Inside The Bills

Hughes makes All-Underrated team

Posted by Chris Brown on June 3, 2015 – 9:43 am

The Bills made a giant investment in DE Jerry Hughes this offseason, but around the league Hughes is still not a household name. That’s why NFL.com had him as a member of their All-Underrated team.

Hughes was chosen as one of the two defensive ends for NFL.com’s All-Underrated team. Here’s what they wrote about the sixth-year pro.

Defensive end: Jerry Hughes, Buffalo Bills
Hughes received his net worth in a new deal this offseason, and he earned it as a member of the best defensive line in football. Perhaps only the Jets can claim their unit is equal to the group in Buffalo, and Hughes’ 20 sacks over the last two seasons have played a big part in that success.



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Hughes creating havoc in practice

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2015 – 3:37 pm

Bills pass rusher Jerry Hughes knows only one speed when it comes to playing football. It’s called full tilt. His speed off the edge was so good in minicamp practice Wednesday that head coach Rex Ryan had to pull him out of the lineup.

“This just in—I am really happy we signed Jerry Hughes,” said Ryan with a grin. “It’s rare that you have to pull a guy from practice because he’s ruining your practice. But I had to pull him today. If we were keeping track he might have had five-six sacks. It’s one of those deals, it’s like, ‘OK, let’s pull him out. Let’s get a pass off or something like that.’ He really did have that kind of day today.”

“He’s just got a tremendous motor and physical set and he really understands what they’re trying to get accomplished with their rush lanes,” said Matt Cassel. “Again when you come out and see it in person it’s pretty impressive.”

Ryan believes Hughes’ effectiveness comes from his ability to play bigger than his stature would indicate.

“He plays bigger than his frame. He’s like 255 or something, but he plays much bigger,” Ryan said. “You can put him anywhere too. He plays an end, plays outside backer. But he’s definitely a physical player. He’s a good athlete. Your great pass rushers have a feel for it, when do go inside, when to set up guys and all that—and he has it.  He’s kind of like a pitcher,  a starting pitcher, with about four or five pitches. He’s one of those nightmares to go up against.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Other NFL teams tried to get to Hughes

Posted by Chris Brown on March 9, 2015 – 2:18 pm

The Bills still did not have free agent Jerry Hughes signed, sealed and delivered when the league’s three-day negotiating window opened on March 7th, three days prior to the start of free agency. The three-day period allows NFL clubs to contact prospective free agents of other teams to express their interest and gauge a player’s willingness to consider moving on to another club. Here’s where things stood as the negotiations with Buffalo and the Hughes camp carried into the weekend.

There were a handful of teams that got in touch with the Hughes camp, but it was evident that enough progress had been made between Hughes and the Bills according to GM Doug Whaley.

“I think they were so close (with us) that we felt very good about it,” Whaley told Buffalobills.com. “But in this business until that contract is signed you’re always going to have a bit of nervousness to you, but (Bills Senior VP of Football Administration) Jim Overdorf kept us abreast of the negotiations and he felt real strongly about getting the deal done.”

Hughes admitted there were other teams that contacted him.

“Yeah there (were other teams calling), but we were still listening to Buffalo,” Hughes told Buffalobills.com. “I made it clear to them especially from my point of view I made it clear to my camp that this was the place I wanted to be.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills fans had role in Hughes decision

Posted by Chris Brown on March 9, 2015 – 1:12 pm

While there were some bigger factors in Jerry Hughes’ decision to re-sign with the Bills, he didn’t deny that the fan support the team gets on Sundays at Ralph Wilson Stadium was a plus too.

“It was huge. The fans were great here,” said Hughes. “I think that was another key thing for me as far as coming back—the fan support that I have always been getting. All of the love and all of the respect. I think that was another part.”

Of course the opportunity just to get on the field on defense was a major factor as well after not seeing much playing time his first three NFL seasons with the Colts.

“Just the playing time aspect—that had a lot to do with it,” he said. “Anytime someone gives you an opportunity to play in the NFL and the way that they gave it to me here, it was great. You don’t want to leave that.


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Bills trade for Hughes not lost on pass rusher

Posted by Chris Brown on March 9, 2015 – 1:06 pm

Money is what usually does all the talking for NFL free agents, but for Jerry Hughes, though well compensated by the Bills, there was another key factor – his opportunity to finally play after he was acquired by the Bills.

Hughes toiled in Indianapolis his first three NFL seasons as a backup who rarely saw the field on defense. His work ethic never wavered, but he did wonder if he’d ever be able to prove himself as a professional.

Then Buffalo GM Doug Whaley swung the trade that sent LB Kelvin Sheppard to the Colts for Hughes. Despite not having much NFL game tape to go on the fact that the Bills wanted him meant something to Hughes and he never forgot it. It was a major reason Hughes wanted to continue his career in Buffalo.

“Doug Whaley to kind of come about me in the way he did in that trade, showed that someone wanted me,” Hughes said. “When someone wants you, you want to come back. You want to put your best out there and give it your all. Want to go out and win a couple championships and make it memorable. When someone goes about a trade like that, I definitely want to give it back in full.”


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Hughes: Bills were impossible to walk away from

Posted by Chris Brown on March 9, 2015 – 11:37 am

When the window for NFL clubs to talk with prospective free agents from other teams opened on March 7th, Jerry Hughes was a popular target. And though Hughes acknowledged that his representatives listened, they knew where their client stood in terms of where he wanted to play in 2015 and beyond.

In an interview with Buffalobills.com shortly after re-signing with Buffalo, Jerry Hughes admitted that other teams were in contact with his camp during the three-day contact window, but that his agent knew his preference from the start.

“Yeah there (were other teams calling), but we were still listening to Buffalo,” Hughes said. “I made it clear to them especially from my point of view I made it clear to my camp that (Buffalo) was the place I wanted to be.”

Hughes also said that the hiring of Rex Ryan only added to his desire to return to the Bills.

“Playing on a defense now where Rex Ryan is taking over and he’s the head coach and you hear all the great things from the players all over the league about how much they respect him and love him and how great of a coach he is. With someone like that who is now leading the team you don’t want to miss any type of involvement in that because you know he’s going to bring us all along the right way,” he said. “He’ll get us all moving as one unit. For us to be so close (to the playoffs) I feel like with him taking over, Terry and Kim (Pegula) did a fabulous job adding a couple more guys to the mix it made the team impossible to walk away from.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

What Hughes said to Terry Pegula

Posted by Chris Brown on March 9, 2015 – 11:33 am

Not long after he signed his new contract with the Bills Monday morning, he got on the phone to speak with owner Terry Pegula. In a sit down interview that will appear on Buffalobills.com later today (Monday) he talked about his exchange with his owner.

“Nothing but pleasantries. I told him I’m excited and very thankful for the opportunity that he’s given me, but now it’s time to get back to work,” Hughes told Buffalobills.com. “We have goals, an AFC East title. We want to get that banner hanging up in this building so we know we’ve got to get ready to work for that and that starts now. So we’re putting our effort into that. Super Bowl too, but first we’ve got to take care of our division so we can get into the playoffs and let the rest take care of itself.”

The self-motivated Hughes said knowing he had teammates in Buffalo who were just as motivated to complete the team’s turnaround and reach the postseason was a factor in his return.

Hughes signs


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Fan Friday 3-6

Posted by Chris Brown on March 6, 2015 – 12:30 pm

The Bills have been busy this week. Next week free agency opens when more additions figure to be made. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any chance Trent Cole wants to join Shady in Buffalo? Any shot Bills go for that?

_BNewman9

CB: If you’re thinking of signing Cole to replace Jerry Hughes I don’t know that you’re getting comparable value. So if saving money is the aim you could sign Cole, who will be 33 in October and he could serve the team in a rotational role as a pass rusher, perhaps platooning with Manny Lawson much like Hughes and Lawson did in 2013. Cole still has gas left in the tank, but a full-time role might be a lot to ask.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills

What about Hughes???

netz720

CB: The Bills would still like to get Hughes locked up long term, but it’s my belief that after Justin Houston was franchised in Kansas City and Jason Pierre-Paul was franchised in New York that the Hughes camp looked at the free agent market and likely felt they had an opportunity to be the most coveted pass rusher on the market.

Hughes doesn’t have the off the field issues of Greg Hardy and he doesn’t have the injury history of Brian Orakpo. There isn’t a free agent pass rusher with more sacks over the past two seasons than Hughes’ 20.

So once Houston and Pierre-Paul were franchised it wouldn’t surprise me if Hughes’ asking price suddenly increased. If getting the most money he can possibly get trumps the best possible fit for him to maximize his abilities on the field (Buffalo) that’s his prerogative. We’ll see where it goes between now and March 10th.

 

3 – Chris:

With most of the NFL Teams going to the lighter/quicker defenses because the NFL is more of a passing league, do you think that Rex’s “ground and pound” could give the Bills Offense an advantage if they shore up the OL.

I also feel with this philosophy EJ Manuel will be an improved QB. He will have more windows to throw into once defenses start cheating in the box by playing the run.   There were parts of EJ’s game that were good. Two of which were the 2 min offense and the ability to keep plays alive in the pocket when he didn’t have restrictions put on him.  Your thoughts?

Thanks
Joe
Blasdell

CB: I think your point is an astute one. San Francisco took that approach under Jim Harbaugh and Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman back in 2011. As most teams were building lighter and faster lines in the trenches the 49ers bulked up and punched everybody in the teeth. It’s a big reason why their run game was so successful.

I do believe such an approach can work again because the trend in the league is still gravitating toward passing. But if you don’t know what you have at quarterback the ground and pound approach knowing you have a good defense is the best route to take.

 

4 – Chris,

Love your work in keeping a long time Bills fan (50 yrs plus) in touch.
My ? Is..is there a scout assigned to any good players in Canada? Like the
Grey Cup QB’s?  Just wondering.
Thanks for keeping us retired folks
Informed!

John Lowry
Ft. Myers, Fl.

CB: The Bills absolutely scout the CFL. In fact they were one of the first teams in pursuit of former CFL’er Cameron Wake, but he chose to sign with Miami. Buffalo covers any and all avenues where potential NFL talent can be uncovered.

 

5 – Chris,

Thank you for providing continuous coverage of the Buffalo Bills throughout the offseason as it helps us remain interested in the team for 365 days a year!

My question has to do with a recent comment made by Commissioner Roger Goodell.  While I am aware of the uncertainty that comes with Ralph Wilson Stadium and its future, his comment puzzled me to an extent.  Mr. Goodell mentioned that while the Ralph is loved (by him and by many including myself), the stadium cannot compete with the newer parks.

Please feel free to correct me, but to my knowledge the Ralph is one of the bigger stadiums in the league, we, for the most part, have not had problems selling out the tickets, and we have made recent upgrades such as video boards, concession stands, and the likes.

I understand many newer stadiums and sports economics are designed to cater more towards corporations and the use of Personal Seat Licenses.  I’m not sure if the market of Western New York can be said to support the same modern marketing formula as many major cities utilize in the US at this day.  WNY is a unique and rock solid fan base quite capable of supporting the Bills and the Sabres on our own.  Not suggesting that we wouldn’t benefit from a new park, but what did Mr. Goodell mean?

What other “challenges” or shortcomings does the Ralph have in respect to competing with the newer stadiums (that are sometimes smaller than ours and perhaps features not considered in the recent upgrades)?  This is where I am a bit lost and hopefully you can shed some light into this confusion.

Thank you and Go Bills!
Ryan from Arizona State University

CB: You’re not wrong that Ralph Wilson Stadium is one of the larger ones in the league, but regular ticket sales no longer provide the kind of revenue that carry a team’s profits comfortably into the black. It’s the luxury suites and premium seat sales that drive the ticket sales revenue streams.

To maximize a stadium’s ability to provide additional revenues NFL owners want more of a focus on the premium seating and luxury suites, which cost more to boost ticket sales revenues ever higher.

A few years ago I would agree that Buffalo’s corporate tax base would not be able to sufficiently fill such premium seating, but with the surge in construction downtown, new businesses coming to Buffalo and the new medical campus coming together in the city there could be the corporate base required to support such an endeavor right around the time when the team and the city make a final determination as to what’s best concerning a future home for the Bills.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-6

Posted by Chris Brown on March 6, 2015 – 11:30 am

The Bills have been busy this week. Next week free agency opens when more additions figure to be made. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any chance Trent Cole wants to join Shady in Buffalo? Any shot Bills go for that?

_BNewman9

CB: If you’re thinking of signing Cole to replace Jerry Hughes I don’t know that you’re getting comparable value. So if saving money is the aim you could sign Cole, who will be 33 in October and he could serve the team in a rotational role as a pass rusher, perhaps platooning with Manny Lawson much like Hughes and Lawson did in 2013. Cole still has gas left in the tank, but a full-time role might be a lot to ask.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills

What about Hughes???

netz720

CB: The Bills would still like to get Hughes locked up long term, but it’s my belief that after Justin Houston was franchised in Kansas City and Jason Pierre-Paul was franchised in New York that the Hughes camp looked at the free agent market and likely felt they had an opportunity to be the most coveted pass rusher on the market.

Hughes doesn’t have the off the field issues of Greg Hardy and he doesn’t have the injury history of Brian Orakpo. There isn’t a free agent pass rusher with more sacks over the past two seasons than Hughes’ 20.

So once Houston and Pierre-Paul were franchised it wouldn’t surprise me if Hughes’ asking price suddenly increased. If getting the most money he can possibly get trumps the best possible fit for him to maximize his abilities on the field (Buffalo) that’s his prerogative. We’ll see where it goes between now and March 10th.

 

3 – Chris:

With most of the NFL Teams going to the lighter/quicker defenses because the NFL is more of a passing league, do you think that Rex’s “ground and pound” could give the Bills Offense an advantage if they shore up the OL.

I also feel with this philosophy EJ Manuel will be an improved QB. He will have more windows to throw into once defenses start cheating in the box by playing the run.   There were parts of EJ’s game that were good. Two of which were the 2 min offense and the ability to keep plays alive in the pocket when he didn’t have restrictions put on him.  Your thoughts?

Thanks
Joe
Blasdell

CB: I think your point is an astute one. San Francisco took that approach under Jim Harbaugh and Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman back in 2011. As most teams were building lighter and faster lines in the trenches the 49ers bulked up and punched everybody in the teeth. It’s a big reason why their run game was so successful.

I do believe such an approach can work again because the trend in the league is still gravitating toward passing. But if you don’t know what you have at quarterback the ground and pound approach knowing you have a good defense is the best route to take.

 

4 – Chris,

Love your work in keeping a long time Bills fan (50 yrs plus) in touch.
My ? Is..is there a scout assigned to any good players in Canada? Like the
Grey Cup QB’s?  Just wondering.
Thanks for keeping us retired folks
Informed!

John Lowry
Ft. Myers, Fl.

CB: The Bills absolutely scout the CFL. In fact they were one of the first teams in pursuit of former CFL’er Cameron Wake, but he chose to sign with Miami. Buffalo covers any and all avenues where potential NFL talent can be uncovered.

 

5 – Chris,

Thank you for providing continuous coverage of the Buffalo Bills throughout the offseason as it helps us remain interested in the team for 365 days a year!

My question has to do with a recent comment made by Commissioner Roger Goodell.  While I am aware of the uncertainty that comes with Ralph Wilson Stadium and its future, his comment puzzled me to an extent.  Mr. Goodell mentioned that while the Ralph is loved (by him and by many including myself), the stadium cannot compete with the newer parks.

Please feel free to correct me, but to my knowledge the Ralph is one of the bigger stadiums in the league, we, for the most part, have not had problems selling out the tickets, and we have made recent upgrades such as video boards, concession stands, and the likes.

I understand many newer stadiums and sports economics are designed to cater more towards corporations and the use of Personal Seat Licenses.  I’m not sure if the market of Western New York can be said to support the same modern marketing formula as many major cities utilize in the US at this day.  WNY is a unique and rock solid fan base quite capable of supporting the Bills and the Sabres on our own.  Not suggesting that we wouldn’t benefit from a new park, but what did Mr. Goodell mean?

What other “challenges” or shortcomings does the Ralph have in respect to competing with the newer stadiums (that are sometimes smaller than ours and perhaps features not considered in the recent upgrades)?  This is where I am a bit lost and hopefully you can shed some light into this confusion.

Thank you and Go Bills!
Ryan from Arizona State University

CB: You’re not wrong that Ralph Wilson Stadium is one of the larger ones in the league, but regular ticket sales no longer provide the kind of revenue that carry a team’s profits comfortably into the black. It’s the luxury suites and premium seat sales that drive the ticket sales revenue streams.

To maximize a stadium’s ability to provide additional revenues NFL owners want more of a focus on the premium seating and luxury suites, which cost more to boost ticket sales revenues ever higher.

A few years ago I would agree that Buffalo’s corporate tax base would not be able to sufficiently fill such premium seating, but with the surge in construction downtown, new businesses coming to Buffalo and the new medical campus coming together in the city there could be the corporate base required to support such an endeavor right around the time when the team and the city make a final determination as to what’s best concerning a future home for the Bills.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills do not use franchise tag

Posted by Chris Brown on March 2, 2015 – 4:14 pm

The deadline for teams to make use of the franchise and transition tags has come and gone and the Bills chose not to use either.

Bills GM Doug Whaley confirmed it Monday afternoon.

“We have chosen not to use the franchise or transition tags this year,” said Whaley.

There was some speculation as to whether the Bills would make use of the franchise tag on free agent to be Jerry Hughes, but that obviously did not come to fruition

The free agent market opens on March 10th.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-13

Posted by Chris Brown on February 13, 2015 – 12:44 pm

Don’t forget our NFL combine coverage begins in earnest over the weekend leading up to our coverage in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium Tuesday presented by Napa. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris
Are there specific areas that EJ has improved in by watching Orton from the side lines? Also, how is his relationship with the other players now, compared to before he was replaced by Orton?

Ppante

CB: He told me specifically that he learned about what’s most important to focus on during the week leading up to the game from a game plan and opponent study standpoint. Manuel said in the past there may have been some things he spent too much time on in his preparation that didn’t carry as high a priority as other aspects of his film study.

I also felt he became more accurate in the practice setting when it came to hitting his targets in rhythm and on time. I think we all recognize that it’s a different thing when it’s game speed, but those are two areas where he benefitted by being able to focus on his game for the last 12 weeks of the 2014 season.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Loved this guy coming out of college. What is your opinion of Hoyer? Do we get another journeyman QB or go for a big Trade?

BuffalonianFilm

CB: I don’t think a trade to acquire a quarterback can be ruled out, but the Bills have limited assets in the way of draft choices (no 1st or 4th). Hoyer is a limited NFL QB. I believe everybody recognizes that. I think the more likely scenario is picking up a veteran in free agency and then drafting one in the middle rounds.

 

3 – Chris,

Bills fan from Toronto here. Just having thoughts about our team here…

How much do you think Hughes/Spiller are asking for and how much do you think the bills are willing to give them? Also do the Bills still have their franchise tag and if so would they use it on Hughes?
Is adrian peterson an option if C.J. spiller takes his talents elsewhere (ny jets)?
What are they gonna do about their QB situation??? Are they gonna draft maybe Hundley in 2nd round, sign Mark Sanchez or maybe trade for Sam Bradford or Jay Cutler?

Thanks, MW

CB: It’s my belief that Jerry Hughes’ agent will be looking for pretty big money and here’s why.

Over the last two seasons Hughes is tied for the fourth-most sacks in the league (20) behind only J.J. Watt, Rams pass rusher Robert Quinn and Mario Williams. He’s tied with Cameron Wake and the Saints’ Cameron Jordan. Watt and Williams are the two highest paid defensive ends in the league in terms of average salary at $16.6M and $16M.

They’re followed by Quinn ($14.2/yr) and Carolina’s Charles Johnson ($12.6M). Wake signed his extension back in 2012 and it averages only $6.6M.

Now the Bills will probably argue that Hughes plays with three Pro Bowl players on Buffalo’s defensive line and is rarely seeing double teams. But it’s hard to knock a guy that’s producing, and doing it for more than one year.

I fear that the Hughes camp will be asking for around $10M a season in a long term deal. That could be a tough one to manage knowing that Mario and Kyle Williams are the top two salaries on the club in terms of average salary already with Dareus sixth on the roster.  We’ll see. I don’t think the franchise tag is a realistic option for Buffalo.

As for Spiller it will be interesting to see if there’s a difference of opinion on his true value between he and the Bills. Paying top dollar for Spiller is probably difficult to justify in light of his recent history of injuries.

There’s no debating his home-run talent and he’s a good teammate in the locker room, but with another new offensive system coming in you wonder how he’ll weigh that into his decision on where to play. There’s also no dismissing the fact that the coach who helped him enjoy his most productive season is the offensive coordinator in New York.

Adrian Peterson is a great fit for a power run game, but I’d be surprised if he moves on from Minnesota.

The QB situation for Buffalo is obviously up in the air. They have to see who actually makes it to the free agent market or if there are any trade opportunities that might surface. The draft is probably where they’ll add one too. How early is the question.

 

4- Hi Chris, I have two questions:

  1. Would the Bills draft an additional running back given the fact that Rex Ryan wants to ground and pound?

Two college prospects, Malcolm Brown and Matt Davis seem like good fits, plus they are projected to be drafted in the later rounds.

  1. Besides looking at Mark Sanchez, would the Bills look at Ryan Mallet? Or Christian Ponder? I think Ryan Mallet would be the best fit, because he is younger. Obviously, E.J. Manuel is an option, but he has to read defenses better.

In summary, Rex Ryan has quite a bit of talent to work with, but if the offense is dysfunctional, it will compromise the efforts of the defense. Even a great defense will fold if its on the field for long stretches of time.

Your thoughts,
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

CB: I think there’s a pretty good bet that the Bills draft a running back at some point in the draft. This year’s class is deep at that position, thanks in large part to the junior eligibles that have declared. Buffalo needs to add some youth there and a true pile pusher that preferably has some wiggle to his game and receiving ability.

With that in mind it’s hard to find the perfect prospect. I believe there are a few that fit all of the criteria well enough in this draft. I do like South Carolina’s Mike Davis. Great person and player in the Fred Jackson mold and carries a bit more power behind his pads. Does everything right and has NFL bloodlines with his older brother James Davis a former 6th-round pick of Cleveland in 2009.

You could do worse than guys like Boise State’s Jay Ajayi and Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon when it comes to a power run game. Unfortunately a good number of the true power backs coming out this year aren’t big in the receiving game.

At quarterback I don’t know if Mallett is a fit because his skill set is in stark contrast to that of Manuel. I’m not saying he’s off the table, but he’s a strict pocket guy while Manuel has movement ability. How much would the offense need to change from one to the other if there was an injury to the winner of the competition? I know Ryan said Sanchez is a consideration at his press conference, but I’m not sure of that.

I do know that there isn’t a whole lot of quality to choose from.

5 – Chris,

In the new defense, where do you see the linebackers position playing out? Kiko did play well in the 3-4 under Pettine. Preston and Nigel did well in the 4-3, how do they fit into a 3-4 scheme. Nigel isn’t a thumper/ pure pass rusher. Will Manny Lawson kick back outside as a pass rusher, same with Hughes (if he can stay?). Curious how this will unfold since this unit had a great 2014.

CB: This is an interesting question. I think we can expect to see Manny Lawson on the field more, particularly on run downs like we did in 2013, when Jerry Hughes rotated in on passing downs. I’d expect to see Kiko Alonso on the open side at OLB, then it’s probably Bradham and Brown in the middle in a 3-4 look.

 

 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Ryan knows why Hughes prefers Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on February 12, 2015 – 10:59 am

As we covered on Buffalobills.com Wednesday, Jerry Hughes is set to become a free agent after back-to-back 10 sacks seasons. On SiriusXM NFL Radio he said that the Bills are his first choice. His new head coach Rex Ryan isn’t the least bit surprised by Hughes preference for two very important reasons.

In an interview on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Ryan stated that between his successful defensive system and the talent Hughes plays with on Buffalo’s defensive line, it’s totally understandable why a player like Hughes would want to return to that situation.

“I think any defensive player always wants to play in this system, period,” Ryan said. “I’ve had a lot of great ones through the years. This is a young man who really stepped up and quite honestly his first year when he came here it was like, ‘Okay that’s the Jerry Hughes everybody was waiting for when he was a first-round pick of the Colts.’ Then he had the 10-sack year last year. But when you put him alongside Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus and Super Mario it’s an unbelievable group. Why would you want to leave that?”

Free agency officially opens on March 10th.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Hughes: Bills would be my first choice

Posted by Chris Brown on February 11, 2015 – 1:43 pm

Bills DE Jerry Hughes is clearly one of the team’s top priorities this offseason as he’s eligible to become a free agent. With back-to-back 10-sack seasons Hughes is set to make big money in his second contract. In an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio Wednesday, Hughes was asked how he feels about returning to Buffalo on a new deal.

SiriusXM NFL posted Hughes’ response on their Twitter account.

Hughes additionally said that he would not be disappointed if the Bills made use of the franchise tag on him. Last year’s franchise tag for a defensive end was $13.1M. The new tag amount for 2015 will be released near the end of the month. That figure doesn’t seem like a realistic approach for Buffalo.

Hughes clearly appreciates the opportunity the Bills have afforded him the past two seasons to play a major role on the field. He also appreciates lining up alongside the three Pro Bowl players who have been his teammates on the Buffalo defensive line.

Money will obviously be a factor too and Buffalo is heavily invested in their defensive line already. An extension for Marcell Dareus is on the horizon as he enters the last year of his deal in 2015. GM Doug Whaley has maintained the club will do whatever they can to keep Hughes in the fold.


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Posted in 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