Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 6-26

Posted by Chris Brown on June 26, 2015 – 11:32 am

Let’s not waste any time and get right to your latest round of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

My first question is regarding Karlos Williams.. It is my perception that Buffalo seems overloaded at the Running Back position with quality backs on the bubble to make the team.. LeSean McCoy, Fred Jackson, Boobie Dixon, Karlos Williams, and Bryce Brown are all capable of carrying the football for this team.. Then there are the Fullbacks Felton and Connor carried as Running Backs.. I am not sure how many are going to be carried on the 53 man roster, but 7 is nuts.

I also know the Bills are moving a terrific Cornerback in Corey Graham to Safety, where I think his talents would be underutilized.. Duke Williams is the other option to start, but he seems like more of a reserve player than a starter from what I have seen on television. The question is why doesn’t the coaching staff try out Karlos Williams at Safety, a position he played for 3 years at Florida State before switching to Running Back?

He was a 5-star Safety recruit (2nd rated Safety behind Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in 2011) coming out of High School.. I would believe he would be qualified to go back to his old stomping grounds on defense and it would alleviate the dearth of talent at safety and reduce the number of Running Backs.. I am a FSU alum and watched every game to know Karlos is a freak athlete like Bo Jackson.. Really big, really fast and hits really hard.. I personally would love to see him make snot bubbles come out of defenders’ noses en route to a touchdown run, but for the sake of putting the best guys out on the field this makes sense to me.. Your thoughts?

Erik Kuhn

CB: I think while your thoughts of moving Karlos Williams to safety have merit based on his football history, I don’t know if that’s the kind of move you want an NFL rookie to undertake. In Buffalo’s multiple scheme with a lot of pre-snap adjustments putting that on a rookie’s plate who has not played the position in three years is asking a lot.

Not only that, but the safety position is about as deep as the running back position so he wouldn’t be added to a position in need of any more talent.

The Bills seem pretty happy with Williams at running back and he runs with real good body lean for a tall guy. I think they’re committed to keeping him at RB and he can contribute on special teams as a rookie.

I don’t think the team will keep seven backs. I’m anticipating 4 RBs and 1 FB. That’ll leave one RB and one FB on the outside looking in.

 

2 –  Chris,

Do you think it is a fair assumption that Cyrus K. may be a starter this year ???

Go bills…deep into the playoffs and then on the to the S. B.

Best
Richard B.

CB: I don’t think it’s an outlandish assumption to think that Cyrus Kouandjio could be a starter at right tackle. He’s done everything right in the spring practices. The caveat is we haven’t seen the new and improved Kouandjio in pads playing something closer to real football.

We’ll get a better idea when we get to camp just how capable Kouandjio is, but he’s worked his tail off this offseason.

 

3 – Hey Chris,

Always look forward to reading these on Friday. I am just recently a huge Buffalo Bills fan as of this season and it did not take long for me to be hooked on following Bills news and especially reading your questions! Last year I was not following the Bills news cycle but I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the QB battle this year.

My question for you is this, if you recall, how does Kyle Orton compare to the current QB battle underway? Has he seemed more of the same completion-wise or by TD/INT? I’m trying to see how any of the new QB’s or even EJ has compared to him.

Thank you so much!
-Brandon DuFrane
CB: This is a hard one to answer only because Kyle Orton did not have the benefit of any of these spring practices with the Bills that just concluded. He didn’t sign with the Bills until Aug. 30th last year, just eight days before the opener and after the preseason had concluded.

Orton felt his way in terms of absorbing the offense. Come season’s end he had 12 starts and finished with just over 3,000 yards passing with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with a passer rating of 87.8.

I think Taylor and Manuel have a better physical skill set than Orton, and Cassel is probably comparable in experience and diagnosing an opposing defense.

It’s also a vastly different offense this year’s QBs are running, but I think Orton would look a lot like Cassel if he were part of the competition in Cassel’s place.

 

4 – Hey Chris,

What ever happened to Cyril Richardson, the 6’5″ 343 pound linemen on the Bills? I haven’t heard anything coming out of camp about him and he had some promise this year after a good off season. What the latest with his development and chances?

Thanks,
Tony

CB: Richardson is still here on the roster. He’s been serving as a guard on the second unit. Most of his snaps have come with him on the right side. I think he’ll be more noticeable when the pads go on at camp and he’s able to exert his physical will on defensive linemen especially in the power run attack Greg Roman has drawn up.

 

5 –  @ChrisBrownBills
What’s the most likely scenario for amount of skill position roster spots…WR, RB, TE?

iamFlowbee

CB: I think as stated above, with a premium placed on tight ends in Greg Roman’s offense, there are likely to be four tight ends kept on the 53-man roster this year. I’d say probably five running backs and possibly just five WRs, though an argument can easily be made to keep six. Whether they have the room on the roster to do so is another question.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-23

Posted by Chris Brown on January 23, 2015 – 1:11 pm

The new coaching staff is coming together. If you missed any of our Senior Bowl or Pro Bowl coverage check it out on Buffalobills.com. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

I don’t think Hughes, Urbik, Lawson, Spiller, Spikes or Rivers will return next year as the money will be spent in other areas. I think the Bills will soon extend the contracts of Dareus and Glenn.  Do you have any insight on this?

Thanks,
Joe

CB: I think the Bills will work hard to bring Hughes back into the fold. Spiller is expected to have other suitors. Urbik, Lawson and Rivers are all still under contract. Rex Ryan in a conference call this past season said Spikes was a player he liked because he has a grit and attitude to his game that appeals to him, for whatever that’s worth.

As for Dareus and Glenn, the Bills typically address free agents first before worrying about players that are still under contract, so while Dareus and Glenn are seen as long term building blocks for the franchise I don’t see them getting done in short order.

 

2 – Hi, Chris

Looking for help in understanding what has happened to the offensive line over the past three years.

Fact: Four of the current five starters were also starters on the O-Line in 2012.
Fact: The rushing game produced over 2200 yards in 2012; less than 1400 this year.
Fact: Now former coach Marrone has publicly stated that the problem with the run game is not Coach Hackett’s schematics.

So — if the line has basically the same players, with the same talent, with a couple years more experience, and the techniques and schematics are correct and being taught properly — why has there been such a marked regression in performance, culminating in last Sunday’s horrific 13 yards gained on 13 attempts?

You are close to the scene and obviously can sense better than we fans what is going on.  Please help.

Thanks much,
Jim D.

CB: There were a number of factors at work. First and foremost you had your top two running backs injured for a stretch of the season. Spiller missed seven games. I think anyone on the offensive line in 2014 would tell you that their play regressed from the year before.

In 2012 their offensive scheme ran out of a spread formation, which created bigger running lanes for the backs. That was not the case in 2014 as they chose to run between the tackles more often than not. I don’t know that the approach offensively always fit the backs they had carrying the ball. That combined with an offensive line that took a step back led to the lowest rushing total in team history in a 16-game season.

 

3 – Chris,

All Bills fans are disappointed, but so are the fans of the Ravens, Chiefs, Saints, Eagles, a few of them have $100 Million Quarterbacks !! There will be cries for EJ. You get better by practicing your skills, and proving in practice you’re ready to play. Do you feel EJ has shown he’s ready, how about Kouanjio and Richardson?
Jim in Florida

CB: I think the 12 weeks that Manuel had to focus on his personal game served him well over the last three quarters of the 2014 season. He also learned how to effectively prep yourself as a QB watching Kyle Orton get ready for games each week. From watching him the last month of the season in practice I felt his accuracy was improved. He was no longer thinking and concerned about throwing the perfect ball. He was just throwing.

I’m interested to see him as part of a competition for the starting job next year. Has he shown he’s ready? I don’t think we’ll know until we see him at training camp this summer.

As for Cyrus Kouandjio and Cyril Richardson they worked to make the most of their reps. It sounds like Kouandjio will be given real consideration at the guard position, even though it’s very new to him. I also believe competition will be brought in to battle the youngsters for roles on the roster.

 

4 – Hi Chris:  I understand that the Bills offense has been unbalanced between run and pass this past year.  What I’m unsure of is the major cause.  Could it be that the running backs were banged up this year?  Could it be that the offensive line never jelled?  Or could it be that most defenses dared us to throw by overloading the box and our pass game didn’t respond as well as hoped?  Like everything in life, there’s usually more than one reason.  But I was wondering if you could shed some light on what might be the most significant factor(s).

Warm wishes for the New Year!
Paul in Portland (Formerly Paul in Beijing)

CB: I hate to give a token answer, but I think it was all of the above. The running backs were banged up this year. There were times when defenses loaded up the box with extra defenders. The offensive line did struggle to jell at the start of the season due to Cordy Glenn’s undisclosed illness, which kept him out of the majority of the preseason. There was also a move by Erik Pears from tackle to guard, there was a rookie at right tackle and starting LG Chris Williams missed half the preseason due to a recurring back injury.

I also think at times the offensive approach moved away from the strengths of their skill position players in an effort to protect the football with more conservative play.

5 – Hello Chris,

First I’d like to say Happy New Year! Thank You for your news and blogs that us Bills fans love to get answers and info from.. your passion for the Bills is the same that we fans have, and you help us to believe.

My question is about the Offensive line.. I am sure most are wanting to know about the QB, but a big fix we need is on the O-line.

I am wondering what your thoughts(and i’ll get the fans thoughts in the comments section after) on

shifting around the line a bit. What about Buffalo using either their 2nd or 3rd round pick on one of the top 2-3 Centers in the 2015 Draft.. like Dismukes from Auburn, Grasu from Oregon, or Gallik from BC. We can then move Wood back to RG where he did well for us in his first 2 years before moving to Center.. he can still call the protections and he shows the ability to move around to run block very well and the aggression.

Then Chris Williams(we lost a lot when he got hurt) coming back to be the LG.. again, we hope he stays healthy. Glenn as the LT and putting the sophomore slump that seems to bite so many and bouncing back. And then Kouandjio and Henderson fighting for the RT position.

So.. LT Glenn, LG Williams, C Best avail in 2015 Draft, RG Wood, RT Henderson/Kouandjio

NE did something like this with a new Center this year in Stork and they seemed to find a good rhythm in the season… and we could even if need be bring in whomever is not the starter at RT out once in a while to line up next to the starter giving us a 6th Lineman as protection if need be.

Just looking for your thoughts.. as far as where instead of going out to get 2 new G’s in FA and maybe in the draft where a good Center can change it all up and be giving us depth also.

Thanks.. have a nice weekend watching the post season.

Brian Moss

CB: I think your thought about moving Eric Wood out to guard, where he began his NFL career is an interesting idea. However, I think the only way it happens is if the Bills bring in a veteran center, not a rookie by way of the draft. If they add an offensive lineman in the draft I would expect it to be more of a guard. But knowing they have a second-year guard in Cyril Richardson and possibly a second guard option in Cyrus Kouandjio they may elect to add a veteran guard as they did last year (Chris Williams).

I think Seantrel Henderson can only improve in his second season if he takes to good coaching with the new staff and his athleticism alone gives him a leg up on Kouandjio for the right tackle job.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

What’s out there at QB

Posted by Chris Brown on December 30, 2014 – 1:08 pm

In the wake of Kyle Orton’s sudden retirement announcement the Bills search to add at the quarterback position this offseason began in earnest Monday. Bills GM Doug Whaley said they’ll need to add one, possibly two quarterbacks to the fold this offseason before spring practices get underway. He also said there’s more than just the draft to add a quarterback and that they would explore all avenues, including free agency and trade. With that in mind here’s a look at the list of notable free agent quarterbacks.

There are some omissions from this list like Tarvaris Jackson, Tyler Thigpen and Thad Lewis, who have already had a go round with the Bills.

Free agent Quarterbacks

Jason Campbell                 UFA       CIN         32

Jimmy Clausen                  UFA       CHI         27

Austin Davis                       RFA        STL         25

Matt Flynn                          UFA       GB          29

Blaine Gabbert                  UFA       SF           25

Matt Hasselbeck              UFA       IND        39

Shaun Hill                            UFA       STL         34

Brian Hoyer                        UFA       CLE         29

Tarvaris Jackson                UFA       SEA        31

Josh Johnson                     UFA       SF           28

Case Keenum                    RFA        HOU      26

Ryan Lindley                       UFA       ARI         25

Jake Locker                         UFA       TEN        26

Ryan Mallett                      UFA       HOU      26

Luke McCown                   UFA       NO         33

Colt McCoy                         UFA       WAS      28

Kellen Moore                    RFA        DET        25

Matt Moore                       UFA       MIA       30

Dan Orlovsky                     UFA       DET        31

Christian Ponder              UFA       MIN       26

Mark Sanchez                    UFA       PHI         28

Matt Simms                        RFA        NYJ         26

Tyrod Taylor                       UFA       BAL        25

Scott Tolzien                      UFA       GB          27

Michael Vick                       UFA       NYJ         34

Joe Webb                            UFA       CAR        28

T.J. Yates                             UFA       ATL         27


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Starter at QB Sunday may have been different

Posted by Chris Brown on December 29, 2014 – 4:53 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone chose to go with Kyle Orton as his starting quarterback in the season finale at New England this past Sunday. In the wake of Orton’s sudden retirement announcement Marrone admitted Monday had he known of Orton’s plans beforehand it would’ve impacted his QB decision for the Patriots game.

“It would’ve impacted, on how to make a decision on who the best player was to play during that week,” Marrone said. “And I would’ve had to put some thought into it if I had known prior to (the last game).”

Marrone said Orton came to his office first thing in the morning to inform him of his decision to end his playing career.

“I was hoping that Kyle would be with us,” said Marrone of looking ahead to 2015.

When asked if it could be a setback for the position Marrone has the following response.

“It could be. I’m not going to sit here and deny that it’s not going to be,” he said. “We just have to see how it works out and what our plan is moving forward.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Orton not commenting on his future

Posted by Chris Brown on December 28, 2014 – 9:03 pm

Bills QB Kyle Orton finished with a 7-5 record this season as a starter for Buffalo. Right after the final game had concluded Sunday with a victory Orton was asked about coming back to the Bills next season.

“Next year is next year. I mean, [I’m] just excited to celebrate this win with my teammates,” said Orton. “Every team is different and this group, we played for each other all year. And played hard for each other and its great whenever you get a winning season and win the last game against your rival, you know. It was a good accomplishment for us.”

Orton has a player option for next season.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-26

Posted by Chris Brown on December 26, 2014 – 11:43 am

The end goal of the playoffs unfortunately did not come to fruition this season, but the support of the Bills fans never wavered. One more game up in New England this week. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
I think the reason Buffalo cannot win is because they don’t have a franchise quarterback. The reason they don’t have a franchise quarterback is because of how quickly the head coach and the entire staff get fired. There is no way a quarterback will develop if the system changes continually. There are very good examples of this and I will give one … Peyton Manning.  Peyton Manning managed only two wins his first year yet the management and fan base stuck with him. Why won’t buffalo bills fan base back a quarter back other than Jim Kelly?

Michael from Nebraska

CB: Your points are very valid. This is the value of continuity that I believe team president Russ Brandon was getting at in a radio interview recently. Constant change over the past 15 years (6 head coaches hired, 9 offensive coordinators, 7 defensive coordinators) has unquestionably compromised the development of young talent on the roster because the approach and philosophy of coaches obviously differs.

J.P. Losman may never have been a great quarterback, but having three different offensive coordinators in his five years with the team greatly impacted his improvement as a player. There’s no debating that changing systems requires a period of adjustment for all players. There’s also a period of adjustment for new coaches, who must learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the talent they inherit.

That’s why the dominance of the Patriots in the AFC East has persisted for so long. It’s not only because they’ve been able to enjoy continuity under Bill Belichick, but their success is also the byproduct of a lack of continuity with the rest of the division. The Jets, Dolphins and Bills have all had a good deal of head coaching and coordinator turnover since2000 with New York expected to see more this offseason.

Change can be good for the clubs that choose that course, but the odds are even better that New England will benefit as a result of that change within their division.

 

2 – Hey Chris,
Everyone seems to be singling out the QB play, but personally I don’t think that’s the main issue right now; it’s just the easiest to blame. When I watch Orton, I see a pocket passer who makes probably about 7 or 8 out of 10 throws to open receivers when he’s protected. The problem is we can’t run the ball, so the defense tees off on him when he drops back to pass and that further exasperates our horrible pass protection.

That’s why we can’t make plays down the field, because there isn’t the time to let the play develop.  Every time I see Orton try to wait for a receiver to come open down the field he has to throw it early, and he’s usually still taking a pretty good hit, so it’s not like he’s throwing it earlier than he has to. Also our receivers have struggled to get open quite a bit this year; I imagine a running game would help with play action, which would help our receivers and O-line.

People seem to forget the super bowl quickly, as great as Peyton Manning is, even he couldn’t win without a running game and pass protection.  The plan by this regime was originally to be a dominate run team that plays defense.  And I think Orton is a good enough QB to execute that.  Just look at his stats after 9 games.  To me it shows that he’s capable of passing for around 25 td’s, 12-14 int’s, and around 4,000 yards.  If we can run the ball and play defense that is good enough to win.  With improved o-line play he might even be able to do better than that.

CB: I don’t disagree with some of the points you make here. I do think however, there have been instances where with time to throw, Orton has simple been inaccurate. Against the Raiders there were two plays on the same drive where Orton missed Hogan running an underneath checkdown route when he stepped up in the pocket. He also missed Watkins on a deep out route with clear separation when he was not under duress.

Obviously all quarterbacks miss throws, but his misses are magnified because the margin for error for this offense is smaller than most. That’s because, as you point out, the run game has fallen on hard times this season. If Buffalo still had the number two rushing offense in the league this season, as they had last year, I believe the Bills would be a playoff team right now.

Unfortunately balance has been sorely absent in Buffalo’s offense more than anything else. The last time the Bills had true balance in their offense was against the Jets in Detroit when they won 38-3. Even when they attempted to have balance in Week 15 against Green Bay, though there wasn’t a great deal of production they were still effective enough to get a win with their strong defense.

When the Bills don’t have balance on offense they do run into a lot of the problems you mention. And since those other elements of their offense are just average, when they’re depended upon to solve the offensive problems, they usually come up short on that side of the ball. And that leads to a lack of points and unless you’re close to averaging 23-24 points per game it’s unlikely you’re going to win more than you lose in the NFL.

 

3 – Chris,
When the Bills had to play New York Jets in Detroit and free tickets were given out, is the lost in revenue be distributed or totally absorbed by one or two teams?

C.J. Wong

CB: The Bills, along with most other NFL clubs, has what’s called business interruption insurance. That covers the cost of any financial or revenue losses incurred by having to relocate the Week 12 home game against the Jets to Detroit.

The split of the gate revenue lost for that home game will likely remain the same (60-40). How insurance will determine the revenue lost will likely be based on the number of tickets sold leading up to the game along with a few other estimated variables.

 

4 – Chris,

Regarding the college draft for the Bills organization, how is the player evaluated? Who makes the final decision on the draft? The Bills has to be congratulated for great finds like Kiko Alonso and Preston
Brown. The skill of Marcell Dareus and Sammy Watkins is public knowledge before the draft. How can we avoid the annual blunders, namely T.J. Graham in 2012, E.J. Manuel in 2013 and Cyrus Kouandjio in 2014? E.J. has great disposition. His shortcoming in precision, judgment and often exposes his receivers for big hit is worrisome. I wish him nothing but the best.

Thanks,

CW

CB: Concerning the college draft GM Doug Whaley makes the final call on a draft choice.

Avoiding draft misses like Graham can’t be completely avoided. There are simply too many variables to successfully navigate a team clear of such picks.

Far beyond, height, weight, speed, character and on field disposition are things that no one can truly measure like how a college player’s game will translate to the NFL.

A perfect example is former Bills WR Josh Reed. At LSU Reed AVERAGED 145 receiving yards a game in an era of college football that hadn’t quite exploded into a wide open spread game with inflated numbers. He was the Biletnikoff winner (award for nation’s best college WR) and when the Bills drafted him in round two back in 2002 he was considered one of the steals of the draft.

We all know how that turned out.

Statistical studies have shown that if a team can hit on 40 percent of their draft choices they are doing very, very well. And most NFL clubs don’t even reach that success rate.

I also think it’s premature to call EJ Manuel or Cyrus Kouandjio draft blunders. High draft choices admittedly come with high expectations, right or wrong, but patience with such talent can often be rewarded.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

I have a question with regards to offensive creativity.  I feel that the Bills offense is incredibly bland when looking at other teams.  Obviously we will never be the Patriots but when you watch them they go five wide and other times put Edelman in motion all over to create matchups and get separation.  Sammy stays in one spot every time.  We also currently have NO play action.

I feel Orton needs to get under center and create some play action or something – we’re TERRIBLE running the ball out of shotgun.  I understand the slower tempo but where is the imagination and slant routes and deep middle crosses??

I feel like I’m watching Dick Jauron’s offense and our players are so much better now it’s just so frustrating.  I’m also interested in your take on our offensive line coach who no one talks about.  Our O line is regressing due to scheme and technique and I thought this was a questionable hire initially and I think we would do well with some new blood there.

It still is beyond me that we can have a kickoff specialist who can’t kick the ball out of the end zone in DENVER and we leave Mike Williams off roster and have no five wide formations.  Count me in as one who thinks Marrone’s offense is better suited for college than the pros.

Sincerely,

Chris P.

CB: It’s my belief that a lot of the limitations we’ve seen in terms of play calling are rooted in what the coaching staff believes, or doesn’t believe, the unit is capable of executing on a consistent basis. With the struggles of the run game this season to execute effectively, the balance of the offense which is designed to play off a productive run game have been largely compromised as mentioned above.

You can’t have play action if you have a run game that is not producing. If a defense can stop your run game with seven defenders, play action doesn’t draw that safety up into the box to stop the run and leave the secondary with one fewer defender.

I respect the frustration, but with a young receiving corps with no one with more than a couple of NFL seasons under their belt I think the staff is hesitant to expand the scope of the offense for fear of sacrificing what consistency they believe they have.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Why Marrone went Orton over EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on December 23, 2014 – 5:21 pm

With Sunday’s game not having any playoff implications for either the Bills or Patriots, a good number of Bills fans were hoping to see EJ Manuel get a start at quarterback in the season finale. Head coach Doug Marrone chose to stick with Kyle Orton and explained why.

“The game means a lot to me. We’re going to play the players that we feel give us the best chance to win,” said Marrone. “That’s just the way that I’m wired and that’s my responsibility to the team. We all have a responsibility to each other and I have to make those decisions each week. So again we’re going to play the players who give us the best chance to win on Sunday.”

Marrone admitted that Orton has not been perfect during his 11 starts for the Bills, but said there are some key areas where Orton helps the team more.

“Kyle has gone in there and it’s been tough,” Marrone said. “There have been times when he’s done an outstanding job and he’s done a good job managing and a good job of being a leader for things that need to be done off the field as well as on the field during practice. Those things are going to help EJ in the long run. Right now we still feel that (Orton) gives us the best chance to win in terms of efficiency, control, things of that nature than EJ or Jeff or any other quarterback that we have.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-19

Posted by Chris Brown on December 19, 2014 – 11:03 am

There’s a lot on the line this week for the Bills. Fun having games that mean something here in December. Try to keep from biting your nails down to the nub Bills fans! Merry Christmas! On to your questions now from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 –  @ChrisBrownBills

How’s the raiders run D stack up against a possible run game?

GmoDLo

CB: We’ll be addressing that in our weekly Scouting Report on Buffalobills.com late today (Friday), but Oakland has struggled to stop the run. They give up 125 rushing yards to their opponents per game. Now that number is a bit skewed, knowing that a good number of their opponents have been up on the scoreboard on the Raiders, and run the ball a lot in the second half to shorten the game and kill clock.

However, they’re a respectable 12th in yards per carry average allowed (4.0). Still it’s worth mentioning that there is no other team in the league whose opponents choose to run on them more than the Raiders (48% of plays overall), so I would expect Buffalo to lean on their run game in this matchup.

Furthermore I think the Bills run game will have a good measure of success against the Raiders, especially after seeing the offense commit to the run game last week with 33 carries against the Packers in a tight game last week. Their 33 carries was the most since the Week 2 win over Miami.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

What is the plan moving forward for the QB situation? Sticking with Orton for multiple years or EJ or free agency?

ZachDrohweder

CB: I think the only thing that we can say at this point is that EJ will be part of the quarterback equation in 2015. Orton has a player option for next season, so that is his call to make, not the team’s. Beyond that I believe everything will be evaluated at season’s end by the personnel department and the coaches. Then a course of action will be laid out with their options prioritized. I know that’s probably not the answer you’re looking for, but I’m not going to pretend to know the plan when one has yet to be formulated.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Chances Jim Schwartz is back?

theadamritter

CB: I think it will be predicated on how many job openings there are for head coaching positions at season’s end. Typically there are about a half dozen every offseason. Buffalo’s defense with their fourth new coordinator and fourth new scheme under Schwartz is rivaling some of the best defensive units in team history. They’re currently in the top five in six major defensive categories (Total ‘D’, pass ‘D’, sacks, 3rd down ‘D’, points allowed, takeaways).

Long story short, if there are six NFL head coach openings, I’d expect Schwartz to be a candidate for about half of them due to his long resume of defensive success, and his five years of head coaching experience at the NFL level.


4 –
Hey Chris,

Was just wondering what it takes to get in touch with Goodell or someone in the NFL look at the refs actions ? Can & will Marrone step up & air these differences ? The Denver game & others this year have had some really questionable calls & actions in game.

CB: I don’t disagree with your disappointment on some of the calls this season, the Denver game in particular. I think in many ways it’s the judgment calls that create the most controversy, but as far as having questionable calls addressed, each NFL team can send in plays to the league’s officiating department to contest them or ask for further explanation or clarification.

Doug Marrone does this on a weekly basis. Unfortunately he and every other coach in the league is not permitted to publicize the results of those league reviews of questionable calls in the days following when the game was played. Really a team doesn’t get much more than an apology of, ‘We’re sorry, we got that one wrong.’

If the officiating department rules that the official who made the call was incorrect in his ruling on the field, they’re graded accordingly.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Rules? Why was the Manziel Fumble/Inc. not ruled Intentional Grounding? Seems as if it wasn’t a fumble, then it was IG.

TomPellvis

CB: It was my opinion that it was fumble. Manziel would’ve been protected under the old ‘Tuck Rule’ if it was still in existence, but since it’s not that was a fumble play as I saw it. He double clutched, but in no way was trying to throw the ball. The officials as you know ruled it an incomplete pass. I think the reason they could not rule intentional grounding was because first and foremost Manziel was outside the tackle box. When that happens an intentional grounding call is off the table.

Even if he was in the pocket the direction of the pass could not be ascertained since it essentially bounced off of Kyle Williams and into the end zone. Had the “pass” (ahem… fumble) traveled far enough to determined its direction/target then perhaps the official would’ve been able to make a judgment call on intentional grounding – again had he still been inside the tackle box. That however, was not the case on that play.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Orton remaining confident

Posted by Chris Brown on December 13, 2014 – 12:57 pm

It wasn’t an easy line of questioning that Kyle Orton had to handle this week. The media asked him flat out if he and the rest of his offensive teammates felt they were holding up their end of the equation when it came to team performance.

When asked specifically if he felt like he and his offensive teammates were letting the defense down, this was his response.

“It’s a team football game,” he said. “We’re 7-6 because that’s what the team has done to get to that point. Obviously as an offense we want to go out and play well every week. If we’re letting anybody down we’re letting ourselves down. I don’t have any regret. I have a lot of optimism that we’re going to get it done this week and we’re going to get it done for the remainder of the season.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone on Orton’s 3rd-and-1 decision

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 4:40 pm

Facing a 3rd-and-1 at the Denver 25-yard line in the second quarter, Kyle Orton rolled right, and instead of going for the first down marker near the right sideline or throwing it away, the Bills quarterback chose to slide a yard short of the first down marker. Orton said after the game he wished he had thrown the ball away. Head coach Doug Marrone offered his thoughts of the play after watching the game tape.

“I think what Kyle said yesterday it was exactly right—it was a poor decision,” said Marrone. “Meaning, if you throw the ball away and no one’s open, we’re OK with that from that standpoint, because we know he’s not someone who’s going to be able to run and get the first down.

“My conversation with Kyle was, if the decision’s made to go and run for the first down, you need to go get that.  He wasn’t the only player yesterday—we had a couple of times with some of the receivers who had the ability to get the first down, and wound up losing ground and coming up a little short.  It’s something that we’ve got to get better at in consistency and awareness. We all have to do a better job in that.”

Marrone confirmed Monday that Orton will start Sunday against Green Bay stating that he believes Orton gives Buffalo the best chance to win.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Orton ties team record

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 12:32 pm

It will matter little to Kyle Orton knowing his indifference toward individual statistics, but the Bills quarterback tied a team record in Sunday’s loss at Denver.

Orton tied the team record for most completions in a game. He was 38-57 passing for 355 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He also had a rushing touchdown. His 38 completions tied a team record that is held by Joe Ferguson, who had 38 completions in an October game against the Dolphins in 1983.

Orton also set a record for most pass attempts in a game with his 57 throws in the game. That eclipsed the previous record of 56, also held by Ferguson in that exact same Miami game back in 1983.

For Orton the 57 attempts matched his personal single-game high and his 38 completions were a new personal best for him. His previous completion high was 37 in a 2010 game against Indianapolis while he was with the Broncos.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Jekyll & Hyde for Denver ‘D’ inside their 30

Posted by Chris Brown on December 7, 2014 – 12:25 pm

The Broncos defense is a top 10 unit in several key categories like total defense, run defense, pass defense and third down defense. But something happens when opponents crack Denver’s 30-yard line and their ability to stop teams takes a turn for the worse.

Once opponents are inside the Broncos’ 30, Denver gives up touchdowns at a rate of almost 59 percent, the third-highest rate in the NFL (58.7%). That’s more than 10 percent above the league average (47.9%).

Defending their red zone isn’t much better. When opponents move inside the Broncos’ 20-yard line they rank a mere 27th in the league giving up touchdowns almost two-thirds of the time (64.1%). That’s welcome news for a Bills offense that has struggled mightily in the red zone so far this season ranking 30th (41%).

Kyle Orton knows the importance of making the Broncos’ defensive figures inside their own 30 hold to form.

“These types of games third down in the red zone is a four-point play and third down staying on the field is even bigger,” said Orton.

Perhaps the most encouraging figure for Orton is the collective passer rating of quarterbacks that have faced the Broncos this season. Opposing quarterbacks have compiled a rating of 120.7 against Denver inside their own 30-yard line. It’s the highest passer rating allowed in that area of the field in the entire league.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-5

Posted by Chris Brown on December 5, 2014 – 11:20 am

The biggest December road game in quite some time is just two days away. Nice to see a game that matters here at this point in the season for the Bills. On to your questions now from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hello Chris
I have a couple questions. When will the coaching staff see that the QB play was not the problem? EJ could throw a pick a game and not fumble. Plus he had the strength in the pocket plus agility to avoid half the sacks Orton has had. It is play calling I feel. We run such a mellow offense. Out of 73 starts for Orton he has 8 comebacks. EJ had I believe 4 in just 14 starts. We should have let him continue to develop. Orton has continually been trying to make up for his mistakes. (Pick six in Detroit. That game should have never been that close)
Secondly do they hope CJ may come back with the IR they placed him on? Thanks again for all your coverage of the best team in sports.

Jedediah
Palm Coast, FL

CB: Your numbers for Orton and Manuel are pretty much on the mark. Orton does have eight fourth quarter comebacks in his career. Manuel has one fourth quarter comeback and three game-winning drives, one of which came in Week 1 against Chicago in overtime with the score tied.

I think head coach Doug Marrone explained the quarterback move for what it was. At the time Manuel was struggling to complete passes with consistency. He was missing open targets and it was costing them yards and points and that ultimately costs you games.

Marrone had to decide between development of EJ Manuel or winning games. Winning games trumped Manuel’s development. Orton doesn’t have the physical assets that Manuel possesses. That’s obvious.

What Orton does have however, is the knowledge of where to go with the football regardless of the situation or defensive look. He can diagnose disguised coverages faster and his knowledge allows him to make decisions quicker. I think that results in Orton being more willing to give his receivers opportunities to make plays by taking a bit more risk than Manuel was willing to when he was in the lineup.

That being said Manuel has been working hard on his personal game and I think being able to focus on just himself the last two months has helped Manuel immeasurably. Whether he gets another opportunity this season will likely be tied to Orton’s health.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

What do you think Hughes trade value is? Would you package him and Spiller for a first rd. Pick?

crazyeyes7711

CB: First, I will say I don’t think it’s the primary intention of the Bills to trade either player. In an ideal world they keep both players in the fold. Will it happen? That depends on the intentions of the Hughes and Spiller camps.

In your hypothetical trade situation I think you’re underselling Hughes and Spiller as a package. Hughes is going to have double-digit sacks in back-to-back seasons and is just entering his prime. Spiller is still an elite physical talent no matter what his rushing production numbers say. One first round pick for both of them is far from an acceptable offer.

A first and a second round pick is what would be more equitable. We have to remember that they’re both former first-round draft choices themselves.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

What’s Goodwin’s % to play?

8three7six6zero

CB: If you want to know if he’ll dress on Sunday I think there’s a decent chance that happens knowing some of Buffalo’s top receivers are nicked up. He can serve as insurance. If you want to know how many snaps he’ll get that’s tough to peg. He got all of two snaps last week on offense and was targeted once. After Marcus Thigpen’s debut performance on returns last week Goodwin is unlikely to re-assume those duties.

Goodwin has just 70 snaps on offense this season. That’s partly due to him being unavailable due to injury, but that’s more than 100 fewer snaps on offense than Mike Williams (194), who has been inactive for three games. Goodwin has been out of the lineup for six games.

The former third-round pick has just six targets this season and one catch for 42 yards.

 

4 –  @ChrisBrownBills

What position will be the top priority to improve in the offseason?

JaredBailey23

CB: I think the clubhouse leader position-wise is the offensive line. Though the unit has played a bit better of late there just hasn’t been enough consistency up front, so I could see that being addressed in the offseason. Where they come down on the quarterback position is something else that bears watching.

Other positions could be added to the priority list based on potential player departures in free agency.

 

5 – Chris,

I understand that opponents are working on eliminating Sammy’s impact on games and work on keeping him from beating them. That said, I still think they are under utilizing Sammy, specifically on WR screens. It would be one thing if they were running WR screens on the opposite side of the field as Sammy, but the majority of the time Sammy is lead blocking. I saw this at least two times on Monday night’s game.

I get what Marrone is saying, but their actions don’t always coordinate entirely with what they say.

Thoughts?

Thanks,
Elliott

CB: They have worked to find more ways to get Watkins the ball. We saw some receiver screens last week against Cleveland. I think there would be some merit to stacking receivers at the line with Watkins being the wideout who is second in line on the stack. That could help him gain early separation.

Watkins was targeted nine times last week, but had just three receptions. Part of the problem at times was ball location. Watkins has a wide catch radius, but even he couldn’t make the play on some errant throws. The timing and execution has to be better when Watkins is targeted.

We’ll see if they can get that fixed against a pair of very aggressive corners this week in Denver.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Nike uniform of Week 14

Posted by buffalobills.com on December 4, 2014 – 5:19 pm

Each week Nike presents the Uniform of the Week where you’ll see a photo of the combination your Buffalo Bills will be wearing on the field.

The uniform combo for the Week 14 game between the Buffalo Bills and the Denver Broncos in Denver will be the team’s royal blue jerseys on white pants. Shop for your own Nike jersey by clicking here

week-7-uniform-combo

Here are the Bills uniform combinations so far in 2014:

Week 1 at Chicago Bears: White / White

Week 2 vs. Miami Dolphins: Throwback White / White

Week 3 vs. San Diego Chargers: Blue / White

Week 4 at Houston Texans: White / White

Week 5 at Detroit Lions: White / Blue

Week 6 vs. New England Patriots: Blue / White

Week 7 vs. Minnesota Vikings: White / White

Week 8 at New York Jets: White / Blue

Week 9 bye

Week 10 vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Blue / White

Week 11 at Miami Dolphins: White / Blue

Week 12 vs. New York Jets: Blue / White

Week 13 vs. Cleveland Browns: Blue / White

Week 14 at Denver Broncos: White / White


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Woods comes up big on 4th down

Posted by Chris Brown on November 30, 2014 – 6:24 pm

It may not have been the biggest play of the game, but on a day when the offense was struggling to reach scoring territory let alone the end zone, Robert Woods catch on 4th-and-3 was large.

Coming off his nine-catch 118-yard performance Monday night, Woods was playing with confidence, but the offense was struggling, particularly on third down. Come a critical 4th-and-3 at the Cleveland 37, Woods delivered.

“It was just a backside slant, front side I guess (Cleveland) covered pretty well and scramble drill with me and Kyle (Orton), I ran a slant and just tried to find an open spot on the field, went up high and he placed it where only I could catch it,” said Woods.

“Yeah we were trying, fourth-and-three, we were trying to get the first down obviously, and throw a little out route to Hogan and they covered it well,” said Kyle Orton. “The offensive line did a great job and I kind of worked back and I was going to try to run for it and I picked my head up and saw Robert (Woods) working back to the end zone and gave him a chance to make a play and he went up and I thought Robert had another good day.”

Orton hit Hogan for a three-yard touchdown on the next play, Buffalo’s only offensive touchdown of the game, but it was enough to get the victory.

“It feels pretty good, especially winning at home, you can feel the energy on the sideline,” said Woods. “I told Aaron (Williams), winning feels good, we’ve just got to keep winning.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills look to end red zone slump

Posted by Chris Brown on November 23, 2014 – 1:33 pm

The Bills had a good deal of success in the red zone in their first meeting with the Jets going 4-for-6 in their 20-point win back in Week 8. Since then however, Buffalo’s offense has gone 0-for-8 in the red zone since. Head coach Doug Marrone has been preaching a more aggressive approach inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, and the players are taking that message to heart.

Robert Woods explained what that means for him as a receiver.

“Be physical, run, be an open target at all times. Really just play fast,” said Woods. “When he says play aggressive it just means be ready for everything. Attack them when you come off the ball and make them back up and play everything, play honest.”

“We’re getting down there enough and moving the ball efficiently,” said Kyle Orton. “We had two drives in the first half last game and we had a 16-play drive and a 12-play drive. We had some issues early on on third down and we’ve done a better job with that.

“The red zone seems to be the last thing that comes. Everything is tighter down there. Everything is tougher down there. I think we’ve just got to keep working, keep pushing and when we finally break through we’ll do a good job.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone sticking with Orton

Posted by Chris Brown on November 17, 2014 – 2:02 pm

Even though Buffalo’s playoff hopes have been severely damaged with the last two losses it isn’t going to change head coach Doug Marrone’s plans at quarterback.

Ask Monday if he’s considering making a change again at QB, Marrone said he’s not.

“Right now I plan on sticking with Kyle, and I believe in every player, not just the quarterback player, who gives us the best chance to win,” he said. “That’s the way we’re headed this week.”

As for EJ Manuel, Marrone provided the following in terms of an update on Buffalo’s backup QB.

“He’s doing a nice job. He’s working,” said Marrone. “He’s doing everything we’re asking him to do.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-14

Posted by Chris Brown on November 14, 2014 – 11:58 am

Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Question on the Bills offensive philosophy.  When Marrone and Hackett were first hired by the Bills, there was a lot of talk from them about the up tempo style of offense they ran at Syracuse and has become so common place in college football and with some NFL teams.  They seemed to be big believers in running a LOT of offensive plays, limiting the defensive adjustments that could be made by calling the plays at the line, and dictating to the defense through their pace and related “matchup” problems the lack of substitutions could create for a defense–not to mention the notion of tiring out a defensive pass rush by forcing D-linemen to stay on the field for an entire series.

They started with that philosophy last year, but after EJ got hurt, they seemed to reduce the use of the up tempo offense citing the inexperience of the backup QBs.  In the preseason, we saw a little more of the up tempo pace, albeit with very very limited success due to EJ’s continued struggles with execution.  And so once again, they seemed to deviate from that philosophy.

But now with an experienced QB in Kyle Orton, execution and understanding of the playbook doesn’t appear to be as much of an issue.  Yet we haven’t seen much use of that up tempo style except in two minute situations–which Orton seems to have done quite well with, as evidenced by the Detroit game, the Vikings game, and even the 4th quarter of the Patriots game when they were behind two scores but still in striking distance midway through the quarter.

Have Marrone and Hackett simply abandoned the up tempo “philosophy”?  If so, why?  The QB doesn’t seem to be an issue.  Granted, the O-line is a bit on the young side in certain positions.  But perhaps an up tempo pace would help the O-line out if the defensive line can’t rotate fresh legs all the time.  Or might we see a return to the up tempo pace on a regular basis (instead of just two minute situations) at some point in the near future?

Thanks,
Jeffrey S.

CB: I think what needs to be remembered here is the collection of youth on offense. At the receiver position and now with two new additions in the offensive backfield in Bryce Brown and Boobie Dixon. I think that is what has the offensive staff convinced that a more methodical approach leads to better overall execution. There is little value in upping the tempo if your players can’t execute consistently because that puts your defense back on the field all the faster.

Now while your point about how Orton has run the offense in two-minute situations is well taken, you need to remember that defenses typically play differently in those situations as well. Just like offenses tend to pass more at those times in the game, defenses tend to play more conservatively, giving up yards in exchange for time on the clock.

So the success you often see in two minute situations aren’t as likely during other parts of the game. It’s clear the coaching staff believes that moving at a steady pace with a huddle is the best practice. So I don’t anticipate it changing any time soon.

 

2 – Hello Chris
I have a couple questions. When will the coaching staff see that the QB play is not the problem? EJ could throw a pick a game and not fumble. Plus he had the strength in the pocket plus agility to avoid half the sacks Orton has had. It is play calling I feel. We run such a melo offense. Out of 73 starts for Orton he has 8 comebacks EJ had I believe 4 in just 14 starts. We should have let him continue to develop. Orton has continually been trying to make up for his mistakes. (Pick six in Detroit. That game should have never been that close)
Secondly do they hope CJ may come back with the IR they placed him on? Thanks again for all your coverage of the best team in sports.

Jedediah
Palm Coast, FL

CB: I think Buffalo’s coaching staff would disagree with you. As coach Marrone said when he made the quarterback change, he needed more production from the position. EJ’s completion percentage had dropped below 60 percent and was missing open receivers. They were simply leaving too many yards on the field. For an offense that was starved for points it was a conscious decision by Marrone.

You can make an argument that they should’ve left EJ in to keep developing, but the pressure to reach the postseason trumped Manuel’s on field development.

As for C.J. Spiller we’ll have to see where he’s at when we reach Week 16, the first week he’ll be eligible to return off of I-R. It’s too early to tell where he’ll be in his healing at that point.

 

3 –  @ChrisBrownBills
Will we be able to afford to keep Hughes and Dareus with both their contracts up in the next 2 years?

connordomiano

CB: It’s my understanding that the Bills would like to re-sign Jerry Hughes and that’s job number one on the defensive side of the ball. Picking up Dareus’ option buys them time to address his contract. The catch here is the top three salaries on the team right now are Dareus, Kyle Williams and Mario Williams. Investing another big contract in the defensive line could be argued as an imbalanced approach to the salary cap putting a large percentage of it in just one position group.

At the same time it’s hard to argue with a unit that has largely carried the defense the last season plus which leads the league in sacks and is a top 10 run defense.

The Bills will need to be creative, and I am far from a cap expert, but with the salary cap continually going up in this era of NFL prosperity there is probably a way to make it all work.

 

4 –  @ChrisBrownBills

What are the Bills future plans with the HB position? Any chance they can make a run at Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson?

killerbeekevin

CB: I think we first need to take a look at who will still be under contract next season. Fred Jackson signed a one-year extension this past summer. Brown and Dixon will still be under contract for 2015. So the only free agent is C.J. Spiller and it’s my understanding that the Bills would like to keep their former first-round pick in the fold. And Spiller has said more than once that he would like to remain with the Bills.

Whether the two sides can agree on terms is the obvious question. If for some reason they cannot only then do I see them exploring other possible options.

You’re also assuming that Peterson and Ingram will make it to the free agent market. I think it’s unlikely to happen with Ingram with the production he’s put up when healthy this season. Peterson’s off the field matters may change the conversation in Minnesota, but he’s still a dynamic player and the linchpin of the Vikings offense.

 

5 – Hi Chris;

I appreciate all the updates you and John do all week long to keep us up to date on all things Bills-related.

Can you update us on the  Mike Williams situation? I know the furor over his agent’s supposed request for a trade was negated by Mike, who says he wants to play  here. Since then, we haven’t heard anything about him. Is he still on the ’benched’ list? Will he return? He seems to have vanished into thin air and no one seems to talk about him! Thanks for your feedback.

Darlene  in PA

CB: Coach Marrone has been pressed on this subject with the most recent flurry of questions coming this week. With the offense last in the league in red zone touchdown percentage and the acquisition of Mike Williams executed to help the offense in that area specifically, he was asked why Williams has been inactive in two of the last four games.

Coach Marrone cited a number of different reasons including the challenge of only dressing 46 players on game day and the needs of special teams and versatile players. He also flatly stated that right now a couple of other players are performing better than him.

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett also hinted at how Williams and Kyle Orton are still working on their on field chemistry where Orton can trust Williams on any given play to be in the right place at the right time. These appear to be the biggest hurdles in Williams getting on the field.

He was active Thursday night and got four snaps on offense and six on special teams. He was targeted once in the red zone.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Red zone play proving costly

Posted by Chris Brown on November 14, 2014 – 11:22 am

Now 0-for-6 in the red zone the last two games, it’s no surprise that Buffalo was unable to win their games against Kansas City and Miami. The struggles inside the opponent’s 20-yard line is something the Bills are trying to get a handle on. They know if they don’t fix it fast they make it that much harder to win games.

“We’ve got to finish drives and make the plays down there. If they’re bringing pressure we’ve got to handle it,” said Scott Chandler. “If they’re in coverage, they dropped into coverage a couple of times down there, they mixed it up pretty well. We’ve got to execute better and we got to be able to finish drives.”

“Oh, man, it was a struggle,” said Boobie Dixon. “I don’t know exactly what happened, I’ve got to watch the film to see what exactly went down.  We didn’t get the job done. It’s been a problem and we definitely have to fix it. We’ve got the players, we’ve got the coaches. It’s just not happening for us.  It’s just something that we’re not getting right now. We got to get it fixed if we want to have a shot at this thing. It’s frustrating, but at the same time you’ve got to stay positive and keep on grinding.”

“Our performance isn’t good enough right now,” Kyle Orton said. “We’ve got to go back to the drawing board a little bit and just the only thing I know is to go back and work harder and try to work harder and try to get better and it starts with the quarterback. My job is to put points on the board and whatever I need to do to get the offense better that’s what I need to do.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone not thinking about changing QBs

Posted by Chris Brown on November 14, 2014 – 11:20 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone was asked point blank Thursday night if he is giving any thought to possibly re-inserting EJ Manuel into the offensive lineup at quarterback. This was his response.

“Right now that’s not something that’s crossed my mind at all,” said Marrone.

Orton did sustain a toe injury in the game against the Dolphins, but with 10 days between games it’s unlikely to keep him out of the Jets game.


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Posted in Inside the Bills