive staff. They have 2013 tape of Kiko Alonso in this defense, but they do not have any feel for Preston Brown in that system. They also don’t have the current version of Nigel Bradham in this defense aside from perhaps the last two games of 2013 when he began to show flashes of his true ability. So how they align those three will take shape through the course of the OTA practices.

The secondary obviously remains largely the same with the decision of free agent Da’Norris Searcy being the only possible departure.

 

3 – Chris,

Has Shane Carden from ECU been on anyone’s radar at OBD? I live in the Carolinas so we get more coverage about this guy. He’s playing in the senior bowl as well. He has reputation for being an accurate thrower (to me this should be the top consideration for a QB). Maybe a steal in the mid/late rounds. Thoughts from the insiders?

John

CB: Obviously the Bills scouting department is aware of Carden. He was a throwing quarterback at the NFL Combine last week. Carden set all kinds of records at East Carolina, but my concern lies with his throwing mechanics and arm strength. I don’t think he has the arm to cut passes through the wind that we often find here in Buffalo come November and December.

A lot of his passes float and hang in the air too long. He also has a propensity to throw off his back foot. There’s no debating his career was a very productive one. He broke all of David Garrard’s passing records at ECU, but I’ll be surprised if he’s taken before the seventh round. At best he’s a career backup in the league by most accounts.

 

4 – Hello Chris,

Thank you for all your hard work keeping those of us away from Buffalo updated on the best team in the NFL!

While I do not dismiss Rex Ryan’s abilities as a coach or motivator, my defining image of his tenure in New York was the newspaper cover image of a Jets clown car with coach Ryan at the wheel.  Traditionally the team has eschewed flamboyant personalities in the past.  Has the team discussed this with him, or can we expect the seemingly endless diatribe of controversy, arrogance and inanity that plagued the Jets?

James

CB: I think you can probably take his handling of his press conference with the NFL media at the NFL Combine as an example of what to expect. He sidestepped several opportunities to be bold with a prediction or two for the 2015 season. He also dodged loaded questions about his former team. So I’m anticipating a little more self-restraint from coach Ryan this year. We’ll see.

 

5 – Chris
It seems that with the restrictions in the NFLPA agreement, it is difficult to work with players except during certain dates in the offseason ?
If we had some interesting players, could a team rather than sign them to a contract, perhaps open a Football Training School with free tuition and room and board to develop their skills? Those popping out would be offered a contract etc. don’t use team coaches, rather qualified instructors with experience in positions we have a need.

Thanks
Jim in Florida

CB: Unfortunately I don’t see the NFLPA agreeing to that in any way. The players fought for time away from the game to reduce the pounding on their bodies through the offseason with limitations on padded practices and live hitting. They’re not going to agree to do that in a separate training academy. Most players do that on their own.

I suppose there could be street free agents interested in that kind of arrangement, but who is paying for it? NFL owners are not going to incur another cost to make that happen. I just think it’s unrealistic.

 


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Fan Friday 2-20

Posted by Chris Brown on February 20, 2015 – 1:12 pm

It’s day three of our Combine Coverage presented by NAPA. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

As good of a guy as CJ is..will he really fit Roman’s system?

LWOS_Brock

CB: As GM Doug Whaley has said Roman wants a mixed bag of backs that can do different things. Just because you didn’t see a C.J. Spiller type back in San Francisco’s offense when Roman was running things out there doesn’t mean he can’t use a talent like Spiller in his scheme.

Whaley characterized Bryce Brown and Spiller as the speed backs, Dixon as the power back and Fred Jackson as the pass catcher/pass protector. So it appears Roman would like to have three or four backs to work with, not to mention a fullback.

Additionally Rex Ryan has said that with their coaching staff it’s player over scheme every time, so if they can keep Spiller in the fold they’ll devise a way to make him a productive element in Roman’s system.

 

2 –  @ChrisBrownBills

Do you think OL Ali Marpet will be there in the 4th?

TheConnorCough

CB: I think Marpet opened some eyes at the Senior Bowl when he showed he could hang with the top senior talent in college despite playing at Division III Hobart. He’s off to a good start with his workout here at the NFL Combine as well, running the fastest 40 time among offensive lineman with a five flat.

Obviously the 40 time isn’t a major influencer on draft grade for offensive linemen, but Marpet is legitimizing his ability to play at the NFL level. The Bills did meet with him and though he played tackle in college, he projects to guard in the NFL.

Will he be there in the fourth round? It’s possible. He could also be gone in the third.

 

3 – Chris

Thanks for providing a forum for fans to express opinions and ask questions.
With all the QB’s available in Free Agency, College, Canadian League, other pro leagues, I can’t grasp the Bills unable to develop one over the last 20 years. We seem to have chosen one alone and spend all our resources in proving we were right to pick them, rather than looking for the one who pops out and distances himself from the others. Brady popped out, as did Wilson, Romo, Foles etc. I’d be interested if you think this process will change with the new regime ?

Also, if we have two QB’s, shouldn’t they be similar in style, either mobile or pocket passers, so if one is injured the offense doesn’t have to change to adapt to two different styles, like last year with Manuel and Orton ?

Thanks;
Jim in Florida

CB: I think the Bills are more apt than ever to add another young quarterback to the roster, especially with a thin free agent class of options at the position. Adding two veterans is probably unlikely so a vet and a young player is the most likely combination to fortify the position on Buffalo’s roster.

I found it interesting that Doug Whaley and his personnel department intend to meet personally with every quarterback prospect here at the Combine not named Mariota and Winston. After the Combine they also will dispatch QBs coach David Lee to go and work these quarterback prospects out at or around their pro days. Whaley described their planned search to be exhaustive.

He mentioned this on the John Murphy Show and in addition when asked about the philosophy of drafting a quarterback every year he said he was not opposed to it.

I would think similar style quarterbacks would make sense, but sometimes you’re willing to sacrifice similarity if it means getting a better player overall.

 

4 – Hi Chris

Could you please explain to me how David Lee, who couldn’t get Jets quarterbacks to play better, is going to help EJ Manuel and any other quarterback we have on the roster ?

Thanks, Dale

CB: Rex Ryan has answered this question. David Lee is an expert when it comes to teaching quarterback fundamentals, and really that’s his main job with the signal callers on the roster. To keep their mechanics sound. That’s easier with some quarterbacks than others obviously, but knowing the worker that EJ Manuel is I would anticipate seeing improvement in everything from Manuel’s footwork, to the consistency of his arm angle, release point, hip drive, etc.

While you may knock the results in New York with Geno Smith, David Lee successfully turned Tony Romo from a third string QB into a Pro Bowl starter. I’ve talked to David Lee about that transformation and he said the only reason Romo was successful was because he wanted to work at it.

Romo needed to make 10-thousand throws to improve his passing efficiency because his release point was too low as a younger player and too many of his passes were getting batted down at the line. But he worked with Lee every day. Knowing that Manuel has a similar work ethic, I think we’ll see a difference with him too.

 

 

5 – Chris,

I was very disappointed to see Jim Schwartz leave considering the outstanding work he did with the defense last year especially with stopping the run. Now with Rex Ryan in the fold, the defense will most likely look very similar to what we experienced during the 2013 season under Mike Pettine. With that said, our run defense was not very good under Pettine. Is there real reason to worry it might struggle again with Rex Ryan going back to more of the 3-4 hybrid system that Pettine used? I know we have an outstanding defensive line but they seemed to be in better position to stop the run under Schwartz’s system. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks.

-Mike from Syracuse

CB: I don’t think there should be a big worry about the run defense. Yes, Schwartz did simplify things, which made it easier to execute. By the same token Rex Ryan defenses have almost always finished in the top 10 in run defense. Buffalo finished 11th last season. So if anything it could improve under Ryan based on the track record of his defenses.

Buffalobills.com Combine coverage is presented by NAPA Auto Parts.

 


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Fan Friday 2-13

Posted by Chris Brown on February 13, 2015 – 12:44 pm

Don’t forget our NFL combine coverage begins in earnest over the weekend leading up to our coverage in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium Tuesday presented by Napa. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris
Are there specific areas that EJ has improved in by watching Orton from the side lines? Also, how is his relationship with the other players now, compared to before he was replaced by Orton?

Ppante

CB: He told me specifically that he learned about what’s most important to focus on during the week leading up to the game from a game plan and opponent study standpoint. Manuel said in the past there may have been some things he spent too much time on in his preparation that didn’t carry as high a priority as other aspects of his film study.

I also felt he became more accurate in the practice setting when it came to hitting his targets in rhythm and on time. I think we all recognize that it’s a different thing when it’s game speed, but those are two areas where he benefitted by being able to focus on his game for the last 12 weeks of the 2014 season.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Loved this guy coming out of college. What is your opinion of Hoyer? Do we get another journeyman QB or go for a big Trade?

BuffalonianFilm

CB: I don’t think a trade to acquire a quarterback can be ruled out, but the Bills have limited assets in the way of draft choices (no 1st or 4th). Hoyer is a limited NFL QB. I believe everybody recognizes that. I think the more likely scenario is picking up a veteran in free agency and then drafting one in the middle rounds.

 

3 – Chris,

Bills fan from Toronto here. Just having thoughts about our team here…

How much do you think Hughes/Spiller are asking for and how much do you think the bills are willing to give them? Also do the Bills still have their franchise tag and if so would they use it on Hughes?
Is adrian peterson an option if C.J. spiller takes his talents elsewhere (ny jets)?
What are they gonna do about their QB situation??? Are they gonna draft maybe Hundley in 2nd round, sign Mark Sanchez or maybe trade for Sam Bradford or Jay Cutler?

Thanks, MW

CB: It’s my belief that Jerry Hughes’ agent will be looking for pretty big money and here’s why.

Over the last two seasons Hughes is tied for the fourth-most sacks in the league (20) behind only J.J. Watt, Rams pass rusher Robert Quinn and Mario Williams. He’s tied with Cameron Wake and the Saints’ Cameron Jordan. Watt and Williams are the two highest paid defensive ends in the league in terms of average salary at $16.6M and $16M.

They’re followed by Quinn ($14.2/yr) and Carolina’s Charles Johnson ($12.6M). Wake signed his extension back in 2012 and it averages only $6.6M.

Now the Bills will probably argue that Hughes plays with three Pro Bowl players on Buffalo’s defensive line and is rarely seeing double teams. But it’s hard to knock a guy that’s producing, and doing it for more than one year.

I fear that the Hughes camp will be asking for around $10M a season in a long term deal. That could be a tough one to manage knowing that Mario and Kyle Williams are the top two salaries on the club in terms of average salary already with Dareus sixth on the roster.  We’ll see. I don’t think the franchise tag is a realistic option for Buffalo.

As for Spiller it will be interesting to see if there’s a difference of opinion on his true value between he and the Bills. Paying top dollar for Spiller is probably difficult to justify in light of his recent history of injuries.

There’s no debating his home-run talent and he’s a good teammate in the locker room, but with another new offensive system coming in you wonder how he’ll weigh that into his decision on where to play. There’s also no dismissing the fact that the coach who helped him enjoy his most productive season is the offensive coordinator in New York.

Adrian Peterson is a great fit for a power run game, but I’d be surprised if he moves on from Minnesota.

The QB situation for Buffalo is obviously up in the air. They have to see who actually makes it to the free agent market or if there are any trade opportunities that might surface. The draft is probably where they’ll add one too. How early is the question.

 

4- Hi Chris, I have two questions:

  1. Would the Bills draft an additional running back given the fact that Rex Ryan wants to ground and pound?

Two college prospects, Malcolm Brown and Matt Davis seem like good fits, plus they are projected to be drafted in the later rounds.

  1. Besides looking at Mark Sanchez, would the Bills look at Ryan Mallet? Or Christian Ponder? I think Ryan Mallet would be the best fit, because he is younger. Obviously, E.J. Manuel is an option, but he has to read defenses better.

In summary, Rex Ryan has quite a bit of talent to work with, but if the offense is dysfunctional, it will compromise the efforts of the defense. Even a great defense will fold if its on the field for long stretches of time.

Your thoughts,
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

CB: I think there’s a pretty good bet that the Bills draft a running back at some point in the draft. This year’s class is deep at that position, thanks in large part to the junior eligibles that have declared. Buffalo needs to add some youth there and a true pile pusher that preferably has some wiggle to his game and receiving ability.

With that in mind it’s hard to find the perfect prospect. I believe there are a few that fit all of the criteria well enough in this draft. I do like South Carolina’s Mike Davis. Great person and player in the Fred Jackson mold and carries a bit more power behind his pads. Does everything right and has NFL bloodlines with his older brother James Davis a former 6th-round pick of Cleveland in 2009.

You could do worse than guys like Boise State’s Jay Ajayi and Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon when it comes to a power run game. Unfortunately a good number of the true power backs coming out this year aren’t big in the receiving game.

At quarterback I don’t know if Mallett is a fit because his skill set is in stark contrast to that of Manuel. I’m not saying he’s off the table, but he’s a strict pocket guy while Manuel has movement ability. How much would the offense need to change from one to the other if there was an injury to the winner of the competition? I know Ryan said Sanchez is a consideration at his press conference, but I’m not sure of that.

I do know that there isn’t a whole lot of quality to choose from.

5 – Chris,

In the new defense, where do you see the linebackers position playing out? Kiko did play well in the 3-4 under Pettine. Preston and Nigel did well in the 4-3, how do they fit into a 3-4 scheme. Nigel isn’t a thumper/ pure pass rusher. Will Manny Lawson kick back outside as a pass rusher, same with Hughes (if he can stay?). Curious how this will unfold since this unit had a great 2014.

CB: This is an interesting question. I think we can expect to see Manny Lawson on the field more, particularly on run downs like we did in 2013, when Jerry Hughes rotated in on passing downs. I’d expect to see Kiko Alonso on the open side at OLB, then it’s probably Bradham and Brown in the middle in a 3-4 look.

 

 

 


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