Inside The Bills

Fred Jackson’s place in franchise history

Posted by johnmurphyshow on December 26, 2013 – 7:50 pm

It was a great moment in last Sunday’s game, when Bills RB Fred Jackson joined Thurman Thomas and O.J. Simpson as the only backs in franchise history to rush for more than 5,000 yards. And Thursday night, on The John Murphy Show, Jackson took some time to reflect on that milestone.

Jackson told host John Murphy that he has thought about the mark this past week, since he ran for 111-yards against the Dolphins.

“When you play this game you want to be remembered,” he said. “You want to etch your name in stone in a franchise. That’s what I think we all should work at. If you’re doing that, you’re putting up some good numbers and help your team win.”

This season Jackson added some bulk and became much more of an inside presence in the running game. He says that’s the way he thought he could help this team the most.

“Being downhill in the schemes we have, you want to make one cut and go north,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to do. That’s where I’m able to keep drives going. Keep us in front of the sticks. Make that one cut, and get behind my pads. I put on a little bit more muscle this offseason, and that’s what I’m trying to use. As long as I can continue to do that, I can continue to be productive and they’ll continue to have some use for me.”

The entire interview with Fred Jackson is available here


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Goodwin, Jackson, Manuel practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on December 26, 2013 – 12:06 pm

Three Bills offensive players, who all appear on the team’s injury report this week are practicing here on Thursday.

WR Marquise Goodwin (knee), RB Fred Jackson (ribs) and QB EJ Manuel (knee) were all participating during the media viewing portion of practice. We’ll get their official practice participation post practice from head coach Doug Marrone.

Stevie Johnson and Aaron Williams (ribs) were not in attendance.


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Jackson defying what NFL history says

Posted by Chris Brown on December 24, 2013 – 10:48 am

Bills RB Fred Jackson is 32-years old. Most NFL executives and personnel men cast a wary eye upon any NFL back that’s on the wrong side of 28. That’s because history has shown a significant drop-off in production for backs once they pass their 28th birthday. There have been few exceptions, but Fred Jackson looks to be one of them.

On the advanced metrics site NumberFire, Jackson’s 2013 season was broken down to reveal he’s putting up production as good as almost any back in the league, several of whom are several years younger than Jackson.

Most significant however, is where Jackson’s production stands in NFL history among running backs 31-years old or older.

NumberFire listed all of the backs in league history who at age 31 or older had at least 800 rushing yards AND 300 receiving yards in a season. The grand total was nine… in NFL history! Walter Payton was responsible for two of those seasons, so there have been 10 such seasons by players 31 or older.

Jackson is now the 11th player after surpassing the 800-yard plateau last Sunday (now 836) with a game to play.

The list of players is obviously short, and it’s worth noting that it includes three Hall of Famers (Payton, Dorsett, Little) and a likely future Hall of Famer in LaDainian Tomlinson.

Here’s the chart courtesy of NumberFire.com, and it should be noted that Jackson and “Sweetness” were the only two to pull this off at age 32.

Player                   Year       Age        Team                     Rush yards          Rec. yards
Tiki Barber           2006         31             NYG                            1,662                     465
Walter Payton      1985         31             CHI                              1,551                     483
Walter Payton      1986         32            CHI                              1,333                     382
Tony Dorsett        1985         31             DAL                             1,307                     449
Ricky Watters      2000        31             SEA                             1,242                     613
James Brooks      1989         31             CIN                              1,239                     306
James Stewart    2002         31             DET                             1,021                     333
Floyd Little          1973         31             DEN                             979                         423
Garrison Hearst 2002        31             SF                                 972                         317
L. Tomlinson       2010        31             NYJ                              914                         368
Fred Jackson   2013         32           BUF                          836                       334

 


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Fred up for FedEx Player of Week

Posted by Chris Brown on December 24, 2013 – 10:03 am

Fred Jackson’s 111-yard, one touchdown rushing performance Sunday has him up for FedEx Ground Player of the Week for Week 16.

Jackson is up against a couple of other quality candidates in Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell, who rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown for the Steelers, and Philadelphia’s Shady McCoy, who piled up 133 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Eagles.

You can vote for Fred right here. Winners are announced at the end of the week.


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Dareus, Jackson update

Posted by Chris Brown on December 20, 2013 – 12:42 pm

Both Marcell Dareus and Fred Jackson came out of last Sunday’s game with injuries and missed some practice time this week, but each appear ready to roll Sunday against the Dolphins.

Both practiced fully on Friday despite their ankle and rib injuries. Dareus and Jackson are both listed as probable for Sunday’s rematch with the Dolphins.


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Fan Friday 12-20

Posted by Chris Brown on December 20, 2013 – 12:00 pm

Sunday will be step one in trying to post a winning record in the division for the first time since the 2007 season. Let’s see if the Bills can make it a season sweep of the Dolphins. Here’s your latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hi Chris,

As a Bills’ fan for decades, I believe coach Marrone is a good coach. The question is whether he can turn around the losing culture. I have a few questions regarding accountability and talents.

What are the Bills going to do with the undependable players? This includes, but not limited to, Steve Johnson, Leodis McKelvin and T. J. Graham.

What is Jairus Byrd’s long term prospect with the Bills? The Bills like to get rid of established players to save a few bucks. In the end, this contributes to a longer wish list for the ever rebuilding process. A
recent example is the Offensive line. My suggestion is to get rid of Steve Johnson and save some money for Byrd’s contract. (Note, The Bills is in the business to make money. I suppose a better product would lead to increased revenue. In this case, a true contender in NFL).

What is the long term plan for the QB position? I mean both first string and backup in this case? While coach Marrone indicated EJ Manuel is the long term solution. I beg the difference. EJ is not playing any
better than JP Losman by comparing their rookie year. Lewis and Tuel are littering their path with interceptions and fumbles. How long do you think these two can keep their job in NFL?

Marcus Easley seems to be doing a very good job in special teams. What is the possibility of moving him to CB if the Bills cannot use him as WR? This may afford the team to get rid of Leodis McKelvin thereby saving more money.

The New England Patriots seem to be able to overcome huge deficit consistently. When playing with the Patriots (as well as other teams), what are the Bills doing to safeguard our calls/signals from being stolen?

Please keep up with the good work.
Regards,
C. J. Wong, Ph.D.

CB: I understand why you feel like the players you mentioned are not dependable. This is where the coaches and front office make their offseason evaluations, but being dependable goes beyond just game day. It’s about being a professional every day of the week in everything that you do. So if the players you mentioned struggle in those areas then they could be at risk with respect to their futures here.

Doug Marrone is only going to keep players on this roster that he feels he can win with the way he wants to win. He has stressed accountability time and again and has been clear in explaining to his players what accountability means. They’ve had all season to prove they’re on board. If they’re not, and only the coaches and their teammates would know for certain if that’s the case, then they won’t be here long term.

As for Jairus Byrd, the safety has said he’s open-minded to staying here long term, which is an improvement in terms of where that situation was this past summer. I think Byrd is smart enough to know that he can really flourish in this defense with the talent he has around him on that side of the ball. Talent that is tied up long term for the most part. Byrd has to be convinced that he can win here and as is usually the case the money has to be right as well.

At the quarterback position EJ is their long term answer at the position. You may not be convinced, but the people that make those decisions are. I believe this offseason will be dedicated to putting more talent around Manuel to help him succeed. We’ve certainly seen flashes of ability. What has me most encouraged is the way in which Manuel performs when the game is on the line. Buffalo has needed a clutch quarterback for the longest time and Manuel has shown he has that ability. With improved talent around him he’ll also be better for the other portions of the game too.

I believe the decision makers still see Jeff Tuel as a developmental type prospect. Thad Lewis is still being evaluated, which is why Sunday’s game is huge for him. He’s proven he’s tough and that he can deliver big plays. Now he has to prove he can learn from his mistakes and improve from some of his shortcomings in the first meeting with Miami. It’s really the perfect litmus test for him.

I completely disagree with your Marcus Easley idea. Easley doesn’t not have the foot quickness to play CB, and Leodis McKelvin is having his most consistent season in a Bills uniform at cornerback. Not to mention he’s playing at very affordable money for his position.

Finally, the reason the Patriots are able to overcome big deficits is primarily one reason and one reason only, they have one of the best quarterbacks in a generation in Tom Brady. End of story.

 

2 – Hi Chris, I live in Western Canada so it is always hard to get coverage on the Bills out here.  So I really appreciate all your updates.

My question is about Stevie Johnson.  It seems every year there is a play that he fails to make that costs us a game.  The game against Pittsburgh in OT where he dropped the wide open pass, the game against the Jets when he again dropped a game winning TD, and of course against the Falcons which just didn’t just cost us that game, but our season.

He is a great receiver, no doubt about that, but I question if he is ever going to be a clutch number 1 receiver.   We all agree that we need a big “go up and get it” receiver.  So if we get that receiver, someone has to go.

I think we should consider trading Stevie Johnson this off season.  Robert Woods is precise in route running and has good chemistry with EJ, and Goodwin and Graham are fast on the outside and can also move inside when needed.   I think Stevie is odd man out and gives us the most return for our buck, plus maybe he is to used to losing in Buffalo.  What do you think we could get for Johnson?  A 2nd rounder or maybe someone like Bowe in KC?

Paddy, Vancouver Canada

CB: I think Johnson is the type of receiver whose return in a trade would be limited. The reason why is he is a possession receiver. He’s a move-the-chains player not a stretch the field, deliver a game-changing play every week type wideout. Johnson is a very unique player with a unique skill set, but he is not going to blow the doors off a defense. All that being said I think at best he’d get you a fourth-round draft choice. Frankly, it might be even less because his contract may not fit the role another team might envision for him, so to take on that salary would likely lead to a team offering less in return like a fifth or sixth-round pick.

3 – Hey Chris,

My question is regarding the offensive line.  How do you see the Bills helping the line in the off season? I know they have to see how guys like JJ ‘Unga pan out over the last 3 games, but if they do go after a guy in the draft, do you see them going after a guy who can be versatile? Are there typically guys who can play guard and tackle?  I would imagine that’s what coaches look for in any player on the field.  Do you think free agency is possible?  Also, do you think Chris Hairston will be able to return to form?
Thanks, Jillian

CB: I would not be surprised if there are wholesale changes made on the offensive line. As I see it the only players who have job security are Cordy Glenn and Eric Wood. Kraig Urbik rebounded real well this past week after a down week in Tampa, but I think he will be pushed for his starting job this offseason and into training camp based on what we saw the past couple of weeks with J.J. ‘Unga. Beyond those three I expect to see change there. I think the organization will look to the draft and free agency to address the offensive line.

 

4 – Chris,
Thanks for the great reporting, week by week for the Bills. Yourself and John Murphy do a great job but My question is based of everything about this youth movement and getting these unknown guys more playing time. I been listening and reading about the guys y’all are naming but I keep seeing this guy left out…. Duke Williams? Why is he not getting involved in the discussions and not getting more reps? What part of his game is lacking that has him buried on the depth chart? Because before the season he was getting hyped up as a utility guy in the secondary, that could play multiple positions. What happened? Please explain that to me.

Brian in South Carolina

CB: Thanks for the kind words. I’ll be sure to pass them along to Murph. Duke Williams is a player that has been seeing time mainly on special teams. The reason he has not seen time at safety is because there is quality and experienced talent in front of him in Jairus Byrd, Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy and Jim Leonhard. I do think heading into next season Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks could challenge for bigger roles and what happens with Byrd and Leonhard this offseason with both being free agents will have an impact on that as well.

 

5 – Chris,

I have been surprised at the lack of two back sets the Bills are utilizing this year. I would think this would confuse defenses as Fred is a highly capable pass-blocking back and we all know about CJ’s home run ability with every touch. Would these formations not mix things up and keep opposing defenses off balance… not knowing to expect run or pass?

Also, I am concerned (as are many fans) about the utilization of CJ Spiller. Not in terms of number of plays per game, or on the year, but the play calls he is being used in. They seem to heavily favor running him behind the left or right guards. Why not more screen plays? I think all of us get excited when CJ Spiller has the ball with 3-4 blockers in front of him with the ability to pick and choose which lanes he wants to take.

Thanks!
Jim from Massachusetts

CB: We saw some split backfield in training camp, but there has been very little of it during the season. I do think there is an element of predicitability there when they have only Fred or C.J. on the field in a single back set. Heading into last week’s Jacksonville game I know that Spiller had not been on the field for more than 40 percent of the snaps since Week 2.

However, when he is on the field he got the ball 60 percent of the time. While the usage is admirable I fear that it makes Buffalo’s offense predictable when Spiller is in the backfield.

Jackson is usually on the field in third down situations because they trust him with blitz pickup and blocking assignments.

I don’t know a one-thousandth of what Nathaniel Hackett knows about football, but I do think a split backfield with C.J. and Fred in the offensive backfield on third down could create a lot of headaches for opposing defenses. That’s where I think it could be most useful for Buffalo’s offense.


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Jackson limited in practice

Posted by Chris Brown on December 19, 2013 – 2:11 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone provided an update on the injured players on the roster and their availability in practice including Fred Jackson, who returned from a rib injury to participate after missing Wednesday’s practice. 

Marrone expects Jackson to be ready to go for Sunday’s game, but he was limited in practice Thursday. Here’s the official Thursday injury update with practice participation.

Did not practice
WR Stevie Johnson – not injury related (excused)
LB Arthur Moats – not injury related (excused)
QB EJ Manuel – knee
CB Aaron Williams – ribs

Limited in practice
RB Fred Jackson – ribs

Full practice
DT Marcell Dareus – ankle
CB Brandon Smith – ankle
DT Kyle Williams – achilles 


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Fred back practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on December 19, 2013 – 11:53 am

After missing Wedmesday’s practice with a rib injury Fred Jackson was back working Thursday.

Head coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday that he expected Jackson would be fine for Sunday’s game and they were just “resting him.”

We’ll have his official level of participation post practice.


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Wins important with AFC East rivals on tap

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2013 – 8:46 am

While some Bills fans would probably prefer to see Buffalo land a higher draft choice knowing the playoffs are out of the conversation, the players are eager to stack victories at the end of the season. Naturally players want to win every week, but even without a postseason berth on the line, beating their division opponents carries a measure of importance knowing they’ll be facing these same team twice next season.

“It’s huge. It means a tremendous amount,” said Fred Jackson in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. “Going into the offseason winning football games is something you can build off of and something you can fall back on. We have two opponents coming up that we’re going to see a lot of so to be able to get wins against those guys, focusing on Miami first is something we can take into the offseason. We have a road ahead of us and to be able to lay the foundation of beating those guys and have a winning record in our division is something we can lean on. It’s the opportunity that’s in front of us.”

Buffalo currently has a 2-2 record in the division with wins over the Jets and Miami. They face the Dolphins in the rematch Sunday with Miami trying to remain in AFC playoff contention.

“This is a big game for us and has always been a big game for us,” Jackson said. “We’ll start preparing. We’re excited about it. We have a tremendous opportunity to hit those guys in the mouth and kill their playoff chances a little bit. We went down to their house and got a win so I’m sure they’re hoping to do the same up here. So hopefully we can get a lot of fans out at the Ralph and get them rowdy and we can feed off of them.”


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Jackson: Team intensity has to stay high

Posted by Chris Brown on December 16, 2013 – 12:23 pm

In the wake of the embarrassing Week 14 loss at Tampa Bay Fred Jackson, and likely a host of other players on the roster, came to the realization that they’re just not intense enough, often enough to go out and win football games week in and week out.  Buffalo’s captains in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 said the intensity they had in their win at Jacksonville has to stay that way for the remainder of the season.

Jackson was glad to see the way the team responded after what was likely their worst showing of the year in Tampa with their winning effort in Jacksonville. Still, he was troubled by the fact that they squandered other chances to win earlier in the season because their intensity was at its peak all the time.

“We just cannot take weeks off,” said Jackson. “It [stinks] to say that, but there are weeks where we go in and we’re not playing as hard as we need to. That’s on us as an offensive unit and we have to get that corrected. When we get that corrected we’re able to put up the numbers that we put up Sunday. Hopefully we get our wits about us and play as well as we did yesterday.”

The follow up question dealt with accountability and weeding out the players that weren’t pulling their weight or in this case going all out every snap they were on the field.

“I think it’s about guys being out there and going through the motions,” said Jackson. “After the Tampa game guys were going to get called out that were seen doing that. Guys showed up this weekend. That has to be the case from here on out. We’re being evaluated every time we step on the field. To go down and get embarrassed in Tampa we had to go show up in Jacksonville. Guys did a tremendous job responding. Hopefully we can continue to play well. That has to do with just guys showing up, preparing, playing hard every play. Once you get guys doing that we can be a pretty good team.”


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Manuel spoke to offense after Tampa loss

Posted by Chris Brown on December 16, 2013 – 10:46 am

After one of their most embarrassing performances of the season the Bills’ captains addressed the team about their concerns with player accountability, professionalism and commitment to team. The players responded this week with a winning effort against the Jaguars. But it wasn’t just the captains who spoke early last week. EJ Manuel made a promise to his offensive teammates leading up to the Jacksonville game as well.

Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Fred Jackson revealed that EJ Manuel got in front of his unit and assured them that he would redouble his efforts to be better on the field moving forward.

“He addressed the team last week, or the offense anyway and he told us he was going to work harder than he has ever worked before,” said Jackson. “That showed this weekend. It showed that he knew what was going on in every situation. Anytime you get a young guy that’s willing to put in that extra work and knows that he has to it’s going to make him better. We saw that on the field this weekend. He played really well for us. There are always things that are going to need improvement, but it’s hard to play perfect in anything.”

Jackson was encouraged by Manuel’s play especially on the three long scoring drives in the game and his decision making in the red zone where the Bills went 3-for-3.

“If he continues to play the way he played this weekend we’re going to have a tremendous opportunity to win football games,” Jackson said. “There’s not a single person in this organization who is not going to rally behind this kid because we know he can play and we’re excited about the things that he’s going to bring to us in the future.”

Jackson believes in Manuel continues to make strides on the field and takes an authoritative position on offense the rest of the unit will follow.

“That’s what you need from your quarterback. He’s the guy that’s going to get everybody in position to make plays. When you have a guy that steps forward and say he has to get everybody in the right situations and get everybody on the same page then guys fall in line behind him,” said Jackson. “Guys get ready to see what he’s made of and that’s what happened this week.

“He took accountability for it and did everything he could throughout the week of practice to make sure he put everyone on the same page when it came time to play on Sunday. That’s the maturation of a young quarterback and hopefully he’ll continue to grow and we can continue to fall in line and get behind him and help him as best we can.”


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Team rallying behind Stevie

Posted by Chris Brown on December 16, 2013 – 10:39 am

Bills WR Stevie Johnson made the decision Sunday to play against Jacksonville, despite getting the news of his mother’s unexpected passing the day before. Keeping that news to himself until after the game has earned him added respect in Buffalo’s locker room from teammates that are ready to prop him up at this difficult time.

Team captain Fred Jackson, in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 said they’re ready to help Johnson through this difficult time in any way that they can.

“I know I just speak for all my teammates when I say we really appreciate him for doing what he did (Sunday),” said Jackson. “That’s got to be one of the hardest things in the world to do trying to move past the death of your mother. We really do appreciate him for coming out and sticking with us. All we can do is ask him what he needs from us.

“We’ll just kind of pick his brain for what he needs from us to help him through this. He’s going to need us. That’s why he was out there yesterday. The best way to deal with something like that is going where you’re comfortable, and being a football player the best place to go is out on the football field.”

Jackson heard about the time coach Marrone spent with Johnson on Saturday after getting the terrible news and said he would not have expected anything less from their head coach.

“With coach Marrone he’s a guy who has been where we are. He knows the grind that we go through. He knows what we put ourselves through week in and week out. He’s more of a personable coach,” Jackson said. “He’s a coach you can approach and talk to about anything and that’s just an example of it.

“He wants to be kept in the loop of what’s going on with us. He doesn’t want us to keep our personal lives from him. He wants to give us the advice that he feels like he can to help us through any situation, whether it’s football or personal for something going on at home. He wants to be a part of it and that’s when you know you have a coach that you love to play for and that’s coach Marrone for us. Guys wouldn’t expect anything less with that conversation he had with Stevie because that’s the kind of coach he is.”


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Fred, C.J. join 700 duo club

Posted by Chris Brown on December 15, 2013 – 3:45 pm

With today’s rushing efforts against the Jacksonville Jaguars both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller have better than 700 rushing yards each this season. It puts the Bills running back duo in select company in team history.

Jackson and Spiller are just the second Bills running backs tandem to produce at least 700 rushing yards each in a season in Bills annals. The only other duo to pull it off were O.J. Simpson (1,817) and Jim Braxton (823) in 1975.


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Jackson: Fans sick of turnaround talk

Posted by Chris Brown on December 9, 2013 – 1:28 pm

As soon as he said it in the locker room Monday morning he knew how it would play with Bills fans. After uttering the sentence, ‘We’ll get this thing turned around,’ Jackson immediately explained that he and a lot of other players who have been on the roster a while know fans are tired of the promise talk.

“I’m sure people are sick of us saying that,” Jackson said. “We’re going to hear the moans and groans and everybody saying it’s the same old, same old thing they’ve been hearing since I’ve been here. That’s fair for them to do, but we’re working.

“Nobody is more disappointed in our season than us. The outside stuff that’s just people being human. They have their opinions. I can tell you that with all the fans that are disappointed, their disappointment doesn’t compare to the disappointment in this locker room.

“We want to get this thing turned around more than anybody because we’re the ones out there competing and busting our butts. We don’t want to be sitting here with four wins on the season with a 4-9 record. That’s not where we want to be. That’s not what we signed up to play for. It’s not in our job description to have a 4-9 season and be okay with it. That’s not what this locker room is about. We’ll continue to work at it. We’ll do everything we can to get these last three games under our belt and get these last three wins.”

Jackson just hopes their results over their last three Sundays backs up what he’s saying knowing for Bills fans actions will speak a whole lot louder than words.


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Value of healthy roster not lost on Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on November 25, 2013 – 5:44 pm

They know being healthy doesn’t guarantee anything, but heading into the last month of the season with a roster that has just about all its weapons on offense and defense ready to roll is providing the Bills with a sense of optimism entering the home stretch of the season.

“Everybody’s extremely optimistic to get everybody out there 100-percent or as close to it as possible,” said Fred Jackson. “It will be interesting to see, something we’ve been excited about all offseason and all this season.  To get everybody out there and get everybody on the same page is something we’re looking forward to.”

“It’s good to have everybody back healthy going into the homestretch of the season,” said Kyle Williams. “In the last month of the year, it could be a big month for us and it’s good to have all hands on deck.”


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Jackson: We can shift tempo whenever

Posted by Chris Brown on November 25, 2013 – 9:31 am

With EJ Manuel feeling a lot more comfortable in Buffalo’s offense after seven starts it’s afforded the Bills the opportunity to shift the tempo of their attack whenever they deem a change of pace to be to their advantage.

That according to RB Fred Jackson.

“I think it kind of depends on how the flow of the game is going,” Jackson said. “There are times when we come to the sideline and we get together with the coaches and say we want to pick the tempo up. So if we sense that during the game that’s when we really try to pick it up if we feel it gives us any kind of advantage we want to definitely make use of that.”

That’s what the Buffalo offense did against the Jets last Sunday.

“We saw early that they didn’t like our tempo and it gave us the opportunity to complete passes on third down that we had guys step up and make some plays,” said Jackson. “I think (Eric) Wood was the first one who noticed what we wanted to do on the offense and we kind of echoed that to everybody and began to pick the tempo up.”


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There’s a run that can be made

Posted by Chris Brown on November 24, 2013 – 4:46 pm

In no way are the Bills assuming they can win out, nor are they looking at their next five games collectively. They’re squarely focused on their Week 13 game against Atlanta. But based on the way the team attacked the Jets game despite entering it on a three-game losing streak has players confident they can make things interesting down the stretch.

“You get that feeling in this locker room,” said Fred Jackson. “Even after the three game stretch where we lost three games and two of them were really close, two of them we felt we should’ve had and then got beat by Pittsburgh like we did, guys still came in ready to work.

“Anytime you get that competitive atmosphere after that situation you know things are turning. You know guys aren’t just here to get a paycheck. Guys are here to work to try to get this thing turned around and keep battling because you never know what’s going to happen in a season. It’s a long season and we’ve still got games to try to get to where we want to be and that’s in the playoffs.”


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Fred: This is closest Bills team I’ve seen

Posted by Chris Brown on November 24, 2013 – 12:39 pm

The Bills have had rosters of quality character players, but over the last several years sides of the ball rarely meshed seamlessly into one another off the field. That’s no longer the case according to Fred Jackson.

In Jackson’s opinion the 2013 Bills are the closest team, player to player, he’s been on.

“I can’t remember a team being as close as this team is,” said Jackson. “Everybody is willing to fight for each other. There’s not a bad seed or something that guys don’t agree with. When you have that it kind of festers in the locker room or even throughout the building. Guys are willing to go the extra mile for each other and I think you’ve seen it in a lot of games that we’ve been in. Guys are showing up trying to make plays for each other. Somebody goes down, the next man up.

“Nobody is complaining about playing time or the amount of touches or things like that. Guys are just here to try to actually win football games and give us an opportunity to go to the playoffs.”


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Fan Friday 11-15

Posted by Chris Brown on November 15, 2013 – 1:11 pm

Bills need to put an end to a three-game losing streak. A win over the Jets would be a good way to go into the bye. Here is your latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris:

The Bills did not seem to be using Fred Jackson and CJ spiller in the game at the same time very much when they were both healthy this season.  Do you think we will ever see them utilized in a pro set or veer formation?  I just could see that as a great asset to utilize in a fast paced offence.

Thanks,
Chris

CB: Through the first 10 games I’ve got the Bills using their split back formation with Fred and C.J. on just four plays this season. They used it against the Jets in the first meeting in Week 3, so perhaps it’s rolled out again on Sunday.

As for a veer offense, coach Marrone has gone on record saying that’s not something they would do here in Buffalo.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

I  love your articles! With analytics being the buzz did anyone at the bills analyze how how many times we ran the ball between the tackles this year and got less than 4 yards a carry? Not end sweeps.

Thanks,
45 year bills fan

CB: I can’t tell you how many rushes specifically went for less than four yards, but I can tell you after 10 games where the gains have been the most successful to this point this year.

Run direction     Avg. gain              NFL Rank             Total rushes
Left  end              5.9                          11th                         20
Left tackle           4.38                        12th                         37
Left guard           3.89                        14th                         54
Center                  5.21                        7th                           103
Right guard         3.96                        11th                         52
Right tackle         3.61                        21st                         36
Right end             5.71                        9th                           14

3 – Hey Chris,
Thanks for everything you do keeping us fans informed!  I wanted to ask

Depending on how EJ plays down the stretch, and depending on where the Bills are drafting next year, do you think there’s ANY chance the Bills consider taking a QB in the first round next year to compete with EJ?  Or do you think EJ gets 2-3 years before another QB is considered?  (I think it’s too early to tell what the Bills have in EJ yet, but there seem to be some really good QBs in college this year, and this team seems to have all the pieces in place except (possibly) QB to make a serious run next year)

Also, do you think the Bills will consider doing any retooling at the WR position during the bye week?  They seem to have 3 talented WRs in Stevie, Woods, and Goodwin.  But Stevie’s production seems to have gone down since moving to the slot  and Graham hasn’t been impressive so far.  Goodwin seems to be faster and have better hands.

Adam

CB: I’m going to let coach Marrone handle this one. Here’s what he said concerning their investment in EJ. Here’s what coach said about Manuel this week.

“He needs to be out there.  The more he’s out there, the better he’s getting.  Also, I want to make sure everyone understands, I truly believe in this quarterback.

“He’s shown that he can do it.  He’s shown that he progresses during the course of the year, and during each and every play and each and every game.  When I go back and look at it, I see him getting better as the game goes on.  And I think that’s what you see with a young quarterback.

“If we want to sit here, and I say we, it’s all of us now, and we see this young guy, we’ve got to be able to say let’s let this guy develop and let’s go, and he’s going to get better each week.

“As far as his work ethic and how he goes about the game and all those other things, he’s outstanding.  The respect that he has from his teammates is outstanding.  When does it ever come to the point where you are that person, you are that guy, how long does it have to be?  You’ve got to win. You’ve got to consistently win.  A lot gets put on his plate for that, but a lot of the rest of us, including myself and the coaches, we’ve all got to do our part and we’ve all got to play well around him to be successful.”

 

4 – Chris,
I’ve noticed the Bills are lacking a big ‘go up and get it’ WR. Why has Easley seen so few offense snaps? I’ve seen him make great plays on special teams. Why don’t they try him more in the offense. He’s more physical than Graham and Goodwin. He’s still raw but they aren’t giving him the chance to see the field as WR.

Josh

CB: You’re right that Buffalo does not have a big-bodied, jump ball type of receiver, which is part of the reason they’ve had a problem in the red zone of late. They have Scott Chandler, who is a height mismatch, but need a receiver that can work the corners of the end zone on fades and jump balls.

Easley, even if he does not play much between the 20’s, could be part of the team’s red zone package knowing he’s a big 6’2” and 217 pounds. He should get some opportunities Sunday down there knowing Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods are out.

 

5 – I think Believe EJ Manuel would benefit greatly if the bills drafted a good young tight end prospect . Names Like Eric ebron North Carolina, Jace amaro Texas tech, and Austin seferian Jenkins of Washington come to mind. If the bills do not draft a te in the top half of the draft do they look elsewhere for a good te prospect such as a basketball player type . UB’s Javon McCrea who has soft hands and a huge frame  comes to mind . Any Chance the bills are Looking at an option Like This ?

Thanks !

Dustin in Alden

CB: With all due respect I think you’re overlooking Chris Gragg, who finally got some measurable playing time on offense in Pittsburgh. I think he’ll also factor in on offense in the passing game this week with Woods and Johnson out.

Gragg is an athletic pass catcher, who just needs time on the job. He tore his ACL in college and still runs a 4.5 40-time. There’s potential there.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills hoping EJ’s return brings stability

Posted by Chris Brown on November 9, 2013 – 10:55 am

After a carousel-like rotation at quarterback the past five weeks between EJ Manuel, Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel. That rotation has now come full circle as Manuel starts on Sunday. Players on Buffalo’s offense are hoping Manuel can stay in the lineup over the last seven games of the regular season.

“That’s the number one thing. Hopefully we can get some stability at the position,” said Fred Jackson. “He’s a guy that we wanted to be back there. We’ve got him back there now and I know he’s excited to get the opportunity to come back. I know he’ll come out and play well for us. To get some stability there a guy that’s going to be there for us the remainder of the season hopefully is something that can help this offense move in the right direction.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills