As Rex Ryan said his team is out of mulligans. A win streak has to start this weekend against Houston. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – Hi Chris,
My Bills related question is regarding Tyrod Taylor NEVER going under center. I think this is really limiting our play action and he also very rarely keeps the ball on a read option limiting its effectiveness. Why is this? Also – are we every going to throw a screen/quick slant to Sammy or ever get him in motion – this is nearly as intolerable. I’m also starting to see Robert Woods as a solid #3 with Hogan #4 and dire need of a large WR #2…thoughts?
CB: Taylor has been under center, but it has been relatively rare. You’re right about him keeping the ball a lot on read option plays. In my opinion there were a handful of plays against the Patriots where if he kept the ball he had an entire side of the field open to him with as strong as New England’s defense was flowing in the direction that LeSean McCoy was headed on those plays.
I don’t know if his knee injury has made him more hesitant to take off and run on read option plays. I can’t imagine the coaching staff has advised him against taking off and running on those to protect him, otherwise you wouldn’t call such plays in the first place.
I understand your frustration with quick slants or receiver screens with Sammy. I think if you’re having trouble getting Watkins the ball as was the case in the second half last week why not put it in his hands at the line of scrimmage and see what he can do from there?
The team has two very capable blocking receivers in Woods and Hogan, so it would stand to reason that you could put them all in a bunch formation and throw Watkins the ball. You might only get four yards, but if someone falls down on defense you might get a lot more.
2 – Chris,
There is no doubt Rex is a great motivator, but penalties come when emotion takes over. Emotion can burn out over time and cloud judgement, purpose burns longer and sharpens judgement. Do you believe we get too high early, can Rex channel emotion more at the end of a game than at the beginning?
Jim in Florida
CB: I think you can make an argument that while this team does get off to some great starts, finishing has been a problem. This is most apparent in one particular statistic, which for most of the season has been a strength for the team. Buffalo has the number one run defense in the NFL in the first half. No other team gives up fewer rushing yards in the first half of games than Buffalo. In the second half however, the Bills rank 27th in run defense.
It’s only one arbitrary statistic, but it does speak to the up and down play of the team this season. Buffalo’s most inefficient quarter in terms of points for and against is the third quarter where opponents are outscoring them by almost a 2:1 margin (44 points for; 84 points against).
There are other team stats that point to a drop off in the second half of games as well and in a conversation I had with Manny Lawson he agreed that something has been missing particularly in the fourth quarter of games. He and other leaders have tried to impress a sense of urgency upon the other players, but for whatever reason the units on offense, defense and special teams can’t collectively raise their level of play to a point where they can consistently finish games and win.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills what is up with the D? I understand there are injuries, but this unit is avg/bad after 2 years of solid/elite play.
CB: The struggles of the defense are perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2015 season. A defensive unit that proved capable of switching from Mike Pettine’s scheme to Jim Schwartz’s scheme from 2013 to 2014 and improve to become a top five unit in the league, a solid run defense and the best third down unit in the league has slipped in a lot of areas this season.
There’s no need for me to outline where the fall off has occurred. The players claim that Rex Ryan’s scheme is something they’re still trying to master. Why that is the case this late in the season is unclear. New schemes at most typically take a team 6-8 weeks into the season to fully grasp and play fast on Sundays.
Ryan admitted last week that he made the mistake of trying to blend some of the successful principles of last year’s defensive scheme in with his own scheme. After seeing that wasn’t working he scrapped some of the defensive concepts from last year and went exclusively with his own scheme.
Whether that presented a whole new learning curve midway through the season is unclear.
What is clear is the results haven’t been there. With so much talent on that side of the ball these results were totally unexpected. But facts are facts. Now we’ll have to see what they can scrape together by way of performance over the last five games.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills interest in Kaepernick next year?
CB: I would be surprised if the Bills have interest in Colin Kaepernick. He’s a career 60 percent passer with great athletic ability. Fortunately the Bills have grade ‘A’ intel on Kaepernick as a person, leader and worker from offensive coordinator Greg Roman. If the reports out of San Francisco this season are accurate, Kaepernick lacks in two of those categories.
His skill set is similar to Tyrod Taylor. Taylor however, in my opinion, is a better leader, more dedicated worker and the numbers say a more accurate passer.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Can you give us bills practice squad roster as of now?
CB: Running back Mike Gillislee will be called up to the active roster, but he’s currently on the practice squad with the following players.
WR Dezmin Lewis
WR Walt Powell
CB Sammy Seamster
CB Merrill Noel
DE Cedric Reed
LB AJ Tarpley
G Cyril Richardson
TE Nick O’Leary
DT Jerel Worthy
Tags: Bills defense, Colin Kaepernick, finishing games, Mike Gillislee, practice squad, Rex Ryan, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills