Inside The Bills

Spiller charged up to return to full practice

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2014 – 11:56 am

Bills RB C.J. Spiller has been participating in practice the last two weeks, but was not fully cleared for contact until Monday. Now able to practice fully Spiller is charged up to be back in the fold with his teammates.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show Tuesday, Spiller made his excitement to begin the practice week on the field evident. He explained what he’ll be looking to get accomplished this week leading up to the game against the Raiders in Oakland Sunday.

“When you’ve been off for two months it’s just how your legs feel and getting back into a rhythm. I’ve been going through some thing the last couple of weeks to dust off some of the rust that I had. This will be a critical week for me to see how I do in the live practice and bump around a little bit. So I’m looking forward to it and I can’t wait.”

Spiller admitted he’ll have a bit of a mental hurdle to clear, but believes if he’s able to play in the game that after the first contact he’ll be fine.

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Manuel assesses his play from Wednesday

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2014 – 10:50 pm

EJ Manuel was asked to rate his play from Wednesday’s first practice session with the Steelers. Buffalo’s quarterback wouldn’t call it perfect, but was pretty pleased with how things turned out in the team portions of practice.

“I thought it went well. There were a few balls that I wish I could have back, but besides that I thought we were very good on third down,” said Manuel. “We executed early in practice and we were rolling. I got a chance to go with the first and the second group, so that was very good. The more at-bats I get, the happier I’ll be. Just getting the chance to be better each play.”

In a live interview on the John Murphy Show tonight, WR Mike Williams, who caught a tipped pass for a touchdown Wednesday, said Manuel looked “very confident” on the field Wednesday.

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Safety not in plans right now for C. Graham

Posted by Chris Brown on July 18, 2014 – 9:05 pm

Corey Graham was a notable free agent signing by the Bills this offseason. Back in the spring, it was mentioned that the veteran cornerback might get a look at safety, but GM Doug Whaley at the outset of training camp indicated that safety is not in the plans for Graham at this time.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show, Whaley stated that cornerback is where Graham will be putting in his work.

“Corey brings us depth, so he helps us outside and nickel and I think in a pinch we would put him at safety, but I think we’re going to concentrate on him in the corner position right now,” Whaley said.

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Whaley: Henderson to start at LT w/Glenn out

Posted by Chris Brown on July 18, 2014 – 9:01 pm

With Cordy Glenn on the Active/Non-Football Illness list the starting left tackle spot will be vacant for the team’s first training camp practice Sunday night at St. John Fisher. Bills GM Doug Whaley in an appearance on the John Murphy Show tonight confirmed that it will be rookie seventh round pick Seantrel Henderson manning the role.

“Seantrel Henderson we know his demons off the field and we feel he has control of those things. With Cordy being out going to be our starting left tackle right now,” said Whaley. “He’s a talented guy and we feel if he didn’t have those demons he would’ve probably gone in the first round. So we’re excited to see him translate that (talent) to the field.”

Henderson certainly possesses some of the best athleticism of the young offensive linemen on the roster. Here’s a previous blog we did on Henderson during minicamp in June when he originally stepped in for Cordy Glenn with the starters and didn’t do too bad. Note the quote from RB Anthony Dixon.

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Analytics point to LB Bradham as star in waiting

Posted by Chris Brown on July 2, 2014 – 12:29 pm

Even before the devastating ACL injury suffered by Kiko Alonso Tuesday in an offseason workout, which will likely cost him the 2014 season, there was some buzz about Bills third-year LB Nigel Bradham. ProFootballFocus had Bradham listed as their Secret Superstar for Buffalo in 2014. Now Bills fans are hoping that becomes the case now more than ever.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show this spring, PFF writer Peter Damilatis explained why they expect Bradham to have a breakout season in 2014.

“The one thing I like about Bradham is I feel he can sit in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense, but I think he can be a solid 4-3 strong side linebacker,” Damilatis said. “He has a fearlessness in attacking the run at the point of attack. We would see a lead blocker like a fullback coming in to clear the way and Bradham would stick in there and stonewall him and blow up the entire play.

“Despite playing a quarter of the snaps of a lot of other guys like Kiko Alonso and Mario Williams he actually had the best run defense grade of any linebacker on the Bills roster and the eighth best run defense grade of any inside linebacker in the NFL, which is pretty remarkable for someone who played just 26 percent of the team snaps.”

Bradham lined up mainly as a strong side linebacker in Buffalo’s defense under DC Jim Schwartz in the spring practices, and that job could be his to lose with Keith Rivers expected to replace Alonso on the weak side.

Damilatis said that Bradham’s numbers for tackling efficiency and yards allowed in coverage also indicate the third-year linebacker is in for a big season in 2014 if he gets on the field more.

“When you add it up his tackle rate is among the top 10 linebackers as well. He’s a very sure tackler,” Damilatis said. “One thing I also saw from him is he have some pretty good coverage skills too. He was in the top 10 for yards allowed on coverage snaps. Buddy Nix talked about Bradham being a capable three down linebacker and our metrics indicate that.”


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Ravens Harbaugh unhappy to lose Graham

Posted by Chris Brown on March 25, 2014 – 2:18 pm

While Bills GM Doug Whaley was very happy to land free agent Corey Graham, the Baltimore Ravens were far from thrilled to have lost him. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh wasn’t shy in expressing his disappointment.

In an interview with the John Murphy Show at the annual league meetings in Orlando this week, Harbaugh was open and honest about losing Graham to Buffalo.

“He was hugely valuable to us and we were very disappointed to lose him,” said Harbaugh. “In the end I think we couldn’t really compete with Buffalo’s offer and the fact that he was going back home. That means a lot  to Corey and his family, going back to Buffalo.  But he’s a really good football player.  They paid him accordingly, and that’s rightly so.

“He’s a great special teams player, but like we said before, sometimes these guys are great special teams players and they get labeled.  People assume they aren’t really good defensive players, either.  He had an opportunity with us to demonstrate the kind of corner he is and did that.”

Bills head coach Doug Marrone said in addition to special teams and cornerback, the defensive staff may also consider lining Graham up at safety to see how he fares in that position.

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Winter storm may impact Bills FA plan

Posted by Chris Brown on March 11, 2014 – 4:49 pm

The Bills have a free agent plan in place, which is expected to include visits by free agent players, perhaps as early as Wednesday. Mother nature however, may have something to say about those potential plans.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Western New York beginning 2 am Wednesday and lasting through 2 am Thursday. The storm is forecast to dump anywhere from 7-12 inches of snow on Buffalo and its surrounding suburbs. That could complicate arrivals at the Buffalo-Niagara International aiport, something GM Doug Whaley is well aware of.

“With looking at the weather you try to get him in here as soon as possible,” he said in an appearance on the John Murphy Show. “And knowing guys have a lot of dance cards we don’t want to get them skipped over if we can’t get them in. So it’s a tricky situation and we’re going to try to do the best we can.

“We’ve got faith in the Buffalo airport that they’ll stay open at least for a little while, or don’t cancel flights the whole day. So we’ll work as diligently as possible to get these guys in.”

Of course if the Bills can get a free agent visitor in before the storm hits, it could make getting out of Buffalo for the free agent player more difficult. That could help provide the added time needed to consummate a deal.

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The day Moore learned what it meant to be a pro

Posted by Chris Brown on February 10, 2014 – 4:37 pm

Bills receivers coach Rob Moore enjoyed an 10-year playing career, but when he was taken by his hometown New York Jets as a top supplemental pick in 1990, he thought he’d play his entire pro career with the club. He found out otherwise.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show, Moore explained how being traded by the Jets made him grow up fast.

“The New York Jets franchised me and traded me on draft day,” Moore said. “Originally when I got the phone call I was in Miami and I was flying back and told I was going to play for the Packers and Mike Holmgren. And when I landed in New York I found out that I was going to Arizona to play for Buddy Ryan. It was interesting. I figured I would be a Jet for the rest of my career and on that day I would say I grew up as a professional and realized the business aspect of it.”

Moore would play five very productive seasons, including his career year in 1997 when he led the league in receiving yards (1,597) and was a 1st team All-Pro.

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Andre open to coaching in NFL

Posted by Chris Brown on February 5, 2014 – 12:03 pm

He was a minority fellowship coach with the Chiefs this past summer, and just this past January coached receivers in the NFLPA bowl, an all-star game for NFL draft prospects. It has Bills Hall of Famer strongly considering a career in coaching.

In an appearance on the John Murphy show Tuesday, Reed admitted it’s something he’s given a lot of thought.

“I really enjoyed myself in California at the NFLPA bowl. I enjoyed myself in a couple of other bowl games that I’ve been in. I really enjoyed myself in Kansas City last year with Andy Reid’s staff,” Reed said. “Being back in the pro game as a coach I’m sure if I want to pursue it I can do that.

“I wouldn’t say it’s on the back burner, but it’s definitely a possibility. I’m sure I’m going to be busy for the next six months getting ready for Canton. The door is open. Canton opened up and this other door is going to open. I always say when one door closes another opens up. I have to really just see if it’s what I want to do and what the best situation might be.”

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What Marv first thought of Andre

Posted by Chris Brown on February 1, 2014 – 7:23 pm

Andre Reed had just gotten his rookie NFL season under his belt and was midway through his second NFL campaign when Marv Levy was hired as head coach. What did the Bills’ new sideline boss first think of the newest Bills Hall of Famer?

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show, Levy said it didn’t take him long to like him more and more.

“He was good. I didn’t know much about him when I got there,” Levy said. “When the practices started I said, ‘Wow this guy is good.’ And then two weeks later I said, ‘This guy is really good.’ Then about a month later I said, ‘Wow we’ve got somebody special here.’”

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Hostler’s two great strengths

Posted by Chris Brown on January 30, 2014 – 11:24 am

Bills newly hired senior offensive assistant Jim Hostler is a veteran offensive coach. His most recent coaching work has been primarily with receivers in Baltimore. So the John Murphy Show asked Ravens play-by-play man Gerry Sandusky for some insight on what Hostler will bring to the Bills staff.

“Jim has two skills that really stand out,” said Hostler. “One I think he’s an exceptional evaluator of talent. One of the things he’s blind to things like where you were taken in the draft and what college you played at. He has the ability to see a player and know what they can and cannot do. Jacoby Jones is a perfect example.

“Last offseason when the Ravens traded away Anquan Boldin that meant that Torrey Smith was the new number one and Jacoby Jones became the number two receiver. I talked to Jim Hostler about the new depth chart and he told me that they were not going to make Jacoby Jones your typical number two receiver because Jacoby is a fast guy, but he doesn’t have the ability to come back to the ball very well and he doesn’t have the built-in ability to get vertical and go up for balls the way Torrey Smith or Anquan Boldin did. So he was not the typical number two receiver.

“So he’s done this with a lot of receivers. Identify what their skill set is, see what they can grow into and see what they’ll never become and he doesn’t try to force players to be something they’re not. A lot of coaches do and he doesn’t.

“The other strength is he is a magnificent teacher of technique. Torrey Smith has become a fabulous receiver from the Ravens. The very first day we saw him at the first minicamp after the draft everybody wondered if the Ravens made a mistake on this kid. He was fast, but he didn’t have any skills, no ball skills, route running skills and in a couple of years with Jim Hostler he’s become a very polished and seasoned receiver sooner than any of us expected.”

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Bills again have value plan for free agency

Posted by Chris Brown on January 21, 2014 – 7:25 pm

When it comes to their own free agents they’ll do whatever they can to keep their priority players in the fold, but as far as free agents out in the market, the Bills plan to take a value approach much like they did last year.

That was Doug Whaley’s answer when asked by the John Murphy Show Tuesday at the Senior Bowl. He intends to make quality value signings like that of Manny Lawson, Alan Branch and Dan Carpenter.

“I think we’re going to stay that course, value picks, guys that can come in and contribute and we get a real good return on our investment,” said Whaley. “We just set it up before we came down here. We set up the unrestricted free agents by position. What we’ll do is we have certain positions that we think will be interesting to us and we’ll pull out certain guys that we think we’ll be able to look at and talk to or try to get and when we get back we’ll give it to the coaches and have a free agent board set up just like a draft board by position and regardless of position.

“We call them dust settle guys. After all the dust settles, but we can target guys now. We’ll see when the dust settles, but we can also go to them on day one and say this is what we’re willing to offer, but they’re not going to be big splash guys.”

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Dareus hoping Pettine stays put

Posted by Chris Brown on January 21, 2014 – 11:29 am

Bills DT Marcell Dareus, who is headed to Hawaii for his first Pro Bowl, made an appearance on the John Murphy show Monday evening. After talking about his first NFL all-star game appearance he was asked about the possibility of losing Mike Pettine as his defensive coordinator knowing he’s in the running for the Cleveland Browns head coaching post.

“Oh man. I don’t know. I have no control over that,” said a suddenly serious Dareus. “I would really, really hate to see him leave. At the same time it’s still a business and football is football and we’ve got to just go out there and play.”

With Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase now reportedly removing his name as a candidate for the Browns job, Pettine’s odds of becoming a head coach in the NFL have improved.

Dareus liked the way Pettine gave him freedom in his role at defensive tackle this past season.

“They pretty much gave me the freedom to do my job and play the game I wanted to play,” Dareus said. “He told me to play hard and be myself. Coach Pettine always let us go, let the defensive line go and get after the quarterback when we can and when we know it’s a pass.”

Dareus finished with a career-high 7.5 sacks in 2013.


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Dareus over the moon about Pro Bowl nod

Posted by Chris Brown on January 21, 2014 – 10:41 am

Bills DT Marcell Dareus left on a 6 am flight bound for Honolulu this morning. He’ll arrive on the South Pacific at 3 pm Hawaii time to prepare for his first Pro Bowl as he was named an injury replacement Monday for San Francisco’s Justin Smith. Dareus appeared on the John Murphy show last night and his excitement was obvious.

“Oh my God, words can’t even express how I feel about the whole thing right now,” Dareus said. “It’s almost happening too fast. I’m just trying to get a hold of myself.”

Dareus knew he was a Pro Bowl alternate, but didn’t know until this past weekend that his chances to go to the Pro Bowl could improve based on how things played out in last Sunday’s NFC Championship game.

“My agent called me and said, ‘Marcell just be prepared just in case anything happens on Sunday you may be sliding into the Pro Bowl,’” Dareus said. “So we waited to see what the outcome was. It’s a great feeling. I can’t even explain it right now.”

Dareus, who posted a career high in tackles and sacks this past season explained what he felt turned his play around in 2013.

“It was just more focus on myself and stay in the game and not let off field distractions get in the way of me playing good and being consistent,” he said. “I just kind of focused in on what I had to do and pulled it off. Talking to my brothers and sisters helped and we just put it all together and made it happen.”


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WR Barden pumped to be with Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on January 17, 2014 – 3:03 pm

He’s an energetic guy by nature, but Bills new WR Ramses Barden is very happy to be on Buffalo’s roster after signing with the club Thursday.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show, Barden expressed his appreciation for the opportunity with the Bills.

“I’m excited man. I don’t even know where to start. It’s a fresh start, a new beginning. It feels new. I feel really, really grateful to have a job and be part of this organization and be part of a winning culture,” he said.

Barden worked out for the team prior to signing with a handful of other potential players and got a good vibe spending the day at One Bills Drive.

“You get the sense of the history right away, driving up seeing the stadium, knowing the history and the snow games. It’s a special place and I’m definitely honored to be a part of it,” said Barden. “I felt that throughout the day seeing the pictures and feeling the history. It feels like a nice place to be.

“There are some places that are not as good as others. Just being in the meeting rooms and meeting with the coaches it seems like a warm place that cares about its fans and its people. So I feel like I can be a tremendous attribute to the offense and team as a whole. I feel like I bring some leadership qualities, some hard work and dedication and desire to win and grow and evolve. I’m excited for 2014 and see where we can go.”

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Where Moorman feels he’s better than ever

Posted by Chris Brown on January 10, 2014 – 1:50 pm

Bills punter Brian Moorman, who just re-signed with the club Friday, is going to be entering his 14th NFL season this fall. And fortunately for him the area of his game where he feels he’s better than ever is the number one requirement head coach Doug Marrone and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman are looking for in their punter.

In an interview that will be heard on the John Murphy Show tonight (7-9 pm ET), Moorman feels there is a part of his game where he’s performing better now than he ever has.

“Personally I think hang time and fair catches,” he said. “Coming in that’s what coach Marrone and coach Crossman really wanted. Going back and looking at my tape and charting my kicks and what I did good and what I did bad I compare this year even to my tape from when I went to the Pro Bowl.”

When asked what his benchmark is for acceptable hang time on his punts, Moorman said it can vary.

“It’s funny because it depends who you ask but when I first got in the league and our special teams coach was Danny Smith he told me 4.5 (seconds) was always the time so that number was always stuck in my head.

“But now if I don’t get 4.95 seconds in practice I’m mad. So I shoot for 4.9 seconds to 5 or higher. If it’s not at that five-second mark I get angry with myself. And if it goes under 4.5 then I’m really upset because you’re really driving it down the field. There are circumstances like weather where you have to drive it down the field, but if you can get it in the 4.7, 4.9, five second, 5.1 you’re really helping your coverage team out.”

Moorman had the second-highest recorded hang time in the NFL this past season at 5.5 seconds.

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HOF Selectors not all about the numbers

Posted by Chris Brown on January 10, 2014 – 1:24 pm

With Bills all-time leading receiver and Wall of Famer Andre Reed once again a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist, fans wonder if this will be the year he’s given the thumbs up for enshrinement. At the same time fans worry that his career numbers, which were very impressive when he retired, have been minimized by the proliferation of the passing game with more modern candidates like this year’s first ballot finalist Marvin Harrison.

Last year Cris Carter leapfrogged Reed to gain induction, even though Reed had made the final cut from 15 to 10 three of the previous four years and Carter had not. Buffalo presenter and Buffalo News Bills beat reporter Mark Gaughan in an appearance on the John Murphy Show this week indicated it was largely due to the fact that Cris Carter had 135 career touchdowns to Reed’s 87.

At the same time Gaughan assures that the Hall of Fame Selectors are not guided solely by career numbers.

“That is a point that I can assure I make at length, and that is an issue that the selectors have embraced that it’s about more than numbers,” Gaughan said. “When Michael Irvin got in his total numbers are much lower than Andre’s and Tim Brown and all those guys. But what did Michael Irvin mean to his team and the Super Bowl and what did he do for his team in the biggest games on the biggest stages? All those arguments can be made on Andre’s behalf as well.

“The Cowboys wanted to give the ball to Emmitt Smith much like the Bills wanted to give the ball to Thurman Thomas. That’s another point that I make. The Bills had a balanced offense. Even though they were the K-Gun they were not an aerial circus like Peyton Manning’s Colts or the Rams. In Andre’s six most prime years the Bills averaged 479 pass attempts per year. Four-hundred seventy-nine pass attempts would’ve been 29th in the league this year.”

When asked for the strongest argument that he makes in presenting Reed, which he will again do for an eighth time this year, Gaughan said he highlights Reed’s team first approach.

“I think that Andre was what a Hall of Famer should be all about,” Gaughan said. “He has the numbers, but he wasn’t just about the numbers. He was a team player. He produced in the biggest moments for his team. He was a quintessential tough receiver who did the dirty work. He was about impact, not just about the numbers. How much he meant to the Bills offense and what he did in the biggest games at the most important times. And his playoff numbers in three of the first four Super Bowls, the Bills probably don’t get there without great games from Andre. So he epitomizes what a larger than life Hall of Famer should be all about.”

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Breaking HOF WR logjam not easy

Posted by Chris Brown on January 10, 2014 – 9:23 am

Bills WR Andre Reed is a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist for the eighth straight year, after he was named to the list of 15 Thursday night. The presenter for Buffalo candidates is Hall of Fame Selector and Buffalo News Bills beat reporter Mark Gaughan. He appeared on the John Murphy Show this week and explained that while Reed is a solid candidate breaking the wide receiver logjam is easier said than done.

Gaughan said the main reason Cris Carter leapfrogged Reed last year, even though Reed had made the first cut from 15 to 10 three of the previous four years, was in large part because Carter had 135 touchdowns to Reed’s 87. Now that Carter is in Murphy asked Gaughan if that clears the way for Reed this year.

“I hope so although it’s not simple,” said Gaughan. “Tim Brown is still there, but he has never made the final 10. Andre has made the final 10 for four of the last five years. Marvin Harrison is up this year so how does that impact the dynamics of the vote? That’s a good question.”

Still, Gaughan believes Reed is just as solid as about any other candidate on the final 15 list this year.

“He is a very strong candidate,” said Gaughan. “He’s viewed as a strong candidate or he wouldn’t keep making it. Not only has he made it eight times to the final 15, but he’s made the final 10 four of the last five years . I’m sure everybody knows this, but the way it works is the final 15 are whittled down to 10 and then five and then you vote up or down on those five.”

As for any so called “slam dunk” finalists that are most likely to gain enshrinement, Gaughan isn’t certain there are shoe-ins, but has a favorite for such a designation.

“It’s tough to predict,” he said. “Of the four first time eligible guys, Marvin Harrison, Walter Jones and Derrick Brooks, I think Walter Jones is probably the closest thing to a slam dunk. Nobody is a slam dunk like Joe Montana or Bruce Smith or Dan Marino. But Walter Jones is probably one of six or seven best tackles of all time. He’s an all-1st team all-decade player.”

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Marrone on role of analytics

Posted by Chris Brown on January 7, 2014 – 4:41 pm

There’s no question that analytics is a part of everything that head coach Doug Marrone and his staff do on a daily basis in both the regular season and the offseason. At the same time Buffalo’s head coach is careful as to the amount of weight he allows the analytics to carry when it comes to major decision making as he moves the team forward.

In a recent appearance on the John Murphy Show, Marrone addressed the role of analytics in their offseason work. It’s obvious that Marrone believes that analytics absolutely have a role in everything they do from offseason analysis, to film review, to opponent breakdowns and special offseason projects. At the same time Marrone is clear that analytics cannot be applied to their work in a vacuum and that other variables need to be considered.

“I think you have to be careful with analytics. You need to have a balance. You need to watch the film. You need to chart it and write things down,” said Marrone. “How I do it is I watch the film. I have an opinion of what I’m seeing. Then I go to the computer reports and I say, ‘Am I right in what I’m seeing?’ If the computer reports say something different then I go back and say, ‘Why didn’t I see it that way?’

“Analytics shows us what we’re doing and where we need to do a better job. It shows us the things we need to concentrate on to beat an opponent. When we don’t go out there and execute the plan and hit the numbers we’re talking about it doesn’t look like we’re doing a good job. But when we do do it it’s impressive.”

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The plan for tempo offense moving forward

Posted by Chris Brown on January 3, 2014 – 3:02 pm

The big buzz word concerning Buffalo’s offense entering the 2013 season was tempo. At its best the Bills attack would be fast-paced, but with a rookie quarterback, whose injuries gave way to other inexperienced QBs in the lineup, operating at top speed became unrealistic.

Appearing on the John Murphy Show earlier this week, Bills head coach Doug Marrone admitted their plans for an up tempo attack were compromised somewhat by several factors, and they’ll re-evaluate what their approach will be for 2014.

“I think at home I thought we did some good things. I think on the road we have to do better,” said Marrone. “Tempo is a funny thing. We’re going to look at it. There were times we were in rhythm. Even though we had our struggles, you also have seen a 90-something yard drive. We had some long drives this year, more than you would think for a team that finished 29th in passing.

“I think that’s the thing you become frustrated with and players do too. We’ve shown the ability to do it. We played against some top defenses during the year and showed an ability to move the ball and then all of a sudden it stopped and you can’t get back into that rhythm again. That’s what we’re going to take a good look at in terms of what we need to do tempo-wise. Slow it down, speed it up, we want the different ways to do it to keep the defense off balance.”

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