Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 9-9

Posted by Chris Brown on September 9, 2011 – 12:46 pm

Hey Bills fans, we’re finally here! The 2011 opener. Hard to believe after the wacky offseason we had. Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1 – Chris, Coach Gailey admitted the Bills lack of depth on the offensive line. Bell isn’t even a top half of the league LT and if he gets injured, we are really sunk. Is there any chance Buddy picks up a veteran tackle like a Flozell Adams or Max Starks as insurance? I just don’t see us being very successful right now due to lack of experience on the depth chart.

Bryan Grosse Ile, MI

CB: Adding a veteran tackle does not appear to be in the cards. Max Starks is coming off neck surgery and is not on any roster. Adams is still out there, but on his last legs. Buffalo added Sam Young off waivers to back up right tackle with Hairston on the left. Not experienced depth mind you, but depth with potential for sure. I understand your concern because even coach Gailey said they don’t have any experienced depth and that it must be developed. Let’s just hope injury doesn’t require the Bills to call on that green depth any time soon.

 

2 - Hi Chris,
My question is about the Bills quarterbacks. I think that the Bills are in a great situation. I really like Fitz for now because we know he can play but also because he can be a mentor to the younger guys. I think Thigpen and become good, but I am really interested in Levi Brown. I think he has the skills and just needs more reps. Do you think the Bills see him as the potential quarterback of the future? Go bills!! Michael

CB: I think it’s hard to say that they see him as the Bills quarterback of the future. He’s on the practice squad here for 2011 and the Bills made long term investments in both Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith. Now Brad Smith is not a full-time quarterback, but he and Thigpen are ahead of him in the pecking order. That makes it difficult to see Brown suddenly ascending and surpassing both of them come next season.

 

3 - Jim Leonhard has been a starter ever since he left the Bills. Could you please explain to me why he was ever released by the Bills. The decision to let him go made no sense. Please advise.
Go Bills
Richard

CB: Jim Leonhard was unfortunately in a bad spot when he was released by the Bills in 2008. He had been a contributor at free safety appearing in 38 games and making 7 starts at free safety in 2006 and 2007. He split time as the starter at free safety with George Wilson in 2007, a player he largely taught how to play the position after George flipped over from receiver.

Come 2008 however, the Bills had added Bryan Scott in free agency, still had Whitner and wanted to give Ko Simpson a chance to develop at free safety after he missed almost the entire 2007 season with a leg injury. Dick Jauron believed in Simpson’s abilities and chose to make him the starter in 2008. Wilson was his backup and Scott and Whitner were the strong safeties. It left Leonhard as the odd man out.

Of all the safeties Leonhard was the best return man with respect to special teams, but the team already had Roscoe Parrish for punt return duties and the other safeties could help more on coverage teams, so he became expendable in Jauron’s eyes.

 

4 - Hi Chris,
Now that Lee Evans is a Baltimore Raven, who will be the Buffalo Bills deep threat? Roscoe Parrish is a slot receiver, who has very good speed, but beyond him, who else is there? Stevie Johnson had a great year last year, but he is not a burner. What is your take on this?

Tony,
Daytona Beach, FL

CB: I think for this season Stevie Johnson will be making the highest number of plays down the field. The offensive staff is hoping Jones develops into more of a downfield threat. Come 2012 I think Easley will emerge into more of the team’s downfield threat. It’s possible if he comes on strong that Easley could provide that for the offense as early as the second half of the season. But being that this is essentially his rookie year I’m not sure the staff or fans can count on that taking place.

 

5 - Chris thanks again for keeping us so well informed. My question is, could Michael Jasper not make a heck of an offensive tackle, similar to the way Jason Peters was converted after his first year as a tight end/defensive lineman ? Also as I seem to recall Howard Ballard was pretty much a project when he was a rookie. As you’ve reported Jasper has a lot of athletic talent for such a big guy.

Ron from Greensboro,NC

CB: You must’ve read the mind of Buddy Nix and the personnel staff. All along they felt that Jasper was a better offensive line prospect than defensive line prospect. According to Nix, Jasper felt the same way. So the question is why line him up at nose tackle all summer? My feeling is they wanted to develop him on the practice squad this year and groom him without the risk of having him catch the eye of another team. This past week he’s lined up at tackle and guard. He played guard his last two seasons at Bethel.


Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday running Q&A

Posted by Chris Brown on August 5, 2011 – 7:07 pm

Good evening Bills fans. Glad you could join me. As promised I’m going to be answering your training camp questions here tonight. So you know you can still submit your questions to my email account at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. I’ll be submitting as many of those questions with answers as possible below, so keep refreshing this page as I’ll be adding answers as I move through them. Hopefully your question or one very similar to your question gets answered tonight, otherwise I’ll get to your question in a future Fan Friday post or answer it personally. Just understand training camp is my busiest time of year, so I’ll get back to you as best I can. Thanks for your participation. Let’s get to your questions.

1 - Chris, 

How will the CB battle shape up in camp? In there a set starter or is the position up for grabs. With Drayton back does that push Aaron Williams to 4th slot. I liked Justin Rogers alot when they drafted him. It would be a waste for him not to play or even get cut due to 4 guys ahead of him. How many will the Bills keep on the opening day roster. 
Thanks 
Jack S.
 
CB: I think right now the entrenched starters are Terrence McGee and Drayton Florence. McGee has looked like his old self and the defensive staff has even experimented with him in the slot. I believe the top three are pretty much locked down with McKelvin being the third man in right now. Aaron Williams would need to have an amazing preseason to dislodge one of those guys from the top spot and Reggie Corner is primarily a slot guy, but those are the top 5. Williams got off to a great start, but with more installation he’s fallen behind a bit on the execution end.
 
2 -What should be the expectation for Marcus Easley this season? He will be raw and coming off injury coming into the season but he looks like a future number 1 receiver with both size and speed. Given that he has missed a year and didn’t break out until his senior year, how much will he be on the field. Is he likely going to be inactive on game days or can he challenge for the 3-4 receiver role. Excited to watch him in camp. Thanks for the great reporting year round.

Tyler 
 
CB: Thanks for the kind words. I think it’s tough to peg right now. There’s no question he’s got talent and if he develops he could have a bright future. I’m not ready to go as far as to say number one receiver talent because we just haven’t seen enough of him. Unfortunately I think the coaching staff is in the same boat. They saw flashes last spring, but not much else because of his knee injury last year and now his hyperextended knee. He should be back in the next day or two and hopefully he can stay healthy to get his career off the ground.
 
 3 -Chris, 

Given the need for both OLB and ILB’s, how many total do you expect to make the opening day roster? It looks like Merriman, Kelsay, Barnett, and Davis will be the starters. With backups like Moats, Shep, Torbor. But what about the fringe players like Coleman, White, Maybin and Batten. Will they carry this many? Is there one guy on the outside? How will Chan mix in a large number of players to fit both the 3-4/4-3 hybrid? 
 
CB: For a 3-4 defense teams usually carry 8 linebackers with backups for each spot. You’re guess is pretty well on with Merriman, Kelsay, Barnett, Davis and Moats, Shep and Torbor. Guys like Coleman, White, Batten and Maybin will be fighting for one, possibly two spots if they choose to keep 9.
 
 4 – Dear Chris,
Thanks for all the constant updates for us fans.  I am wondering if the bills are interested in Jared Gaither.  He would be a big help to our tackle problems.  If not him are there any other free agent tackles worth looking at? Thanks again and go BILLSMike from Cheektowaga
 
CB: This is a name that’s come up an awful lot from fans over the past calendar year. I don’t debate that adding more talent at offensive tackle would be welcomed I’m just not convinced it’s going to happen before the season. Jared Gaither is a guy that was available for trade and no one went after him because he had some back issues. Back issues with linemen are nothing to sneeze at. It may explain why the market has been lukewarm for him. Only the Raiders were poised to sign him and it fell apart in the 11th hour. He’s talented, but Gailey and Nix want high character guys that have a passion for the game, and in NFL circles I don’t know how many people stamp Gaither as that kind of player.
 
 5 – Did the Bills make an attempt for Zach Miller? He would have been a great addition. A dominant TE is something the Bills have lacked for years. Any chance they go after Kevin Boss?
Thanks,
Josh T.
 
CB: To my knowledge they did not pursue him. Miller is definitely a talent, no question and yes, the Bills have not had a dominant pass catching tight end. Boss by the way signed with the Raiders today. I just think with Chan Gailey’s frequency of using 4-wide sets and the depth of the receiving corps right now the need for a mismatch type threat at tight end is greatly reduced.
 
I will say that Scott Chandler, who was picked up off waivers last year from Dallas, had a very good afternoon practice today. A couple of touchdowns and for a 6’7″ 272-pounder he runs well and gets good separation. An impressive showing for him for just his second day of work since re-signing as a restricted free agent.
 
6 – Hey Chris,
I was wondering a couple things.  What’s the status on the Bills contract with St. John Fisher?  Are they going to stay there or are they leaving?  The practice field situation definitely makes it tougher.  Also, every year the team has ALWAYS done 2 or 3 full team autograph sessions before practice.  They are usually announced before a night practice session and it’s a way for the fans to get whoever they wanted, including some of the players that are impossible to get.  I was wondering if they are going to do that this year?  And if not, why?  That’s a very popular thing and it draws lots of fans to camp for those night practices.  Plus it’s also a way to give back.  Thanks for the reply.
 
Michael

CB: I do know the Bills contract with St. John Fisher is in its last year, but the decisions that are made beyond that are way above my pay grade. I, like you, do not know what the future holds with respect to training camp here. As for giving back to the fans I do know that the next night practice on Saturday (8/6) will include a bunch of contests and giveaways as well as a fireworks show following practice. With respect to a full team autograph session I have not heard anything, but if there is news on that front I’ll pass it along.

7 – Chris,

 I know that Buddy has said in the past that he wants to build this team through the draft. But with the biggest free agency in years why weren’t we more aggressive in free agency? 
Joe from Webster
Season ticket holder (section 130)

CB: Joe, I think we’ve heard Buddy address this question before. The Bills plan for building this team into a consistent winner will be done primarily through the draft and any remaining holes will be filled by free agents that aren’t going to break the bank. Yes, they have a lot of cap room, but the amount of cap room the team has isn’t going to change Buddy’s approach.

I know a lot of fans complain to me all the time about why we’re not more aggressive in free agency. What you need to realize is there are teams in the league that have been very successful with the formula that Buddy is adhering to. Indy, Pittsburgh and San Diego draft well, re-sign their own and fill holes with affordable free agents. Two of those teams have won Super Bowls and all three are perennial playoff teams. It’s a proven way to build a perennial winner, the catch is that it takes time and Buddy said as much when he took the job.

8 – Chris,
 
How has Aaron Maybin looked in training camp thus far?  I read something saying that he weighed in under 230.  I also read something saying that Daryl Talley was giving him a lot of individual attention and answering his questions.  Is Maybin big enough to be seriously considered as an OLB?  Has Talley’s tutoring helped him make any plays in camp?  Based on some of the comments Gailey has made about Maybin in the past, and the fact that he wasn’t allowed to dress for so many games last year, I have to assume that Maybin needs to show something during the preseason this year if he hopes to stay on the team.  I really had high hopes for him when he got drafted.  Does he seem to be making any progress? 
-Brendan, Las Vegas

CB: Well Brendan you’re right about Maybin’s weight. His reporting weight at the start of camp was 228 pounds. It does make it harder for him to stand in and hold his ground on run plays or maintain leverage on an outside rush. As for what he needs to show in this camp I’ll leave it to coach Gailey who addressed that subject today after practice.

“Aaron (Maybin) tries hard every time he walks on the field,” said Gailey. “The key for him is being productive on the field. He has to become a consistent player against the run and a consistent pass rusher. He has work to do, he’s not there yet. So we will see how he continues to develop but he has a long way to go.”

9 – I’ve noticed that their appears to be an amazing family atmosphere among the players and coaches of the Bills. Guys really appear to want to work hard for the guy next to them and not necessarily for the big pay day that could ensue. What would you say the impetus behind that has been?
Josh D.

CB: I’d give coach Gailey the credit for that. I said last year that his toughest task in his first year as head coach was to eradicate the losing culture that had enveloped this team over the past decade. It took him more than half the season, but he vanquished it and got the players to rally around each other and pull for one another.

There’s a sign in the Bills team meeting room that coach Gailey put up on the front wall it reads, ‘The STAR of the team is the TEAM.’ Hopefully that explains the approach Gailey has demanded from these players.

10 – Chris – Greetings from Arizona – we survived the wildfires and looking forward to Bills football!!.

Offense is looking good. What do you think of the offensive line ( I am mostly concerned about left tackle) and any chance the Bills make a run at a TE (Bo Scaife was still there this morning).

Larry Kordosky, Hereford, AZ

CB: Glad you folks out west are alright. I think there are some real concerns about the offensive line particularly with respect to pass protection outside the organization on the part of fans and it’s hard to blame you. The line still has an awful lot to prove. I think Demetrius Bell and Erik Pears are certainly capable, but we’ll know a lot more about what they can do as a group when we get to the preseason games especially with some pass rushing talents like Julius Peppers and Elvis Dumervil in the first two preseason contests.

Update – Bo Scaife signed today with Cincinnati.

11 -Chris,

Do you expect the organization will renegotiate contracts with Fitz, Stevie, and any of the other guys before the season or do you think they will wait and sign them to deals with terms that begin next year?
Thanks,
Nick

CB: I do expect a new contract for Stevie for sure. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a bit more tricky a situation. I can’t predict a timetable for when either of them might re-sign. No one can predict how negotiations will unfold, but it’s clear that Johnson can be a premier weapon in the passing game for several years. With Fitz it’s not that easy. Fitz is the starter this year, no ifs, ands or buts. Beyond that it’s hard to know what the Bills are thinking. And so I believe they could take more of a wait and see approach with him. If Fitz is lighting it up in the first half of the season I believe it helps his cause.

12 – Chris,

Along with many of your fans…I really appreciate your insight on what’s happening with the Bills.  I’ve been a Bills fan for 40 years.  I like what Buddy and Chan are trying to do by building the Bills using the draft.   Having said that though, with all the cap room we have…is there still a possibility for a Tackle or Tight End pick up…with all the weapons at Fitz’s disposal…it would be great to see him have that ½ second more he needs to make this team productive. 

Thanks for your thoughtful reporting!  

Now living in South Florida Sunshine…but still a Buffalo Bills fan.
Eric

CB: As I mentioned earlier I don’t see the cap room changing the front office approach as to how they’re going to build this roster into a perennial playoff contender. I respect your point about better protection for Fitz. I just think if there was an offensive tackle they wanted bad enough they would’ve signed him. They did pursue Tyson Clabo, but Clabo really wanted to stay in Atlanta. And mismatch tight end as I said just isn’t a priority in Gailey’s style of offense.

13 – Chris,

Thanks for asking our questions, and for all of the work you do. I’ve been curious about the Brad Smith signing. Chan has made comparisons to Kordell and Brad Smith said he signed with Buffalo because he liked what The Bills had in mind for him. Is it possible that Gailey’s plan might be to have Smith be a possible QB in the future? Might we expect to see he and Thigpen battle for Fitzpatrick’s replacement maybe 2 years down the road?
Love the signing from a Special Teams, Wildcat, and Reciever prespective  but is there more to this?
Thanks Again,
Brandon
 
CB: It’s tough to say whether there is more to this, but I think the long term commitments made by the Bills to both Thigpen (3 yrs) and Smith (4 yrs) could lead one to speculate that they’ve thought about the position beyond just 2011. What their plans are long term is anyone’s guess, but I believe your theory is not outlandish at all.
 
Thigpen looked very, very good today. His standing on the roster this year will be no higher than the #2 QB, Chan told him that when he called him as a free agent. Fitz is the starter this year and that’s final. I’ll have more on this in my Practice Notes write up tonight.
 
14 -  How do the late round picks and UDFA’s have any chance of really having a shot at making the roster, especially an offensive player ?  Because they don’t have the benefit of knowing the playbook at all.

 
Thanks, Tim H
Spencer, NY
 
CB: This might be the toughest year in football for an undrafted rookie to make a 53-man roster coming out of camp, and you’re right it’s due completely to the lack of OTAs and minicamps in the offseason. They came in cold when camp began and had to pick things up on the fly. Even coach Gailey admitted that veteran players are more entrenched in their roles than in perhaps any other preseason because the coaches are secure in their knowledge of what those players can and cannot do.
 
With the rookie free agents there isn’t enough of a base of knowledge on any of them because they didn’t see them through the spring. This creates more guess work with respect to the evaluations of those players on the part of coaches and coaches don’t want to guess, they want to know. So unless someone really, really shines, it’s going to be very, very tough for rookie free agents to make the squad. We’ll see.
 
15 – What do you think will become of Levi Brown with all of these new quarterbacks here? Do you think he will go back to be number 3, or do you think he has earned the number 2 position? I’m guess with Thigpens’ experience  he’ll go back to being 3. I personally would like to see him get a chance to play at some point.

Thanks Chris, Bills reporting is 2nd to none compared to all other football teams, (which I really need now that I moved to Atlanta) keep up the great work!
CB: Appreciate the compliments. With respect to Levi Brown, I think he’s in a bit of a tough spot. Like we mentioned long term commitments were made to both Thigpen and Smith and I get the feeling that coach Gailey likes having a 3rd quarterback that’s multi-dimensional that he can use on game day for more than holding a clipboard. Levi might be caught in a numbers game here, but there is one other option for the Bills with him and that’s the practice squad. We’ll see how he performs in the preseason.
 
Joseph DeLallo
 
16 – Chris,

Though I am sure someone else will probably ask…how is Michael Jasper fairing at DT?
Thanks,
Geoff from Hungary
 
CB: Wow wasn’t expecting a question from that part of the world. Jasper is currently running with the third team defense at nose tackle. He’s got uncommon athleticism for a 385-pound man. In 1-on-1 drills he’s won more battles than he’s lost as he effectively walks interior linemen back into the pocket. That being said he is a very raw talent. He has a lot of technique work to brush up on having not played defensive line for more than two years.
 
The true test of what he’s capable of will come in the preseason, but he’s an interesting prospect to watch no question. I’m just amazed at how a man that big can be proportioned as well as he is.

17 – Hi Chris:

How is Demetrius Bell looking so far in camp?  Also, should one of the offensive tackles go down, is there any indication at this early stage as to who may be the swing tackle?

Thanks,
Rick Shields

I would like to know who the ‘1’s are currently in practice. I know the depth chart is a fluid thing but reports are that the starting DL at least once was Dareus, Troup and Williams.  Would like to know if that was true?

Steve in Corning

CB: The defensive starters in the team’s base defense are as follows.

DL – Dareus, Williams, Edwards
LBs – Kelsay, Davis, Barnett, Merriman
DBs - McGee, Wilson, Byrd, Florence

Now there are several different subpackages where the personnel groupings are very different and the Bills run a lot of these during the practices, particularly nickel lineups with the offense going 3 wide so often. So that is where some of the misinformation is coming from. Even I made a mistake last week when I thought rookie Da’Norris Searcy was running with the second team defense for a few reps here and there. Actually he’s running with the second team nickel package. I’ll try to come up with an easy way to view the lineups. Maybe I’ll put that together tomorrow here on the blog.

Well folks, that’s all the time I’ve got. I’ve got to still put the Practice Notes together for tonight. Some good performances turned in by Chandler, Donald Jones, Terrence McGee and others. I’ll have it all to you in about an hour. Thanks for participating and hope to do it again real soon.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

QB rotation

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2011 – 6:48 pm

Here’s the QB rotation at tonight’s practice.

Fitz, Brown, Thigpen, Smith.

 


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Brown text got Jasper pumped

Posted by Chris Brown on July 28, 2011 – 12:30 pm

Bills QB Levi Brown sent a text to former high school teammate and now current teammate Mike Jasper on Wednesday a day before the Bills seventh-round pick arrived at One Bills Drive and signed his rookie contract. The photo almost had Jasper in tears, but it also got his juices flowing for football.

“He sent me a picture of my locker with my name in it,” said Jasper. “It wasn’t official yet, but just to have that motivation coming in and getting ready to sign this contract and get to camp and go to work it was a great thing to see.”

Jasper signed his rookie contract late Thursday morning. He told Buffalobills.com that he’s about 385 pounds and he carries it well. With uncommon athleticism it will be interesting to see how Jasper fares against true NFL competition.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Levi ribs Fitz

Posted by Chris Brown on July 26, 2011 – 9:21 am

Ryan Fitpatrick was still answering questions of the media in an impromptu press conference upon walking in the door at One Bills Drive here Tuesday morning. A very antsy Levi Brown tried to get him to wrap things up.

Brown came marching into the media room in the middle of Fitz’s press conference and told the Bills starting QB to finish up.

“Fitz, c’mon man! We’ve got meetings, geez, let’s go,” Brown said.

Brown was saying it all with a smile, but it’s clear the players are eager to get started knowing time is short. Fitz and Brown are scheduled to meet with Chan Gailey right now.


Tags: ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

It’ll be about decision making

Posted by Chris Brown on July 14, 2011 – 8:38 am

As we covered on the home page of Buffalobills.com today there is a lot more for the Bills coaching staff to learn about Levi Brown as he enters year 2 with the club. But quarterbacks coach George Cortez believes the tools and the potential are there for Brown to have a lengthy career in the league.

“We have confidence in Levi and he just has to show the mental aspects of the game, which I think he’s pretty good at in terms of transferring it over to the field because he has the physical tools,” said Cortez.

Chan Gailey has always said the two most important traits of a quarterback are accuracy and decision making. Brown’s decision making sounds like it will go a long way in convincing Buffalo’s offensive staff he’s a capable NFL signal caller.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Nix on QB situation

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2011 – 8:17 pm

Obviously the Bills did not take a quarterback in the 2011 NFL draft and from the way it sounds, after Cam Newton was off the board Buffalo was all but resigned to the fact that the position would not be addressed in this year’s draft.

“We said all along that we wanted to try to get a franchise guy that would be around 8 or 10 years and we just very quickly we didn’t feel very good about that,” said Bills GM Buddy Nix. “We thought we could help our team in a lot of other ways and so we didn’t do it. It was pretty quick.”

Nix did assure however, that another quarterback will be added to back up Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2011.

“We’re going to get one,” he said. “Obviously we’re not going into the season with two quarterbacks. We’ll have another one.”

Currently Fitzpatrick and Levi Brown are the only two quarterbacks under contract. Nix said a fourth arm would likely be added as well for training camp.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills will add a QB

Posted by Chris Brown on April 26, 2011 – 12:25 pm

It may happen in the draft, it may happen in free agency, if and when it rolls around this offseason, but Bills GM Buddy Nix in an online chat on Sportsnet.ca made it clear that the club will be adding a quarterback.

“We’ll go one of two ways. We’ll either draft one or we’ll try to bring in a veteran at that position,” said Nix.

Besides Ryan Fitzpatrick, who’s projected to be the starter for the 2011 season, Buffalo has only one other quarterback under contract in Levi Brown, a 2010 seventh-round draft pick. When asked about his status Nix briefly addressed it. 

“Levi really hasn’t had an opportunity,” he said. “(He) really didn’t have a lot of snaps as the third quarterback. We know he has talent. We don’t know exactly what he can do.”


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

QBs out for warmups

Posted by Chris Brown on January 2, 2011 – 11:00 am

With the full roster now at the stadium and in the locker room players are starting to make their way to the field for early warm ups.

The quarterbacks are out warming up, but at this point it’s just Brian Brohm throwing, with Levi Brown close by. No sign of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who warmed up earlier.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-18

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2010 – 2:39 pm

It’s Miami week and Chad Henne has lost his last six starts at SunLife Stadium. We’ll see if the Bills can make it seven. Now to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 - Chris,

I am a diehard Bills fan, and though this season has been as tough as I can remember, I love to see how hard the players have fought for their victories as well as their narrow defeats.  What bothers me is that during every game, you can almost count the seconds until they have a costly fumble at an inopportune time.  This past week was full of them. I’ll let Fitzpatrick slide on the interceptions, because sometimes he’s just trying to make a tough play…but the fumbles are so easy to prevent.  It started with Nelson’s fumble against Baltimore, and has continued every week.  What is the coaching staff doing to teach better ball protection?  Sometimes, you just need to stop fighting for the extra yard, and hit the deck – as Mike Wallace did during the overtime period against Pittsburgh.  Get what you can, and get down before you get stripped.  If Nelson does this, we beat Baltimore and possibly gain the confidence to win a few more close games.  Nevertheless, Go Bills!  You’ve got a lot of fans who will support you through everything.

Rob
Syracuse, NY

CB: Ball security has been an issue no question. Buffalo is tied for third in fumbles through 13 games played with 26. Only Arizona (28) and Oakland (29) have more. More importantly the Bills are fifth in the league in fumbles lost with 12. On Carolina, Denver, the Giants and Tennessee have more.

I asked coach Gailey about this problem a couple of weeks ago. Here was his response.

“The ball has been out way too much the last few ball games. That’s something we harp on and talk about every week. So you just have to get back to it with these guys. You make them concentrate on it and work on drills each week. It’s not something that you ever take for granted. It’s something you work on and concentrate on each week.”

Truthfully, there’s only so much a coaching staff can do to keep guys from fumbling. In the end it’s the players on the field that have to remember proper ball security.

2 - Hey Chris,
 
I was wondering what a day in the typical work week looks like for players and coaches.  When do they all arrive, where do they go?  What do they do?  When do they leave?  Also, I assume for home games they are expected to arrive at the stadium by like 9:30 or 10:00, but for away games, when do they fly out?  Do they always fly, even if they are only going to, say, Cleveland?  Are they expected to bring anything they’ll want, or does the team have someone make sure they have 180 sweatbands and gloves?  I know this is not “on the field” stuff, but its stuff that I really wonder about. 

Thanks for taking the time to answer all these questions.
 
Jimmy (Fairport)

CB: Coaches work a lot more hours than players. Typically 15 to 16 hours a day. Their longest day is Tuesdays. That’s typically when they put the game plan together for the next game. They also lay out the practice schedule for the week in terms of play installs and situational football. For them it’s a seven-day work week.

For the players their day typically starts at 7am. Lighter days of work are usually Monday and Friday. On Mondays they review game film from the previous game and get treatment for injuries. Some may begin to watch tape of the next opponent. Tuesdays are their day off.

Wednesday is the beginning of prep for the next game with meetings (offense, defense) and positional meetings (DBs, LBs, QBs, etc.). Practice is in the afternoon and most watch film on their own Wed-Fri. after practices.

Saturday practice is typically situational football, before they leave to travel in early afternoon for away games. They always fly to away venues, even Cleveland. Equipment staff packs bags for players Friday. Players just bring an overnight bag on their own.

Players have choice of early bus, second bus or late bus to the stadium on game day. Last one usually arrives around 9:45 for a 1 pm game. After away games they’re on buses back to the airport and wheels up about 90 minutes after the game is over.

3 - Hey Chris,
I was wondering if we were going to see any of Brian Brohm or Levi Brown this year?  There are only 3 games left and the playoff picture has been painted so it seems that it would make sense to start evaluating talent for next year.  Would it not?  I think that we know what we have in Fitzpatrick and it would be interesting to see how Brohm and/or Levi would fair not that Gailey has effectively implemented his offensive scheme.  I look forward to your thoughts!
 
Regards
Eric from Rochester, NY

CB: Barring an injury to Fitz I would not expect to see either of them this season. Fitz has earned the right to finish the season and it’s my belief that Chan Gailey and his offensive staff feel they know everything they need to know about Brian Brohm and Levi Brown.
4 - If there is a lock out this offseason what happens with the draft? Will there be one this year and another next year with the same order?
Nicholas Flickinger

CB: The 2011 NFL draft will go on as scheduled. I’ve made a personal inquiry as to whether the date of the draft (April 28-30) might be moved up knowing the current CBA expires March 3. I was told by the league office that the draft date is set.

As for the 2012 NFL draft I’m not anticipating it will be affected because the labor issues should be solved by then.
5 – Chris,
 
What are the chances of seeing DT Kellen Heard on the field soon? What are the details on the length of his contract?
 
With the worst rushing defense in the league, it wouldn’t hurt to see him get some snaps, especially against a run-heavy Dolphins team.
 
Thanks,
Brian

CB: I think it’s a long shot to see him on the field. The Bills have made a point of bringing in a lot of talent off the waiver wire and other places to see if they are players that can help them from a depth perspective or perhaps more NEXT season. Here’s what Chan had to say about Heard to give you a better idea.

“We want him to learn,” said Gailey. “If we get an injury or two he may have to go in there and play at the end of the season here, but we really don’t have any expectations right now. We just want him to learn and see how he moves around and how he picks up things. He does have to be ready though just in case. He’s a guy we wanted a closer look at in the practice setting.”


Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-10

Posted by Chris Brown on December 10, 2010 – 2:09 pm

Could be a winter weather mess on Sunday for Bills-Browns. In the meantime we answer your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1 - Chris,
With everyone buzzing about Andrew Luck being the Bills quarterback of the future, I have two questions.  My first question is, how are Levi Brown and Brian Brohm looking?  My understanding is that the Bills released Trent Edwards to give more snaps to these young guys and see what they are capable of.  So before start saving up for my Andrew Luck jersey, do you think Brown or Brohm have a chance at stepping up into the role of “the future”?  Second question, As well as Fitz has played, I don’t believe he is the long term solution.  BUT, Do you think he is good enough that the Bills will not draft a QB in the first round?  Instead draft a defensive stud like Marcell Dareus (Alabama) to help in the 3-4?
Thanks,
Bob in Jacksonville, FL
(Rochester native)

CB: I think you can count on GM Buddy Nix not pigeon-holing himself into taking a QB no matter what with Buffalo’s top pick. Luck is the pick if he’s on the board. He’s about as sure a thing to come along since Peyton Manning in terms of NFL success. Not saying he’s going to be him, but Peyton had similar sure fire success written all over him when he came out.

Trent Edwards was not cut to give Brohm and Brown more opportunities. He was cut because he wasn’t the answer. Just because he is not doesn’t mean that Brohm and Brown necessarily are. They have to prove that on the field in practice.

I think there’s some upside to Brown, who still has a lot to learn. Brohm I think showed he’s capable in the preseason. But I don’t know that either of them are the future long term starter for this team.

Fitz has done well for himself this season and could help this team in that role again next season (he’s signed through 2011), but adding a top flight quarterback prospect is still a priority for this franchise in the short term.

Again that doesn’t guarantee that the Bills will take one early. That will depend on how the board falls and who they feel is worth an investment that high in the draft. Luck may prove to be the only worthy candidate in that situation, especially knowing Buffalo has several other positional needs (pass rushing LB, OT, ILB, etc.)

2 - Chris,
Watched the Steelers game and was impressed by Alex Carrington’s play.  Looked like he got a good push off the edge, worked well on containment and pretty much held up his end, especially given the amount of playing time he has had.  Do you see the same things and do you see him getting more playing time during the rest of the season?
As always, appreciate your insights.
Jim
Macungie, Pa.

CB: As Chan Gailey has said from the start, Carrington is a bit further along as a rookie against the pass because sacking the quarterback was something he did particularly well at Arkansas State. This is the first time he’s playing in a 3-4, so that’s been an adjustment for him.
Gailey feels he needs to improve against the run a bit, and with Dwan Edwards now lost for the season he’s going to get a lot of valuable experience on the field. I really liked him coming out and I think this kid can be an anchor at end for this team for a long time.

3 - Chris,
I am an avid Bills fan from West Virginia!! (originally from Buffalo). You have been a very big supporter of Lee Evans, and I agree with you that he is a talent!  Would you agree that he may be similar to Trent Edwards in that he demonstrates his physical talent in practice and disappears on game day?  I don’t like that they pay him elite money, and he doesn’t produce as you’d expect.  

With the emergence of Steve Johnson, Donald Jones, and with Roscoe Parrish and youngster Marcus Easley returning next year, do you see any chance that they unload Evans for a low round draft choice just to free up future cap space to reinvest in our front 7 or o-line?  
Thank you and I look forward to hearing your responses!
Jim Eimer

CB: Jim you raise an interesting point. Stevie Johnson’s emergence has unfortunately shed a new light on Lee Evans’ production. He does have trouble getting consistent separation against bump and run coverage and opponents know this. What was once a position of perceived weakness is rounding into a pretty deep group.

As you astutely point out, Easley will return next year and was turning heads in the spring and early in training camp. However, unloading Evans at his current contract level (near $9M per season) would be supremely difficult.
4 – Chris,

Is the NFL Competition Committee going to look at this ridiculous “icing the kicker” stunt, that is employed by NFL coaches, after the season? Time out is called for no other reason than to make the field goal kicker kick the ball a second time -in the hope that he will miss.
  
It is really not fair to call time out after the kicker has gone through his motion and the ball is in the air. Something needs to be done about this!

LeeD
 
CB: I supposed it’s possible that it will be looked at a bit closer now that more coaches are making use of the timeout prior to the snap of the ball. But I’ve talked to Rian Lindell at length about this and he maintains it’s a non-issue for kickers. Here’s what he said about opposing coaches forcing you to kick it a second time with the timeout call.

“It really is a little like golf if you get to re-tee it after the first shot,” said Lindell. “I would think the second shot would probably be better. You get to see how the ball travels if the wind is blowing and if it’s carrying well. And there’s enough time there to go to the sideline and then come back on.

“I think fans believe that we’re obsessing over the kick through the whole timeout, but really I’ve been thinking about that kick since the offense got the ball. It’s not just all of a sudden I’m spending extra time thinking about it. So an extra 30 seconds is not a big deal.”

Lindell has said that other kickers in the league feel the same way. If you remember the only reason he missed that second 53-yarder against Kansas City was because his foot hit the ground before the ball and catching all that dirt slowed the momentum of his follow through. And that kick still hit the upright.

Personally I don’t like it. It cheapens the game, but if kickers don’t mind it, I don’t think it’s going away.

5 - Hi Chris,

I am curious about the nature of football players like Shawn Nelson and Percy Harvin having migraines. Is this football related or genetics? It would be great if you could shed some light on this. Thanks!
Much appreciated.

Stephen A. Naetzker

CB: Being a migraine sufferer myself (2-4 a year), which is not even close to those that Harvin or Nelson experience, I know a little bit about migraines. First of all, research has shown that migraine headaches are often hereditary and affect three times as many women as men.

If one parent has these severe headaches, children have a 50 percent chance of also having them. If both parents have migraines, the chance for a child to be predisposed to migraines goes up 75 percent. Even if a distant relative has migraine headaches, a 20 percent chance exists that any offspring will be prone to migraine headaches.

In talking with Shawn I know his mother suffered from migraine headaches so he was at increased risk to have them as well.

But there are a lot of triggers for migraines as well , such as stress , change in the weather, changes in air pressure (flying in planes), bright sunlight, flickering light from TVs or computers, odors or fumes and eating habits.

As you see there’s a wide range of triggers and migraines themselves range widely in severity. Just know that migraines are now classified as a chronic illness, not a headache. They’re not fun and they can be extremely debilitating. Hope that helps.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

QB Brown happy with recall

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2010 – 12:58 pm

Bills QB Levi Brown is relatively pleased with his recall of the offensive system after being away from it for about three weeks.

“I was watching film Tuesday with Fitz and through the meetings and stuff today I remember all of it,” said Brown. “There are a couple of new terms in the meetings that I’ll have to figure out what those are. I know about 95 percent of it though.”

Brown will be the Bills’ scout team quarterback in the practice setting giving looks to the Bills starting defense to prepare them for their opponent each week. He’s good with that because he knows there’s value in that for him too.

“You get to work in the pocket and do stuff you don’t do when you’re just sitting there watching,” said Brown. “So even though it’s not our offense you’re still out there under live fire so it still helps.”


Tags:
Posted in Inside the Bills

Brown back in fold

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2010 – 1:45 pm

With Levi Brown back on the roster Buffalo now has a couple of quarterbacks they can develop further.

Head coach Chan Gailey made it clear on Monday following the release of Trent Edwards that they want to continue  to work with Brian Brohm, who will now be the backup behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. But Brown was a player they clearly liked coming out and although his final preseason game had some ups and downs with accuracy, it’s obvious there’s some quality raw talent to be cultivated in the Troy State product.

Knowing Gailey’s history of getting the most out of young signal caller’s talents, it’ll be interesting to see how far Brown can come in his time under Gailey and quarterbacks coach George Cortez.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Gailey believes Brown has something

Posted by Chris Brown on September 3, 2010 – 9:26 am

Levi Brown saw some of his most extensive action in the preseason Thursday night, and while all of it wasn’t pretty against the Lions, Gailey believes the rookie has something.

“He made a couple of great throws and he made a couple of horrendous throws. We’ve got to get the horrendous out and he will,” said Gailey. “He’ll learn from this and hopefully be able to go forward. He’s got great potential, there’s no question about that. Working with him he’s got great potential.”

Brown’s best throw may have been the one that was called back on penalty. On a 2nd-and-14 from his own 26-yard line, Brown fired a pass down the left sideline that traveled 65 yards in the air where it was tipped by a Lions’ defensive back, but then pulled in by James Hardy who ran the remaining distance for a 74-yard touchdown. The only problem was there was a flag on the play.

“It was pretty disappointing,” said Brown. “I thought I had my first NFL touchdown and in pretty good fashion. I don’t know how long it was, 80 yards or so thereabouts. I was pretty excited. Whenever I have a long touchdown pass I always look back to see if there’s a flag and I saw it so it kind of sucked, but it happens.”

When Gailey was asked if arm strength was Brown’s greatest asset, Gailey disagreed.

“I think it’s understanding of the game,” said Gailey. “I think he understands the game. He has a great feel for things. A couple of throws he made down the field on some ‘gos’ were some nice throws. We’ve got to work on some accuracy part.”


Tags: ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Hardy’s big play wiped out

Posted by Chris Brown on September 3, 2010 – 12:23 am

At some point or another the luck has to change for James Hardy. The wide receiver whose time on the field has been limited in the preseason by injury got his most extended time Thursday night, but his biggest play of the night went for naught.

“We were trying to give him a good chance,” said Gailey. “He’d been out so much. We were trying to make sure that he got as many opportunities as he could get.”

Hardy appeared to make the longest play of the night when he pulled in a tipped 65-yard pass from Levi Brown and then fought off another defender to reach the end zone for a 74-yard touchdown. Only problem was the play was negated by a holding penalty.

The receiver kept plugging away and late in the game was targeted twice in the end zone. A fade pass attempt by Brown was off the mark on 2nd-and-goal from the four-yard line. Then on 3rd-and-goal, Hardy ran a slant inside and Brown’s throw was not on the mark for his intended receiver. In fact it went the other way for a 102-yard touchdown return.

To his credit, Brown took the heat for the play.

“I thought I could’ve thrown the ball a lot better than I did tonight. I was really inaccurate on a few of them. The interception I had was just an awful throw. It was an easy throw and I could throw it 100 more times and hit it every time, but for some reason I just missed it. There were a couple like that where I missed and I shouldn’t have.”

Hardy finished with three catches for 23 yards. Still in all that touchdown catch is on tape whether it counted or not, and that might prove more important than the six points in the end.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

QB rotation update

Posted by Chris Brown on September 2, 2010 – 11:25 am

After Trent Edwards’ time on the field is done with the starters in tonight’s preseason game against the Lions, here’s how things are expected to go at the quarterback position.

Brian Brohm will be the next quarterback on the field and he’s expected to get two quarters of action. Brohm barely got any playing time in the last preseason game against Cincinnati last weekend. He got on the field with 4:40 left in the game and attempted just one pass.

Buffalobills.com has learned that Ryan Fitzpatrick will not play in tonight’s preseason finale. Fitzpatrick got the majority of the playing time last week against the Bengals where he went 6-9 for 77 yards and a touchdown along with a 130 passer rating. At this point one has to think that the Bills know what they have in Fitzpatrick, which is why he won’t see any time on the field tonight.

Levi Brown will come on after Brohm has had his time on the field.


Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-27

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2010 – 12:49 pm

Big preseason game test coming up Saturday night. Eager to see more progress from all three phases. As always questions can be sent to (AskChris@bills.nfl.net). Let’s get going with this week’s edition.

1 – Hey Chris it kind of seems from a fans prospective so far that the bills staff intends to keep Levi brown as the 3rd option, is that the case or still a little early to say?  

Frank (Bills fan in dolphin country) Miami, FL

CB: First, my condolences for having to live amongst Dol-Fans (man that’s a lame term isn’t it?). With respect to the quarterback contingent I believe that Levi Brown will be carried on the 53-man roster. I think there is too much potential there to risk putting him on the practice squad.

Bills GM Buddy Nix in a recent interview on the Shredd and Ragan show (103.3 The Edge) up here in Buffalo confirmed that they’re only keeping three. My feeling is that Brian Brohm and Ryan Fitzpatrick are likely the two QBs fighting for the one remaining spot. Brown will be the third QB, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be on the 53-man squad. 

2 – Chris,

Since Jackson’s injury seems to be longer term than Lynch, if Lynch performs well do you think he may become the feature back again? He has looked great in TC I hear, and if he is back to his 2008 form he could be in for a good season. I know some coaches stick with what works and if he is getting it done why fix it if its not broke. Your thoughts??

Thanks 
Wes

CB: I think anything is possible with respect to the so called number one role in the offensive backfield. As Chan Gailey has said, he doesn’t care about hurting people’s feelings, he cares about scoring points. Yes, Lynch had a good camp prior to the injury, but so did Jackson. Jackson is still shooting to be back by the opener, and I don’t count that guy out on anything he puts his mind to.

Personally I think if Jackson does come back by Sept. 12 that he’ll be getting the lion’s share of the rushing work.

3 – Chris,

This is the first time I have ever wrote to you about the Bills, but I ( like many other Bills fans) am getting extremly frustrated with the organization and its decision making process.  One question that has been bothering me is why wont the Bills trade Fred Jackson? 

We have a crowded back field and some decision needs to be made.  Jackson’s value is never going to be higher than it is right now!  He’s almost 30, and the Bills got him for practically nothing, so their return on their investment would be amazing.  I know he has had one season with over 1000 yards rushing, but Lynch has done it twice in 3 years.  In my opinion he would have reached that mark last year if he wasn’t suspended.  Lynch is a capable back that has been proven way before Jackson came along.  I guess my point is…we could trade him to get more draft picks in the upcoming draft, since we are committed to turning this organization around through the draft.  If need be trade Lynch as well to get more picks to solidify our lines!  That’s where football games are won anyway. Please let me know your thoughts!

Thanks,
Elbert.    Albany, NY

 

CB: Unfortunately you’re not the first person I’ve heard this line of logic from. While I completely respect the idea of dealing from a position of strength to fortify other areas of your team, the plan in 2010 is to lean very heavily on the running game. It’s shown great promise in the preseason and Chan Gailey has a history of success running the football.

Jackson can do everything well as evidenced by his season last year when he became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and accumulate 1,000 kick return yards in a season. He also LED THE LEAGUE in combined yards from scrimmage. More than Chris Johnson, more than Josh Cribbs, more than everybody. In fact it was the fourth highest combined yardage total in NFL HISTORY.

So if you want to get rid of that guy I think you’re nuts. I say keep all three in the fold and pound the rock in 2010.

4 – Chris, I’d be interested in knowing if you think any of these players will be on the 53 man roster opening day.  Donovan Woods, John McCargo, Donald Jones, Ellis Lankster.  Also, what is the status of Easley & Wang?

Pete Howell

Fairport

CB: I think Ed Wang is a lock despite his injury. Of the rest I believe Ellis Lankster has the best chance. Granted he didn’t have his best game against Indy in the preseason, but the fact is you can never have enough cornerbacks. If the Bills keep six corners, he’s the guy. Donovan Woods and Donald Jones are in the hunt. Marcus Easley’s season is over, he’s on I-R. As for John McCargo, he’s worked very hard to adjust to playing defensive end in a 3-4, but I think he’s caught in a numbers game at the position, and knowing the Bills are likely to keep just six defensive linemen, I think he could be on the outside looking in.

5 – Hi Chris,

After 2 pre-season games, the special teams performance has not been very good, particularly on kick/punt return coverage.  The tackling has been poor and it has resulted in some decent return yards for the opposition.  Do you think this is a reflection of the Bills trying out players who have not had experience playing special teams, a new scheme that the players are still learning under Bruce DeHaven or do you think this is a real cause for concern?  Also, in practices, do you think special teams is getting enough reps?

Thanks.
Shenif

CB: There’s no question that coverage on kicks and punts has been a bit suspect. I discussed this with head coach Chan Gailey in a one-on-one setting and here’s the answer straight from the head coach’s mouth.

“We have people in the wrong places,” said Gailey. “We’ve got to get people in the right places and staying disciplined in their lanes. Some of that is because guys haven’t done it since they were freshmen in college.

“Preseason is about teaching those guys how to play on special teams that haven’t played there before. And we’re looking at a lot of guys on special teams to find out if they can help us or not.

“So you really don’t have your starting special teams units on the field like you do on offense and defense early in the game because you don’t know how many punt returns or kickoffs you’re going to get so you have to get those guys out there early in the preseason games.”

I believe the new scheme and some turnover have been contributing factors as well, but I’m confident Bruce DeHaven will have things humming come the regular season.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Nix on number of QBs to be kept

Posted by Chris Brown on August 26, 2010 – 12:05 pm

During an appearance on the Shredd and Ragan show on 103.3 The Edge this week, Bills GM Buddy Nix was asked how many quarterbacks will be kept on the final roster. Nix gave the following response.

We’ve got four and we’ll take three,” said Nix.

Of course Nix did not divulge what three would be kept, but it seems clear that Trent Edwards will be on the roster and seventh-round pick Levi Brown is a player that the team wants to develop. Placing him on the team’s practice squad could be risky as any other NFL club could sign him off Buffalo’s practice squad to their active roster if they so choose.

If the Bills brass determines that Brown must be on the active roster for safekeeping, then it will mean that Brian Brohm and Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the two men fighting for one roster spot.


Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Levi’s unique practice prep

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2010 – 12:37 pm

Bills rookie QB Levi Brown has a unique way of getting himself motivated for practice here at training camp.

In a recent twitter post, Brown outlines his original way of energizing himself prior to hitting the field.

LeviBrown10    watchin Tom & Jerry to get ready for practice. no better way….except maybe watchin Scooby Doo.

I think Tom & Jerry is probably best to prepare football players for the violent play that can sometimes occur on the field at least in a game setting. Scooby Doo to me is less applicable, but that’s just me.


Tags: ,
Posted in Inside the Bills

Don’t expect to see Brohm tonight

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2010 – 5:05 pm

The plan at the quarterback position for tonight’s preseason opener is Trent Edwards will start, play a quarter or so and then give way to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the second unit. After that however, the next QB in is expected to be rookie Levi Brown.

According to head coach Chan Gailey it’s no reflection on Brian Brohm’s play. It’s a matter of giving the backups enough time on the field. Gailey has chosen to play only three QBs tonight to give the backups sufficient time to get into a rhythm on offense. He believes if he tries to get Fitzpatrick and Brohm into the game as well as Brown at the end that a situation could arise where Fitz or Brohm made only get nine plays tops, hardly enough to evaluate a QB in a preseason game.

He would like to give both Fitzpatrick and Brohm more consecutive series so they can make a better case for themselves. So Brohm is not expected to play tonight, but in the next preseason game against Indy, the plan is to have Brohm come in and play after Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick will not play.

So nothing should be read into Brohm’s absence of playing time tonight with respect to the QB competition, but the only way he takes the field is if there is an injury at the quarterback position.


Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Inside the Bills