Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 1-22

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2016 – 12:07 pm

Some coaching hires for the staff the last week or so. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills What’s the biggest lesson learned between Wk1 and Wk16 defensively with this team?

vapor311

CB: I think the biggest lesson learned by the players was that if there was more accountability player to player on defense, there would’ve been unanimous buy in and the defense would’ve performed more consistently and been more effective in Ryan’s scheme. That didn’t happen until after the embarrassing defensive performance at Washington when the players that did buy in called out the players who didn’t. We saw improved collective play from the defensive unit after that.

I believe the biggest lesson learned by Rex and the coaches is just how multi-faceted a lot of their defensive talent is particularly some of their defensive linemen like Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes specifically. Dareus and Williams are athletic enough to play end in a 3-4 look and Hughes can be an end in a 4-3 look or an OLB in a 3-4. He’s that versatile.

There are other examples at LB and in the secondary, but Rex has expressed that a year with those players has provided him with a better grasp of everything that players like that can do, not just their primary strengths.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

Here is my concern. It seems to make more sense for a coach to change their scheme to fit the players than change the roster to fit the scheme. Why has Rex Ryan, the great defensive mastermind who was figured out and canned in NY, been reluctant to implement a scheme where our star defensive line can pass rush like they have proven they are good at doing and rely upon a better cover based defense? We consistently get beat while trying to change in and out of “complex” blitz packages that always seem to come up short while letting the QB find a quick under or hot route. What should we expect for the future I’m so desperately trying to not give up on? Suddenly find myself hoping for a Sean Payton and Jim Schwartz led team and I can’t stand the coaching turnovers.. But I have to admit Ryan’s defensive scheme is old news…

-Losing faith in OR

CB: Rex took steps to try and mold his defensive scheme to the talent of the personnel. As mentioned above Ryan admitted that he is in a much better position to coach to some of the players’ versatile strengths now that he knows the depth of their talents having worked with them for a year. I know that’s small consolation in light of how the defense underachieved, but I don’t think it’s something that should be taken lightly.

Rex referenced Jerry Hughes specifically saying he now realizes that Hughes is so much more than a hand in the dirt type, rush the passer player. That he can do a number of different things well. He also said the big difference he noticed at the end of the season was that players were finally giving him answers when he asked for their opinion.

It was his contention that his offer to the players from the very beginning of the season to give him feedback fell on deaf ears until the last two games. Rex in making in-game adjustments would ask for the opinion of the players. Until the Dallas game he said those appeals were not met with answers and he couldn’t understand why.

Once he got some more input from players we saw the difference. Buffalo’s last two games were their best back-to-back defensive performances of the season in terms of points allowed (6 and 17). And that was without a handful of defensive starters (Darby, Gilmore, A. Williams, K. Williams, Bradham). So Ryan is encouraged that the proper give and take now exists between the players and himself and the value of that should not be discounted.

 

3 – Happy New Year Chris:

Do you think the Bills organization will make a play for Miami Dolphins Olivier Vernon?

Thanks from a true Bills fan in NewportNews, Va.
Gary Truesdale

CB: I would be surprised if the Bills pursued Olivier Vernon only because he’s going to command a sizable price tag and GM Doug Whaley has made it clear that they’re going to be pursuing “dust settle” type free agents. The focus this offseason will be for the Bills to re-sign their own, chiefly Richie Incognito and Cordy Glenn.

Buffalo’s cap situation needs some restructuring this offseason before we reach free agency and Bills Senior VP of Football Administration, Jim Overdorf will be tasked with that as he has in the past. But knowing the priorities that Incognito and Glenn are combined with their cap situation I wouldn’t expect to see a top tier free agent like Vernon to be on the Bills radar.

 

4 – Chris,

Hypothetical of course.  Just what if, with all the defensive needs and offensive tackle needs, Laquon Treadwell and/or Connor Cook were available at pick 19?  How are we going to fill our need at receiver?  Not in free agency as per Whaley’s statement and later in the draft will not fill that need either.

Jim (Skaneateles)

CB: I do believe the Bills will make efforts to land a true No. 2 receiver that can draw attention away from Sammy Watkins. Robert Woods played more than half the season with a severe groin injury and might be best suited for the slot. Percy Harvin is a player the Bills would like to return to the fold, but has to get healthy first and is not a lock to return.
I know the Bills would like to add size to the position as evidenced by the reserve/future signings of Greg Little and Jarrett Boykin. But I don’t think they’re putting all their stock in those two wideouts.

Unfortunately this year’s receiver class doesn’t offer a lot of quality size. There are 6-1 and 6-2 guys aplenty, but the 6-4 and 6-5 targets of quality just don’t exist in this year’s class. I suppose there could be a prospect or two that could possess a ‘big receiver’ game because they play bigger than their listed size. I’ve still got homework to do on the 2016 draft class, but Treadwell would be a tempting option.

Personally I don’t think Connor Cook is worthy of a first-round pick. In a draft without a lot of elite QB talent I suppose it’s possible he’ll be moved up a lot of draft boards as the draft draws closer due to supply and demand, but Treadwell is a more worthy first-round pick to me than Cook. That being said I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bills found better value at another position in round one.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills What are the fates of Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes? Are they staying or leaving?

TandAFootball

CB: I feel good about the playing futures of Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes in Buffalo. I’ll actually have more on Kyle Williams in a story on Buffalobills.com slated for Monday. Hughes is a cornerstone piece for this defense moving forward, which is why he was signed to the long term contract extension last offseason.

Mario Williams situation is a lot more precarious, chiefly due to his cost-prohibitive contract. I think it would be difficult for any defensive player to live up to a contract that has a cap figure of almost $20M for 2016 ($19.9M). With Buffalo’s cap situation in a restrictive position right now, addressing Mario’s contract will probably be pretty high on Jim Overdorf’s to-do list.

There are a few paths they can take with it as we all know. What kind of steps Mario and his agent are willing to take is the big question.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-15

Posted by Chris Brown on January 15, 2016 – 12:04 pm

A couple of adds to the coaching staff and the roster this week. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Chris, can u see the Bills being interested in D.Harrison or H.Ngata if available in FA? Both r NTs that know Rex system

Mikeybeit

CB: While there’s no debating that Harrison and Ngata know Ryan’s defense, I think interest in Ngata and Harrison depends solely on price. I don’t see the Bills investing heavily in their defensive line with so much money tied up there already. Even if Mario Williams isn’t on the roster next year they still have some fat contracts with Dareus, Hughes and Kyle.

So the play there is to go for the affordable options and use draft choices. That probably means Damon Harrison is a more likely option than Haloti Ngata, who even at age 31 would probably command a higher price tag than Harrison, who is a role player.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills to what extent do you foresee Rob Ryan playing a part in the defense next season? #Bills

yamanboo

CB: Here’s how I see the Rob Ryan hiring playing out. After both of them had a down season in terms of defensive ranking there is great motivation by both to redeem themselves and their family name as it pertains to putting together great defensive units.

Rex trusts his brother to do right by the principles of the defense and I think Rob will probably have a heavy hand in the defensive planning. That will allow Rex to take on more of a big picture role as a head coach where he can focus more on the all-encompassing duties that job demands.

I’m not sure Rex will relinquish play calling duties on game day to Rob or anybody else for that matter, but with his title being Assistant head coach/Defense, it’s safe to say Rob Ryan will play a major role in getting this defense back to a level more typically associated with the Ryan name.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills Will the Ryan brothers realize that Mario Williams was right?

ItsjustJimmy

CB: I think this is what you need to consider before you blindly accept Mario Williams comments as truth. When there is a scheme change via a new coaching staff coming in there has to be 100 percent buy in from the players. If there is not 100 percent commitment, especially in a scheme as intricate as Rex Ryan’s it simply does not work.

Did Mario Williams buy into Rex Ryan’s scheme 100 percent at any point this season? When his role in this defensive scheme wasn’t to his liking did he still play to the best of his ability every snap, every week?

I will let Preston Brown answer that question for you with some comments he made with just two games left in the season after the team was eliminated from playoff contention.

“Guys have got to buy into the system, especially on the defensive side,” said Brown. “We don’t really know how good we could’ve been because everybody wasn’t doing what they were supposed to do on each play. We can’t say it was the scheme. Mentally everybody wasn’t there.

“It’s something that we have to handle. We have to understand that everybody has to be working as one and we haven’t done that this year. Everybody has been kind of doing their own agenda on our side of the ball. So it’s something that we need to get covered and handle these last couple of games and years down the road.

“Everybody keeps saying last year we were a top four defense and everybody was still thinking about last year. We’ve got to get over that. It’s not last year and guys were still thinking, ‘Oh we did this last year.’ Well we’re not doing that this year. So we’ve got to understand that we’re doing a different scheme and a different system and it works if everybody does it the right way.”

As a side note I applaud Preston Brown for revealing just what the problems were this season. There were a couple of players that compromised the integrity and effectiveness of the scheme for the sake of their own self-interest. Fortunately a couple of young players stepped forward to lead this team and called out those players so a promising season doesn’t get submarined again.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills what’s the chances of the #Bills holding onto Mario Williams? Should they?

TheJokstr

CB: What we do know is Mario Williams contract is cost prohibitive. His $19.9M cap figure is something that has to be re-worked through restructuring or eliminated by some other means. Buffalo has free agent priorities in Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito. Those contracts simply cannot get done without a giant contract like Williams’ being adjusted or taken care of in some other fashion.

I think most know that Mario Williams’ performance didn’t live up to his salary, and we know all too well why he feels he wasn’t effective in Rex Ryan’s scheme.

No matter which way you slice it his contract has to be addressed. I’m sure the Bills will exhaust every option to have it settled by the time they need to get Glenn and Incognito back under contract. Whether that means he’s here or not is another story.

 

5- @ChrisBrownBills Do you expect to see Buffalo run a more traditional 3-4 base defense this year, like we’ve seen from Rex in the past?

MustangMike23

CB: I don’t think it’s any secret that Rex Ryan wants to run a purer version of what has traditionally been successful for him defensively than what he ran in Buffalo this past season. He himself admitted that trying to blend some of the concepts from the 2014 Bills defense just didn’t work and had to scrap it midseason.

How far he goes in running a more traditional 3-4 will hinge on the talent turnover defensively from now until next spring. If the proper pieces are in place then it’s probably full steam ahead. If not, it might have more of a hybrid look to it like we saw in 2013 under Mike Pettine.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-8

Posted by Chris Brown on January 8, 2016 – 10:50 am

Into the offseason we go. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

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

LoretoB10

CB: In fairness to Rex Ryan, he recognized how married some of the players were to the previous scheme and tried to incorporate some of those concepts from last year into his scheme. By midseason he realized that wasn’t working and scrapped it to have the players focus only on his scheme.

Unfortunately there were players who refused to buy in, and Ryan’s scheme, or any other for that matter, doesn’t work unless all 11 players execute their assignments. Preston Brown addressed that when I asked him a few questions about it after the Washington game.

“Guys have got to buy into the system, especially on the defensive side,” said Brown. “We don’t really know how good we could’ve been because everybody wasn’t doing what they were supposed to do on each play. We can’t say it was the scheme or everybody is not playing with effort. Mentally everybody wasn’t there.

“We have to understand that everybody has to be working as one and we haven’t done that this year. Everybody has been kind of doing their own agenda on our side of the ball. So it’s something that we need to get covered and handle these last couple of games and years down the road.”

When I asked Preston why the defense had players being selfish and doing their own thing this was his response.

“I’m not sure. Everybody keeps saying last year we were a top four defense and everybody was still thinking about last year. We’ve got to get over that,” said Brown. “It’s not last year and guys were still thinking, ‘Oh we did this last year.’ Well we’re not doing that this year. So we’ve got to understand that we’re doing a different scheme and a different system and it works if everybody does it the right way.”

Complete buy in by the defensive players didn’t happen until the last two weeks of the season according to the players I spoke with and we saw good results over the final two games. So when the players tell me and media members that Rex is not at fault with what happened to the defense and that it’s on the players, I take them at their word.

For the record Rex tried to appeal to the players in different ways to get full buy-in knowing it wasn’t there. I wrote about that this week. But the bottom line, as Sammy Watkins said, is it’s on the players to take control of how players prepare, practice and play on game days. And if someone is being selfish or slacking they need to be called out by teammates.

That’s why Watkins and Brown stepped forward as leaders late this season. They don’t want to see what happened to their defense because of a couple of selfish players happen again.

 

2 – Chris,

I’m still trying to make sense of this season, as results have been significantly below expectations.  There have been too many games where the team has been unprepared, undisciplined, and let games get away from them that they should have won.

Why move up in the draft and give up so much in 1st round draft picks to select Sammy Watkins and not find a way to incorporate him more into the offense.  Other WRs Calvin Johnson, Beckham, Antonio Brown defenses focus on, and yet their Offense still get them the ball.  Why do they mainly use Sammy for only deep passes or screens that never seem to work.  How about running Sammy across the field like Andre Reed always did or the way the Patriots utilize Edelman and just have the QB lead him on a pass as he runs a short crossing route and then takes off?

CB: The main reason why Watkins wasn’t made more of a focal point of the offense was two-fold. First, Buffalo was committed to being a run-first attack. Second, offensive coordinator Greg Roman has said they wanted to bring Tyrod Taylor along steadily to see how much he could capably handle on a week to week basis. They were trying to help him progress while limiting setbacks and gradually gave him more rope as the season wore on.

Once they felt comfortable that Taylor could handle more you saw the deep passing game flourish. Since the bye week only two other receivers had more yardage than Watkins 900 in the last nine games. They were Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. For a first-year offense with a first-year quarterback you have to walk before you can run, and rely on the run before you rely more on the pass

Under Roman’s guidance the Bills did that. It probably would’ve been effective enough to reach the postseason had the defense not taken a step back. I think moving forward Watkins will continue to be a dominant weapon as the rapport between him and Taylor continues to develop.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills how long of contract terms are Glenn and Richie looking at receiving and possibly getting?

Brady_P

CB: Glenn is the one who will be cashing in with a long-term deal. At age 26 he’s entering the prime of his career, so a long term deal would make sense and he plays at a position that commands more pay in terms of average salary. Incognito is 32-years old, so I’d be surprised to see anything more than a three-year contract. Probably a two-year deal with a team option for a third.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills Given that releasing EJ Manuel would save no money & leave the team with dead money, can you see any upside to releasing him?

cdevaney

CB: The question here with EJ Manuel is can you do better at backup quarterback than EJ?  If the front office feels the answer is yes, Manuel’s dead money on the cap of a little over $2.8M is not crippling with the cap likely to be up around $153M for 2016.

So when money doesn’t impact the decision GM Doug Whaley largely lets the performance on the field determine make the call.

It’s my belief that the Bills will add a backup quarterback prospect from the draft. Someone they feel they can develop behind Tyrod Taylor. Is it likely such a prospect would be more NFL ready than Manuel? No.

So it’s possible they keep Manuel on the roster until they see more of whatever quarterback they draft or add looks in their offense. But it wouldn’t shock me if the organization decides to turn the page.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills what is the outlook for the Bills to receive a compensatory draft pick this year? #fanfriday

lophus89

CB: Taking a more in depth look at things with some help from the front office as to who qualifies as a free agent addition and a free agent loss (the rules are endless) the Bills may be entitled to one compensatory pick this year.

The Bills added – Alex Carrington, Jerome Felton and Tyrod Taylor (Charles Clay – transition player???)
The Bills lost – Erik Pears, Da’Norris Searcy, Lee Smith and C.J. Spiller

Harvin and Incognito were not unrestricted free agents because they had contracts that were terminated. And Clay will be argued by the Bills as someone who should not count because he was a transition player. We’ll see if the league disagrees because there is precedent with transition players counting toward the free agent add count, but if not the Bills should get one compensatory pick this year.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-1

Posted by Chris Brown on January 1, 2016 – 11:52 am

Happy New Year Bills fans! Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills who has a legitimate chance of making a case for a starting job Sunday?

ChimeraTony

CB: I don’t know if this one game is enough to vault a reserve player into starter status for 2016. I think there have been some players that have done a good job of performing when given the opportunity here at the end of the season.

Corbin Bryant, Mike Gillislee and AJ Tarpley are a few players that come to mind. I think Mario Butler has had his moments as well. Jonathan Meeks is expected to get an extended opportunity Sunday. We’ll see if he can make himself part of the offseason conversation as well.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Chris, fans near & far see dysfunction again, which is very frustrating. Is there anything you understand that we may not?

XKC4338

CB: I think the one thing that I have learned in the last 16 years with this club is that change sets the timeline to success back. Every time you make a change in this league, whether it’s to your front office, coaching staff, offensive or defensive scheme or wholesale changes with your personnel you lengthen the timeline toward reaching success.

Sometimes change is necessary, but when such changes are made immediate success is rare. So despite the fact that most of us were convinced that the Bills were destined for the playoffs we lost sight of the fact that the team was going to have a new offensive scheme, new defensive scheme, new coaches on the whole and a new quarterback who was new to all the players around him.

The history of the league has taught us that such widespread change usually does not result in a won-loss record good enough to reach the postseason.

In fairness to the Bills a lot of that change was thrust upon new owners Terry and Kim Pegula. Their head coach quit and their starting quarterback retired. So change had to happen. That change unfortunately set back the clock to playoff success.

I realize fans are impatient. We’ve been waiting a long time to reach the postseason, but time and again the league more often rewards clubs that stay the course than they reward the clubs that constantly vote for change.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills if Mario leaves who fills that void? Clearly our pass rush stunk this year so where do we go from here?

FriarJeff

CB: I think if that proves to be a move that the Bills decide to make they’ll need to look for a pass rusher high in the draft. They’re already heavily invested in Jerry Hughes over the long haul, as well as Marcell Dareus. That’s why a high draft choice makes the most fiscal sense. Team a young, promising pass rusher with Hughes on the other end and it doesn’t impact your cap as much as a high-price free agent.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills how could Rex Ryan best defend his coaching this year in light of the team’s underachievement? Injuries, schedule, other?

kevinkresse

CB: I think injuries were certainly a big part of the problem. Losing Aaron Williams and Kyle Williams turned into a big problem from both an execution and a leadership perspective. Aaron ran the secondary and had a firm grasp of the defensive system. You didn’t have for the last 14 games of the season. Kyle missed the last 10 games. Those two losses were the most damaging.

As we all know there were a host of others that kept the offense from progressing as it wanted to as well, which is why they didn’t really take off until the second half of the season.

Rex did admit that he wasn’t sure there was full buy-in from all the players on defense. It was something he had never experienced before and it may have caught him off guard as to how to best handle it. Players at this level are supposed to be pros, which means coaches coach and players play. You can argue that perhaps Rex should’ve enacted strict consequences for those kind of actions, but a player owes it to his teammates and coaches and ownership to execute his assignments within the scope of the scheme to the best of his ability on every play and do what’s necessary during the week to ensure that.

That ultimately led to underachievement on defense this season.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills Do the Bills plan to keep Gillislee into next year along with Karlos and Shady?

sjpusat

CB: I think that’s a safe assumption. Rex Ryan all but said that Gillislee has earned the right to be here next year. There is a question as to whether he’ll be an exclusive right free agent or restricted free agent based on his accrued season time. Either way I anticipate the Bills will get him under contract this offseason.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-25

Posted by Chris Brown on December 25, 2015 – 11:48 am

Merry Christmas Bills fans! We know the players and coaches would’ve liked to leave a bit more under the tree for you this season. It might be hard to see it now, but there are a lot of encouraging signs for the 2016 season. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

How does Karlos look for this week? Starting? Or gillislee taking reps with the ones?

Ethan_Diep

CB: Barring any setbacks with his shoulder I’d expect Karlos Williams to start in place of LeSean McCoy. Mike Gillislee will have a role however on Sunday serving as a complement to Williams.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Isn’t there value in continuity? The most successful organizations have it, right?

XKC4338

CB: Yes, most of the most NFL franchises have some clear measure of continuity. In many cases it’s aided by having a franchise quarterback. Buffalo has found a promising QB in Tyrod Taylor. There are a lot of encouraging elements to Taylor’s game that should only improve heading into next season with another year in Greg Roman’s system. That being said the jury is still out on whether he can be a franchise caliber signal caller.

I’m guessing your question stems from concern about the state of the Bills front office and coaching staff amid a flurry of media reports this week. I will say that things did not go according to plan with this team this season. There is no debate about that. I don’t think making wholesale changes are the way to go or in the offing.

Doug Whaley has proven himself as a talent evaluator in his short time as GM of the Bills. Anyone who can flip Matt Cassel for a fifth-round pick and get a Pro Bowl running back for a linebacker that has had a pair of ACL knee injuries is doing something right. And all the criticism for the draft day trade of Sammy Watkins looks like it has missed the mark.

Rex Ryan despite a disappointing defensive season has been a top 10 defensive coach in this league for all but two of the seasons in which he has been either a coordinator or head coach. He’s a proven innovator in this league and it’s my contention that he’ll be doing some more innovating this offseason to gain the upper hand again on opposing offenses next year.

I know it again sounds like empty promises. Believe me I get it. I’ve been here to witness each of the last 16 seasons. As I’ve said many times, frequent change hasn’t brought much in the way of improvement for this team. I doubt such sweeping change will make this team better in 2016.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Thoughts on Tyrod as long term answer for Bills?

TheGreatMikesby
CB: I think Tyrod has certainly made himself the best candidate for that role right now. As I said above Taylor still has some more evidence to provide that he can be that guy, which means making progress in some areas of his game.

The thing that hasn’t made sense to me is the criticism he’s received for not making enough plays in the fourth quarter, leading his team from behind to a victory, etc. The positive things he has done for that position in a brand new offense for every player on that side of the ball should be applauded.

To have the numbers he has, which include an astounding 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio (20 to 5) and a passer rating that is on pace to be the best in team history (yes, better than HOF’er Jim Kelly) and has been over 100 almost all season, is remarkable.

What goes by the board for most fans because they’re not around him every day is the leadership he has demonstrated for this team in his role as QB. I have covered this team since Kelly’s last two seasons with the Bills and having seen all the quarterbacks since then, the only one who led as effectively as Taylor was Ryan Fitzpatrick. The only one who did better was Drew Bledsoe.

But Bledsoe came in the door with a proven resume that included Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl appearance. So stepping in and leading was easy.

Taylor came in as part of a three-man QB competition, no time on the field in the league and in less than a season not only won over the locker room, but produced on the field and then did all the right things off it in terms of vocal leadership, running extra offensive meetings by himself with teammates and counseling younger players on the practice squad (e.g. Dez Lewis, Walt Powell).

In my opinion, Taylor has earned the right to be this team’s starting quarterback next season. If the Bills happen to acquire a quarterback who is superior in every way this offseason then things are different, but until that time this is a quarterback fans should get behind.

 

4 – Chris,

Do you think the Bills will utilize Bill Polian as a team Consultant?  I totally agree with Mr. Polian’s recent comments, Improve the Offensive Line with talent (a need for past 15 years that has not been properly addressed), add a WR to compliment Sammy on the other side, and add a true quality back-up QB to Tyrod Taylor, while also drafting a young QB to develop for the future.

In addition, my thought is use a defensive scheme that matches the strengths of the Bills personnel.

Randy Culp

CB: I’m not going to pretend to know what Terry and Kim Pegula are thinking with respect to hiring a consultant. What I can tell you is Bill Polian’s job at ESPN is in direct conflict with him having any kind of NFL consultant job with an NFL club. He recently said on Sirius NFL Radio that he would not want to give up his ESPN job to do that.

All due respect to Bill Polian, who is a Hall of Fame executive, but the offensive line is not old and slow. Of the seven offensive linemen who have seen the most time on the field this season, their average age is 26.5-years old. Two of the oldest, Richie Incognito and Eric Wood are Pro Bowl alternates and the team leads the league in rushing.

For you to say the offensive line hasn’t been addressed is also incorrect. They drafted four in the last two drafts. Cordy Glenn, who the team has said is a priority to re-sign, is entering the prime of his career (also a draft choice – 2012).

And I wouldn’t be surprised if they invest in the offensive line again this offseason in the draft. Adding a quarterback I think is also on the to-do list.

Doug Whaley in two short years as GM has done a solid job of fortifying this roster with quality talent. What’s more he’s retained the most important talent on this roster instead of letting it escape to play for other clubs. So I’m having a hard time understanding the criticism for the team’s personnel boss.

 

5 – ​Hi Chris,

I really think Doug Whaley does a tremendous job identifying talent…but I think he needs some help (as well as Rex) building a TEAM.  As Talley said, and I totally agree, we have a collection of all-stars but no team unity.  Fred Jackson was the glue on this team and Whaley showed me he doesn’t understand the “team” concept this offseason (was Bryce Brown really that talented??  Did anyone not think Goodwin would be hurt in his first game?? With Shady being hurt..cut someone else).  When KW and AW went down that was a huge blow and now young men are trying to become leaders and that will take time.  More so than talent this offseason, I’m really looking for the Bills to become a team and look like the enjoy playing together.  Your thoughts?

Chris
St. Louis
CB: I agree that losing Kyle Williams and Aaron Williams for the season were costly losses. They were the primary leaders on defense. I think it would’ve been harder for Fred to lead here in a vastly reduced role that might have found him inactive in certain weeks.

As the season is winding down it is encouraging to see a couple of 2014 draft choices step forward in Preston Brown and Sammy Watkins and take on more of a leadership role in the final weeks. Hopefully they continue to serve this team in that capacity going into next year.

If the productive players on the field are the ones leading off of it everybody follows. It’s unfortunate that a pair of 22-years old have to fill that kind of void, but when veterans choose not to a team has no choice.

As Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells once said:

“Blame nobody – expect nothing – do something. Losers sit around in small groups, b**ching about the coach, the system and other players. Winners come together as a team.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-11

Posted by Chris Brown on December 11, 2015 – 1:27 pm

Another ‘backs against the wall game’ for the Bills in Philly Sunday. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

How are the Bills not able to get Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Charles Clay more involved in their offensive attack?  Also, why is FB – Felton on the roster, although he can be an outstanding blocker, the Bills rarely have him on the field?  It seems this Coaching staff is NOT effectively using their Offensive or Defensive players.  Any insight as to why?  The Bills should be getting 3x the production out of their defense than they actual are.

RC from DC
CB: First and foremost the Bills have been getting Sammy Watkins more involved in passing attack. In the first three games he was healthy for this season Watkins was targeted a little over four times a game. In the last five games he’s been targeted seven times a game.

Clay has been targeted an average of six times in the last four games. Woods has been targeted 7.5 times per game over the last four. I think what you’re seeing is a steady maturation of an offense that was brand new to everyone on offense except Boobie Dixon, who ran it in San Francisco.

There were a lot of new pieces that had to blend together in a new system. Even the starting QB was new to it. Getting it all humming together simply takes time. I believe we’re now starting to see it approach critical mass with Taylor playing some of his best football this season right now.

Felton is a role player in the offense. It’s not as big as perhaps some expected, but I will say that the Bills make use of 21 and 22 personnel more than most clubs.

The defense is a bigger enigma. We’ve explained before how Rex admitted he erred in trying to blend some concepts from last year’s system in with his. He’s since scrapped the old system and gone exclusively with his own. I know the fans have criticized him for not taking advantage of what his defensive linemen do best, which is rush the passer. It’s a valid point, but let’s see how the season plays out and make our assessments at that point.

 
2 – Chris,

Why not make Easley a 2nd wide receiver on the opposite side of the field from Watkins to extend the field.  He is a tall, fast, and excellent receiver.  Remember the long touchdown pass he caught earlier in the year.

CB: I think the main reason Easley is not used more on offense is because they see Sammy Watkins as the player who stretches the field for them. Most offenses don’t have two receivers serving the same purpose. Quarterbacks need outlets to throw the ball to on shorter, quicker routes. This is where Robert Woods and Chris Hogan work best. They’re good at gaining separation quickly and serve the offense more effectively for that purpose.

Easley is fast, but he has build-up speed, not sudden burst speed. So filling a role on shorter, intermediate routes is not his greatest strength. He doesn’t get separation as quickly as Woods or Hogan.

 

 

3 – Hi Chris,

Thank you for all the Bills coverage throughout the year. I have two questions for you. Before Marcus Easley against the Texans who was the last Bills offensive player to have an interception?  Also, which Bills players deserve Pro Bowl consideration?  I think Darby, Gilmore, Graham, Wood, Incognito, McCoy,  Taylor, Schmidt and Easley all deserve to be considered. Which of those deserve to make it, and am I’m forgetting anyone else that should be considered?

Thank you,
Matthew
London, ON

CB: Easley is the first Bills player whose primary position is on offense to post an interception. As for Pro Bowl consideration I think Richie Incognito should be on that list. With the drop-off in play that Nick Mangold has had I’d like to think that opens the door for Eric Wood. I like the season that Stephon Gilmore has put together. Corey Graham might get some support, but I don’t know if there will be enough to put him through. Darby has played great, but rookies rarely get the votes, especially at DB unless they have nine or 10 INTs, like Jairus Byrd did back in 2009. LeSean McCoy is definitely in the mix. I think Colton Schmidt is in a tough spot because only one punter goes.

 

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills If something happens to Darby or Leodis, who is back up CB? Graham with D. Williams in at safety? Butler?

Joe_Tauriello

CB: It would be Mario Butler who steps in on the boundary if Darby or Leodis are injured. If there’s a second injury I could see your scenario potentially happening with Graham out to corner and then a sub at safety.

When McKelvin was still on the Non-Football Injury list, Butler served as the first corner off the bench behind Darby and Gilmore. So I would anticipate that to be his role again now with Gilmore down this week.

 
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Is Rob Ryan just visiting as a family member or is he providing any type of insight into our NFC opponents?

cfenton23

CB: Rex Ryan’s brother Rob was here for a visit, something he and his brother don’t get to do very often during football season. The two share a birthday on Sunday, so they’ve presumably had a pre-celebration together. Rex said his brother is heading out of town Saturday before Rex and the Bills leave for Philadelphia.

As for preparing for NFC opponents, I’m sure if Rex asked about Philadelphia this week or Washington and Dallas in the coming weeks he had no problem offering up some details. I remember Rex as coach of the Jets admitting to me on a conference call that he called his brother Rob to give him the update on the Bills when Buffalo played the Saints in 2013.

So that kind of talk between brothers is very plausible.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-27

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

We’re getting pretty close to do or die time and the Chiefs game at Arrowhead on Sunday is step one. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you think Tyrod is “the guy” or should the bills draft a qb in the first round until they find him?

DanielBeaudoin1

CB: I would still like to see him play more before passing judgment. Perfect example is last Monday’s game his accuracy was off for the first time this season. Was that an aberration or is there more to it? We don’t know because we haven’t seen enough of Tyrod.

I do believe the greatest concern with Taylor is his ability to stay healthy and in the lineup. We’ve already seen two injuries with him this season. One cost him a pair of starts in Week 6 & 7. The other is the one he’s currently dealing with.

Make no mistakes about it. Taylor is as tough as they come. The question is can his physical frame withstand the punishment that quarterbacks typically take over the course of a 16-game season?

That’s to be determined. Even if Taylor finishes the season strong, I’m a proponent of drafting a quarterback every year. It’s the most important position in football so why wouldn’t you try to ensure you’re strong at that position by drafting one there every year?

I’m not saying round one necessarily, but just like everyone says you can never have enough cornerbacks, I think the same applies to QB.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills what possibility of re-signing the gilly lock to an extension and is Mario a fit for Rex’s scheme may need cap room and waive

jdubsbills

CB: The Bills did buy some time with Stephon Gilmore by picking up his fifth-year option, so he’s not a free agent until 2017, but it’s my belief that Gilmore is priority number one when it comes to locking up players long term. Whether that happens this offseason or just prior to the 2016 season remains to be seen.

As for Mario Williams he has the skill set to play in any defensive scheme. Your cap room query however, is valid. His cap figure is very high and there is substantial savings that could be had if he is waived or if he agrees to restructure. More on that in the answer below.


3 –
Chris,

How do you think the future free agents on the team are doing? Cordy Glenn is having a very good year. What are the odds they can keep him? How much is he a priority over someone like Bradham is having a down year? I know they probably can’t keep everyone but keeping a good tackle long term seems like a good option given they haven’t been too stable on either side on the line in years. What would it cost? Do you expect a ‘hometown discount’ for Incognito too? Given that some teams may not want him still. How much flexibility do they have to do so?

CB: Their flexibility is likely to be rooted in what they decide to do with some cost prohibitive contracts on the roster. Chief among them Mario Williams. His cap figure next season is $19.9M. That will need to be addressed before the team reaches free agency. Both linebacker and offensive tackle are thin positions in terms of experienced depth, so it will be interesting to see how they choose to prioritize Bradham and Glenn.

The team is also going to have to re-sign Richie Incognito, who will be a priority for the offensive line, and no I would not expect Incognito to be willing to take a hometown discount, especially since it’s likely to be his last NFL contract.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

First off thanks for the Fan Fridays! I enjoys reading other fans questions and your insight to them.

My questions is about the health and return of Aaron Williams. I haven’t seen anything reported about him other than he was up in a box cheering on his teammates during the jets game. Has he recovered from his neck injury? With the activation of McKelvin can he still return to playing this season? (although with Rambo and Cory playing well we are not falling apart without him)

Thanks!
Recently Displaced Bills fan now in DC,
Joe
CB: Williams has attended each of the Bills last two road games. He was placed on short term I-R. He’ll be eligible to return for the Eagles game in Week 14 at the earliest. Whether he does or does not is solely up to the team’s medical staff.

 

5 – Chris;
Bud Grant had a saying, too many “fan in the stands penalties” and plays. He could bring in any fan from the stands to line up off sides etc. When u get down to it, off sides, holding , dropped passes, punts, over and under thrown passes etc., any fan can make those plays.
Am I being too critical ??
Too many miscues keep us from winning. What are ur thoughts ??

Jim in Florida

CB: I think there were too many miscues last week. Unfortunately it doesn’t take much when facing the Patriots, one of the most consistent teams in the league when it comes to execution. Their defense had just one or two poor plays, but played well enough to win. The offense and special teams units could not say the same in that game.

What’s interesting is the prevailing theme in the locker room this week was just executing the game plan more effectively. We’ll see if it can happen Sunday in KC.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-20

Posted by Chris Brown on November 20, 2015 – 12:49 pm

The Bills are trying to pull off an impressive trifecta in their gauntlet run through the division, and the hardest hurdle to clear is next with the Patriots in Foxboro Monday night. They’re 2-0 so far. We’ll see what Monday night holds. Here are your latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

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

Snowbird_Killer

CB: I know Woods hasn’t had a whole lot of opportunities to make plays in the passing game lately. Part of the reason is the reduction in pass attempts the last few weeks. Tyrod Taylor has averaged just over 18 pass attempts a game in his last three appearances. It’s not like they haven’t made an effort to get Woods the ball. His eight targets in the last two games are second only to Sammy Watkins. Charles Clay and LeSean McCoy are the only other players who have been passing targets the last two games.

So while Woods hasn’t been able to make a giant impact in the passing game, when the Bills do go to the air he is a part of the plan. The passing game has just taken a back seat to the run game of late.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

biggest matchup advantage the Bills have this week?

BenCiraolo27

CB: I really like Charles Clay in this game. Patrick Chung is a box safety and Devin McCourty is average at best in coverage. I believe Clay could have a day against the Patriots in the passing game and serve as a valuable underneath and seam target for Tyrod Taylor.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

the last few games, Bills have put a healthy DT on the inactive list, do you expect that to change against Blount?

lophus89

CB: I don’t know that LeGarrette Blount’s presence on the opponent’s roster necessarily demands that another defensive tackle be active Monday night. The Jets’ Chris Ivory runs every bit as tough as Blount, and in my opinion runs with more power and Buffalo had a DT inactive last Thursday night.

The inactive list is put together with a lot of factors in mind. Injuries, game plan, matchups, etc. So I understand why you might expect with a big back that more DTs would be active, but knowing that Carrington and Mario can play end or tackle you have enough versatility in your defensive linemen that all of them do not need to be active on game day provided everyone is healthy.

 

4 – Chris;
I would be interested on your thoughts for handling Gronk ?
My thoughts are assigning someone to shadow him every play, a player who is big enough and tough enough to match him physically . My thoughts, Hughes or Lawson on D, maybe Gregg or Gray who know TE plays ??
We need to think outside the box on him.

Jim in Florida


CB:
I had a new idea about how to handle Gronk that came to me this week. Unfortunately with Leodis McKelvin’s status up in the air I’m not sure it will work. In any case, with Julian Edelman out of the lineup Buffalo can afford to deploy their defensive backs differently.

Let’s assume for now that Leodis McKelvin is available to play. If that’s the case I would put McKelvin outside opposite Ronald Darby, leave Nickell Robey in the slot and put Stephon Gilmore on Rob Gronkowski.

He’s the most physical defensive back on the team. He can clearly run with Gronk and has the physical skill set and size to defend passes against him. Without game-breaking threats elsewhere you can afford to put your top corner on Gronk in my opinion. You’ve got nothing to lose as I see it.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Will EJ be the backup QB on Monday or not dress? #Bills

BuffaloWingWear

CB: Rex Ryan said that EJ Manuel is his backup for the rest of the season and that last Thursday night was a special circumstance in making Josh Johnson the backup QB and making Manuel one of the team’s seven inactive players.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-6

Posted by Chris Brown on November 6, 2015 – 11:40 am

The Bills will be bringing a bit healthier roster to the table on Sunday against the Dolphins. Let’s hope home field advantage is a reality this week. Here are your latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills why not switch the guards to different sides? Give the youngsters more experienced neighbors.

Snowbird_Killer

CB: I don’t think change is something most offensive coaches subscribe to with their offensive line unless it’s horrific in terms of performance, especially midseason. Based on offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s comments Thursday, about seeing things with the offense getting closer to where they want it, I think they want to push forward with what they have now that starting five are back together with Miller and Henderson returning.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills were the bills ever interested in making a move at the trade deadline?

JaredBailey23

CB: I think what Doug Whaley’s short track record as GM has shown us is he’s never afraid to make a deal if he thinks it benefits the team, but from what I have been able to gather the Bills were not burning up the phones at the trade deadline this past Tuesday.

 

3 – Hi Chris,

I was wondering if you know of any plans of NFL or Buffalo Bills stores that will be selling the red jerseys from this week’s game?

Also, will these now become an alternate going forward that the team will wear once in a while or is it a one night only kind of deal?

Thanks,
Nick Finoia

CB: The Bills Store will have the red jerseys available in store. From what I have been told only LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins jerseys will be available in red. They will also have a Bills color rush hat, sweatshirt and T-shirt available with the red theme too.

Here’s the link if you’re interested in making a purchase – http://bufbills.co/mC0G75

And just to be clear the jerseys will be worn in Buffalo’s Thursday night game at New York against the Jets.

 

4 – Chris,

Following the bye, do you think Cyrus Kouandjio played well enough in London to remain the Bills starter at Right Tackle?

RC
CB: That is not going to happen as Seantrel Henderson returns to the lineup, but it should be noted that both offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Rex Ryan praised Kouandjio’s play against the Jaguars. Ryan even used the word ‘tremendous’ in describing his play.

I think Kouandjio’s play will serve him best next season when the offensive tackle situation could look a lot different than it does now. Cordy Glenn is slated to be a free agent, and will likely be looking for big money. Buffalo can’t keep everybody and knowing the Bills have only bought themselves a year of time making use of the fifth-year option on Stephon Gilmore, who is playing great right now, he’s the priority. Nigel Bradham is also up at the end of the year.

So to get to the point here, Kouandjio’s play this year is likely to carry more weight next year when the team makes a decision on Cordy Glenn. If Glenn is not here I think Kouandjio will get strong consideration for the right tackle job with Henderson the most likely option for left tackle.

 

5 – Chris,

Thank you for all the informative work you do from a long time Bills fan out here in New Mexico.  Do you have any insight into how the Bills coaching staff see Marquise as a player?  From where I sit he is small and injury prone and because of this I don’t think he has been used appropriately.  His asset is pure speed yet he was hurt last year on a pass route that had him stop in the middles of the field (negating his speed asset) and he got his so hard it put him out of the game.  This year a crossing pattern again injured his ribs, and then a kick-off return (the most violent play in the game) injured him.  Why has the staff not used him speed with downfield routes to pull the defense away from the line of scrimmage?  Your thoughts?

Ronald Karaskiewicz  (Ron K.)
New Mexico Bills Backer
CB: While I understand what you’re getting at with Goodwin’s body type being susceptible to injury, I don’t know how realistic it is to take the approach that, we’re only going to run Goodwin on fly routes when he’s in the game.

I think there is merit to taking him off kick return to reduce the number of violent collisions on him, and I suppose you can have him run more outside routes than crossing patterns. The problem is I believe coaches worry that such an approach quickly becomes easy for opponents to figure out. Perhaps if he’s a role player, which in essence he is, you could limit him to quick outs, comebacks, digs and go routes. But coaches would know better than I would as to whether that’s too predictable and whether or not those limitations would take away from his effectiveness on the field.

I suppose the greater end game is to have him available, so at the very least what you’re proposing might be worth a try. That will have to wait until next year however, with Goodwin on injured reserve.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-30

Posted by Chris Brown on October 30, 2015 – 11:21 am

It’s the bye, but we’re still grinding here at Buffalobills.com. A big 2015 midseason report coming on Monday on Buffalobills.com, the good and not so good, broken down several different ways. Here are your latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills any updates on when the defense from last year is going to return?

IrishTsmith

CB: While I understand your frustration there are some encouraging signs on defense. Run ‘D’ has been top five all season, pass defense has been top 5 in the league since the bad day against the Patriots. Pass rush has to step up and I think it’ll be back to where it was last year. A better pass rush helps their third down ‘D’, which right now is middle of the pack.

 

2 – Chris,

I know the schedule was addressed a few years ago with Buffalo having to face many teams coming off a bye or Thursday night game.  That is happening again this year.  First was the Pats and not the Giants.  Look at how those games turned out.  Granted, those were also our worst penalty games too.  Between the refs and scheduling, it seems like the NFL is making it very difficult for the Bills to have a fair opportunity to show they can be good.  Can anything be done about this?

Thanks for everything you do.

Very frustrated and loyal fan in Virginia
Barbra

CB: You’re right that three of Buffalo’s first five opponents came off extra rest and prep time to face the Bills (Pat, Giants, Titans). Even when the Bills have an advantage of the bye this week it’s mitigated by the fact that Miami played Thursday night this week, so they’ve got three extra days to prepare for Buffalo.

The Bills will get extra time to prep for the Patriots coming off the Thursday night game against the Jets.

Believe it or not Buffalo’s situation is a bit more favorable than some other clubs this year in terms of opponents getting extra rest and prep time.

Truthfully with the Thursday night schedule running from Weeks 2 to 15 there are at least 13 teams with at least one game against a team getting extra rest. I don’t get the sense that the NFL sees the extra rest on the back end of a Thursday night game as much of an advantage, since that team is at a disadvantage getting only three days prep time heading into their Thursday night game. They likely see it as a wash.

 

3- Hi Chris,

It’s hard to get a true perspective on Tyrod’s passing struggles from the TV broadcasts. Is he not finding open receivers quickly enough? Are receivers not open a lot of the time? With our team talent in that area it’s hard to believe we’re being defended that well.

James

CB: With his last game being the Titans game I can see why you’re concerned about this. I do believe more often than not Buffalo receivers are gaining separation. I think it’s a matter of trust on Taylor’s part as to what he’s seeing.

The biggest hurdle here is Taylor’s inexperience. We have to remember he had 14 game appearances in the regular season before this year and those weren’t even starts. They were largely mop up duty type appearances where he handed off in games that were over with just one start. So I think there are some parts of the game where Taylor is still feeling his way at this level.

So he might just miss someone completely or he might not trust what his read is telling him. It’s the process a quarterback goes through when they’re new.

 

4 – Chris,
I’m reading where Sammy says, “Give me the Damn Ball”, can u imagine designing a game plan around him with his work history ?? He hasn’t proved he’s durable enough to get the ball 8-10 times a game.
No doubt he’s a fine athlete, can anyone explain why he is injured so much. What are ur thoughts ?

Jim in Florida

CB: I don’t think there’s an easy way to explain his recent injury history, primarily because in college he was never injured. Didn’t miss a practice or a game in his college career. Granted the game is more physical in the NFL, but he’s just had a rough stretch.

He’s clearly more frustrated by the injuries than the fans. All he wants to do is contribute and a competitor like him can’t stand being sidelined when he knows his talents can help the team. Hopefully he’ll be good to go out of the bye and can stay on the field for the last nine weeks.

 

5 – Chris,

Assuming both are healthy, I would love to see Karlos and Shady in the backfield together. They are both really good in the passing game and both are playmakers. Any chance this happens?

Joe Roberts

Orlando, FL


CB:
I wouldn’t rule it out. Knowing how varied Greg Roman likes to be with his formations and pre-snap motion, I think Karlos and McCoy in a split backfield or I-formation is not out of the realm of possibility. If Roman believes there’s an advantage to be had with such a look he won’t hesitate to make use of it.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-23

Posted by Chris Brown on October 23, 2015 – 11:32 am

It’s been an interesting week for the Bills here in London. Sunday’s game should be a spectacle. Here are your latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 –  @ChrisBrownBills what about right guard. ..

JDWilliams23

CB: Right guard is going to be handled by Kraig Urbik, with John Miller traveling back to his native Miami after a death in his immediate family. Backing up at center/guard will be Gabe Ikard and Jordan Mills will serve as the swing tackle Sunday.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills is Tyrod’s injury serious?

NJRatta

CB:  It’s a sprained MCL. After staying off it last week he tried to practice on it more extensively this week, but he was still limited by it. Head coach Rex Ryan said Friday that he expects Taylor to be back in the lineup in Week 9 after the bye.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills Will Rex change the defensive scheme and allow the front four to rush the passer instead of dropping in coverage? #Bills

bjhoward10

CB: I will let Rex Ryan address this himself with respect to this game. Before I do I would like to point out that all this dropping by Buffalo’s defensive linemen that people are griping about is misguided. One player on Buffalo’s starting defensive line dropped into coverage a combined total of 13 times on 61 plays. It’s what Rex Ryan thought would work last week. I’m confident his approach will be different this week.  

 

4 – Hi Chris,

Was wondering if receiver routes were broken down by number 1, 2, & 3. When Sammy is out, does Harvin take over his routes, & Woods take over Harvin’s, with Hogan running Woods’? How do they work that? Do all the receivers need to know all the routes?
Thanks, Dave

CB: The receivers have the responsibility of knowing all the receiver positions. So although some might have primary roles like the ‘X’ or ‘Z’ receiver positions, they have to know the route concepts from the slot among other formations. It’s done for the very situation the Bills find themselves in this week.

Buffalo has just four healthy receivers with Woods, Hogan, Easley and Moore. All four however have learned all the positions, so they can freely move from one role to the other so the offensive play calling isn’t limited.

 

5 – Hi Chris!

I will be flying to my first Bills game ever next Sunday from Austria and I am beyond excited! Now I wonder what to expect from the Wembley venue and the merchandising options available there! Will it be all Jacksonville merch because of the fact that it’s a Jacksonville “home game” or will both teams have equal space to present their teams and merch in and around the stadium?

What about the fans? Do you know if it will be a Jacksonville crowd?

Keep up the good work! GO BILLS
Stefan from Austria

CB: I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s a safe assumption that there will be Bills merchandise on sale at the stadium on Sunday.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-16

Posted by Chris Brown on October 16, 2015 – 10:55 am

A pivotal AFC game Sunday for the Bills. Buffalo will have to be at their best to beat a streaking Bengals club. Fortunately it looks like they’ll have some of their main horses back in the lineup. Here are your latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

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

SJHNatFan

CB: First, Leodis to me is a cornerback through and through. Yes, he’s very physically gifted, but I’d be surprised if he lines up at safety. McKelvin is the type of player who needs a singular role out on the boundary. And though he is ‘wiry strong’ I don’t believe playing in the middle of the field and dealing with big tight ends is a good fit for him. Whether the coaching staff feels differently is another story.

Since I’ve been getting a lot of questions I’ll take the time here to explain that McKelvin is eligible to begin practicing with the team again on Wednesday in London. He’s looked good doing football-like rehab work on the sideline the last few weeks. Just because he begins practicing next week does not mean he’ll be immediately added to the 53-man roster.

Once he begins practicing the clock starts on a 21-day window in which the Bills can have him practice without counting toward a roster spot. They can activate him to the 53-man roster at any point in that time frame.

In my opinion he will not step into the starting lineup when he returns. Ronald Darby and Stephon Gilmore have been playing lights out football. This is a good thing because it doesn’t rush McKelvin onto the field. With as quick and sudden as things happen at that position there will be an acclimation period for McKelvin who will undoubtedly be a bit rusty.

Where I do see him making an impact is on punt return where the team is in need of field position help. This season the Bills are averaging just 7.3 yards a punt return, which ranks 23rd in the NFL. McKelvin for his career has averaged almost 11 yards a return (10.9). Imagine the value of giving an offense an extra 10 yards of field position every time they step on the field for a possession.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills can we call @robertwoods Bobby Lumber?

acurthoys

CB: I’m going to assume you’re referring to the way Robert Woods has been blocking downfield. I know that just about everybody noticed his two-for-one block on Tyrod Taylor’s touchdown run last week when he took out a pair of Titans defenders to let Taylor get the edge on his 22-yard quarterback draw. But Woods has had other strong blocks downfield this season.

I think the most important thing to note about the receiving corps and their blocking downfield is how on a day when there were just 10 completions they were determined to make an impact anyway, and their blocking was the way they accomplished that.

“As a receiver, you never know when your time is going to come, whether it’s a pass or a block,” said Woods. “Like a key block, running downfield, blocking the safety. You never know when your time is going to come. This time it wasn’t a pass play, it was that block for Tyrod.”

Woods also had a tackle on kickoff coverage last Sunday. Hard not to like a receiver that’s willing to do some of the dirty work.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills would Bills ever do a multiple QB package once Tyrod is healthy? Our trick plays seem to be getting shut down all the time.
RealBryanWatson

CB: I think anything is possible, especially since in Week 1 against Indianapolis it was Matt Cassel under center with Tyrod Taylor split wide on the first play of the game. I should also note that the man who re-invented the ‘Wildcat’ package at Arkansas, which soon migrated to the NFL a few years ago is Buffalo’s quarterbacks coach, David Lee.

I get the sense that Greg Roman doesn’t try to trick defenses as much as he tries to confuse them, and to me there is a difference. One is rooted in a gadget play, while the other is based on pre-snap shifts, motions and alignment, but I wouldn’t rule your suggestion out at all.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

Loving the new studio set up and all the coverage!
My question is why are we not utilizing Tyrod and his God-given talents??  Where is the read option?  Where are the designed runs and roll outs?  Why don’t we spread teams out with our INSANE talent at WR and then run it down their throats and not let them stack the box….aka what the Pats did.  I’m just a little frustrated – I know we beat the Colts but they don’t look all that great this year so far and we can do better.  Love to hear your thoughts, thanks!

Chris

St. Louis
CB: I understand your frustration. Even when Taylor ran for 76 yards last week only one carry, his touchdown run, was a designed run play. Other than that his other runs were scrambles to elude pressure.

I’m no offensive coordinator and Greg Roman has more football knowledge in his pinkie finger than I’ll ever have. I do think there has been a concerted effort to protect Taylor from injury, which as we saw last week is a very real risk. So the read option and designed runs have been few and far between.

That being said, when your run game and offense in general is struggling there should be a package of plays featuring Tyrod as a run threat that you can turn to just to jumpstart the offense.

Buffalo leads the league in three-and-out percentage at almost 32 percent (31.7%). The league average is 20.6 percent. Granted they haven’t had two of their top rushers in McCoy and Karlos Williams and Sammy Watkins has missed the last two games, but their defense as good as it is won’t be able to hold every opponent down like they did in Week 5.

So when the offense has a couple of consecutive three-and-outs, making use of Taylor’s legs (when healthy) is something I’m not opposed to just to get the offense back on track. Perhaps with all the weapons back in the lineup that won’t be necessary, but I think your point is a valid one.

 

5 – Chris,

Can Colton do kickoffs? He’s got a strong punters leg? Why not try/practice Colton kicking off. Other teams employs their punter to kickoff. Dan had done kickoffs in the league before the rule changed. If Dan could kick how many yards would they truly be losing? 5-10? Doesn’t seem like much instead of having another player active on game day.

CB: Rex Ryan said Colton Schmidt is the backup kickoff man to Dan Carpenter now that Billy Cundiff has been moved off the roster. I want to believe Carpenter can reach the end zone, but returners are more aggressive now than they were the first year the kickoff was moved to the 35-yard line. Unless it’s seven yards deep or more most returners will bring it out.

That at least creates the chance for a long return whereas if it’s kicked more than seven yards deep a return man is taking a knee. To say it’s just a five to 10-yard difference is a bit of a misnomer. A return man in this league just needs one coverage player to fall down or get out of their lane and it’s a big play and either a field position advantage is lost or there are six points on the board for the opposition.

 

London game bonus question
Chris,

Your Blog is my 1st read every morning. Thanks for keeping us transplanted Buffalonians informed on our Bills.

Since I’m not living in Buffalo Area, but PA how do we watch Bills-Jags. Have NFL Ticket but understand will be only Streamed. Any help appreciated.

 

Go Bills from East Berlin PA

Fred

 

CB: You’re right you will be able to watch the game on live stream via Yahoo on your smartphone, computer, game console or smart TV. The game will also be broadcast on television in the Buffalo and Jacksonville, Fla., markets and shown on Sky’s cable network in Britain.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-25

Posted by Chris Brown on September 25, 2015 – 11:23 am

The Bills look to bounce back this week and get an important win on the road at Miami Sunday. Here’s your latest rundown of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 –@ChrisBrownBills

Hey Chris any chance we will see more blitz packages and sack coming from our D-Line this week. Didn’t see much last week:/

IsmarAlvarado2

CB: In the wake of sticking almost exclusively with a pass rush of their front four in the first half last week I would anticipate that Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman will mix it up a bit more. So while there will be instances where they do just rush four, I believe they will weave in some blitz packages in certain down and distance situations. As for sack totals, the Bills have averaged 4.5 sacks per game in the last four meetings, so you’re likely to see more of them Sunday.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

How is the team morale going into week 3 after a tough loss last Sunday? #Bills

Bvogs15

CB: Team morale is just fine heading into Sunday. One loss can’t be a soul crusher for any team and that’s certainly not the case at One Bills Drive. The offense is encouraged by the rhythm they found late in last week’s game with three straight touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to make it a game. And for the record Tyrod Taylor confirmed for me that New England was not sitting back. They were playing the same defensive looks that were working earlier in the game. And the defense is motivated to redeem themselves last week as is special teams. So I’m expecting a strong performance.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

I know the Bills haven’t said too much about Aaron Williams but is it possible he’s back for the Giants game?

JohnFalardeau

CB: Bills head coach Rex Ryan said the following about Aaron Williams’ status beyond this week.

“Our trainers seem to be very optimistic about him being up for next week, but we’ll see,” said Ryan.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any chance we see mckelvin by the bye week?

daulbucks

CB: Leodis McKelvin is doing more and more on the side with athletic trainers during practice. There are still some hurdles for him to clear. I think a safe guess-timate, and it is a guess on my part, that by the week following the bye (Week 9) he stands a good chance of being ready to go in the home game against the Dolphins.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Why wasn’t that Steelers player fined for the hit on Goodwin???

dmpynn

CB: I think it’s a valid question. The hit on Goodwin was borderline late number one and second the Steelers player buried the crown of his helmet into Goodwin’s rib cage when he had already gone to the ground. The Pittsburgh player could’ve been flagged for spearing. Had he been then I think a fine could’ve been a possibility, but to my knowledge there was no fine.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-18

Posted by Chris Brown on September 18, 2015 – 11:26 am

The Bills are 1-0 with a pretty important early season matchup with the Patriots up next. Be loud Bills fans! Here is this week’s edition of your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hey Chris thanks for all the hard work you put in!

Are the Bills keeping three QB’s because of the chance a running QB (Taylor) is likely to be injured?

Danny in Scottsdale, AZ

CB: I think the Bills intended to keep three quarterbacks from the very beginning. The performance of all three in the preseason I believe cemented their spots on the 53-man squad. Cassel’s value is in his experience and Manuel’s play in the preseason convinced the offensive staff that he’s on the right track with his progress as a young signal caller. Taylor obviously won the job.

 

2 – How will the contract extension for Marcell play into our ability to re-sign some of the other Bills on contract years? Including the usage of a franchise tag do you see the Bills being able to retain Glenn, Bradham, and Gilmore as a big three? Do you think that leaves enough for McKelvin( is he on a final year?) and Harvin?

Thanks!

-Michael

CB: The Bills bought themselves some time with Stephon Gilmore by picking up his fifth-year option, so he’s not up until after the 2016 season. Nigel Bradham and Cordy Glenn are the other big names that are coming due after the 2015 campaign.

The good thing that the Bills did was spread out Dareus’ guaranteed money over the first two years with singing and option bonuses in addition to his guaranteed base salary. The deal is relatively cap friendly until the last two years when his base salary balloons to more than $12M.

Bradham and Glenn are the two that figure to be addressed. The linebacker would be much easier to sign than the left tackle, knowing the market rate for left tackles is far higher than at LB. Knowing how thin the Bills are depth-wise at both positions it’s going to be interesting to see how the decision making plays out with those two players.

The good news is the salary cap continues to go up and up and up, and with the revenues projected where they are for NFL clubs this year the cap is expected to take another sizable jump this offseason. That makes re-signing players like Bradham, Gilmore and Glenn more realistic.

Leodis McKelvin signed a four-year extension that runs through 2016.

3 – Hey Chris,
With the extension of Dareus, Could you give bills fans an update on how long we will have our d line for?
Thanks!!!

Danny in Scottsdale

CB: The contracts of Kyle and Mario Williams are the ones set to expire first following the 2017 season. Jerry Hughes’ deal runs out in 2020 and Dareus is after the 2021 season. Now we all know circumstances crop up at other positions that can necessitate some difficult decisions at defensive line, so to assume that the line will be together for another four seasons might be foolhardy. I do think it’s safe to say we’ll see the group together through at least 2016.

 

4 – Hello Chris,

As always, thank you for providing the fans this opportunity. With our limited exposure to Ronald Darby, we don’t really get to see his progression. I understand the need for him to struggle and that the preseason is a good place to throw him to the wolves. I am curious how much he has progressed since he came in? Does he learn quickly from his mistakes? Any information would be helpful.

Thank you!

Cory

CB: I will let defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, a former NFL cornerback himself, handle this one. Here’s what he said this week about Darby’s progress.

“He continues to work on his craft, he’s a very talented young man. We believe the sky is the limit for him, we expect him to play well,” said Thurman. “If he’s out there we’re expecting him to play well. We don’t look for him to play like a rookie. We know at times that he may get himself in trouble but if he’s focused on what his assignments are we feel like he’s talented enough to get the job done.”
5 – Chris,

Why do the Bills make comments about the Pats? All that does is fuel the fire. Every time they talk smack they get beat down.

Sam

CB: I think we all know that Rex Ryan has a track record of not being afraid to say what he believes. Coach-speak doesn’t really exist for Ryan and that filters down to his players, who he encourages to speak their mind and say what they believe. I don’t think there has been anything this week other than players speaking confidently and believing that they can beat New England. That’s a healthy and necessary mindset to have going into a game against an opponent of this caliber.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-11

Posted by Chris Brown on September 11, 2015 – 2:06 pm

As excited as we are for real football on Sunday, we do need to pause to think about the nearly 3,000 Americans who perished in the 9-11 attacks. Never forget. Here is this week’s edition of your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – What is the process with keeping someone on the Practice Squad….can another team sign anyone from a Practice Squad? Are there any ways to protect someone on the Practice Squad?

Joe Roberts
Orlando, FL
CB: Practice squads consist of a maximum of 10 players typically who have accrued two or fewer NFL seasons as a pro. Each team is allowed a couple of exceptions in which a third-year player can be on the practice squad. To answer your question yes, any team in the league can sign a player off another team’s practice squad. Essentially you should think of them as a free agent with a job in the league.

 

2 – Chris,

I’m excited for the Bills 2015 season.  I really want to see what Greg Roman does with Buffalo’s offense.  Bills are deep at WR position.  I disagree with some of the posts I’ve read on depth chart.

Sammy is the #1 WR, in my opinion Robert Woods  is clearly #2 ahead of Harvin.  Woods was a great draft pick – Robert Woods consistently gets open on routes and has great hands!  Plus I think he is much more durable than Harvin.  Keep Percy Harvin in the slot as the #3 and kick returns.

What are your thoughts at WR, how many do the Bills keep and how do you see the depth chart.

Randy C,

from Buffalo, currently in D.C.

CB: What is interesting on Buffalo’s depth chart is Percy Harvin and Robert Woods are listed as co-starters opposite Sammy Watkins. So as the coaching staff sees it they’re 2A and 2B on their depth chart. Then it’s Chris Hogan and Marquise Goodwin followed by special teamers Marcus Easley and Marcus Thigpen.

Keeping seven did surprise me. I thought six was a more realistic number. I think the team saw Thigpen as worthy of a roster spot because with Leodis McKelvin to miss the first six weeks of the season they didn’t have a proven punt returner. So Thigpen will handle those duties.

I agree with your thoughts on Woods. I believe with all the attention that’s going to be on Watkins and Harvin and even Charles Clay, Woods will have a lot of favorable matchups this season and make a lot of plays.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Do u think Gilmore will cover Johnson this weekend since it seems that Darby has more trouble w/ taller receivers?

Snowbird_Killer

CB: The Bills have a ton of respect for Andre Johnson, but I don’t think he’s as big a deep threat concern as he used to be. T.Y. Hilton is the more dangerous receiver, but he’s not going to physically overmatch Ronald Darby. I think Rex Ryan was truthful when he said he would mix it up against Andrew Luck and the Colts offense.

So I don’t anticipate there being a lot of Gilmore following Johnson or Hilton for the whole game. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were certain areas of the field where they put Gilmore on Johnson to match up better physically like the red zone, but beyond that I think the chances are greater they play the receivers straight up and the Bills roll more safety help to Darby’s side.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills are we wearing retro jerseys on Sunday to go with the helmets?#RockTheRalph

joshgel25

CB: Yes, there will be a full retro uniform to go with the throwback helmets. Here’s a look.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>All White Classics for week 1. Go <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bills?src=hash”>#Bills</a&gt; <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/RockTheRalph?src=hash”>#RockTheRalph</a&gt; <a href=”http://t.co/sRBkF3fWH5″>pic.twitter.com/sRBkF3fWH5</a></p>&mdash; billsequipment (@billsequipment) <a href=”https://twitter.com/billsequipment/status/642053433390968832″>September 10, 2015</a></blockquote>

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js


5 –
@ChrisBrownBills

How does the HB depth chart looks like? And what is expected out of Karlos Williams? Can he be better than what Fred was?

killerbeekevin

CB: The way the depth chart is listed at running backs is McCoy, Dixon, Karlos, Brown. Personally I think Karlos Williams is going to get just as much time in the offensive backfield as Dixon, if not a bit more. Maybe not right away this season, but sooner rather than later. His running style is aggressive and downhill and he’s got more straight line speed than Dixon.

Blitz pickup will be where I will be looking most carefully to see who can handle that role that Fred filled so well on third downs. It very well could be McCoy, who is pretty good at it in his own right, but that’s something that will bear watching.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-4

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

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

1 – Chris,

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

Josh

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

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

 

2 – Chris,

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

Thanks,
Michael

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

 

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

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

Jonathan H.

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

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

 

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

Keyhole53

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

 

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

Joyriderman28

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

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

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

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

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


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-28

Posted by Chris Brown on August 28, 2015 – 11:24 am

A big preseason game for the QBs coming up on Saturday. Here’s the latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills
What running backs will play tomorrow?

SarroJoeWNY

CB: At this point it looks like it will only be Fred Jackson and the three young backs we saw in the Cleveland game, Bronson Hill, Ricky Seale and Cierre Wood.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Will Cassel get cut with a perfect Tyrod and EJ performance?
AZBillsFan1

CB: I don’t foresee any of the three quarterbacks getting cut. It’s my belief all three will be on the roster and Rex Ryan has given me strong indication that they plan to carry three on their 53-man roster. A perfect performance by Tyrod Taylor would go a long way in helping him pull ahead of Matt Cassel, provided Cassel doesn’t light things up himself.

EJ Manuel would obviously help himself too with a strong performance, but how far that will move him back into true contention for the starting job is something that will be quantified by the coaching staff.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

What has you most excited about the 2015 buffalo bills? Keep up the great work!

4evrbills

CB: I’m most excited about offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s plans for this offense. Chan Gailey was absolutely a qualified play caller on offense when he was here in Buffalo, but Roman is a proven and progressive coordinator that is probably the best they’ve had since the turn of the century.

I just think his ability to adapt and maximize the talent he has at his disposal while also exploiting opponent’s weaknesses is first rate. Roman gives Buffalo’s offense the ability to be dynamic and unpredictable and that will be a welcome change.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills

Is the media hyping the EJ start too much? He’s played good against 2-3 stringers. I think MC deserves another chance.

browndevil37

CB: I don’t know that they’re hyping it too much. It’s an opportunity for Manuel that I think was a slight surprise in light of his reps, or lack thereof, with the first unit through the course of training camp. This starting opportunity is unlikely to last as long as the ones for Cassel and Taylor in the other two preseason games because Ryan said that all three QBs will see time with the first unit.

If Ryan is interested in fairness, as he has maintained, I would anticipate that each of the QBs would get 2-3 series each with the first unit. So Manuel could be exiting the game by the end of the first quarter or earlier if the offense gets three early possessions.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Does Buffalo really believe in our QBs to the point where acquiring better QBs (Mettenburger, etc) isn’t a possibility?

killerbeekevin

CB: I think Doug Whaley has already proven that if there’s an opportunity to make the roster stronger or deeper he’s willing to talk to just about anyone in the league. I don’t know if they’re convinced that what may or may not be available via trade is demonstrably better than what they have.

A young QB like Mettenburger, as you suggested, would also need time to get schooled up on what is a very voluminous playbook and multiple offense. At this point if you traded for a QB and it was a relatively young and inexperienced one like Mettenburger, I don’t know that you could count on getting much in the way of contributions from him this season.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-21

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2015 – 12:30 pm

Two preseason games in the books, two to go for the Bills. Let’s get to latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Barring a trade for another QB, do you foresee Roman using the Bills QBs as follows;

Start – Cassel

Back-up – Tyrod Taylor, used throughout a game as a change up w/the read Option

3rd – EJ depth in the event of any injuries

Cut – Simms, do not see much upside w/Simms

If they trade EJ,… maybe they could trade for either Mike Glennon, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Mallet or the back up on Titans. Scouts need to do a good job and find a QB in first 3 rounds of 2016.

Randy

CB: I think your scenario could very well play out this way. Matt Cassel seems to be the quarterback they trust the most, due mainly to his experience in the league. Tyrod Taylor as talented as he is doesn’t have an NFL start on his resume. For an offensive coordinator running his offense with new personnel in Buffalo in season one, it wouldn’t surprise me if he feels most comfortable with Cassel running it.

That’s not to say that Taylor couldn’t overtake Cassel for the starting job. Now if Cassel does in fact prove to be the starter I could definitely see a package of plays for Taylor as a read option QB where he comes in for a series or two depending on the opponent that week.

I asked and Rex Ryan confirmed for me that they intend to keep three quarterbacks on their roster. I believe Ryan likes EJ as a quarterback and I think the organization feels there is still some ceiling to be reached by him as an NFL QB.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

With so many WRs injured, any chance the Bills go after a FA like Reggie Wayne?

WillowWatchesTV

CB: I don’t foresee this happening. Buffalo has a strong stable of receiver talent. Yes, they are a bit nicked up right now, but Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Chris Hogan barring anything happening that’s new injury-wise should all be good for the regular season. Rex Ryan even said that Percy Harvin will be fine for the regular season.

So taking all of that into account the need for a Reggie Wayne doesn’t compute. He’d be a better fit for a team that lost a receiver for the whole year like Carolina with Kelvin Benjamin.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

You think Taylor will get another shot with the first team since half his team is injured for the Browns game?

GaynorGuarantee

CB: I think Taylor performed quite well despite the lack of weapons at running back and wide receiver. He went 7-10 passing for 65 yards and had three straight third down conversions on the opening drive. He was also effective on the ground with four carries for 41 yards including a long of 21.

 

4 – Chris,
As Bills fans we all know about the competition for the starting QB position. We have heard so many times that the selection process will e long, open and based upon individual merit. Given that, what does each QB candidate need to specifically improve upon to become the starter. All we ever seem to hear are generalities.
Thanks
Dr. Dennis

CB: Cassel is a 10-year veteran and is what he is as a QB. He’s a capable starter, who can make some plays in the passing game and knows risk versus reward based on time and score, matchup, etc. He’s a good leader and competent game manager.

Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel both have the same task, prove they can be consistent with decision making, accuracy and execution. That means proper ball location every time, proper mechanics every time, the right read every time, the proper touch on a pass every time.

Hopefully that provided some specifics.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any idea the coaching strategy with cassell?
bigred8865

CB: As coach Ryan said they wanted to give extended time to both Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel to get a better feel for the abilities of each of them in a true game situation. I think they feel they know Matt Cassel’s game inside and out.

On a secondary level I think if Matt Cassel played behind that second offensive line he might not have been able to avoid pressure like EJ Manuel did and could’ve been at great risk for injury.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-14

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2015 – 11:30 am

The preseason debut of Rex Ryan’s Bills is tonight against Carolina. Catch up with you on the Bills Radio Network pre-game show at 5:30 pm ET. For now let’s get to your latest questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Can Chris Hogan have a breakout season?

Quinn_177

CB: I think Hogan had a breakout season in 2014 quite frankly. He had the fourth-most receptions on the team, was third in receiving touchdowns and was still a fixture on special teams. I’d be surprised if he logged 50 catches this season for a few reasons. First, this offense probably won’t throw the ball more than 20-25 times a game. Second, there are arguably three to four options that figure to be targeted before him in the passing game (Watkins, Harvin, Woods, Clay) and that’s not even counting LeSean McCoy as a passing target.

So while I think Hogan’s game can certainly take a step forward this season I don’t anticipate we’ll see it revealed in his personal statistics this season.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Haven’t heard much about the linebackers and depth there. How are they and how are our recent lb draft picks performing?

RealBryanWatson

CB: The starting linebacking group is Manny Lawson, Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham with Jerry Hughes the hybrid DE/LB. The second unit is made up by Randell Johnson, Ty Powell and rookie Tony Steward. The hybrid with them has been undrafted rookie Andrew Hudson.

Powell has grown into the ILB role and is essentially Brown’s backup. Steward gets from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ quickly. Hudson has caught my eye a few times, but the addition of IK Enemkpali could compromise his role on the second unit. Enemkpali is as strong as an ox and has some bull rush ability against the pass. Rex and Dennis Thurman know him well since they drafted him with the Jets last year.

So I’m encouraged by what we’ve seen from the second team linebackers in training camp, but the preseason games will be the true test to see just how good Buffalo’s depth could be.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills
From what you’ve seen at practice, which of the three QBs plays with the most consistency?

andrew_safe

CB: In this second week of camp I think Matt Cassel has been the most consistent. He hasn’t been spectacular, but he’s been steady just about every day this week. He’s demonstrated an improved on field chemistry with his top receivers and his decision making has been spot on.

Granted he’s had the benefit of getting the most reps in practice with the first team offense, but to his credit he’s done the most with it of the three QBs.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills

How many TEs make the team and who are they?

ZachDrohweder

CB: I don’t think the tight end spots are finalized by any means with all four preseason games to be played. I will say that Charles Clay is the clear cut starter. Knowing the skill set of Marqueis Gray is the most comparable to Clay and he’s a smart player (former QB) he has not surprisingly seen a lot of snaps with the first unit. I think he’s likely going to make the final 53 provided he performs well in the preseason.

Matthew Mulligan is clearly the best blocking tight end on the roster and that alone could land him a roster spot knowing how Greg Roman’s running game relies on tight end blocking. Whether they keep four is up in the air and hinges on a lot of other offensive roster decisions. Do they keep four running backs? Do they keep six receivers?

Rex Ryan said he’ll keep the best players, but the numbers game could create a difficult situation at tight end with two players who have the skills necessary to play in this league in Nick O’Leary and Chris Gragg.
5 – Chris,

Cordy (Glenn) from all accounts has returned to form and has bottled up Jerry Hughes in practice. How high of a priority is he behind Dareus? How would you rank him of all left tackles, meaning what would in cost to keep him? Given the state of the offensive line it would seem he is a strong part of helping the quarterback and offensive succeed this season. What is he looking at for a contract, can the team keep him?

Josh P.

CB:
Glenn wants to be paid like a left tackle plain and simple. It will be interesting to see where the Bills turn after they hopefully get the Marcell Dareus extension completed. Do they focus on Nigel Bradham or Cordy Glenn? Bradham would presumably be easier to negotiate just because the salary structure for left tackles is so steep. But one could argue that Glenn’s role is far more important on this roster.

How much money Dareus’ contract ties up will directly impact what they can or cannot do for Glenn and Bradham by way of an extension.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-7

Posted by Chris Brown on August 7, 2015 – 11:31 am

We’re a week into training camp and a lot has happened already. Here’s your latest round of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hey Chris,
You and your team do a great job all year long of keep Bills fans on the up and up.

I was wondering what you think the roster will look like when it gets down to 53?  Right now we have several positions with too many players but they are loaded with talent. WR, CB, RB and even QB have to get cut back or we may not have enough depth at other positions.

I know this is a great time to be a Bills fan but I just want to know what our roster will look like.

Thanks for everything,
Justin from Lynchburg VA

CB: I think it’s a bit early to be predicting who makes the 53. Preseason game performance always have a strong influence on who does and does not make the roster. You are right that WR, CB and RB are deep positions. So is the defensive line.

With respect to quarterbacks, knowing the rest of the roster is deep it would not surprise me if the Bills only kept two QBs, a practice a good number of teams in the league subscribe to nowadays.

How many WRs are kept could hinge on other positions like TE and RB. Defense might prove tough at the safety position where there are a handful of legitimate NFL caliber talents.

Just remember that it’s GM Doug Whaley that has final say on the 53-man roster, while coach Ryan determines who is up or down on game days.

 

2 – Hi Chris:

2014 seems like a lost season for EJ. Aside from what he has said about being more aggressive and trusting his stuff the next chance he gets, what did he learn by sitting and watching? I sure wish he had 12 more games under his belt going into this season.
G. Knight

CB: There are some things that he did learn by watching Kyle Orton prepare for opponents each week. He also learned how to lead an offensive unit from a confident veteran. Manuel specifically said that he learned from Orton how to more efficiently spend his time preparing for an opponent.

He learned what is worth spending extra time on and what isn’t. Unfortunately what happened last year with EJ was supposed to be how his rookie year was to play out. Kolb was supposed to start while EJ sat and learned. Kolb’s preseason concussion derailed all that and EJ was thrown into the fire.

Then he was told to play conservatively by the previous coaching staff last year. Even Doug Whaley admits with the way everything played out it has put Manuel  a bit behind where he should be entering his third season, but you can’t fix the past.

Manuel has to make the most of this opportunity to win the starting job now.

 

3 – Chris,
As much as the Bills need numbers at the tight end position, they currently have two very effective fullbacks in Felton and Conner. Do you think that there’s a chance that the team keeps both of them, using them in a mixed tight end/fullback role occasionally?

Thanks,
Joseph P.

CB: I’ll have coach Ryan answer this one for you regarding two fullbacks.

“I think first off when we got Felton, Jerome was…I thought he was probably, he’s right up there with the best fullbacks in the game,” said Ryan. “So it was an opportunity for us to get a player that we will use, a fullback positon, and one of the top guys if not the top in this league. So it was great opportunity for us to get him.

“John, we weren’t planning on bringing John Conner in. However when he was still out there, it’s like I know he’s a good football player and we want (good football players). At the end of the day were not worried necessarily about hey we’re bringing in one fullback, going to bring this or this. We want the best 53, and I think John will challenge for a position on this team and that’s why we brought him in.”

 

4 – Hey Chris ,

I’ll keep it short & sweet ! What’s the chance (in your mind) of the Bills being with out their Dr. of Defense “MD” Marcell Dareus after this year ?

Thanks Mr. T

CB: We just covered this topic on Buffalobills.com Wednesday. GM Doug Whaley said he’s optimistic they’ll get a deal done with Dareus on an extension to keep him in a Bills uniform. He felt similarly optimistic about getting a deal done with Jerry Hughes.

I think what we have to keep in mind is this is going to be a complicated deal because of the amount of money involved and how it needs to be structured over the multiple years of the deal (e.g. – front loaded money, guaranteed money, bonuses, LTBE incentives, etc.).

 

5 – CB,

Can you break down how the tight ends are playing and lining up during training camp? I’ve heard little about Clay/O’Leary so far. Do you expect them to keep 4 tight ends? Can we expect to watch 3 tight ends sets?

CB: I can tell you that Charles Clay is beginning to show a bit more with each passing day, especially in the passing game. O’Leary hasn’t been much of a factor in the pass game, but I do like Marqueis Gray. I think he’s the best understudy option to Clay in terms of being as versatile as Clay.

Matthew Mulligan is more athletic than he gets credit for and is a pretty good in line blocker. As for formations and personnel groupings we’re less than a week into camp and with as voluminous as Greg Roman’s playbook is the tight ends are only beginning to scratch the surface of what they’re going to be called upon to do this season.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills