1 – @ChrisBrownBills at pick 10 in this year’s draft if we let Tyrod walk do we go qb?
CB: We’re getting way ahead of ourselves here because first the head coach has to be in place, then player evaluations by the new staff will chart the course of who is here and who is not here. But to answer your question, in the event that the new head coach elects to move on from Tyrod Taylor I don’t know that drafting a worthwhile quarterback at 10th overall will happen.
I’m a fan of Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer, but knowing there are QB needy teams in front of Buffalo (San Fran #2, Chicago #3, NY Jets #6) I don’t think he even gets to 10 for the Bills to consider. UNC’s Mitch Trubisky is still up in the air on whether he’s staying in school or entering the draft pool.
Kizer played in a pro-style spread system, had the ability to call audibles at the line of scrimmage and has the physical measurables you look for (6-5, 220). His numbers dropped this past season as the Irish struggled to a 4-8 finish, but it wasn’t all on Kizer. Working with a bunch of first-year receivers after Will Fuller, Chris Brown and C.J. Prosise moved on to the NFL, Kizer still had 26 TDs against 9 INTs, even though his completion percentage dropped five percent.
So while I like Kizer and Trubisky, I don’t anticipate them making it to pick 10 and after them I’m not enamored with what’s left to the point where I would use the 10th pick to take one.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Is Cardale Jones the starting QB next year?
CB: Again this is a ‘predict the future’ question that’s far too difficult to answer. There are too many variables that aren’t even in place to know where Jones will stand on the depth chart. Does the new head coach think he can win with Tyrod Taylor? Does he think Cardale Jones could be part of a quarterback competition in training camp? Does he think Jones could win that competition? Will they be adding at the quarterback position via trade, draft or free agency? Would that quarterback be more NFL ready than Jones, who just saw his first NFL action last week for a quarter?
I think one thing we have to think about is if a new head coach comes in and there’s a new offensive system for Jones to master it’s going to set his development back, as we’ve seen with young quarterbacks here before (e.g. J.P. Losman, Trent Edwards, EJ Manuel).
Let me be clear that I’m not saying the changes on offense were the reasons those quarterbacks struggled to develop, but constant change makes it harder for young quarterbacks to succeed and advance their games. All of them saw coaching changes in their time with the Bills.
Jones will be the next quarterback, even if Anthony Lynn is hired because he inherited an offense this past season that he intends to change.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills Are Bills expected to put tender on Gillislee? What is the tender process, and why don’t teams place highest tender possible?
CB: Restricted free agents are the players teams must decide upon regarding whether to extend them a qualifying offer to retain the right of first refusal, should they be offered a contract from another NFL club.
There are different levels at which a player could be tendered to dissuade other clubs from trying to make a contract offer to lure the player away from their current team.
The new restricted free agent tender levels are usually released by the NFL in early March, though NFL clubs make projections on what the amounts will be.
There is the low tender, which means the compensation due the original club if their RFA player was signed away by another team would equate to the draft round in which they were selected. For Mike Gillislee such a tender would yield a fifth-round pick in return, since Gillislee was a fifth-round pick of the Dolphins (2013).
Last year’s low tender was $1.671 million.
If Buffalo values him as something more than that and they want to make it more prohibitive for another team to sign him away they can use the second-round tender, which would make the compensation a second-round pick if the Bills chose not to match an offer from another team.
Last year’s second-round tender was $2.553 million.
The first-round tender last year was $3.635 million, and carries first-round pick compensation.
I certainly understand your question as to why teams don’t just tender everyone at the highest possible level. Sometimes cap constraints keep teams from doing that. They also want to be careful not to overvalue a player to avoid paying said player more than they would like if a long term contract is a route they want to take.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills Doug Whaley is so unimpressive, do you know how he continues to sell himself to ownership?
CB: I think what you need to keep in mind is as a fan you only see him in one context, a press conference, question and answer setting. Whether it’s on the radio or on TV you only see Whaley in a Q&A format.
What you don’t see is Whaley’s decisiveness when weighing the value of a trade. You don’t see him in personnel meetings pinpointing positional needs, assessing the talent level of specific players. You don’t see him running draft meetings, the draft room, interacting with players, making tough personnel decisions, finding players on the street at a time when there aren’t many and finding contributors (e.g. Mike Gillislee, Ryan Groy, Justin Hunter).
I know it’s hard to not think about him in the interview context because that’s all the exposure you have to Whaley. Look at the talent he is directly responsible for adding to this roster on the whole and I think you’ll find a lot more hits than misses.
I understand that for a team that has struggled to get wins, the misses are magnified, but there isn’t a GM in this league who has a perfect record. Drafting players is a lot like a batting average. If you hit .400 in landing Pro Bowl type talent in the draft, you’re the equivalent of Ted Williams. You’re in a league of your own. Most quality GMs hit between .300 to .350 in the draft in terms of landing top flight talent that can be the core of your team for years.
The lost piece of the puzzle as I see it for the Bills has been player development by the coaching staffs that have come through Buffalo. The head coaches that have been hired in Buffalo have unfortunately not put the best of coaching staffs together over the years and that has compromised the development of players and maximizing player potential has proven difficult.
That’s not to say there haven’t been good player development coaches over the years. Sanjay Lal, Anthony Lynn and Aaron Kromer are among the best examples on the most recent staff. There are others. Previous assistants that come to mind include Bobby April, Donnie Henderson and Joe D’Alessandris.
Does all this mean that Doug Whaley is blameless? Doug said himself he needs to do a better job. In fact it was one of the first things he said in his press conference Monday. But it’s my personal belief that Doug Whaley is a good personnel man, who knows how to build a team over time and has a plan. We all know the franchise quarterback has been a missing component for some time, and those are hard to find. Other teams that don’t have one have struggled too. Denver lost theirs after winning the Super Bowl and they’re out of the playoffs this year.
Absent that though this roster does have a good deal of talent, and this offseason will provide more opportunity to add to that talent. The key will be hiring a head coach who can implement a vision and structure to unify everyone on the staff and roster to achieve the ultimate goal. Hopefully that new head coach hires the kind of coaching staff that can maximize the talent on hand along with the new talent coming through the door.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills I like Sean McDermott. Do you think he can be a solid leader?
Ronald Krzal Jr
CB: I think knowing the kind of leader a coach can be can only be captured in the kind of long interview sessions that the Bills are conducting now in their coaching search. You can’t look at a resume of offensive or defensive success and determine if a guy is a leader. You’ve got to sit down with a coaching prospect and get to know them to determine that.
Does their philosophy about being a head coach inspire you? Do you think he’s capable of motivating men who have been mired in a culture where the success has been minimal and galvanize them into believing they can do better? Does he come across as a person that people willingly follow and believe in?
Not being in that room I can’t tell you if he can be a solid leader.
I can tell you that I like who he has worked under during his time in the NFL. Andy Reid, Jim Johnson and Ron Rivera are all solid coaching influences. So the people he has worked under is definitely a plus. But that doesn’t qualify Sean McDermott as a solid leader. That’s more about who he is as a person as I see it. And maybe he is that person, but there’s no way for you and I to know that from where we sit.
Tags: 2017 NFL draft, Cardale Jones, Doug Whaley, Fan Friday, Mike Gillislee, NFL free agency, Sean McDermott, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
With the Bills depleted secondary and Oakland’s vertical threat and strong O-Line, what can Bills D do to stop Carr and O?
CB: The best defense this week is going to be a good offense. Buffalo should be able to run effectively against the league’s 26th ranked run defense. Hopefully that allows the Bills to put together long sustained drives. Converting on third down will be critical to holding onto the ball and limiting Oakland’s possessions.
That’s how the Chiefs beat the Raiders back in Week 6. They held onto the ball for almost 37 minutes and gave the Raiders just 10 total possessions. Teams usually get about 12 per game.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills With so many upcoming free agents how are the @buffalobills with cap space?
CB: You’re right. At last count the Bills will have 23 players set to become unrestricted free agents. That obviously takes a lot of contracts off the books for Buffalo. Remember that room under the salary cap is always a moving target. But last I checked for 2017 the Bills are a little more than $20M under the cap.
If they pick up the option on Tyrod Taylor that will obviously impact the cap significantly. We’ll see what their plans are in terms of re-signing their own or pursuing a free agent on the market, but Taylor’s option will play a major role in how aggressive they are in free agency.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills How is Cardale Jones doing? He is likely the number 2 qb next year correct?
CB: Jones is really trying to build his game from the ground up to better fit the NFL game. From footwork, to set up to his delivery. How he scans the field, keeps his feet active, reading defenses pre-snap. Bills QBs coach David Lee has worked tirelessly with Jones to try to develop his game.
The Bills saw this year as a redshirt year for Jones. Lee has him come in early and throw with a couple of receivers early in the week and late in the week after Friday practices. On Thursdays he’ll have him review his Wednesday and Thursday practice tape and go over fundamentals.
They’re working mainly on his intermediate accuracy, his footwork and arm mechanics.
I know the offensive staff has a lot of respect for EJ’s game. Lee said on the John Murphy Show this week that he thinks Manuel’s confidence is at an all-time high and that he’s been ripping it in practice.
Knowing his contract is up, the likelihood of Manuel being back with the team is completely up in the air.
Clearly Tyrod Taylor is the bigger issue to address with his option year at the quarterback position, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Manuel found work elsewhere and Cardale Jones was the backup for 2017.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills
How limited will Sammy be on Sunday? And how will Rex manage playing time between Lorenzo shaq and Hughes?
CB: Watkins’ availability is going to largely be based on how the foot feels as the game wears on. So it’s a wait and see on the size of his role Sunday. I will say that I think it is beneficial that the game is on grass, which is a more forgiving surface on the body.
As for managing time between Shaq, Alexander and Hughes, the staff tried address that last week against the Jaguars. The defensive staff wants to play Shaq more and cut back on Alexander’s defensive snaps, so they’re able to use him on special teams as well.
Alexander really shouldn’t have much more than 55-60 snaps combined between defense and special teams. Last week he had 70, so again he was over the threshold of where they’d probably like to be with him, knowing he’s 33 and the oldest player on the team.
Shaq’s snap count wound up being identical to that of the Cincinnati game. He got 21 snaps in both. Part of the reason is both games were tightly fought contests and in tight spots you want to go with an experienced player that you can trust. Lawson is still learning the pro game.
Remember he missed the entire offseason on the field. That’s OTAs, minicamp, training camp, the preseason and the first six games of the season. Lawson bit hard on a read option fake, didn’t hold the edge and let Blake Bortles run for a first down and more. Those kinds of plays makes defensive coaches hesitant to use him more as opposed to Alexander, who is one of the smarter players on the team.
Knowing the importance of each game the rest of the way they’d like to use Shaq more because he’s talented, but until he can show an ability to play sound, disciplined assignment football he might be reduced to just passing downs to rush the passer.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Why aren’t they using Reggie Bush out of back field, swing passes, screen passes, with all WR injuries?
CB: It’s a valid question. I thought when they signed Reggie Bush that he would be a specialty player that would be used in an 8-12 play package every week on offense. He could be split out as a receiver, line up in a split backfield with McCoy or return kicks and punts. The signing of Brandon Tate largely eliminated his return duties.
He’s been used sparingly as a receiver and back. I do believe they could make greater use of their ‘Pony’ package, which is their split backfield with McCoy and another tailback. But for whatever reason they have only used it occasionally.
It’s clear they prefer Mike Gillislee, who is a much better north-south runner and capable of fighting for the tough yard. Rookie Jonathan Williams is also better in that regard.
Bush is a player best used in space, which is why they could make use of him in a receiving role knowing the amount of injuries they have at that position right now.
Tags: Bills-Raiders, Cardale Jones, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, Jerry Hughes, Lorenzo Alexander, Mike Gillislee, Reggie Bush, Salary cap, Shaq Lawson
Posted in Inside the Bills
A hamstring injury suffered in practice last week cost Mike Gillislee an appearance in Sunday’s win over Jacksonville. But head coach Rex Ryan is optimistic that Gillislee will be fit to return to the lineup this weekend.
“I think everything looks good,” said Ryan of Gillislee. “So hopefully he’s on track to return this week.”
Gillislee is the team’s third leading rusher behind LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor.
Tags: LeSean McCoy, Mike Gillislee, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills RB Mike Gillislee sustained a hamstring injury in Wednesday’s practice and left the session early. He didn’t practice again and is now out for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville. The good news is it appears that Sammy Watkins will be able to play on Sunday.
“I think he’s good to go,” said head coach Rex Ryan of Watkins in relation to Sunday’s game. “He won’t have a full workload, but we’re definitely going to get him in there.”
All the Bills need to do now is move Watkins from injured reserve onto the active roster. They have until 4 pm on Saturday to do so.
RB LeSean McCoy also looks good to go for Sunday, feeling no ill effects from the minor procedure on his thumb to get his dislocation from last week’s game corrected. Jonathan Williams and Reggie Bush will be McCoy’s backups.
WR Robert Woods – knee
S Robert Blanton – foot
RB Mike Gillislee – hamstring
DT Corbin Bryant – shoulder
WR Sammy Watkins – foot
LB Lorenzo Alexander – ankle
TE Charles Clay – knee
OT Seantrel Henderson – personal matter
OT Cordy Glenn – back
RB LeSean McCoy – thumb
WR Percy Harvin – illness
Tags: Bills injury report, LeSean McCoy, Mike Gillislee, Sammy Watkins
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills who’s Gillislee’s backup?
CB: That would be rookie Jonathan Williams. Some might think it would be Reggie Bush, but Bush is more of a specialty player who is used only occasionally in the backfield, can be split out wide or return kicks. Williams has just 17 carries for 61 yards, which has largely come in times when the game has already been decided.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills is Watkins a game changer this week?
CB: I think the Bills would love it if he could be a game changer. The bottom line though is he hasn’t played in two months and will need a few series to get back into the flow of game speed. I anticipate that the offensive staff will use him as much as they can knowing they’ll be down Robert Woods.
I don’t think there’s any doubt he’s a game changing talent, but coming off the layoff it’s hard to know whether he can be that right away this Sunday.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills what have our secondary players been focusing on in practice?
CB: They focus on a lot of things. During individual position drills a lot of their work involves their footwork and tracking the ball. Tackling was a focus this week with emphasis on getting their head across the body of the ball carrier. Beyond that the focus is the game plan and executing the game calls for this week.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills will McCoy’s thumb affect him at all this next game?
CB: We hope to get that answer from McCoy himself after practice today. He has a good sized wrap on the thumb following the minor surgical procedure to re-attach the dislocated digit. The strength of his grip is probably the biggest concern because back have to apply three points of pressure on the ball to secure it under their arm and the thumb is one of those three. If he doesn’t have any strength to do that it could compromise his ball security.
Catching could be another potential issue. Hopefully we can get some answers from Shady before the game on Sunday.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills How is the team going to approach Watkins’ 5th year option and possible new contract? Great player but also some injuries.
CB: I would expect the Bills to pick up Watkins fifth-year option because of the injuries. I know that sounds strange, but a fifth-year option gives Buffalo time to wait and see if Watkins can put together a season where he can stay relatively healthy all season long.
Since the fifth-year option has to be picked up in May next year for his fifth season which would be in 2018, I’d be inclined to think Buffalo wants to take as much time evaluating his ability to stay on the field. It buys them time.
There’s no debating his talent level, but availability is critical. So I would think before the Bills even think about signing Watkins to a big time deal, they’ll see what he can do in 2017 and maybe even 2018 before they take that step.
Tags: Bills secondary, Fan Friday, Jonathan Williams, LeSean McCoy, Mike Gillislee, Sammy Watkins
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills RB Mike Gillislee left practice early Wednesday with a hamstring injury. The severity was not known at the close of practice. He was listed as a limited participant.
Sammy Watkins was also limited in his first action in two months.
|Tyrod Taylor||QB||Right Shoulder||FP|
Tags: Bills injury report, Mike Gillislee
Posted in Inside the Bills
Mike Gillislee will get the start for the Bills at running back with LeSean McCoy inactive for today’s game against the Patriots. While Belichick believes McCoy is “an elite back,” he holds a good deal of respect for Gillislee.
“Some of his time has been limited because of McCoy, who has had such an explosive season, but when he’s had a chance to play he’s done a good job,” said Belichick. “He had a big run against San Francisco, like a 44-yard touchdown. A strong, downhill runner, one cut guy, that’s hard to tackle. Good complementary player to McCoy.
“McCoy is exceptional, but Gillislee is a good back too. They’ve got good depth, and Jonathan Williams. I’m sure we’ll see him too.”
Gillislee enters today’s game averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
Tags: Bill Belichick, Bills-Patriots, Mike Gillislee
Posted in Inside the Bills
Reggie Bush was signed about a week into training camp to be the team’s primary return man. He and free agent pickup Brandon Tate have shared the role. The Bills could be down in numbers at running back today depending on LeSean McCoy’s availability and at receiver with Robert Woods doubtful for today’s game. Bush has proven capable of filling a RB or WR role in his 11-year career. So where might we see him today against the Dolphins?
If McCoy doesn’t play he could be a complement back to Mike Gillislee, who is expected to shoulder most of the rushing load in the absence of their bell cow back.
If McCoy does dress and play, but Robert Woods doesn’t it wouldn’t be shocking to see Bush being split wide as a receiver at times. Bush presents matchup problems if split wide. It would be supremely difficult for a linebacker or safety to stick with him on routes.
“I’ve always had the attitude and mentality that whatever the team needs me to do then that’s what I’ll do,” said Bush. “They know I can play running back and they know I can play receiver. They know I can return punts. I don’t think that’s anything new so we’ll see what happens.”
Tags: Bills-Dolphins, LeSean McCoy, Mike Gillislee, Reggie Bush, Robert Woods
Posted in Inside the Bills
The injury list was a bit longer this week thanks mainly to illness on Wednesday, but there was another key player with a new injury.
Mike Gillislee and Brandon Spikes did not practice due to illness. Marquise Goodwin fell ill during practice and was limited.
Zach Brown is a new addition with a foot injury this week, but head coach Rex Ryan said he expects to have the team’s leading tackler on Sunday.
|Lorenzo Alexander||LB||Not injury related (rest)||DNP|
|Colton Schmidt||P||Right quad||LP|
Tags: Bills injury report, Brandon Spikes, Marquise Goodwin, Mike Gillislee
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Has Dez Lewis secured a place on the roster? And does he have any exp of kick/punt returning? #bills
CB: We will have a feature story on Dez Lewis this Monday on how he has advanced his game entering his second season. I think if Lewis continues on his current path he will undoubtedly be on the 53-man roster. But what he did in the spring has to continue in training camp when the pads go on, especially for a 6-4 receiver like Lewis. In fact Lewis’ game should go up another notch knowing how he can assert his physicality on the field. Hopefully that proves to be the case. As I wrote today in ‘What we learned about the Bills in offseason practices’ he has the inside track on the No. 3 receiver role.
His punt/kick return experience is minimal. He had just two punt returns in college and no kick returns.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills how serious is Karlos’s weight issue. Have Gilislee and J Williams over taken him in terms of a roster spot#bills
CB: There is no debating that Karlos has a formidable task in front of him. He has so much weight to lose that Rex Ryan said this week that getting him back to his playing weight by the start of training camp might be too much in too short a period of time.
His weight loss has to come in stages. So in late July when players report it’s unlikely that Williams will be at his playing weight of 230 pounds. Depending on what his report weight is Williams practice regimen could be limited to avoid the risk of injury. When you’re carrying excess weight, especially at a position like running back you’re risk of injury increases significantly, with hamstrings being the most susceptible to problems.
So I would expect a similar approach early in camp with Williams where he’s doing individual position drill work and then going to the side to work with the strength and conditioning staff to continue to shed weight.
As for the running back pecking order, it’s clear that the offensive staff is high on Jonathan Williams. In minicamp with LeSean McCoy’s ankle injury keeping him out of team work and Karlos Williams weight keeping him out of team work, Jonathan Williams was first in the rotation at the position followed by Mike Gillislee.
Jonathan Williams has a lot of the same physical skills of Karlos Williams. If Karlos Williams’ weight loss process last into the preseason I think it’s very possible that Jonathan Williams is your backup running back and Gillislee remains the third back as he was last season.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you think Kyle Williams will be more effective in a shared rotational role with Adolphus Washington?
i carn’t spel@NickTheCrowe
CB: I believe that Kyle Williams will still be a starter on this defensive line in 2016. Will he play as many snaps as Marcell Dareus or Adolphus Washington? Probably not. But I expect him to start at right defensive end next to Dareus and kick inside at times on obvious passing downs. Washington will man left defensive end with Dareus on the nose.
It’s my belief that Williams is still a very effective and productive player even at 33-years old. I suppose we won’t know for sure until we see how he looks in training camp in return from a bad knee injury that required surgery. But most seem to forget this guy is a four-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman. He’s a grinder. So I don’t see a rotational role for him unless that knee injury robbed him of his trademark explosiveness off the snap.
4 – Chris,
Does it concern you that Rex is simplifying his scheme to appease his players? It concerns me that we won’t be running the same system that has such a long track record of success, because players aren’t smart enough to pick it up. How did the Jets defense pick it up in the first year, but here we are in year two in Buffalo and they have to simplify the checks. Not very encouraging. Maybe this team needs to put a greater premium on intelligence, like Belichick does; you have to be a college graduate to be a Patriot.
CB: After talking to Preston Brown about that very thing I’m not concerned. I asked Brown directly as to whether the defensive scheme has been pared down. He said the only part of the defense that has been “altered slightly” (his words) is there aren’t quite as many pre-snap checks on certain down and distances. Otherwise Ryan’s defensive scheme is largely the same.
The key difference this year is Ryan is no longer blending elements of the old Jim Schwartz scheme from 2014. Rex tried to blend elements of Schwartz’s successful scheme in 2014 with his own as an olive branch to the defensive players who were successful and productive in that system. By midseason he knew it was a mistake.
So going into this season it’s Ryan’s more traditional 3-4 system that has a proven track record in this league for 15-plus years. What’s more the players have completely committed themselves to learning the scheme. So I would not be concerned about the effectiveness of Rex’s scheme. I think it will work with a lot more success this season for the reasons mentioned above.
5 – Dear Chris:
Thank you for all of your coverage that you do on the Bills day after day, hope you continue the game day chat box, very helpful.
My question is regarding Shaq Lawson; is there a timetable for his return as of yet? What for surgery/operation was done on his shoulder? Could he potentially miss the start of the regular season and most of training camp, as reports I have read so far have indicated, or could he potentially rehab his heart out in time to make the end of training camp, as shoulder injuries can take time to heal. This is very much concerning me as I have not much info on how long it could be until he gets back to full health.
John from Pennsylvania
CB: I think the most important thing is that Shaq’s surgery was successful. Now the rehab process begins, but rehabbing from this procedure is going to take time, typically four months or more knowing each case is different. So I believe it’s likely that Lawson misses training camp and the preseason. The team has stated he’s also likely to miss the early stages of the regular season.
What benefits the Bills coaching staff is they have time to adjust their plans for the loss of Lawson from their defensive lineup. It’s reasonable to believe he’ll be good to go for at least the second half of the season. At what point in the first half of the season he returns is a timetable that can’t be pinned down until he’s further along in the rehab process.
Tags: Dez Lewis, Fan Friday, Jonathan Williams, Karlos Williams, Kyle Williams, Mike Gillislee, Shaq Lawson
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills who has a legitimate chance of making a case for a starting job Sunday?
CB: I don’t know if this one game is enough to vault a reserve player into starter status for 2016. I think there have been some players that have done a good job of performing when given the opportunity here at the end of the season.
Corbin Bryant, Mike Gillislee and AJ Tarpley are a few players that come to mind. I think Mario Butler has had his moments as well. Jonathan Meeks is expected to get an extended opportunity Sunday. We’ll see if he can make himself part of the offseason conversation as well.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Chris, fans near & far see dysfunction again, which is very frustrating. Is there anything you understand that we may not?
CB: I think the one thing that I have learned in the last 16 years with this club is that change sets the timeline to success back. Every time you make a change in this league, whether it’s to your front office, coaching staff, offensive or defensive scheme or wholesale changes with your personnel you lengthen the timeline toward reaching success.
Sometimes change is necessary, but when such changes are made immediate success is rare. So despite the fact that most of us were convinced that the Bills were destined for the playoffs we lost sight of the fact that the team was going to have a new offensive scheme, new defensive scheme, new coaches on the whole and a new quarterback who was new to all the players around him.
The history of the league has taught us that such widespread change usually does not result in a won-loss record good enough to reach the postseason.
In fairness to the Bills a lot of that change was thrust upon new owners Terry and Kim Pegula. Their head coach quit and their starting quarterback retired. So change had to happen. That change unfortunately set back the clock to playoff success.
I realize fans are impatient. We’ve been waiting a long time to reach the postseason, but time and again the league more often rewards clubs that stay the course than they reward the clubs that constantly vote for change.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills if Mario leaves who fills that void? Clearly our pass rush stunk this year so where do we go from here?
CB: I think if that proves to be a move that the Bills decide to make they’ll need to look for a pass rusher high in the draft. They’re already heavily invested in Jerry Hughes over the long haul, as well as Marcell Dareus. That’s why a high draft choice makes the most fiscal sense. Team a young, promising pass rusher with Hughes on the other end and it doesn’t impact your cap as much as a high-price free agent.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills how could Rex Ryan best defend his coaching this year in light of the team’s underachievement? Injuries, schedule, other?
CB: I think injuries were certainly a big part of the problem. Losing Aaron Williams and Kyle Williams turned into a big problem from both an execution and a leadership perspective. Aaron ran the secondary and had a firm grasp of the defensive system. You didn’t have for the last 14 games of the season. Kyle missed the last 10 games. Those two losses were the most damaging.
As we all know there were a host of others that kept the offense from progressing as it wanted to as well, which is why they didn’t really take off until the second half of the season.
Rex did admit that he wasn’t sure there was full buy-in from all the players on defense. It was something he had never experienced before and it may have caught him off guard as to how to best handle it. Players at this level are supposed to be pros, which means coaches coach and players play. You can argue that perhaps Rex should’ve enacted strict consequences for those kind of actions, but a player owes it to his teammates and coaches and ownership to execute his assignments within the scope of the scheme to the best of his ability on every play and do what’s necessary during the week to ensure that.
That ultimately led to underachievement on defense this season.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Do the Bills plan to keep Gillislee into next year along with Karlos and Shady?
CB: I think that’s a safe assumption. Rex Ryan all but said that Gillislee has earned the right to be here next year. There is a question as to whether he’ll be an exclusive right free agent or restricted free agent based on his accrued season time. Either way I anticipate the Bills will get him under contract this offseason.
Tags: Bills defense, Fan Friday, Mario Williams, Mike Gillislee, playoff drought
Posted in Inside the Bills
The Bills number one rushing attack will be without LeSean McCoy today against the Cowboys, leaving Karlos Williams as the lead back and a late blooming complementary back right behind him.
Mike Gillislee, a 25-year old back, has made the most of his opportunities since entering Buffalo’s lineup and it’s only given offensive coordinator Greg Roman more incentive to keep him more chances on offense.
“He’s been awesome,” said Roman. “I said to the team all he does is come in, work hard, keep his mouth shut, learn a lot of stuff in a short amount of time and then go out and perform brilliantly really. This guy has been nothing but impressive in meetings and behind the scenes and then at practice 100 miles per hour and full speed mentally all the time. A guy like that can play for me any day. I know the team is very pleased with what he’s done. He’s had some big plays for us.”
In limited action Gillislee has done something big in each of the Bills last three games. He ripped off a 30-yard run in the win over the Texans. He had a 19-yard touchdown run against the Eagles and a 60-yard touchdown run at Washington.
“He’s done a great job and I think you see the kind of coach Anthony Lynn is and I’ve always talked about Anthony. But he’s done a great job with him,” said Rex Ryan. “But Gillislee’s, I mean out of nowhere you turn around and you just keep giving this guy opportunities and he’s made the most of them.”
Tags: Greg Roman, Mike Gillislee, Rex Ryan
Posted in Inside the Bills
Merry Christmas Bills fans! We know the players and coaches would’ve liked to leave a bit more under the tree for you this season. It might be hard to see it now, but there are a lot of encouraging signs for the 2016 season. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
How does Karlos look for this week? Starting? Or gillislee taking reps with the ones?
CB: Barring any setbacks with his shoulder I’d expect Karlos Williams to start in place of LeSean McCoy. Mike Gillislee will have a role however on Sunday serving as a complement to Williams.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Isn’t there value in continuity? The most successful organizations have it, right?
CB: Yes, most of the most NFL franchises have some clear measure of continuity. In many cases it’s aided by having a franchise quarterback. Buffalo has found a promising QB in Tyrod Taylor. There are a lot of encouraging elements to Taylor’s game that should only improve heading into next season with another year in Greg Roman’s system. That being said the jury is still out on whether he can be a franchise caliber signal caller.
I’m guessing your question stems from concern about the state of the Bills front office and coaching staff amid a flurry of media reports this week. I will say that things did not go according to plan with this team this season. There is no debate about that. I don’t think making wholesale changes are the way to go or in the offing.
Doug Whaley has proven himself as a talent evaluator in his short time as GM of the Bills. Anyone who can flip Matt Cassel for a fifth-round pick and get a Pro Bowl running back for a linebacker that has had a pair of ACL knee injuries is doing something right. And all the criticism for the draft day trade of Sammy Watkins looks like it has missed the mark.
Rex Ryan despite a disappointing defensive season has been a top 10 defensive coach in this league for all but two of the seasons in which he has been either a coordinator or head coach. He’s a proven innovator in this league and it’s my contention that he’ll be doing some more innovating this offseason to gain the upper hand again on opposing offenses next year.
I know it again sounds like empty promises. Believe me I get it. I’ve been here to witness each of the last 16 seasons. As I’ve said many times, frequent change hasn’t brought much in the way of improvement for this team. I doubt such sweeping change will make this team better in 2016.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Thoughts on Tyrod as long term answer for Bills?
CB: I think Tyrod has certainly made himself the best candidate for that role right now. As I said above Taylor still has some more evidence to provide that he can be that guy, which means making progress in some areas of his game.
The thing that hasn’t made sense to me is the criticism he’s received for not making enough plays in the fourth quarter, leading his team from behind to a victory, etc. The positive things he has done for that position in a brand new offense for every player on that side of the ball should be applauded.
To have the numbers he has, which include an astounding 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio (20 to 5) and a passer rating that is on pace to be the best in team history (yes, better than HOF’er Jim Kelly) and has been over 100 almost all season, is remarkable.
What goes by the board for most fans because they’re not around him every day is the leadership he has demonstrated for this team in his role as QB. I have covered this team since Kelly’s last two seasons with the Bills and having seen all the quarterbacks since then, the only one who led as effectively as Taylor was Ryan Fitzpatrick. The only one who did better was Drew Bledsoe.
But Bledsoe came in the door with a proven resume that included Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl appearance. So stepping in and leading was easy.
Taylor came in as part of a three-man QB competition, no time on the field in the league and in less than a season not only won over the locker room, but produced on the field and then did all the right things off it in terms of vocal leadership, running extra offensive meetings by himself with teammates and counseling younger players on the practice squad (e.g. Dez Lewis, Walt Powell).
In my opinion, Taylor has earned the right to be this team’s starting quarterback next season. If the Bills happen to acquire a quarterback who is superior in every way this offseason then things are different, but until that time this is a quarterback fans should get behind.
4 – Chris,
Do you think the Bills will utilize Bill Polian as a team Consultant? I totally agree with Mr. Polian’s recent comments, Improve the Offensive Line with talent (a need for past 15 years that has not been properly addressed), add a WR to compliment Sammy on the other side, and add a true quality back-up QB to Tyrod Taylor, while also drafting a young QB to develop for the future.
In addition, my thought is use a defensive scheme that matches the strengths of the Bills personnel.
CB: I’m not going to pretend to know what Terry and Kim Pegula are thinking with respect to hiring a consultant. What I can tell you is Bill Polian’s job at ESPN is in direct conflict with him having any kind of NFL consultant job with an NFL club. He recently said on Sirius NFL Radio that he would not want to give up his ESPN job to do that.
All due respect to Bill Polian, who is a Hall of Fame executive, but the offensive line is not old and slow. Of the seven offensive linemen who have seen the most time on the field this season, their average age is 26.5-years old. Two of the oldest, Richie Incognito and Eric Wood are Pro Bowl alternates and the team leads the league in rushing.
For you to say the offensive line hasn’t been addressed is also incorrect. They drafted four in the last two drafts. Cordy Glenn, who the team has said is a priority to re-sign, is entering the prime of his career (also a draft choice – 2012).
And I wouldn’t be surprised if they invest in the offensive line again this offseason in the draft. Adding a quarterback I think is also on the to-do list.
Doug Whaley in two short years as GM has done a solid job of fortifying this roster with quality talent. What’s more he’s retained the most important talent on this roster instead of letting it escape to play for other clubs. So I’m having a hard time understanding the criticism for the team’s personnel boss.
5 – Hi Chris,
I really think Doug Whaley does a tremendous job identifying talent…but I think he needs some help (as well as Rex) building a TEAM. As Talley said, and I totally agree, we have a collection of all-stars but no team unity. Fred Jackson was the glue on this team and Whaley showed me he doesn’t understand the “team” concept this offseason (was Bryce Brown really that talented?? Did anyone not think Goodwin would be hurt in his first game?? With Shady being hurt..cut someone else). When KW and AW went down that was a huge blow and now young men are trying to become leaders and that will take time. More so than talent this offseason, I’m really looking for the Bills to become a team and look like the enjoy playing together. Your thoughts?
CB: I agree that losing Kyle Williams and Aaron Williams for the season were costly losses. They were the primary leaders on defense. I think it would’ve been harder for Fred to lead here in a vastly reduced role that might have found him inactive in certain weeks.
As the season is winding down it is encouraging to see a couple of 2014 draft choices step forward in Preston Brown and Sammy Watkins and take on more of a leadership role in the final weeks. Hopefully they continue to serve this team in that capacity going into next year.
If the productive players on the field are the ones leading off of it everybody follows. It’s unfortunate that a pair of 22-years old have to fill that kind of void, but when veterans choose not to a team has no choice.
As Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells once said:
“Blame nobody – expect nothing – do something. Losers sit around in small groups, b**ching about the coach, the system and other players. Winners come together as a team.”
Tags: Bill Polian, Fan Friday, Karlos Williams, LeSean McCoy, Mike Gillislee, Preston Brown, Rex Ryan, Sammy Watkins, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
As Rex Ryan said his team is out of mulligans. A win streak has to start this weekend against Houston. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – Hi Chris,
My Bills related question is regarding Tyrod Taylor NEVER going under center. I think this is really limiting our play action and he also very rarely keeps the ball on a read option limiting its effectiveness. Why is this? Also – are we every going to throw a screen/quick slant to Sammy or ever get him in motion – this is nearly as intolerable. I’m also starting to see Robert Woods as a solid #3 with Hogan #4 and dire need of a large WR #2…thoughts?
CB: Taylor has been under center, but it has been relatively rare. You’re right about him keeping the ball a lot on read option plays. In my opinion there were a handful of plays against the Patriots where if he kept the ball he had an entire side of the field open to him with as strong as New England’s defense was flowing in the direction that LeSean McCoy was headed on those plays.
I don’t know if his knee injury has made him more hesitant to take off and run on read option plays. I can’t imagine the coaching staff has advised him against taking off and running on those to protect him, otherwise you wouldn’t call such plays in the first place.
I understand your frustration with quick slants or receiver screens with Sammy. I think if you’re having trouble getting Watkins the ball as was the case in the second half last week why not put it in his hands at the line of scrimmage and see what he can do from there?
The team has two very capable blocking receivers in Woods and Hogan, so it would stand to reason that you could put them all in a bunch formation and throw Watkins the ball. You might only get four yards, but if someone falls down on defense you might get a lot more.
2 – Chris,
There is no doubt Rex is a great motivator, but penalties come when emotion takes over. Emotion can burn out over time and cloud judgement, purpose burns longer and sharpens judgement. Do you believe we get too high early, can Rex channel emotion more at the end of a game than at the beginning?
Jim in Florida
CB: I think you can make an argument that while this team does get off to some great starts, finishing has been a problem. This is most apparent in one particular statistic, which for most of the season has been a strength for the team. Buffalo has the number one run defense in the NFL in the first half. No other team gives up fewer rushing yards in the first half of games than Buffalo. In the second half however, the Bills rank 27th in run defense.
It’s only one arbitrary statistic, but it does speak to the up and down play of the team this season. Buffalo’s most inefficient quarter in terms of points for and against is the third quarter where opponents are outscoring them by almost a 2:1 margin (44 points for; 84 points against).
There are other team stats that point to a drop off in the second half of games as well and in a conversation I had with Manny Lawson he agreed that something has been missing particularly in the fourth quarter of games. He and other leaders have tried to impress a sense of urgency upon the other players, but for whatever reason the units on offense, defense and special teams can’t collectively raise their level of play to a point where they can consistently finish games and win.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills what is up with the D? I understand there are injuries, but this unit is avg/bad after 2 years of solid/elite play.
CB: The struggles of the defense are perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2015 season. A defensive unit that proved capable of switching from Mike Pettine’s scheme to Jim Schwartz’s scheme from 2013 to 2014 and improve to become a top five unit in the league, a solid run defense and the best third down unit in the league has slipped in a lot of areas this season.
There’s no need for me to outline where the fall off has occurred. The players claim that Rex Ryan’s scheme is something they’re still trying to master. Why that is the case this late in the season is unclear. New schemes at most typically take a team 6-8 weeks into the season to fully grasp and play fast on Sundays.
Ryan admitted last week that he made the mistake of trying to blend some of the successful principles of last year’s defensive scheme in with his own scheme. After seeing that wasn’t working he scrapped some of the defensive concepts from last year and went exclusively with his own scheme.
Whether that presented a whole new learning curve midway through the season is unclear.
What is clear is the results haven’t been there. With so much talent on that side of the ball these results were totally unexpected. But facts are facts. Now we’ll have to see what they can scrape together by way of performance over the last five games.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills interest in Kaepernick next year?
CB: I would be surprised if the Bills have interest in Colin Kaepernick. He’s a career 60 percent passer with great athletic ability. Fortunately the Bills have grade ‘A’ intel on Kaepernick as a person, leader and worker from offensive coordinator Greg Roman. If the reports out of San Francisco this season are accurate, Kaepernick lacks in two of those categories.
His skill set is similar to Tyrod Taylor. Taylor however, in my opinion, is a better leader, more dedicated worker and the numbers say a more accurate passer.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Can you give us bills practice squad roster as of now?
CB: Running back Mike Gillislee will be called up to the active roster, but he’s currently on the practice squad with the following players.
WR Dezmin Lewis
WR Walt Powell
CB Sammy Seamster
CB Merrill Noel
DE Cedric Reed
LB AJ Tarpley
G Cyril Richardson
TE Nick O’Leary
DT Jerel Worthy
Tags: Bills defense, Colin Kaepernick, finishing games, Mike Gillislee, practice squad, Rex Ryan, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills