Inside The Bills

Lawson: Everyone in locker room believes

Posted by Chris Brown on December 6, 2016 – 2:33 pm

Bills fans may not be too high on the team’s prospects for reaching the playoffs. Despite a gut wrenching loss at Oakland last week, the players in Buffalo’s locker room are resolute in their belief that they can make a run at the postseason with four games to play.

OLB Shaq Lawson, in an appearance on the John Murphy Show this week, admitted that they got comfortable as a team when they went up 15 against the Raiders.

“We didn’t push it down their throat like we should have,” said Lawson. “We’ve got to learn how to answer when the other team scores.”

Nevertheless Lawson maintains that the locker room is unified in winning this week and every week after that until the end.

“Everybody in that locker room still believes we’ve got a shot,” said Lawson. “We’ve got to win out. So we have to win the next four games starting with Sunday. We’ve got to treat every game like a playoff game. I know a lot of people are counting us out, but we don’t pay that any mind. We know what we’ve got to do.”


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Terry Pegula on running the Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on August 10, 2016 – 5:10 pm

Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula have been at the helm for almost two calendar years, and not a lot is known about how they like to run their professional sports franchises. Terry Pegula shed some light on that subject Wednesday on the John Murphy Show.

After denying the reports from last December that he issues and ultimatum to Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan to reach the playoffs or they were out (he was at his lake house in the Adirondacks at the time the report was made), he was asked on the John Murphy Show how he likes to operate his professional sports teams.

“Anybody who watches the way I work and the way I want the Bills to operate, we get into debates and there might be some stuff thrown around some time, but it’s all to get better,” said Pegula. “It’s not to threaten somebody and say, ‘Hey you’re on the outs.’ It’s all positive arguing, and there’s not much of that because we seem to be on a pretty good path of where we’re going.”

Pegula referenced top to bottom and bottom to top communication within his franchises as essential.

“I like when everyone is aware of what’s going on in the organization,” he said. “Offensive coaches know the defensive coaches, the physical side of it, the doctors, everybody is on the same team. The more we cross pollinate and the more knows what everybody else is doing the better off we’re all going to be because everyone is aware of things they may not be aware of if we had silence.”


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Brandon: Stay on course to advance the team

Posted by Chris Brown on July 28, 2016 – 2:35 pm

Bills managing partner and President Russ Brandon was at training camp at St. John Fisher Thursday and made an appearance on the John Murphy Show not long after owner Kim Pegula. Asked about his owner’s thoughts on the importance of continuity when it comes to winning, Brandon shared an identical philosophy.

“I completely agree with her,” Brandon said. “When I first got here in 1997 we were coming off the Super Bowl run and it was Marv’s last year and there was a transition to Wade (Phillips) and we went to the playoffs those first two years, but there was continuity there because Wade was here (as defensive coordinator). The formula for success in my opinion is continuity and staying with a program. You’re going to go through adverse times and ups and downs.”

Brandon referenced the fact that the Bills have had nine head coaches over the last 16 years and offensive and defensive coordinators in the double digits.

“That’s tough to keep a consistent program that way,” said Brandon. “The fact of the matter is that the reality of it is it’s year two of the Pegulas, Rex and Doug and that’s what we focus on.”

As for his expectations, Brandon is hopeful that there will be enough winning to have games on the schedule beyond the regular season finale.

“Kim talked about winning and that’s what your expectation always needs to be,” he said. “A lot of factors go into it and it’s about staying healthy. It’s about competing each and every week. It’s always about ultimately winning a championship, but you have to get through the first step and that’s getting to play games in January and that’s what we all hope for.”


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Kim Pegula: Winning through continuity

Posted by Chris Brown on July 28, 2016 – 1:34 pm

Bills owners Kim and Terry Pegula have made it plain that they’re committed to the plan put in place by GM Doug Whaley and head coach Rex Ryan to get the team on a path to winning consistently. One of the core principles in achieving that as the Pegulas see it is continuity at the top.

Evidence of that came in a contract extension for Whaley this past offseason as his contract runs the same length as that of Ryan. Kim Pegula reiterated their commitment to establishing continuity for a franchise that hasn’t seen much of it over the last decade and a half.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show, Pegula was asked if she believes in the importance of continuity as it pertains to winning.

“I really do,” she said. “It is hard to be consistent to build a foundation and a core to set you up for winning if you’re making changes constantly. So I think the continuity that the organization has, I don’t see a negative in that, especially going into season two. A year is not a lot of continuity. I know that there are changes that will happen at the end of the season as they do every year, but having a key, core group that understands and communicates with one another… I really think that plays a part in winning.”

That doesn’t mean that Pegula isn’t expecting success this season. Quite the contrary as the Pegulas are anticipating wins this fall.

“That’s the expectation is winning,” she said. “Looking back on last year there were so many changes in that first year between coaches and new players coming in and even from an ownership standpoint. So I’m expecting this year with another year under our belt and another year of continuity between Rex, some key players and Doug Whaley and ourselves, I’m expecting better communication and we’re expecting wins. Every year going into a season that’s what your expectation should be.”


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Rex expecting consistent execution at camp

Posted by Chris Brown on July 28, 2016 – 1:00 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan is already up at St. John Fisher as rookies report today and the balance of the roster in by Friday morning. Appearing on the John Murphy Show in its new time slot (12pm-3pm), Ryan said based on how smooth everything ran in the OTA practices and minicamp he’s expecting very consistent execution in training camp.

“The guys that we had working (in the spring), we went in there with the idea that we’re going to get better,” said Ryan. “Focus more and learn our assignments to the best of our abilities. And we did that. But I couldn’t wait for this time right now getting back with the players. I can’t wait to see how we are and if in fact we’re taking off from where we left off.”

When asked if he thinks that’ll happen, he’s optimistic that the players will be more sound in their assignments than in year one under Ryan when everything was new.

“You go back to square one putting things in, but I think we’re going to have a lot fewer mistakes than we did before,” Ryan said. “We didn’t even have a quarterback at this time last year. We had three guys fighting for that.”

Ryan also addressed his comment at the end of minicamp that got a lot of attention when he said they won the offseason.

“All I meant was that we did so well and the players I was proud of the way they worked and the effort they had,” Ryan said. “I just think we want to show everybody that this is a good football team and we’re working as hard as any team in this league.”

 


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Tasker on his former coach Dennis Green

Posted by Chris Brown on July 26, 2016 – 10:36 am

The football world lost a revered coach in Dennis Green this past week. While most remember Green for his days as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals, Bills Wall of Famer Steve Tasker knew him long before then. He reflected on his time playing under Dennis Green when he was his head coach in college at Northwestern.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show, Tasker talked about Green as a coach and how he expanded his knowledge of the game, which helped prepare him for a pro playing career.

“He was a really good football coach,” said Tasker of Green. “As an African-American guy getting a Big 10 coaching job it was big at the time, but I never looked at it that way. I knew he was a guy who could carry a room and was a really good football coach. And he went on to bigger and better things with the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals. I always thought he’d be a much better pro coach than a college coach after playing for him at Northwestern.”

What Tasker liked most about Green was his straightforward approach and deep understanding of the game.

“He was a passionate coach. He pulled no punches,” Tasker said. “He was very honest with his players. He would rip the whole team if we needed it, but he was really fair. He was down to earth and said things the way they were in a way that players could understand and trust.

“I saw a lot of really good things in him (as a young head coach). He was passionate about football and really loved to win and it rubbed off on all of us. I really learned a lot from him. It was the first time I was in a West Coast offense. He had been the receivers coach in San Francisco with Bill Walsh and I thought this guy really has it for the next level. He was running really sophisticated stuff that I had never seen before.”


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Aaron: I want the respect of my peers

Posted by Chris Brown on July 12, 2016 – 8:36 am

Re-establishing his game after a neck injury allowed him to play in just three games in 2015, Aaron Williams is determined to prove to his teammates that they can count on him. As we covered in our Camp Countdown today Williams still has some hurdles to clear and some adjustments to make to his game coming off the neck injury, but it’s clear he wants to prove he can be relied upon just like he always has.

“I do whatever it takes for my team to win,” Williams said. “I’m giving it everything that I have in each game. I want the respect from my peers and let them know that if it does happen where the last game does happen for me, I want my peers to know that I gave everything I had each and every game. I never took a day off or slacked at any rep, I did it from the bottom of my heart for the love of this game, that I gave everything I have. That’s the respect I just want from my peers and from the fans.”

Williams has stated several times that he won’t know for sure what his future playing career holds until he makes that first hit later this summer, whether it’s in practice or the preseason.

The important thing is Williams has a clean bill of health.

“I passed all of the tests with flying colors. I had to go through the process with doctors and the trainers,” said Williams. “We went through it thoroughly and made sure that before I come back, make sure that everything is suitable for me to at least go out there and cover some guys here and there and that I’m not having trouble turning my neck or any source of that. Everything has been fine. Once again, I’ve been having a lot of fun being out there with my players and with the coaches.”

 

 


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Ragland: Preston Brown is our defensive leader

Posted by Chris Brown on June 17, 2016 – 2:51 pm

On the final day of Bills minicamp, assistant head coach/Defense Rob Ryan heaped praise on mike LB Preston Brown saying he’ll be a star. In an appearance on the John Murphy Show, rookie LB Reggie Ragland, who lines up next to Brown at inside linebacker, called Brown the defensive leader.

“It’s awesome working with Preston,” said Reggie Ragland. “He’s the leader of our defense. Whatever he says goes. I know if I don’t know something I know I can ask him. There were a couple of times in minicamp where I had a blank on a play call coming in from the coach and I’d ask Preston, ‘What do we have on this?’ And he’d tell me right away, ‘We got this.’ He’s helping me out so much.

“As I’ve been out there working with the ones it’s been coming to me a lot faster because of him. He helps me out a lot.”


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Bills rookies not on break yet

Posted by Chris Brown on June 17, 2016 – 10:51 am

While the Bills veteran players have headed for the hills for their six-week break before training camp at St. John Fisher, the rookies haven’t quite finished their work yet.

Rookies have to hang another week at One Bills Drive. Rookie LB Reggie Ragland outlined what the rookies on Buffalo’s roster still have on their to-do list.

“We have to stay another week because the Rookie Symposium is next week,” said Ragland in an appearance on the John Murphy Show. “We’re doing that on our own. So next week we’re going to work out a couple of days, then do the Rookie Symposium and then on Friday we start our break.”


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Market provides range for Gilmore contract

Posted by Chris Brown on June 10, 2016 – 2:34 pm

More than enough new deals have been struck at the cornerback position this offseason to establish concrete parameters for a long term contract extension for Bills CB Stephon Gilmore. Of course as everyone knows it takes two to tango.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show this week, CBS Sports salary cap analyst Joel Corry explained why the parameters for a Gilmore deal are already in place from the contracts that have already been consummated for other NFL cornerbacks. Chief among them the deal that Washington put up to land Josh Norman.

“Anytime you get a guy setting a bar at a position it has a trickle down effect,” said Corry. “So it’s going to raise these salaries for those who won’t quite reach that level. So it benefits Gilmore.

“I think where the deal will end up is somewhere between the $14M range where you have Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman and then you have Joe Haden at $13.5M and the Janoris Jenkins at $12.5M, basically $29M guaranteed,” said Corry. “The deal should be in between those two parameters.”

 

 


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Jones: Fundamentals will push me forward

Posted by Chris Brown on June 8, 2016 – 8:40 am

Bills fourth-round pick Cardale Jones is building his game from the ground up to better fit the pro level. Working on his drops, his throwing mechanics and moving defenders with his eyes are just a few of the basics that Jones is working to perfect. Though he’s a rookie he knows it will push his abilities forward.

“I’d like to improve in every aspect of this game,” said Jones in an appearance on the John Murphy Show. “The thing I liked about the fundamentals is how every little fundamental is going to help with how fast our guys are on this level especially on the back end and with the guys up front. So if it helps when your footwork is on point and moving your eyes or moving a defender with a twitch it helps you get that edge over a guy it’s important. They’re so fast and I know they’re trying to get an edge over me.”

Jones is also very happy to be working under quarterbacks coach David Lee. Known as one of the better fundamental teachers in the league, Jones has a healthy respect for his position coach.

“My early impressions of coach Lee are if anyone is better than him at coaching the quarterback position there can’t be many,” he said. ”

The time that he puts in and the passion that he has for not just teaching the game, but the passion that he has about football and the way that he loves all three of us in the room. I can’t ask for a better coach at this level.”

 


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Vet Lawson likes rookie Lawson’s approach

Posted by Chris Brown on June 3, 2016 – 1:49 pm

They’ve only been together in position meetings for a couple of weeks, but 11-year vet Manny Lawson got a good first impression from rookie Shaq Lawson.

“I expect big things from him,” said Lawson of Buffalo’s top draft choice in a recent appearance on the John Murphy Show. “I like his mindset, he’s eager to come in and work. Even when we first met he was asking me questions and how I’ve remained in the league so long and things that he can do to better himself. So I expect big things out of him.”

As for what Manny told Shaq in terms of having career longevity in the NFL, the message was simple.

“Do what you’re told and know what your job is,” said Lawson. “Nothing is really given to you in this league. You have to understand that you have to work for everything, otherwise you can be removed rather easily.”

The two players who share the same surname not only play the same position, but both were also first round draft choices.

 


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Rookie RB Williams picked as sleeper

Posted by Chris Brown on June 3, 2016 – 8:40 am

Danny Shimon from the National Football Post made an appearance on the John Murphy Show this week and tabbed Buffalo’s fifth-round pick Jonathan Williams as his sleeper in his AFC East rundown.

“I like a lot about him,” said Shimon. “He’s 5-11 and 220 pounds, quick feet, loose hips, good vision, runs with balance. Can make defenders miss in the hole at the line or in the open field. He’s a tough, competitive runner. The first defender rarely brings him down. He lowers his shoulder to finish his runs. Another thing is in 436 touches he had just six fumbles, so he secures the ball. There’s a lot to like about him.”

I’m going to tell Bills fans now that they shouldn’t be surprised if he gives Karlos Williams a run for his money for the backup job behind LeSean McCoy in training camp and the preseason.


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Lal: Easley ahead of schedule

Posted by Chris Brown on May 26, 2016 – 2:12 pm

There’s no specific timetable for Marcus Easley to return from offseason surgery that he had back in January, but the signs at this point are encouraging.

That according to Bills receivers coach Sanjay Lal, who appeared on the John Murphy Show. Lal knew it was going to be a long rehabilitation for Easley, but is confident he’ll come through the extensive rehab successfully.

“If there’s anyone who can, and it was a devastating injury and he was here all winter,” said Lal of Easley. “I saw the rehab that he went through and you have to admire how hard he worked and the mentality he had because that was tough on him. He’s coming through it all ahead of projections.”

Easley dislocated his kneecap and then shattered his patella in three places in last season’s Week 16 game against Dallas.


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Taylor: Everyone has something to prove

Posted by Chris Brown on May 21, 2016 – 9:58 am

Earlier this week a story claimed that Tyrod Taylor was one of two quarterbacks with the most to prove this coming season. Kirk Cousins was the other (anybody for Jared Goff or Carson Wentz?). In any event, when asked about that prevailing opinion, Taylor didn’t scoff at it. Instead he embraced it.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show this week, Taylor said it’s always been his own personal belief that he has something to prove every time he steps on the field.

“Everyone has something to prove in this league and if you think you don’t something is wrong,” Taylor said. “That’s how I play. Every time you practice you should feel that way too. As far as the contract that will play out. I really haven’t put too much thought into it.

“My goal as I said from day one is to better myself and better the team too and ultimately prepare ourselves and get after everybody to make a Super Bowl run. We know it’s takes a one game at a time and one step at a time, but we’ve finished phase one and phase two of the offseason and we’re looking forward to getting into OTAs and we’re definitely excited about getting back out there making plays.”


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Why KC Joyner has Bills as Super Bowl sleeper

Posted by Chris Brown on May 18, 2016 – 1:04 pm

ESPN Senior Insider KC Joyner has the Bills as one of two teams as his Super Bowl sleeper picks. He appeared on the John Murphy Show to explain why.

Joyner basically explained that in every decade of NFL football power football has always been successful. He believes Buffalo is strong in this area based on the following. That combined with Buffalo’s strong metrics in pass defense and Tyrod Taylor’s efficiency as a passer (70 QBR or higher in eight of his 14 starts) has him optimistic about the Bills.

Here’s his explanation on just how good Buffalo’s ability to play power football really is.

“They led the league in rushing yards, yards per rush last year and in yards per rush before first defensive contact and tied for first in rushing touchdowns. I have a metric called good blocking yards per attempt,” said Joyner. “It measures how well a back does when he gets good blocking. LeSean McCoy was ninth in the league in that figure with an 8.9 GBYPA. If you’re in double digits that’s an elite figure in that metric, if you’re near nine you’re a really good back.

“But as good as that number was it was lower than the Bills team figure (9.1), meaning that when the Bills gave good blocking to backs other than McCoy they were more productive than McCoy was. That just says that this is an offensive line that opens up big holes and you have to give McCoy 300 carries to get good productivity.”


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Bills Gronk on how to stop Pats Gronk

Posted by Chris Brown on May 18, 2016 – 12:48 pm

Bills undrafted rookie FB Glenn Gronkowski has been asked a ton of questions over the years about his All-Pro brother Rob Gronkowski. There was one on the John Murphy Show this week that he had trouble answering about the Patriots tight end.

Gronkowski was asked how to stop his older brother from being the game changing tight end he is.

“I don’t know how to stop Rob,” said Glenn Gronkowski. “Rex Ryan told him on the phone he’s going to double team him on every play this year. I guess that’s how we’re going to stop him.”

That phone conversation took place after Ryan had successfully recruited Glenn Gronkowski as an undrafted free agent. He asked Glenn to put Rob on the phone and at that point and told him they were going to do everything they could to shut him down.

As much as the Patriots tight end is known as a partier, Gronk does put in a lot of time and effort according to his younger brother.

“He puts the work in to be the best,” said Glenn Gronkowski. “Of course a lot of people see him as a big partier. He’s definitely a hard worker. I see it first hand. Behind the scenes he’s doing a lot more than people think he is. He puts in the work and definitely deserves to be where he is.”

The younger Gronkowski thinks he has a good shot to make Buffalo’s 53-man roster. The Bills need a backup fullback with how run heavy their offense is, so Gronkowksi is hoping to make enough of an impact on special teams to stick.

“I think I can make the team,” he said. “Obviously that’s my goal. You’ve got to give it your all to reach your goal. So I think it’s a possibility especially on special teams. Maybe on special teams hopefully and work into a role and start learning my role from (Jerome)

Felton a little bit and see where it goes.”

 


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Bruce: Sack record will stand for some time

Posted by Chris Brown on May 12, 2016 – 9:43 am

Bills Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, whose number will be retired at the home opener this fall, is the league’s all-time sack leader with 200 in his career. Even though the NFL has become much more of a passing league, with many quarterbacks now getting rid of the ball in about 2.5 seconds Smith’s record is likely to hold up for the foreseeable future.

Smith agreed with that assessment in an appearance on the John Murphy Show.

“I think that record will stand for quite some time, but we are in a different age of football. This has become a passing league now. It was a much more balanced attack when I was in the league,” said Smith. “They pass first and run second. They’re passing the ball about 20-30 percent more, so it’s giving guys more of an opportunity to get more sacks. We’ll just have to see guys have the longevity and stay healthy enough to have a long, productive and fruitful career to get far enough to come close to 200 sacks.”


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What’s the best part of the schedule for Rex?

Posted by Chris Brown on April 15, 2016 – 10:20 am

By Rex Ryan’s own description the first four weeks of the season at Baltimore, home vs. Jets, home vs. Arizona and at New England is “pretty salty.” But there is a key part of the schedule that Buffalo’s head coach loves.

Ryan, who reflected on the Bills 2016 schedule on the John Murphy Show, is especially pleased with how the last quarter of the season lays out.

“The thing I like most about our schedule is we close with three of four at home,” said Ryan. “We get Miami on a cold, wintry December 24th Christmas Eve. Bring it on. So I like that with Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Miami. We’ll see it’ll be a challenging schedule, but I love closing at home. We proved last year closing with four wins at home so that’s a good thing. So I’m excited about having those late games at home.”


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Bills coaches benefit from early Thursday game

Posted by Chris Brown on April 15, 2016 – 8:58 am

The Thursday night game for the Bills in Week 2 is their home opener on their 2016 schedule. On a short week the benefit is the Jets, their opponent on Thursday night, is a familiar opponent. But there is another major benefit for Buffalo’s coaching staff in having a game on a short week that early in the season.

NFL coaching staffs always begin preparing for their Week 1 opponent as early as three weeks prior to the opener. Seeing that Thursday night game sitting just four days later on the schedule in Week 2, so Buffalo’s coaching staff will also put together at least some of their game plan for the Jets before the season even starts.

“That’s exactly when we’ll do it,” said Bills head coach Rex Ryan in an appearance on the John Murphy Show Thursday night. “We’re very familiar with them. They haven’t had any major staff changes, but yes we’ll be getting some work on them in the preseason. Baltimore is a physical team and then you’ve got to turn around on a short week and play the Jets, another physical team on a short week. So we’ve got to be up for that.”

It’s a much more favorable situation for Rex Ryan’s staff to have the extra time to prepare for a short week heading into the season than a Thursday night game in Week 8 when they’ve got to burn the midnight oil to get a full game plan in.


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