1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you think that the signing of Micah Hyde rules out a Safety in the first round of this year’s draft?
CB: While that would seem logical I don’t know that you can make that conclusion knowing the draft approach of the Bills under GM Doug Whaley. They typically go with the best player on the board having seen them operate the last few years in the draft room. So I don’t think it precludes them from taking a safety in round one if the value is right.
That being said, if they have grades on two players who are really close and one is a safety and the other is a corner or receiver then they’d likely go with the greater positional need.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills with the departure of Lynn and Roman why do the #Bills still continue to throw free agent $$ at the FB position?
CB: I’m going to let coach McDermott handle this one since he answered it directly at his press conference Thursday evening.
“Fullback is a big part of this offense, and let’s say this: it’s not limited to playing the fullback position,” said McDermott. “There’s versatility within that position, and what Mike brings to the table – as you mentioned, Mike Tolbert. I had the chance to be around Mike for a number of years in Carolina and I know what he brings to the table in terms of leadership, intangibles again, and what happens in that locker room on Monday through Saturday.
“So that’s a big part of it, and then Mike’s versatility on the field with the ability to play fullback, line up at fullback and then also transition to the halfback position and carry the football, and he’s done that extremely well. I had a front-row seat to observe what Mike’s skill set is, both on and off the field, and that was key for us. You’re talking about a guy that’s been to a Pro Bowl, and that’s really no different to [Patrick] DiMarco, in this case.”
3 – @ChrisBrownBills do you see the #bills signing more big name free agents? If so, at what position?
CB: I don’t necessarily expect big household type names. Their cap situation is getting a bit tight. But I do see them trying to fill a few more positional holes on the roster. It wouldn’t surprise me if receiver or offensive tackle were on the list after incurring some losses at receiver and some uncertainty at tackle (Mills a free agent, Henderson-health).
4 – @ChrisBrownBills How do you think the Bills are going to adress the WR position? They lost talent there the past two offseasons and it hasn’t been replaced.
CB: As briefly mentioned above I expect the Bills to address the receiver position in some form in free agency, likely with a player they can sign to a fiscally responsible contract (one that doesn’t cripple their cap situation). And I would anticipate them trying to grab another in the draft.
The numbers situation there demands some attention with two free agent losses already (Woods, Goodwin).
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Is Groy a realistic option for Right Tackle? #bills
CB: Donald Jones and I discussed this very topic when I was on the John Murphy Show Thursday. I think we first need to see what additions are made if any at the offensive tackle position in free agency or the draft before we can gauge just what kind of option he would be on the edge.
From a skill standpoint I think he certainly has the size (6-5, 320) and ability to play on the edge. He’s lined up there at times in a pinch. Sometimes it was as an overload tackle in run formations. We all know he can play guard or center. Whether Groy can play right tackle full time for 16 games is a question really only OL coach Juan Castillo and the offensive staff can answer knowing this offense is going to change.
I think Groy really came a long way as a player last season and he impressed me in his last seven games at center. But I think we need to let the dust settle in free agency and see what the Bills acquire before we pencil him in for edge duty.
Tags: 2017 NFL draft, Fan Friday, Micah Hyde, Mike Tolbert, NFL free agency, Pat DiMarco, Ryan Groy, wide receiver
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Saw the Bills may be interested in Trevor Siemian. If they trade for him, think they will draft a QB?
CB: We’re probably getting way ahead of ourselves, since the first shoe that has to drop is Denver acquiring Tony Romo. Only then would that make Trevor Siemian expendable. We all know the connections with Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison having worked with Siemian the past two years, so logically it makes sense. The compensation required would be the rub.
If Denver wants draft picks that would be a problem. Buffalo only has six this year, the lowest number in the 2017 draft. Parting with those is probably not in the Bills best interest especially if they want anything higher than a five. Buffalo doesn’t even have a four to offer this year.
As we go deep down this rabbit hole, if they were to somehow acquire Siemian I don’t think they draft a QB because that would give them three young quarterbacks (Siemian, Jones, draftee) and there’s no way the offensive staff would have enough time to capably develop all three. If they acquire Siemian the likelihood is they add a veteran free agent as I see it.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Report says “not many options out there” … Then why would Tyrod negotiate?! That’s like calling him stupid, something he’s not #Bills
CB: I think you’re only looking at this one way. I agree that Tyrod in terms of getting the best contract he can has no incentive to renegotiate. If he’s allowed to become a free agent there’s a good chance he makes just as much money, if not more on a free agent market where he would probably be the top QB option.
Here’s a reason why I think he does at least consider renegotiation. He said he wants to return to the Bills in 2017. It’s clear that he’s proud of what he and the Bills offense has accomplished the past two seasons, which includes a top 12 and top 10 finish in scoring despite having a defense that has grossly underachieved the past two years, despite some major injury absences in those two years on the offensive side of the ball (Clay, McCoy, Watkins, Woods in 2015) (Watkins, Woods, McCoy together for 5 games in 2016).
Now with Sean McDermott on board the defense is expected to take a demonstrative step forward. That alone helps Buffalo’s offense.
Taylor said he believes they’re close to breaking through and ending the franchise’s playoff drought. Whether you believe him or not, I get the sense he wants to see things through in Buffalo as an established leader. Taylor is a different breed of cat. He knows that talent on the Bills roster intimately. If he signs somewhere else he’ll be hitting the reset button.
If he renegotiates he helps create more room under the salary cap to help fortify the roster. That helps him.
Taylor doesn’t just think in dollars and cents for himself. He’s a very selfless player. He wants to be successful on the field first and foremost. Those things count for something in his book.
We’ll know soon whether or not renegotiation was able to come to fruition.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Could Bills reunite with Jairus Byrd?
CB: Jairus Byrd is expected to be released on the first day of free agency (March 9th) due to his cost prohibitive contract and his lack of production. After posting 22 interceptions in his first five seasons with the Bills, he’s had just three in his three seasons with New Orleans. In Byrd’s defense he’s been part of a defense that has languished near the bottom of the league. There has not been a lot of help up front in creating hurried throws or errant passes for Byrd to prey upon.
The speculation about Byrd coming back to the Bills makes sense. His father Gil Byrd is the team’s secondary coach. At 30-years old and not a lot of production he would presumably come at an affordable rate.
There’s no debating that safety is a positional need for Buffalo. But again, let’s wait for his release to take place first. Then we’ll see how realistic a possibility it would be.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills
Is Brandon Marshall an option for the #Bills?
CB: Marshall is still a wide receiver who can make plays in the passing game. He can’t run anymore, but he is still a physical wideout who can create separation with his body when the ball arrives. Marshall will be 34-years old in three weeks. That’s not a good thing.
Even though Marshall became a primetime player under Rick Dennison in Denver (2006-2009) with three consecutive 100-catch seasons that was a lifetime ago.
I can only see Marshall as an option if he’s extremely affordable.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Is there a sideline-to-sideline LB on the #Bills’ roster if Whaley doesn’t sign Zach Brown?
CB: No, there is not. Brown is the only player with true sideline to sideline ability on the roster as I see it. Preston Brown and Reggie Ragland can run, but not in the way needed for the weak side role in McDermott’s 4-3 defensive scheme. You need a true athlete there. Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham is a prospect who fits the profile. I’m curious to see how he runs, but he’s seen as one of the better athletes at OLB in the class.
Tags: Brandon Marshall, Fan Friday, Jairus Byrd, Sean McDermott, Tony Romo, Trevor Siemian, Tyrod Taylor, Zach Brown
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – How does the Bills present personnel stack up for going back to a 4-3 defense? Presumably Dareus and Kyle Williams would be the tackles, but are the other defensive linemen currently on the roster suitable to play end in a 4-3, and how do the current linebackers fit such a scheme?
CB: It’s my contention that the personnel is better suited to a 4-3 defensive front, especially the defensive linemen. Dareus and Kyle will be given the opportunity to get up the field and penetrate. Shaq Lawson said he prefers a 4-3 scheme since that’s what he played in at Clemson. Jerry Hughes has had his most productive seasons as a Bills player in a 4-3 scheme.
2 – Dear Chris:
With the hiring of Leslie Frazier as defensive coordinator, do you think we’ll be running his defense or McDermott’s with Frazier calling the plays? I know both are DCs and don’t want “to many cooks in the kitchen” again like last year. Also do you know if Kyle Williams likes these guys enough to comeback.
CB: I think one of the main reasons that Leslie Frazier was so attractive to McDermott as a candidate is because there is a good amount of carry over between the two schemes they’ve employed over the years. It’s my belief that it will be more of McDermott’s approach that will be implemented in Buffalo.
And as far as too many cooks in the kitchen, that won’t be an issue. McDermott is extremely thorough and any and all duties and responsibilities will be clearly spelled out for everyone on the staff.
Kyle had positive comments on McDermott after he spoke with him a couple of times by phone. Hopefully it’s enough to convince to keep playing.
3 – Chris,
If Aaron Williams can’t make it back next season and decides to retire, will the Bills see any kind of cap relief from his contract?
CB: He’d be a cap savings of just over $1.7M if he retired. That wouldn’t be much on a projected cap of $168.1M.
4 – CB
Besides QB, there are few positions groups lacking depth or set to be free agents. How do you think the team will address CB, S, right tackle, OLB, and WR. Gilmore, Woods and possibly Zach Brown will command money and I’m not sure they can be retained.
It seems a large task for Whaley to fill positions with so many free agents. The Bills will have to spend money to retain players. Which positions will be filled during the draft or free agency. How aggressive will they be during free agency to find players that fit the new coaches’ scheme?
CB: I think as they have done in years past they’ll be fiscally prudent in signing free agents. They’ll stay away from the high-priced players that are in high demand and focus on the tier two type players that are more affordable and offer better value.
I put together a list of potential free agent fits last week.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills As much as I LOVE the top 10 talent in the draft, should we trade down to get more picks?
Love your insight, Thanks!
CB: Thanks for the kind words. I’d be in favor of trading back and collecting more picks. The Bills did a good job of that in 2013 when they traded back in round one and got Kiko Alonso out of the deal in round two. I think the likelihood of that happening will hinge on how the picks fall in front of Buffalo at 10, not only in terms of the prospects the Bills like who may or may not be there, but for other NFL teams with a prospect in mind looking to get up to 10.
Tags: 2017 NFL draft, Aaron Williams, Fan Friday, Leslie Frazier, NFL free agency, Sean McDermott
Posted in Inside the Bills
Veteran cuts are happening around the league as team’s look to create more favorable fiscal situations with their cap. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – Hi Chris,
With the coaching shakeup we head in the off season with a new head coach, and with our limited cap space for next year already, do you see the following players being in a Buffalo uniform next year?
CB: Taylor is a true question mark. As I said last week I think it’s a situation that could go either way.
McCoy, Clay and Hughes are back. As long as Kyle Williams wants to continue playing I believe he’s here as well.
I’d be surprised if Manuel was re-signed. Goodwin is unlikely knowing they drafted his replacement last year in Kolby Listenbee, who offers the same speed and more size.
Gilmore will depend chiefly on the money he demands.
2 – Hey Chris,
I was wondering with everything aside do you see Whaley re-signing Robert Woods this off season? Also, do you think they will give Mike Gillislee a contract and get him locked up?
Thanks as always,
CB: I think unless the Bills bowl him over with a contract offer that he’s going to test the market. Woods numbers could put him in line for a contract that averages about $9M a season. If there’s a competition for Woods, I don’t see the Bills getting in a bidding war for him.
I do believe they try to sign Mike Gillislee to a long-term contract rather than tender him for one year.
3 – Chris,
I don’t think Tyrod Taylor has proven he can read defenses and make NFL throws over the middle. I can’t see paying that much for a running QB. With that in mind, do you think Doug Whaley would target QB Mike Glennon in free agency.
RC from DC
CB: I know it was only one example, but his performance against Miami in Week 16 was an encouraging sign of progress in throwing over the middle. He found targets there with consistency when the Dolphins were daring him to throw there. Taylor threw for over 300 yards in that game.
If the Bills elect to pursue a free agent like Mike Glennon, it would be a complete 180 in philosophy with respect to their quarterback. That’s not to say that it’s wrong, but it would be a vast departure from what they’ve done previously.
Taylor’s skill set is capable of fitting into OC Rick Dennison’s offensive scheme. They’ve worked together before. That’s why I believe the possibility still exists that Taylor is here in 2017.
For what it’s worth, Taylor has a higher completion percentage and a better touchdown to interception ratio than Glennon, who is strictly a pocket passer. Then add on Taylor’s 500 rushing yards a season and in my opinion you’ve got a better option in Taylor than Glennon. But that’s just me.
4 – Chris,
My Question is this: Obviously I’m very frustrated with the play of Dareus and Hughes, after they signed huge contracts.
Dareus, specifically, has not produced like a 95 million dollar player should IMO, along with his suspension and injuries.
Is there any chance we try to trade him in the off-season or release him after the 2017 season (if I understand his contract correctly) ?
-David from Rochester
CB: I don’t think trading Dareus is realistic. If you did he’d be a $14M cap hit and put more than $30M in dead cap on your books.
It’s my contention that this new defensive scheme will get back to maximizing the strengths of both Dareus’ and Jerry Hughes’ game, which is getting up the field and penetrating and putting heat on the quarterback.
The scheme under DC Leslie Frazier and coach McDermott will allow them to attack, which is what they like to do best. Dareus was forced to stand in the gaps and grind with offensive linemen under Rex Ryan and let the linebackers run and make plays. Dareus is a playmaker. He was miscast in Ryan’s system.
Hughes is also a more effective player in a 4-3 scheme. It’s where he had back-to-back 10-sack seasons. So I’d give it the 2017 season to reassess if the struggles of Dareus and Hughes were self-inflicted or if they were a victim of a scheme that didn’t fit either of them.
5 – Hi Chris,
Thank you for everything you do in regards to covering the bills. If the bills let Woods walk, do you think Kendall Wright from Tennessee could be a possible addition? Reports say he is leaving and could need some new scenery. I feel like he could catch on well with the bills in the slot.
CB: There’s no question that Wright would be a more affordable option than Woods. He’s not as athletic as Woods and is probably a slot receiver only. What will be of concern to potential suitors is the fact that Wright has not made it through a 16-game season since 2013, when he had a 94-catch season, which was his only 1,000-yard receiving year.
Buffalo has experienced all too many problems in recent years with receivers who are not available due to injury. Knowing Wright has an injury history could be a deterrent.
Tags: Bills free agents, Fan Friday, Jerry Hughes, Kendall Wright, Marcell Dareus, Mike Gillislee, Robert Woods, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
Into the offseason we go. Franchise and transition tag window opens next week with the NFL Combine and free agency on the horizon. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills rank the following in likelihood from high to low. Romo, tyrod, rookie qb, someone else not mentioned starting.
CB: I’m going to put Tyrod first on this list only because he’s on the roster and under contract. Right now he’s the path of least resistance. He’s an asset that’s already here. A lot of national reporters are operating under the assumption that he’s as good as gone. I don’t subscribe to that contention. I believe it could go either way.
A rookie quarterback is a distinct possibility because regardless of what happens with Tyrod Taylor the team will have to add at the position. Obviously if the team moves on from Tyrod it would only increase the likelihood of that happening, and then this would move to the top of the list in terms of likelihood. But even if Taylor remains a Bill, EJ Manuel is a free agent. They’ll probably need another arm.
Romo is probably more likely to end up in Chicago, Houston or even Kansas City. At age 37 and with a long injury history it’s not an investment that looks all that attractive. There’s no denying his talent and his won-loss record, but at this point in his career the risk seems higher than the reward.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Tyrod unwilling to take a pay cut (don’t blame him), does that cement his dismissal?
CB: The reports that Tyrod is unwilling to restructure his deal with the Bills makes sense. First, despite the popular opinion that his contract is cost prohibitive, Taylor would be tied for 16th among starting quarterbacks in terms of average salary if the Bills pick up his option.
The past two seasons Taylor has finished seventh and ninth in Total QBR (ESPN metric).
Business-wise Taylor knows in a thin free agent quarterback market that he would be at the top of the free agent list if he was released by Buffalo, where he could potentially sign an even larger contract than the one he has with Buffalo.
Does it cement his dismissal?
I think that’s a strong way to paint the situation. While a lot of NFL business decisions are made because of money, I think the bigger factor in this particular decision is the collective opinion of the Bills front office in terms of whether they believe they can do better at the position than Taylor.
The front office has understandably been tight lipped on that subject.
That doesn’t mean money won’t be a factor. It’s probably 1A. But you have to be convinced that your product on the field can be more consistent and productive with someone besides Taylor. Then the next step is determining if that someone you have in mind is an asset you can realistically acquire.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills You’re in charge on Draft Day. Do you take QB Trubisky or WR Williams?
CB: This is a pretty easy decision to make based on what I think will happen in the draft. Of course as I’ve mentioned in this column before we’ve yet to see what’s acquired by the Bills in free agency. That could change their approach in the draft.
But in an effort to provide an answer I will say that this quarterback class does not appear to possess more than one prospect who is going to help a team on the field this year.
Trubisky is probably the closest thing and he’s a quarterback who couldn’t get on the field before this past season. All that being said I don’t think Trubisky falls out of the top three picks. Cleveland, San Francisco or Chicago all need quarterbacks, so one of them will take him off the board long before Buffalo is on the clock.
Going under the likely scenario that he’s off the board my preference in this particular draft is to wait on drafting a quarterback. None of the other QB prospects are NFL ready and that will continue to be a trend with the college game separating further and further from the NFL game (no huddling, no audibles, no calling plays). So that would leave me taking Mike Williams at 10 under your parameters.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills Which RFA’s do you think the #bills will tender and at which comp. level?
CB: I think it’s a lock that they tender Mike Gillislee and Ryan Groy. Both had exceptional individual seasons for the Bills last year. In fact I think it wouldn’t be surprising if they tried to sign both players to long term deals to keep their cap figures more manageable.
Colton Schmidt had a bit of an up and down season last year. With a new coaching staff there’s always the chance that they could prefer someone else to Schmidt. Special teams coordinator Danny Crossman is still on the staff so that may help Schmidt’s cause.
The other thing to remember here is tendering Schmidt at the low level does nothing in the way of compensation protection. Schmidt was undrafted, so tendering him at the low level only gives you right of first refusal.
I’d be surprised if IK Enemkpali is tendered a qualifying offer.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills any time frame on Kyle Williams’ decision on retirement?
CB: When we spoke to Williams at the Pro Bowl it was clear he was still decompressing from the season. He did say he was encouraged by his initial conversations with new head coach Sean McDermott, and it’s clear his teammates are trying to get him to return.
I would anticipate that the club would ask that he make a definitive decision before free agency opens in March.
Tags: 2017 NFL draft, Colton Schmidt, Fan Friday, IK Enemkpali, Kyle Williams, Mike Gillislee, Mike Williams, Mitch Trubisky, NFL free agency, Ryan Groy, Tony Romo, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
Fan Friday has been on a bit of a hiatus of late with Senior Bowl duties last week and the new head coaching announcement earlier last month. But we’re back. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Which position are the Bills most likely to double-dip on the draft? WR? S?
CB: I think this question is a little premature. The steps this team takes in free agency first will largely determine what positional need could get additional focus in the draft. Do the Bills re-sign two of their four free agent receivers? Do they pick up a safety in free agency like Arizona’s Tony Jefferson? When will Aaron Williams’ decision be finalized?
All of these will factor into Buffalo’s direction in the draft in late April.
That being said I will say that both wide receiver and safety are likely to be addressed in some capacity in the draft and free agency.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills will Tyrod be the QB now that all coaching staff is in place???
CB: I think the process has already begun on that front. Bills GM Doug Whaley told Buffalobills.com at the Senior Bowl last week that meetings would begin with the coaching staff once the college and pro personnel departments returned to Buffalo. How long a process that would be to lay out the direction and construction of the roster this offseason was not divulged, but it is underway. He described the meetings that took place this week as preliminary.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills does new WR coach really have any impact on drafting Zay Jones?
CB: Phil McGeoghan, Buffalo’s new receivers coach, coached East Carolina WR Zay Jones the last two seasons after he helped develop Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry from a rookie to a Pro Bowl caliber receiver as receivers coach with Miami.
What McGeoghan can provide more than anything is intimate knowledge on Jones that you can’t get by watching film. What his work ethic is day in and day out on the practice field. What his family life is like at home. What he’s like as a teammate. What drives him, motivates him. These are all things that NFL college scouting departments work to gather on prospects all year, and the Bills scouting department probably has a lot of that information on Jones already.
McGeoghan offers a knowledgeable sounding board to confirm and validate anything and everything on Jones, who I was impressed with last week at the Senior Bowl.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills Is 2017 a rebuild year or a try to make the playoffs year?
CB: Based on the feedback I’ve gotten from GM Doug Whaley it’s clear that the only thing this team is rebuilding is their philosophy on how to build a perennial contender. It’s clear that the front office didn’t believe the philosophy of the previous coaching regime was one that was designed to contend year in and year out. Sean McDermott’s coaching model is built to do that.
Now does that mean the team will be contending in 2017? I think we have to see how the roster takes shape through the course of the offseason to better ascertain the team’s immediate fortunes.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Is there a chance Daboll joins McDermott’s staff esp. with the W&M connection?
CB: While you are correct that Patriots TEs coach Brian Daboll did coach at William & Mary for one year when Sean McDermott was a player there, from the people I’ve spoken with in New England, Daboll’s intention is to stay put with the Patriots. All indications are he is the heir apparent as the offensive coordinator when Josh McDaniels leaves for his next head coaching job.
For those that don’t know Daboll is also an Orchard Park native, and played his high school ball at St. Francis. With the stability of his situation in New England, I’d expect him to bide his time and move into the OC role there when the time comes.
Tags: 2017 NFL draft, 2017 NFL season, Brian Daboll, Doug Whaley, Fan Friday, Phil McGeoghan, Tyrod Taylor, Zay Jones
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills at pick 10 in this year’s draft if we let Tyrod walk do we go qb?
CB: We’re getting way ahead of ourselves here because first the head coach has to be in place, then player evaluations by the new staff will chart the course of who is here and who is not here. But to answer your question, in the event that the new head coach elects to move on from Tyrod Taylor I don’t know that drafting a worthwhile quarterback at 10th overall will happen.
I’m a fan of Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer, but knowing there are QB needy teams in front of Buffalo (San Fran #2, Chicago #3, NY Jets #6) I don’t think he even gets to 10 for the Bills to consider. UNC’s Mitch Trubisky is still up in the air on whether he’s staying in school or entering the draft pool.
Kizer played in a pro-style spread system, had the ability to call audibles at the line of scrimmage and has the physical measurables you look for (6-5, 220). His numbers dropped this past season as the Irish struggled to a 4-8 finish, but it wasn’t all on Kizer. Working with a bunch of first-year receivers after Will Fuller, Chris Brown and C.J. Prosise moved on to the NFL, Kizer still had 26 TDs against 9 INTs, even though his completion percentage dropped five percent.
So while I like Kizer and Trubisky, I don’t anticipate them making it to pick 10 and after them I’m not enamored with what’s left to the point where I would use the 10th pick to take one.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Is Cardale Jones the starting QB next year?
CB: Again this is a ‘predict the future’ question that’s far too difficult to answer. There are too many variables that aren’t even in place to know where Jones will stand on the depth chart. Does the new head coach think he can win with Tyrod Taylor? Does he think Cardale Jones could be part of a quarterback competition in training camp? Does he think Jones could win that competition? Will they be adding at the quarterback position via trade, draft or free agency? Would that quarterback be more NFL ready than Jones, who just saw his first NFL action last week for a quarter?
I think one thing we have to think about is if a new head coach comes in and there’s a new offensive system for Jones to master it’s going to set his development back, as we’ve seen with young quarterbacks here before (e.g. J.P. Losman, Trent Edwards, EJ Manuel).
Let me be clear that I’m not saying the changes on offense were the reasons those quarterbacks struggled to develop, but constant change makes it harder for young quarterbacks to succeed and advance their games. All of them saw coaching changes in their time with the Bills.
Jones will be the next quarterback, even if Anthony Lynn is hired because he inherited an offense this past season that he intends to change.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills Are Bills expected to put tender on Gillislee? What is the tender process, and why don’t teams place highest tender possible?
CB: Restricted free agents are the players teams must decide upon regarding whether to extend them a qualifying offer to retain the right of first refusal, should they be offered a contract from another NFL club.
There are different levels at which a player could be tendered to dissuade other clubs from trying to make a contract offer to lure the player away from their current team.
The new restricted free agent tender levels are usually released by the NFL in early March, though NFL clubs make projections on what the amounts will be.
There is the low tender, which means the compensation due the original club if their RFA player was signed away by another team would equate to the draft round in which they were selected. For Mike Gillislee such a tender would yield a fifth-round pick in return, since Gillislee was a fifth-round pick of the Dolphins (2013).
Last year’s low tender was $1.671 million.
If Buffalo values him as something more than that and they want to make it more prohibitive for another team to sign him away they can use the second-round tender, which would make the compensation a second-round pick if the Bills chose not to match an offer from another team.
Last year’s second-round tender was $2.553 million.
The first-round tender last year was $3.635 million, and carries first-round pick compensation.
I certainly understand your question as to why teams don’t just tender everyone at the highest possible level. Sometimes cap constraints keep teams from doing that. They also want to be careful not to overvalue a player to avoid paying said player more than they would like if a long term contract is a route they want to take.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills Doug Whaley is so unimpressive, do you know how he continues to sell himself to ownership?
CB: I think what you need to keep in mind is as a fan you only see him in one context, a press conference, question and answer setting. Whether it’s on the radio or on TV you only see Whaley in a Q&A format.
What you don’t see is Whaley’s decisiveness when weighing the value of a trade. You don’t see him in personnel meetings pinpointing positional needs, assessing the talent level of specific players. You don’t see him running draft meetings, the draft room, interacting with players, making tough personnel decisions, finding players on the street at a time when there aren’t many and finding contributors (e.g. Mike Gillislee, Ryan Groy, Justin Hunter).
I know it’s hard to not think about him in the interview context because that’s all the exposure you have to Whaley. Look at the talent he is directly responsible for adding to this roster on the whole and I think you’ll find a lot more hits than misses.
I understand that for a team that has struggled to get wins, the misses are magnified, but there isn’t a GM in this league who has a perfect record. Drafting players is a lot like a batting average. If you hit .400 in landing Pro Bowl type talent in the draft, you’re the equivalent of Ted Williams. You’re in a league of your own. Most quality GMs hit between .300 to .350 in the draft in terms of landing top flight talent that can be the core of your team for years.
The lost piece of the puzzle as I see it for the Bills has been player development by the coaching staffs that have come through Buffalo. The head coaches that have been hired in Buffalo have unfortunately not put the best of coaching staffs together over the years and that has compromised the development of players and maximizing player potential has proven difficult.
That’s not to say there haven’t been good player development coaches over the years. Sanjay Lal, Anthony Lynn and Aaron Kromer are among the best examples on the most recent staff. There are others. Previous assistants that come to mind include Bobby April, Donnie Henderson and Joe D’Alessandris.
Does all this mean that Doug Whaley is blameless? Doug said himself he needs to do a better job. In fact it was one of the first things he said in his press conference Monday. But it’s my personal belief that Doug Whaley is a good personnel man, who knows how to build a team over time and has a plan. We all know the franchise quarterback has been a missing component for some time, and those are hard to find. Other teams that don’t have one have struggled too. Denver lost theirs after winning the Super Bowl and they’re out of the playoffs this year.
Absent that though this roster does have a good deal of talent, and this offseason will provide more opportunity to add to that talent. The key will be hiring a head coach who can implement a vision and structure to unify everyone on the staff and roster to achieve the ultimate goal. Hopefully that new head coach hires the kind of coaching staff that can maximize the talent on hand along with the new talent coming through the door.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills I like Sean McDermott. Do you think he can be a solid leader?
Ronald Krzal Jr
CB: I think knowing the kind of leader a coach can be can only be captured in the kind of long interview sessions that the Bills are conducting now in their coaching search. You can’t look at a resume of offensive or defensive success and determine if a guy is a leader. You’ve got to sit down with a coaching prospect and get to know them to determine that.
Does their philosophy about being a head coach inspire you? Do you think he’s capable of motivating men who have been mired in a culture where the success has been minimal and galvanize them into believing they can do better? Does he come across as a person that people willingly follow and believe in?
Not being in that room I can’t tell you if he can be a solid leader.
I can tell you that I like who he has worked under during his time in the NFL. Andy Reid, Jim Johnson and Ron Rivera are all solid coaching influences. So the people he has worked under is definitely a plus. But that doesn’t qualify Sean McDermott as a solid leader. That’s more about who he is as a person as I see it. And maybe he is that person, but there’s no way for you and I to know that from where we sit.
Tags: 2017 NFL draft, Cardale Jones, Doug Whaley, Fan Friday, Mike Gillislee, NFL free agency, Sean McDermott, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
What is the general mood/feeling amongst the players right now, post Rex firing?
CB: I think players are disappointed and feel some measure of guilt, knowing the results on the field played a role in the decision that ownership made on Rex Ryan. At the same time there are some players like Sammy Watkins and other vets, who in the wake of the change made at the head coaching position feels there needs to be more discipline and harder coaching at the top.
Knowing there are 23 unrestricted free agents on this roster, there are also a number of players who are going to be supremely motivated to good the best possible product on tape this Sunday. Chief among them is EJ Manuel, who has an opportunity to put fresh game tape out there to show where he has advanced his game.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Why are the Bills the way that they are?
CB: I think the easiest way to explain it is when you haven’t found a viable solution for your head coaching position, you have to make a change in an effort to find the right fit and improve. But that constant change also makes it hard for a team to gain traction and make progress. That’s where this team is right now.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Who is more likely to re-sign with Buffalo, Gilmore or Woods?
CB: Good question. I’m not going to pretend to know Doug Whaley’s priority list, but I think Gilmore is probably a more important component. As encouraging as Kevon Seymour’s rookie season has been, keeping Gilmore in the fold would be a good thing. For that to happen though I think his presumed asking price will have to come down a bit.
As for Woods, it’s a hard one to gauge. I think the organization respects Woods’ game and his willingness to play hurt. But the market for receivers with his kind of production will put him close to $9M per season. If the team wants to add a different kind of skill set to the receiving corps, then it might be hard to justify that kind of spending for Woods.
I’m not saying he isn’t worth it. I just don’t know if in Buffalo’s offseason planning they deem that kind of figure to be money well spent when they’re likely to look at other options, and other positions for that matter, where they need help.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills
Are we looking at keeping Hunter? I think he’s a good fit in our O.
CB: This is one of those other options I was referencing in the above answer on Woods. There is no debating that Hunter’s skill set is tantalizing. The Bills aren’t the first team to be attracted to his physical skill set. What they have to determine is whether Hunter has the sense of urgency and professionalism to do things the right way every day, in every practice and in every game.
Hopefully they’ve been around him long enough (three quarters of this season) to have a healthy handle on the type of work ethic he has and whether a quality receivers coach (Sanjay Lal is one by the way) can develop his game further.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Seems DBs took a step back this year. What impact do you think the loss of Donnie Henderson had on the defense this season?
CB: I certainly understand the question because the consistency of defensive back play did take a step back this season, or at the very least was inconsistent. When asked specifically about it, defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, who is a former cornerback himself, did admit that lapses in technique proved to be their biggest issue.
What’s tough to answer is who at fault for that? Is it the coaches for not drilling it more often in practice? Is it the players for not adhering to it enough in game situations?
You have to believe if the coaching staff knows technique is the problem in a game (e.g. Week 2 against the Jets), then they’re going to emphasize it more in practice. Are they drilling it in a way for players to effectively understand and apply properly? Are the players equipped physically to execute the technique being taught, or must a different approach be taken? Are the players being professional in trying to fix the errors they made in previous games?
You can get pretty deep down that rabbit hole before you find an answer.
I think the defensive back play did see a noticeable uptick in the second half of the season, so there was effective coaching and player improvement. This team is going to finish in the top 10 in pass defense. Part of that is due to the team’s struggling run defense, but pass defense has improved since some of its struggles in the first half of the season.
Tags: Donnie Henderson, Fan Friday, Justin Hunter, Rex Ryan, Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, Stephon Gilmore
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills some people think Bills should experiment Cordy at RT and keep Cyrus at LT thoughts?
CB: What makes this suggestion so interesting is gone are the days where the left tackle has to be your absolute best lineman. Most NFL defenses have two quality pass rushers on either side of their formation. Perfect example is this week’s opponent. The better pass rusher is Cameron Wake, but he lines up on the left side of Miami’s defensive formation, which means he’ll be facing RT Jordan Mills.
So each week it’s not an absolute. The point I’m trying to make is moving Glenn to right tackle is not as big a deal as it might have been 10-15 years ago. Now does that mean that it will happen? That depends.
We have to see how the offseason unfolds in terms of who is retained in free agency and who is not. Jordan Mills is set to become an unrestricted free agent. As a starter on this roster for the last year and a half, he’ll presumably command a pretty respectable price tag.
Knowing that Seantrel Henderson’s long term health is a touch and go situation, if the Bills want to retain Mills they’ll have to put together an offer that is at least competitive with market value.
The caveat here is what the organization thinks of Kouandjio. He’s certainly made some sizable strides with his game this year. Just this week he also stated that he feels he has better motor memory on the left side instead of the right.
Kouandjio’s rookie contract is up after 2017. If they decide they want to invest long term in Kouandjio it could impact the size of any extension offer they might present to Mills.
If Mills is ultimately not retained I think the scenario you suggest could at least be a consideration, knowing that Kouandjio would presumably be elevated to starter opposite Glenn. And knowing Kouandjio feels more comfortable playing the left side, Glenn being flipped to the right is not out of the realm of possibility.
Just keep in mind that a lot of dominoes have to fall to get to that point.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Chris, what the hell is going on over there?!
CB: I think based on some of the national media tweets/reports there is a general perception that the sky is falling at One Bills Drive. Embedded at the facility every day I can say it truly is business as usual. There is no sense of foreboding in the building. Coaches and players are interacting as they typically do. Management is interacting with the coaching staff as they usually do. And there is no indication that anybody is walking on eggshells around here.
As GM Doug Whaley stated in his radio interview Friday morning, the focus is on the Dolphins. And quite frankly if there were coaches and players in the building who weren’t focused on that, then there would be a problem.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills Are the Bills liking Seymour starting? Do they have faith in Darby to step in next year as a cheaper option to Gilmore?
CB: Much like the first question above, this is something that will be evaluated in the offseason. I know that management and the coaching staff is very excited about Seymour’s potential. I have to say taking the time to watch him work against Oakland’s Amari Cooper when Ronald Darby was out of the lineup, he performed well. His only blemish was getting beat on a double move for a TD. That might sound bad, but his performance on the whole in that game was quite good. It was encouraging to see him step up and play that well.
I think the club wholeheartedly believes in Darby, and I think they’re encouraged about the ceiling for Seymour. In an ideal world they’re able to re-sign Gilmore, but if his asking price is still in the Josh Norman stratosphere ($15M/yr) I just don’t see it happening in Buffalo.
In that case the Bills would have to move on and go with Darby as their No. 1 and Seymour would compete to be the No. 2 with whomever else might be added (free agency/draft).
4 – @ChrisBrownBills #FanFriday Is the lack of a “2 min drill” or urgency at end of half/game more on TT, Rex or Lynn? It’s been 2 yrs of this.
CB: I respect the point you’re making. Part of Buffalo’s success in two-minute situations is about opportunity, but unquestionably part of it has been a reluctance to really push the ball down the field.
This might sound surprising, but Buffalo is ranked 10th in the league in scoring at the end of the first half, when I believe most fans have taken issue with Rex Ryan’s approach offensively. According to Statspass, the Bills have scored 52 points at the end of the half this season, which is slightly above the NFL average (48 pts).
When it comes to points scored on their first possession of the second half Buffalo is tied for sixth in the league with 37 points.
It’s my belief that their success rate coming out after halftime has prompted the Bills to play it a bit more conservative at the end of the first half.
I think an overlooked factor with Buffalo’s decision to be conservative at the end of the first half on offense is rooted in their desire to keep their opponent from scoring before the half expires.
Buffalo’s offense by nature is a ball control offense. With Sammy Watkins out for half the season their ability to have a quick strike scoring drive was severely hampered. It’s my belief that Rex Ryan felt his best defense at the end of the half was an offense that held onto the ball, knowing they’d have the ball again to start the second half in all but a couple of games this season.
Proof of that approach working for the most part this season (it didn’t at Oakland), is Buffalo ranks fifth in the NFL in preventing scores by their opponents at the end of the half. They’ve given up just 27 points all season at the end of the second quarter.
And I credit their offense for holding onto the ball and not giving it back to their opponent almost as much as I credit Buffalo’s defense for that statistic.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills if the Bills, simply by luck of geography, were in AFC South, would futures of Rex, Whaley & Tyrod look much diff right now?
CB: Your question is an interesting one to ponder. Having two games against the Jaguars sounds a whole lot better than two games against the Patriots. Perception can often impact an opinion of the job being done by a head coach, quarterback or organization in general.
I think we can all agree that Buffalo would likely have more than seven wins if they played in the AFC South. So that very well could alter the public opinion of Rex Ryan, Doug Whaley and the team in general.
But that’s not reality. You have to deal with where you are and Buffalo is in the AFC East.
Doug Whaley said they’re not satisfied with where they sit, but they are what they are at 7-7, which is average. They want better, just like all Bills fans do. Only ownership knows if they’re opportunity to achieve better beyond this year will be in the cards.
Tags: AFC East, AFC South, Cordy Glenn, Cyrus Kouandjio, Doug Whaley, Fan Friday, Kevon Seymour, Rex Ryan, Ronald Darby, Stephon Gilmore, two-minute offense
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills We need another big body WR. Especially one that can come in opposite Sammy Watkins. Why didn’t Buffalo jump on M. Floyd?
CB: I was wondering myself why they wouldn’t take a flyer on him. My thinking was with so much rotating through a host of different receivers due to injury, adding another with three weeks left in the season might not have been seen as a productive option. But I’ll let GM Doug Whaley answer that one.
“We talked about it,” said Whaley of putting in a waiver claim. “But with his situation and being a free agent after this season, we thought right now with Sammy coming along, Robert Woods back and Justin Hunter, with the guys we have and the timing they’re developing with Tyrod, we just thought it wouldn’t be a good addition for us at this time.”
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you think the Bills will move on from either Rex and/or Whaley after this season?
CB: I think these last few games will have a lot to do with what happens moving forward. I don’t get the feeling that the front office is in limbo as much.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills Is Cardale going to be the answer or is this just another resting point in a QB search?
CB: There’s no way for anyone to know if Cardale is going to be the answer at QB for the Bills. What Jones is right now is a developmental project who has physical tools and instincts that are worth developing to see if he can be the answer at quarterback down the line.
As Doug Whaley just said on the radio today, he is nowhere near being ready to play in an NFL regular season game. The guy played in 11 college games. Right from the start when they drafted him the Bills looked at Jones 2016 season as a redshirt year at this level.
If he puts together a strong offseason next spring and summer and demonstrates that he’s quick on the uptake he could perhaps convince the coaching staff to open up another quarterback competition. But at this point that looks like a big ‘if.’
And if the offense changes again it will make it even more unlikely since the learning curve for Jones will be on reset.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills do other teams have as many anonymous leaks undermining the Coach / GM / QB on gamedays as BUF? Bills had playoffs on the line.
CB: The timing of the information being released was tied to the reporter’s on camera segment on CBS’ pre-game show Sunday more than anything else. The report was published shortly after he appeared on the network’s programming.
While I don’t debate for a second that the leaks undermining the coach and/or others is unfortunate, I think you’re going on the assumption that the leak was internal. While I don’t dispute that it could be the case, unless that can be definitively ascertained we have to at least be open to the possibility that it could’ve come from outside the organization too. Someone that has close ties to the club, but doesn’t work for the team.
Typical culprits in those cases are player agents, who could very well be serving an agenda for someone inside the club. Sometimes that could be the agenda of the player they represent, especially if they don’t get along with the coaching staff.
Hopefully that helps provide a glimpse as to how many different paths a leak like this could travel.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills are the bills leaning more toward drafting a qb and signing a FA or just drafting one if they do not sign Taylor?
CB: I think that’s an assessment that will be based on what they think of Taylor as a QB, whether they genuinely believe they can do better in the short term. That’s based on who is available in free agency, via trade and in the draft. Neither the free agent market, nor the draft class look all that impressive at first glance. So I don’t see any easy answers out there if the club decides to move on from Taylor.
Tags: Cardale Jones, Doug Whaley, Fan Friday, Michael Floyd, Rex Ryan, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
It’s a do or die week for the Bills. Step 1 of as win four straight scenario for Buffalo’s playoff aspirations. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Dennis Thurman said D is still a work in progress. Nearly 2 years have passed what are the issues? Players or the scheme?
CB: I think there are a lot things that have cropped up along the way for the defense that have compromised its consistency. Last year losing Kyle Williams and Aaron Williams, two main directors of communication last year was a big issue. Mario Williams dissension was another problem as was Rex Ryan’s decision to try to blend some of the successful concepts from Jim Schwartz’s scheme in with his. He admitted himself that was a mistake.
This year I think the absence of Marcell Dareus (suspension/injury) for half of the season hurt, as well as the loss of Aaron Williams again. That compromised the consistency of play at safety.
Adding Rob Ryan to the staff improved red zone defense greatly in the first half of the season. It’s hard to determine why the goal to go defense has struggled so much of late to devalue what were impressive numbers when they were defending inside their own 20.
The other big problem this year has been a lack of takeaways. After getting 12 in the first six games, the Bills have just two in their last six games for a total of just 14, and they both came in Stephon Gilmore’s two interception game at Cincinnati. Fourteen takeaways is seventh-fewest in the NFL.
Then I think there is an issue with mental toughness. The ability to respond when adversity strikes. Players have admitted that it is an issue that has proven tough for them to overcome.
We’ve all witnessed substitution problems with changing personnel groupings and getting calls in on time before the offense snaps the ball. It has happened far too often for an NFL club, and stretches back even to last season. That has to get fixed. There’s no excuse for having 10 men on the field or 12 men in the huddle. That’s an operational, chain of command type thing that has to be rectified.
The scheme has been tweaked and changed over the past two years to try to reduce the volume and allow the talent of the players to come through, and the miscommunication on plays has been reduced. Players admit they still struggle with responding and making something positive happen when the opponent steals the momentum of a game.
So in a long-winded way I think both scheme and the players are responsible for the shortcomings of the defense.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Another year of great work man! Why has Jerel Worthy not been in lineup more? When hes been in, was making plays.
CB: I don’t disagree with your assessment. Since Marcell Dareus has come back the defensive line rotation has usually left Worthy as the odd man out. However, Adolphus Washington has been getting less playing time of late. The last four games he’s gotten 18, 20, 24 and 10 snaps. Worthy’s snap counts have been 22, 10, 1 and inactive.
Washington and Worthy to me are similar players. I think Washington has hit a bit of the rookie wall, so perhaps Worthy sees a bit more time down the stretch.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills is it a possibility that Sammy Watkins or Cordy Glenn gets traded at the end of the season always being injury prone?
CB: I think trading Watkins or Glenn is highly unlikely. Glenn is the team’s most talented lineman. Even Eric Wood would tell you that. He just signed a giant extension and has missed just two games this season with a high ankle sprain. He’s not going anywhere.
While I understand your frustration with Watkins lack of availability due to injury it doesn’t take away the fact that he’s a dynamic, game changing player. You don’t trade that commodity away. You have him at an affordable price on his rookie contract next year, so seeing how healthy he can stay in 2017 is definitely worth it knowing how he can change the complexion of a game.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills how many 4th Quarter comeback wins does Tyrod have?
CB: By my count he has two. Last year Week 5 at Tennessee and this season Week 12 against the Jaguars.
5 – Hi Chris;
As always many thanks for keeping Bills fans current on the team. The past couple of games I have gotten the feeling that Rob (and Rex) are calling more of the defensive plays than Dennis has been. I felt all along that would be the case once Rex brought his brother on board. Is this actually the case?
CB: I took a look at this last week in Oakland and it appeared that Assistant HC Rob Ryan was calling the plays from the sideline with defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman organizing personnel groupings. Earlier in the year Thurman was calling the plays, but it seems like those duties have vacillated back and forth through the course of the season. Based on observation it seems like Rob Ryan has handled more of those responsibilities the past few games. We’ll try to get that confirmed this coming week.
Tags: Bills defense, Cordy Glenn, Dennis Thurman, Fan Friday, Jerel Worthy, Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan, Sammy Watkins, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
With the Bills depleted secondary and Oakland’s vertical threat and strong O-Line, what can Bills D do to stop Carr and O?
CB: The best defense this week is going to be a good offense. Buffalo should be able to run effectively against the league’s 26th ranked run defense. Hopefully that allows the Bills to put together long sustained drives. Converting on third down will be critical to holding onto the ball and limiting Oakland’s possessions.
That’s how the Chiefs beat the Raiders back in Week 6. They held onto the ball for almost 37 minutes and gave the Raiders just 10 total possessions. Teams usually get about 12 per game.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills With so many upcoming free agents how are the @buffalobills with cap space?
CB: You’re right. At last count the Bills will have 23 players set to become unrestricted free agents. That obviously takes a lot of contracts off the books for Buffalo. Remember that room under the salary cap is always a moving target. But last I checked for 2017 the Bills are a little more than $20M under the cap.
If they pick up the option on Tyrod Taylor that will obviously impact the cap significantly. We’ll see what their plans are in terms of re-signing their own or pursuing a free agent on the market, but Taylor’s option will play a major role in how aggressive they are in free agency.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills How is Cardale Jones doing? He is likely the number 2 qb next year correct?
CB: Jones is really trying to build his game from the ground up to better fit the NFL game. From footwork, to set up to his delivery. How he scans the field, keeps his feet active, reading defenses pre-snap. Bills QBs coach David Lee has worked tirelessly with Jones to try to develop his game.
The Bills saw this year as a redshirt year for Jones. Lee has him come in early and throw with a couple of receivers early in the week and late in the week after Friday practices. On Thursdays he’ll have him review his Wednesday and Thursday practice tape and go over fundamentals.
They’re working mainly on his intermediate accuracy, his footwork and arm mechanics.
I know the offensive staff has a lot of respect for EJ’s game. Lee said on the John Murphy Show this week that he thinks Manuel’s confidence is at an all-time high and that he’s been ripping it in practice.
Knowing his contract is up, the likelihood of Manuel being back with the team is completely up in the air.
Clearly Tyrod Taylor is the bigger issue to address with his option year at the quarterback position, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Manuel found work elsewhere and Cardale Jones was the backup for 2017.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills
How limited will Sammy be on Sunday? And how will Rex manage playing time between Lorenzo shaq and Hughes?
CB: Watkins’ availability is going to largely be based on how the foot feels as the game wears on. So it’s a wait and see on the size of his role Sunday. I will say that I think it is beneficial that the game is on grass, which is a more forgiving surface on the body.
As for managing time between Shaq, Alexander and Hughes, the staff tried address that last week against the Jaguars. The defensive staff wants to play Shaq more and cut back on Alexander’s defensive snaps, so they’re able to use him on special teams as well.
Alexander really shouldn’t have much more than 55-60 snaps combined between defense and special teams. Last week he had 70, so again he was over the threshold of where they’d probably like to be with him, knowing he’s 33 and the oldest player on the team.
Shaq’s snap count wound up being identical to that of the Cincinnati game. He got 21 snaps in both. Part of the reason is both games were tightly fought contests and in tight spots you want to go with an experienced player that you can trust. Lawson is still learning the pro game.
Remember he missed the entire offseason on the field. That’s OTAs, minicamp, training camp, the preseason and the first six games of the season. Lawson bit hard on a read option fake, didn’t hold the edge and let Blake Bortles run for a first down and more. Those kinds of plays makes defensive coaches hesitant to use him more as opposed to Alexander, who is one of the smarter players on the team.
Knowing the importance of each game the rest of the way they’d like to use Shaq more because he’s talented, but until he can show an ability to play sound, disciplined assignment football he might be reduced to just passing downs to rush the passer.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Why aren’t they using Reggie Bush out of back field, swing passes, screen passes, with all WR injuries?
CB: It’s a valid question. I thought when they signed Reggie Bush that he would be a specialty player that would be used in an 8-12 play package every week on offense. He could be split out as a receiver, line up in a split backfield with McCoy or return kicks and punts. The signing of Brandon Tate largely eliminated his return duties.
He’s been used sparingly as a receiver and back. I do believe they could make greater use of their ‘Pony’ package, which is their split backfield with McCoy and another tailback. But for whatever reason they have only used it occasionally.
It’s clear they prefer Mike Gillislee, who is a much better north-south runner and capable of fighting for the tough yard. Rookie Jonathan Williams is also better in that regard.
Bush is a player best used in space, which is why they could make use of him in a receiving role knowing the amount of injuries they have at that position right now.
Tags: Bills-Raiders, Cardale Jones, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, Jerry Hughes, Lorenzo Alexander, Mike Gillislee, Reggie Bush, Salary cap, Shaq Lawson
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills who’s Gillislee’s backup?
CB: That would be rookie Jonathan Williams. Some might think it would be Reggie Bush, but Bush is more of a specialty player who is used only occasionally in the backfield, can be split out wide or return kicks. Williams has just 17 carries for 61 yards, which has largely come in times when the game has already been decided.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills is Watkins a game changer this week?
CB: I think the Bills would love it if he could be a game changer. The bottom line though is he hasn’t played in two months and will need a few series to get back into the flow of game speed. I anticipate that the offensive staff will use him as much as they can knowing they’ll be down Robert Woods.
I don’t think there’s any doubt he’s a game changing talent, but coming off the layoff it’s hard to know whether he can be that right away this Sunday.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills what have our secondary players been focusing on in practice?
CB: They focus on a lot of things. During individual position drills a lot of their work involves their footwork and tracking the ball. Tackling was a focus this week with emphasis on getting their head across the body of the ball carrier. Beyond that the focus is the game plan and executing the game calls for this week.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills will McCoy’s thumb affect him at all this next game?
CB: We hope to get that answer from McCoy himself after practice today. He has a good sized wrap on the thumb following the minor surgical procedure to re-attach the dislocated digit. The strength of his grip is probably the biggest concern because back have to apply three points of pressure on the ball to secure it under their arm and the thumb is one of those three. If he doesn’t have any strength to do that it could compromise his ball security.
Catching could be another potential issue. Hopefully we can get some answers from Shady before the game on Sunday.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills How is the team going to approach Watkins’ 5th year option and possible new contract? Great player but also some injuries.
CB: I would expect the Bills to pick up Watkins fifth-year option because of the injuries. I know that sounds strange, but a fifth-year option gives Buffalo time to wait and see if Watkins can put together a season where he can stay relatively healthy all season long.
Since the fifth-year option has to be picked up in May next year for his fifth season which would be in 2018, I’d be inclined to think Buffalo wants to take as much time evaluating his ability to stay on the field. It buys them time.
There’s no debating his talent level, but availability is critical. So I would think before the Bills even think about signing Watkins to a big time deal, they’ll see what he can do in 2017 and maybe even 2018 before they take that step.
Tags: Bills secondary, Fan Friday, Jonathan Williams, LeSean McCoy, Mike Gillislee, Sammy Watkins
Posted in Inside the Bills
Do or die time for the Bills this weekend in Cincinnati. Got to decide if they want to be part of the AFC playoff race Sunday. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills FF,any thought to Incognito going to C and Groy LG? Groy has been ok at G when needed but IMO was a factor in SEA loss at C
CB: When there’s a significant loss on the offensive line, as is the case with Wood lost for the season to a broken leg, coaches often want as little disruption as possible when addressing the void in the lineup. Ryan Groy is expected to be the answer in the pivot.
First, and probably most important, Groy has operated as the swing center-guard since spring camps. He’s snapped to all three quarterbacks on the roster. He’s played a number of roles across the front including guard, tackle eligible and tight end on run plays. That equips him with a firm working knowledge of what everyone is doing on every play, which provides him with the wherewithal to make pre-snap checks efficiently and consistently.
Knowing how critical the communication is from the center in Buffalo’s offense, having Groy with the knowledge base necessary is essential in the pivot.
I’m not saying that Richie Incognito couldn’t play center, but with literally zero reps there since the day he arrived in Buffalo it’s not something you can just ask him to do with a week of practice. Incognito is a Pro Bowl guard. Moving him to address the need at center would be like robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Which goes back to the old adage that you don’t change two positions to address one.
Groy at center makes the most sense as I see it.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
The collapse of the secondary is it players or coaching that’s to blame?
CB: Stephon Gilmore said it’s on the players to make plays. It’s his opinion that the coaches are putting them in position to make plays on the ball. That would seem to run in concert with Rex Ryan who said the majority of the issue is technique related.
Opponents are taking a different approach in attacking the Bills DBs and more often than not the Bills coverage players are not making the necessary adjustments in their coverage technique. That means playing proper leverage as a defender, footwork, driving to the hip of the receiver. All those things factor in, but based on what the coaches and players are saying it’s player error more than anything else.
3 – Chris,
Why doesn’t Time Warner Cable carry the Buffalo Bills programming on MSG in my area?
I looked online and it lists the shows on the guide where I live, but when you tune in it shows all NYC programming. But it will show the Sabres games. I am confused about this.
I live in Wayland, NY 14572 which is in northwestern part of Steuben County. My understanding is that everybody west of Syracuse would get the Bills programming. If you could find a reason for this it would be greatly appreciated thanks
CB: From what I have been told MSG only provides their WNY programming like our Sunday pre-game show, Bills All Access, at 11 am and the Rex Ryan Show (Sundays 11:30 am) as far as Rochester. If you draw a vertical line on a map from the middle of Rochester down through the rest of WNY everyone west of that line gets WNY programming on MSG. If you are east of that line, which I believe you are in Wayland, you get MSG’s NYC programming.
My solution for you would be to contact Time Warner Cable and demand MSG’s Western New York programming. You live in WNY, so it only makes sense.
4 – Chris,
I really would like to see Robert Woods as a Bill for the next 4 years. Can you give us an idea of what salary he is expected to command in free agency?
CB: Woods is on pace to set single-season career highs in receptions and receiving yards. His market value based on his average numbers the first four years would approach $9M per season. That might seem exorbitant, but that’s what the market bears.
Jacksonville’s Allen Hurns just signed a four-year deal this year for just over $40M. His numbers are marginally better than Woods, so it’s reasonable to think that Woods could command a contract in the neighborhood of $9M/year knowing the receiver market isn’t flush with players in their low to mid-20’s with his kind of experience.
Woods is just 24-years old. The only players with comparable age and superior numbers are Alshon Jeffery, Michael Floyd and Kamar Aiken.
I’m not optimistic that the Bills would pay that kind of money for Woods, knowing they’re likely to pay Sammy Watkins big money when his rookie deal is up, provided he can find a way to stay healthy in the next year or so of course.
5 – Chris
We heard an awful lot about Dez Lewis this offseason and with all the injuries at WR why hasn’t he been brought up to the 53 we’ve brought up 1 WR off the practice squad but not Dez not sure I understand has he fallen off I mean we really need help and he seemed to help last year and it was reported that he worked hard in the offseason and looked like he had improved in training camp what’s your thoughts
CB: Dez Lewis looked like a world beater in the spring practices and appeared like he had a chance to make an impact as the team’s third receiver. But when the pads went on in training camp he disappeared. He has never been able to re-establish the same kind of consistency in his game since.
It’s disappointing to see, but it’s a different game when the pads go on and some players can make the adjustment and some can’t. Hopefully Lewis can re-capture some of what made him look so promising in OTAs this past spring.
Tags: Bills All Access, Bills secondary, Dez Lewis, Fan Friday, MSG, Rex Ryan Show, Richie Incognito, Robert Woods, Ryan Groy
Posted in Inside the Bills
Prime time game for the Bills on Monday night. Tough place to play, but hopefully they put their best performance together in all three phases for this one. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills do you see the #bills picking up Tyrod’s option if they finish at or below .500 & don’t make playoffs?
CB: I know there have been a lot of opinions about where this team should go with Tyrod Taylor moving forward. The expectations were high and the passing game has taken a step back this season. I don’t think there’s any debate about that. Not having Sammy Watkins in the lineup is certainly a factor, along with just about every member of the supporting cast in the passing game missing some time.
Here’s what every Bills fan that wants to move on from Tyrod Taylor needs to think about no matter what the Bills record is at the end of the season.
Can you do better?
I understand fans WANT better production and more consistent production from the quarterback position. But the bigger question is CAN you find better production and more consistent production in another quarterback?
Any quarterback in the draft is just a projection, an educated guess. Set to become free agents are QBs like Case Keenum, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer (injured), Geno Smith, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder.
Everyone has an opinion on the quarterbacks listed above, but one would be hard pressed to say that you could do better drawing from that list.
I do still want to see more from Taylor and there’s a half of a season to play. So let’s see what he provides and hopefully it convinces everyone one way or the other.
I just think before anyone decides to toss him overboard that you see what the alternatives are and think long and hard about what you’re wishing for and what’s really out there.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
It seems as though @ajwilliams23 was the leader in secondary, who do you see stepping up and fillin that leader role #Bills
CB: As we covered in our daily Bills Today column earlier this week, Robert Blanton is going to be the primary replacement at safety and will line up alongside Corey Graham in the secondary at safety. Aaron Williams is a loss from the defensive backfield.
As far as leadership however, Corey Graham is a more than capable leader and a vocal one at that. So in terms of veteran leadership they’re covered there.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Is Dareus tradeable this offseason? Large contract to unload but even if we could walk from it for someone else with those $
CB: Short answer here. Not tradeable. If you traded him you would have more than $45M in dead money accelerate onto your cap. Not a viable option. Not an option next year either. Dead cap money would still be upwards of $32M.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills what should we expect from Percy this week? What’s the timetable on Sammys return?
Jon Snow 2016@RobRage38
CB: I think if Harvin plays we’re going to see a package of plays from him, something like 15-20 plays. While he is in shape to perform like we’re used to seeing Harvin perform, I don’t think he’s in the kind of football shape that would allow him to play 50-60 plays on Monday night. I think you risk exposing him to injury if that kind of demand is put on him after not being in a football setting for more than a calendar year.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Is Reggie Bush going to be KR/PR? Powell?
CB: With Brandon Tate not expected to play Monday night (concussion protocol) Reggie Bush would be the next man up on kick return. Mike Gillislee is another consideration there. If he dresses for Monday night there’s always a chance that Percy Harvin gets a crack on a return as well.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Corey Graham, Fan Friday, Marcell Dareus, Percy Harvin, Reggie Bush, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
All week the Boston sports talk is saying how Rex thinks he won SB with 1st game vs NE. What are his thoughts on that?
CB: I think Rex would laugh first. Then he’d disagree. So the folks in the New England area know, after they shut out the Patriots in Week 4, there was zero celebration in Buffalo’s locker room. They had just evened their record at 2-2 after a disappointing 0-2 start.
As important as New England fans believe their team is, the Bills did not attach any added significance to the victory. They knew who wasn’t playing. In fact Rex even referenced that specifically after the game that Tom Brady was not available.
So if Patriots fans and talking heads on the radio want to characterize Rex as a coach that overblows victories they can, but they’d be wrong in this particular case. If anything Rex and his team took a page out of the New England playbook after that victory because all they were talking about was their upcoming game against Los Angeles in Week 5.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Can Bills play a mistake free game, avoid dumb penalties?
CB: While foolish penalties were definitely a problem for the Bills in 2015, it’s not nearly as big an issue this season. Through the first seven games Buffalo ranks 18th in the league in penalties, so more than half the teams in the league have been flagged more than the Bills.
In fact Rex Ryan’s team has been flagged six fewer times than their opponents this season (49 to 55).
So I think they’re capable of avoiding dumb penalties. They did that last week when the undisciplined Dolphins were getting flagged for a lot of extra-curricular activity after the whistle.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills any news on a trade for a wr?
CB: The problem is at this time of year it’s a seller’s market. Teams looking to acquire a piece for their team are not dealing from a position of strength. The trade deadline is coming and they need help, like the Bills. So most other NFL clubs that are being propositioned are going to force those teams to overpay for an asset.
That being said, Bills GM Doug Whaley said in a radio interview Friday morning on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 that it’s been “rather quiet” on the trade market despite a lot of media speculation.
He did say they will work the phones and if something comes up that they think can help their situation they won’t hesitate.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills Any idea what the plan is at safety? Blanton/Williams combo?
CB: I’d be surprised if Aaron Williams plays this week after his neck injury last Sunday. When he exited the game Robert Blanton was the first guy in to replace him and then he was subbed out in favor of Jonathan Meeks. Neither player really stood out in the loss to Miami.
Perhaps the defensive staff will use a rotation there based on down and distance and personnel packages like they did at the beginning of the season. Through the first two weeks of the season all four safeties rotated in to play alongside Corey Graham.
Back then it was done to steadily blend Aaron back into the scheme after he missed most of training camp with a concussion. This time around it could be to maximize the strengths of each of his replacements and minimize their weaknesses.
Of course one thing to consider is how New England goes up tempo and prevents their opponents from making personnel substitutions. So they may have to decide on one guy being the main replacement.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Not quite sure how all these IR, PUP, list work. But any chance that Sammy can come back this season?
CB: The Bills have the opportunity to bring one player back off injured reserve to begin practicing after they have been out for six weeks and they’re eligible to activate them to play in a game after they have been out eight weeks.
Whether Sammy Watkins can be that player will be up to the team’s medical staff.
Head coach Rex Ryan did confirm this week that Watkins is out of his walking boot, and that it is an encouraging sign. Whether that enhances his chances of returning is probably too early to determine.
The first eligible date that Watkins could return to practice if deemed healthy enough to do so would be the Friday of the bye week (Nov. 11th). The first date he could dress for a game, again if he’s medically cleared, would be Nov. 27th against the Jaguars.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Bills-Patriots, Corey Graham, Doug Whaley, Duke Williams, Fan Friday, injured reserve, Jonathan Meeks, penalties, Rex Ryan, Robert Blanton, Sammy Watkins, trade market
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills was Reggie Ragland outperforming Zach Brown at camp, or was he slated to start due to the resources invested in him?
CB: Reggie Ragland was one of the most instinctive run defending rookies I’ve seen at the linebacker position in a while. Ragland has a much more physical game than Zach Brown and I think that’s what was most appealing to the defensive staff. I believe even if Ragland was healthy that Brown would’ve seen time on obvious passing downs due to his coverage ability.
Ragland out of the gate was probably one of the two best run defending linebackers on the roster with Preston Brown. That’s why he was in the starting lineup.
2 –@ChrisBrownBills Sir when you can, please let us fans know when Shaq going to play & Listenbee?
CB: I fully anticipate that Shaq Lawson will begin practicing with the team next week, but to think he’s going to play at Miami next Sunday after three or four days of practice I believe is a bit unrealistic, even though head coach Rex Ryan talked about Lawson playing right away in Week 7.
We have to remember that Lawson did not participate in a single team practice. His shoulder required surgery after a rookie minicamp practice. He’s never been on the field with any of the other players on defense. He’s never physically repped this defensive scheme with teammates, let alone at game speed.
I would expect him to at least get a couple of weeks of practice in before they begin to blend him into the defensive rotation. My guess would be the New England game provided he comes along and executes consistently in practice.
As for Listenbee, Ryan expressed doubt that he would be practicing any time soon. Here was his comment on Wednesday this week about Listenbee’s availability to practice.
“I don’t have the confidence with that as I do with Shaq,” Ryan said.
Listenbee has had some setbacks in his recovery from double sports hernia surgery. Every case is different and it appears that Listenbee’s recovery is going to take a little longer. If his inability to practice stretches beyond Week 10 then he won’t see the field at all this season.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills will the Bills open up the passing game more this week? Don’t remember too many deep throws past couple weeks
CB: The only deep shots I remember was the overthrow to Woods when he had his man beat down the left sideline in the second half last week and there was another to Goodwin that didn’t connect. I’d like to think there will be a couple more just to loosen up the defense. The 49ers though are really struggling to stop the run, so their weakness on defense kind of plays into Buffalo’s hands, so don’t expect the ball to be flying all that much.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills what’s up with Aaron Williams? Didn’t he leave last week’s game with a shoulder injury?
CB: Last week Aaron Williams left the game with what was reported by the team as a shoulder injury and he was questionable to return. But on the next defensive series Williams was back at his safety position and finished the game.
This week he has an ankle injury and has been limited in practice, but is expected to start.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills do you see an increased role for Bush anytime soon or are his days in Buffalo possibly numbered?
CB: They have certain packages in the offense designed with Reggie Bush in mind, but for whatever reason they’ve chosen not to make use of those to this point. I wouldn’t go so far as to say his days are numbered. I think he’s good insurance behind LeSean McCoy because he’s the only back on the roster that can do some of what McCoy can do.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Bills passing game, Fan Friday, Kolby Listenbee, Reggie Bush, Reggie Ragland, Shaq Lawson, Zach Brown
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Does Justin Hunter have a chance to play? He is big and fast
CB: I expect Hunter to be active on game day Sunday. You’re right he is tall and fast. Having only practiced with the team for four days, and only being exposed to the playbook for about a week, I would anticipate just a package of plays for Hunter against the Rams. Perhaps just the red zone if they get down there or some other situational parts of the game. A full workload I think is a little ambitious with as new as he is to the club.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills How are the Bills able to bring Lawson & Sammy back from IR? I thought u could only bring 1 from preseason IR.
CB: Lawson was on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list, which carries a completely different set of rules for returning to the active roster. Beginning in Week 7 the Bills have a three week window in which they can take a player on PUP and let him begin practicing. The first day he practices starts the 21-day window in which the team must decide whether to add him to the active roster or leave him on said reserve list for the remainder of the season.
Watkins being on injured reserve can be chosen as a player to re-activate to the 53-man roster after he’s been on I-R for eight weeks. I’m not overly optimistic that will happen, but we’ll see where things stand in about a month.
3 – Chris,
It seems to me that we’ve heard almost nothing about John Miller this off-season. Normally this is a good thing for offensive linemen. Your opinion please.
CB: Miller has fared well for the most part this season. His teammates acknowledge he is making progress and improving his consistency. He’s got a supreme test this week in Aaron Donald, who will line up opposite both him and Richie Incognito at times. Low to the ground and quick, Donald can wreck a game. A matchup worth watching this week.
4 – Chris,
My question is about Jonathan Williams. He really impressed me in the preseason, reminds me a little bit of Fred Jackson. When do you expect him to make a push for some carries? I really think he would make a great compliment to Shady now. To me, if Reggie Bush isn’t returning punts or kickoffs we don’t have much of a use for him.
CB: Jonathan Williams did have an encouraging preseason. Had great contact balance and usually falls forward. Underrated as a pass catcher. This season, much like it is for Cardale Jones, might be like a redshirt year. He’s got guys ahead of him on the depth chart. He’s got to master all the responsibilities of being a running back, including blitz pickup more than anything.
Coaches have to know they can trust him and he’s got to show he can do more and offer more than the guys ahead of him on the depth chart.
5 – Hi, Chris —
Two years ago as a rookie Cyril Richardson (because of other circumstances) got some starts at guard and did some decent, if not memorable, work. Last year his performance fell off noticeably and he didn’t play much. This year he couldn’t even make the team.
Any insights into this decline? Was he not an NFL-level talent to begin with?
CB: Cyril Richardson was drafted when Doug Marrone was head coach of the team and they wanted to employ a smash mouth drive defensive linemen off the ball type run game. Cyril Richardson is a player capable of doing that. But when the scheme changed with the new staff, Richardson was no longer a fit.
This is a run game that features pulling guards to kick out and lead block and get to the second level. Richardson never had the feet to execute that. He was no longer a fit for the type of offense the Bills run.
Tags: Cyril Richardson, Fan Friday, John Miller, Jonathan Williams, Justin Hunter, Sammy Watkins, Shaq Lawson
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills chances the #bills shut down Watkins the entire year? Curious as to why no urgency in adding another WR with 2 down?
CB: I don’t think the Bills are at that point yet, but I’ve got to believe that if the medical staff gets to a point where they determine that Watkins’ foot even with rest is not improving to where he can play on it then the discussion to shelve him for the season could come up.
I’m not a doctor so I’m not going to pretend to know the protocol for how that decision is ultimately reached. But it Watkins can’t play this Sunday after not playing on it for 17 days it could beg the question if the foot will ever be good enough to play on in its current state.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills with the poor QB play, what are the chances the Bills get serious about the position, be it thru a trade or the draft
CB: I don’t believe after three games that the Bills are actively seeking other options at quarterback. I do believe they need more passing game production out of Tyrod. I like Anthony Lynn’s approach with Taylor of identifying the best matchup pre-snap instead of working his way through the reads. Find the best matchup and exploit it.
The trade market on quarterbacks is typically limited unless someone wants to give up a lot, like Minnesota did to save what they believe can still be a playoff run type season. I believe much like everyone anticipated Tyrod will be given this entire season to prove he can advance his game and take the next step. If he can’t then perhaps a change in course will take place like you’re describing.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills #bills how will the bills defense attack qbs since both have quick release and can run?
CB: Buffalo’s defense relies on disguise and a multitude of looks to slow the opposing quarterback down just enough with his decision making for pressure to get there and disrupt the opponent’s passing game. Properly utilized in the right down and distance situations this can be very effective.
Through the first three games the Bills have been more aggressive with their blitz packages on the whole. Even early in the Jets game they brought some pressure just to disrupt the timing of the Jets pass game. I suspect there will be pressure packages and some new looks from Buffalo’s defense for the Patriots QB this week whether it’s Garoppolo or Brissett.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills was our “great secondary” a product of getting pressure rushing only 4?
CB: I don’t think anyone will argue that the improved pass pressure helped last week. But I will also say that Buffalo’s coverage players made more plays on the ball even when the pressure wasn’t generated up front. Against the Jets there were jump ball situations where the Bills corners and safeties just didn’t win. Against the Cardinals more often than not they did.
Perfect stat line to illustrate that – passes defensed.
Against the Jets – 4 pass breakups, 0 interceptions on
Against the Cards – 10 pass breakups, 4 interceptions
5 – @ChrisBrownBills has Spikes contributed to our better run defense so far this year or has it been more the change to full 3-4?
CB: It has unquestionably been the scheme. The defensive unit just looks more comfortable in this run front defensively. The defensive linemen have done a great job of constricting the rush lanes in this scheme. Preston Brown and Zach Brown have been the biggest factors at the second level. Brandon Spikes has only played 13 of 224 defensive snaps so far this season. He was inactive in Week 2.
Spikes has been used as a strong side OLB up on the line of scrimmage on obvious run downs in the limited time that he’s been on the field defensively. I think that’s a good spot for him since he’s a bigger LB and can set the edge. He could have a bigger role this week if LeGarrette Blount is on the field as much as he’s been for the Patriots over the first three weeks of the season.
Tags: Bill secondary, Bills defense, Brandon Spikes, Fan Friday, pass pressure, Sammy Watkins, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
It’s been a rough start out of the gate. Let’s hope for better results moving forward. Here is the latest edition of your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills are the bills confident in their WR corps? With the injuries do you think they should look thru FA to get a DWAYNE BOWE/#2WR
CB: I believe they are confident in their receiving corps. They only kept five receivers on the roster initially and now have six with Brandon Tate. Obviously if Sammy Watkins is out of the lineup for any period of time that would hurt, since there is no other wideout like him on the roster.
I will say that I think Robert Woods is an underrated receiver, who has never really had a chance to shine in this offense. I believe he can make plays. He’s not Sammy Watkins. He’s a different receiver, but the guy is winning on his routes a lot. He’s just not getting the ball.
Goodwin and Salas are competent role players and Powell and Tate offer depth.
I’d like to see LeSean McCoy and Reggie Bush split out wide at times to try to get them in space and get yards after the catch.
Is that enough? Only time will tell.
I just don’t think they sign a guy like Bowe unless they’re down a couple of receivers for an extended period of time.
2 – Hi Chris,
Once again when I have a Bills question I am turning to you because you ARE THE MAN.
Can you explain the process of selecting which players get cut and which make the team.
My belief was that the General Manager had the final call, but in listening to Rex Ryan he talks about how he and his coaches have a tough job to do when making the call.
You makes the final call certainly does have a tough job. Can you explain?
CB: How those decisions are made can vary slightly from team to team. With the Bills I know that Doug Whaley ultimately controls who is on the 53-man roster. Rex Ryan controls the 46-man roster on game day.
There is obviously a lot of input from the coaching staff and the pro personnel department regarding the 53-man roster. It’s not like Whaley unilaterally determines the roster. There is a lot of give and take, and the coaching staff has the freedom to express their preferences, but if a tough call arises, Whaley has final say. Whaley has made that clear on more than one occasion.
3 – Chris:
Great work during that very hot training camp.
What impact does it have when a player is waived injured instead of just being waived? Does the waived injured mean the player’s contract is voided, and he has to renegotiate to remain with the club if he clears waivers? How does this designation help the team?
CB: When a player is waived/injured they are placed on the waiver wire for a certain time period. During training camp it’s just 24 hours. During that period of time another could put a claim on the player and if awarded the claim that team would inherit the contract.
If the player goes unclaimed, as most injured players do, he reverts back to the team that waived/injured him and he goes on that team’s injured reserve list.
When he’s initially waived/injured he no longer counts toward a roster spot and even if he reverts to the team’s injured reserve he doesn’t count toward a roster spot either.
4 – Hi Chris,
With the damage done to the defense thru suspensions and injury, would the Bills go to a 4-3 defense? Or stay with the 3-4? Or maybe have a hybrid of both? Opposing teams are going to be able to run on the Bills with relative ease. I know the run defense played well against the Colts, but this is preseason. I just feel short term the Bills will suffer. Unless, of course, they are able to obtain a very good defensive lineman/end thru free agency. Your thoughts.
Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: Switching to a 4-3 would be unusual. That was Rex’s mistake last season. He tried to blend some of the concepts of Jim Schwartz’s defensive scheme in with his. It led to confusion on the field and a whole mess of other execution issues.
Buffalo’s defense should be better because every player understands the scheme and that allows them to play fast. Sure the extra talent will help when Lawson returns along with Dareus, but the execution should be better across the board.
To this point they’ve had one good and one poor performance.
5 – Brownie,
Thanks for what you and your crew continue to do for those of us in a long-distance relationship with our team.
I feel like you may have answered this question or similar in years past, but with our first two regular season opponents just four days apart, how much preparation relied on film from the previous season and what else might go into it? Do the Bills have scout teams assigned to the Ravens and Jets open practices? Is this common for most NFL teams? If so, is this why we tend to see the Bills run scrimmages and such out of base packages, in order to be a bit guarded?
Thanks in advance for your response. Anticipating the end of the drought!
Bob from North Tonawanda via Okinawa, Japan
CB: With the first two games so close together the Bills coaching staff was doing game plan installation in practice before the season was even over. Typically in the offseason the coaches formulate a framework of a game plan for their first couple of opponents on the schedule.
Then the pro personnel department will scout the opponents through the course of the preseason by going to all of their preseason games. NFL clubs cannot attend other teams practices unless there is a charge for admittance.
Tags: 4-3 defense, 53 man roster, Fan Friday, game plan, injured reserve, Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins
Posted in Inside the Bills