Inside The Bills

DiGiorgio story not uncommon

Posted by Chris Brown on July 26, 2010 – 9:45 am

Some fans hear that the average NFL career is just four years and some find it hard to believe. What makes that average so low are stories like that of former Bills LB and special teamer John DiGiorgio.

Knee injuries compromised his career just when it was getting started, forcing him to announce his retirement on his Facebook page.

“I just wanna say thank you to everyone that has ever supported me throughout my career,” wrote DiGiorgio. “I’ve done everything I could in therapy to try to get my knee healthy and get back and play the game I love most. Unfortunately I fell a bit short. I recently decided to retire from the NFL and gladly accept a teaching and a coaching job at Chippewa Valley High School. Thanks for all the support, Go Bills!”

Fortunately for DiGiorgio, prior to his last season with the Bills he finished his teaching degree enabling him to pursue a career in education. A player that made the most of his ability, DiGiorgio was an even better person, and the Italian-American community in Buffalo embraced him.


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Fan Friday 10-30

Posted by Chris Brown on October 30, 2009 – 3:01 pm

We’ll see if the Bills can make it three in a row against a high-powered offense in the Texans this weekend. Here are some answers to your questions. (AskChris@bills.nfl.net).

1. Hey Chris.
The loss of linebackers to injury this season has me wondering what has become of John Digorgio this season. I know the Bills cut him in the pre-season because of health issues. He filled in well for Poz in 2007 and I wondered if he was a possibility to come back since he knows the defense and the players well. 
Thanks.
Concerned Bills fan- Rochester
CB: This past offseason John DiGiorgio was signed to a two-year extension, but he was coming off ACL knee surgery. As training camp approached DiGiorgio had to undergo another surgery as there were bone fragments that had to be taken care of. It set back his rehab. He was eventually put on injured reserve.

Later the team waived him in an injury settlement so he is no longer with the team. In light of a second surgery you wonder if DiGiorgio’s football career is in jeopardy. Not all ACL knee repairs are successful, at least to the point where a player can play at the NFL level again. Each case is different. It’s unfortunate.

 

2. Chris ,
On some of the promos for the 50th season team I saw a Buffalo Bill with the name Schottenheimer on his back in one of the shots. I was
wondering if that was Marty by any chance and if not who it might be ???

Thanks Mr. T from Ft. Myers Fl.

CB: Yes, it was Marty Schottenheimer. He played for the Bills from 1965 to 1968 as a reserve linebacker and wore jersey numbers 56 and 57. He was the team’s seventh-round draft pick in 1965.

 

3. Chris,
How does Braylon Edwards get traded and comes in and makes game changing plays for the Jets right away? And how is it that Trent can’t do the same for T.O.? And  T.O. has been playing  5 games w/bflo.. Bad QB or bad coaching? 

CB: I can definitely answer your first question. Braylon Edwards’ smooth on field transition to the Jets was aided by an offense that was identical to the one that was installed by Browns head coach Eric Mangini in Cleveland. Edwards essentially learned the same offense in Cleveland that the Jets were using in New York, because Rex Ryan kept offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

As for T.O. and Edwards, there are issues preventing deep ball plays. Pass protection consistently holding up long enough and decision making by a QB that has been reluctant to throw deep.

 

4. Chris,
 
Jamon Meredith was a player I thought the Bills might draft and play at Guard.  I’d like to know your assessment of his play against the Jets. Also, what is the long term plan for Eric Wood.  Do you see him eventually moving to center?
 
Pete Howell
Fairport

CB: I’ve talked to coach Kugler about Meredith and he said they had high grades on him and did see him as a guard/tackle. But he’s 6’5” and 305 pounds with good feet so he can play on the edge. In fact most of his college career was on the outside before moving to guard as a senior. With Levitre and Wood entrenched at the guard spots, tackle is probably where Meredith will stay.

As for Wood I think perhaps in time he could serve as the team’s backup center, but his primary position will be guard moving forward.

 

 

5. Hi Chris,

I have to ask, why aren’t the Bills giving Steve Johnson any playing time other than on Special Teams?

The thought of having a TE in Nelson (6’5″), Hardy (6’6″) returning soon, T.O. (6’3″) and Johnson (6’2″), seems like they would like to get the height advantage that would cause opposing defenses fits.
Especially in the Red Zone!!!

Thanks . . . Bob
CB: Head coach Dick Jauron actually has made Steve Johnson active on game day the last two games because he does want to get him more involved in the offense, and I expect that to continue Sunday. That’s why Roscoe Parrish has been inactive or the emergency 3rd QB.

However, those opportunities on the field have yet to present themselves. I do believe Johnson has potential and liked what I saw from him toward the end of last season, but when Terrell Owens and Lee Evans are having trouble producing I don’t know how much the offensive staff can concern themselves with how often they can get opportunities for their fourth receiver.


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DiGiorgio back with Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on July 28, 2009 – 8:38 pm

Buffalobills.com has confirmed that John DiGiorgio did clear waivers and is back with the Bills.

The team has put him on Reserve/PUP meaning his 2009 season is over. Having that designation DiGiorgio does not take up a roster spot.


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New backup MLB candidates behind Poz

Posted by Chris Brown on July 25, 2009 – 6:09 pm

With John DiGiorgio’s 2009 season put on the backburner for now, Buffalo will need to find a viable backup candidate to play behind Paul Posluszny.

The top two candidates right now are Marcus Buggs and free agent signee Pat Thomas.

Buggs is an aggressive player that flies all over the field and loves contact. Thomas is a veteran that has experience in the middle after playing there for Kansas City last season.

In the first practice however, Buggs was lined up with the second unit at MLB, with Thomas running with the third team. We’ll see which player makes the most of an opportunity that would all but guarantee a spot on the 53-man roster.


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DiGiorgio likely to return to Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on July 25, 2009 – 5:55 pm

John DiGiorgio is now a part of the waiver process after failing his physical, which this time of the year is a 24-hour window. It was a tough break for a valued player on the roster. Here’s what I think will happen.

First, DiGiorgio, unless he is claimed by another club during his 24-hour waiver period, is still under contract with the Bills. By listing him as failed physical it’s likely that the Bills will transition him from the active roster to Reserve PUP, provided he clears waivers.

Reserve PUP is different than active PUP, which is what Hardy and Hawthorne are on. Active PUP means as soon as you are healthy enough to be medically cleared to practice you can be added to the active roster immediately. Reserve PUP means you may never return to the roster that season.

But provided he is not claimed by another NFL club he will still be under contract with Buffalo. DiGiorgio signed a two-year deal this past offseason, which runs through 2010.


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Nelson not at practice

Posted by Chris Brown on July 25, 2009 – 1:04 pm

Despite reports to the contrary that he’s signed, fourth-round pick Shawn Nelson is not at practice this morning. Obviously the other unsigned draft picks are not either (Maybin, Wood, Levitre, Byrd).

Also not in attendance is John DiGiorgio.

James Hardy and C.J. Hawthorne as expected are not practicing.


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PUP for Hardy or DiGiorgio?

Posted by Chris Brown on June 11, 2009 – 3:47 pm

Still rehabbing from ACL surgery James Hardy and John DiGiorgio did not participate at all in the Bills’ OTA or minicamp practices. Their chances of participating are much greater for training camp in six weeks, but when asked if both could start camp on PUP, head coach Dick Jauron did not rule it out.

“Yes, it’s a possibility,” said Jauron.

Hardy has said several times he intends to be ready by the last week in training camp to practice fully. DiGiorgio figures to be even further ahead than Hardy having torn his ACL in Week 5 last season, where Hardy tore his in Week 15.

If PUP is a necessary step for either of them, it’s logical to think that both would be placed on Active-PUP, meaning as soon as they can pass their physical they would be able to come off PUP and practice.

If they’re put on Reserve-PUP then they would automatically be out until at least Week 6 of the regular season.

At that point they could begin a three week practice window giving the team some time to determine whether to activate the player or leave him on PUP for the remainder of the season.  However, I’d be very surprised if that happened.


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DiGiorgio might do limited work in June camp

Posted by Chris Brown on May 8, 2009 – 8:00 am

It’s a long shot since he’ll be right at the seven-month mark out of surgery and ACL tears take 7-9 months to heal, but John DiGiorgio is hopeful he’ll able to do some limited work come mid-June.

“If I think I can go and they allow me to go then great, but I think I’ll be mostly working with the trainers and doing some individual position work,” DiGiorgio told Buffalobills.com. “But as far as team work it depends on how I feel in terms of their plans for me.”

DiGiorgio and the trainers have taken a methodical approach to the rehab and there’s no reason they would rush things to jeopardize the progress the LB has made. As DiGiorgio pointed out the main goal is training camp. To read more on his progress go to the home page.


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Fred Jackson tendered

Posted by Chris Brown on February 25, 2009 – 4:01 pm

Bills exclusive rights free agent Fred Jackson has been presented with a qualifying tender offer according to ESPN AFC East blogger Tim Graham. At this point the team has not confirmed the tender.

A tender offer to an exclusive rights free agent ensures that the player can only negotiate a new contract with his current club and cannot entertain any outside offers.

The deadline to tender Buffalo’s remaining restricted free agents (Gibran Hamdan, George Wilson and Keith Ellison) is Thursday at 4pm.

Restricted free agents Justin Jenkins and John DiGiorgio have already signed multi-year deals with the Bills.


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2009 restricted free agent tender amounts

Posted by Chris Brown on January 15, 2009 – 5:07 pm

For 2009 the restricted free agent tender amounts have gone up again and are really becoming cost prohibitive for NFL teams. Once again there is a low tender, middle tender and two high tenders that teams can use on players to not only give them the right of first refusal if said player is presented with an offer sheet from another team, but increased draft pick compensation as well.

Here are the tender amounts

Low tender – right of first refusal & original draft pick – $1.01 million

(So if Keith Ellison were tendered at this level by Buffalo, another team signed him to an offer sheet and the Bills chose not to match they’d be compensated with a 6th-round pick since Ellison was a 6th round draft choice)

Middle tender – right of first refusal & 2nd round pick – $1.545 million

(Compensation is a 2nd round pick if original club chooses not to match any offer sheet)

High tender – right of first refusal & 1st round pick – $2.198 million

Highest tender – right of first refusal & 1st and 3rd round picks – $2.792 million

(When Michael Turner was a RFA two years ago he was tendered at this highest level)

The crazy thing is even the low tender is a big number now at over $1M. I’d expect more and more teams to sign restricted free agents to long term deals for less money per season than this low tender if they want one of their restricted free agents back in the fold. Buffalo did this with Jabari Greer two years ago. They didn’t tender him at all and re-signed him to a modest two-year deal.

They should be able to do that with the likes of George Wilson, Keith Ellison, Gibran Hamdan, Justin Jenkins or even John DiGiorgio, who is coming off ACL surgery, depending on who they want back.

Dustin Fox is the only other RFA, but in light of the fact that he did not make the opening day roster last year, I’m not confident he’s a top priority on this list.


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Fan Friday 1-9

Posted by Chris Brown on January 9, 2009 – 4:19 pm

As always you can send your questions to me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and I’ll get back to you either personally or here on Fan Friday. Here we go.

1. Hey Chris,
 
I started to see draft talk on some sites this week. I know this is a bit premature, but how do you see the Bills going this year? Could this be a year were trading for a player may make more sense than making a first round pick?
 
Randy
NL, CAN

CB: I doubt that the Bills are going to cough up their first round pick in a trade this year. I’m hoping the Bills take a defensive end with their top pick, provided the depth of talent is still there. I wanted to Buffalo to take a defensive tackle in 2003, but by the time the Bills were on the clock they were all gone and they took McGahee. But that would be my preference this spring.

 

2. Chris-
Is it too early to call James Hardy a bust and do you think the front office will add another receiver this off-season in case he is not able to contribute immediately next season?

CB: I think that is a possibility, but more so because James Hardy has a torn ACL to rehab from. He’s not a bust. Eric Moulds didn’t have a breakout season until his third year. The ACL is the issue. It’s usually 7-9 months before a player can come back. He tore it on Dec. 14, so he may not be full go for training camp. Missing all those spring practices and OTAs will hurt his development so I think they do need to add another receiver even if it’s just for a one or two-year deal.

 

3. Dear Chris,
Who do you think the Bills might pick up in this year’s free agency market?  There are some very high profile defensive ends (Suggs, Peppers), and some solid centers (Birk, Brown, Saturday, Meester) up for grabs.   The Bills have attempted to solve their biggest problems in the free agency market over the past two seasons.    Do you think they will try to make a splash at either of these positions?
Jack

CB: I think Birk and Brown are realistic. Saturday and Meester are more at the end of the line. As for DE Suggs and Peppers they will cost too much and Peppers has already been negotiating with Carolina to re-sign.

I believe the Bills get their pass rusher at the top of the draft this spring.

 

4. Hey Chris,
Were any Bills named pro bowl alternates?
-Sean

CB: Yes, I blogged this a while back. Marshawn Lynch and Marcus Stroud were Pro Bowl alternates. We’ll see if someone pulls out of the game with an injury.

 

5. Chris,
What is the contract status with regards to free agents, both restricted and un- restricted.
Thank you for your help,

Mike Czerwonka

CB: Unrestricted – Kirk Chambers, Angelo Crowell, Melvin Fowler, Jabari Greer, Teddy Lehman, J.P. Losman, Corey McIntyre, Duke Preston, Jason Whittle.

Restricted – John DiGiorgio, Keith Ellison, Dustin Fox, Gibran Hamdan, Justin Jenkins, George Wilson.


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Fan Friday 11-28

Posted by Chris Brown on November 28, 2008 – 7:35 pm

Fan Friday 11-28

Here’s the latest edition. If you have a question you’d like answered just e-mail me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1. Why haven’t we been utilizing James Hardy in the red zone, more specifically inside the five? 
GO BILLS,

Anil

CB: That’s a good question. While it’s been no secret that Hardy is still working on grasping the playbook, having him run a fade pattern in the end zone doesn’t appear to be something that requires a lot of playbook retention. I saw Hardy on the field in the red zone on one occasion last week at KC, but he did not run a route into the end zone.

I understand that he might be coming along slowly in terms of the entire offense, but there’s no denying he’s a physical mismatch in the red zone and would create coverage dilemmas for an opposing secondary.

2. What do you think the chances of Teddy Lehman eventually stepping in for Ellison to provide more strength are?
 
Adam

CB: I think they’re remote unless Ellison is injured and Lehman is healthy. Right now Ellison is nursing a lingering ankle injury and will be a game time decision for Sunday. Unfortunately for Lehman he’s not healthy to fill the void if called upon because he has a hamstring injury of his own. Right now Bryan Scott would be the next guy to step in at linebacker.

Ellison is a heady player with a bit more athleticism than Lehman and it appears that is what the coaching staff covets at that position especially with stouter linebackers alongside Ellison already in Poz and Mitchell.

3. Dear Chris,
 
The offensive line appears to have regressed significantly this season.  It seems to me the biggest change has been Coach Jim McNally’s retirement; your thoughts?
 
Thanks,
Dick Sheehy

CB: There’s no question the offensive line has had its share of problems this season. However, I don’t think coach McNally’s retirement is the only change. Peters was a holdout curbing his development into an elite tackle, Butler was out for three games and they got so thin inside at one point that Kirk Chambers had to play guard. Now I’m not completely excusing the offensive line of criticism because of injuries, but they do play a factor.

With all due respect to coach McNally, the run game and effectiveness in short yardage were issues for this line last year. Marshawn Lynch only has four 100-yard rushing games in his career counting his day against the Browns. So it’s not like they were ripping yards off in huge chunks last year either. And on 3rd-and-1 last season Buffalo was one of the last teams in terms of conversion percentage in the league.

I actually think they have some of the same problems from last year to be honest.

4. Chris,
 
I was wondering if you had a complete and up-to-date list of Buffalo’s free agents for 2009. I did some research and here’s what I’ve got so far:

CB: Here you go
Unrestricted free agents – Angelo Crowell, Kirk Chambers, Melvin Fowler, Jabari Greer, J.P. Losman, Teddy Lehman, Corey McIntyre, Duke Preston, Jason Whittle.

Restricted free agents – John DiGiorgio, Keith Ellison, Dustin Fox, Gibran Hamdan, Justin Jenkins, George Wilson

5. Hey Chris, i was wondering, from everything that i’ve read so far, tolbert is saying that steve has a better grasp of the bill’s offense and that he’s better at adjusting to the defense he’s seeing, if that’s the case, why has it taken so long to get him involved in the offense? i’m not saying replacing reed (when healthy), but being in there in place of hardy earlier in the season.

Ryan

CB: I think it’s due primarily to the fact that the grasp of the offense only started to happen for Johnson these past couple of weeks. Only in the past couple of weeks did the light bulb really go on for Johnson is how I understood Tyke.


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Fan Friday 11-7

Posted by Chris Brown on November 7, 2008 – 9:31 pm

Here we go with another week of questions and answers. Remember you can always send me your questions at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. It takes me some time, but I try to answer every e-mail I get, either personally or right here in Fan Friday.

1. Dear Chris,

With the winter weather coming upon us soon, how do you suppose California native Trent Edwards will fare? In last year’s game against the Giants there were plenty of mistakes from the entire team. But when you’ve had an exceptional cold-weather quarterback like Jim Kelly get the job done time and time again in bad weather, you come to expect your Buffalo Bills QB to lead your team to victory in the chilling winds and snow. I must say that I’m a little nervous to see what will happen with our team when Old Man Winter gets here. Thank you. I enjoy the constant updates.

Corey Doss

CB: I think Edwards will be better in the winter weather this year as opposed to last year. He maintains that he learned from last year’s experiences (Giants, Browns games) and will make the necessary adjustments in throwing the ball should similar conditions arise again this December.

Now what those adjustments are I don’t know, but Edwards says you have to experience it before you know how to play in it. I’d also like to see the running game take some steps forward in the next couple of weeks to support Edwards with the weather getting poorer as well. Running is certainly a lot better way to deal with the elements.

 

 

2. Hi Chris-
 
Do you know why Reggie Corner isn’t being used as an option for this secondary depth problem that we are having?  He had a great pre-season and he was always around the ball in college.  Leodis should not be getting playing time ahead of Reggie just because he was drafted higher.
 
Thanks.
Rich
Fort Lauderdale, FL

CB: You’re likely to see a whole lot of Reggie Corner this week as I believe he’ll be lined up in the slot on Wes Welker Sunday. Previously though Reggie wasn’t used because the Bills were happy with what they were getting from Donte Whitner as the nickel corner with Ashton Youboty out. But now that Whitner is out as well and Youboty is now on I-R, it’s Corner’s opportunity to show what he’s got.

I liked what he had to offer in the slot as a corner, I just worry about drawing Welker as your first NFL assignment.

 

 

3. Jabari Greer is my favorite player. With Terrence McGee in and out of the lineup and not playing at the level Bills fans expect, and Donte Whitner claiming that Greer is our #1 corner, do you think that Jabari will get the next contract extension? I sure hope so.
Thanks
Dave McKibben
Rochester, NY

CB: I think Greer is making a strong case for a long term contract with his play this season. I didn’t hear Whitner make that comment, but Greer has certainly come a long way from being an undrafted rookie free agent. The credit goes to him and I would anticipate the Bills being interested in re-signing him this offseason. Whether Greer chooses to enter the free agent market remains to be seen.

 

 

4. Hey Chris,
                You said in a blog that we hadn’t had a blocked FG in 108 games…….but didn’t Langston Walker block a field goal for us last year too?…..I remember him blocking one and then it came out that signing him was good for the o-line as well as blocking field goals for special teams……..I could be wrong.

CB: He did block one in 2007, but it was in the first preseason game against the Saints. Buffalo won the game 13-10 so Walker’s block was instrumental in the exhibition victory, but it doesn’t count toward his career stats or the Bills’ team stats. But I believe that’s the block you’re thinking of.

5. Hi Chris,
With LB John DiGorgio out for the season, which player will wear the defensive radio communication in their helmets in the event that Poz goes out?
Thanks,
Nathan – Amherst
 
CB: It will be Keith Ellison who is the backup middle linebacker now. I mentioned this in my blog a couple of weeks ago after talking to Ellison about getting used to the radio helmet. So he’s the guy. Let’s just hope that’s not necessary.


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Fan Friday

Posted by Chris Brown on October 31, 2008 – 7:21 pm

Here’s our latest edition. Remember you can send your questions to me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Let’s get started.

1. Chris,

Our three starting DE’s – Schobel, Kelsay, and Denney – have ONE sack each.  Why is nobody talking about their lack of production after all we heard is how they are going to thrive with Stroud, who has been nothing but impressive thus far, and where is Chris Ellis? Why did we draft him if we are not going to give him
a shot?  Thanks

-Nick K.

CB: The main issue with the pass rush as I see it is the quick passing game they’re facing. Every team uses it now offensively and the last three weeks in particular opponents have been relying on it to neutralize Buffalo’s pass rush. So far it’s worked, I believe in part because there hasn’t been a lot of press coverage on the back end.

If you don’t have your cornerbacks press at the line, the quarterback can take three steps and throw it and get five yards. In Arizona in Week 5 Kurt Warner did that the whole game. When defensive ends were coming clean they still couldn’t get there in time. Until there’s more press coverage, teams are still going to take the underneath stuff and move methodically down the field.

The Bills can hope that the opposing QB will screw up at some point, but against veteran signal callers like Warner, Pennington it doesn’t happen often. Chances are greater this week, but Favre is another guy that knows how to throw on rhythm quickly.

 

2. Chris,
Can you do the fans a favor and talk to either O-line coach about the ‘scheme’ that they use?  There is debate (ongoing would be an understatement) about whether the Bills employ a “zone blocking” scheme or not.  Perhaps they could share their philosophy with you.
 
Hope you can fit this in.  Thanks.
 
John

CB: I talked to Dick Jauron about this and he told me that they make use of a few different blocking schemes including zone blocking. He wouldn’t divulge if they do one any more than the other.

I do know this. They tried zone blocking early last season and when it was not successful they moved away from it and the numbers got a bit better on the ground.

Zone blocking schemes are usually implemented for the lighter more athletic lines in football, but with all the twisting and stunting that defensive lines do these days, it’s almost necessary to incorporate some zone blocking into your scheme.

I’d rather see more plowing straight ahead than zone blocking. Then again when they do try to plow ahead in short yardage they haven’t been overwhelmingly successful there either.

But to answer the question they do some zone blocking, but it’s not their exclusive approach offensively.

 

3. Chris,
 
Do you think the Bills made a mistake with focusing so much on size at the receiver position that they ignored the awesome skills and speed of receivers DeSean Jackson and Eddie Royal which would have been a perfect fit for our offense? 
Coach 85

CB: I don’t think the skills of Jackson and Royal were ignored. The Bills scouting staff takes a look at the whole picture of the player. A mismatch in terms of size was essential for the Bills on the outside however. Jackson was not on the board when the Bills were on the clock in round two. He went to Philly in round one. Royal was on the board and went to Denver with the very next pick after Hardy. I know both of them have made an impact sooner than Hardy, but I’m going to encourage you to be patient. He’s coming along in practice. He should have a bigger role this week. We’ll see.

 

4. I have a question I hope you can answer for me. My question involves a game against the Jets I “Think” in 1995. It was in the 4th quarter with a couple minutes left when Jets were marching down the field. They threw a hail Mary into the end zone. And like all hail Marys everyone jumped for it. Well we were called for pass interference! It was a total BS call. Wade Phillips was HOT! Pete Carroll was the coach and Wade was so ticked off he called the team off the field and went into the locker room leaving time on the clock. Carroll proceeded to rack up points with no defense (Bills) on the field. My question is do you remember this game or can you find this  game for me? I’ve been a Bills fan for 20 years and actually live in California all my life. I have other fans here we watch the games with (Bills Backers) And they don’t remember the game I’m talking about (rookies!). Any help would be appreciated, Thanks Don.

CB: Well Don you’ve got the coaches right, but the Bills were playing the Patriots and it was 1998. This is the infamous “Just give it to them” game. Andre Reed had put the Bills ahead with six minutes left on a four-yard TD reception from Doug Flutie to make it 21-17 Buffalo.

Drew Bledsoe began a Patriots drive. Facing a 4th-and-9, Bledsoe threw a pass to Shawn Jefferson along the Bills sideline with six seconds remaining. Replays indicated that Jefferson not only failed to get two feet inbounds, but went over the sideline short of the first down marker.

The two officials on the sideline huddled to discuss the play and were within earshot of Andre Reed. After talking for about 30 seconds, Reed said he heard one official say to the other, “Just give it to them.”

So the Patriots were given the completion and the first down.

On the next play Bledsoe threw the Hail Mary pass to which you referred from the Bills 26-yard line which fell incomplete with no time left, but the officials called pass interference in the end zone on Henry Jones even though the ball was not catchable.

So the Patriots were given possession 1st-and-goal at the one-yard line and Bledsoe threw a play-action touchdown pass to Ben Coates for the winning points.

After the TD, Wade Phillips pulled his team off the field and the Patriots, with no defense facing them, had Adam Vinatieri run a two-point conversion in for a 25-21 final.

Believe it or not that game is the one that bothers me more than any other. More than ‘wide right’ more than ‘home-run throwback’ because it was the biggest robbery of a victory I have ever seen in my time covering this team.

 

5. What would be the consequences for local viewership/blackout if the Toronto game didn’t sell out?

To my understanding, the game is considered a sell-out because it was ‘sold’ to Rogers.

Could you please let us know the exact situation and nip any potential panic in the bud?
Thank you,

Michael

CB: The Bills-Miami game in Toronto is being treated like any other home game for the Bills with respect to blackout rules as it’s been explained to me.

The game must be sold out 72 hours before kickoff for it to be broadcast on television. Remember clubs and suites do not count toward a sellout, only general admission. So as long as the game is sold out you’ll be good to go on TV.

 

6. Regarding DiGiorgio’s injury, the linebacker situation and the signing of Buggs (and not Haggan) do you think in the unfortunate event that one of the Bills starting linebackers goes down with an injury that the team employs a 4-2-5 scheme where the DB’s consist of 3 safeties? I feel that with the size and play of Scott that the Bills could still be an effective run defense with a safety tandem of Whitner-Simpson-Scott in the game and only two linebackers.
 
Thanks!
 
Andrew Suppo

CB: I think the 4-2-5 is unlikely to be their regular base package if another LB goes down. However, your mention of Scott is very astute. Scott has been getting reps with the linebackers during individual position drills just so he’s familiar with the responsibilities at the outside linebacker position. He’s not all that different from Coy Wire in terms of body type, who was transitioned to linebacker in his final season in Buffalo.

So if there was another injury at the position, I would anticipate Scott to be the next player moving into the lineup at LB instead of Marcus Buggs, Jon Corto or Blake Costanzo. And it would be a move based purely on experience as Buggs, Corto and Costanzo have little to none on defense at the NFL level. 
7. What is the Bills best starting record (I know 5-1 is the best since 1995) but what is the all time best? When can we say this is the best start ever?
Thanks,
Tony

CB: The Bills best start ever was in 1964 when they went 9-0 before losing a game. That season they finished 12-2 and of course won the AFL title. Buffalo has gotten off to 5-2 starts eight other times in their history and made the playoffs five times (1980, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1996). In three of those five postseason appearances, the Bills lost in the first round.

 

8. Hey Chris,
The Bills have been giving up at least two sacks a game. Duke Preston steps in for Melvin Fowler and the Bills allow no sacks. Do you think they are better off with Duke Preston at center?
 
Thanks  Alex G.

CB: You’re right the Bills did not allow a sack against the Chargers when Duke was in there and he did have a good game against Jamal Williams. Of course the Chargers barely sent more than four pass rushers the entire game which helped as well. Duke might very well be a better fit, particularly against 3-4 defensive fronts when the nose tackles are bigger and stronger on the whole. Preston goes 326 pounds, with Fowler closer to 300. Just being able to stand in there is easier due to size for Preston.

Though Dick Jauron hasn’t come out to definitively say that Duke is ‘the guy’ moving forward, I think he will be in there for the foreseeable future even when Melvin is 100 percent healthy.

 

9. Can you discuss a bit more about Reggie Corner?  I thought you had said he looked good in pre-season and maybe would be ready to play before Leodis?
 
Thanks
Mark Teske

CB: At the time I made that comment on Corner, McKelvin was still unsigned in camp. I said if McKelvin misses much more training camp time, Corner could be on the field before him. I was anticipating that Corner had a decent shot at the nickel job, and knowing they had McKelvin focusing on outside corner almost exclusively that opinion made sense to me.

Of course Ashton Youboty then came out of nowhere to win the nickel job.

I still have faith that Reggie Corner will make an impact before the season is over at CB. I think his best position is the slot and with Youboty’s lingering foot injury not improving they made need him there at times sooner rather than later.

The defensive staff has a hard time putting a lot of faith in rookies knowing the negative consequences that can result (six points) and I totally understand that. But playing McGee last week against Miami instead of a healthy McKelvin might not have been the best idea.

When injuries force your hand you’ve got to put them out there and trust them. Not saying McKelvin or Corner won’t make mistakes, but sometimes the risk has to be taken. They made the roster because they can play. When you’re short handed you’ve got to use them.

But I think Corner can play and make plays on the ball. I still believe he’s going to be a good player for this team when he gets his opportunity.

 

10. Hey Chris,
I read your blog where you said you were surprised the Bills didn’t re-sign Mario Haggan. Isn’t he suspended for four games if/when a team signs him?
 
Maybe I made that up, but I thought that news came out over the offseason.
 
Also, why not Donnie Spragan at linebacker?
 
Thanks,
Brad

CB: Haggan has served his suspension. It covered the first four games of the season whether he was on an NFL roster or not. As of Week 5 he was clear to play for any NFL club that wanted him.

I just thought that with all the experience lost on the special teams coverage units in the offseason, that losing DiGiorgio was another loss of experience that had to be replaced. Haggan made sense to me in that fashion. The Bills thought otherwise.

As for Donnie Spragan, I think his best days are behind him, but in a pinch he could be serviceable. He’s just lacking a bit in space.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Ellison inherits radio equipped helmet

Posted by Chris Brown on October 23, 2008 – 6:28 pm

As the backup middle linebacker to Paul Posluszny, John DiGiorgio was the second defensive player that had the radio communication device in a secondary helmet.

In the event that Posluszny was injured, DiGiorgio would step into the defensive lineup and switch to his radio communication helmet to get the defensive play calls from assistant linebackers and special teams coach DeMontie Cross.

But now with DiGiorgio lost for the season due to an ACL injury, the coaching staff has selected Keith Ellison to have the secondary helmet equipped with radio communication.

“Basically I’m just taking over J.D.’s backup helmet,” said Ellison. “This week I’ve been testing it.”

In games only one defensive player can wear the radio equipped helmet on the field to get the defensive calls from the sideline. But in an effort to get used to it, Ellison has been wearing it in practice this week while Paul Posluszny still has his on.

“At first it’s weird especially when I’m not playing middle linebacker because I’m out there in practice with Poz and Poz is getting the call in the helmet like I am and then I hear Poz making the call in the huddle,” said Ellison. “But it was strange getting the call in my ear telling me the play. It takes time to get used to it and that’s what Poz told me.”

Ellison thought the volume on the device was high. Fortunately coach Cross can control the volume from his radio.

“He said he turned it down as low as it could go, but it was still pretty loud,” said Ellison. “They’re telling me I’ll want it louder during a game if it comes to that.”

Ellison is the backup middle linebacker now with DiGiorgio lost for the season. So if anything happens to Posluszny the former sixth-round pick will step in. Deciding on Ellison as the backup MLB likely had a lot to do with his football intelligence.

“He’s very athletic and very smart,” said head coach Dick Jauron of Ellison. “He’s a very smart player and a tough guy. He likes to play the game, but he thinks the game. He’s got a nice feel for football and that includes special teams. He’s just a very good athlete for the position, but maybe above and beyond that is his feel for the game and his smarts and his toughness. He was a really good pick for us, a really good player for us.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

DiGiorgio getting MRI

Posted by Chris Brown on October 20, 2008 – 4:36 pm

Bills LB John DiGiorgio, who suffered a right leg injury on a Bills punt return Sunday and was carted off, is undergoing an MRI and other testing this afternoon according to head coach Dick Jauron.

“John is seeing our doctors and getting an MRI so we’ll know more later,” said Jauron. “Brad (Butler) has that sprain of the knee and we won’t know until we start practicing (Wednesday) and see where they are.”

So it appears as if a more concrete update on their status won’t be provided until Jauron’s Wednesday press conference at the earliest.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

DiGiorgio could be out indefinitely

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2008 – 9:20 pm

According to head coach Dick Jauron, LB John DiGiorgio could be out a while.

“That’s a knee injury,” said Jauron. “I’m not overly optimistic there, but we’ll know more tomorrow.”

Brad Butler had a strained knee according to Jauron. He returned to the game after being injured, but eventually was replaced by Jason Whittle. He was hobbling, but not using crutches and said he’ll be alright.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

DiGiorgio out for game with knee injury

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2008 – 7:05 pm

John DiGiorgio is out for the game with a knee injury.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

DiGiorgio carted off

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2008 – 6:39 pm

John DiGiorgio was hurt on the last change of possession and has been carted off. It appears to be a right leg injury. We’ll provide an update when we get one.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday

Posted by Chris Brown on October 17, 2008 – 7:00 pm

Fan Friday

Here’s the latest installment. Don’t forget if you have a question just e-mail me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and I’ll do my best to get all your questions answered.

1. Chris,
I went to NW Missouri and grew up in Maryville, Mo. I’m not able to watch Bills games but try to follow Xavier’s progress.
What’s going on with him currently? Is he on any special teams or has not even seen the field yet this year? I truly think the Bills have a hidden talent in Omon that someday, given the chance, will bust out into a very productive back.
Thanks.
Roger Watson

CB: Xavier was active for the opener, but did not play. He’s been inactive every week since. It’s been tough for a lot of the rookies to see time on the field. To date it’s been just McKelvin, Hardy and Johnson. But the coaching staff likes what Omon has done in the practice setting and on the look squad to prepare the starters for the upcoming opponent. There’s no denying he has potential.

2. Hi Chris,
 
I was wondering about the Ashton Youboty’s contract. Drafted in 06′ how many years does he have left on his deal? He has obviously stepped up his play and one can argue that he has been the best defensive back on the field this year. What are the chances of he Bills possibly extending Youboty before his on the field  play continues to excel and warrants more money down the road?
 
Thanks and Go Bills!
 
Sean Lindstrom

CB: Ashton is signed through the 2009 season. He was signed to a four-year deal coming out of college in 2006. As for extending Youboty, I think he may have to wait in line. Just at his position alone, Jabari Greer is up after this season and like Ashton, Terrence McGee is also up after 2009. McGee might prove too expensive which may cater to the team extending Ashton.

3. Chris – Now that Evans’ contract is extended, and Peters is (presumably) next in line for an extension, who are the players the Bills will target for extensions in coming seasons?

Thanks
JZ

CB: As mentioned above, Jabari Greer is a free agent after the season and Terrence McGee and Ashton Youboty are free agents after ’09. So there will need to be some big decisions made with respect to the secondary. Duke Preston and Melvin Fowler are free agents at the end of this season so there will need to be some decisions as well with respect to the interior of the offensive line. John DiGiorgio and Keith Ellison will both be restricted free agents so linebacker is another position that will have to be examined. Angelo Crowell is a free agent after this season, but I don’t expect him to return.

4. When is the offensive line going to start making some holes for Marshawn Lynch.?
 
Carol

CB: This is a question that Dick Jauron has been asked several times over the past few weeks so I’ll let him answer it. He starts by disagreeing with the questioner who blamed it on the offensive line.
DJ: I wouldn’t say that. I would say it’s a combination of everybody. Marshawn and Fred would probably be the first to tell you they don’t hit every hole. They’ve missed some holes. The guys up front would be the first to tell you they’ve missed some blocks, too. We just have to get the whole thing put together and get better at it.

It was a focus of the team during the bye week so hopefully the production improves.

5. Chris,
 
I am a US Military Man serving in El Salvador and I have 2 quick questions for you. First what is Alvin Bowen’s status? I assumed when we brought in Spragan he was done for the year but Spragan was cut and I never read anything else about Bowen’s injury. What is the injury ACL/MCL?  is he out for his entire rookie season?

MA1(SW) Joseph A. Zaccagnino
Watch Supervisor/Command Career Counselor
FOL COMALAPA, EL SALVADOR

CB: Alvin Bowen has begun rehab following his ACL knee surgery earlier this season. The recovery time is generally pegged at 7-9 months which would put him at about April. He’s on injured reserve so his rookie season is over.


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Posted in Inside the Bills