Hey Bills fans, an exciting week here at One Bills Drive with the hiring of Coach Marrone and the coordinators Coach Hackett and Coach Pettine. I’ve met all three and I’m encouraged about what they’ll bring to the team in terms of their expertise. Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 - Hi Chris,
Just looking ahead at the possibilities of the Bills filling in some holes with Free Agency and how active they might be this coming off-season. I would love for them to make upgrades at corner, wide receiver, and linebacker (quarterback too, but that would likely be addressed in the draft). How much cap space do the Bills currently have to work with in the off-season? I know that re-signing Byrd and Levitre will be top priorities for them, but once they’re taken care of, how much room will they likely have to work with, if any at all? Would love to see Dwayne Bowe in a Bills uniform!
As always, love the coverage you provide for us … please keep up the great work!
CB: NFL clubs do not get the established salary cap for the new league year until March, but it’s projected to be around $121M. The Bills do not provide their cap figures as a team policy. Reports indicate they’ll be around $15M under. That number obviously is subject to change between now and the opening of free agency.
Bills GM Buddy Nix has already said a quarterback may be acquired in free agency. He also mentioned the need to add a “big receiver.” I don’t know if Dwayne Bowe is realistic even though he does want to go elsewhere. His price tag will be high. And you’re right Byrd and Levitre are quality players that would appear to be priorities.
2 – Hey Chris,
There has been a lot of talk about the QB position this year & the year before that & the …well you get what i’m saying . Fitz is a Bills kind of guy, hard working, hard nosed kind of QB. I was hoping & still do that he can be that guy. Going forward though in the draft this year a guy is coming out that fits all of the Parcells requirements to drafting a QB of the future . He is a SEC guy (best college conference) A senior , Has been in the program his full time in college , & is prototypical size for the NFL , good arm & college career but not a lot of people are talking about him & i was wondering your thoughts on him . The guy that i have been talking about is Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson, I think he could be a really good QB yet no one is really talking about him . What would your thoughts be on him & his future & the possibility of his & the Bills path crossing down the road ?? Then there is the Alex Smith situation, would you think there would b any for site in that direction as time ticks on ??
Once again Thank you !!
Mr.T from Fort Myers via Nashville
CB: I’m going to be honest and tell you I’m only now getting around to looking at the college players, so I can’t give you an assessment on Wilson. What I can tell you is Alex Smith will not be on San Francisco’s roster later this offseason. I’ve found that if Smith is on the 49ers roster April 1st, his entire 2013 salary will be guaranteed. The price tag? $7.5M. Now that he’s effectively San Francisco’s backup, I can’t see any way that he stays at that price in his current role.
The rub there is if the 49ers wait until the end of March to release him, it puts teams looking for a free agent QB in a bit of a bind. Free agency opens March 12th. Do you sit and wait on the 49ers clipping Smith and bypass other QB talent you might have your eye on? Or do you take what you can get at the opening bell of free agency and address the Smith availability when he’s available? Tough call.
3 – Hi Chris,
I applaud the decision to retain Mr. Nix for continuity. I am keeping my fingers cross for the next few years. My question is as follows.
When reporting injuries, the league uses terms like doubtful and probable, etc. What are all these terms exactly means?
Please keep up with the good work.
C. J. Wong, Ph.D.
CB: The league allows for four possible listings for an injured player. They are Out, Doubtful, Questionable and Probable. There’s no need to explain out, but the league classifies the likelihood of the injured player playing with these designations as follows.
Doubtful – player has up to 25% chance of playing on Sunday
Questionable – player has up to 50% chance of playing on Sunday
Probable – player has up to 75% chance of playing on Sunday
4 – Chris,
Can you break down the Bills new coaches’ philosophy and scheme? Run heavy or pass heavy? Since the roster was built for spread how does it affect CJ, Fred, and David Nelson? I know it’s very early to speculate with not all pieces in place or other coaches. What type of offense do you think they have run? Great job on the coverage this week. By far best team website and updates by you!
CB: Our web staff appreciate the kind words. From what I understand from coach Marrone and coach Hackett, they ran a pro-style offense with up tempo capabilities at Syracuse. I’ve been told to think of New Orleans offense, but with a heavier run game component by those that have observed the Syracuse offense the last few years.
Coach Hackett told me that he and Coach Marrone locked themselves in a room and culled together the best of what several offenses have to offer and came up with their current system. They intend to make use of that in Buffalo.
5 – Hi Chris:
First of all, I don’t miss a blog. Keep it up! Where do you think QB Nassib will fall in the draft, and would it be too risky or too much of a reach to go get him? Or what of the possibilities of a trade with Washington for K. Cousins- I thought we should have nabbed him in the draft last year and just missed by a couple of draft selections.
Mike from Orlando, FL
CB: I think at this point it’s hard to judge where Nassib will land, and even after the Senior Bowl, Combine and pro days it’ll be tough to predict where he goes because all it takes is one team to really like him and take him sooner than the so called experts project. That being said most draftniks see him as a second-round prospect. I know Coach Marrone and Coach Hackett have a lot of respect for his game and how he’s developed. However, I don’t think that guarantees they take him in the draft.
As for Kirk Cousins, I think the knee injury suffered by Robert Griffin almost rules out any chance of the Redskins parting ways with Cousins via trade this offseason.
Tags: Alex Smith, Doug Marrone, Dwayne Bowe, Fan Friday, Injury report, Kirk Cousins, Nathaniel Hackett, NFL Draft, Ryan Nassib, Tyler Wilson
Posted in Inside the Bills
Well Bills fans, it wasn’t the season we all were hoping for, but let’s hope for bigger and better in 2013. Know that’s not what you want to hear, but from where I sit that’s the best I can do for you. Remember Fan Friday runs year round, so keep those questions coming this offseason AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 - Hey Chris,
Here’s my question of the week. We have a very large investment in a player at the WR position being Marcus Easley. He came to us via the draft & there was very high expectations on him from the time he was drafted. Illness put his career on hold for the last few years, now he has been deemed healthy. The guy has been in meetings learning the offense.
So by now he should know the offense really well. The Bills have invested all this time in him why won’t they give him much if any playing time?
I have heard that they were concerned about how many ft it takes for him to get to full speed & that he was working on that. I know that you have seen guys that play faster than their times show. Is Easley’s game so far off that he can’t unseat someone like R. Martin or even B. Smith, he hasn’t really showed a lot for the paycheck? Easley can run kick returns, is much younger than Martin, put that with the fact of the investment I don’t see why the guy has been in the recent past inactive & then when he is active he’s not on the field with the offense to prove his usefulness.
Thanks for your insight on all of my questions as always !
Mr. T from Fort Myers Via Nashville
CB: All I can tell you is it seems that Easley’s inability to get quick separation in his routes hurts him in this offense. The offense is a quick passing game so early separation is key. Easley has good speed, but it’s build-up speed, not explosive off the line speed.
That being said I understand your position, that the team made an investment in him as a draft choice, but has lined up other receivers before him on offense. What I gave you is really all I have to go on.
2 - Chris,
Hi my name is John I’ve been a bills fan for the longest time. I wanted to know if the bills plan on drafting a quarterback do you have any idea towards who they will consider drafting? Also I think we need a tall receiver that can jump up for those deep balls. What do you think of them drafting a qb and wr combo
like cincy did two years ago? Thank you again.
CB: I have no idea who they would consider drafting at the quarterback position. I will say that GM Buddy Nix specifically referenced what the drafting of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green did for the Bengals, who have now qualified for the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. Here’s his comment from an interview on the radio.
“Wide receiver is certainly on our radar,” said Nix. ”Last night I’m watching Cincinnati and there’s Marvin Lewis and he’s been there 10 years. I don’t remember their record the first six or seven years then they take A.J. Green and Andy Dalton and that duo has really turned them around and made them a playoff contender. I think you’ve got to have a guy that’s like Andre Reed was when he was here and Jim Kelly and Andre Reed and Thurman produced a lot. You need those three guys and we’re aware of that and we’re certainly looking at wide receiver.”
3 – Hey Chris,
I just wanted to ask a question about our QB situation. Kirk Cousins performed admirably in the Ravens comeback game for the Redskins, and then followed up with a very impressive performance in his first game as a starter. My question for you is: Is there any way the Bills trade a 2nd rounder for Kirk Cousins? I’m not one to jump on the backup QB bandwagons (Kolb, Flynn, etc.), but Cousins just seems like a guy who can be great one day. I know he was a fifth rounder, so it seems silly to trade a 2nd rounder the next year for him, but with our need at linebacker, Wide Receiver, and possibly safety opposite Byrd, do you see this as a possibility for the Buffalo Bills this offseason, while addressing the previous needs in the first round instead?
Thanks for all your work.
CB: I do know the Bills liked Cousins going into last year’s draft and if memory serves he did make a pre-draft visit. It was recently reported that Washington would be open to entertaining trade offers for Cousins. What the cost would be remains to be seen and I’m not sure that just a single second-round pick would get it done.
I will say this. I think the Bills being interested in acquiring Cousins, could, and I stress could, materialize if the scouting department deems him far and away better than any quarterback prospect in the draft.
4 – Hey Chris,
Also, you definitely see Fred Jackson returning with the Bills next year right? I know he signed a contract extension last year or maybe it was earlier this year. I just remember hearing rumors that he wouldn’t be back next year due to injury and what not. However, no one can deny his leadership and mentoring to Spiller. Thanks for all you do! You make many Bills fans happy and keep them sane with your daily updates. I know because I’m one of them!
Tim West (Displaced Bills fan in Maryland)
CB: I’m pretty confident Fred Jackson will be in the fold next year. The guy is one of the unquestioned leaders in the locker room. I think he also was the victim of never being fully healthy this season and it led to the lowest yards per carry average for a season in his career (3.8). His legs are young for a 31-year old back.
A fully healthy Fred Jackson is still a valuable back and I expect him to recapture his game breaking ability in 2013.
5 – Chris,
I saw that new scoreboards were part of the new lease agreement. Being that the new board was just installed a few years ago, is it safe to say that this means a long awaited second board will be installed in the tunnel end zone? If so, any idea of the specs or where exactly it will be put? Thanks for all you do to cover the team.
CB: Yes, it would be the tunnel end zone for the second video board. I don’t have any details on the size of the board or its exact location, but from what I understand it wouldn’t be installed until about the end of 2014. Appreciate the kind words.
Tags: Buddy Nix, Fan Friday, Fred Jackson, Kirk Cousins, lease agreement, Marcus Easley
Posted in Inside the Bills
In the wake of the NFL draft here is the latest edition of your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Let’s get to it.
1 – Hi Chris
I enjoy reading your articles and blog -thanks for the insight into 1 Bills Drive.
After listening to Buddy & the guys discuss the draft, I had a question on how the Bills categorize players and stack their board. Typically, most draft websites or mock drafters grade and rack players based on their position – for example, CB or WR.
But NFL teams really use players in specialist roles – X,Y, and Z receiver; slot DB vs boundary CB; dime OLB vs rush OLB; etc.
I’m wondering if Buffalo categorizes and stacks their draft board based on these specialist roles or if they stack them based on the position? How does this impact how they run their draft – I assume if they need a dime DB, they are going to look at the highest rated one left on their board, as opposed to a higher rated boundary CB to fill that need?
Tim from Syracuse
CB: No, the Bills rank players with an overall board regardless of position by round. They also have a board that ranks all the players by position, but where they might fit within that position, ‘X’ receiver for example or slot CB is taking into account with their evaluation.
I think it’s fair to assume that a cornerback that can play on the boundary is going to have a higher grade than a CB that can only play in the slot. So the player evaluation of strengths, weaknesses and versatility and limitations properly rank the players and remove the need to further categorize rankings into specialty roles.
2 – Hi Chris,
I was wondering why the Bills have not kicked the tires on Marcus McNeill. He has the size that Buddy Nix covets, he was at one point considered an elite LT in this league, there is that San Diego connection, he is only 28, and I wouldn’t think the price would be too high at this point in the free agency game. So why not? Injuries? I know he had a neck issue but we could at least give him a physical. Was there a drop-off in his skill set that I am not aware of? I would think it would be worth it to bring him in for a visit/workout and see what he could bring to the table, and it would allow us to look at other positions early in the draft if he is healthy.
Thanks for your time!
CB: It is an injury issue with the neck problem as you point out. I believe knowing that Nix was directly responsible in drafting McNeill for the Chargers, that if there’s a chance for McNeill to be medically cleared for football again that Nix will be one of the first to know. In fact it wouldn’t shock me if Nix checks in with McNeill’s agent periodically for updates on the OT’s status. That’s not to say that they want to sign him, but you always monitor potential options that you believe can be a fit for your team.
3 – Hey Chris,
Last year you guys had cameras in the draft room during the first several rounds and posted a video chronicling the thought process of Buddy and the scouts as the pics/rounds developed. I thought this was incredibly insightful and interesting to watch so is there any chance of this happening again this year?
Andrew in Tonawanda.
CB: I’m happy to tell you that we will again have a video presentation of how Buffalo came to make their first three picks. It will air next week on Buffalobills.com. We’ll be sure to give you a heads up as to when it’s posted in the media center. I’m looking forward to it because I believe you fans will really enjoy it. Good behind the scenes material.
4 – Chris,
GM Nix & Company did a great job in free Agency landing two (2) pass rushing DE in Mario & Mark
Like the draft adding +2 Corners, +2 OTs and +2 LBs
Had on my draft wish list
CB- Stephon Gilmore
OT – Cordy Glenn
LB – Nigel Bradham
LB – Tank Carder
I know TJ Graham is a speed burner, but is he going to be durable to play an O/S WR for 16 games ? If you’re on IR doesn’t matter how fast you are.
In the 6th round I would have loved to have seen the Bills draft QB BJ Coleman as a developmental QB, perhaps challenging Thigpen for # 2, Bills waited to long on that move and the Packers took him in the 7th. Not sold on Thigpen to come in and move this team if needed.
CB: I think that is something we’re just going to have to wait and see. We all know that cornerbacks in the NFL are far more physical than in college. The Bills believe in Graham’s ability to handle an outside role, so I think everyone needs to wait and see what he can do when we get to training camp and the bodies start banging.
As for a developmental QB, you’re not alone. There are a lot of Bills fans that wanted a project QB to be drafted. But they’ve got Aaron Corp coming in and they’re pursuing free agent options, though there doesn’t appear to be anything imminent coming down the pike on Vince Young.
But I think the Bills will live up to what they always say they do, which is they’ll always look to make an upgrade at any position and if they can they do it.
5 – Hey Chris , I’m happy with the draft this year, we filled the needs that we needed at LT,LB , DB, LT was a big need for us and we did get Huge LT that are going to improve by working with Mario and Mark Anderson,,,,One question for you round four if the Redskins didn’t take Kurt Cousins do you think the Bills had him in their sights,,?
CB: I know they did like Kirk Cousins, but when you consider what they landed in the fourth and fifth rounds it’s hard to argue with the talent they accumulated. Cousins I think can be a nice player, but they need players that are going to help their depth on the field early. Cousins would not be that, so I think that’s why they grabbed players like Bradham, Brooks and Sanders and Carder. Players that will line up on special teams, possible subpackage roles on defense (Brooks) and challenge for a swing tackle role (Sanders).
Tags: 2012 NFL draft, Buddy Nix, Fan Friday, Kirk Cousins, Marcus McNeill, Vince Young
Posted in Inside the Bills
Here we go with another week of your most pressing questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Let’s get to it.
1 - Chris,
I wanted to offer another take for the Bills draft this year. Perhaps in the first round the Bills could draft a wide receiver since they need a deep threat. In the second round what are the chances of waiting for a top defensive end prospect like Chandler Jones out of Syracuse.
Thanks for all of your ongoing coverage and time.
CB: I think the only receiver worthy of going in the top 10 is Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon. Some might argue Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, but with rare exceptions like A.J. Green last year wideouts have been coming off the board later and later.
In the 2008 draft there wasn’t a single receiver taken in round one. Knowing there’s good receiver depth in rounds two through four I think teams will be even less inclined to fill a need early at receiver. I suppose if the Bills don’t land a wideout in free agency it’s possible, but I say if they do address wideout in the draft it’ll be between rounds two and four.
As for Chandler Jones I think he’s a pretty good prospect. Not a pure speed pass rusher by any means, but comes from good stock with a brother in the league and another brother being a UFC fighter. Due to the fact that he’s not a ‘bend the corner’ defensive end I think he will be there in the second round. I think he could be a consideration for Buffalo among some of the other DE prospects that are in that second to third-round range.
2 - Hello Chris,
I’m a longtime fan of your work with the Bills, thank you so much for keeping us informed on all of the comings and goings with the team. My question for you is simple, do you expect to see Alex Carrington trimming down to around 280-285lbs. (His college weight) to become more of pashing rushing DE, rather a 5-technigue 3-4 DE likes he has been the last two seasons? I like he could excel in that position at the right weight.
CB: Ryan, this is going to be one of the more interesting questions as spring OTAs unfold in May. I’m not sure there’s a definitive answer as to just what is the best fit for Alex Carrington in Wannstedt’s new 4-3 front. His body frame screams 3-4 defensive end, but if he can trim down he could play defensive end in a 4-3 like he did at Arkansas State. His size however, might project him to a left defensive end role. He’s never been a pass rusher that has relied on speed (4.92 40-time). His game is power.
But I’m just as curious as you as to whether or not he comes in slimmed down for the new scheme.
3 - Hello Chris,
Thanks for all the coverage of the team, you do a terrific job of covering the team and I enjoy reading what you have to say. I understand that a big part of the offseason plan is to continue building the defense because it is needed, but my question is the QB situation. I strongly believe that if this team has a chance to win in the future the team needs a QB because although I believe in Fitzpatrick, he’ll be 30 years old and I’m not sure he can win the team a Super Bowl.
I understand the team won’t be in position to draft Luck or Griffin this year. I was wondering if the team might chase after a guy like Kirk Cousins out of Michigan St.? He is young, played 4 seasons in school, is a very intelligent and accurate QB. Cousins could be had later in the draft and isn’t looked at among the top QB’s in this draft even though he has the size and ability to play. He didnt’ put up the biggest numbers because of the ability to run the ball at Michigan St. I think he could be a value pick in the 3rd or 4th round and could learn the offense quickly and be the future QB.
Are Nix and Gailey set in their ways that they will only take a QB if they can get one of the top guys? Or could the team look at Cousins or another QB that can be had later in the draft? Thanks again for your coverage
CB: I wouldn’t rule anything out when it comes to the draft and Buddy Nix. I think the C.J. Spiller pick caught a lot of people off guard, but it’s proof positive that Nix and the Bills stay true to their board. That being said I’ll point to a comment made by Buddy back in January concerning the potential of drafting a quarterback.
“Maybe so, yeah,” said Nix. “If there’s one there at the right time, I don’t mean that to be that vague an answer but yeah, we’d take one.”
Basically Buddy is saying if the board falls a certain way and they have a quarterback rated as the best prospect at the time they would take one. Could that be Cousins? Certainly possible.
4 - Hi Chris,
To me, draft season is the best time of year to be a bills fan, and this year I’m snoop dogg high on South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery. Many of the mock drafts I’ve seen have him dropping into the 2nd or even 3rd round, but to my eye he’s by far the best receiver in this class. Respect to Blackmon and the kid from ND, but if he’s sitting there at pick 10 do you think the bills would pull the trigger? Although a pass rusher may be more of a need, that position seems to be one of relative depth in this class; and while they are all impressive prospects, I don’t see a huge difference on tape between Upshaw, Ingram, Perry, Mercilus, Coples, or Branch. It stands to reason that one of those guys would be there in the 2nd, and Jeffery will open eyes at the combine. He has what Buddy Nix has referred to as the ability to be open even when hes covered. You can see the competitiveness in his game bursting through the low resolution on youtube. Do you get the sense around one bill’s that another option for Fitz may be at least as coveted as a pass rusher? Do you think Jeffery is worth a top 10 pick?
Warm regards from LA,
CB: I think Alshon Jeffery made some amazing plays at South Carolina and used his body well in shielding defenders to make plays on the ball. The problem with Jeffery is it’s hard to think his game as it is currently constituted is going to immediately translate to the NFL level. The reason why is he is a giant target, but he had trouble getting off press coverage in the SEC. And he doesn’t get consistent separation.
That’s going to be even harder in the NFL. Could he develop that part of his game? Sure, but he’s going to struggle coming out of the gate knowing how much more physical corners are at the NFL level. I think he’s a second-round pick. Another big receiver that I prefer over Jeffery is LSU’s Rueben Randle. He didn’t run well at the Combine, but I’m hoping for better things at his pro day.
Randle got better every year at LSU, most notably improving as a route runner, has extremely strong hands and welcomed blocking in LSU’s run first scheme during the 2010 campaign. He’s got rock solid intangibles as well with a strong work ethic. So he’s my guy if the Bills want to get a receiver early. Only thing is they may have to trade back into the bottom of round one to get him.
5 - Hey Chris,
After seeing Brad Smith pick up more than a handful of 3rd and short conversions early in the season last year, it seems as though the offense scrapped that formation because of the lack of depth at the WR position and need for smith to line up there (and reducing wins dramatically). Are the Bills planning on using the “wild bill” formation again for short yardage for the upcoming season. Also after showing lots of potential at the outside receiver last preseason, is Marcus Easley healed and ready for this season?
CB: Your point is well taken. I too noted those 3rd and short conversions by Smith early in the year. It certainly helped to keep the offense on the field. I asked Chan Gailey your very question at the NFL Combine a couple of weeks ago. Here was his response.
“I think the best thing that Brad does for us right now is create indecision on the defense’s part,” said Gailey. “Is he coming in as a wideout? Is he coming in as a Wildcat quarterback? We lost that a little bit with the kickoff return because of the new rule and we lost some because he was playing so much wide receiver late in the season that he couldn’t play special teams as much. We hope to let him to be a three-headed monster as some receiver, some Wildcat quarterback, some special teams threat. Yes to all of the above.”
That’s kind of an open-ended answer, but I think it’s safe to say with a full offseason to better incorporate Smith into the offensive playbook that Gailey will find more use for him in the offense in 2012.
As for Easley he told me himself his medical condition has been rectified and he can resume his career. Let’s hope for the best because I think this kid can really help the passing game.
Tags: 2012 NFL draft, Alex Carrington, Alshon Jeffery, Brad Smith, Chandler Jones, Fan Friday, Kirk Cousins, Rueben Randle
Posted in Inside the Bills