Inside The Bills

Pettine: More 4 man rush than I thought

Posted by Chris Brown on November 28, 2013 – 11:12 am

Appearing on Sirius XM NFL Radio’s ‘No Huddle’ show with Steve Tasker, Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine revealed that their approach to the pass rush became less about the blitz than he anticipated walking in the door.

Even though Buffalo has had a healthy blitz percentage this season, Pettine explains that with an elite pass rusher like Mario Williams rushing just four has proven effective with proper adjustments in alignments.

“Part of it was overcoming myself. We never felt we had an elite pass rusher in New York, but here we realized very quickly that sometimes simpler is better and we’ve been a lot more four-man rush here,” said Pettine. “We’ve put a little thought into how we were going to line those four guys up and what matchups we were going to use. Who was going to be to the back, away from the back, identify which way the center slides and it’s freed those guys up. They’ve done a good job preparing each week to rush the passer and I think that’s shown up in our sack numbers.”

Pettine also credited head coach Doug Marrone in helping them to beat offensive line protections.

“Doug Marrone it’s kind of his specialty, pass protection,” Pettine said. “He’s helped us with opposing offensive linemen, these are the moves they get beat on and this is the type of protection that they’re running. He’s given us some helpful things throughout the year.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Other Bills in Pro Bowl running

Posted by Chris Brown on November 20, 2013 – 4:04 pm

With the news coming down that Mario Williams and Kiko Alonso are the leading vote getters among fans at their respective positions for the 2014 Pro Bowl, here are some of the other Bills who are in the hunt at their positions for fan votes.

DT Marcell Dareus – 3rd
DT Kyle Williams – 5th
SS Aaron Williams – 6th
K Dan Carpenter – 10th
ST Marcus Easley – 10th

Bills head coach Doug Marrone said just last week that if the team had a better won-loss record that Marcus Easley would have an excellent chance of being a Pro Bowl special teams player with the success he’s had in coverage.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mario & Bills rookie Pro Bowl history

Posted by Chris Brown on November 20, 2013 – 3:30 pm


With the news that Mario Williams and Kiko Alonso are the leading vote getters at their respective positions for the fan balloting for the 2014 Pro Bowl, we thought we’d look at the last time the Bills sent a rookie to Hawaii and the last time Mario played in the league’s All-Star game.

Williams has gone to a pair of Pro Bowls in his career while playing for the Houston Texans. The last time he was named to the AFC squad was 2009. He also went in 2008.

As far as rookies go, if Kiko Alonso were named to the AFC Pro Bowl roster, he’d be the first rookie to do so since Jairus Byrd went as a first-year player in 2009.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mario keeping sack pace

Posted by Chris Brown on October 28, 2013 – 8:37 am

Bills DE Mario Williams had another sack in Sunday’s loss to the Saints and has upped his season total to 11 in the first eight games. His 11 sacks through 8 games are most by a Bill since sack became official statistic in 1982.

Williams and the Bills totaled four sacks on Drew Brees, which was good for a guy that climbs the pocket and throws on the run as good as anyone.

“We knew it was going to be tough obviously he’s a very smart quarterback,” said Williams of Brees. “He’s been in the league for a while and at the end of the day we left a few out there. We’ve got to get a quicker step and get him down.”

One of 19 NFL players since 1982 with 11+ sacks through first 8 games of season (joined by Justin Houston of K.C., 11.0, incl. 1.0 today vs. Cle.) … Williams, Houston, and Robert Mathis of Ind. (11.5, on bye this past week) are first NFL players with 11+ in first half of season since Jared Allen (12.5) and DeMarcus Ware (12.0) in 2011.

Williams sack streak is now at five games, the longest streak in team history since Aaron Schobel went six games in a row in 2006.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mario’s strip sack on Sports Science

Posted by Chris Brown on October 25, 2013 – 9:48 am

ESPN’s Sports Science took the time to break down Mario Williams’ strip sack in the fourth quarter of Buffalo’s win last week against the Dolphins. Here’s a look as they break down the downward force of his arm on Ryan Tannehill to force the fumble.

Mario strip sack on Sports Science

Posted in Inside the Bills

Brees very familiar with Mario

Posted by Chris Brown on October 24, 2013 – 11:07 am

Saints QB Drew Brees is more than aware of the success Mario Williams has had as a pass rusher this season. He’s also seen Williams abilities in person more than some might realize. That’s because Williams played for the Texans at a time when Houston and New Orleans would schedule scrimmages against one another during training camp.

“We played against him a lot, practiced against him a lot when he was with the Texans at those training camps and we played against him, that type of thing, but just twice during the season,” said Brees following Wednesday’s practice. “He’s always been a physical presence, but over time you just develop certain skills and techniques and master certain things and I definitely think he’s gotten better as the years have gone on. He’s always had that big physical presence, but he has the tools to go along with it and you see the results.”

A positive sign for Williams is Brees’ sack numbers are a bit higher than usual so far this season. The Saints QB has been taken down 14 times in New Orleans first six games.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mario: defense’s success is due to coaching

Posted by Chris Brown on October 24, 2013 – 9:15 am

Bills DE Mario Williams is off to the best start of his career in terms of sacks with 10 in his first seven games. Williams feels there are a few reasons why, but the top reason in his opinion is defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and his defensive staff.

“It’s definitely the coaches and being around them they give us a lot of information,” said Williams. “The system like I said before is a great system and we’ve got a great coach who is teaching it.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mario feeling reborn as a player

Posted by Chris Brown on October 23, 2013 – 5:53 pm

It’s amazing the difference that a competent scheme and overall health can do for a talent the likes of Mario Williams. With 10 sacks in his first seven games, Williams is feeling reborn as a player.

“It’s a great feeling. I think everybody on the defense can say the same. Being able to go out there and mix it up. We’re moving around and having fun and getting after it and playing off one another,” said Williams. “It’s definitely a great feeling for myself and I’m sure everybody else would say the same thing. It’s a great time.”

Though he’s an eight-year veteran, Williams feels as if his career has just begun.

“I feel like I just started, but I’ve got knowledge as far as going out and playing and understanding things and understanding what I see and being able to react,” he said. “I feel a lot more comfortable, but at the same time for the guys up front we feel more comfortable together going out and executing things knowing how one another plays off each other. We’re just going out there and cutting loose.”

Posted in Inside the Bills

Mario on pace to beat Strahan’s sack mark

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2013 – 3:04 pm

Michael Strahan; Tom Brady

Bills DE Mario Williams has 10 sacks on the season after just seven games. It’s put him on pace to eclipse the NFL’s single-season sack record held by Michael Strahan (22.5 in 2001).

Right now Williams is on pace for about 23 sacks this season. He’s also not alone. As’s Chris Burke points out Indianapolis pass rusher Robert Mathis is ahead of everybody after seven games with 11.5. Kansas City’s Justin Houston has 10 just like Williams.

So it will come down to who can stay healthy and consistent or really hot over the span of a month or so. Either way it could be an interesting three-horse race to the end of the season.

Posted in Inside the Bills

PFF honors Bills D-line in Wk 7

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2013 – 1:05 pm

It’s probably no surprise that ProFootballFocus made Mario Williams a part of their Top Performers of Week 7, but he wasn’t the only Bills defender to be recognized.

PFF named Williams one of their top two edge rushers last week in the NFL as he his two sacks were only part of the story. Here’s what they wrote about his performance against Miami.

Edge Rushers: Robert Mathis, IND (+6.5) and Mario Williams, BUF (+4.5)

And so continues the extremely impressive year of Mathis. He made game changing plays as he finished with two sacks, two hits and a hurry, while his work in the run game was eye-catching as well. For Williams, he’ll be happy to not only have ended with seven quarterback disruptions (as he picked up his highest grade of the year) but also the game changing play.

Honorable Mention: Von Miller (DEN) and Jerry Hughes (BUF)

Hughes according to PFF had six quarterback hurries in the Miami game. Marcell Dareus also earned honorable mention honors for best defensive interior players in Week 7. He had four tackles and a QB hit.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mario: Sacks are an 11-man effort

Posted by Chris Brown on October 20, 2013 – 10:54 pm

Mario Williams’ two sacks Sunday, which both came a critical time also gave the Bills pass rusher the fourth double-digit sack season of his career, as he now has 10 on the season. Williams’ isn’t big on taking the person credit for those plays. As he sees it sacks only happen due to 11 men on defense working as a unit.

“The funny thing is you can get the best rush you can and get nothing and then you can have the worst rush and fall into (a sack). People don’t realize sacks (require everyone). It’s not just one individual person it’s everybody on the defense on one particular play. It could be coverage covering them up giving you an opportunity. It can be a guy next to you being able to occupy this person or that person. There are mental games. It’s not just one person. For me being able to power through was not just me. I owe that all that to my D-linemen and the guys on the back end and the play calling.”

Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-18

Posted by Chris Brown on October 18, 2013 – 12:59 pm

The Bills will look for their first road and first division win of the season Sunday against the rival Dolphins. Here’s the latest edition of your questions on email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

I had strong hopes our run defense would finally be much improved this with the hiring of Mike Pettine. Apparently that isn’t the case. I don’t think the high tempo offense is helping much at least not until we can string together a few first downs. The play calling on offense is extremely frustrating to watch. Hackett runs CJ into a wall of bodies 1st and 2nd down in the first quarter of every game leading to many 3 and outs. By the time we throw a pass the defense knows it’s a pass and it’s hard for him to get confidence early.

Anyways, on defense you can see them stopping the run in the beginning then it really looks like they get lazy at times. I can’t stand seeing Mario being single blocked just standing there content to be taken out of the play. Is there any emphasis on playing all out on EVERY second of every play on defense?

That’s what the good ones do. Their standard is to not be satisfied ever. Our guys seem to lose steam after they make a few plays and then they seem to get comfortable as if their job is already done. They too often put a shoulder into the ball carrier and just stop because someone else came to help. Then the help wouldn’t finish the tackle because another player got in on the play. Very poor tackling at times!  Do you see them being coached hard or is it just business as usual after letting up 500+ yards?


CB: I have to admit I am puzzled myself as to why the run defense is not better. The defense is solid when it comes to pass pressure and takeaways, but Buffalo ranks 28th against the run. That shouldn’t be the case with the talent they have up front.

The coaches insist that fundamentals are the main problem and they do harp on it every week in practice. They spend time during individual position drills every week doing tackling drills, more so than any other coaching staff I’ve seen here in the recent past.

So it’s on the players to do better there. Mario Williams even admitted it himself.

As for the offense I think Nathaniel Hackett has adjusted the pace somewhat. Now on their fourth QB it behooves them to slow the pace a bit to maintain possession. Buffalo’s offense did pretty well on third downs with Lewis at QB last week going 8-17 on conversions (47%). What helped was most of the time they stayed in manageable down and distance situations.

Part of the reason coach Hackett is so committed to the run game is it helps overcome the changes at quarterback. The run game makes life easier for Lewis to work play action and negate the opponent’s pass rush. Oh by the way it’s also been effective. The Bills lead the AFC in rushing.

And you should get used to some of the one and two yard gains you’re going to see in the run game in the first and second quarters. Those eventually develop into bigger gain plays later on in the game.

I remember a lot of fans used to lament how we scrapped the run too early the past few seasons. Now we’re sticking with it and some still aren’t happy. I’ve got no problem putting the ball in the hands of Jackson and Spiller.


2 – Chris,

I was hoping you could explain the captain designation on the uniforms. I have noticed that some captains have one or more of the stars under the “C” colored in in gold and others have none and some have all the stars as well as the “C” in gold. What does this all mean?

Thanks! – Kevin

CB: The captain’s patch on NFL jerseys has a large letter ‘C’ with four stars beneath it. The number of stars that are gold indicate how many seasons that player has been a captain. If the player has been a captain for more than four years, the ‘C’ is also gold. Here’s an example of Brian Urlacher’s old captain’s patch as he was a captain for more than four years.





3 – Chris,

It seems that year-after-year, the Bills have had a never-ending string of injuries to key players – and seemingly more than other NFL teams.  I’m curious how the Strength & Conditioning coaches deal with preparing players to avoid injuries (and other coaches – i.e., not taking an unnecessary big hit).  Looking at the last three years alone, here are players that seemingly would be on the field…but have missed time because of injury.

It’s just hard not to think that this simply cannot be simply “luck” – as it is becoming horribly routine.

Keep up the good work.

Chris Hairston
Kevin Kolb
Brad Smith
Alex Carrington
Ron Brooks
Marquise Goodwin
Stephon Gilmore
Dustin Hopkins
Fred Jackson
CJ Spiller
Jairus Byrd
Leodis McKelvin
TJ Graham
Stevie Johnson
EJ Manuel
Doug Legursky

CB: So the rest of the fans reading this know, Mike provided a listing of injured players going back to 2011. I can tell you that the majority of the injured players listed above either sustained broken bones or ligament injuries. That has nothing to do with strength and conditioning. Football is a violent game. To be clear I’ll go through the injuries from this season one at a time.

Chris Hairston – had an undisclosed illness and was listed as a non-football injury
Kevin Kolb – suffered a concussion while sliding to avoid a hit and took a knee to the back of the head from a player trying to jump over him to avoid hitting him.
Brad Smith – suffered a fractured rib on a tackle.
Alex Carrington – torn his quadriceps tendon – non-contact injury, just engaged with an offensive lineman
Ron Brooks – broken foot
Marquise Goodwin – broken hand
Stephon Gilmore – broken wrist
Dustin Hopkins – groin injury (muscular)
Fred Jackson – sprained MCL
CJ Spiller – ankle injury
Jairus Byrd – plantar fasciitis
Leodis McKelvin – hamstring (muscular) – missed 3 games
TJ Graham – hamstring (muscular) – missed one game
Stevie Johnson – lower back (muscular) – missed one game
EJ Manuel – sprained LCL
Doug Legursky – sprained MCL

So out of 16 injured players only four have muscular injuries that could be related to strength and conditioning and I stress could. Three of those four players are at positions where there is the most running and players are most susceptible to muscle fatigue. Buffalo’s strength and conditioning staff monitors player load with their GPS tracking devices in practice to make sure players, especially at those positions (RB, WR, LB, DB) are not being overworked in terms of reps in practice.

Here’s a closer look at some of the efforts taken by Eric Ciano, Hal Luther, Dan Liburd and their staff. You’ll also find if you look around the league that other clubs incur similar losses to injury.


4 – Chris,

Greetings from the biggest fan in Arizona and thanks for keeping us informed.

Do you have  any statistical data on Run After the Catch (RAC) of our opponents so far this year. On third down it seems to me that the short crossing routes and the RAC are killing us as far as getting off the field on third down. Kiko does such a good job getting pressure on the line or the opposing QB that the other LBs are frequently one on one on the underneath routes. With the defense beginning to get healthy, what can the Bills do to limit the underneath stuff on 3rd and four or seven and get the defense off the field.

See you in December at the Dolphins game!

Warmest regards
Larry Kordosky

CB: The Bills defense right now after six games has allowed the eighth-most yards after the catch in the league (792). Here are the teams that have allowed even more, some of whom have played only five games (see: Miami, Minnesota, Washington).

The crossing routes are some of the hardest to cover, not that it’s an excuse. I do expect Buffalo to improve in this area though with their defensive backs getting healthier as a group.

RK           Team                     Gms     Yards After Catch

1 Denver   Broncos 6 1094
2 Dallas   Cowboys 6 1000
3 Philadelphia   Eagles 6 958
4 Minnesota   Vikings 5 927
5 Arizona   Cardinals 7 880
6 Washington   Redskins 5 843
7 Miami   Dolphins 5 822


5 – Hi, Chris.

Your coverage is off to another great year.  Keep up the excellent work.

My questions relate to the uniforms the Bills wear each game.  How far in advance are the decisions made about what will be worn?  In particular, when they are wearing their white jerseys, do they have to commit to the white or blue pants in advance?  Also do the players have any real preferences over what uniforms they wear, or are they largely indifferent?  Do they have any superstitions about the uniforms?  Lastly, do the players have any say in the uniform selection?  I have to say that I am NOT a big fan of the blue pants and wish the team would stick with the all-white look on the road.  It is classic look and I think it is far superior to the uniform with the blue pants.  I am curious about your opinion as well.


CB: Thanks for the compliments. Here’s the deal on the uniform decisions straight from our Equipment Manager Jeff Mazurek.

The home team decides jersey color selection. Those decisions have to be turned into league office on July 1st.

As far as pants there’s no designation required it’s whatever the team prefers. Uniform combos are decided between Equipment Staff and management.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mario limited with hip ailment

Posted by Chris Brown on October 16, 2013 – 6:10 pm

Bills DE Mario Williams stepped out of practice early with what is listed as a hip injury, so he was limited on Wednesday. Head coach Doug Marrone insists his top pass rusher will be ready come Sunday.

“Mario Williams is fine,” said Marrone. “We limited him a little bit (Wednesday).”

Here’s Buffalo’s full injury report for Wednesday.

Player Pos Injury Participation   Wednesday
EJ Manuel QB Knee DNP
CJ Spiller RB Ankle DNP
Jonathan Meeks S Ankle DNP
Kyle Williams DT Achilles DNP
Ron Brooks CB Foot LP
Stevie Johnson WR Back LP
Manny Lawson LB Hamstring LP
Mario Williams DE Hip LP

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mario in elite Bills sack company

Posted by Chris Brown on October 5, 2013 – 1:11 pm

Mario Williams is off to a fast start this season when it comes to sacks. So fast that he’s on a franchise-best pace.

Through the first five games this season Williams has 7.5 sacks, which is the highest total through the first fives games in team history.

Bruce Smith had 7.0 in 1994, which was the previous best in a season’s first five games.

The Bills defense as a whole has 18.0 sacks and trail only the team’s 1997 defense (19.0 sacks) for the most through the first five games of a season.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-4

Posted by Chris Brown on October 4, 2013 – 1:13 pm

Fresh off the Thursday night game here are your latest questions. Keep them coming on email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hey Chris,

I really like what I’ve been seeing from the Bills lately. It’s starting to look like a great team. Can we expect Mario to play like he did against Carolina more often and when Byrd and Gilmore return how much better do you expect them to be? Lastly, I want to ask what is your biggest concern with this team going forward?

PS – I love what EJ has done but do you think he’s getting a bit overhyped it’s only been a few games, but man does it seem like this kid can keep his cool under pressure.

CB: I think Mario’s success is going to depend on the players around him up front. Provided they make plays when he draws the most attention from the opposing offensive line, it will force future opponents to pick their poison so to speak. Baltimore chose to double Kyle Williams and Mario most often in the game. As a result, Marcell Dareus saw a lot of one-on-one matchups and won more than his fair share with six tackles and a pair of sacks. As long as the guy that’s getting the one-on-one matchups is winning, the attention paid to the defensive linemen will vacillate back and forth sometimes week to week. We saw Mario get some opportunities last night even though he saw his fair share of double teams.

When Gilmore and Byrd are back in the lineup it’ll no doubt be a boost. The extent of Byrd’s role when he does return however, is up for debate. I expect him to be eased in playing in subpackages at first. Eventually he may be worked back in as a starter. Remember he hasn’t played an NFL regular season game in nine months, had no training camp and no preseason, and has only practiced Mike Pettine’s defense for a month.

As for a concern with the team, it’s the evolution of the offense. It’s going to be a process, but I think it has to be one that makes progress each week. Among the hurdles to be cleared are third down and red zone, two of the most important requirements to be a top offense in the league.

EJ has had his ups and downs, but overall he is making good progress. I think most people agree it’s a matter of when not if with Manuel.


2 – Chris,

Thank you for covering all the great news coming out of Buffalo. My question is in regards to the LG position. Colin Brown is certainly looking like he has had his share of problems in the first two games going against some pretty good and big DT’s in Star Lotulelei and Vince Wilfork. He also had trouble with Mizzou sensation and Rookie DT Sheldon Richardson. I have been wondering what his status is on the team? I have heard Coach say he is happy with who he has on the o-line so I doubt a change will be made. From watching the games and being there at One Bills Drive can you tell anything about Colin Brown and why he is having a hard time? Is it the competition he is going against or rooted in fundamentals and overall talent? For a man his size (6’7 325lbs) he has been a problem so far this year. Running to the left side for some nice gains would be welcoming.

Taylor – Greater St. Louis Area

CB: I think without question the Baltimore game was his best performance. In a more traditional offensive approach when they ask the offensive line to line up and smack and defensive front in the mouth, that’s what he does best. I think we do have to take into account the caliber of talent he’s been going against early this season. Wilfork – a perennial Pro Bowl player, Lotulelei – a top 10 pick, Richardson – another 1st round pick, Ngata – a perennial Pro Bowl player.

We have to remember he’s the new addition to the offensive line, so I thought before passing judgment it would be fair to give him the first month of the season to settle in. Let’s see where he takes his game from here.


3 – Hi Chris,

One of the few plays the Bills have run consistently the past couple years has been screens.  It seems getting Mr. Spiller, Mr. Jackson and a few others some breathing space was highly effective.  Unless I missed something grabbing a snack, I don’t recall the Bills running any screens these first two games.  For an offensive staff that insists it adjusts to the player’s strengths, why does it appear they have abandoned screens?

Matt from Saratoga

CB: I think part of the reason screens haven’t been used as much is because they are trying to play to the players’ strengths, meaning the offensive line. The loss of Andy Levitre limited their athleticism on the offensive line. Eric Wood and Kraig Urbik are capable of getting out on screens, but I don’t know if that’s enough to convince the offensive staff that it could be a frequent weapon for them.

Now we did see a couple of screens last night that provided some measure of success so perhaps we’ll see more moving forward.

We have to remember that Nathaniel Hackett and Doug Marrone are still feeling out the roster and finding what plays work best with their personnel in their system. The coaches have to learn what works best as much as the players have to learn what they’re being asked to execute.

Next year at this time there won’t be those questions.


4 – Hey Chris
Wondering if you could give us a projected return date (or game) for the list of inured players? I think we’re getting close to when Gilmore might return, right? How about Goodwin? Brooks? Byrd has no timetable, right?

Stephon Gilmore
Ron Brooks
Marquise Goodwin
Dustin Hopkins

We sure would be a lot better off with all of those guys on the field!

CB: Here’s an idea as to where they’re at.

Stephon Gilmore – Cincinnati is the earliest possible return, but I think it might be a week after that.
Ron Brooks – He’s closer. He’s doing straight line running now, but not cutting yet.
Marquise Goodwin – Think he has a chance this coming week. Began catching passes this past week
Dustin Hopkins – Real close, good chance to be ready for Cincy game.

5 – Chris,

We should really look at getting him, if possible, to have another good QB on our roster no?

Scott Young

CB: Doug Marrone has maintained that promoting through the practice squad is the course they usually take. Thad Lewis knows the offense and is on the practice squad. Of course Doug Whaley has said if they ever have a chance to upgrade the roster they will look to do it.

That being said Josh Freeman is a player that has some off the field concerns that need to be investigated. If those check out and he’s not looking for giant money, which is possible, then I’ve got no problem with the Bills kicking the tires on him.



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Posted in Inside the Bills

Dareus raises game, inspired by Kyle

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2013 – 11:12 pm

Mario Williams had a big game in Week 2 when Carolina chose to focus double team attention on the likes of Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus. That extra attention shifted to Mario on Sunday against the Ravens, leaving Dareus in his share of one-on-one situations. Situations that more often than not he won.

Dareus was the team’s second-leading tackler in the game Sunday with seven, including a pair of sacks on Joe Flacco and a pair of quarterback hits. His sacks came near the end of the first half and near the end of the game. One forced a punt, while the other put Baltimore in a 2nd-and-18 situation.

Buffalo’s former first-round pick, admitted after the game that he was inspired by the veteran linemate alongside him on the defensive interior.

“It was just a point of emphasis from Kyle Williams-give everything you have,” he said. “He’s going to do it for us, that’s how I always feel like I should play, do the best I can regardless of the situation. Head down, whatever, just keep pushing until the whistle blows.  Super Bowl champs-you’ve got to do the best you can.  I didn’t know what they had for us, I just wanted to do the best I can.

“We knew we had to anchor down, play low.  Not let them push us around.  We went out there with that on our minds. And we did what we said we were going to do.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-27

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2013 – 1:59 pm

A big AFC conference game Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champs. Bills are really going to need their reserves to play big. Here are some of the more popular questions from you the fans this week. Keep the questions coming on email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
I’ve noticed so far that most of the Bills running plays appear to have the HB running into a brick wall of defenders out of passing formations with no lead blocking. Is this how it’s going to be all season with Hackett at the helm? I know CJ can’t go outside every play but he doesn’t seem suited for that. Seems like they rush to the line to hand off and have the HB just run into the D line on first and second down then pass on 3rd and 6. Seems too predictable to me and not playing to the strengths of CJ at all. They seem too quick to put the ball in CJs hands. The key is to get it in his hands in space. What are your thoughts on the running game in our new offense? Do you think things will open up more as EJ comes along?


CB: I think we honestly need a bigger sample size before we pass judgment on the Bills running game. Heading into the Baltimore game it’s still fifth in the league so they’re doing something right. They’re averaging 4.4 per carry, which is eighth best in the NFL.

In Week 2 we saw more effective control of the line of scrimmage by Buffalo’s offensive line and that was critical to the inside zone plays they run. If you don’t reset the line of scrimmage off the snap up front it doesn’t give much for the back to work with.

I don’t disagree with your argument to get C.J. the ball in space. The offense threw a lot of swing passes to C.J. and Fred in training camp, but we haven’t see a lot of those in the regular season to this point. Again it’s only been three games.

I think Coach Hackett’s running game for this offense will evolve as the season wears on.


2 – Chris,

What are the implications if the Bills could / would decide to put Jarius Byrd on IR?  Not saying they want to but if he is unable to play because the pain in his feet is to great, then can they do it and if so, does that change his free agent status / obligations to the Bills.  This might free up a position for a developing player or allow for more depth to be added in a position of need.

Jim Harding
Macungie, Pa.

CB: The Bills are within their rights to place him on injured reserve if they deem it a condition that is not going to improve. For those that remember him, former Bills TE Ryan Neufeld had a very bad case of plantar fasciitis in both feet. I don’t know how he played with it because it looked like he was walking on nails with every step.

Eventually one of muscles, which run along the underside of the foot, in one of his feet tore. That ended his season. What the doctors did with his other affected foot, was they went in and snipped that muscle as well. From what Neufeld told me the doctors said the healing would be quicker that way.

I’m not suggesting that’s what Byrd should do. Neufeld was at the point of no return and Byrd appears to be making progress, albeit incremental. At some point however, with the secondary still short-handed due to injury this may need to be a stronger consideration.
3 – Chris,
I really like that locker room footage after Sunday’s win over Carolina. Do they only let camera crews in there so many times a year? I saw you did it last year but only for one game if I remember correctly. Keep up the good work! I live for Bills football and am constantly checking for updates on

Chicopee, MA

CB: Thanks for your readership and viewership. Yes, we’re only allowed in the postgame locker room to shoot after victories, but it is exclusive coverage you can only get at


4 – Hi Chris,

Thanks for all of your hard work!

It seems the Bills have incredible talent on the defensive line and Kiko Alonso has a ton of upside potential at LB. Why are the Bills continuing to have a tough time stopping the run? While it’s obvious the defense has made strides since last year, they are still ranked near the bottom of the league in run defense.

Preston, writing you from Medellin, Colombia

CB: Coach Marrone has liked the red zone defense, but not the run defense between the 20s. He simply said their tackling has to be better. He’s felt that too many rushers are getting second effort yards. There’s no debating that there’s capable talent on the defensive line and at linebacker, and the coaches drill tackling technique constantly at practice. It’s on the players to make it happen.


5 – Hey Chris,

I really like what I’ve been seeing from the Bills lately it’s starting to look like a good team. Can we expect Mario to play like he did in Week 2 more often and when Byrd and Gilmore return how much better do you expect them to be? Lastly, I want to ask what is your biggest concern with this team going forward?

CB: I don’t think there’s any question that when your defensive backfield is stronger it helps your pass rush, so when Gilmore returns and if Byrd returns to the lineup (there’s no predicting where Byrd’s plantar fasciitis is headed) it’s logical to think that their coverage abilities and anticipation skills could force quarterbacks to hold onto the ball longer at times.

As for concerns with the team they’re the same as they were in May. I’m worried about the depth at cornerback. There’s a lot of young talent there, but with McKelvin and Brooks injury history I’d like to have an extra corner in the stable if possible.



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Stevie, Mario, Leodis working

Posted by Chris Brown on September 26, 2013 – 11:59 am

Mario Williams, Stevie Johnson and Leodis McKelvin re-entered the practice setting Thursday.

None of them appear to be full go as of yet, but the official degree of participation will be known post practice when head coach Doug Marrone provides an update.

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Mario doesn’t practice, but plans to play

Posted by Chris Brown on September 25, 2013 – 6:06 pm

Bills DE Mario Williams did not practice on Wednesday, but fully intends to play on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

Williams sustained an ankle injury early in last Sunday’s game against the Jets.

“It happened the first time in the first quarter,” said Williams. “Just go through, fight through it, it happened again. It’s good, getting better.”

When asked if he’ll be healthy enough to play on Sunday against Baltimore, Williams made it sound like it won’t be a second thought.

“Oh yeah. Definitely going to be ready,” he said. “That’s not even on my mind as far as worrying about that.”

Bills head coach Doug Marrone also indicated that Kyle Williams, who did not practice Wednesday due to a sore Achilles would also be ready to play Sunday.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Other nicked Bills should be ok for Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on September 23, 2013 – 2:49 pm

Bills DL Alex Carrington wasn’t the only casualty in Sunday’s game against the Jets. Head coach Doug Marrone provided a rundown, but the good news is it appears most, if not all, will be good to play against the Ravens.

“C.J. Spiller had a quad. I believe he’ll be fine,” said Marrone. “Marcell Dareus had an ankle. I believe he’ll be fine. Stevie Johnson had a hamstring I believe he’ll be fine. Leodis McKelvin has a hamstring. We’ll see how that is when he comes back and starts working on the field.

“Mario Williams had an ankle, but he was playing the whole game and at the end he had an ankle that I wasn’t aware of until afterwards. We think he’ll be fine.”

The biggest question mark is McKelvin, whose progress between now and Wednesday will paint a better picture on how likely it is for him to return Sunday against Baltimore.

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Posted in Inside the Bills