1 - Hello Chris,
Well, another year like all years. Just wait fans, we have something started here!!! Marrone’s first mistake will be not letting Hackett go. As I have said previously, loyalty is Marrone’s achilles heel. He won’t know how to “can” Hackett so we are stuck with him. What really stinks is that another year has slipped away and this team still has multiple problems to address. Where do we even start with the next draft? Please don’t draft another Alabama player! We let players like Levitre sign elsewhere and then we say we need to address our weakness at offensive line. Does this make any sense? It is just one wasted draft choice after another on positions we could have fixed with players already selected. When is this team going to address an age old problem at the tight end position? Successful teams have tight ends who stretch the field. When are the Bills joining the 21st century? Sad leadership to say the least. I won’t even get started on the QB position.
CB: Jim, I respect the frustration. You fans have waited a while for a winner, but regarding your question on losing Levitre in free agency, keeping a player at a non-priority position at what would’ve been an exorbitant price ($8M plus a season) was unrealistic. Tennessee chose to spend big money on their offensive line and where did it get them?
They ranked 22nd in offense, 14th in rushing and 21st in passing. They were 19th in scoring. As coach Marrone said recently guard is position where you can develop a player into a competent to strong contributor. Offensive tackle and center are where you need the bona fide stars.
As for the tight end position, I think the new staff with GM Doug Whaley is looking to address the need for more athleticism at that spot. Tony Moeaki and Chris Gragg were the first steps in that direction. We’ll see where it goes this offseason.
Concerning your criticism of Hackett I think it’s misguided. Hackett had to curtail the variety and tempo of his offense to accommodate not one, but three “green” quarterbacks over the course of the year who were all spending their first year in his offensive system. Circumstances compromised his talent for calling plays. I’m confident the offense will expand and diversify considerably next season.
2 – Chris,
As always, thanks again for being a great source of Buffalo Bills information. We appreciate your feedback.
Can you explain the recent signings of 7 players to reserve/future contracts? The team moved quickly to sign these 7 right after the end of the regular season. What is this type of contract?
CB: Those contracts are typically reserved for players who were on a team’s practice squad during the regular season. If the team would like to keep those players on the roster through the offseason they must be signed to a reserve/future contract. If memory serves they have a week from when their season ends to sign their practice squad players otherwise they’re free to be signed away by other clubs.
Essentially players that the club believes can still be developed into something more are signed to these kinds of contracts, which are modest in nature.
3 – Chris,
With the release of WRs coach Ike Hilliard, would the Bills seriously consider bringing in Andre Reed to take over as WR coach ? I think Reed would be a great choice. Andre had great work ethic in Buffalo and was as tough as they come running routes over the middle.
CB: While I do not debate the qualities you described of Andre Reed’s game, it’s hard to say it’s a move that will be made. His coaching resume is very, very short though he is coaching in the NFLPA bowl on Saturday. I get the sense that coach Marrone wants someone with a more lengthy coaching background.
4 – Hi Chris,
I was looking at wide receiver free agents for this year, and I see that Eric Decker from the Broncos is a free agent after the playoffs. Would the Buffalo Bills pursue Decker and possibly make an offer?
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: Yes, Decker is scheduled to become a free agent. I don’t think there’s any question that the Bills have already demonstrated a concerted effort to add size at the receiver position with the reserve/future signings of Ramses Barden (6’6”) and Chris Summers (6’4 ½”). But they need a proven answer with size at receiver. Decker is certainly a proven player, but I think they want the big receiver on their offense to also be a bona fide number one target. I don’t know that Decker can be that.
I feel that a lot of his production is a byproduct of the fact that opponents scheme to limit DeMaryius Thomas and Wes Welker and Decker becomes the beneficiary. Without a similar supporting cast, I’m not sure what you could count on with Decker in terms of production.
5 – Chris
When I see the names of Jason Peters and Karlos Dansby on the list for 2013, I think what if they were playing for the Bills now…… Two big problems solved…….Dansby is a run stopper as MLB, and Peters as T is one of the best. Why don’t we as fans make the Bills FO accountable for their errors of poor decisions re. personnel choices……….And throw in there, their choice of ST coach……..Last season the FO thought Dansby as washed up… Hello, over the hill………..The Bills FO is on the clock in order to get their act together for 2014……………………
Tim in TN, Bills Fan
CB: While I understand your frustration in seeing talent flourish elsewhere instead of on Buffalo’s roster, your Bills history is a bit cloudy. The team wanted to keep Jason Peters and were willing to renegotiate his contract, which had two years left on it, but after he held out and then threatened to hold out again the next season it was clear that keeping Peters in Buffalo was going to be monumentally difficult.
So he was traded to Philadelphia for a first, fourth and sixth-round pick. When you have a player that doesn’t want to play for your team it’s hard to even make them happy with more money.
As for Karlos Dansby the Bills brought him in on a free agent visit so to indicate the front office thought he was washed up is just wrong. He chose to look elsewhere to sign essentially using Buffalo to drive up the market price for his services.
Both have been accomplished players, but if they don’t want to be here you’re not going to win with them on your roster.
Tags: Andre Reed, Andy Levitre, Doug Marrone, Doug Whaley, Fan Friday, Ike Hilliard, Jason Peters, Nathaniel Hackett
Posted in Inside the Bills
After the loss to the Saints two weeks ago, Stevie Johnson thought about what more he could do to help the offense be more consistent in the passing game. He decided extra film work would help. So now he sits down with receivers coach Ike Hilliard to get an unmistakable handle on anything and everything involving his assignments and the players he’ll face.
Johnson has always studied film, but this past week he put it significantly more time.
“We talked about it throughout the entire week, me and my coach, Coach Hilliard,” said Johnson. “We knew what the matchup was going to be. It was going to be me and 27 and we had a lot of conversations.”
Johnson admitted he was frustrated that he was that open on the failed 3rd-and-goal play against the Chiefs, as he knew what kind of look he was going to get from Sean Smith and successfully separated from him off the line, but he didn’t blame Tuel for making the decision he did having seen that play work in practice during the week.
“I’m just happy me and my coach (Hilliard) went over the film and we knew exactly what the look was going to be,” said Johnson. “So it gives me more confidence to watch extra film with the coach and go at it against the Steelers on Sunday.”
Tags: Ike Hilliard, Stevie Johnson
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills WR Stevie Johnson is attending a family funeral in Oakland, California. He’s missed each of the past two days of practice. Though he’s expected back in Buffalo Friday, he might not arrive in time for the late morning practice session, the last full prep workout of the game week.
“I expect him back Friday,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “Maybe not in time for practice, probably afterwards because of the distance you have to travel.”
Missing reps this week is going to make things difficult in terms of timing and execution with QB Thad Lewis, who is stepping into the lineup this week with EJ Manuel out with a knee injury. The coaching staff has given Johnson the game plan and all the film in preparation for Cincinnati.
Receivers coach Ike Hilliard is also working with Johnson over the phone this week to make sure he knows his assignments within the frame work of the game plan. Of course he’s also dealing with a lower back injury suffered in last Thursday’s game.
“I think it’s a tough call,” said Marrone. “I’ll call him in a little bit and see how he’s doing. He’s working on getting treatment out there. I really don’t know until he comes back and we talk with him and see how he feels. It’s quite a long trip for him to Oakland and back. I think when he gets back I’m going to know on Saturday. It’s a matter of physically can he go? And mentally.”
Tags: Doug Marrone, Ike Hilliard, Stevie Johnson
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 - Hey Chris
Concerned that the offensive line went unaddressed so far in this off season. Seems we lost 2 of our 3 best guards to free agency. Do you know of any plans to address this? If not I sure hope EJ can run as fast as reported as he might be running for his well being.
The only bills fan in New Hampshire
CB: I think there will still be time to address the offensive line in the summer if the Bills personnel department and coaching staff feels it needs to be addressed. I believe with the team not playing real football yet with pads on, it’s been difficult for the staff to assess whether or not an addition needs to be made. I believe the team is in good shape at the tackle position. Obviously the guard position saw two players that played an awful lot of football walk out the door. I’m confident if a position needs to be addressed it will be by this front office.
2 – Chris,
We need our receivers to be at top speed by opening day. We need them working with someone like Jerry Rice right now. Like Eric Moulds did on the offseason. Remember the difference that made with Eric?
CB: The receiving corps is young agreed. The comments from the coaches are that this offense caters to aiding younger receivers so they can contribute sooner. You talked about the team needing someone that’s been successful in the league. The Bills already have that in receivers coach Ike Hilliard. In fact Coach Marrone tipped his hat to Hilliard based on how the young receivers performed during OTAs.
“I think a lot of the credit goes to Ike Hilliard and knows what it takes for a young player to make a team because he’s been through it before,” said Marrone. “Those types of experiences with some of our coaches that have an NFL background, we talk to our players all the time about it. But I think it means a little bit more when it comes from a coach that has already done it.”
3 - Hi Chris,
Now moving forward to the 2013 season, I have a few questions: why did the bills swap linebackers with Indy, and pick up Jerry Hughes? Is Hughes better than Kelvin Sheppard? As far as the coaching staff, do you feel that the Marrone regime will hold players more accountable than the Gailey regime did? Do you anticipate EJ Manuel being the starter when the regular season commences?
As always, looking forward to your input.
Tony, Ormond Beach, FL
CB: The Bills made the trade I believe for one major reason. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has said the strength of his defense is its versatility. Jerry Hughes is a more versatile player than Kelvin Sheppard. Sheppard in this kind of defense would probably have been just a two-down linebacker. Hughes is a better athlete that can line up at more than one position and might be more effective in the impact he can make for this defense than Sheppard would have been.
Marrone has been all about accountability since he got here, not only with the players being accountable to one another, but he wants the players to hold him and his coaches accountable too.
Projecting EJ Manuel as the starter is a bit premature. Though he has coach Marrone encouraged, I think we really won’t know how ready Manuel is until we see how he performs in the preseason games.
4 - Hey CB
How is Pears looking in practice!!, I here he is getting healthy and should be in good shape by pre-season!!
clickrjp – a fan
CB: Pears over the past week or so has slowly worked his way in to the team portions of practice. It’s been a long road back for Pears after injuries slowed him in 2012, but he saw his most extensive work in team portions of practice Friday. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come for the right tackle come the mandatory minicamp next month.
5 – Chris,
First off you & John Murphy are my only means of Bills info(all the way in Memphis). Keep up the good work guys. My question is with the acquisitions of 2nd rd Robert Woods,3rd rd Marquise Goodwin,& Undrafted FA Da’rick Rodgers, which I’m excited about especially Woods & Rodgers, so with us getting Goodwin to possibly be the slot guy. Where does that leave T.J. Graham?
He’s a layover from the last coaching staff & not Marrone’s guy. Where does he fit? & throw a talented a Brad Smith in the mix. How are they get all of this talent on the field with Stevie? Is it gonna be a rotation or what? Man I really wanna know.
Patiently waiting in Memphis,Tn
CB: I think T.J. Graham has been the most consistent receiver in the OTA practices. He looks like a player that’s ready to take a sizable jump in performance this year despite the new offense. Brad Smith was another consistent performer with Stevie Johnson missing most of the OTAs, it afforded them a good deal of snaps in practice.
I would tend to believe that the Bills keep six receivers on the roster. All of the aforementioned wideouts are firmly in that mix. It’s not going to be an easy call when it comes to picking the fifth and sixth receivers, but Graham is not one you need to worry about. Heading into the mandatory minicamp he’s positioned himself well for a notable role in the offense.
Tags: Doug Marrone, EJ Manuel, Erik Pears, Fan Friday, Ike Hilliard, Jerry Hughes, Mike Pettine, Offensive line, T.J. Graham
Posted in Inside the Bills
Buffalo’s wide receiving corps is going to get a heavy dose of expertise from one of the most accomplished receiver coaches in terms of a playing career in team history.
Bills new receivers coach Ike Hilliard had a 12-year playing career. The former first-round pick played for the Giants and Buccaneers and appearing in a Super Bowl with New York. Hilliard’s career was cut short by a neck injury, but began a coaching career soon after.
“I’ve been extremely blessed,” Hilliard said. “Being fortunate enough to transition so quickly after playing is something that is very unique. I’ve been coached by some outstanding coaches, so I’ve learned a lot throughout the years. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, learned from those. I’ve had some success and I’m hoping to be able to lean on my experience as a player to give to our guys in our room and be able to help them improve their game and be successful players.”
Hilliard’s 12 years as a player makes him one of the most experienced receivers coaches from a playing perspective in team annals. Not since the days when Hall of Fame wide receiver Charlie Joiner was Buffalo’s receivers coach (1992-2000) has Buffalo’s receivers had a former NFL receiver coaching them. Joiner played 18 seasons in the league and just retired earlier this week after a combined 44 years in the NFL playing and coaching.
Hilliard told Buffalobills.com that Stevie Johnson would still have the latitude to use his unconventional route running style in Buffalo’s new offensive system.
Tags: Charlie Joiner, Ike Hilliard
Posted in Inside the Bills