1 – @ChrisBrownBills
With the Bills depleted secondary and Oakland’s vertical threat and strong O-Line, what can Bills D do to stop Carr and O?
CB: The best defense this week is going to be a good offense. Buffalo should be able to run effectively against the league’s 26th ranked run defense. Hopefully that allows the Bills to put together long sustained drives. Converting on third down will be critical to holding onto the ball and limiting Oakland’s possessions.
That’s how the Chiefs beat the Raiders back in Week 6. They held onto the ball for almost 37 minutes and gave the Raiders just 10 total possessions. Teams usually get about 12 per game.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills With so many upcoming free agents how are the @buffalobills with cap space?
CB: You’re right. At last count the Bills will have 23 players set to become unrestricted free agents. That obviously takes a lot of contracts off the books for Buffalo. Remember that room under the salary cap is always a moving target. But last I checked for 2017 the Bills are a little more than $20M under the cap.
If they pick up the option on Tyrod Taylor that will obviously impact the cap significantly. We’ll see what their plans are in terms of re-signing their own or pursuing a free agent on the market, but Taylor’s option will play a major role in how aggressive they are in free agency.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills How is Cardale Jones doing? He is likely the number 2 qb next year correct?
CB: Jones is really trying to build his game from the ground up to better fit the NFL game. From footwork, to set up to his delivery. How he scans the field, keeps his feet active, reading defenses pre-snap. Bills QBs coach David Lee has worked tirelessly with Jones to try to develop his game.
The Bills saw this year as a redshirt year for Jones. Lee has him come in early and throw with a couple of receivers early in the week and late in the week after Friday practices. On Thursdays he’ll have him review his Wednesday and Thursday practice tape and go over fundamentals.
They’re working mainly on his intermediate accuracy, his footwork and arm mechanics.
I know the offensive staff has a lot of respect for EJ’s game. Lee said on the John Murphy Show this week that he thinks Manuel’s confidence is at an all-time high and that he’s been ripping it in practice.
Knowing his contract is up, the likelihood of Manuel being back with the team is completely up in the air.
Clearly Tyrod Taylor is the bigger issue to address with his option year at the quarterback position, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Manuel found work elsewhere and Cardale Jones was the backup for 2017.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills
How limited will Sammy be on Sunday? And how will Rex manage playing time between Lorenzo shaq and Hughes?
CB: Watkins’ availability is going to largely be based on how the foot feels as the game wears on. So it’s a wait and see on the size of his role Sunday. I will say that I think it is beneficial that the game is on grass, which is a more forgiving surface on the body.
As for managing time between Shaq, Alexander and Hughes, the staff tried address that last week against the Jaguars. The defensive staff wants to play Shaq more and cut back on Alexander’s defensive snaps, so they’re able to use him on special teams as well.
Alexander really shouldn’t have much more than 55-60 snaps combined between defense and special teams. Last week he had 70, so again he was over the threshold of where they’d probably like to be with him, knowing he’s 33 and the oldest player on the team.
Shaq’s snap count wound up being identical to that of the Cincinnati game. He got 21 snaps in both. Part of the reason is both games were tightly fought contests and in tight spots you want to go with an experienced player that you can trust. Lawson is still learning the pro game.
Remember he missed the entire offseason on the field. That’s OTAs, minicamp, training camp, the preseason and the first six games of the season. Lawson bit hard on a read option fake, didn’t hold the edge and let Blake Bortles run for a first down and more. Those kinds of plays makes defensive coaches hesitant to use him more as opposed to Alexander, who is one of the smarter players on the team.
Knowing the importance of each game the rest of the way they’d like to use Shaq more because he’s talented, but until he can show an ability to play sound, disciplined assignment football he might be reduced to just passing downs to rush the passer.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Why aren’t they using Reggie Bush out of back field, swing passes, screen passes, with all WR injuries?
CB: It’s a valid question. I thought when they signed Reggie Bush that he would be a specialty player that would be used in an 8-12 play package every week on offense. He could be split out as a receiver, line up in a split backfield with McCoy or return kicks and punts. The signing of Brandon Tate largely eliminated his return duties.
He’s been used sparingly as a receiver and back. I do believe they could make greater use of their ‘Pony’ package, which is their split backfield with McCoy and another tailback. But for whatever reason they have only used it occasionally.
It’s clear they prefer Mike Gillislee, who is a much better north-south runner and capable of fighting for the tough yard. Rookie Jonathan Williams is also better in that regard.
Bush is a player best used in space, which is why they could make use of him in a receiving role knowing the amount of injuries they have at that position right now.
Tags: Bills-Raiders, Cardale Jones, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, Jerry Hughes, Lorenzo Alexander, Mike Gillislee, Reggie Bush, Salary cap, Shaq Lawson
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills who’s Gillislee’s backup?
CB: That would be rookie Jonathan Williams. Some might think it would be Reggie Bush, but Bush is more of a specialty player who is used only occasionally in the backfield, can be split out wide or return kicks. Williams has just 17 carries for 61 yards, which has largely come in times when the game has already been decided.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills is Watkins a game changer this week?
CB: I think the Bills would love it if he could be a game changer. The bottom line though is he hasn’t played in two months and will need a few series to get back into the flow of game speed. I anticipate that the offensive staff will use him as much as they can knowing they’ll be down Robert Woods.
I don’t think there’s any doubt he’s a game changing talent, but coming off the layoff it’s hard to know whether he can be that right away this Sunday.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills what have our secondary players been focusing on in practice?
CB: They focus on a lot of things. During individual position drills a lot of their work involves their footwork and tracking the ball. Tackling was a focus this week with emphasis on getting their head across the body of the ball carrier. Beyond that the focus is the game plan and executing the game calls for this week.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills will McCoy’s thumb affect him at all this next game?
CB: We hope to get that answer from McCoy himself after practice today. He has a good sized wrap on the thumb following the minor surgical procedure to re-attach the dislocated digit. The strength of his grip is probably the biggest concern because back have to apply three points of pressure on the ball to secure it under their arm and the thumb is one of those three. If he doesn’t have any strength to do that it could compromise his ball security.
Catching could be another potential issue. Hopefully we can get some answers from Shady before the game on Sunday.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills How is the team going to approach Watkins’ 5th year option and possible new contract? Great player but also some injuries.
CB: I would expect the Bills to pick up Watkins fifth-year option because of the injuries. I know that sounds strange, but a fifth-year option gives Buffalo time to wait and see if Watkins can put together a season where he can stay relatively healthy all season long.
Since the fifth-year option has to be picked up in May next year for his fifth season which would be in 2018, I’d be inclined to think Buffalo wants to take as much time evaluating his ability to stay on the field. It buys them time.
There’s no debating his talent level, but availability is critical. So I would think before the Bills even think about signing Watkins to a big time deal, they’ll see what he can do in 2017 and maybe even 2018 before they take that step.
Tags: Bills secondary, Fan Friday, Jonathan Williams, LeSean McCoy, Mike Gillislee, Sammy Watkins
Posted in Inside the Bills
Do or die time for the Bills this weekend in Cincinnati. Got to decide if they want to be part of the AFC playoff race Sunday. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills FF,any thought to Incognito going to C and Groy LG? Groy has been ok at G when needed but IMO was a factor in SEA loss at C
CB: When there’s a significant loss on the offensive line, as is the case with Wood lost for the season to a broken leg, coaches often want as little disruption as possible when addressing the void in the lineup. Ryan Groy is expected to be the answer in the pivot.
First, and probably most important, Groy has operated as the swing center-guard since spring camps. He’s snapped to all three quarterbacks on the roster. He’s played a number of roles across the front including guard, tackle eligible and tight end on run plays. That equips him with a firm working knowledge of what everyone is doing on every play, which provides him with the wherewithal to make pre-snap checks efficiently and consistently.
Knowing how critical the communication is from the center in Buffalo’s offense, having Groy with the knowledge base necessary is essential in the pivot.
I’m not saying that Richie Incognito couldn’t play center, but with literally zero reps there since the day he arrived in Buffalo it’s not something you can just ask him to do with a week of practice. Incognito is a Pro Bowl guard. Moving him to address the need at center would be like robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Which goes back to the old adage that you don’t change two positions to address one.
Groy at center makes the most sense as I see it.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
The collapse of the secondary is it players or coaching that’s to blame?
CB: Stephon Gilmore said it’s on the players to make plays. It’s his opinion that the coaches are putting them in position to make plays on the ball. That would seem to run in concert with Rex Ryan who said the majority of the issue is technique related.
Opponents are taking a different approach in attacking the Bills DBs and more often than not the Bills coverage players are not making the necessary adjustments in their coverage technique. That means playing proper leverage as a defender, footwork, driving to the hip of the receiver. All those things factor in, but based on what the coaches and players are saying it’s player error more than anything else.
3 – Chris,
Why doesn’t Time Warner Cable carry the Buffalo Bills programming on MSG in my area?
I looked online and it lists the shows on the guide where I live, but when you tune in it shows all NYC programming. But it will show the Sabres games. I am confused about this.
I live in Wayland, NY 14572 which is in northwestern part of Steuben County. My understanding is that everybody west of Syracuse would get the Bills programming. If you could find a reason for this it would be greatly appreciated thanks
CB: From what I have been told MSG only provides their WNY programming like our Sunday pre-game show, Bills All Access, at 11 am and the Rex Ryan Show (Sundays 11:30 am) as far as Rochester. If you draw a vertical line on a map from the middle of Rochester down through the rest of WNY everyone west of that line gets WNY programming on MSG. If you are east of that line, which I believe you are in Wayland, you get MSG’s NYC programming.
My solution for you would be to contact Time Warner Cable and demand MSG’s Western New York programming. You live in WNY, so it only makes sense.
4 – Chris,
I really would like to see Robert Woods as a Bill for the next 4 years. Can you give us an idea of what salary he is expected to command in free agency?
CB: Woods is on pace to set single-season career highs in receptions and receiving yards. His market value based on his average numbers the first four years would approach $9M per season. That might seem exorbitant, but that’s what the market bears.
Jacksonville’s Allen Hurns just signed a four-year deal this year for just over $40M. His numbers are marginally better than Woods, so it’s reasonable to think that Woods could command a contract in the neighborhood of $9M/year knowing the receiver market isn’t flush with players in their low to mid-20’s with his kind of experience.
Woods is just 24-years old. The only players with comparable age and superior numbers are Alshon Jeffery, Michael Floyd and Kamar Aiken.
I’m not optimistic that the Bills would pay that kind of money for Woods, knowing they’re likely to pay Sammy Watkins big money when his rookie deal is up, provided he can find a way to stay healthy in the next year or so of course.
5 – Chris
We heard an awful lot about Dez Lewis this offseason and with all the injuries at WR why hasn’t he been brought up to the 53 we’ve brought up 1 WR off the practice squad but not Dez not sure I understand has he fallen off I mean we really need help and he seemed to help last year and it was reported that he worked hard in the offseason and looked like he had improved in training camp what’s your thoughts
CB: Dez Lewis looked like a world beater in the spring practices and appeared like he had a chance to make an impact as the team’s third receiver. But when the pads went on in training camp he disappeared. He has never been able to re-establish the same kind of consistency in his game since.
It’s disappointing to see, but it’s a different game when the pads go on and some players can make the adjustment and some can’t. Hopefully Lewis can re-capture some of what made him look so promising in OTAs this past spring.
Tags: Bills All Access, Bills secondary, Dez Lewis, Fan Friday, MSG, Rex Ryan Show, Richie Incognito, Robert Woods, Ryan Groy
Posted in Inside the Bills
Prime time game for the Bills on Monday night. Tough place to play, but hopefully they put their best performance together in all three phases for this one. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills do you see the #bills picking up Tyrod’s option if they finish at or below .500 & don’t make playoffs?
CB: I know there have been a lot of opinions about where this team should go with Tyrod Taylor moving forward. The expectations were high and the passing game has taken a step back this season. I don’t think there’s any debate about that. Not having Sammy Watkins in the lineup is certainly a factor, along with just about every member of the supporting cast in the passing game missing some time.
Here’s what every Bills fan that wants to move on from Tyrod Taylor needs to think about no matter what the Bills record is at the end of the season.
Can you do better?
I understand fans WANT better production and more consistent production from the quarterback position. But the bigger question is CAN you find better production and more consistent production in another quarterback?
Any quarterback in the draft is just a projection, an educated guess. Set to become free agents are QBs like Case Keenum, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer (injured), Geno Smith, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder.
Everyone has an opinion on the quarterbacks listed above, but one would be hard pressed to say that you could do better drawing from that list.
I do still want to see more from Taylor and there’s a half of a season to play. So let’s see what he provides and hopefully it convinces everyone one way or the other.
I just think before anyone decides to toss him overboard that you see what the alternatives are and think long and hard about what you’re wishing for and what’s really out there.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
It seems as though @ajwilliams23 was the leader in secondary, who do you see stepping up and fillin that leader role #Bills
CB: As we covered in our daily Bills Today column earlier this week, Robert Blanton is going to be the primary replacement at safety and will line up alongside Corey Graham in the secondary at safety. Aaron Williams is a loss from the defensive backfield.
As far as leadership however, Corey Graham is a more than capable leader and a vocal one at that. So in terms of veteran leadership they’re covered there.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Is Dareus tradeable this offseason? Large contract to unload but even if we could walk from it for someone else with those $
CB: Short answer here. Not tradeable. If you traded him you would have more than $45M in dead money accelerate onto your cap. Not a viable option. Not an option next year either. Dead cap money would still be upwards of $32M.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills what should we expect from Percy this week? What’s the timetable on Sammys return?
Jon Snow 2016@RobRage38
CB: I think if Harvin plays we’re going to see a package of plays from him, something like 15-20 plays. While he is in shape to perform like we’re used to seeing Harvin perform, I don’t think he’s in the kind of football shape that would allow him to play 50-60 plays on Monday night. I think you risk exposing him to injury if that kind of demand is put on him after not being in a football setting for more than a calendar year.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Is Reggie Bush going to be KR/PR? Powell?
CB: With Brandon Tate not expected to play Monday night (concussion protocol) Reggie Bush would be the next man up on kick return. Mike Gillislee is another consideration there. If he dresses for Monday night there’s always a chance that Percy Harvin gets a crack on a return as well.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Corey Graham, Fan Friday, Marcell Dareus, Percy Harvin, Reggie Bush, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
All week the Boston sports talk is saying how Rex thinks he won SB with 1st game vs NE. What are his thoughts on that?
CB: I think Rex would laugh first. Then he’d disagree. So the folks in the New England area know, after they shut out the Patriots in Week 4, there was zero celebration in Buffalo’s locker room. They had just evened their record at 2-2 after a disappointing 0-2 start.
As important as New England fans believe their team is, the Bills did not attach any added significance to the victory. They knew who wasn’t playing. In fact Rex even referenced that specifically after the game that Tom Brady was not available.
So if Patriots fans and talking heads on the radio want to characterize Rex as a coach that overblows victories they can, but they’d be wrong in this particular case. If anything Rex and his team took a page out of the New England playbook after that victory because all they were talking about was their upcoming game against Los Angeles in Week 5.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Can Bills play a mistake free game, avoid dumb penalties?
CB: While foolish penalties were definitely a problem for the Bills in 2015, it’s not nearly as big an issue this season. Through the first seven games Buffalo ranks 18th in the league in penalties, so more than half the teams in the league have been flagged more than the Bills.
In fact Rex Ryan’s team has been flagged six fewer times than their opponents this season (49 to 55).
So I think they’re capable of avoiding dumb penalties. They did that last week when the undisciplined Dolphins were getting flagged for a lot of extra-curricular activity after the whistle.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills any news on a trade for a wr?
CB: The problem is at this time of year it’s a seller’s market. Teams looking to acquire a piece for their team are not dealing from a position of strength. The trade deadline is coming and they need help, like the Bills. So most other NFL clubs that are being propositioned are going to force those teams to overpay for an asset.
That being said, Bills GM Doug Whaley said in a radio interview Friday morning on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 that it’s been “rather quiet” on the trade market despite a lot of media speculation.
He did say they will work the phones and if something comes up that they think can help their situation they won’t hesitate.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills Any idea what the plan is at safety? Blanton/Williams combo?
CB: I’d be surprised if Aaron Williams plays this week after his neck injury last Sunday. When he exited the game Robert Blanton was the first guy in to replace him and then he was subbed out in favor of Jonathan Meeks. Neither player really stood out in the loss to Miami.
Perhaps the defensive staff will use a rotation there based on down and distance and personnel packages like they did at the beginning of the season. Through the first two weeks of the season all four safeties rotated in to play alongside Corey Graham.
Back then it was done to steadily blend Aaron back into the scheme after he missed most of training camp with a concussion. This time around it could be to maximize the strengths of each of his replacements and minimize their weaknesses.
Of course one thing to consider is how New England goes up tempo and prevents their opponents from making personnel substitutions. So they may have to decide on one guy being the main replacement.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Not quite sure how all these IR, PUP, list work. But any chance that Sammy can come back this season?
CB: The Bills have the opportunity to bring one player back off injured reserve to begin practicing after they have been out for six weeks and they’re eligible to activate them to play in a game after they have been out eight weeks.
Whether Sammy Watkins can be that player will be up to the team’s medical staff.
Head coach Rex Ryan did confirm this week that Watkins is out of his walking boot, and that it is an encouraging sign. Whether that enhances his chances of returning is probably too early to determine.
The first eligible date that Watkins could return to practice if deemed healthy enough to do so would be the Friday of the bye week (Nov. 11th). The first date he could dress for a game, again if he’s medically cleared, would be Nov. 27th against the Jaguars.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Bills-Patriots, Corey Graham, Doug Whaley, Duke Williams, Fan Friday, injured reserve, Jonathan Meeks, penalties, Rex Ryan, Robert Blanton, Sammy Watkins, trade market
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills was Reggie Ragland outperforming Zach Brown at camp, or was he slated to start due to the resources invested in him?
CB: Reggie Ragland was one of the most instinctive run defending rookies I’ve seen at the linebacker position in a while. Ragland has a much more physical game than Zach Brown and I think that’s what was most appealing to the defensive staff. I believe even if Ragland was healthy that Brown would’ve seen time on obvious passing downs due to his coverage ability.
Ragland out of the gate was probably one of the two best run defending linebackers on the roster with Preston Brown. That’s why he was in the starting lineup.
2 –@ChrisBrownBills Sir when you can, please let us fans know when Shaq going to play & Listenbee?
CB: I fully anticipate that Shaq Lawson will begin practicing with the team next week, but to think he’s going to play at Miami next Sunday after three or four days of practice I believe is a bit unrealistic, even though head coach Rex Ryan talked about Lawson playing right away in Week 7.
We have to remember that Lawson did not participate in a single team practice. His shoulder required surgery after a rookie minicamp practice. He’s never been on the field with any of the other players on defense. He’s never physically repped this defensive scheme with teammates, let alone at game speed.
I would expect him to at least get a couple of weeks of practice in before they begin to blend him into the defensive rotation. My guess would be the New England game provided he comes along and executes consistently in practice.
As for Listenbee, Ryan expressed doubt that he would be practicing any time soon. Here was his comment on Wednesday this week about Listenbee’s availability to practice.
“I don’t have the confidence with that as I do with Shaq,” Ryan said.
Listenbee has had some setbacks in his recovery from double sports hernia surgery. Every case is different and it appears that Listenbee’s recovery is going to take a little longer. If his inability to practice stretches beyond Week 10 then he won’t see the field at all this season.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills will the Bills open up the passing game more this week? Don’t remember too many deep throws past couple weeks
CB: The only deep shots I remember was the overthrow to Woods when he had his man beat down the left sideline in the second half last week and there was another to Goodwin that didn’t connect. I’d like to think there will be a couple more just to loosen up the defense. The 49ers though are really struggling to stop the run, so their weakness on defense kind of plays into Buffalo’s hands, so don’t expect the ball to be flying all that much.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills what’s up with Aaron Williams? Didn’t he leave last week’s game with a shoulder injury?
CB: Last week Aaron Williams left the game with what was reported by the team as a shoulder injury and he was questionable to return. But on the next defensive series Williams was back at his safety position and finished the game.
This week he has an ankle injury and has been limited in practice, but is expected to start.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills do you see an increased role for Bush anytime soon or are his days in Buffalo possibly numbered?
CB: They have certain packages in the offense designed with Reggie Bush in mind, but for whatever reason they’ve chosen not to make use of those to this point. I wouldn’t go so far as to say his days are numbered. I think he’s good insurance behind LeSean McCoy because he’s the only back on the roster that can do some of what McCoy can do.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Bills passing game, Fan Friday, Kolby Listenbee, Reggie Bush, Reggie Ragland, Shaq Lawson, Zach Brown
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Does Justin Hunter have a chance to play? He is big and fast
CB: I expect Hunter to be active on game day Sunday. You’re right he is tall and fast. Having only practiced with the team for four days, and only being exposed to the playbook for about a week, I would anticipate just a package of plays for Hunter against the Rams. Perhaps just the red zone if they get down there or some other situational parts of the game. A full workload I think is a little ambitious with as new as he is to the club.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills How are the Bills able to bring Lawson & Sammy back from IR? I thought u could only bring 1 from preseason IR.
CB: Lawson was on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list, which carries a completely different set of rules for returning to the active roster. Beginning in Week 7 the Bills have a three week window in which they can take a player on PUP and let him begin practicing. The first day he practices starts the 21-day window in which the team must decide whether to add him to the active roster or leave him on said reserve list for the remainder of the season.
Watkins being on injured reserve can be chosen as a player to re-activate to the 53-man roster after he’s been on I-R for eight weeks. I’m not overly optimistic that will happen, but we’ll see where things stand in about a month.
3 – Chris,
It seems to me that we’ve heard almost nothing about John Miller this off-season. Normally this is a good thing for offensive linemen. Your opinion please.
CB: Miller has fared well for the most part this season. His teammates acknowledge he is making progress and improving his consistency. He’s got a supreme test this week in Aaron Donald, who will line up opposite both him and Richie Incognito at times. Low to the ground and quick, Donald can wreck a game. A matchup worth watching this week.
4 – Chris,
My question is about Jonathan Williams. He really impressed me in the preseason, reminds me a little bit of Fred Jackson. When do you expect him to make a push for some carries? I really think he would make a great compliment to Shady now. To me, if Reggie Bush isn’t returning punts or kickoffs we don’t have much of a use for him.
CB: Jonathan Williams did have an encouraging preseason. Had great contact balance and usually falls forward. Underrated as a pass catcher. This season, much like it is for Cardale Jones, might be like a redshirt year. He’s got guys ahead of him on the depth chart. He’s got to master all the responsibilities of being a running back, including blitz pickup more than anything.
Coaches have to know they can trust him and he’s got to show he can do more and offer more than the guys ahead of him on the depth chart.
5 – Hi, Chris —
Two years ago as a rookie Cyril Richardson (because of other circumstances) got some starts at guard and did some decent, if not memorable, work. Last year his performance fell off noticeably and he didn’t play much. This year he couldn’t even make the team.
Any insights into this decline? Was he not an NFL-level talent to begin with?
CB: Cyril Richardson was drafted when Doug Marrone was head coach of the team and they wanted to employ a smash mouth drive defensive linemen off the ball type run game. Cyril Richardson is a player capable of doing that. But when the scheme changed with the new staff, Richardson was no longer a fit.
This is a run game that features pulling guards to kick out and lead block and get to the second level. Richardson never had the feet to execute that. He was no longer a fit for the type of offense the Bills run.
Tags: Cyril Richardson, Fan Friday, John Miller, Jonathan Williams, Justin Hunter, Sammy Watkins, Shaq Lawson
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills chances the #bills shut down Watkins the entire year? Curious as to why no urgency in adding another WR with 2 down?
CB: I don’t think the Bills are at that point yet, but I’ve got to believe that if the medical staff gets to a point where they determine that Watkins’ foot even with rest is not improving to where he can play on it then the discussion to shelve him for the season could come up.
I’m not a doctor so I’m not going to pretend to know the protocol for how that decision is ultimately reached. But it Watkins can’t play this Sunday after not playing on it for 17 days it could beg the question if the foot will ever be good enough to play on in its current state.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills with the poor QB play, what are the chances the Bills get serious about the position, be it thru a trade or the draft
CB: I don’t believe after three games that the Bills are actively seeking other options at quarterback. I do believe they need more passing game production out of Tyrod. I like Anthony Lynn’s approach with Taylor of identifying the best matchup pre-snap instead of working his way through the reads. Find the best matchup and exploit it.
The trade market on quarterbacks is typically limited unless someone wants to give up a lot, like Minnesota did to save what they believe can still be a playoff run type season. I believe much like everyone anticipated Tyrod will be given this entire season to prove he can advance his game and take the next step. If he can’t then perhaps a change in course will take place like you’re describing.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills #bills how will the bills defense attack qbs since both have quick release and can run?
CB: Buffalo’s defense relies on disguise and a multitude of looks to slow the opposing quarterback down just enough with his decision making for pressure to get there and disrupt the opponent’s passing game. Properly utilized in the right down and distance situations this can be very effective.
Through the first three games the Bills have been more aggressive with their blitz packages on the whole. Even early in the Jets game they brought some pressure just to disrupt the timing of the Jets pass game. I suspect there will be pressure packages and some new looks from Buffalo’s defense for the Patriots QB this week whether it’s Garoppolo or Brissett.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills was our “great secondary” a product of getting pressure rushing only 4?
CB: I don’t think anyone will argue that the improved pass pressure helped last week. But I will also say that Buffalo’s coverage players made more plays on the ball even when the pressure wasn’t generated up front. Against the Jets there were jump ball situations where the Bills corners and safeties just didn’t win. Against the Cardinals more often than not they did.
Perfect stat line to illustrate that – passes defensed.
Against the Jets – 4 pass breakups, 0 interceptions on
Against the Cards – 10 pass breakups, 4 interceptions
5 – @ChrisBrownBills has Spikes contributed to our better run defense so far this year or has it been more the change to full 3-4?
CB: It has unquestionably been the scheme. The defensive unit just looks more comfortable in this run front defensively. The defensive linemen have done a great job of constricting the rush lanes in this scheme. Preston Brown and Zach Brown have been the biggest factors at the second level. Brandon Spikes has only played 13 of 224 defensive snaps so far this season. He was inactive in Week 2.
Spikes has been used as a strong side OLB up on the line of scrimmage on obvious run downs in the limited time that he’s been on the field defensively. I think that’s a good spot for him since he’s a bigger LB and can set the edge. He could have a bigger role this week if LeGarrette Blount is on the field as much as he’s been for the Patriots over the first three weeks of the season.
Tags: Bill secondary, Bills defense, Brandon Spikes, Fan Friday, pass pressure, Sammy Watkins, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
It’s been a rough start out of the gate. Let’s hope for better results moving forward. Here is the latest edition of your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills are the bills confident in their WR corps? With the injuries do you think they should look thru FA to get a DWAYNE BOWE/#2WR
CB: I believe they are confident in their receiving corps. They only kept five receivers on the roster initially and now have six with Brandon Tate. Obviously if Sammy Watkins is out of the lineup for any period of time that would hurt, since there is no other wideout like him on the roster.
I will say that I think Robert Woods is an underrated receiver, who has never really had a chance to shine in this offense. I believe he can make plays. He’s not Sammy Watkins. He’s a different receiver, but the guy is winning on his routes a lot. He’s just not getting the ball.
Goodwin and Salas are competent role players and Powell and Tate offer depth.
I’d like to see LeSean McCoy and Reggie Bush split out wide at times to try to get them in space and get yards after the catch.
Is that enough? Only time will tell.
I just don’t think they sign a guy like Bowe unless they’re down a couple of receivers for an extended period of time.
2 – Hi Chris,
Once again when I have a Bills question I am turning to you because you ARE THE MAN.
Can you explain the process of selecting which players get cut and which make the team.
My belief was that the General Manager had the final call, but in listening to Rex Ryan he talks about how he and his coaches have a tough job to do when making the call.
You makes the final call certainly does have a tough job. Can you explain?
CB: How those decisions are made can vary slightly from team to team. With the Bills I know that Doug Whaley ultimately controls who is on the 53-man roster. Rex Ryan controls the 46-man roster on game day.
There is obviously a lot of input from the coaching staff and the pro personnel department regarding the 53-man roster. It’s not like Whaley unilaterally determines the roster. There is a lot of give and take, and the coaching staff has the freedom to express their preferences, but if a tough call arises, Whaley has final say. Whaley has made that clear on more than one occasion.
3 – Chris:
Great work during that very hot training camp.
What impact does it have when a player is waived injured instead of just being waived? Does the waived injured mean the player’s contract is voided, and he has to renegotiate to remain with the club if he clears waivers? How does this designation help the team?
CB: When a player is waived/injured they are placed on the waiver wire for a certain time period. During training camp it’s just 24 hours. During that period of time another could put a claim on the player and if awarded the claim that team would inherit the contract.
If the player goes unclaimed, as most injured players do, he reverts back to the team that waived/injured him and he goes on that team’s injured reserve list.
When he’s initially waived/injured he no longer counts toward a roster spot and even if he reverts to the team’s injured reserve he doesn’t count toward a roster spot either.
4 – Hi Chris,
With the damage done to the defense thru suspensions and injury, would the Bills go to a 4-3 defense? Or stay with the 3-4? Or maybe have a hybrid of both? Opposing teams are going to be able to run on the Bills with relative ease. I know the run defense played well against the Colts, but this is preseason. I just feel short term the Bills will suffer. Unless, of course, they are able to obtain a very good defensive lineman/end thru free agency. Your thoughts.
Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: Switching to a 4-3 would be unusual. That was Rex’s mistake last season. He tried to blend some of the concepts of Jim Schwartz’s defensive scheme in with his. It led to confusion on the field and a whole mess of other execution issues.
Buffalo’s defense should be better because every player understands the scheme and that allows them to play fast. Sure the extra talent will help when Lawson returns along with Dareus, but the execution should be better across the board.
To this point they’ve had one good and one poor performance.
5 – Brownie,
Thanks for what you and your crew continue to do for those of us in a long-distance relationship with our team.
I feel like you may have answered this question or similar in years past, but with our first two regular season opponents just four days apart, how much preparation relied on film from the previous season and what else might go into it? Do the Bills have scout teams assigned to the Ravens and Jets open practices? Is this common for most NFL teams? If so, is this why we tend to see the Bills run scrimmages and such out of base packages, in order to be a bit guarded?
Thanks in advance for your response. Anticipating the end of the drought!
Bob from North Tonawanda via Okinawa, Japan
CB: With the first two games so close together the Bills coaching staff was doing game plan installation in practice before the season was even over. Typically in the offseason the coaches formulate a framework of a game plan for their first couple of opponents on the schedule.
Then the pro personnel department will scout the opponents through the course of the preseason by going to all of their preseason games. NFL clubs cannot attend other teams practices unless there is a charge for admittance.
Tags: 4-3 defense, 53 man roster, Fan Friday, game plan, injured reserve, Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – Chris…
Was Dan Carpenter’s 2015 season a fluke or is there real concern? And is the rookie Marshall Morgan a legit replacement if needed or might they sign another vet?
CB: I think Carpenter’s only problem last season was extra points. He was 23-27 on field goals, so his field goal percentage was in the same relative range it always is. He missed four attempts in 2014, three in 2013 and five in 2012 (his last year with the Dolphins).
The extra point issue is difficult to explain. Carpenter has pointed to the fact that his hamstring injury a week before training camp cost him valuable reps. He basically missed all of camp and did not kick much in the preseason. So his preparation going into the season was not what it typically is. His swing wasn’t sharp and the extra point results made it evident.
The good news is this preseason Carpenter appears to be back to his old reliable self. His two 52-yard field goals at Washington on grass pretty much eliminated any doubt that anyone might have that he’s back. So I’m anticipating a solid season from Buffalo’s kicker.
2 – Hey Chris,
Thanks for answering my last question directly. It seems concerning a long term deal for Gilmore that if they can’t make a deal that the only thing left would be to use the tag next year, but that too would result in a high salary based on the existing salaries that are in place.
CB: I think both sides would prefer a long term extension. GM Doug Whaley said himself it’s going to be a process. I think there are a lot of things that have to be worked out in terms of average annual salary, guaranteed money, bonuses, etc.
There have also been extensions signed by other cornerbacks of late that have soared above the perceived market value for top corners (see: Josh Norman) and have been more in line with what the Bills might be more apt to hand out (see: Darius Slay).
Hopefully the prospect of the franchise tag will be enough of a deterrent for both sides to reach a multi-year extension.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills What is the key matchup you are looking at this Sunday against the Ravens? #GoBills
CB: Key matchup for me is LeSean McCoy against Baltimore’s linebackers. I like the matchup for Buffalo because McCoy’s speed and elusiveness is a bad match for the Ravens. Baltimore’s linebackers are stack and stuff types not run and hit linebackers. If Greg Roman can get McCoy isolated in one-on-one matchups in space at the second level he’ll be a very big headache for Baltimore’s defense.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills what do you think about @buffalobills winning 9 or 10 games? #gobills
Magic Mike Ferrara@notwhipped4life
CB: I think it’s realistic. The main reason why is I think Tyrod Taylor’s play at quarterback will take the next step. The advancements I’ve seen in his game has me confident that he’ll be able to pull out two to three games in the end that perhaps the Bills were unable to win in years past. Those two or three wins I believe will be the difference this season.
5 – Chris,
Why does it seem there is no concern for the back-up quarterback position? EJ has shown flashes but his inconsistency of play scares me. Week 7 against the Jags, EJ posted a 19.2 QBR with a 2nd quarter, 3 consecutive play meltdown. This resulted in a fumble recovered for touchdown, interception recovered for touchdown and an interception in a game we should have and needed to win but didn’t.
With Tyrod being a quarterback who isn’t afraid to use his legs, I feel it is more likely the our QB2 keeps us from reaching the Superbowl than the #3 wideout battle, the running back depth or who is going to play OLB with both Lawson’s out. Do you think the Bills will look to add a vet QB before the start of the regular season? How does EJ’s production rank compared to other back-ups in the league? How has his play looked in practice?
Brady from Vermont
CB: I know that a lot of fans lost their faith in EJ Manuel as a backup QB after watching that Jacksonville game. Everyone remembers the three major errors, and I’m not saying they should be dismissed. What also shouldn’t be dismissed is the fact that after those mistakes, Manuel helped the Bills climb back into that game and ultimately take the lead late before a horrible pass interference call on Nickell Robey-Coleman gave the Jaguars an extra set of downs leading to the winning TD late in the game.
After his second interception in the second quarter, which followed his sack fumble that was returned for a TD and his INT that was returned for a TD, EJ Manuel went 8-12 passing for 80 yards on the last two drives of the half with a touchdown pass capping one drive and the other leading to a field goal.
In fact for the rest of the game after those three straight turnover drives in the second quarter, Manuel for the rest of the game went 20-30 passing for 248 yards and two touchdowns. He led the team on drives that helped the Bills score 21 of 28 unanswered points with Corey Graham providing the go ahead TD on an interception return.
As the saying goes adversity often reveals a person’s true character. After that disastrous four or five minutes of the game, Manuel came back and got his team back in the game. I still remember Greg Roman in the locker room after the game telling Manuel that he showed him something in the way he played after those turnovers.
It was a hugely disappointing win, but Buffalo’s offensive coordinator respected Manuel’s resolve and ability to bounce back.
I’m not trying to be an apologist for Manuel, but the guy works his rear end off and I believe is a much better backup than most of what the rest of the league has in their No. 2 spot.
Take a look around the league at some of the names and you’d be hard pressed to find even a few teams with better options.
Tags: Dan Carpenter, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, LeSean McCoy, Stephon Gilmore, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills do you think spikes will start in the middle with brown or do you think it will be Zach brown?
CB: I believe the starting inside linebacker tandem will be Preston Brown and Zach Brown. It’s been that way since Reggie Ragland went down and I don’t see it changing. I anticipate that Spikes will have a specialized role as a run down linebacker. A guy that you’ll likely see in goal line situations or short yardage.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills How good do you think the defense will be without Dareus?
CB: I will say I was encouraged by the way the Bills run defense performed against the Giants after Dareus entered rehab. It was really the last time we saw the starting defense on the field for any significant period of time and they performed well when it came to constricting the rush lanes.
Would they be better with Dareus? Unquestionably. How good without him? I think they can handle the run. It’s pushing the pocket against the pass that I wonder about.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills With no kickoff specialist this year, will Bills try more short kicks to pin opponents inside the 25?
CB: I think the approach will vary from week to week. I think hanging kicks high with hang time around the goal line will be an approach that’s used. Let your coverage run under it and pin them that way. On game days when it’s not windy they may try to kick outside the numbers inside the five. If it’s windy though there’s a risk of the ball going out of bounds over the sideline and then the opponent has it at the 40.
The caliber of the return man is also a factor. So there are many variables that will undoubtedly alter Danny Crossman’s approach, but I think hanging the kickoff high with hang time might be one of the more popular approaches this season.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills who do you think will slot in for the bills at wr #3? Since the first two spots are locked up with sammy and robert
CB: I don’t know that there’s a straight answer for this. The reason why is although Salas is the primary slot receiver, I could see Goodwin getting significant time outside some weeks based on the opponent with Woods moving into the slot in those situations. So I envision Goodwin and Salas sharing that role.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills do you feel we are Super bowl caliber type talent on buffalo bills roster?
CB: I think there is certainly elite talent on Buffalo’s roster. McCoy, Dareus, Watkins, Gilmore, Darby are some examples. Taylor could develop into a premier talent as could some others on the roster. Is it enough to reach the Super Bowl? Let’s get to the postseason first.
Tags: 3rd WR, Brandon Spikes, Fan Friday, kickoff coverage, Marcell Dareus, Zach Brown
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills who will be our tight ends 2 and 3?
JR Mauro @mrsju007
CB: Right now it’s Chris Gragg and Jim Dray. Dray is strictly a blocking TE, who is serviceable in the short area pass game. Gragg has done the most to this point in camp and the preseason. The only other tight end that has flashed is Nick O’Leary. Blake Annen and Jimmay Mundine have had a tough time making plays on a consistent basis.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Is it almost a guarantee we grab a roster cut for OL Depth?
Gabriel Erlichman @Gabezababe
Think there could be any vet receivers signed before the season starts up?
Paulie Fricano @PaulieFric
CB: Since these questions were similar I decided to group them together. Buffalo’s pro personnel department keeps a close eye on the waiver wire and player cuts as do the other 31 teams. The answer to both of these questions is dependent upon the caliber of player released.
If the front office sees a player waived or released and deems it an upgrade they will have interest. At this point I would put adding depth at offensive line ahead of depth at receiver.
The Bills have a good starting five. If Seantrel Henderson’s return is successful that would be a huge addition for line depth with him and Kouandjio at tackle. On the interior beyond Ryan Groy and vet Fernando Velasco it’s a bit thin.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Hey Chris, how much of an offensive role do you expect from Reggie bush
CB: I think of Bush as an offensive specialist. He’ll be the team’s top return man. His role on offense I expect to be extremely varied. I foresee OC Greg Roman putting together a package of plays for Bush every week. Based on the opponent he could line up out wide as a receiver. He could line up in a split backfield with LeSean McCoy. I don’t expect him to steal many carries away from LeSean McCoy. He’ll have a specialty role that I think will have him on the field for 10-15 plays a game depending on how much they feel his talents can take advantage of that week’s opponent.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills where is Corey Graham on the depth chart? Also hearing a lot about the db outta southern cal, are you as impressed?
CB: Graham is the starting SS and has performed well throughout camp. Duke Williams has been paired with him the last couple of weeks with Aaron Williams sidelined with his concussion. As for Kevon Seymour, yes he has been impressive. At 6-0 185 he’s got good size for the position and his movement skills are strong.
He’s been running mainly as a second team cornerback with veteran Corey White behind Gilmore and Darby. But he was also used as the first team nickel corner in the slot when Nickell Robey-Coleman went out with injury. Seymour has performed admirably and is threatening to be the third corner on this team behind Pro Bowl caliber players in Darby and Gilmore.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills How much of an uptick in passing volume do you think is coming from Tyrod?
CB: I asked this exact question of Greg Roman and his answer was understandably vague since he doesn’t want Buffalo’s opponents getting any idea as to what their plans are for this fall.
Last season the Bills were 31st in the league in pass attempts per game at 27.1. They also led the league in rush attempts. I think there will be a slight shift, but Buffalo is not going to abandon what worked extraordinarily well last year.
So the answer is yes, but not to a great degree. Maybe Buffalo averages 30-32 pass attempts per game. If God forbid LeSean McCoy is injured and out for a few games then I think the pass attempts could jump higher.
Tags: Chris Gragg, Corey Graham, Fan Friday, Jim Dray, Kevon Seymour, Reggie Bush, roster depth, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
We’re on the cusp of preseason game number one for the Bills as they host the Colts Saturday night at 7 pm at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Here is the latest edition of your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Is Aaron Williams’ injury potentially serious? If so, how long would he miss?
CB: We do not yet know the severity of Williams’ injury sustained at practice Thursday night. He was being evaluated for a possible concussion. We hope to learn more soon, but I think this all but guarantees he will not see any action at safety Saturday night.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
How has Aaron Williams looked in camp so far?
CB: Williams has admitted that he is taking the path back to full contact slowly coming off his neck surgery. Unfortunately Thursday night’s collision happened without him having any choice as to how involved he wanted to be.
He’s trying to be that leader in the secondary while also balancing the aggressiveness of his play on the field. It cannot be an easy task for him. So hopefully he comes out of the collision with Dez Lewis without suffering a major setback in his road back to full contact play.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you get tired of fans and media having a short rope with GMs and coaches?
CB: I have been covering this team for the entire playoff drought and then some. I recognize and understand the frustration of Bills fans. They just want a winner, and they’re at the point where patience has run out and if they don’t think a GM or coach is capable of getting the team to the postseason they don’t want to wait around another year to see if the fortunes will change.
But in the NFL time and again it has been proven that continuity pays off more often than not. And constant change does not. Fortunately the Pegulas despite being young in the NFL ownership business understand this. So I anticipate them staying the course beyond this year.
Does that mean they’ll be satisfied if the team doesn’t reach the postseason in 2016? Absolutely not. They want to win, badly. And for that matter so does Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills
How confident are you in the safety depth behind A. Williams and C. Graham?
CB: While I am encouraged by what I’ve seen from Robert Blanton in the practice setting and improved play from Jonathan Meeks, whose career has been interrupted by injuries, I need to see more in the preseason before I can feel comfortable with what the Bills have behind the two incumbent starters at safety.
Things look good on the practice field, but I want to see it translate to the game field for some hard evidence that the Bills are going to be okay there beyond their starters.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Hey Chris, if the Bills are in fact able to extend Taylor, would you expect Gilmore to get tagged if no deal is done? #Bills
CB: Under your hypothetical situation the Bills could make use of the tag if necessary. Really the franchise tag would only buy the Bills some time in keeping Gilmore on the roster. Common ground ultimately has to be reached if Gilmore is to stay here long term.
I think Buffalo will have to be very creative to make a long term deal palatable to Gilmore in light of where the cornerback market has gone this offseason. Hopefully the Darius Slay deal with Detroit helps stabilize the going rate a bit more.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Bills fans, Fan Friday, Stephon Gilmore, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – Chris,
Worst case scenario, if something were to happen to/with Preston Brown, who would be responsible for relaying or making the defensive calls? Is that player currently being coached or taught to fill in if necessary? Will that player be afforded the opportunity to make the defensive calls during the preseason games, or are we just supposed to hope that everything works out ok without any problems?
CB: I believe if it’s early in the season Zach Brown would be a primary candidate to step in and run things. If it’s later in the year Brown is probably still the first man in, but rookie Reggie Ragland might be ready at that point to run things. Teams always have backup options.
2 – Chris,
How about bringing in Jake Long for training camp for RT where we need help desperately. Any chance of that happening in your opinion? Long appears healthy and if he doesn’t work out then they could release him.
CB: I don’t anticipate that happening. Long was most recently talking with the Ravens in the wake of the retirement of Eugene Monroe, but reports indicate that Long’s knee is not fit to pass a physical. I think with Seantrel Henderson working his way back from his medical condition the Bills feel they have options.
3 – Chris,
Given the Bills are playing Ragland and Brown inside, what role is there for Zach Brown? If teams spread out on passing downs having both on the field would leave the Bills at a disadvantage having two ‘thumpers’. Zach Brown is a better coverage LB than the other two. How will he fit into the defense, considering the similarity of Preston and Reggie’s skill set and the need for coverage LB’s?
CB: Right now Zach Brown is the third inside linebacker. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Zach Brown stepped onto the field in subpackages for coverage assignments. One of the faster linebackers in the league, Zach Brown would be a good fit against backs and most tight ends on passing downs. That’s where I see his role for Buffalo this year.
4 – Hi Chris,
Any information when/where night practice tickets will be available ?
CB: Here’s where you can find all your night practice info.
5 – Hi, Chris.
The Bills lost some depth across the board to free agency, but I think especially in the secondary this year, and I was wondering who are the depth players going to be in the secondary this year.
CB: I think there is depth at both cornerback and safety with a host of options who have NFL experience at both positions.
Among the candidates who figure to man roles who don’t figure to be starters barring a huge training camp and preseason are players like CB Corey White, CB Sterling Moore, S Jonathan Meeks, S Robert Blanton, S Colt Anderson, S Duke Williams, CB Kevon Seymour and CB Mario Butler. There are others battling too like Jonathan Dowling, Sammy Seamster, Phillip Thomas and Javier Arenas.
Tags: Fan Friday, NFL free agency, night practice tickets, secondary depth, Zach Brown
Posted in Inside the Bills
Only a week until training camp opens Bills fans. We’ll be covering it all for you here on Buffalobills.com. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
If the Bush ship sails, any chance that Rex gives Ray Rice his last chance?
CB: I really can’t see that happening. With such a greater focus on domestic violence in the NFL these days, which includes a league wide ad campaign to raise awareness on the subject, I can’t see Buffalo taking that kind of step.
Last year’s training camp should serve as a perfect example on the likelihood of that happening. All five running backs on Buffalo’s training camp roster were all injured at the same time last summer and Ray Rice was not brought in. I don’t see that changing if Reggie Bush elects to sign and play elsewhere.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you think the Bills pass on signing Gilmore if Kevon Seymour has a great preseason?
CB: While I think your question is a valid one, I believe the likelihood of signing Gilmore to a long term extension has more to do with the market value of top flight cornerbacks than it does with how well Kevon Seymour comes along in the preseason.
I think they’d like to return Gilmore to the fold long term, but the state of the cornerback market might not allow it.
As I’ve stated more than once on this very page, the Josh Norman deal completely turned the market value at cornerback on its ear. Getting $15M per season from Washington after his franchise tag was rescinded by Carolina threw the cornerback market completely out of whack.
If a zone corner can get $15M/yr. then upcoming free agents like Stephon Gilmore who play almost exclusively man-to-man will likely see getting that much or probably more as fair market value. I’m confident the Bills are not going to enter the $15M/yr. territory.
Could I see the Bills going $12.5M/yr. like the Giants free agent deal for Janoris Jenkins this spring?
Would that be enough for Gilmore?
I think it would need to have a lot more guaranteed money than Jenkins’ $28.8M has in his contract for it to happen.
The Norman deal unfortunately could push negotiations between the Bills and Gilmore into an area where Buffalo could potentially be fiscally irresponsible as it pertains to the rest of their roster. And the Bills probably won’t, and should not, do that.
I think if Seymour performs well in the preseason it only helps the Bills front office breathe a bit easier should they reach an impasse with the Gilmore camp on a new contract. At least then they would feel like they have a promising prospect in the pipeline to eventually replace Gilmore in 2017 if all hope is lost on a Gilmore extension.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
With suspensions and off field stuff at RB, do you anticipate McCoy being very limited through camp and preseason?
CB: I think the plan all along was to limit LeSean McCoy’s workload through training camp and the preseason. It has less to do with the recent suspension of Karlos Williams and DUI arrest of Jonathan Williams, and more to do with what happened last summer at training camp.
After sustaining his hamstring injury, McCoy was not the same player for the 2015 season. He was still very good, but not the game breaking talent that has made him one of the most dynamic backs in the league.
The Bills want to ensure they have the game breaking McCoy in their offensive backfield come September, so the plan all along was to pace McCoy. Give him enough work where he’s ready for the regular season, but not so much that he runs the risk of injury or going into the season hobbled.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills would Donald Trump still be able to run for president if he succeeded in purchasing the team?
CB: Based on what I’ve been able to uncover with respect to executive branch government employees and conflicts of interest, there are ethics rules that require them to divest themselves of stock or property only if they are appointed to their positions (e.g. Secretary of the Treasury). Trump however, would be holding an elected position so those rules would not apply to him.
So not having an expert background by any means on government employee bylaws it appears he can continue as CEO and President of his Trump organization while also serving as President of the United States were he elected.
So if his business holdings included ownership of an NFL team that would appear to be permissible as well.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills
How was John Miller looking through OTAs?
CB: Keeping in mind that Miller as an offensive lineman is not playing real football in the spring practices as it pertains to his playing duties (full contact blocking) it’s hard to provide you with a true picture of how he performed on the field. That being said I can tell you that Miller has benefitted from an offseason in an NFL strength and conditioning program as opposed to prepping for the NFL Combine and pre-draft workouts.
I just think he’s the kind of player that will make quality advances in his game as a second-year player based on the 12 games of experience he got last year. Keep in mind also that he played most of last season injured with a high-ankle sprain. Now that he’s healthy it’ll be interesting to see how he can perform when he’s 100 percent.
Tags: Bills training camp, Donald Trump, Fan Friday, John Miller, Kevon Seymour, LeSean McCoy, NFL free agency, Ray Rice, Reggie Bush, Rex Ryan, Stephon Gilmore
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills who is the starting RT, nickel corner, how far apart are gilmore and organization on new agreement?
CB: The favorite going into camp for the starting right tackle spot is Jordan Mills. Seantrel Henderson has to prove he’s healthy and capable of practicing day in and day out if he’s going to try to win the job back. Cyrus Kouandjio has an uphill battle in front of him to unseat one of them for a starting role.
Nickell Robey is the incumbent and favorite to keep the nickel job, but he’ll have big time competition from Sterling Moore. Corey White is another corner who may factor in there, but Moore will likely be his stiffest competition inside.
As for Gilmore there is no new developments at this point, but that doesn’t mean things can’t change in the next couple of weeks. As has been stated before, the deal Washington handed Josh Norman ($15M/yr) threw the entire cornerback market out of whack. It’s inflated the market beyond where it was expected to be right now and has NFL clubs with top corners concerned they won’t be able to keep them under contract due to where the market was set with the Norman deal.
Norman is largely a zone corner and got paid $15M per year. Players like Gilmore, a man-to-man corner arguably have a tougher job than Norman and are probably expecting at least that much. If Gilmore holds fast to a $15M/yr. contract demand there’s likely to be no new agreement anytime soon. I can’t see the Bills going that high.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Does Jonathan Williams chances take a big hit because of his lapse in judgement? I am really disappointed.
CB: I’m sure the Bills coaching staff is disappointed too after all the encouraging signs they saw from the rookie running back in minicamp. I felt he had a legitimate chance of being the team’s backup to LeSean McCoy. He’ll still be able to compete for that role at training camp, so I don’t know how big a hit this DUI charge will have in terms of where he ends up on the running back depth chart.
Williams’ DUI charges will now be handled in the courts. If he’s found guilty a first offense under the NFL’s revised policy (2014) for DUI will result in a two-game suspension. Based on informed NFL sources that suspension stands a good chance of being imposed at some point during the 2016 regular season.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills where do you think the Bills will rank defensively now that Rex has more guys who supposedly fit his system?
CB: If everything goes according to plan with Ryan’s more traditional 3-4 scheme, the starting lineup stay relatively healthy and rookies like Reggie Ragland and Adolphus Washington contribute as expected and Shaq Lawson can be back in time to play more than half the season (10 games?) then I think this defense can flirt with being a top 10 unit again.
Granted those are a lot of variables I listed, but the key here is they feel they’ve greatly improved the coaching staff on that side of the ball with DL coach John Blake, Asst. secondary coach Ed Reed and Assistant head coach Rob Ryan. I think the players on defense also learned a very hard lesson last season when they did not fully buy into Rex’s system. So I believe the motivation will be there to redeem themselves after a down season.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills who’s your sleeper going into training camp to make a big impact, possibly start?
CB: I don’t know about sleepers that will start, but I think Dez Lewis could challenge for the No. 3 WR role. He’s really come on entering his second season and had a solid spring. I think Blake Annen is a tight end candidate who could be Charles Clay’s understudy from a pass catching perspective even though vet Jim Dray is the designated blocking TE. And I think with a strong camp rookie Kevon Seymour could be one of the first corners off the bench if there’s an injury to Gilmore or Darby during the season.
I outlined some top sleepers in our Camp Countdown this week.
5 – Chris,
Can you give an update on how Kolby Listenbee looks and his chances to make the roster? He has the straight line speed that no one on the roster has but is raw in his routes. I don’t expect him to win the 3rd WR job but is his long term potential and ability to stretch the field make him have more value than some others? Is he a special teams guy either as gunner/returner?
CB: Listenbee was very limited in the spring coming off double sports hernia surgery. That was followed by an inflamed pelvis. He’s been here at One Bills Drive since minicamp working to complete all his rehab and get medically cleared. At this point I’m not sure it’s going to happen by training camp. His rehab has had some peaks and valleys.
There’s no debating his playmaking potential knowing his straight line speed is world class, and he figures to be an option on kick returns. It all depends on whether he’s cleared medically to participate when training camp opens.
Tags: Bills defense, Fan Friday, Jonathan Williams, Jordan Mills, Kolby Listenbee, Seantrel Henderson
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – Chris,
Thanks for your tireless work on covering the Bills! Here is my question. Will the Bills be able to carry Seantrel Henderson on the Non Football Injury list, while he is attempting to gain his strength, build his weight back up and determine if he can resume his football career? This will open a roster spot for the team through camp and maybe beyond.
CB: Yes, the non-football injury list is an option for Buffalo with Henderson should your scenario prove to be the case come training camp. Henderson was at 306 during minicamp when he was doing workouts in the weight room on his own in practices. He wants to get up to 325 to 330 pounds when he’s back playing again. We’ll know if the five and a half weeks between now and training camp proves to be enough time for him to accomplish that. If not, the NFI list would seem to be a distinct possibility.
2 – Chris,
I’m curious if you think P Colton Schmidt had trouble holding for K Dan Carpenter last season? In his interview with Brian Moorman he mentioned how difficult it was for him to hold kicks, since he never did it in college. Is it possible the chemistry wasn’t there between the FG kicker and the holder, and the unit suffered as a result?
CB: I give Schmidt a lot of credit for being so honest. There were at least two misses for Carpenter last season that I recall which could’ve been attributed to a less than ideal hold by the Bills punter. One was because the snap was off line and there wasn’t enough to get the ball down and spin the laces out, though I can’t remember the game. On the whole though I felt Schmidt acquitted himself well on holds.
I felt the chemistry was pretty solid between the two with the operation of the kick. I expect it to be even better this year based on what I saw in the spring practices.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you think that the defense can make it back to a top tier defense in the NFL?
CB: This is one of the questions we intend to address during our Camp Countdown, which commences on July 4th. I think there are a host of reasons Buffalo’s defense has a chance to be a top 10 unit again. Much of the talent is still on this roster from the last two times they finished in the top 10 (2013, 2014).
They have upgraded their defensive coaching ranks with the addition of Rob Ryan, John Blake and Ed Reed.
Fixtures in the middle of their defense are healthy again (Aaron Williams, Kyle Williams). Rookie additions look poised to make an impact early (Ragland, Washington and eventually Lawson). And no longer is Ryan trying to blend his proven defensive scheme with elements of Jim Schwartz’s scheme that some players clung to in 2015.
4 – Chris,
Thanks for keeping those of us on the away team up on how our Bills are doing.
I haven’t heard anything about Nick O’Leary since the one game last year. What’s the story?
Thanks again for all you do.
CB: O’Leary is a tight end who didn’t see quite as much action in the spring practices as other tight ends battling for the No. 2 job behind Charles Clay. Blake Annen, who we profiled on Buffalobills.com recently and Chris Gragg got the most work after Clay during the team periods of practice. Both run well and offer more size and athleticism than O’Leary. What O’Leary needs to do is highlight his versatility as much as possible when put in a move tight end role or H-back set.
With true fullbacks on the roster though that task may prove difficult. It’s clear the offensive staff was giving Annen and Gragg most of the reps after Clay. Jim Dray is the clear blocking tight end for this offense. So O’Leary has to have a strong camp to outperform one of the other tight ends and stick.
5 – Chris,
The Bills just signed another FA RB?? With the uncertainly at both the RG & RT positions, and almost NO depth to provide any real backup for either position, Whaley is worried about RB’s. Wait until there is a injury to the OL. The Bills need to get their act together in a hurry. What say you??
Fan in TN
CB: After taking a breath you probably saw the main reason Boom Herron was signed as a free agent. Karlos Williams weight gain and lack of availability in the practice setting was the main reason. Without him taking reps, it would’ve put additional strain on the backs still healthy.
After watching five running backs go down to injury last summer at training camp at the same time, I think you could understand why they made the move.
Offensive line has some depth. Granted none of them are household names, but there’s a veteran C/G in Fernando Velasco, a backup guard in Ryan Groy. Cyril Richardson is still on the roster after serving on the practice squad last year.
I respect the concern for a lack of depth. Undrafted rookies usually aren’t the answer for depth in a win now type of season. I think early in camp if it’s obvious their young depth players aren’t coming along I expect they’ll address things up front.
Tags: Bills defense, Boom Herron, Colton Schmidt, Fan Friday, Nick O'Leary, Offensive line, Seantrel Henderson
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Has Dez Lewis secured a place on the roster? And does he have any exp of kick/punt returning? #bills
CB: We will have a feature story on Dez Lewis this Monday on how he has advanced his game entering his second season. I think if Lewis continues on his current path he will undoubtedly be on the 53-man roster. But what he did in the spring has to continue in training camp when the pads go on, especially for a 6-4 receiver like Lewis. In fact Lewis’ game should go up another notch knowing how he can assert his physicality on the field. Hopefully that proves to be the case. As I wrote today in ‘What we learned about the Bills in offseason practices’ he has the inside track on the No. 3 receiver role.
His punt/kick return experience is minimal. He had just two punt returns in college and no kick returns.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills how serious is Karlos’s weight issue. Have Gilislee and J Williams over taken him in terms of a roster spot#bills
CB: There is no debating that Karlos has a formidable task in front of him. He has so much weight to lose that Rex Ryan said this week that getting him back to his playing weight by the start of training camp might be too much in too short a period of time.
His weight loss has to come in stages. So in late July when players report it’s unlikely that Williams will be at his playing weight of 230 pounds. Depending on what his report weight is Williams practice regimen could be limited to avoid the risk of injury. When you’re carrying excess weight, especially at a position like running back you’re risk of injury increases significantly, with hamstrings being the most susceptible to problems.
So I would expect a similar approach early in camp with Williams where he’s doing individual position drill work and then going to the side to work with the strength and conditioning staff to continue to shed weight.
As for the running back pecking order, it’s clear that the offensive staff is high on Jonathan Williams. In minicamp with LeSean McCoy’s ankle injury keeping him out of team work and Karlos Williams weight keeping him out of team work, Jonathan Williams was first in the rotation at the position followed by Mike Gillislee.
Jonathan Williams has a lot of the same physical skills of Karlos Williams. If Karlos Williams’ weight loss process last into the preseason I think it’s very possible that Jonathan Williams is your backup running back and Gillislee remains the third back as he was last season.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you think Kyle Williams will be more effective in a shared rotational role with Adolphus Washington?
i carn’t spel@NickTheCrowe
CB: I believe that Kyle Williams will still be a starter on this defensive line in 2016. Will he play as many snaps as Marcell Dareus or Adolphus Washington? Probably not. But I expect him to start at right defensive end next to Dareus and kick inside at times on obvious passing downs. Washington will man left defensive end with Dareus on the nose.
It’s my belief that Williams is still a very effective and productive player even at 33-years old. I suppose we won’t know for sure until we see how he looks in training camp in return from a bad knee injury that required surgery. But most seem to forget this guy is a four-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman. He’s a grinder. So I don’t see a rotational role for him unless that knee injury robbed him of his trademark explosiveness off the snap.
4 – Chris,
Does it concern you that Rex is simplifying his scheme to appease his players? It concerns me that we won’t be running the same system that has such a long track record of success, because players aren’t smart enough to pick it up. How did the Jets defense pick it up in the first year, but here we are in year two in Buffalo and they have to simplify the checks. Not very encouraging. Maybe this team needs to put a greater premium on intelligence, like Belichick does; you have to be a college graduate to be a Patriot.
CB: After talking to Preston Brown about that very thing I’m not concerned. I asked Brown directly as to whether the defensive scheme has been pared down. He said the only part of the defense that has been “altered slightly” (his words) is there aren’t quite as many pre-snap checks on certain down and distances. Otherwise Ryan’s defensive scheme is largely the same.
The key difference this year is Ryan is no longer blending elements of the old Jim Schwartz scheme from 2014. Rex tried to blend elements of Schwartz’s successful scheme in 2014 with his own as an olive branch to the defensive players who were successful and productive in that system. By midseason he knew it was a mistake.
So going into this season it’s Ryan’s more traditional 3-4 system that has a proven track record in this league for 15-plus years. What’s more the players have completely committed themselves to learning the scheme. So I would not be concerned about the effectiveness of Rex’s scheme. I think it will work with a lot more success this season for the reasons mentioned above.
5 – Dear Chris:
Thank you for all of your coverage that you do on the Bills day after day, hope you continue the game day chat box, very helpful.
My question is regarding Shaq Lawson; is there a timetable for his return as of yet? What for surgery/operation was done on his shoulder? Could he potentially miss the start of the regular season and most of training camp, as reports I have read so far have indicated, or could he potentially rehab his heart out in time to make the end of training camp, as shoulder injuries can take time to heal. This is very much concerning me as I have not much info on how long it could be until he gets back to full health.
John from Pennsylvania
CB: I think the most important thing is that Shaq’s surgery was successful. Now the rehab process begins, but rehabbing from this procedure is going to take time, typically four months or more knowing each case is different. So I believe it’s likely that Lawson misses training camp and the preseason. The team has stated he’s also likely to miss the early stages of the regular season.
What benefits the Bills coaching staff is they have time to adjust their plans for the loss of Lawson from their defensive lineup. It’s reasonable to believe he’ll be good to go for at least the second half of the season. At what point in the first half of the season he returns is a timetable that can’t be pinned down until he’s further along in the rehab process.
Tags: Dez Lewis, Fan Friday, Jonathan Williams, Karlos Williams, Kyle Williams, Mike Gillislee, Shaq Lawson
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills who do you think is going to be our rookie of the year?
CB: I think the player who has the best opportunity to be rookie of the year is Reggie Ragland. With Shaq Lawson expected to miss a portion of the regular season coming off shoulder surgery it removes him as a likely candidate. Then add in the fact that Ragland is a recognized name from his widespread exposure at Alabama and that he’ll be playing a position where he can rack up a lot of statistics, and I believe the opportunity is good for Ragland’s play to stand out.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills do you see Sterling Moore as the nickel corner or will Robey keep his spot?
CB: I certainly believe that Moore will be some of Robey’s stiffest competition. His time in the slot to this point has been somewhat limited, though I did see him line up there for a handful of snaps in the open practice session this week.
Moore does have a size advantage on Robey at that role (who doesn’t), but Robey has near perfect technique. He has to otherwise he’s not playing in the NFL. I know the coaching staff like Robey a lot, so I think Moore would have to clearly outplay him to unseat him from that role.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills what receiver has stood out in OTA’s.
CB: The receiver that has stood out the most has been second-year man Dez Lewis. He’s made a lot of plays. Now Robert Woods has made a ton of plays too in the OTAs, but I think Lewis is the biggest surprise. Lewis has added good lean muscle mass to his 6-4 frame and has not only demonstrated good ability to win on passes in traffic, but has also shown the ability to get separation. He can thank his improved route running for that.
He’ll have legitimate competition in veterans like Jarrett Boykin, Greg Little and Leonard Hankerson, but so far so good for Lewis in trying to nail down a role in Buffalo’s receiving corps.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills who do you think will get the punt/kick return duties for 2016 #bills
CB: There are a few candidates as seems to be the case every year, but the names have changed. CB Javier Arenas and WR Walter Powell have seen the most consistent work on returns. It’s safe to say that Marquise Goodwin and Kolby Listenbee will be given opportunities on kick return when available just based on pure speed.
I think Listenbee is a good bet for kick return. Punt return is a bit tougher to call only because both Arenas and Powell will be fighting for roster spots and the job may ultimately fall to someone else, like perhaps Robert Woods who has plenty of return experience.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills any chance Colin Kaepernick ends up in Buffalo?
CB: I’d be a bit surprised if Kaepernick winds up in Buffalo. I realize a lot of people are trying to connect dots knowing that Kaepernick had his greatest success in the NFL under Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Unless the 49ers are giving Kaepernick away and want to cover part of his salary, I don’t believe Buffalo takes a run at him.
The main reason is his $11.9M cap figure. Knowing a Stephon Gilmore extension is a priority for the Bills and that an extension for Tyrod Taylor is likely if he performs as expected I can’t see Kaepernick making much business.
The other reason I could see the Bills not being interested is Buffalo finally has some stability at the quarterback position with Tyrod Taylor as its starter. Adding Kaepernick would bring some uncertainty to the position in terms of depth chart hierarchy. If for some reason Taylor struggled in a game or two and Kaepernick was on the roster, fans would be calling to insert him into the lineup.
Most importantly I don’t know that the Bills or any other NFL club is convinced that Kaepernick would make them decidedly better at the quarterback position. His effectiveness as a quarterback has suffered the last couple of seasons. Kaepernick’s career stats are better than Manuel’s, but his completion percentage is largely the same as EJ.
I get the argument that his game could potentially be revitalized under Roman, but unless you can get him for cheap in terms of compensation and at a severely reduced salary (something Kaepernick has balked at before) I don’t know that it’s a reclamation project I’d be interested in. Whether the Bills are interested would largely hinge on what Roman believes he could accomplish with him.
Tags: Colin Kaepernick, Dez Lewis, Fan Friday, Javier Arenas, Kolby Listenbee, Marquise Goodwin, Nickell Robey, Reggie Ragland, Special teams, Sterling Moore, Walter Powell
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Where has Lavar Edwards lined up? OLB or DE?
Brett Triplett @BrettsterBills
CB: Edwards has lined up exclusively at defensive end through the OTA practices. I think while Edwards has the ideal height to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 system at 6-4, it’s apparent that Buffalo’s defensive coaches believe they have other options with better coverage skills to play that position. Plus Edwards is built in such a way where he can hold the edge in the run game pretty effectively as I see it. So where they have him lined up makes sense to me at this stage.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills how big of a role will Jonathan Williams have year one?
Mark Sciubba @MarkSciubbaDoe
CB: As I mentioned in a blog post earlier this week, I think Jonathan Williams can give Karlos Williams a run for his money as the backup behind LeSean McCoy. Watching his game tape from Arkansas the thing that impresses me most is his contact balance. Just the way he bounces off that initial tackler almost every time and keeps his legs churning for extra yards. I think his thick build fools opponents into thinking he’s just a downhill runner.
He can do that, but he’s also got some elusiveness and speed to pull away from people. Now he’s probably not outrunning some of the faster safeties in the league should he reach the secondary on a play, but he knows angles and has a more diversified skill set than people realize.
The last thing about him is he’s a driven person. He handles adversity very well so I think the challenge of Greg Roman’s voluminous playbook won’t be much of a hurdle for him. That should lead to competent and consistent play and will enable him to push for a bigger role than some might be anticipating from him in 2016.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills Which players are poised to become major team leaders this upcoming season?
Matt Williams @SportingGlasses
CB: I would put players like Preston Brown in that category as well as Sammy Watkins. Those two have embraced the added responsibility of leading not only by example, but vocally as well. In my mind Tyrod Taylor became a major leader last season.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you think the Bills will continue to move Sammy around like they did vs the Jets? Or do u think its game plan specific?
CB: While the opponent is always a factor in how offenses make use of their most dangerous weapons, I would anticipate moving Sammy Watkins around to continue. It makes him harder to track, thereby making it more difficult for opposing defensive coordinators to stick to a specific plan designed to neutralize him.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills where do you think eric striker fits on this defense if he makes the team?
Ser Davos Seaworth @matt_faso
CB: I think inside linebacker is the only place where he can line up in this scheme. He’s not tall enough to play out on the edge at outside linebacker. If he makes the 53-man roster, knowing how effective he was as a pass rusher I wouldn’t be surprised if he was utilized in some subpackages as an overload rusher off the edge in obvious passing situations.
But he’s going to make this roster because he’s an impact player on special teams, which I believe is certainly in the realm of possibility.
Tags: Eric Striker, Fan Friday, Jonathan Williams, Lavar Edwards, Preston Brown, Sammy Watkins
Posted in Inside the Bills