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Inside The Bills

WR Davis following Goodwin’s footsteps

Posted by Chris Brown on February 23, 2014 – 10:11 am

University of Texas WR Mike Davis is forecast as a third or fourth round pick in the 2014 NFL draft. With his strength being stretching the field as a vertical threat it’s not surprising that he’s trying to follow in the footsteps of former teammate Marquise Goodwin.

The Bills third-round pick last season, Goodwin delivered big plays for Buffalo as a rookie even though his season was interrupted by a fractured hand. Now Davis is trying to draw on Goodwin’s experience to better prepare himself for the NFL.

“Yeah Marquise Goodwin is like my big brother and we always talk and I get advice from him and I reach out to him and watch him on Sundays,” said Davis at the Combine in Indianapolis. “I just text him or call him whenever and he answers.”

Davis is taller than Goodwin, but has a thinner build and is not as proficient on the short or intermediate routes as Goodwin. He is a deep threat even though he doesn’t have Goodwin’s world class speed, but he was utilized more in the Texas offense. Still, Davis values his conversations with his former Longhorn teammate.

“We just start off talking about how he got to that point and the stuff I’m doing and me trying to get to the point where he’s at,” said Davis. “All of the stuff that we had to overcome and just never forget where we came from and what we had to do to overcome everything to get to this point.

“Marquise is a great player and a good receiver and I look up to him and we really didn’t use him a lot at Texas, but he made the best of whatever he got.”

Davis kept close watch of Goodwin’s rookie season in Buffalo and was just as excited as Bills fans about some of Goodwin’s bigger plays in 2013.

“From running that kickoff return back in the preseason to catching the long touchdown against the Bengals. I knew he could do all that stuff,” said Davis. “I’ve always believed in him and I always knew what he had in him. I already knew.”

Set to workout for NFL scouts this morning (Sunday) I asked him if he was ready to also run a 4.27 like Goodwin did last year at the Combine.

Davis bowed his head and started laughing.

He’s expected to run in the low 4.5s.

For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here


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Posted in Inside the Bills

EJ planning passing camp w/teammates

Posted by Chris Brown on January 30, 2014 – 4:02 pm

EJ Manuel and his teammates won’t be back for OTAs until mid-May, but the quarterback and some of his passing game weapons intend to get on the field independently long before then.

Manuel, who was making the rounds on radio row at the Super Bowl said he’ll be getting together with teammates sometime in March and April. The problem is both Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin are finishing up classes to get their college degree. But Manuel intends to come to them with a possible passing camp in Texas and California.

“My receivers told me once I have it set up just let them know,” Manuel told Buffalobills.com. “We’re trying to build it around the guys who are still in school to accommodate them. They’ve got to handle that first. We’re not in classes or in school so why not just go to them?”

Manuel said he intends to invite the backs to participate as well.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Tuel turned heads at NFLPA bowl last year

Posted by Chris Brown on January 18, 2014 – 9:30 am

Bills QB Jeff Tuel wasn’t on the radar of many NFL clubs heading into the all important run up to the NFL draft at this time last year, but his presence on the National team roster in the 2013 NFLPA Bowl and more importantly his performance drew the attention of NFL scouts.

Tuel, whose college career was compromised by injuries, a subpar supporting cast and a coaching change, had a strong outing in the NFLPA bowl game last year. The Washington State QB was 8-for-8 passing for 64 yards and a touchdown, an eight-yard throw to Xavier Boyce in what wound up being a 34-0 win over the American team.

Bills WR Marquise Goodwin had also accepted an invitation to play in the NFLPA Bowl game, but later withdrew after receiving an invite to the Senior Bowl.

The 2014 NFLPA Bowl is being played today at 6 pm ET on ESPN


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Aaron, Stevie out; Easley added to report

Posted by Chris Brown on December 27, 2013 – 12:51 pm

Bills WR Stevie Johnson and S Aaron Williams have been declared out for Sunday’s game at New England. Marcus Easley meanwhile was a Friday addition to Buffalo’s injury report.

Easley sustained a knee injury in practice Friday and was listed as a limited participant. He’s listed as probable for Sunday’s game. Here’s the full rundown of players on Buffalo’s injury report.

OUT
S Aaron Williams – ribs
WR Stevie Johnson – not injury related

DOUBTFUL
QB EJ Manuel – knee

PROBABLE
WR Marquise Goodwin – knee
WR Marcus Easley – knee
RB Fred Jackson – ribs
DT Kyle Williams – achilles


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-27

Posted by Chris Brown on December 27, 2013 – 11:31 am

Sunday will be the final step in trying to post a winning record in the division for the first time since the 2007 season. Let’s see if the Bills can get their first win ever in Gillette Stadium. Here’s your latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
Coming into this season knowing the Bills were going to draft a QB and most likely be our starter, I would of thought Coach Marrone was going to bring in a OC with NFL experience and a reputation with teaching young QB’s. I was really shock when he named Hackett his QB coach and OC. I was not thrilled with this move and I still do not think he is the right guy for this job. He does not use the players the way he should , like CJ Spiller who was unstoppable last year and this year he’s been shut down for the most part mainly in the receiving area. His play calling is horrible and his short passing is getting old real quick. Atlanta game Goodwin and Graham both should of had career games as bad as Atlanta’s pass defense was and correct me if I’m wrong but did either one have a catch over 10 yards. he is not the guy for the job and I hope Marrone sees this and fixes this problem after the season. I like EJ Manuel and I feel with an experienced guy working with him he can become the QB this team needed in a long time, I just don’t think Hackett can do this. Your thoughts and thanks for doing a great job.

RR21RaceFan

CB: I’m going to disagree with you on this one. I think there is a reason that the Bills were one of the most frequent rushing teams in the league. It’s because they had a rookie quarterback. I believe as the season wore on the hope was that EJ Manuel would progress in his play to the point where they could become a more balanced offense, but that went out the window with Manuel’s midseason knee injury. Now his third knee injury has cost him more time on the field.

So running the ball became the offense’s identity, and to their credit they’ve done a great job with it. They lead the AFC in rushing yards per game. This despite the fact, as you mention, that C.J. Spiller has not been the weekly game-breaking talent that he was last season.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why that has been the case. Spiller by all accounts is pretty healthy now, but his effectiveness as a runner has not improved a whole lot from where he was at when he was dealing with the high ankle sprain.

I think in Hackett’s defense he had a lot more to deal with at the quarterback position than anyone anticipated. When Manuel was hurt, he didn’t have a veteran QB to lean on, which was the plan with Kevin Kolb. So he instead he had to invest extra time trying to get another inexperienced QB ready in Thad Lewis and in one case Jeff Tuel (vs. KC).

I’m confident that if coach Marrone knew he wasn’t going to have a veteran QB in the room healthy and ready to back up and provide counsel to EJ Manuel that he may have given greater consideration to hiring a quarterbacks coach. Not because Nathaniel Hackett isn’t capable, but because of how much time and instruction would be required to school up three inexperienced QBs.

As for Hackett’s qualifications as an offensive play caller, he is more than qualified and I’ll again remind you that with a rookie QB who is learning on the job you are inherently limited in how much of the playbook you can use week to week.

2 – Dear Chris,

Thanks for all of your great coverage!  My question was about Chris Gragg. Why aren’t the bills using him more? All he’s done is make plays and I think he’s going to be a great weapon for EJ
Mike

CB: Coach Marrone has said it has been their intention to get Gragg as well as Marquise Goodwin more playing time for several weeks now, but it’s been easier said than done. Here were some recent comments he made about Gragg.

“With Chris (Gragg) it’s been tough for us at times to get him up and more involved at times, but when he has been in there he’s shown that he’s able to play and he’s able to be a tough matchup as far as how he can run,” said Marrone. “His blocking from a standpoint of willingness and movement is probably better than what his height and weight show that he should be able to do at that position so that’s encouraging also.”
3 – Hi Chris,

My question is in regards to the Bills offense. It seems that EJ is becoming more comfortable in throwing the ball “between” the numbers and play action. He threw some nice strikes to Chandler and Gragg against the Jags. Why does it seem that it takes getting into late 2nd Quarter or in the second half to start calling more of those plays? Is it because the running game has to be established first for those plays to be successful? Or is it just the way that Coach Hackett likes to call the plays?

Thanks, Tim in Niagara Ontario

CB: Once again I’ll defer to coach Marrone on EJ Manuel’s slow starts in games this season. Here’s what coach said after his most recent slow start at Jacksonville.

“I think you can see it in spots at times. But there’s no doubt that he got off to… I wouldn’t say slow, and he knows it, we talked to him, he got off to a very poor start,” said Marrone. “But the one thing about the kid, which you’ve seen over the course of him playing is he can fight his way through that and learn. Now are there some things that caught us yesterday the second time around where we would’ve liked not to make the same mistake, absolutely. But again he’s a young kid, he’s in here today working hard already watching the film getting ready to go. That’s what you want from your quarterback and keep getting better and keep playing through that.”

 

4 – Thanks Chris for all your Coverage of our Buffalo Bills!

When Aaron Williams went down on Sunday, Jim Leonhard came in and once again made 2 huge plays. It shows how important depth is on an NFL football team. Every time he has played, he has made big plays. Do the Bills make a Valiant effort to resign some of these key backup players like Leonhard?

Thanks, Eileen in St.Catharines Ontario

CB: Leonhard has been known for the big play since his college days at Wisconsin. He had 16 interceptions in his college career. He’s a savvy player who makes plays despite not being the most physically gifted safety around. He is a free agent after the season.

His return to the Bills could be directly tied to what happens with Jairus Byrd another free agent safety for Buffalo. If Byrd is re-signed I think it lessens the likelihood that Leonhard is also back knowing there are two young safeties on the roster in Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks. If Byrd is not back, then Leonhard becomes a much more viable option to re-sign as I see it.

 

5 – Chris,

I’m wondering why the Bills are using Graham more than Goodwin? IMO, the Bills are not effectively using Goodwin, as they continue to throw him an occasional deep pass to him every game. In the last Jets game, where Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods were out due to injuries, Goodwin had his best receiving game of the year as Goodwin was catching passes all over the field, and IMO, the Bills had one of their best offensive outputs of the season. I feel Goodwin can be more effective catching passes in the slot, and other parts of the field, besides going for the deep routes a couple of times a game. So far, Graham has proven to be very inconsistent as he has dropped numerous passes, and does not get the same consistent separation as Goodwin does. At this point, it seems EJ Manuel has more chemistry with Woods and Goodwin, than he does with Johnson and Graham. I would rather see Woods and Goodwin as the Bills top 2 WR’s, with Johnson in the slot as this could help Manuel’s development.

Thanks for all the hard work that you do covering the Bills!

Steve
Fredericksburg, VA

CB: Goodwin has produced when given more time on the field. I think he has demonstrated dependable hands this season even in traffic. The slot might be an interesting spot for Goodwin to line up more often moving forward, though Woods could be effective inside too. The depth chart at receiver that you’re suggesting could shift in that direction going into next season. It’ll all come down to competition at training camp.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Goodwin, Jackson, Manuel practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on December 26, 2013 – 12:06 pm

Three Bills offensive players, who all appear on the team’s injury report this week are practicing here on Thursday.

WR Marquise Goodwin (knee), RB Fred Jackson (ribs) and QB EJ Manuel (knee) were all participating during the media viewing portion of practice. We’ll get their official practice participation post practice from head coach Doug Marrone.

Stevie Johnson and Aaron Williams (ribs) were not in attendance.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

EJ listed as limited

Posted by Chris Brown on December 26, 2013 – 10:10 am

Bills starting QB EJ Manuel practiced on Tuesday. On Wednesday the team did not practice, but had to list what the participation level would have been if the injured players had practiced. Manuel was listed as a limited participant.

Also listed as limited was WR Marquise Goodwin, who sustained a knee injury in last week’s game and did not return.

Four players were listed as non-participants.

RB Fred Jackson – ribs
DT Kyle Williams – achilles
S Aaron Williams – ribs
WR Stevie Johnson – not injury related

Backup QB Thad Lewis was also listed as a full participant with a left shoulder injury.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Goodwin practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on December 24, 2013 – 12:23 pm

Bills WR Marquise Goodwin appeared no worse for wear at practice here on Tuesday. Head coach Doug Marrone indicated on Monday that the speed receiver was doing a lot better on Monday after leaving Sunday’s game with a knee injury in the first half.

“I think he was better (Monday) so that’s encouraging and we’ll see where he’s at (today) and we’ll take it from there,” said Marrone. “It’s the same injury that he’s been having during the year. It’s kind of worked the same way. He might’ve been limited on a day and needed a day or rest and then comes back. We hope it continues to be that way and then we should have him back.”

We may not get Goodwin’s official practice participation however, because today is only Tuesday and league rules stipulate that teams do not have to provide practice participation until Wednesday for injured players.


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Goodwin to be re-evaluated Monday

Posted by Chris Brown on December 22, 2013 – 5:52 pm

Bills WR Marquise Goodwin left Sunday’s game with a knee injury in the first half and did not return. Head coach Doug Marrone provided what information he could postgame.

“It was the same injury he’s had this injury before where it kind of goes and comes and it’s a knee,” said Marrone. “So I don’t know of the extent of it, obviously it’s worse than it has been in the other games. We’ll know more after the doctors talk to him.”

Goodwin will be re-evaluated Monday.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Finishing strong the top priority

Posted by Chris Brown on December 13, 2013 – 8:54 am

The Bills are mired in a six game stretch in which they’ve lost five. With three games to play in the regular season their focus is finishing the season strong with victories.

“It’s a big deal,” said Marquise Goodwin. “We want to finish the season strong regardless of our record, regardless of how we’ve played in the past few weeks, even throughout the season. We just want to maximize the opportunities that we have left and just do the best we can to end on a good note.”

“That’s our main goal right now, and we’ll kind of see where things end up at the end of the season, but if we could finish with these three wins I think that would give us a great taste going into January and going into OTAs in the spring, so that’s our main goal,” said EJ Manuel.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Throwback: Goodwin knew early he’d be a star

Posted by Anna Stolzenburg on December 12, 2013 – 11:29 am

doodle-throwback-goodwin

He’s an Olympic athlete and an NFL wide receiver, and believe it or not, Marquise Goodwin figured he’d reach those athletic heights at a young age.

“I’ve always been the speed guy,” Goodwin said. “I knew right away I’d be good when I started. The same summer I started football and track. The first team I was on in football we won the championship and the first team I ran track with we won. I pretty much figured it out quickly that I was good.”

After begging his mom to let him play football, he started at the age of nine and never looked back.

“I was always one of those kids that had a little football,” he said. “I always wanted to play growing up but I was my momma’s baby, I was the only boy, so she didn’t want me to hurt myself. I was a small dude. So she finally let me go out there.”

The natural athlete and speedster excelled at football, basketball, track and baseball, but he says he’s always been a football guy first and foremost.

“I’m love track too, but I’m definitely a football guy.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills, Off the Field

More than go’s for Goodwin & Graham

Posted by Chris Brown on December 11, 2013 – 5:37 pm

As head coach Doug Marrone tries to move Buffalo’s offense forward he’s also trying to develop some of his deep passing threats into more than just field stretchers.

I think that we have to find ways as an offense where we can get them t just be throwing go routes. When you look at two weeks ago when we played, we had and I went back and looked, we have targeted both of them. Four times for the two and then we target T.J. last week some t get the catches.

“Now we’ve got to make sure we’re doing things with them where teams aren’t getting beat with just run and go’s. Put it up there a little bit where we can use their speed and get them in. I think that’s a challenge for us, not necessarily the players. That’s a challenge for us as coaches and that’s our responsibility.”

Marrone said earlier this week that Goodwin’s route running ability is far more varied than go routes in terms of his ability. He wants to see him become a more varied component in Buffalo’s attack.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Goodwin play time to increase

Posted by Chris Brown on December 9, 2013 – 5:06 pm

Marquise Goodwin

It’s been talked about, but now it sounds like it will in fact come to fruition. Marquise Goodwin, who has delivered some of the team’s bigger pass plays of the season, will be seeing more playing time.

That according to head coach Doug Marrone, who admits the deep threat has to see more time on the field. Marrone was asked about both Goodwin and T.J. Graham and their lack of involvement in the offense of late.

“I think that those two guys are obviously guys that have great speed. We have to find a way to get them involved,” said Marrone. “Marquise Goodwin can run intermediate routes. T.J. Graham can run cross field routes so there are ways that we can get them involved, so we have to make sure we look at it.

“Like anything else, I think those guys have talent. There’s no doubt they have talent. They have better than average speed. We have to get the right group of people in the game to be productive and that’s what we’re looking at with everybody.”

Marrone then followed up later by saying he intended to meet with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to discuss giving more time on the field to Goodwin specifically.

“I think Marquise Goodwin - and I talked to coach Hackett about this I think we have to get him in there more,” said Marrone. “I think T.J. has to work on becoming more consistent.”

Goodwin played 26 of the team’s 67 snaps on offense or 39 percent of the plays.


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Goodwin probable

Posted by Chris Brown on December 6, 2013 – 12:36 pm

Bills WR Marquise Goodwin was pulled out of practice early on Thursday after tweaking a calf muscle, but he’s expected to be fine for Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.

Goodwin practiced fully on Friday and is listed as probable for Sunday’s game.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-6

Posted by Chris Brown on December 6, 2013 – 11:49 am

It’s the final quarter of the 2013 regular season. Buffalo will try to post a winning record in these last four games, three of which are on the road. Here’s your latest edition of queries on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Thank you for all your coverage of the Bills for us fans! I have two questions for you. First of all, it seems as though as of late the Bills offense has been pretty successful on the deep Go routes from TJ Graham and Marquise Goodwin. Do you think that Coach Marrone and Hackett would consider getting Spiller more involved in some deep plays in the passing game?

Last year it seemed to work pretty well and it would give another added dimension to the offense given his speed and talent in the open field. My second question is, so far we have not seen many “trick” plays like fake field goals, fake Punts, flea flickers etc. Do you feel that this coaching staff just doesn’t feel comfortable running those plays, or is it just the fact that the situation to use a trick play just hasn’t come up yet?

Thanks, Eileen in Ontario

CB: I think the Bills will continue to work on pushing the ball down the field to take advantage of the speed that T.J. Graham and Marquise Goodwin bring to the offense. Those plays have been successful at times, but we all need to realize that those are not high percentage plays. Any coach will tell you the NFL is more about getting first downs than touchdowns, because the better an offense is at getting first downs, the more successful they are at scoring touchdowns.

The offensive staff has made a concerted effort to go with high percentage plays in an effort to keep the offense on the field.

As for trick plays, I think we will see a few before the season is over, but again the coaching staff is trying to build a foundation on consistent plays that are productive. There is a time and place for trick plays, but they are not something that any coach wants to hang his hat on.

2 – Chris,
First off, thanks for doing an awesome job covering all the Bills News. My question for you is in regards to the Bills Defense. I feel that Jim Leonhard really played well, especially with his takeaways while he was filling in during injuries. Why don’t the Bills sub him in on obvious passing downs? I think he could be a strong player in the backfield and result in more turnovers for the Bills D.

Secondly, do you feel that Nickell Robey has the intangibles to eventually be considered to play a boundary corner as well as nickel? He seems to be excelling and really playing good football and seems to just keep getting better every week.

Thanks, Tim in Niagara

CB: There’s no question that Leonard’s playing time on defense has suffered since Jairus Byrd and Stephon Gilmore returned to the lineup. Gilmore’s return allowed Aaron Williams to return to safety with Byrd manning the other safety spot.

I like Leonhard as a player, and he is a heady player when it comes to anticipating and making big plays (INTs). That being said, Byrd and Williams offer better coverage ability by virtue of both of them being former cornerbacks. Byrd was a corner in college and Williams was a corner in college and his first two season in the NFL.

That provides DC Mike Pettine with a lot of versatility in coverage assignments in his defensive scheme and as Pettine himself has said the strength of his defense is its versatility.

That’s not to say that Leonhard, if needed, could not be a productive player in this defense. He’s proven that already this season. But Byrd and Williams offer more versatility and that helps to keep opposing offenses off guard.

As for Nickell Robey, he has done very well as the team’s nickel corner. At 5’8” and 165 pounds that’s his position. He would be hard pressed to be as successful on the boundary as a cornerback. The receivers on the outside in this league are just too big and too physical. Robey based on his body type alone, would be a target out there for fade passes and jump balls.

His best fit is as a slot defender and he can play for a long time in this league in that role.

 

3 – Chris:
EJ’s decision making, release time and downfield accuracy appears to have room for improvement.  This may be explained by his lack of NFL experience.  Since there is no QB coach in the organization and Offensive coordinator Hackett’s collegiate playing experience is defensive orientated, how is EJ be coached up in a professional manner?
Conrad in Elma
CB: I understand your point about Hackett’s playing experience, but he has been working at the elbow of a host of offensive coaches at the position since he was a kid. He knows how to school quarterbacks on footwork and throwing technique. Decision making is something that should improve the more he plays and gets accustomed to defensive looks.

I’ve wondered about how challenging it has been for Hackett to balance the responsibility of getting an offensive scheme implemented and executed effectively in year one while also helping a rookie quarterback make strides in his first year in the league. That’s a big ask.

Add in the fact that he had to get a second rookie QB and another young signal caller ready to play at different points in the season and you see the demands that were placed on Hackett this season.

 

4 – Chris,

What is the status of Carrington? He was playing great before he got hurt. Hope he is doing well.

Michael J. McCarthy
Pittsfield, MA

CB: Alex Carrington had successful surgery on his torn quadriceps tendon that landed him on injured reserve. I talked to him a couple of weeks ago and he told me he’s progressing well in his rehab. He’s working here at One Bills Drive on a daily basis with the trainers on his rehab regimen. The rehab timetable is typically 7-9 months and he’s just 11 weeks removed from suffering the injury, so he’s got a long road in front of him, but he’s walking under his own power.

5 – Chris,
Something that I noticed during the Falcons game about EJ. Do you remember back in the day when Dan Marino would get behind center? He would always lick his hands and you knew was going to be a pass.

During Falcons game I noticed that EJ would leave his mouthpiece in his helmet during running plays, and put it in during passing plays…. I’m wondering if anybody else is noticing this?? like the opposing defense….. if you could pass it along :-)

Thanks,
Mike bills fan
Longwood Florida

CB: To clear this up for everyone. I saw that it was a popular topic on Twitter during the game last week, but there was no merit to it. There were run plays executed during the game when his mouthpiece was tucked into his helmet facemask instead of his mouth.

There is no absolute situation in terms of play calls when it comes to the location of EJ Manuel’s mouthpiece.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

2 players added to Bills injury report

Posted by Chris Brown on December 5, 2013 – 4:47 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone added two players to the team’s injury report Thursday.

One addition was not injury related. TE Scott Chandler missed Thursday’s practice with his wife expecting to deliver the newest addition to the Chandler family in the next 24 hours.

The other addition was WR Marquise Goodwin, who suffered what Marrone called a tweaked calf in practice. Marrone expects Goodwin to be fine for Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay, but he was a limited participant Thursday.

Here’s the rest of the report.

Player

Pos

Injury

Participation   Wednesday

Participation   Thursday

Kyle Williams

DT

Achilles

DNP

FP

Marquise Goodwin

WR

Calf

LP

Scott Chandler

TE

Not injury related

DNP


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Goodwin tweaks calf

Posted by Chris Brown on December 5, 2013 – 1:27 pm

Bills WR Marquise Goodwin exited Thursday’s practice. Head coach Doug Marrone explained why.

“Marquise Goodwin during practice tweaked his calf and we just took him out for the rest of it,” said Marrone. “He should be fine, so we just rested him the rest of the practice.”

Goodwin will be added to the team’ injury report later today as a limited participant.


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Big play breakdown

Posted by Chris Brown on November 25, 2013 – 9:57 am

It may come as a bit of a surprise, but Marquise Goodwin does not lead the team in big pass plays this season. It’s due mainly to the fact that he missed four games with a broken hand. As we covered on Buffalobills.com today however, he is a developing weapon for the offense. Here’s a breakdown of the top big play receiving targets of the Bills this season, and it clearly favors those who have been able to stay in the lineup.

Big pass plays are considered any pass play that covers 20 yards or more. Here’s how the big play receiving targets rank through 11 games this season.

Rank      Player                                   #of big pass plays
1              Scott Chandler                         6 (long – 33)
T-2          T.J. Graham                            5 (long – 47)
T-2          Stevie Johnson                       5 (long – 45)
T-4          Marquise Goodwin                4 (long – 59)
T-4          Robert Woods                        4 (long – 42)
6              Fred Jackson                          2 (long – 22)

There are three other players with one big pass play this season. Lee Smith (28 yards), C.J. Spiller (27 yards) and Frank Summers (34 yards).

The player with the greatest number of the team’s longest plays is not surprisingly Goodwin. Three of his four big plays have covered 40 yards or more and all went for touchdowns. Graham is second with two 40-plus yard plays.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Goodwin & Graham just doing their job

Posted by Chris Brown on November 23, 2013 – 1:51 pm

T.J. Graham and Marquise Goodwin are steadily establishing themselves as legitimate deep threats in Buffalo’s offense. Both got in on the act in last week’s game turning in the three longest plays from scrimmage in the game, with two of the three going for touchdowns. Turning in those big plays might seem like a big deal to some, but not to the ‘Go Brothers.’

“It’s really satisfying, but it’s our job,” said Goodwin. “That’s what we were drafted to do. That’s why we’re here in Buffalo. It’s easy for me. That’s just what I’m supposed to do. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Anytime we can get the ball down the field even when it’s windy like last week and make deep plays, it’s pretty good,” said Graham.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-22

Posted by Chris Brown on November 22, 2013 – 12:10 pm

It’s the bye week, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have time to answer questions. Here is your latest edition of queries on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
Thanks for the constant Bills updates,

First, I was wondering what your thoughts are on how the Bills are going to address offseason needs (LB, CB, OL). Also, what part of EJ’s game do you think needs the most improvement in the remaining games and the offseason to help secure his role as the franchise QB.

Thanks
Season ticket holder Evan

CB: The draft is where that approach is going to start. I don’t see cornerback as a high need position right now. I could however, see an offensive tackle being taken early knowing Erik Pears is getting up there in years and Chris Hairston is a bit of an unknown at this point. Linebacker is another position that needs a quality addition or two. After that I think a big receiver that can win jump balls in the end zone could be on the add list as well.

I think the only way the Bills make a splash in free agency is if a player they respect is surprisingly available and can be had for the right price. Doug Whaley is trying to build this thing for the long haul.
2 – Chris:

I watch a lot of football and the good teams with top QB’s seem to have at least 1 tall (6’4″) receiver with glue on his hands. They are hard to overthrow, and function well in the red zone. What is the actual height of our WR’s, and isn’t there a tall receiver on 1 of the other 31 teams we could claim and try out? Besides speed, what is the Knock on tall receivers?

Thanks,
Jim in Florida

CB: The Bills tallest receivers are Marcus Easley and Stevie Johnson. Both are 6’2” and Easley is a bit thicker at 217 pounds. Hogan is 6’1” and Woods is 6’0”. As I mentioned above I think a big receiver that can be a dependable red zone target will be something that Buffalo will target in the offseason. Whether it’s a free agent or a rookie in the draft is hard to say at this point.

 

3 – Chris,

In baseball, the Oakland A’s proved that crunching numbers can translate to more wins on the field. The concepts they employed had been around for a long time, but the key was finding a GM that was willing to step up and take the heat for doing something unconventional.

After watching the Bills punt on 4th & 5 at the PIT 36 with 14:09 in the 4th quarter last Sunday, I wondered if the new analytics department could actually convince Coach Marrone (or any coach for that matter) to scrap the tradition of punting for “field position” and replace it with a plan for 4th down. There is strong statistical evidence that shows an aggressive approach to fourth down, based on field position and yards to gain, would actually translate to more wins in a season.

Alternatively, changing this philosophy could lead to more lopsided losses and will almost certainly lead to more criticism being heaped on the head coach.

Coach Marrone talks about leadership, about standing up and challenging yourself to get better every day. I personally BILLieve he has the internal fortitude to do the unconventional. Is there any chance he is willing to accept the challenge and let the analytics department, not just tradition, help him decide when to go for it on 4th down?

 

Kind Regards,

Adam K

CB: I can assure you that Coach Marrone has a lot of respect for the value of analytics in football. He’s well aware of the data on fourth down. He also is advanced enough in his thinking to not apply those statistics in a vacuum. To blindly go for it because the statistical averages say to do so without factoring in time and score, the caliber of defense one is facing, the personnel you have available to you (injury factor), the personnel the opponent has available to them, the fourth down defense the opponent brings to the table and a host of other variables is foolish.

Coach Marrone is wise enough to consider those other variables that the number crunchers often do not. Not to mention that the fourth down data does not take into account the fact that a lot of the successful fourth down situations are when the game is already out of hand and teams are compelled to go for it in an effort to climb back into the game. Maybe the opposing defense isn’t playing a ‘must stop them’ aggressive defense and is happy to trade a first down for another minute on the clock because they’re up three scores.

Believe me when I tell you that coach Marrone takes the analytics very seriously and is ahead of the curve on this not behind it when it comes to coaches in this league.

4 – Dear Chris,

After watching the Bills lose shootouts under Chan Gailey because of a bad defense, I am impressed that Marrone and Mike Pettine turned it around, allowing us to stay in games despite scoring only 23 points. On the flip side, our offense has been anemic in my opinion, CJ Spiller not living up to hype, etc. I know most of main pieces are young and inexperienced, but if Gailey could make guys like  Fitz and donald Jones productive, then I think Nate Hackett should be feeling some heat right now. He has no clue how to use Spiller like Gailey did, can’t call anything good in the red zone, I feel like his play calling has cost us games. My question is, do you feel Marrone is getting irritated at him for the punchless offense? Is there a chance Hackett could get stripped of playcalling duties?

Thanks for your time,
Bill

CB: The first thing you need to realize with play calling is Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett are on the same page with everything that is going on with the offense.

Second, Hackett has admitted that he needs to get more creative with the run game, but the amount of running that they are doing (a lot) is partially because they have to keep the quarterback in favorable down and distance situations to maintain a good rate of success on offense.

Last week was a perfect example against the Jets. Despite the fact that they were facing the number one run defense in football, they ran the ball on 12 of their first 13 1st-and-10 situations. They gained all of nine yards.

The reason they did that was to improve the pass protection when it came time to throw. In the third quarter on 1st-and-10 up 20-7 they threw a 40-yard bomb down the left sideline to T.J. Graham to move into Jets territory. The protection on that play did not have to be exemplary because the Jets were expecting run.

On the next first down the Jets were again expecting run, the protection wasn’t perfect, but they dialed up the same vertical route, just on the right side to Goodwin. Manuel’s protection was good enough, because after a big pass play the previous snap, the Jets were expecting Buffalo to go back to the ground. They didn’t and Goodwin scored on a 43-yard pass.

It might look like the Bills are beating their head against the wall sometimes with their play calling, but believe me when I tell you Marrone and Hackett know a lot about play calling and there is a method to what they’re doing. A lot of it is predicated on having a young QB.

Hopefully over the last five games they’ll be able to expand and diversify what they’re doing.

 

5 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for your in depth coverage for us fans. I have 2 questions that have come to mind after a Huge win against the Jets. First of all, With Goodwin having a great game in the slot filling for Stevie, do you believe this could raise some eyebrows and perhaps change some things up in the Receiving game and maybe change where some players line up? And secondly, it was obviously a big help to have coach Hackett on the sidelines as opposed to the booth. Why do teams even consider having coaches in the booth instead of on the field. Could you enlighten on some advantages that being in the booth would have?

Vanderklokt

CB: Thanks for the kind words. First, I think the two primary slot receivers will continue to be Robert Woods and Stevie Johnson, just because of their route savvy first and foremost. Second, both of them benefit by having two way go’s inside.

Goodwin is a more dangerous option out on the boundary, but did show he could play inside as well.

That being said coach Hackett and coach Hilliard make all the receivers learn all the positions because when this offense really picks up the tempo they have to be ready to line up anywhere.

As for Hackett being down on the sideline it facilitated the communication between him and EJ. The coordinator can also get a feel for how the players on offense are feeling about certain plays as a group instead of having just communication with the quarterback. It just facilitates communication on many levels being down there.

Being upstairs allows the coordinator to better identify personnel groupings on defense. That allows them to make quicker play calls themselves to counter it. That’s why Jason Vrabel the offensive quality control coach is now upstairs, to be Hackett’s eyes.


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Posted in Inside the Bills