Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 5-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unsigned FAs  – LB Brandon Spikes

 

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

Michael From Albany

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

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

 
3 – Hi Chris,

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

Arizona Bills fan,
Max F. Stolzenberg, Jr.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

5 – Chris, as always, super job.

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

Thomas R. Veihdeffer

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

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

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-24

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

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

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

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

RealSteveRhodes

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

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

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

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

mattgolden03

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

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

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

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

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

 

3 – Chris,

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

Sean Robbins

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

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

 

4 – Hi Chris,

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

Thank you,
Mark from Louisville

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

 

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

Go Bills!
Phil Dabowl

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

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

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


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-17

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

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

1 – Chris,

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

Jim (Skaneateles)

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

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

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

 

2 – Chris,

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

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

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

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

 

3 – Chris,

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

Cordially,
Bradley Kaye

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

 

4 – Chris,

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

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

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

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

 

5 – Chris,

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

Sean R.

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

I see LB depth being acquired later in the draft.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-10

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

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

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

#bills when will the 2015 regular season be out?

bailey_pinkston

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

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

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

mattgolden03

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

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

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

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

 

3 – Chris,

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

Thanks,
Patrick

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

 

4 – Chris,

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Tim Scouten

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

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

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

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-3

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

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

1 – Chris,

Thanks for all you do to keep Bills fans informed.

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

Thanks.
Jason T
Philadelphia, PA
Go Bills!

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

 

2 – Hey Chris ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thanks!

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

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

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

 

5 – Chris,

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

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

Wally James
Fredericksburg ,Va

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

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


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-27

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

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

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

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

vicious155

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

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

 

2 – Chris,

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

3 – Chris,

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

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

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

 

4 – Chris,

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

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

 

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

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

Thanks again for all your great coverage.

Justin from Eden
Transplanted to Lynchburg Virginia

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


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-13

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

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

1 – Hi Chris,

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

Thank you,
Max

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

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

 

2 – Chris,

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

Thanks for your time.
IRT

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

 

3 – Hi Chris,

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

Billsmafia for life!
Tommy from Pittsford

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

 

4 – Chris,

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

Thanks
LeeD

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

 

5 – Chris:

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

Conrad in Elma

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

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

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-6

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

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

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

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

_BNewman9

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

What about Hughes???

netz720

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

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

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

 

3 – Chris:

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

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

Thanks
Joe
Blasdell

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

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

 

4 – Chris,

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

John Lowry
Ft. Myers, Fl.

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

 

5 – Chris,

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you and Go Bills!
Ryan from Arizona State University

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

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

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


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-6

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

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

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

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

_BNewman9

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

What about Hughes???

netz720

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

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

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

 

3 – Chris:

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

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

Thanks
Joe
Blasdell

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

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

 

4 – Chris,

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

John Lowry
Ft. Myers, Fl.

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

 

5 – Chris,

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you and Go Bills!
Ryan from Arizona State University

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

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

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


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-27

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

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

1 – Chris,

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

Kevin E.
Colorado by way of Hamburg, NY

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

 

2 – Chris,

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

Will.
GO BILLS!

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

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

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

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

 

3 – Chris,

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

John

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

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

 

4 – Hello Chris,

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

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

James

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

 

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

Thanks
Jim in Florida

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

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

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-20

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

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

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

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

LWOS_Brock

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

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

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

 

2 –  @ChrisBrownBills

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

TheConnorCough

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

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

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

 

3 – Chris

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

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

Thanks;
Jim in Florida

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

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

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

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

 

4 – Hi Chris

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

Thanks, Dale

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

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

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

 

 

5 – Chris,

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

-Mike from Syracuse

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

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

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-13

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

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

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

Ppante

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

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

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

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

BuffalonianFilm

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

 

3 – Chris,

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

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

Thanks, MW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

4- Hi Chris, I have two questions:

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

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

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

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

Your thoughts,
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

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

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

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

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

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

5 – Chris,

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

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

 

 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-6

Posted by Chris Brown on February 6, 2015 – 12:04 pm

The NFL Combine is fast approaching and we’ll have full coverage on Buffalobills.com as always. In the meantime let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Would the Bills trade for Kirk Cousins?

RC from D.C.

CB: I think a trade is the least likely avenue the Bills take to acquire a quarterback with NFL experience. Free agency will probably be the first course of action. If they come up empty there then I believe a trade becomes a bit more likely.

The problem is the Bills are already a bit limited in assets they’d be willing to move being down a first and a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft. That’s not to insinuate a trade couldn’t happen, but I think it’s near the bottom of the list in terms of the ways they plan to acquire a QB.

The only way it moves up the list is if some team unexpectedly offers a quarterback the Bills weren’t anticipating would be available.

 

2 – Chris,

With Marrone gone, I don’t buy him playing guard. He struggled so much at RT during preseason, I doubt he could move inside. I’d like to see him play tackle. He has an injury history and the Bills should look for free agents instead of moving inside. More upsetting is that the Bills thought he has 1st round potential when Henderson played every snap and looks to be the starter going forward. Where do you see his progression going forward?

CB: I anticipate the Bills will be hitting the reset button with Cyrus Kouandjio with a new offensive staff coming in. I believe the approach under OL coach Aaron Kromer will focus Kouandjio’s attention at tackle. As I’ve said many times, Kouandjio is young in football. He’s just 21-years old and has not been playing the game very long.

He’s one of those players that will need time to mature into a reliable and technique-sound offensive lineman at the NFL level. Kouandjio is learning on the job, but he has the physical tools to be a solid right tackle.

Henderson’s ascent to starter at right tackle was not undeserved. He is an elite athletic talent. He too learned on the job as any rookie does, but has been playing football his whole life. His game is closer to reaching its full potential than Kouandjio’s, but I do expect Kouandjio to be pushing Henderson in camp.

 

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

I think EJ has all the potential in the world. Do you know if he has met or talked to Roman/Rex yet?

SJHNatFan

CB: There are strict rules under the CBA that prohibits contact between coaches and players in the offseason, even in Buffalo’s situation with a new coaching staff. So EJ Manuel and the rest of the roster cannot interact with the staff by phone or in person in any capacity from the end of the regular season until the offseason conditioning program begins in early April. So the answer is no, he has not met or talked with members of the Bills coaching staff.

 

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills

With CJ Spiller likely leaving the Bills, do you see the Bills drafting a RB? Or is it more likely they go after a FA?

pioniere

CB: I think your assumption of C.J. Spiller leaving is not an unusual one, but let’s see how things play out first. Should Spiller choose to sign elsewhere however, I believe they draft a running back. They need an influx of youth at the position and the draft is deep with running back talent this year.

 

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Between Gresham, Cameron and Thomas which TE would you be more in favor signing?

xhighway1

CB: I think just about anybody would love to have Julius Thomas. He’s the most dynamic receiving tight end of the three and that’s not just because he’s had Peyton Manning as his quarterback. I believe he’s the most savvy route runner of the three. What I like about him the most is he can use his speed to separate from defenders, and he’s physical enough to wall off defenders from the ball as well.

The rub is he’ll be the most expensive tight end on the market as well. As critical as the tight end is in Peyton Manning and Gary Kubiak offenses I think he’d be one of Denver’s top priorities this offseason.

Gresham is a physical talent that is comparable to Thomas, but he is a career underachiever. Coming out of college he had All-Pro physical talent, but it’s just never materialized the way I thought it would at the NFL level.

Cameron is a talented receiving tight end who creates mismatches, but I worry about his concussion history. Obviously NFL teams would be able to investigate that a lot better than I could, but at a position that’s susceptible to big hits I’d take a long, hard look at his injury history before making an offer.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-30

Posted by Chris Brown on January 30, 2015 – 11:26 am

It’s Super Bowl weekend, but there’s plenty to talk about concerning the Bills. Here are your latest set of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,

The recent public comments of Brandon Spikes and Doug Whaley regarding his future in Buffalo as a upcoming pending free agent did not provide me with much confidence that he will return. Ultimately money and potential playing time will dictate the outcome and with the return of Alonso and big contracts to be spent elsewhere it doesn’t look particularly promising that he will be back in my opinion.

I think a strong argument can be made for re-signing Spikes. He provides attitude, toughness and leadership to the position and helped to significantly improve the team’s run defense this year. He seemed sincere when he recently commented about enjoying playing in Buffalo and gives the impression that he loves playing the game. Sounds exactly like the kind of player we need to retain.  Just wondering what your thoughts are of whether you think there could be a role for Spikes next year with the return of Alonso and if you think the Bills will submit a serious bid to retain Spikes or instead look for the cheaper option of adding depth players behind the projected starters?

Regards
Matt

CB: It’s hard to say what Buffalo’s plans are concerning Spikes. Alonso’s return is a factor, but I think at the right price Spikes could return to the fold, possibly on another one-year deal. I do remember during a conference call this past season that Rex Ryan who was coaching the Jets at the time said the following about Spikes.

“(Brandon) Spikes is one of those guys that I like because he’s a tough guy, a mean guy, a tough a**,” said Ryan. “I like guys that are competitors and that’s why I like him so much.”

Whether Ryan’s opinion of Spikes has any influence remains to be seen, but it would appear that Spikes has an admirer in Buffalo’s new head coach.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

Thanks for all the great coverage you continue to provide.

I was wondering what you think the best approach would be in addressing the quarterback postion.  Also, do you see Mike Glennon as a fit?  I know the Bills were rumored to have liked him coming out of the 2013 draft, and I like much of what I’ve seen from him so far in Tampa.  He should be expendable as the Bucs are expected to take a QB #1 overall.  What’s your take on Glennon’s potential?

Thanks,
Joe

CB: Glennon I felt took a bit of a step back in his second season, which was impacted by a new offense and coordinator. He was also in and out of the lineup with veteran Josh McCown earning the starting job out of training camp. Much like EJ Manuel he is limited with his number of starts after getting only six this past season (19 in his career).

His completion percentage is comparable to Manuel’s (under 60) and he struggled when blitzed this past year. There’s no doubting that his arm strength would be an asset in the conditions the Bills play in at home, but his mobility is limited.

Knowing his skill set is dramatically different to that of EJ Manuel (see: mobility), it’s hard to know if that would be viewed as a negative or a positive or irrelevant by the new staff. I don’t know if Glennon is seen as a match, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills add a young QB in the league or a veteran signal caller either via free agency or a trade.

 

3 – CB,

What do you think the Bills plan of attack for fixing the O-Line? Richardson stills seems developmental and is poor at pass blocking. Pears should be let go and Urbik is average guard. With Williams injured and unclear if he will come back, how many guards do you expect them to bring in? Free agency or draft? It may hard to find a day 1 starter in draft but they need new guys in there.
Thanks!
Josh

CB: I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bills draft a guard and add one in free agency. Buffalo has some young guys already in the fold as you mentioned, but both Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan made it clear they’re going to bring in competition at positions where it’s warranted.

Erik Pears is an unrestricted free agent. Kraig Urbik is a capable player. Chris Williams should be back healthy in time for spring workouts.

One big plus is the hiring of Aaron Kromer, who has produced at least one Pro Bowl lineman on the teams he has coached the last six years. He’s a proven teacher and developer of linemen, so hopefully the younger players on the roster will take a big step forward in their development and be bigger contributors (See: Henderson, Kouandjio, Richardson).

 

 

4 – Chris,

On a lighter subject, do you think the Bills would consider going back to their Red helmets?  Best years in franchise history were with the Blue uniforms and red helmets.

RC from DC

CB: I would not anticipate that happening. Outside of a throwback type of thing I think you’ll see the white helmets for a long time.

 

 

5 – Hello Chris,

I have really enjoyed the information I have received from your Inside the Bills write ups. Thanks for keeping us informed.

Recently, I read and article on NFL.com, in which Mario Williams was excited about moving to the Linebacker position. To date, that information has not shown up on the buffalbills.com website. I have always believe the 4 3 defense was the best scheme, and our personnel matches that scheme. As our defense was one of the top defenses in the league, I am not clear if Rex and company intend to shift to a 3 4 defense. My thoughts are why? Then there is the statement, ” You don’t fix what is broken”.  Can you shed some light on what is going on with the Buffalo Bills defensive scheme for 2015?

Thanks
Peter

CB: I think I will let defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman handle this one. He was asked this week if he’s going to run a 3-4 or a 4-3 front. Here was his answer.

“(I will run) whatever talent dictates,” said Thurman. “We’ll play a 3-4. We’ll play a 4-3. We’ll get in a Forty-Six. We’ll give them an odd front. It’s whatever our guys do best and we’re going to play to their strengths and when you do that, you’re giving your guys a chance to be successful and that’s what it really comes down to…is those guys that are out there on that field, are you giving them the opportunity to go out and succeed? So it doesn’t matter. The scheme will be dictated by the personnel that we have.”

I don’t think there’s any debating that Rex Ryan’s defense are largely a hybrid scheme that can morph and change. So to label it a strict over or under front would be inaccurate. And I think Mario Williams will see a healthy amount of action up on the line of scrimmage.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-23

Posted by Chris Brown on January 23, 2015 – 1:11 pm

The new coaching staff is coming together. If you missed any of our Senior Bowl or Pro Bowl coverage check it out on Buffalobills.com. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

I don’t think Hughes, Urbik, Lawson, Spiller, Spikes or Rivers will return next year as the money will be spent in other areas. I think the Bills will soon extend the contracts of Dareus and Glenn.  Do you have any insight on this?

Thanks,
Joe

CB: I think the Bills will work hard to bring Hughes back into the fold. Spiller is expected to have other suitors. Urbik, Lawson and Rivers are all still under contract. Rex Ryan in a conference call this past season said Spikes was a player he liked because he has a grit and attitude to his game that appeals to him, for whatever that’s worth.

As for Dareus and Glenn, the Bills typically address free agents first before worrying about players that are still under contract, so while Dareus and Glenn are seen as long term building blocks for the franchise I don’t see them getting done in short order.

 

2 – Hi, Chris

Looking for help in understanding what has happened to the offensive line over the past three years.

Fact: Four of the current five starters were also starters on the O-Line in 2012.
Fact: The rushing game produced over 2200 yards in 2012; less than 1400 this year.
Fact: Now former coach Marrone has publicly stated that the problem with the run game is not Coach Hackett’s schematics.

So — if the line has basically the same players, with the same talent, with a couple years more experience, and the techniques and schematics are correct and being taught properly — why has there been such a marked regression in performance, culminating in last Sunday’s horrific 13 yards gained on 13 attempts?

You are close to the scene and obviously can sense better than we fans what is going on.  Please help.

Thanks much,
Jim D.

CB: There were a number of factors at work. First and foremost you had your top two running backs injured for a stretch of the season. Spiller missed seven games. I think anyone on the offensive line in 2014 would tell you that their play regressed from the year before.

In 2012 their offensive scheme ran out of a spread formation, which created bigger running lanes for the backs. That was not the case in 2014 as they chose to run between the tackles more often than not. I don’t know that the approach offensively always fit the backs they had carrying the ball. That combined with an offensive line that took a step back led to the lowest rushing total in team history in a 16-game season.

 

3 – Chris,

All Bills fans are disappointed, but so are the fans of the Ravens, Chiefs, Saints, Eagles, a few of them have $100 Million Quarterbacks !! There will be cries for EJ. You get better by practicing your skills, and proving in practice you’re ready to play. Do you feel EJ has shown he’s ready, how about Kouanjio and Richardson?
Jim in Florida

CB: I think the 12 weeks that Manuel had to focus on his personal game served him well over the last three quarters of the 2014 season. He also learned how to effectively prep yourself as a QB watching Kyle Orton get ready for games each week. From watching him the last month of the season in practice I felt his accuracy was improved. He was no longer thinking and concerned about throwing the perfect ball. He was just throwing.

I’m interested to see him as part of a competition for the starting job next year. Has he shown he’s ready? I don’t think we’ll know until we see him at training camp this summer.

As for Cyrus Kouandjio and Cyril Richardson they worked to make the most of their reps. It sounds like Kouandjio will be given real consideration at the guard position, even though it’s very new to him. I also believe competition will be brought in to battle the youngsters for roles on the roster.

 

4 – Hi Chris:  I understand that the Bills offense has been unbalanced between run and pass this past year.  What I’m unsure of is the major cause.  Could it be that the running backs were banged up this year?  Could it be that the offensive line never jelled?  Or could it be that most defenses dared us to throw by overloading the box and our pass game didn’t respond as well as hoped?  Like everything in life, there’s usually more than one reason.  But I was wondering if you could shed some light on what might be the most significant factor(s).

Warm wishes for the New Year!
Paul in Portland (Formerly Paul in Beijing)

CB: I hate to give a token answer, but I think it was all of the above. The running backs were banged up this year. There were times when defenses loaded up the box with extra defenders. The offensive line did struggle to jell at the start of the season due to Cordy Glenn’s undisclosed illness, which kept him out of the majority of the preseason. There was also a move by Erik Pears from tackle to guard, there was a rookie at right tackle and starting LG Chris Williams missed half the preseason due to a recurring back injury.

I also think at times the offensive approach moved away from the strengths of their skill position players in an effort to protect the football with more conservative play.

5 – Hello Chris,

First I’d like to say Happy New Year! Thank You for your news and blogs that us Bills fans love to get answers and info from.. your passion for the Bills is the same that we fans have, and you help us to believe.

My question is about the Offensive line.. I am sure most are wanting to know about the QB, but a big fix we need is on the O-line.

I am wondering what your thoughts(and i’ll get the fans thoughts in the comments section after) on

shifting around the line a bit. What about Buffalo using either their 2nd or 3rd round pick on one of the top 2-3 Centers in the 2015 Draft.. like Dismukes from Auburn, Grasu from Oregon, or Gallik from BC. We can then move Wood back to RG where he did well for us in his first 2 years before moving to Center.. he can still call the protections and he shows the ability to move around to run block very well and the aggression.

Then Chris Williams(we lost a lot when he got hurt) coming back to be the LG.. again, we hope he stays healthy. Glenn as the LT and putting the sophomore slump that seems to bite so many and bouncing back. And then Kouandjio and Henderson fighting for the RT position.

So.. LT Glenn, LG Williams, C Best avail in 2015 Draft, RG Wood, RT Henderson/Kouandjio

NE did something like this with a new Center this year in Stork and they seemed to find a good rhythm in the season… and we could even if need be bring in whomever is not the starter at RT out once in a while to line up next to the starter giving us a 6th Lineman as protection if need be.

Just looking for your thoughts.. as far as where instead of going out to get 2 new G’s in FA and maybe in the draft where a good Center can change it all up and be giving us depth also.

Thanks.. have a nice weekend watching the post season.

Brian Moss

CB: I think your thought about moving Eric Wood out to guard, where he began his NFL career is an interesting idea. However, I think the only way it happens is if the Bills bring in a veteran center, not a rookie by way of the draft. If they add an offensive lineman in the draft I would expect it to be more of a guard. But knowing they have a second-year guard in Cyril Richardson and possibly a second guard option in Cyrus Kouandjio they may elect to add a veteran guard as they did last year (Chris Williams).

I think Seantrel Henderson can only improve in his second season if he takes to good coaching with the new staff and his athleticism alone gives him a leg up on Kouandjio for the right tackle job.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-16

Posted by Chris Brown on January 16, 2015 – 12:24 pm

It was a historical week for the Bills franchise with the hiring of Rex Ryan as the 18th head coach in team history. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

With the coming to an end what positions do you think need more depth for the offseason besides QB? Offensive line or maybe tight end or defensive end in case Hughes leaves? Can you also explain to fans that the Bills would have taken Eric Ebron, and trading up for Sammy wasn’t as risky as many thought. This year’s list of WRs isn’t as deep.

CB: As for positional needs the guard spot is right up at the top. I think a big running back is another potential need for two reasons. First, it’s unclear as to whether C.J. Spiller will return to the team with the ability to become a free agent this offseason. Second, a power run game is going to need a big back comparable to Frank Gore or Eddie Lacy. Buffalo has a big back in Boobie Dixon, but he was relegated to backup duty under offensive coordinator Greg Roman in San Francisco. Fred Jackson and Bryce Brown are capable, but it might be time to draft a young back to add to the mix. An end/OLB would be a need if Hughes doesn’t return, but they can’t wait on that.

As for last year’s draft, it was my understanding that if the Bills stayed at nine that Eric Ebron was the most likely target, assuming the likes of Sammy Watkins was off the board.

 

2 – Hi Chris,
My name is Ben Cary, a dedicated bills fan from West Seneca studying at Miami University of Ohio. Are the Bills interested in pursuing Jay Cutler, now that the Bears might be shopping him? I think he could fix a lot of our quarterback issues. He has the raw talent to make the plays none of our recent QB’s have been able to. I also think he would find success in our run first offense because he wouldn’t be forced to throw the ball as much as Chicago made him. What are your thoughts?

Has Doug Whaley thought about this as well? I love the improvement we’ve made this year and can’t wait to see what the future of the franchise holds!

Thanks so much
Ben Cary

CB: If the Bills are interested in pursuing Jay Cutler in a trade scenario they certainly can’t state it publicly since he’s property of the Bears. That could open the team up to tampering charges. While there’s no debating that he is physically gifted as a quarterback there is a reason his second franchise is reportedly looking to move him.

I don’t dismiss your point that a run first approach on offense could decrease some of the ill-advised plays Cutler tries to make. While talent is a big asset to have as a quarterback, leadership is a close second and that’s where I think Cutler struggles as a player.

I can’t tell you what Doug Whaley is thinking, but it’s my belief that the Bills will look to add a veteran quarterback to the roster. Whether Cutler is under consideration remains to be seen.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills I see the two lineman the #bills have signed to futures deals are both under 300 lbs. Will this be the trend going forward? More athleticism at guard seems logical, right?

DanielBeaudoin1

CB: Greg Roman’s power run game is pretty multiple. That being said having guards who are capable of pulling is a plus. You also have to be able to push the pile so I don’t know that a trend can be taken from the two most recent OL signings.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills do u believe Whaley that he would take a QB in the 2nd or 3rd if the right one was available? Petty or Hundley. #bills

Srothenburgh

CB: I think Whaley in that radio interview this week was just trying to emphasize the fact that they do not rule anything out with every draft pick they hold. If a quarterback is the best player on the board, and there isn’t a pressing positional need with a prospect that is comparable in terms of grade to said quarterback, then they’ll take a QB. Knowing this is his approach he cannot rule out taking a QB. In reality I see the Bills adding a veteran quarterback this offseason.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

What is a typical NFL halftime like for a team? Does the head coach address the full team the entire time? Do position groups meet? Are the discussions strategic or motivational? Thanks

Sincerely,
Max

CB: At halftime there isn’t a whole lot of time. With the coaches from the booth taking an extra five minutes to get down to the locker room, there’s only about 7-8 minutes to go over things. The head coach will briefly huddle with the coordinators before making decisions on various adjustments for the second half. In most cases the teams breaks off into offensive and defensive groups with their coordinators. They address what has to be corrected and then what some of the adjustments will be. After plotting out strategy the head coach or a team captain might say a few inspirational words and it’s back out to the field.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-9

Posted by Chris Brown on January 9, 2015 – 11:44 am

The season is over and the head coaching search is underway. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Can you give Bills fans an update on the picks we get for the Stevie Johnson and Bryce Brown trades and where the picks could be for both players based on their playing time? Is it a 3rd for both players if they have a certain amount of games?

Josh

CB: Both trades were in exchange for conditional fourth-round picks. What most are not aware of is Buffalo was using one trade to facilitate the other.

While I don’t have the exact terms that would have bumped both picks to third-round selections I do know that both the pick acquired in the Johnson trade remained a fourth-round pick, as did the pick Philadelphia is owed by Buffalo.

Since the Bills original fourth-round pick in 2015 was traded to Cleveland in the Sammy Watkins deal, the fourth-round pick acquired from San Francisco for Stevie Johnson must be sent to Philadelphia for Bryce Brown.

So this spring the Bills do not have a first or fourth round selection. They have a second, third, two fifths, sixth and seventh.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for the great coverage and all that you do.  A lot has been made around the NFL about the NFC South and one of those teams making the playoffs with a record less than .500.  My question is that with the Bills finishing with a better record than the NFC South champion (Carolina 7-8-1) will they pick after them in the draft?  The draft normally goes by record but do things change once a team makes the playoffs?  Thanks for the response.

J-P from Corning, NY but now in Frederick, MD
CB: Yes, by rule playoff teams pick after non-playoff teams. So the Bills first-round pick at 19, which is owned by Cleveland comes before Carolina. In fact even the playoff teams with better records who were eliminated Wild Card weekend will pick ahead of the Panthers. The best Carolina can do if they lose to Seattle this weekend is the 25th pick in round one.

 

3 – Chris,

Watching the Bills this season always leaves me thinking how many games would they have won if we had a top QB. Despite some games that Orton played well, he is surely not the guy to lead the Bills to the playoffs. I was wondering if picking up Sam Bradford would be a possibility and keeping EJ as a backup. I was also thinking that even though our offensive line has struggled this year, would we take a QB with our 2nd round pick this year?

-Bennett

CB: Sam Bradford is an interesting consideration. He has more than three times the experience of EJ Manuel in terms NFL starts with 49 on his NFL resume, but what is of concern to me is his completion percentage. It’s 58.6 percent, which is exactly the same as EJ Manuel.

I think the Bills need better than that if they decide acquiring a veteran quarterback is the route to take again this offseason. Now I’ll admit it is slim pickings in terms of the free agent market, and Bradford might be seen as one of the better options available.

Buffalo has limited capital to offer in a trade for a QB knowing they’re without a first and fourth-round pick this year.

The plan going forward concerning the quarterback position is certainly going to be one of the more intriguing developments for the Bills this offseason. And as for taking a QB in round two of the draft I don’t think anything can be ruled out at this point, but I do believe quarterback might be addressed before the draft rolls around.

 

4 – Chris,

How do you assess the prospects of OGs Kouandjio and Richardson? Do they have a chance to start on the Bills’ O-line  or will the Bills be shopping for guards in free agency and the draft next year.

Thanks,
Bob

CB: I think Cyrus Kouandjio and Cyril Richardson are still seen as long term investments by the organization. As I’ve written here before Kouandjio is still very young in football. He turned 21 during training camp last summer and has not played football his entire life. There is talent there. I just think what he needs is time on the job. Richardson has the physical tools, but they need to be refined more.

With that in mind I think it would be prudent for the Bills to seek NFL ready help at the guard position, especially with Erik Pears a free agent this offseason. The draft is another possibility, but it would have to be addressed early (2nd, 3rd round).

 

5 – Hi Chris,

My question pertains to re-signing several key players. I’ve read that there is some questions about whether or not we can sign Jerry Hughes, and renegotiate CJ and Marcel’s deals to keep them here long term, while also finding some key free agents and solid draft picks. Don’t we have a considerable amount of dead money coming off the books at the end of this year (Fitz, Stevie, Anderson, Lindell)? Overthecap.com says that it is about $21.6 million. With that money freed up, and the expansion of the salary cap don’t we have enough room to work with to bring back Jerry and give Marcel and CJ a raise?

(If this doesn’t make the list of questions on the blog post I would still love to hear your thoughts about where we stand financially going forward and how we can keep our defensive and offensive playmakers in Buffalo.)

Kevin

CB: You’re right there is a good amount of dead money coming off the books. I have seen the dead cap number closer to $24M. Per GM Doug Whaley – they will make every effort to bring Jerry Hughes and C.J. Spiller back into the fold.

There are reports that NFL clubs are expecting the cap to go up about $10M this year, which helps as well. It’s certainly possible that Dareus’ contract will be addressed to reduce his $8M cap figure this year and extend it.

However, I don’t think Dareus’ contract has to be extended in order for the club to formulate competitive offers for Hughes, Spiller and possibly Da’Norris Searcy.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-26

Posted by Chris Brown on December 26, 2014 – 11:43 am

The end goal of the playoffs unfortunately did not come to fruition this season, but the support of the Bills fans never wavered. One more game up in New England this week. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
I think the reason Buffalo cannot win is because they don’t have a franchise quarterback. The reason they don’t have a franchise quarterback is because of how quickly the head coach and the entire staff get fired. There is no way a quarterback will develop if the system changes continually. There are very good examples of this and I will give one … Peyton Manning.  Peyton Manning managed only two wins his first year yet the management and fan base stuck with him. Why won’t buffalo bills fan base back a quarter back other than Jim Kelly?

Michael from Nebraska

CB: Your points are very valid. This is the value of continuity that I believe team president Russ Brandon was getting at in a radio interview recently. Constant change over the past 15 years (6 head coaches hired, 9 offensive coordinators, 7 defensive coordinators) has unquestionably compromised the development of young talent on the roster because the approach and philosophy of coaches obviously differs.

J.P. Losman may never have been a great quarterback, but having three different offensive coordinators in his five years with the team greatly impacted his improvement as a player. There’s no debating that changing systems requires a period of adjustment for all players. There’s also a period of adjustment for new coaches, who must learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the talent they inherit.

That’s why the dominance of the Patriots in the AFC East has persisted for so long. It’s not only because they’ve been able to enjoy continuity under Bill Belichick, but their success is also the byproduct of a lack of continuity with the rest of the division. The Jets, Dolphins and Bills have all had a good deal of head coaching and coordinator turnover since2000 with New York expected to see more this offseason.

Change can be good for the clubs that choose that course, but the odds are even better that New England will benefit as a result of that change within their division.

 

2 – Hey Chris,
Everyone seems to be singling out the QB play, but personally I don’t think that’s the main issue right now; it’s just the easiest to blame. When I watch Orton, I see a pocket passer who makes probably about 7 or 8 out of 10 throws to open receivers when he’s protected. The problem is we can’t run the ball, so the defense tees off on him when he drops back to pass and that further exasperates our horrible pass protection.

That’s why we can’t make plays down the field, because there isn’t the time to let the play develop.  Every time I see Orton try to wait for a receiver to come open down the field he has to throw it early, and he’s usually still taking a pretty good hit, so it’s not like he’s throwing it earlier than he has to. Also our receivers have struggled to get open quite a bit this year; I imagine a running game would help with play action, which would help our receivers and O-line.

People seem to forget the super bowl quickly, as great as Peyton Manning is, even he couldn’t win without a running game and pass protection.  The plan by this regime was originally to be a dominate run team that plays defense.  And I think Orton is a good enough QB to execute that.  Just look at his stats after 9 games.  To me it shows that he’s capable of passing for around 25 td’s, 12-14 int’s, and around 4,000 yards.  If we can run the ball and play defense that is good enough to win.  With improved o-line play he might even be able to do better than that.

CB: I don’t disagree with some of the points you make here. I do think however, there have been instances where with time to throw, Orton has simple been inaccurate. Against the Raiders there were two plays on the same drive where Orton missed Hogan running an underneath checkdown route when he stepped up in the pocket. He also missed Watkins on a deep out route with clear separation when he was not under duress.

Obviously all quarterbacks miss throws, but his misses are magnified because the margin for error for this offense is smaller than most. That’s because, as you point out, the run game has fallen on hard times this season. If Buffalo still had the number two rushing offense in the league this season, as they had last year, I believe the Bills would be a playoff team right now.

Unfortunately balance has been sorely absent in Buffalo’s offense more than anything else. The last time the Bills had true balance in their offense was against the Jets in Detroit when they won 38-3. Even when they attempted to have balance in Week 15 against Green Bay, though there wasn’t a great deal of production they were still effective enough to get a win with their strong defense.

When the Bills don’t have balance on offense they do run into a lot of the problems you mention. And since those other elements of their offense are just average, when they’re depended upon to solve the offensive problems, they usually come up short on that side of the ball. And that leads to a lack of points and unless you’re close to averaging 23-24 points per game it’s unlikely you’re going to win more than you lose in the NFL.

 

3 – Chris,
When the Bills had to play New York Jets in Detroit and free tickets were given out, is the lost in revenue be distributed or totally absorbed by one or two teams?

C.J. Wong

CB: The Bills, along with most other NFL clubs, has what’s called business interruption insurance. That covers the cost of any financial or revenue losses incurred by having to relocate the Week 12 home game against the Jets to Detroit.

The split of the gate revenue lost for that home game will likely remain the same (60-40). How insurance will determine the revenue lost will likely be based on the number of tickets sold leading up to the game along with a few other estimated variables.

 

4 – Chris,

Regarding the college draft for the Bills organization, how is the player evaluated? Who makes the final decision on the draft? The Bills has to be congratulated for great finds like Kiko Alonso and Preston
Brown. The skill of Marcell Dareus and Sammy Watkins is public knowledge before the draft. How can we avoid the annual blunders, namely T.J. Graham in 2012, E.J. Manuel in 2013 and Cyrus Kouandjio in 2014? E.J. has great disposition. His shortcoming in precision, judgment and often exposes his receivers for big hit is worrisome. I wish him nothing but the best.

Thanks,

CW

CB: Concerning the college draft GM Doug Whaley makes the final call on a draft choice.

Avoiding draft misses like Graham can’t be completely avoided. There are simply too many variables to successfully navigate a team clear of such picks.

Far beyond, height, weight, speed, character and on field disposition are things that no one can truly measure like how a college player’s game will translate to the NFL.

A perfect example is former Bills WR Josh Reed. At LSU Reed AVERAGED 145 receiving yards a game in an era of college football that hadn’t quite exploded into a wide open spread game with inflated numbers. He was the Biletnikoff winner (award for nation’s best college WR) and when the Bills drafted him in round two back in 2002 he was considered one of the steals of the draft.

We all know how that turned out.

Statistical studies have shown that if a team can hit on 40 percent of their draft choices they are doing very, very well. And most NFL clubs don’t even reach that success rate.

I also think it’s premature to call EJ Manuel or Cyrus Kouandjio draft blunders. High draft choices admittedly come with high expectations, right or wrong, but patience with such talent can often be rewarded.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

I have a question with regards to offensive creativity.  I feel that the Bills offense is incredibly bland when looking at other teams.  Obviously we will never be the Patriots but when you watch them they go five wide and other times put Edelman in motion all over to create matchups and get separation.  Sammy stays in one spot every time.  We also currently have NO play action.

I feel Orton needs to get under center and create some play action or something – we’re TERRIBLE running the ball out of shotgun.  I understand the slower tempo but where is the imagination and slant routes and deep middle crosses??

I feel like I’m watching Dick Jauron’s offense and our players are so much better now it’s just so frustrating.  I’m also interested in your take on our offensive line coach who no one talks about.  Our O line is regressing due to scheme and technique and I thought this was a questionable hire initially and I think we would do well with some new blood there.

It still is beyond me that we can have a kickoff specialist who can’t kick the ball out of the end zone in DENVER and we leave Mike Williams off roster and have no five wide formations.  Count me in as one who thinks Marrone’s offense is better suited for college than the pros.

Sincerely,

Chris P.

CB: It’s my belief that a lot of the limitations we’ve seen in terms of play calling are rooted in what the coaching staff believes, or doesn’t believe, the unit is capable of executing on a consistent basis. With the struggles of the run game this season to execute effectively, the balance of the offense which is designed to play off a productive run game have been largely compromised as mentioned above.

You can’t have play action if you have a run game that is not producing. If a defense can stop your run game with seven defenders, play action doesn’t draw that safety up into the box to stop the run and leave the secondary with one fewer defender.

I respect the frustration, but with a young receiving corps with no one with more than a couple of NFL seasons under their belt I think the staff is hesitant to expand the scope of the offense for fear of sacrificing what consistency they believe they have.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-12

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

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

1 – Hi Chris,

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

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

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

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

 

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

Thanks
Joe
Blasdell

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

 

3 – Hi Chris,

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

Your thoughts,
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

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

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

 

4 – Chris,

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

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

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

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

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

 

5 – Hi Chris,

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

Thanks Travis

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


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-5

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

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

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

Jedediah
Palm Coast, FL

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

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

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

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

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

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

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

crazyeyes7711

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

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

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

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

What’s Goodwin’s % to play?

8three7six6zero

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

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

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

 

4 –  @ChrisBrownBills

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

JaredBailey23

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

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

 

5 – Chris,

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

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

Thoughts?

Thanks,
Elliott

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

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

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


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Posted in Inside the Bills