Inside The Bills

Cassel on his roster status

Posted by Chris Brown on September 4, 2015 – 5:32 pm

There has been an awful lot of speculation about Matt Cassel’s roster status since Tyrod Taylor was named the starting quarterback. When he was asked for his thoughts on his current situation Cassel was straightforward.

First, Cassel was asked if he had any tenuous feelings about his spot on the 53-man roster.

“Not at all. No,” he said. “There’s been no indication that way.”

When asked if he’s been given indication that the team will keep three quarterbacks, Cassel offered this response.

“I hope that they can,” he said. “Whether or not they will is probably a question you’d have to ask them, but right now that’s what I’m planning on.”

And the third question was whether or not he felt he got a fair shot in the quarterback competition after getting just a handful of series in the preseason games and the majority of the first team reps in practice.

“That’s neither here nor there. We went through an entire offseason, we competed,” said Cassel. “At the end of the day I did the best I could with the reps I got.  They made a decision to go in a different direction.  The decision being made now rather than this week or next week, I think the right decision was made. I’m excited for Tyrod, he gets an opportunity obviously, and at the same time, I’ve got to get ready to go and get ready to play.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-28

Posted by Chris Brown on August 28, 2015 – 11:24 am

A big preseason game for the QBs coming up on Saturday. Here’s the latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills
What running backs will play tomorrow?

SarroJoeWNY

CB: At this point it looks like it will only be Fred Jackson and the three young backs we saw in the Cleveland game, Bronson Hill, Ricky Seale and Cierre Wood.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Will Cassel get cut with a perfect Tyrod and EJ performance?
AZBillsFan1

CB: I don’t foresee any of the three quarterbacks getting cut. It’s my belief all three will be on the roster and Rex Ryan has given me strong indication that they plan to carry three on their 53-man roster. A perfect performance by Tyrod Taylor would go a long way in helping him pull ahead of Matt Cassel, provided Cassel doesn’t light things up himself.

EJ Manuel would obviously help himself too with a strong performance, but how far that will move him back into true contention for the starting job is something that will be quantified by the coaching staff.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

What has you most excited about the 2015 buffalo bills? Keep up the great work!

4evrbills

CB: I’m most excited about offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s plans for this offense. Chan Gailey was absolutely a qualified play caller on offense when he was here in Buffalo, but Roman is a proven and progressive coordinator that is probably the best they’ve had since the turn of the century.

I just think his ability to adapt and maximize the talent he has at his disposal while also exploiting opponent’s weaknesses is first rate. Roman gives Buffalo’s offense the ability to be dynamic and unpredictable and that will be a welcome change.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills

Is the media hyping the EJ start too much? He’s played good against 2-3 stringers. I think MC deserves another chance.

browndevil37

CB: I don’t know that they’re hyping it too much. It’s an opportunity for Manuel that I think was a slight surprise in light of his reps, or lack thereof, with the first unit through the course of training camp. This starting opportunity is unlikely to last as long as the ones for Cassel and Taylor in the other two preseason games because Ryan said that all three QBs will see time with the first unit.

If Ryan is interested in fairness, as he has maintained, I would anticipate that each of the QBs would get 2-3 series each with the first unit. So Manuel could be exiting the game by the end of the first quarter or earlier if the offense gets three early possessions.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Does Buffalo really believe in our QBs to the point where acquiring better QBs (Mettenburger, etc) isn’t a possibility?

killerbeekevin

CB: I think Doug Whaley has already proven that if there’s an opportunity to make the roster stronger or deeper he’s willing to talk to just about anyone in the league. I don’t know if they’re convinced that what may or may not be available via trade is demonstrably better than what they have.

A young QB like Mettenburger, as you suggested, would also need time to get schooled up on what is a very voluminous playbook and multiple offense. At this point if you traded for a QB and it was a relatively young and inexperienced one like Mettenburger, I don’t know that you could count on getting much in the way of contributions from him this season.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Cassel, Tyrod ready to perform Saturday

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2015 – 5:03 pm

EJ Manuel might be getting the start in the team’s third preseason game Saturday, but Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor are every bit as eager to get their time with the starting unit and perform well against the Steelers.

“Go out and play well. That’s the only thing you can do,” said Cassel. “Go out and try to show consistency and build on what I did in the first preseason game and hopefully show them enough where you can make an impact and an influence that maybe you’re the guy.”

“I’m looking forward to go out there playing. It’s the third preseason game. We worked hard throughout the training camp and I’m looking forward to going out there in the third preseason game and showing what I can do,” said Tyrod Taylor. “It’s been fair, that’s all I can ask for is the opportunity. I’ve been given that and I’m taking it one rep at a time.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-21

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2015 – 12:30 pm

Two preseason games in the books, two to go for the Bills. Let’s get to latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Barring a trade for another QB, do you foresee Roman using the Bills QBs as follows;

Start – Cassel

Back-up – Tyrod Taylor, used throughout a game as a change up w/the read Option

3rd – EJ depth in the event of any injuries

Cut – Simms, do not see much upside w/Simms

If they trade EJ,… maybe they could trade for either Mike Glennon, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Mallet or the back up on Titans. Scouts need to do a good job and find a QB in first 3 rounds of 2016.

Randy

CB: I think your scenario could very well play out this way. Matt Cassel seems to be the quarterback they trust the most, due mainly to his experience in the league. Tyrod Taylor as talented as he is doesn’t have an NFL start on his resume. For an offensive coordinator running his offense with new personnel in Buffalo in season one, it wouldn’t surprise me if he feels most comfortable with Cassel running it.

That’s not to say that Taylor couldn’t overtake Cassel for the starting job. Now if Cassel does in fact prove to be the starter I could definitely see a package of plays for Taylor as a read option QB where he comes in for a series or two depending on the opponent that week.

I asked and Rex Ryan confirmed for me that they intend to keep three quarterbacks on their roster. I believe Ryan likes EJ as a quarterback and I think the organization feels there is still some ceiling to be reached by him as an NFL QB.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

With so many WRs injured, any chance the Bills go after a FA like Reggie Wayne?

WillowWatchesTV

CB: I don’t foresee this happening. Buffalo has a strong stable of receiver talent. Yes, they are a bit nicked up right now, but Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Chris Hogan barring anything happening that’s new injury-wise should all be good for the regular season. Rex Ryan even said that Percy Harvin will be fine for the regular season.

So taking all of that into account the need for a Reggie Wayne doesn’t compute. He’d be a better fit for a team that lost a receiver for the whole year like Carolina with Kelvin Benjamin.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

You think Taylor will get another shot with the first team since half his team is injured for the Browns game?

GaynorGuarantee

CB: I think Taylor performed quite well despite the lack of weapons at running back and wide receiver. He went 7-10 passing for 65 yards and had three straight third down conversions on the opening drive. He was also effective on the ground with four carries for 41 yards including a long of 21.

 

4 – Chris,
As Bills fans we all know about the competition for the starting QB position. We have heard so many times that the selection process will e long, open and based upon individual merit. Given that, what does each QB candidate need to specifically improve upon to become the starter. All we ever seem to hear are generalities.
Thanks
Dr. Dennis

CB: Cassel is a 10-year veteran and is what he is as a QB. He’s a capable starter, who can make some plays in the passing game and knows risk versus reward based on time and score, matchup, etc. He’s a good leader and competent game manager.

Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel both have the same task, prove they can be consistent with decision making, accuracy and execution. That means proper ball location every time, proper mechanics every time, the right read every time, the proper touch on a pass every time.

Hopefully that provided some specifics.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any idea the coaching strategy with cassell?
bigred8865

CB: As coach Ryan said they wanted to give extended time to both Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel to get a better feel for the abilities of each of them in a true game situation. I think they feel they know Matt Cassel’s game inside and out.

On a secondary level I think if Matt Cassel played behind that second offensive line he might not have been able to avoid pressure like EJ Manuel did and could’ve been at great risk for injury.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Why Cassel didn’t play

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2015 – 1:56 am

He was dressed for the game, but all along there were no plans to play QB Matt Cassel Thursday night. It was by design according to head coach Rex Ryan.

“G-Ro and I had talked about it before,” said Ryan of his conversation with offensive coordinator Greg Roman. “We had told (TV and radio broadcast) production that it was going to happen. I wanted to see Tyrod (Taylor) play extended time with the ones and EJ (Manuel) extended time with the twos and that’s why we made the decision we did.”

No word at this point as to how the quarterback rotation will work for Buffalo’s next preseason game against Pittsburgh.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

WR Davis takes advantage of extra reps

Posted by Chris Brown on August 17, 2015 – 4:22 pm

Bills undrafted rookie WR Andre Davis has put up some head turning plays the last couple of days. The beneficiary of additional reps Monday due to all the receivers pulling out of practice early, Davis had the catch of the day.

Davis pulled in a 35-yard touchdown pass from Matt Cassel. As the ball cleared his outside shoulder on the left sideline, Davis snared the ball with his left hand and pulled it in to his body as he reached the end zone behind the Cleveland cornerback.

“I had a go route. Cassel gave me a chance—great throw out there and I was able to put my hand on it and I grabbed it, brought it in,” said Davis.  “It definitely was the best day at camp I’ve had. I got a chance to come out here and compete. We’re down a couple of guys and coach gave me a chance to come out here and compete. With the Browns coming in, I came in here and had a great opportunity and that’s what I did. I competed.”

“He’s doing a great job competing for the ball and he goes up and obviously has ability down the field,” said Cassel. “When he goes up he’s got good ball skills down the field. He’s a guy that has to continue to compete for a job and when he can show up like he did today that’s going to make an impression on the coaching staff.”

Here’s a look at Davis’ big catch.

 


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Fan Friday 8-14

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2015 – 11:30 am

The preseason debut of Rex Ryan’s Bills is tonight against Carolina. Catch up with you on the Bills Radio Network pre-game show at 5:30 pm ET. For now let’s get to your latest questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Can Chris Hogan have a breakout season?

Quinn_177

CB: I think Hogan had a breakout season in 2014 quite frankly. He had the fourth-most receptions on the team, was third in receiving touchdowns and was still a fixture on special teams. I’d be surprised if he logged 50 catches this season for a few reasons. First, this offense probably won’t throw the ball more than 20-25 times a game. Second, there are arguably three to four options that figure to be targeted before him in the passing game (Watkins, Harvin, Woods, Clay) and that’s not even counting LeSean McCoy as a passing target.

So while I think Hogan’s game can certainly take a step forward this season I don’t anticipate we’ll see it revealed in his personal statistics this season.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Haven’t heard much about the linebackers and depth there. How are they and how are our recent lb draft picks performing?

RealBryanWatson

CB: The starting linebacking group is Manny Lawson, Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham with Jerry Hughes the hybrid DE/LB. The second unit is made up by Randell Johnson, Ty Powell and rookie Tony Steward. The hybrid with them has been undrafted rookie Andrew Hudson.

Powell has grown into the ILB role and is essentially Brown’s backup. Steward gets from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ quickly. Hudson has caught my eye a few times, but the addition of IK Enemkpali could compromise his role on the second unit. Enemkpali is as strong as an ox and has some bull rush ability against the pass. Rex and Dennis Thurman know him well since they drafted him with the Jets last year.

So I’m encouraged by what we’ve seen from the second team linebackers in training camp, but the preseason games will be the true test to see just how good Buffalo’s depth could be.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills
From what you’ve seen at practice, which of the three QBs plays with the most consistency?

andrew_safe

CB: In this second week of camp I think Matt Cassel has been the most consistent. He hasn’t been spectacular, but he’s been steady just about every day this week. He’s demonstrated an improved on field chemistry with his top receivers and his decision making has been spot on.

Granted he’s had the benefit of getting the most reps in practice with the first team offense, but to his credit he’s done the most with it of the three QBs.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills

How many TEs make the team and who are they?

ZachDrohweder

CB: I don’t think the tight end spots are finalized by any means with all four preseason games to be played. I will say that Charles Clay is the clear cut starter. Knowing the skill set of Marqueis Gray is the most comparable to Clay and he’s a smart player (former QB) he has not surprisingly seen a lot of snaps with the first unit. I think he’s likely going to make the final 53 provided he performs well in the preseason.

Matthew Mulligan is clearly the best blocking tight end on the roster and that alone could land him a roster spot knowing how Greg Roman’s running game relies on tight end blocking. Whether they keep four is up in the air and hinges on a lot of other offensive roster decisions. Do they keep four running backs? Do they keep six receivers?

Rex Ryan said he’ll keep the best players, but the numbers game could create a difficult situation at tight end with two players who have the skills necessary to play in this league in Nick O’Leary and Chris Gragg.
5 – Chris,

Cordy (Glenn) from all accounts has returned to form and has bottled up Jerry Hughes in practice. How high of a priority is he behind Dareus? How would you rank him of all left tackles, meaning what would in cost to keep him? Given the state of the offensive line it would seem he is a strong part of helping the quarterback and offensive succeed this season. What is he looking at for a contract, can the team keep him?

Josh P.

CB:
Glenn wants to be paid like a left tackle plain and simple. It will be interesting to see where the Bills turn after they hopefully get the Marcell Dareus extension completed. Do they focus on Nigel Bradham or Cordy Glenn? Bradham would presumably be easier to negotiate just because the salary structure for left tackles is so steep. But one could argue that Glenn’s role is far more important on this roster.

How much money Dareus’ contract ties up will directly impact what they can or cannot do for Glenn and Bradham by way of an extension.


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The overlooked asset of Watkins’ game

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2015 – 12:32 pm

Whether you ask a scout, a coach, a teammate or a fan about the strengths of Sammy Watkins’ skill set you’re bound to get a different answer from each of them. That’s because Watkins’ talents are so diverse. There is one particular part of Watkins’ game however that is rarely mentioned.

Most of the time you hear about Watkins’ route running, his speed, his hands, his leaping ability, his strength, his competitive nature or his work ethic. But QB Matt Cassel mentioned one trait in Watkins’ game that sometimes is overlooked.

“I think it’s his acceleration,” said Cassel when asked what stands out about Watkins’ game. “It is quite impressive to be honest with you. The stop and start is quite explosive and probably one of the best I have been around in terms of when he puts his foot in the ground he explodes off that ball there is instant acceleration and that is really impressive.”

Rest assured cornerbacks are aware of Watkins ability to not only get to top speed quickly, but to get in and out of a break and be at top speed in a matter of two steps. Suffice to say it’s a rare quality for even the top NFL receivers.


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Rex hints at timetable for QB competition

Posted by Chris Brown on August 11, 2015 – 3:40 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan says it’s still early in the process for the coaching staff when it comes to deciding on a starting quarterback. On Tuesday however, he hinted that the three-man quarterback competition to be Buffalo’s starting signal caller could be close to finalized by the time they reach the team’s third preseason game.

“I think we’re going to look at it over at least a two game stretch,” said Ryan of the quarterback competition. “That’s where there will be more balance (with playing time). Each guy will get a shot. Seattle had a similar thing with (Tarvaris) Jackson, (Matt) Flynn and then the other quarterback (Russell Wilson). Let’s just hope it works out the same way.”

So Ryan and his staff will reserve judgment until at least two preseason games have been played. If it’s evident by then they’ll make a call. If not it could conceivably go right up until the week of the opener as Ryan has repeatedly said the most important thing is to pick the right guy, not how quickly they make the decision.

Matt Cassel is starting the team’s preseason opener Friday against Carolina.


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Watkins proves a quick study

Posted by Chris Brown on August 11, 2015 – 7:24 am

Bills WR Sammy Watkins is always eager to learn more about the NFL game, which is part of why he has enjoyed the coaching of receivers coach Sanjay Lal. Lal cuts the responsibilities of the receiver position to the finest details. Watkins has very quickly applied some of those details to his game and it made a difference in Monday’s practice.

On Watkins route against Ronald Darby in the two minute drill that resulted in a 44-yard touchdown catch there was a subtle move that may not have been noticed by most who watched the play. But after stemming his route up the field, when Darby turned to run with him he was stride for stride down the sideline. Watkins then tucked his inside shoulder, gave Darby the slightest of bumps and then flared his route outside, where Matt Cassel hit him in stride, while Darby tried to close the space Watkins just created for himself.

“It is one of those things you start to repeat,” said Cassel of his throw and Watkins catch. “If you guys saw the route, it was just as impressive of a route because he went and stacked the guy and leaned into him used his big body, left me room on the outside. Those are all technique things that the coaches have done a tremendous job of coaching him up. Then taking that coaching out onto the field. And that is what we want to see this time of year.”

Coaches often say that NFL players make their biggest jump from year one to year two of their careers. Watkins looked poised to be one of those players.


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Cassel on why consistency hasn’t shown up yet

Posted by Chris Brown on August 10, 2015 – 5:28 pm

Rex Ryan and his offensive staff are waiting to see day-after-day consistency from their quarterbacks in the three-man competition. To this point in camp it hasn’t revealed itself. Ryan is being patient knowing it’s early in camp. He’s also being patient for a couple of other important reasons.

First and foremost the offense is going against one of the top defenses in the league every day in practice, although Monday saw some of the best pass protection by the first unit all camp. The other point to remember is this offense is a new system for all three quarterbacks and is as varied and multiple as any in the NFL.

“I feel like it has been a little bit of back and forth,” said Matt Cassel of the quarterback competition. “And I think it has been back and forth in terms of offense. We have had production one day and the next day the defense does a good job. Its been more back and forth in that manner.

“And then when we go in we review the film and to correct those mistakes that you made and build on the successes you had and the things you did right. And that is what this time of year is built for, for everybody. I think it is one of those things you come out, you get repetitions and at the same time we are all learning. There is a lot of install going on and again this is only our third, fourth time going through all of this since spring.

“It’s a new offense so there are going to be mistakes that will inevitably happen. But its about correcting those things and like you said becoming more consistent.”

When the consistency kicks in is anyone’s guess, but new offenses, especially ones with a lot of new pieces like the Bills have (McCoy, Clay, Harvin, Incognito, Miller, Cassel, Taylor) take time to jell.


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Cassel: Glad plan is for him to start Friday

Posted by Chris Brown on August 9, 2015 – 11:44 am

Matt Cassel didn’t get a ton of work Saturday night in the Bills’ blue-white scrimmage. Even head coach Rex Ryan admitted that a lot of run plays were called during Cassel’s time on the field. In the next breath however Ryan indicated that Cassel would probably start in the team’s first preseason game this Friday against Carolina. Cassel liked the sound of that when he got the news.

“Great. I hope I play the whole game to be honest with you,” said Cassel. “I honestly would embrace the chance to start and go out there and play a little bit. And get into a rhythm.”

 

 


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Woods getting open a lot

Posted by Chris Brown on August 8, 2015 – 10:13 am

His quarterbacks don’t see him on every play, but they’re quickly realizing that most of the time Robert Woods is open. Through the first week of camp Woods has been getting consistent separation and has been making difficult catches when defensive backs have been able to stay with him.

“I think I’m doing pretty well so far,” said Woods. “I’ve got a lot to work on and keep improving. Just keep making plays so they keep seeing me.”

Woods may have an added advantage over the other receivers. He’s one of the only receivers who has a rapport with two of the three quarterbacks vying for the starting job. He’s obviously played the last two seasons with Manuel, but he’s also caught passes in the summer from Matt Cassel with both of them often meeting up at their alma mater – USC.

“Just the timing,” said Woods. “Both of those quarterbacks know how I run my routes just from experience working out. Being here for two years helps being a step ahead.”

His best catch in camp thus far was a pass that was behind him that he snared by reaching back behind his body with his left hand while coming across the field right to left full speed to pull in a touchdown during red zone work on a pass from Matt Cassel.


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Cassel: skill position group is outstanding

Posted by Chris Brown on August 6, 2015 – 7:23 am

Matt Cassel has played with a lot of talented players at running back and wide receiver. Randy Moss, Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, etc. But the skill position talent he is surrounded by in Buffalo has him pretty pumped up.

In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Cassel called the skill position talent, which includes LeSean McCoy, Fred Jackson, Percy Harvin, Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Charles Clay among others, pretty special.

“It’s an outstanding skill group. It’s still our job to come together as a group,” said Cassel. “We had no time with Sammy in the spring so getting him up to speed is important. It won’t take much time he’s a smart kid, but at the same time there are little nuances to the offense just being out all spring where we have to get him caught up. All of them have tremendous playmaking ability. The nice thing is being able to get the ball in the guys’ hands at five yards and let them do the rest. So it’s all about find that matchup and then get them the ball.”


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The advantages for Cassel & Manuel in QB race

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2015 – 9:05 am

In a competition that’s been nip and tuck through the first week of training camp there are some small advantages that have emerged for the likes of Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel in the quarterback competition.

Cassel has been given the edge of getting more snaps with the starters as they feel the veteran deserves more work with that unit. They also claim it affords more reps for Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel with the twos and threes.

“Any time you get more reps with the starters or the guys you’re going to be playing with, it’s obviously advantageous to the guy who’s going to be playing,” said Cassel. “At the same time, you got to take advantage of every single rep. like I said before, it’s about executing; it’s about going out there and even though it might not be the right route, but making the right decision. Do I try to force this in there, or do I throw it away.  Show the coaches that you’re going to make the smart decision.”

Manuel however, has the advantage of entering his third season in Buffalo. He’s most familiar among the QBs with the tendencies of the receivers having played with most of them for two seasons.

“You know I’m very close with all those guys. Especially Woody (Robert Woods), Sammy (Watkins), Marquise (Goodwin), (Chris) Hogan – guys who’ve been here since I’ve been here, so we’ve been working together a bunch and having that cohesiveness already,” said Manuel. “Because I know their speeds, I know how they run routes, I know what they like, I know where they like the ball and things like that, so it does give me somewhat of an advantage.”

Whether Cassel or Manuel can parlay those advantages into creating a greater separation between the other two QBs remains to be seen.

 


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QBs on balancing being teammate & competitor

Posted by Chris Brown on August 1, 2015 – 10:38 am

A three-way QB competition is a bit unique in the NFL, but the Bills are determined to find their best answer at the position in this training camp. For the players in the competition there’s a careful balance they need to strike between keeping an edge for the competitive play on the field and being a good teammate to the other quarterbacks in the room.

“We’re all good friends, but we understand the nature of the game,” said Tyrod Taylor. “It’s competition, whether you’re the starter or not, you still want to go out there and make the other person better. It’s understand in competition there’s no enemies in there—our job is to make the team better and it’s up to the coaches at the end of the day who’s the best man for the team.”

“I think we’ve got a great room,” said Matt Cassel. “I think Tyrod and EJ are great people and it’s not just here but outside. You understand that they’re good guys so it makes it easy to come to work every day and cheer for them and help them along and at the same time I think that they do the same for me.

“So it’s been a good experience so far and while we are competing I think we all take the approach that we’re not competing against each other as much as we’re competing against ourselves to make ourselves the best that we can do and at the end of the day, none of us make that decision; the coaches make the decision. So we’ve gotta just go out there and compete on the field.”


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3 way battle not awkward for the QBs

Posted by Chris Brown on July 31, 2015 – 9:03 am

Matt Cassel has had his share of quarterback competitions, but he’s never been part of a three-man competition for the starting job. That being said the 10-year veteran doesn’t believe there has or will be an awkwardness between the three candidates in the running to be Buffalo’s starting QB.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show Thursday evening, Cassel explained why the atmosphere between himself and Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel has been very professional.

“It can be as weird as you want to make it,” Cassel said. “We’ve got a great room. EJ, Tyrod, Matt Simms, they’re great people outside of football, so that carries over into the room so we don’t have that combativeness or someone going against a guy. We have all stand up guys that speaks well for our room and leads to an easy transition to the field.”


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Cassel: 2 simultaneous team periods good for QBs

Posted by Chris Brown on July 30, 2015 – 10:58 pm

Rex Ryan and his coaching staff will be conducting dual team segments on two different fields during practice at training camp this summer. The plan is designed to maximize the reps of the three quarterbacks involved in the competition for the starting job. As far as Matt Cassel is concerned he feels the benefits far outweigh any negatives.

“It went really well (in the spring),” Cassel said in an appearance on the John Murphy Show. “It also allows you to get a lot of different reps with a lot of different receivers. The rotation through receivers and quarterbacks was constantly moving, but it allowed you to get in the huddle and call the play and go through your progression instead of just sitting there and taking mental reps if you had just one unit going at a time. I think it was a big learning curve for all of us and all the guys bought in and now it’s time to build on what we started this offseason.”


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Fan Friday 6-12

Posted by Chris Brown on June 12, 2015 – 1:09 pm

1 – Hey Chris,

I love these Fan Fridays, and thank you if you get to reading and responding to my question. With Michael Buchanan is it a possibility that he plays defensive end like he did in college and I think in his first year, and moving Jerry Hughes back to line backer as he did some coverage as linebacker as he did is his first year of with the Colts, if I’m not mistaken. So to summarize. Is it possible for that exchange to occur with the possibility if this free agent signing?

Thank you Chris,
Christian

CB: Buchanan has lined up exclusively at defensive end since he’s been on the practice field with the Bills. He’s a long and angular player. I think Buchanan will be fortunate to make the 53-man roster knowing the depth Buffalo has on the defensive line. So unseating Jerry Hughes is a pretty big leap to make. That being said I do think Hughes could see some time as a stand-up OLB in some of Buffalo’s defensive looks, where he rushes the passer that way instead of as a traditional end.

 

2 – CB,

Most teams carry 4 offensive tackles. Right now the Bills have 3. Do you see them signing someone? I assume they hope Cyrus can be their swing tackle or push Henderson. How many guards do you expect to make the roster. Rex wants to keep Urbik but they are very high in numbers (Williams, Richardson, others). They can’t keep all these guys. I hope John Miller wins the job. What your idea of the the line/backups will fare out?

CB: The Bills have a fourth OT in Tyson Chandler an undrafted rookie. There isn’t much on the free agent market in terms of proven talent. I do believe the Bills will try to add a fifth tackle at least for training camp. They need numbers there for reps and in the event of an injury. Knowing how thin the veteran free agent market is it’ll probably be a young player if it happens.

As for guards I think they keep three true guards and Kraig Urbik, who is a center and guard.

 

 

3 – Chris,

I appreciate the excellent reporting you provide for all of us Bills fans in Nevada.

How serious was Matt Cassel’s injury and where does he stand in his rehab?

Is there the potential for the tutoring that EJ is receiving from Steve DeBerg to be in conflict with what David Lee will teaching him?

Will coach Ryan or Thurmond be calling the plays on game day?

Thanks again,
Hank from Boulder City, NV
CB: Thanks for the kind words. Cassel’s foot injury was a very serious one last season. He is fully cleared to practice and insists his foot is fine. I think when we get closer to game speed in the preseason it’s something to keep an eye on. I’m not saying that because of anything I’ve seen in OTAs. I’m saying that because we know QBs are untouchable in the training camp setting, so in the preseason if he takes a hit or two on that foot it will bear watching to see how it holds up.

As for EJ’s tutoring from Steve DeBerg they did focus on throwing motion, release point and footwork, so I suppose there is a chance that DeBerg’s teachings could conflict with that of Bills QBs coach David Lee. I don’t anticipate there being any major differences however, between the two coaches where it would set Manuel back because the biggest focus was making his throwing motion more compact. Manuel had a bit of wind-up last year and needed to shorten it up. I’m confident David Lee likely came to a similar conclusion watching Manuel’s 2014 tape.

Finally, as it’s been explained to me, Rex Ryan will call the defensive plays on game day.

 

4 – Chris,

Thanks for all of the excellent year-round Bills coverage.  Knowing that the Bills have been among the league leaders the last couple of years in having to play teams off a bye week or extra rest, how does the schedule look this year in regards to that? How many games do the Bills face an opponent coming off a bye or three extra days of rest due to a Thursday night game?  Also, do the Bills face any division opponents coming off extra rest?

Thanks,
R.J.  Rome, NY

CB: The situation is a bit better for the Bills facing opponents coming off extra rest, but not by much. Buffalo has three games against opponents who will be coming off extra rest. The unfortunate part is they’re all clumped together in the first five weeks of the season, and yes one is against a division opponent.

In Week 2 the Bills will host the Patriots, who will be coming off an extra three days rest by virtue of their season opening Thursday night game against Pittsburgh.

In Week 4 they host the Giants, who will be coming off a Thursday night game in Week 3 and will also have three extra days of rest before facing the Bills.

In Week 5 Buffalo travels to Tennessee to face the Titans, who will have a full extra week to prepare coming off a Week 4 bye.

In Week 15 Dallas will technically have an extra day of rest going into their game against Buffalo because they play Saturday in Week 14, but that will be somewhat negated by the fact that the Cowboys have to travel to Buffalo. So in essence it’s three games.

Washington leads the league this year with five games against opponents with extra rest.

Buffalo has two games against opponents where they’ll have the extra rest and both are against division opponents (Week 9 vs. Miami, Week 11 at New England). Of course in between those two games is a Thursday night road game at the Jets.

Three straight games against division opponents is not a good draw at all, especially when the first two will be played in a four day span (Week 9 vs. Miami, Week 10 at Jets – Thurs. night). Basically the Bills face all three division opponents in a stretch of 15 days with two of them on the road.

That’s probably more of a disadvantage than playing teams off extra rest because of the importance of those games in the AFC East standings. Of course they could be the Packers, who play four division games in a row from Week 10 to Week 13. Ugh.


5 –
Hi Chris,
Just wondering what your thoughts are on one last years late round picks, Randell Johnson, and what his chances are of becoming a contributor? I didn’t hear much about him last year, but his instincts and tackling really stuck out to me last summer in the preseason. Now that a lot people are saying LB is a need I’m wondering if he can possibly fill it.
Thanks,
Dan

CB: I believe the coaching staff is hoping he can provide some valuable depth at linebacker, and they’re giving him every opportunity to prove himself. Through the OTA practice sessions Johnson has largely run with the second unit at outside linebacker. His length (6-4, 245) is perfect for a 3-4 front. Defensive coordinators look for long body types there.

There is a lot to process in this defense and I feel like he’s working his way through it. Right now I don’t see anyone really pushing him for that outside spot on the second unit, but that could change come training camp. Knowing his assignments well enough to just freely run and hit will be beneficial to his game.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

How QB competition is progressing

Posted by Chris Brown on May 19, 2015 – 9:43 am

The Bills have a quarterback competition that has already begun in earnest even though the team’s first set of OTA practices is still more than a week away. Here’s how things have been working in their sessions on the field knowing that the offense cannot have any opposition working against them.

In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Ryan explained how they’re running two offenses at the same time at opposite ends of the field and how Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor are all rotating through with the first team offense.

“How we run things, we have a two spot drill going on at all times, so we’ve got two offenses going,” said Ryan. “What we do, because in this phase two you can’t have any type of opposition, we actually put lines on the field, like a big ‘V’ showing the defensive line and the linebackers and all that. And we get our plays in and we move it from the hash to the middle, left hash, right hash, all the way down the field. It is sharp with guys communicating and things like that. So there you can definitely get a feel for who these guys are and I’ve been impressed by all the quarterbacks. As far as the true evaluating that’s going to come in training camp and snapping the ball for real.”

With respect to the competition, Ryan insists it’s a legitimate three-way battle.

“Three guys for sure will be getting shots with the ones,” he said. “We’ve been doing it each day. Let’s say the first offense is running out there and it’s Matt Cassel the first day, then it’s EJ, then it’s Tyrod. All three are getting opportunities to lead and to be with that first group. It’s not like we’re going to just throw Matt Cassel in there every day or EJ every day. Tyrod is getting as many shots with the ones as the other two.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills