Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 8-7

Posted by Chris Brown on August 7, 2015 – 11:31 am

We’re a week into training camp and a lot has happened already. Here’s your latest round of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hey Chris,
You and your team do a great job all year long of keep Bills fans on the up and up.

I was wondering what you think the roster will look like when it gets down to 53?  Right now we have several positions with too many players but they are loaded with talent. WR, CB, RB and even QB have to get cut back or we may not have enough depth at other positions.

I know this is a great time to be a Bills fan but I just want to know what our roster will look like.

Thanks for everything,
Justin from Lynchburg VA

CB: I think it’s a bit early to be predicting who makes the 53. Preseason game performance always have a strong influence on who does and does not make the roster. You are right that WR, CB and RB are deep positions. So is the defensive line.

With respect to quarterbacks, knowing the rest of the roster is deep it would not surprise me if the Bills only kept two QBs, a practice a good number of teams in the league subscribe to nowadays.

How many WRs are kept could hinge on other positions like TE and RB. Defense might prove tough at the safety position where there are a handful of legitimate NFL caliber talents.

Just remember that it’s GM Doug Whaley that has final say on the 53-man roster, while coach Ryan determines who is up or down on game days.

 

2 – Hi Chris:

2014 seems like a lost season for EJ. Aside from what he has said about being more aggressive and trusting his stuff the next chance he gets, what did he learn by sitting and watching? I sure wish he had 12 more games under his belt going into this season.
G. Knight

CB: There are some things that he did learn by watching Kyle Orton prepare for opponents each week. He also learned how to lead an offensive unit from a confident veteran. Manuel specifically said that he learned from Orton how to more efficiently spend his time preparing for an opponent.

He learned what is worth spending extra time on and what isn’t. Unfortunately what happened last year with EJ was supposed to be how his rookie year was to play out. Kolb was supposed to start while EJ sat and learned. Kolb’s preseason concussion derailed all that and EJ was thrown into the fire.

Then he was told to play conservatively by the previous coaching staff last year. Even Doug Whaley admits with the way everything played out it has put Manuel  a bit behind where he should be entering his third season, but you can’t fix the past.

Manuel has to make the most of this opportunity to win the starting job now.

 

3 – Chris,
As much as the Bills need numbers at the tight end position, they currently have two very effective fullbacks in Felton and Conner. Do you think that there’s a chance that the team keeps both of them, using them in a mixed tight end/fullback role occasionally?

Thanks,
Joseph P.

CB: I’ll have coach Ryan answer this one for you regarding two fullbacks.

“I think first off when we got Felton, Jerome was…I thought he was probably, he’s right up there with the best fullbacks in the game,” said Ryan. “So it was an opportunity for us to get a player that we will use, a fullback positon, and one of the top guys if not the top in this league. So it was great opportunity for us to get him.

“John, we weren’t planning on bringing John Conner in. However when he was still out there, it’s like I know he’s a good football player and we want (good football players). At the end of the day were not worried necessarily about hey we’re bringing in one fullback, going to bring this or this. We want the best 53, and I think John will challenge for a position on this team and that’s why we brought him in.”

 

4 – Hey Chris ,

I’ll keep it short & sweet ! What’s the chance (in your mind) of the Bills being with out their Dr. of Defense “MD” Marcell Dareus after this year ?

Thanks Mr. T

CB: We just covered this topic on Buffalobills.com Wednesday. GM Doug Whaley said he’s optimistic they’ll get a deal done with Dareus on an extension to keep him in a Bills uniform. He felt similarly optimistic about getting a deal done with Jerry Hughes.

I think what we have to keep in mind is this is going to be a complicated deal because of the amount of money involved and how it needs to be structured over the multiple years of the deal (e.g. – front loaded money, guaranteed money, bonuses, LTBE incentives, etc.).

 

5 – CB,

Can you break down how the tight ends are playing and lining up during training camp? I’ve heard little about Clay/O’Leary so far. Do you expect them to keep 4 tight ends? Can we expect to watch 3 tight ends sets?

CB: I can tell you that Charles Clay is beginning to show a bit more with each passing day, especially in the passing game. O’Leary hasn’t been much of a factor in the pass game, but I do like Marqueis Gray. I think he’s the best understudy option to Clay in terms of being as versatile as Clay.

Matthew Mulligan is more athletic than he gets credit for and is a pretty good in line blocker. As for formations and personnel groupings we’re less than a week into camp and with as voluminous as Greg Roman’s playbook is the tight ends are only beginning to scratch the surface of what they’re going to be called upon to do this season.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-15

Posted by Chris Brown on May 15, 2015 – 11:41 am

Sorry for the one week hiatus. A lot of news going down last week. OTAs are less than two weeks away. Let’s get right to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 –  @ChrisBrownBills

just curious why Bills have Felton and Conner?

nschirra8

CB: Doug Whaley has stated many times that any time they have a chance to make an upgrade they’re going to do so. The John Conner signing this week is an example of that. While I don’t deny that it’s unusual to have two proven fullbacks on one roster, I think Whaley and Rex Ryan subscribe to the philosophy of creating as much competition as possible in the training camp setting.

Conner will push Jerome Felton and that makes both players better. Ultimately Felton is going to be this team’s starting fullback, but if there’s an injury Conner is a fantastic fall back option. Can Conner convince the coaches to make an exception and keep two fullbacks? With the depth of this roster that’s going to be difficult, but you can’t fault a team for trying to get better everywhere and driving up the level of competition.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for your continued pursuit of giving a small market team, big time exposure.

I know the McCoy/Alonso deal has been discussed ad nauseum and much like most Bills fans, I found myself conflicted and constantly flip-flopping on how to feel.  At the end of the day, the organization is making an aggressive play to enhance the offense, which is definitely something I support.  Having said that, seeing that the Bills were willing to commit heavy resources to a running back I’m uncertain of what to feel hypothesizing that we could have signed Demarco Murray for less money and still retained Kiko (whether to keep or to use as a potential trade asset).  Both backs are elite and I don’t wish to jibber-jabber over which one is better, but how can a cogent argument be made that McCoy > Demarco + Kiko?

Keep up the great work.
Best,
Robert F.

CB: While I think most would acknowledge that DeMarco Murray + Kiko Alonso is better than just LeSean McCoy, you’re operating under the assumption that Murray would be interested in signing with Buffalo.

It’s possible he may have been willing to sign with the Bills. We’ll probably never know, but Murray is a year older than McCoy. Unlike McCoy, who avoids the kill shots of defensive linemen, linebackers and safeties, Murray takes big hits. I think one could argue that the cumulative wear and tear on Murray is greater than on McCoy.

Now that doesn’t dismiss your argument that Murray + Alonso would be better than just McCoy, but I’m not convinced Murray would’ve signed here.

 

3 – Hi Chris, thank you to you and your team for all the off season coverage.
I have to think Suh signing this contract hurts us in two ways. 1, he bolsters the Dolphins defense and we have to go up against him twice a year. 2, did he set the market for Marcell Dareus as a free agent? Dareus was considered the best tackle against the run last year, and had more tackles and sacks than Suh. If Marcell doesn’t drop off this year wouldn’t he command the same contract as Suh? We saw what happens without Marcell in the lineup, just look at the Oakland game before and after his injury.  Do you think the Bills can afford to re-sign him, and if so, is that at the expense of asking Mario Williams to restructure his contract or full on releasing him?
Thanks
Paddy

CB: The Bills maintain that their cap structure will allow for a long term contract extension for Dareus. He’s the linchpin of the defensive interior for the long term future.

You’re right the Suh deal did set the market. I think in an ideal world the Bills have Dareus signed to a long term deal before the 2015 season commences. The more he performs on the field the more his price goes up, so it would behoove the Bills to seal a deal before September. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

 

4 – Hi Chris
Do the Bills have any definite plans for Marcus Thigpen? Is he still on the roster? Percy Harvin is arguably a better all-around player, but in all the mentions of Buffalo “weapons” I’ve not once heard Thigpen’s name.

Just curious
@GregTheBillsFan

CB: Thigpen is still on the roster yes. Harvin is clearly a better all-around player. Thigpen was a punt return specialist on this team last season after Leodis McKelvin broke his ankle. And while he did do a good job this roster became even harder for him to make with the offseason additions, Harvin chief among them. With McKelvin expected to be ready by training camp, the team’s primary punt returner will be back in the fold. So Thigpen, though very capable, may get caught up in a numbers game at the receiver position.

 

5 – Chris,
With the addition of Harvin, how do you expected the formations to look like? How does it change the role of Robert Woods, who had a great 2nd half of the season. Harvin might cut into Watkin’s targets, I like to see Watkin’s used more creatively.

Is Goodwin on the bubble to make the roster? I’d like to see a coach that will throw him the ball.

Sean

CB: I think the Greg Roman offense is going to be as multiple as possible with a myriad of pre-snap formations and shifts. So to give you an answer about formations would be like trying to hit a moving target. I expect Harvin to line up outside opposite Watkins, with Woods working more in the slot in this offense. Hogan would work the other slot in four-wide looks.

Based on Rex Ryan’s comments it sounds like Goodwin will get a far better opportunity to prove that he belongs on this roster than he did from the previous staff. I wouldn’t call him a bubble player, but from a pure numbers standpoint he’s going to have a challenge on his hands.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex won’t rule out having 2 FBs on final roster

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2015 – 2:38 pm

With the signing of free agent FB John Conner Wednesday, Buffalo now has two of the better fullbacks in the league. But will there be enough work for both to be on their 53-man roster. Head coach Rex Ryan isn’t ruling it out as a possibility.

“Doug Whaley and I talk about it all the time—keep the best players,” said Ryan. “If that means two fullbacks, then so be it. Both Felton and John (Conner) can contribute on special teams as well. Clearly we brought Felton in to be the guy (at fullback), but it just so happens John Conner is still sitting out there. I know John, he’s a heck of a football player, he’s an excellent teammate, so let’s bring him in and let him compete. I would not be surprised if John makes our team.”

With the running back talent on the roster that you’d anticipate Buffalo keeping on their 53-man squad it is difficult to see both fullbacks sticking, but numbers could be sacrificed at perhaps another position if the coaching staff feels an exception is warranted.

Either way both fullbacks will be putting their best out on the field in training camp and the preseason and should make for one heck of a physical display.


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Posted in Inside the Bills