Inside The Bills

Kiper: Pass rushers aplenty in 2015 draft

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2015 – 1:14 pm

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper is already expressing opinions on the 2015 NFL draft class and he espoused on the deeper positions he sees in this year’s crop of talent.

“In terms of pass rushers there are a lot of them,” said Kiper. “That’s probably the strongest position in this draft, those combo guys who can get after the quarterback.”

That’s not necessarily a bad thing concerning the Bills. Sure they have linebacker talent and pass rushing talent, but one of those pass rushers is a free agent in Jerry Hughes. If Buffalo somehow can’t bring Hughes back into the fold, it sounds like there is good depth in the draft at that position.

“Early on you’ve got Randy Gregory (Nebraska) and Shane Ray (Missouri), but you also have some guys like Nate Orchard at Utah, who is more of a second or third rounder. Trey Flowers at Arkansas, Lorenzo Mauldin at Louisville is another who would fall into that category. Alvin “Bud” Dupree from Kentucky, who is a good pass rusher. So this is the kind of year if you want those types of players they’re out there in high numbers this season.”

Kiper also said the running back class is deep thanks in large part to the junior eligibles who declared for the draft.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex comments on Jerry Hughes

Posted by Chris Brown on January 20, 2015 – 9:16 am

Bills new head coach Rex Ryan hasn’t been shy at all about his excitement level for the defensive talent he inherits here in Buffalo. He also believes they’ll keep an important part of that defensive puzzle on the roster.

Impending free agent Jerry Hughes is a player that GM Doug Whaley has already said they want to keep in a Bills uniform for the foreseeable future. In an interview with FOX Sports, Ryan said he intends to see that plan come to fruition.

“I absolutely envision that,” said Ryan. “I think Jerry is an outstanding player. The last two years I’ve been against him and he’s tremendous. I hope he’s still a Buffalo Bill moving forward. Sometimes things happen where that might not be a possibility, but I believe he’s a great player and I hope he’s a Buffalo Bill for a long time.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-16

Posted by Chris Brown on January 16, 2015 – 12:24 pm

It was a historical week for the Bills franchise with the hiring of Rex Ryan as the 18th head coach in team history. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

With the coming to an end what positions do you think need more depth for the offseason besides QB? Offensive line or maybe tight end or defensive end in case Hughes leaves? Can you also explain to fans that the Bills would have taken Eric Ebron, and trading up for Sammy wasn’t as risky as many thought. This year’s list of WRs isn’t as deep.

CB: As for positional needs the guard spot is right up at the top. I think a big running back is another potential need for two reasons. First, it’s unclear as to whether C.J. Spiller will return to the team with the ability to become a free agent this offseason. Second, a power run game is going to need a big back comparable to Frank Gore or Eddie Lacy. Buffalo has a big back in Boobie Dixon, but he was relegated to backup duty under offensive coordinator Greg Roman in San Francisco. Fred Jackson and Bryce Brown are capable, but it might be time to draft a young back to add to the mix. An end/OLB would be a need if Hughes doesn’t return, but they can’t wait on that.

As for last year’s draft, it was my understanding that if the Bills stayed at nine that Eric Ebron was the most likely target, assuming the likes of Sammy Watkins was off the board.

 

2 – Hi Chris,
My name is Ben Cary, a dedicated bills fan from West Seneca studying at Miami University of Ohio. Are the Bills interested in pursuing Jay Cutler, now that the Bears might be shopping him? I think he could fix a lot of our quarterback issues. He has the raw talent to make the plays none of our recent QB’s have been able to. I also think he would find success in our run first offense because he wouldn’t be forced to throw the ball as much as Chicago made him. What are your thoughts?

Has Doug Whaley thought about this as well? I love the improvement we’ve made this year and can’t wait to see what the future of the franchise holds!

Thanks so much
Ben Cary

CB: If the Bills are interested in pursuing Jay Cutler in a trade scenario they certainly can’t state it publicly since he’s property of the Bears. That could open the team up to tampering charges. While there’s no debating that he is physically gifted as a quarterback there is a reason his second franchise is reportedly looking to move him.

I don’t dismiss your point that a run first approach on offense could decrease some of the ill-advised plays Cutler tries to make. While talent is a big asset to have as a quarterback, leadership is a close second and that’s where I think Cutler struggles as a player.

I can’t tell you what Doug Whaley is thinking, but it’s my belief that the Bills will look to add a veteran quarterback to the roster. Whether Cutler is under consideration remains to be seen.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills I see the two lineman the #bills have signed to futures deals are both under 300 lbs. Will this be the trend going forward? More athleticism at guard seems logical, right?

DanielBeaudoin1

CB: Greg Roman’s power run game is pretty multiple. That being said having guards who are capable of pulling is a plus. You also have to be able to push the pile so I don’t know that a trend can be taken from the two most recent OL signings.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills do u believe Whaley that he would take a QB in the 2nd or 3rd if the right one was available? Petty or Hundley. #bills

Srothenburgh

CB: I think Whaley in that radio interview this week was just trying to emphasize the fact that they do not rule anything out with every draft pick they hold. If a quarterback is the best player on the board, and there isn’t a pressing positional need with a prospect that is comparable in terms of grade to said quarterback, then they’ll take a QB. Knowing this is his approach he cannot rule out taking a QB. In reality I see the Bills adding a veteran quarterback this offseason.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

What is a typical NFL halftime like for a team? Does the head coach address the full team the entire time? Do position groups meet? Are the discussions strategic or motivational? Thanks

Sincerely,
Max

CB: At halftime there isn’t a whole lot of time. With the coaches from the booth taking an extra five minutes to get down to the locker room, there’s only about 7-8 minutes to go over things. The head coach will briefly huddle with the coordinators before making decisions on various adjustments for the second half. In most cases the teams breaks off into offensive and defensive groups with their coordinators. They address what has to be corrected and then what some of the adjustments will be. After plotting out strategy the head coach or a team captain might say a few inspirational words and it’s back out to the field.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Jerry Hughes update

Posted by Chris Brown on January 15, 2015 – 2:37 pm

The Bills have an important impending free agent that they’d like to keep in the fold in DE Jerry Hughes. GM Doug Whaley in an interview on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 confirmed that the club has opened talks with Hughes on a new contract.

Whaley didn’t have a lot of details, since he had been wrapped up in the intense two-week process of finding a head coach.

“We’ve been so consumed with this coaching search that I haven’t been able to talk to (Senior VP of Administration Jim Overdorf) to find out where we stand there and once Rex finishes his staff then we’ll turn our attention to that. But I know Jim has been in touch with his representatives and started the process.”

Whaley intends to get an update on where things stand soon, to see if it’s possible to re-sign him and not let him hit the free agent market.

“We’re excited and we want him back,” said Whaley of Hughes. “He’s a great part of our defense and hopefully we can get it done sooner rather than later.”

When asked if the hiring of Rex Ryan as head coach improves the chances of re-signing Hughes, Whaley could only be hopeful.

“You’d have to ask him,” said Whaley. “I hope he’d be just as excited as we are and the Bills fans are.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-9

Posted by Chris Brown on January 9, 2015 – 11:44 am

The season is over and the head coaching search is underway. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Can you give Bills fans an update on the picks we get for the Stevie Johnson and Bryce Brown trades and where the picks could be for both players based on their playing time? Is it a 3rd for both players if they have a certain amount of games?

Josh

CB: Both trades were in exchange for conditional fourth-round picks. What most are not aware of is Buffalo was using one trade to facilitate the other.

While I don’t have the exact terms that would have bumped both picks to third-round selections I do know that both the pick acquired in the Johnson trade remained a fourth-round pick, as did the pick Philadelphia is owed by Buffalo.

Since the Bills original fourth-round pick in 2015 was traded to Cleveland in the Sammy Watkins deal, the fourth-round pick acquired from San Francisco for Stevie Johnson must be sent to Philadelphia for Bryce Brown.

So this spring the Bills do not have a first or fourth round selection. They have a second, third, two fifths, sixth and seventh.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for the great coverage and all that you do.  A lot has been made around the NFL about the NFC South and one of those teams making the playoffs with a record less than .500.  My question is that with the Bills finishing with a better record than the NFC South champion (Carolina 7-8-1) will they pick after them in the draft?  The draft normally goes by record but do things change once a team makes the playoffs?  Thanks for the response.

J-P from Corning, NY but now in Frederick, MD
CB: Yes, by rule playoff teams pick after non-playoff teams. So the Bills first-round pick at 19, which is owned by Cleveland comes before Carolina. In fact even the playoff teams with better records who were eliminated Wild Card weekend will pick ahead of the Panthers. The best Carolina can do if they lose to Seattle this weekend is the 25th pick in round one.

 

3 – Chris,

Watching the Bills this season always leaves me thinking how many games would they have won if we had a top QB. Despite some games that Orton played well, he is surely not the guy to lead the Bills to the playoffs. I was wondering if picking up Sam Bradford would be a possibility and keeping EJ as a backup. I was also thinking that even though our offensive line has struggled this year, would we take a QB with our 2nd round pick this year?

-Bennett

CB: Sam Bradford is an interesting consideration. He has more than three times the experience of EJ Manuel in terms NFL starts with 49 on his NFL resume, but what is of concern to me is his completion percentage. It’s 58.6 percent, which is exactly the same as EJ Manuel.

I think the Bills need better than that if they decide acquiring a veteran quarterback is the route to take again this offseason. Now I’ll admit it is slim pickings in terms of the free agent market, and Bradford might be seen as one of the better options available.

Buffalo has limited capital to offer in a trade for a QB knowing they’re without a first and fourth-round pick this year.

The plan going forward concerning the quarterback position is certainly going to be one of the more intriguing developments for the Bills this offseason. And as for taking a QB in round two of the draft I don’t think anything can be ruled out at this point, but I do believe quarterback might be addressed before the draft rolls around.

 

4 – Chris,

How do you assess the prospects of OGs Kouandjio and Richardson? Do they have a chance to start on the Bills’ O-line  or will the Bills be shopping for guards in free agency and the draft next year.

Thanks,
Bob

CB: I think Cyrus Kouandjio and Cyril Richardson are still seen as long term investments by the organization. As I’ve written here before Kouandjio is still very young in football. He turned 21 during training camp last summer and has not played football his entire life. There is talent there. I just think what he needs is time on the job. Richardson has the physical tools, but they need to be refined more.

With that in mind I think it would be prudent for the Bills to seek NFL ready help at the guard position, especially with Erik Pears a free agent this offseason. The draft is another possibility, but it would have to be addressed early (2nd, 3rd round).

 

5 – Hi Chris,

My question pertains to re-signing several key players. I’ve read that there is some questions about whether or not we can sign Jerry Hughes, and renegotiate CJ and Marcel’s deals to keep them here long term, while also finding some key free agents and solid draft picks. Don’t we have a considerable amount of dead money coming off the books at the end of this year (Fitz, Stevie, Anderson, Lindell)? Overthecap.com says that it is about $21.6 million. With that money freed up, and the expansion of the salary cap don’t we have enough room to work with to bring back Jerry and give Marcel and CJ a raise?

(If this doesn’t make the list of questions on the blog post I would still love to hear your thoughts about where we stand financially going forward and how we can keep our defensive and offensive playmakers in Buffalo.)

Kevin

CB: You’re right there is a good amount of dead money coming off the books. I have seen the dead cap number closer to $24M. Per GM Doug Whaley – they will make every effort to bring Jerry Hughes and C.J. Spiller back into the fold.

There are reports that NFL clubs are expecting the cap to go up about $10M this year, which helps as well. It’s certainly possible that Dareus’ contract will be addressed to reduce his $8M cap figure this year and extend it.

However, I don’t think Dareus’ contract has to be extended in order for the club to formulate competitive offers for Hughes, Spiller and possibly Da’Norris Searcy.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Hughes gets half sack he needed

Posted by Chris Brown on December 31, 2014 – 11:29 am

Bills DE Jerry Hughes appeared to get the half sack he needed for back-to-back 10 sack seasons when he and Manny Lawson took down New England’s Jimmy Garappolo in the fourth quarter Sunday. The storekeepers thought otherwise. On Wednesday the league corrected the awarding of the sack on the play.

The NFL has credited Jerry Hughes and Manny Lawson each with half a sack from Sunday that was originally credited to Lawson and Jarius Wynn at 6:51 in the 4th quarter.

Hughes now finishes the 2014 season with 10 sacks making him just the fourth Bill to ever record 20+ sacks in his first two seasons with the team.

Buffalo finished with 54 sacks on the season to lead the league.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Belichick on importance of Hughes

Posted by Chris Brown on December 27, 2014 – 10:56 am

Bills DE Jerry Hughes doesn’t get the notoriety that his Pro Bowl linemates get, but his play is not lost on Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. However, Belichick doesn’t necessarily see Hughes as the primary difference maker on Buffalo’s front.

“I’d say he’s kind of more of a complement,” Belichick said of Hughes. “I mean he’s a complement to big [guys] in there, to [Marcel] Dareus and Kyle [Williams] inside because he’s a great speed rusher and he has a good inside move too – spin and up-and-under moves and all that. I’m not saying he’s just an edge guy but he’s a very good edge guy. Which, what those guys need is pressure in the middle of the pocket.

“If the quarterback can just move up in the pocket, then the edge guys really get taken out of play. But if the quarterback can’t move up because of the inside pressure, then that brings that rush into a lot bigger problem for the offense. Of course a lot of those rushes not only end up in sacks, but they can end up in strip-sacks. So when you have a good inside rush like they have with Dareus and Williams, then having a good edge guy really complements that.

“Now, if you have two good edge guys that makes it harder for the offense to help on just one guy, kind of like back to the [Dwight] Freeney, [Robert] Mathis discussions with the Colts. You can bump one guy, but then you still have to deal with the other guy. Or, bump both of them and then you’re running out of receivers in the passing game. I’d say that’s kind of an issue there. The inside rush versus the outside rush is where I think he’s really helped them the most. Those guys, they’ve had a lot of production too. And a lot of that comes from the quarterback stepping up away from Hughes and he’s stepping right into Dareus and Kyle.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone called Hughes after Pro Bowlers named

Posted by Chris Brown on December 24, 2014 – 2:25 pm

For the second straight year the Bills will have three defensive linemen going to the Pro Bowl, this year in Glendale, Arizona where the game will be played. And for the second straight year Jerry Hughes, who is a half sack away from back-to-back double digit sack seasons is the odd man out. It prompted head coach Doug Marrone to give Hughes a call after the Pro Bowl rosters were announced Tuesday.

“Obviously it’s well deserved,” said Marrone of his three defensive linemen who earned an AFC Pro Bowl nod. “People all along have thought a lot of our defensive line and we’ve got four very good players. Anytime you have multiple players at one position I think that’s a testament to just how good those guys because it doesn’t happen that often. When you get three that’s a lot.

“But one of the things I did last night when everything came out, I congratulated the players who made it, but I also called Jerry Hughes. Jerry has had an outstanding year, he really has. I think one of the things about this game is it is a team game. Guys make (the Pro Bowl), but there are a lot of other people involved that don’t get the credit in that way, but they can share in knowing they were a part of it even though individually they didn’t get there.”

Hughes was touched by his head coach’s gesture in calling him.

“It was huge,” Hughes said. “Just to turn my phone over and see it was coach Marrone and offering love and support. That’s what you want your head coach to do. It was a great gesture.”

Hughes said he has not yet spoken to his Pro Bowl teammates, but intends to head out to Arizona Pro Bowl week to spend some time with his line mates.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Avril deal set market for Hughes?

Posted by Chris Brown on December 19, 2014 – 1:53 pm

With the Seattle Seahawks signing DE Cliff Avril to a four-year contract extension the market for the offseason might be set for impending free agents at the same position, like Buffalo’s Jerry Hughes.

Hughes, who is a half sack away from posting back-to-back double digit sack seasons, is set to become an unrestricted free agent. The Seahawks handed a pass rusher who has a similar game to that of Hughes a four-year extension worth a reported $28.5M over four years to Cliff Avril with $16M guaranteed.

Avril is a player who has been productive longer than Hughes. He has 52 sacks in his seven seasons. He’s also two years older (28) than Buffalo’s edge rusher (26).  With similar body types and similar games it’s logical to think that Avril’s deal will at least set a preliminary mark for offseason deals for free agent pass rushers like Buffalo’s Hughes.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Watkins: Defense supports us

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 12:19 pm

The tight-knit nature of the Bills locker room has helped this team through the large amount of adversity they’ve faced all season. And while the defense has been the best side of the ball this season, WR Sammy Watkins says their support of the offense has been unwavering.

“You see it on the sideline,” said Watkins. “Those guys could look at you funny and say, ‘Let’s go, go score a touchdown.’ But they continue to encourage our offense and push us. I think that’s one of the things that’s been happening late in the season. They’ve been pushing us to be great and they depend on us to score and we’ve just got to keep helping those guys out.”

“We’re the defense. Our job is to go out there and stop points,” said Jerry Hughes. “We came out we made some adjustments in the second half and guys came together and played well. We’ve just got to play four quarters of football and just come together as a team and just stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-5

Posted by Chris Brown on December 5, 2014 – 11:20 am

The biggest December road game in quite some time is just two days away. Nice to see a game that matters here at this point in the season for the Bills. On to your questions now from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hello Chris
I have a couple questions. When will the coaching staff see that the QB play was not the problem? EJ could throw a pick a game and not fumble. Plus he had the strength in the pocket plus agility to avoid half the sacks Orton has had. It is play calling I feel. We run such a mellow offense. Out of 73 starts for Orton he has 8 comebacks. EJ had I believe 4 in just 14 starts. We should have let him continue to develop. Orton has continually been trying to make up for his mistakes. (Pick six in Detroit. That game should have never been that close)
Secondly do they hope CJ may come back with the IR they placed him on? Thanks again for all your coverage of the best team in sports.

Jedediah
Palm Coast, FL

CB: Your numbers for Orton and Manuel are pretty much on the mark. Orton does have eight fourth quarter comebacks in his career. Manuel has one fourth quarter comeback and three game-winning drives, one of which came in Week 1 against Chicago in overtime with the score tied.

I think head coach Doug Marrone explained the quarterback move for what it was. At the time Manuel was struggling to complete passes with consistency. He was missing open targets and it was costing them yards and points and that ultimately costs you games.

Marrone had to decide between development of EJ Manuel or winning games. Winning games trumped Manuel’s development. Orton doesn’t have the physical assets that Manuel possesses. That’s obvious.

What Orton does have however, is the knowledge of where to go with the football regardless of the situation or defensive look. He can diagnose disguised coverages faster and his knowledge allows him to make decisions quicker. I think that results in Orton being more willing to give his receivers opportunities to make plays by taking a bit more risk than Manuel was willing to when he was in the lineup.

That being said Manuel has been working hard on his personal game and I think being able to focus on just himself the last two months has helped Manuel immeasurably. Whether he gets another opportunity this season will likely be tied to Orton’s health.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

What do you think Hughes trade value is? Would you package him and Spiller for a first rd. Pick?

crazyeyes7711

CB: First, I will say I don’t think it’s the primary intention of the Bills to trade either player. In an ideal world they keep both players in the fold. Will it happen? That depends on the intentions of the Hughes and Spiller camps.

In your hypothetical trade situation I think you’re underselling Hughes and Spiller as a package. Hughes is going to have double-digit sacks in back-to-back seasons and is just entering his prime. Spiller is still an elite physical talent no matter what his rushing production numbers say. One first round pick for both of them is far from an acceptable offer.

A first and a second round pick is what would be more equitable. We have to remember that they’re both former first-round draft choices themselves.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

What’s Goodwin’s % to play?

8three7six6zero

CB: If you want to know if he’ll dress on Sunday I think there’s a decent chance that happens knowing some of Buffalo’s top receivers are nicked up. He can serve as insurance. If you want to know how many snaps he’ll get that’s tough to peg. He got all of two snaps last week on offense and was targeted once. After Marcus Thigpen’s debut performance on returns last week Goodwin is unlikely to re-assume those duties.

Goodwin has just 70 snaps on offense this season. That’s partly due to him being unavailable due to injury, but that’s more than 100 fewer snaps on offense than Mike Williams (194), who has been inactive for three games. Goodwin has been out of the lineup for six games.

The former third-round pick has just six targets this season and one catch for 42 yards.

 

4 -  @ChrisBrownBills

What position will be the top priority to improve in the offseason?

JaredBailey23

CB: I think the clubhouse leader position-wise is the offensive line. Though the unit has played a bit better of late there just hasn’t been enough consistency up front, so I could see that being addressed in the offseason. Where they come down on the quarterback position is something else that bears watching.

Other positions could be added to the priority list based on potential player departures in free agency.

 

5 – Chris,

I understand that opponents are working on eliminating Sammy’s impact on games and work on keeping him from beating them. That said, I still think they are under utilizing Sammy, specifically on WR screens. It would be one thing if they were running WR screens on the opposite side of the field as Sammy, but the majority of the time Sammy is lead blocking. I saw this at least two times on Monday night’s game.

I get what Marrone is saying, but their actions don’t always coordinate entirely with what they say.

Thoughts?

Thanks,
Elliott

CB: They have worked to find more ways to get Watkins the ball. We saw some receiver screens last week against Cleveland. I think there would be some merit to stacking receivers at the line with Watkins being the wideout who is second in line on the stack. That could help him gain early separation.

Watkins was targeted nine times last week, but had just three receptions. Part of the problem at times was ball location. Watkins has a wide catch radius, but even he couldn’t make the play on some errant throws. The timing and execution has to be better when Watkins is targeted.

We’ll see if they can get that fixed against a pair of very aggressive corners this week in Denver.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

2 TDs scored fastest by Bills since merger

Posted by Chris Brown on November 30, 2014 – 6:49 pm

Buffalo’s two touchdowns came in rapid succession in the third quarter. They were just 10 seconds of game clock apart, the fastest in more than 40 years.

That’s according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Buffalo took a 7-3 lead on a 3-yd. scoring pass from Kyle Orton to Chris Hogan, then followed it with Jerry Hughes’ 18-yd. fumble return TD after Terrance West coughed up the ball on Cleveland’s first scrimmage play after the ensuing kickoff. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 10-second span between the 2 TDs is the shortest by the Bills since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Robey thought he had a TD

Posted by Chris Brown on November 30, 2014 – 6:30 pm

Though the Bills won by 16 points over Cleveland on Sunday, it’s could’ve been more. Buffalo had a touchdown taken off the board, when Kyle Williams sack and apparent forced fumble that recovered by Nickell Robey in the end zone was ruled a forward pass and thus an incompletion on the play.

“They told me Manziel’s arm followed through when he tried to throw the ball,” said Robey. “But from the looks of it on the film, replaying it, he never had possession of the ball.  I was looking for it to be a touchdown but they overturned it. It hurt me a little bit.”

It would’ve been the second touchdown or Robey’s career. His first came last season at Miami on an interception return. It also would’ve been the second touchdown scored by the defense joining Jerry Hughes fumble return for a touchdown.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

BENRUS Best Dressed – DE Jerry Hughes

Posted by buffalobills.com on November 30, 2014 – 10:42 am

bestdressed-social

The BENRUS Best Dressed series presents one well-dressed player with a product from the military-inspired lifestyle brand. QB EJ Manuel won in week 12.

As the winner of BEST DRESSED, Jerry Hughes received a BENRUS Bivouac backpack, a perfect holiday gift.  BENRUS watches, duffle bags and backpacks are available for purchase at www.BENRUS.com

BENRUS, LLC was founded as a watch company in 1921. For over four decades, it manufactured legendary timepieces for the U.S. military. Giovanni Feroce, internationally recognized as one of today’s most successful American CEO’s, is building BENRUS into a multi-billion dollar, military-inspired lifestyle brand. Mr. Feroce currently serves as CEO and Chairman of BENRUS, LLC.


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Posted in Corporate, Inside the Bills, Off the Field

Mario has raised the bar

Posted by Chris Brown on November 29, 2014 – 11:03 am

It’s not all about his sacks, but the plays made by Mario Williams the last three weeks have been big in every way, shape or form.

Williams has 6.5 sacks in his last three games and leads the team with a dozen this season. Head coach Doug Marrone was taken aback with his dominance on the field Monday night in Detroit.

“Really even if you go back to the game before (the Jets game) he played really well even though we didn’t win the game,” said Marrone. “I’m trying to make sure I know what it is so whatever it is I can use it all the time. If we can keep him going the way he is right now in these last two games, he’s been dominant. He’ll be tested this week. (Browns RT Mitchell) Schwartz will be out there on him. We’ve got to win that matchup. That’ll be a big matchup.

“I’m sure they’ll try to run the ball at Mario so he’s got to be ready for that. But there’s no doubt about it when he plays like that people are going to start saying, ‘What are we going to do?’ We’ve got a lot of good guys playing around him too. You’ve got Jerry (Hughes) playing at a high level. You’ve got our inside guys playing at a high level. For him to come out like that and the more attention they put on him it could open things up for everybody else or vice versa.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-21

Posted by Chris Brown on November 21, 2014 – 9:01 pm

Despite some crazy logistics this week, here’s Fan Friday with questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Over the past couple of years here are moves that GM Doug Whaley really “hit on”;

(1) Trading ILB Kelvin Sheppard for DE Jerry Hughes = A+

(2) Drafting LB Kiko Alonso = A+

(3) Drafting WR Sammy Watkins = A+,  price was pretty steep, but gives the Bills a legit #1 WR in awhile

(4) Drafting LB Preston Brown + A,  this guy has been a very nice surprise on the defensive side of the ball

(5) Signing QB Kyle Orton = A+  ( I was writing to you back in July for the Bills to sign Orton, glad Coach Marrone finally switched Kyle Orton to #1 QB.  I thought he should have a week sooner, if the Bills had, Bills beat Texans in Houston)

(6) Signing of free agent kicker Dan Carpenter, he’s been clutch when kicks are needed the most.

Question:  Since the Bills do not have a #1 draft pick in 2015 and RB Spiller is not going to command a large contract to resign, can’t GM Doug Whaley take that $$$ and Resign DE Jerry Hughes and extend DT Marcel Dareus long-term ?

Bills really need to try and keep their defensive line together, they are the strength of the team.  I think it was a mistake years ago when the Bills let Pat Williams and Ted Washington depart.

Randy

South FL
CB: I had a blog post on this very subject earlier this week when GM Doug Whaley addressed the future of both Hughes and Dareus this week on Bills flagship station WGR this week. Here’s what Whaley said about Hughes and Dareus.

“Those guys are great players. We would love to have them, and those are the things we’ll discuss at the end of the season, which we do every year,” Whaley said. “We don’t negotiate in the media, but they’ve brought tremendous production to our defensive line and helped to make our defense one of the best in the league and we’re going to do whatever we can to keep them.”

I believe the Bills know the defensive line is the linchpin of their defense and with the unit much improved against the run this season they’ll make a strong effort to keep Hughes in the fold even though three of their highest paid players are their other three starting defensive linemen.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

Big Buffalo Bills fan here in Northern Ireland.  Great job you and John Murphy do in covering the bills.

Couple of questions, how is EJ getting on and what do you think the future is at the qb position the bills this season and beyond this season?

Many thanks
Paddy

CB: Thanks for the compliments. EJ is doing well. Head coach Doug Marrone last week acknowledged that he is making progress with his personal game. We covered some of what he’s been working on since assuming the backup role.

As for the future at the position there are some moving parts there. Orton has a player option for next year in his deal with Buffalo. Manuel is obviously still under contract.

It’s my belief that the last six games will have a lot to do with the direction the team takes at that position. I realize that a good number of outside observers are of the opinion that EJ Manuel’s career is over with Buffalo. I don’t share that opinion.

He still has yet to have a full regular season worth of starts in his time with the Bills (14 starts) and it’s my contention that kicking dirt on him is premature regardless of what his statistics say.

 

3 – Hello Chris,
Thanks for all of the info and insight every week. I am a long time follower but this is my first time writing in. My question is in regards to Mike Williams and all of the Fan unrest in his lack of playing time. I too feel that he has been grossly underutilized. I think a good solution would be to give him reps at tight end in a two tight end formation. We have all witnessed his toughness and willingness to “bang heads” not to mention some good down field blocking.

This could create some real matchup nightmares with the opposition. It would force the defense to cover with a safety because a linebacker couldn’t cover him and it would open up Sammy and company as well. Do you think it could work or is he too”small” for TE? And has anyone at OBD tinkered with this? I would think they would want their big play makers on the field as much as possible. Just a thought. Thanks again!

Greg T.

CB: I believe there is merit to those fans who contend that Mike Williams is talented enough to help this offense, especially in the red zone where the team has struggled of late. Williams was targeted once in the Miami game in the red zone, but the pass was broken up.

Even if they favor receivers like Chris Hogan over Williams between the 20s to get them down the field, and Hogan performed well against Miami, you can certainly make the argument that Williams can help this team score touchdowns in the red zone. Eighteen of his 23 touchdowns scored with Tampa Bay early in his career were within 20 yards.

Hopefully what we saw in terms of his use against Miami only increases down the stretch. Making him a detached tight end is something I don’t think I’d anticipate.

 

4 – Chris,

Can you tell us why the Bills have covered some mid-field, low level seats at RWS?

Thanks for your insights,

Mike Riggie

CB: The reason the first few rows have been tarped is because from a seated position it’s impossible for fans to see over the players and coaches gathered on the sidelines and see the action on the field. As a result those fans in the past would stand, and that would force the fans behind them to stand creating a chain reaction. All the fans behind them would have to continually stand up to see the action every time the fans in the first few rows did so.

The solution was to cover those seats and not sell them to fans to eliminate the problem.

 

5 – Hey Chris ,

Just a quick hit . Seeing as the NFL is said to be a copycat league & the regime before this one at Buffalo & others in the NFL have some success with a 5 wide set how come this OC NEVER uses it ? Especially with the talent at the WR position …

Thanks Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: One of the most popular formations in the league right now is 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR). One of the reasons is it’s one of the more unpredictable formations pre-snap. You can run or pass out of this formation in a variety of ways and a lot of offensive coordinators like that, which is why it’s so prevalent.

It’s Buffalo’s most popular formation this season as well. Five wide basically says we’re throwing, unless you’ve got Michael Vick at QB and you’re running out of a spread set.

The most popular formation under the head coach that preceded Doug Marrone was four wide with one back.

Believe it or not the five wide look isn’t as popular as you might think. Four wide is more popular. What’s interesting is there were a couple of plays last week against the Dolphins where the Bills went five wide. I doubt it will increase in frequency in Buffalo’s offense, but we’ll see.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills GM on future of Dareus, Hughes

Posted by Chris Brown on November 18, 2014 – 12:10 pm

Bills DE Jerry Hughes is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, while Marcell Dareus still has another year left on his contract, after the team picked up his fifth-year option. Appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Bills GM Doug Whaley was asked if contract negotiations have been opened with Hughes.

Whaley as a matter of personal policy prefers not to have ongoing contract negotiations with players so as not to present a distraction. Buffalo’s GM addressed both Hughes and Dareus.

“Those guys are great players. We would love to have them, and those are the things we’ll discuss at the end of the season, which we do every year,” he said. “We don’t negotiate in the media, but they’ve brought tremendous production to our defensive line and helped to make our defense one of the best in the league and we’re going to do whatever we can to keep them.”

As for Dareus Whaley said it’s been good to see Dareus mature through the course of the year.

“We look at it this way. There’s a maturation process for a lot of players,” said Whaley. “He’s got a difficult situation with his support staff. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do this year. It’s a situation we’ll go over and review and set a plan going forward once the season is over with.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-14

Posted by Chris Brown on November 14, 2014 – 11:58 am

Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Question on the Bills offensive philosophy.  When Marrone and Hackett were first hired by the Bills, there was a lot of talk from them about the up tempo style of offense they ran at Syracuse and has become so common place in college football and with some NFL teams.  They seemed to be big believers in running a LOT of offensive plays, limiting the defensive adjustments that could be made by calling the plays at the line, and dictating to the defense through their pace and related “matchup” problems the lack of substitutions could create for a defense–not to mention the notion of tiring out a defensive pass rush by forcing D-linemen to stay on the field for an entire series.

They started with that philosophy last year, but after EJ got hurt, they seemed to reduce the use of the up tempo offense citing the inexperience of the backup QBs.  In the preseason, we saw a little more of the up tempo pace, albeit with very very limited success due to EJ’s continued struggles with execution.  And so once again, they seemed to deviate from that philosophy.

But now with an experienced QB in Kyle Orton, execution and understanding of the playbook doesn’t appear to be as much of an issue.  Yet we haven’t seen much use of that up tempo style except in two minute situations–which Orton seems to have done quite well with, as evidenced by the Detroit game, the Vikings game, and even the 4th quarter of the Patriots game when they were behind two scores but still in striking distance midway through the quarter.

Have Marrone and Hackett simply abandoned the up tempo “philosophy”?  If so, why?  The QB doesn’t seem to be an issue.  Granted, the O-line is a bit on the young side in certain positions.  But perhaps an up tempo pace would help the O-line out if the defensive line can’t rotate fresh legs all the time.  Or might we see a return to the up tempo pace on a regular basis (instead of just two minute situations) at some point in the near future?

Thanks,
Jeffrey S.

CB: I think what needs to be remembered here is the collection of youth on offense. At the receiver position and now with two new additions in the offensive backfield in Bryce Brown and Boobie Dixon. I think that is what has the offensive staff convinced that a more methodical approach leads to better overall execution. There is little value in upping the tempo if your players can’t execute consistently because that puts your defense back on the field all the faster.

Now while your point about how Orton has run the offense in two-minute situations is well taken, you need to remember that defenses typically play differently in those situations as well. Just like offenses tend to pass more at those times in the game, defenses tend to play more conservatively, giving up yards in exchange for time on the clock.

So the success you often see in two minute situations aren’t as likely during other parts of the game. It’s clear the coaching staff believes that moving at a steady pace with a huddle is the best practice. So I don’t anticipate it changing any time soon.

 

2 – Hello Chris
I have a couple questions. When will the coaching staff see that the QB play is not the problem? EJ could throw a pick a game and not fumble. Plus he had the strength in the pocket plus agility to avoid half the sacks Orton has had. It is play calling I feel. We run such a melo offense. Out of 73 starts for Orton he has 8 comebacks EJ had I believe 4 in just 14 starts. We should have let him continue to develop. Orton has continually been trying to make up for his mistakes. (Pick six in Detroit. That game should have never been that close)
Secondly do they hope CJ may come back with the IR they placed him on? Thanks again for all your coverage of the best team in sports.

Jedediah
Palm Coast, FL

CB: I think Buffalo’s coaching staff would disagree with you. As coach Marrone said when he made the quarterback change, he needed more production from the position. EJ’s completion percentage had dropped below 60 percent and was missing open receivers. They were simply leaving too many yards on the field. For an offense that was starved for points it was a conscious decision by Marrone.

You can make an argument that they should’ve left EJ in to keep developing, but the pressure to reach the postseason trumped Manuel’s on field development.

As for C.J. Spiller we’ll have to see where he’s at when we reach Week 16, the first week he’ll be eligible to return off of I-R. It’s too early to tell where he’ll be in his healing at that point.

 

3 -  @ChrisBrownBills
Will we be able to afford to keep Hughes and Dareus with both their contracts up in the next 2 years?

connordomiano

CB: It’s my understanding that the Bills would like to re-sign Jerry Hughes and that’s job number one on the defensive side of the ball. Picking up Dareus’ option buys them time to address his contract. The catch here is the top three salaries on the team right now are Dareus, Kyle Williams and Mario Williams. Investing another big contract in the defensive line could be argued as an imbalanced approach to the salary cap putting a large percentage of it in just one position group.

At the same time it’s hard to argue with a unit that has largely carried the defense the last season plus which leads the league in sacks and is a top 10 run defense.

The Bills will need to be creative, and I am far from a cap expert, but with the salary cap continually going up in this era of NFL prosperity there is probably a way to make it all work.

 

4 -  @ChrisBrownBills

What are the Bills future plans with the HB position? Any chance they can make a run at Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson?

killerbeekevin

CB: I think we first need to take a look at who will still be under contract next season. Fred Jackson signed a one-year extension this past summer. Brown and Dixon will still be under contract for 2015. So the only free agent is C.J. Spiller and it’s my understanding that the Bills would like to keep their former first-round pick in the fold. And Spiller has said more than once that he would like to remain with the Bills.

Whether the two sides can agree on terms is the obvious question. If for some reason they cannot only then do I see them exploring other possible options.

You’re also assuming that Peterson and Ingram will make it to the free agent market. I think it’s unlikely to happen with Ingram with the production he’s put up when healthy this season. Peterson’s off the field matters may change the conversation in Minnesota, but he’s still a dynamic player and the linchpin of the Vikings offense.

 

5 – Hi Chris;

I appreciate all the updates you and John do all week long to keep us up to date on all things Bills-related.

Can you update us on the  Mike Williams situation? I know the furor over his agent’s supposed request for a trade was negated by Mike, who says he wants to play  here. Since then, we haven’t heard anything about him. Is he still on the ’benched’ list? Will he return? He seems to have vanished into thin air and no one seems to talk about him! Thanks for your feedback.

Darlene  in PA

CB: Coach Marrone has been pressed on this subject with the most recent flurry of questions coming this week. With the offense last in the league in red zone touchdown percentage and the acquisition of Mike Williams executed to help the offense in that area specifically, he was asked why Williams has been inactive in two of the last four games.

Coach Marrone cited a number of different reasons including the challenge of only dressing 46 players on game day and the needs of special teams and versatile players. He also flatly stated that right now a couple of other players are performing better than him.

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett also hinted at how Williams and Kyle Orton are still working on their on field chemistry where Orton can trust Williams on any given play to be in the right place at the right time. These appear to be the biggest hurdles in Williams getting on the field.

He was active Thursday night and got four snaps on offense and six on special teams. He was targeted once in the red zone.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills not giving in despite .500 mark

Posted by Chris Brown on November 14, 2014 – 1:43 am

The two losses in the span of five days have dropped the Bills to a .500 record on the season at 5-5, and though they put themselves in a deep hole concerning the AFC playoff race no one in Buffalo’s locker room Thursday night was giving up on the season. Not by a long shot.

“We’ve worked too hard and prepared too much during each week so I know no one is going to quit,” said Jerry Hughes. “We’re going to fight until there are zeros on the clock. Everybody fought back. We’ve just got to find ways to just nip the little things in the bud.”

When asked if he still believes the Bills are a playoff team, Hughes quickly answered in the affirmative.

“Absolutely. We have a lot of fight in us. We’re very resilient. We just have to find a way to minimize the little things. It’s the little things that I think are just getting us right now,” said Hughes.

The defensive end didn’t deny that the loss was a costly one, but with six more games to make something happen, Hughes said the key is to not let one game’s outcome affect another.

“Sure it hurts,” he said of the loss to Miami. “It’s a division opponent and that’s our main goal. It definitely hurts and it stings, but we’ve got to bounce back and can’t let it affect the rest of the season.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills not going to dwell with Miami up next

Posted by Chris Brown on November 9, 2014 – 5:48 pm

The Bills are undoubtedly stinging from their loss to Kansas City at home Sunday, but they’ve already decided to move on to Miami knowing they’ll be lining up against them in four days time.

“It’s definitely tough, we lost the football game and no one probably woke up today expecting to lose, we’re definitely upset about that,” said Jerry Hughes, who had a pair of sacks Sunday and two other quarterback hits. “We’ve got a Thursday game, we’ve got a division game so we’ve got a chance to finish 3-1 (in this quarter of the season) and sweep Miami. That’s our focus right now is to just find a way to get ready for that game, it’s going to come up quick we’ve got to be prepared.”

“Each game is very important no doubt about it and this game coming up Thursday night is going to be very important for us,” said Kyle Orton. “It’s probably good that we turn around right away and not think about this one. Move on to Miami and have a good three days to get ready for them and travel down and try to beat a good football team.”

The Dolphins also lost on Sunday to fall to 5-4 as well, so the team that finishes on the short end of Thursday night’s game could very quickly be on the outside looking in at the AFC playoff picture.


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Posted in Inside the Bills