Inside The Bills

What waived-injured means for Mike Williams

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 4:05 pm

With Mike Williams waived-injured today (Monday) to make room for the Bills to sign WR Deonte Thompson, here’s where Williams’ status stands with respect to Buffalo’s roster.

Designated as waived-injured the 31 other NFL clubs now have 24 hours to put a waiver claim in on Williams. If another NFL club is awarded the claim for Williams, the receiver would join that team’s roster and assume the responsibility of his current contract with Buffalo.

If Williams goes unclaimed he will revert to the Bills roster and be placed on injured reserve effectively ending his 2014 season.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-21

Posted by Chris Brown on November 21, 2014 – 9:01 pm

Despite some crazy logistics this week, here’s Fan Friday with questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Over the past couple of years here are moves that GM Doug Whaley really “hit on”;

(1) Trading ILB Kelvin Sheppard for DE Jerry Hughes = A+

(2) Drafting LB Kiko Alonso = A+

(3) Drafting WR Sammy Watkins = A+,  price was pretty steep, but gives the Bills a legit #1 WR in awhile

(4) Drafting LB Preston Brown + A,  this guy has been a very nice surprise on the defensive side of the ball

(5) Signing QB Kyle Orton = A+  ( I was writing to you back in July for the Bills to sign Orton, glad Coach Marrone finally switched Kyle Orton to #1 QB.  I thought he should have a week sooner, if the Bills had, Bills beat Texans in Houston)

(6) Signing of free agent kicker Dan Carpenter, he’s been clutch when kicks are needed the most.

Question:  Since the Bills do not have a #1 draft pick in 2015 and RB Spiller is not going to command a large contract to resign, can’t GM Doug Whaley take that $$$ and Resign DE Jerry Hughes and extend DT Marcel Dareus long-term ?

Bills really need to try and keep their defensive line together, they are the strength of the team.  I think it was a mistake years ago when the Bills let Pat Williams and Ted Washington depart.

Randy

South FL
CB: I had a blog post on this very subject earlier this week when GM Doug Whaley addressed the future of both Hughes and Dareus this week on Bills flagship station WGR this week. Here’s what Whaley said about Hughes and Dareus.

“Those guys are great players. We would love to have them, and those are the things we’ll discuss at the end of the season, which we do every year,” Whaley said. “We don’t negotiate in the media, but they’ve brought tremendous production to our defensive line and helped to make our defense one of the best in the league and we’re going to do whatever we can to keep them.”

I believe the Bills know the defensive line is the linchpin of their defense and with the unit much improved against the run this season they’ll make a strong effort to keep Hughes in the fold even though three of their highest paid players are their other three starting defensive linemen.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

Big Buffalo Bills fan here in Northern Ireland.  Great job you and John Murphy do in covering the bills.

Couple of questions, how is EJ getting on and what do you think the future is at the qb position the bills this season and beyond this season?

Many thanks
Paddy

CB: Thanks for the compliments. EJ is doing well. Head coach Doug Marrone last week acknowledged that he is making progress with his personal game. We covered some of what he’s been working on since assuming the backup role.

As for the future at the position there are some moving parts there. Orton has a player option for next year in his deal with Buffalo. Manuel is obviously still under contract.

It’s my belief that the last six games will have a lot to do with the direction the team takes at that position. I realize that a good number of outside observers are of the opinion that EJ Manuel’s career is over with Buffalo. I don’t share that opinion.

He still has yet to have a full regular season worth of starts in his time with the Bills (14 starts) and it’s my contention that kicking dirt on him is premature regardless of what his statistics say.

 

3 – Hello Chris,
Thanks for all of the info and insight every week. I am a long time follower but this is my first time writing in. My question is in regards to Mike Williams and all of the Fan unrest in his lack of playing time. I too feel that he has been grossly underutilized. I think a good solution would be to give him reps at tight end in a two tight end formation. We have all witnessed his toughness and willingness to “bang heads” not to mention some good down field blocking.

This could create some real matchup nightmares with the opposition. It would force the defense to cover with a safety because a linebacker couldn’t cover him and it would open up Sammy and company as well. Do you think it could work or is he too”small” for TE? And has anyone at OBD tinkered with this? I would think they would want their big play makers on the field as much as possible. Just a thought. Thanks again!

Greg T.

CB: I believe there is merit to those fans who contend that Mike Williams is talented enough to help this offense, especially in the red zone where the team has struggled of late. Williams was targeted once in the Miami game in the red zone, but the pass was broken up.

Even if they favor receivers like Chris Hogan over Williams between the 20s to get them down the field, and Hogan performed well against Miami, you can certainly make the argument that Williams can help this team score touchdowns in the red zone. Eighteen of his 23 touchdowns scored with Tampa Bay early in his career were within 20 yards.

Hopefully what we saw in terms of his use against Miami only increases down the stretch. Making him a detached tight end is something I don’t think I’d anticipate.

 

4 – Chris,

Can you tell us why the Bills have covered some mid-field, low level seats at RWS?

Thanks for your insights,

Mike Riggie

CB: The reason the first few rows have been tarped is because from a seated position it’s impossible for fans to see over the players and coaches gathered on the sidelines and see the action on the field. As a result those fans in the past would stand, and that would force the fans behind them to stand creating a chain reaction. All the fans behind them would have to continually stand up to see the action every time the fans in the first few rows did so.

The solution was to cover those seats and not sell them to fans to eliminate the problem.

 

5 – Hey Chris ,

Just a quick hit . Seeing as the NFL is said to be a copycat league & the regime before this one at Buffalo & others in the NFL have some success with a 5 wide set how come this OC NEVER uses it ? Especially with the talent at the WR position …

Thanks Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: One of the most popular formations in the league right now is 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR). One of the reasons is it’s one of the more unpredictable formations pre-snap. You can run or pass out of this formation in a variety of ways and a lot of offensive coordinators like that, which is why it’s so prevalent.

It’s Buffalo’s most popular formation this season as well. Five wide basically says we’re throwing, unless you’ve got Michael Vick at QB and you’re running out of a spread set.

The most popular formation under the head coach that preceded Doug Marrone was four wide with one back.

Believe it or not the five wide look isn’t as popular as you might think. Four wide is more popular. What’s interesting is there were a couple of plays last week against the Dolphins where the Bills went five wide. I doubt it will increase in frequency in Buffalo’s offense, but we’ll see.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-14

Posted by Chris Brown on November 14, 2014 – 11:58 am

Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Question on the Bills offensive philosophy.  When Marrone and Hackett were first hired by the Bills, there was a lot of talk from them about the up tempo style of offense they ran at Syracuse and has become so common place in college football and with some NFL teams.  They seemed to be big believers in running a LOT of offensive plays, limiting the defensive adjustments that could be made by calling the plays at the line, and dictating to the defense through their pace and related “matchup” problems the lack of substitutions could create for a defense–not to mention the notion of tiring out a defensive pass rush by forcing D-linemen to stay on the field for an entire series.

They started with that philosophy last year, but after EJ got hurt, they seemed to reduce the use of the up tempo offense citing the inexperience of the backup QBs.  In the preseason, we saw a little more of the up tempo pace, albeit with very very limited success due to EJ’s continued struggles with execution.  And so once again, they seemed to deviate from that philosophy.

But now with an experienced QB in Kyle Orton, execution and understanding of the playbook doesn’t appear to be as much of an issue.  Yet we haven’t seen much use of that up tempo style except in two minute situations–which Orton seems to have done quite well with, as evidenced by the Detroit game, the Vikings game, and even the 4th quarter of the Patriots game when they were behind two scores but still in striking distance midway through the quarter.

Have Marrone and Hackett simply abandoned the up tempo “philosophy”?  If so, why?  The QB doesn’t seem to be an issue.  Granted, the O-line is a bit on the young side in certain positions.  But perhaps an up tempo pace would help the O-line out if the defensive line can’t rotate fresh legs all the time.  Or might we see a return to the up tempo pace on a regular basis (instead of just two minute situations) at some point in the near future?

Thanks,
Jeffrey S.

CB: I think what needs to be remembered here is the collection of youth on offense. At the receiver position and now with two new additions in the offensive backfield in Bryce Brown and Boobie Dixon. I think that is what has the offensive staff convinced that a more methodical approach leads to better overall execution. There is little value in upping the tempo if your players can’t execute consistently because that puts your defense back on the field all the faster.

Now while your point about how Orton has run the offense in two-minute situations is well taken, you need to remember that defenses typically play differently in those situations as well. Just like offenses tend to pass more at those times in the game, defenses tend to play more conservatively, giving up yards in exchange for time on the clock.

So the success you often see in two minute situations aren’t as likely during other parts of the game. It’s clear the coaching staff believes that moving at a steady pace with a huddle is the best practice. So I don’t anticipate it changing any time soon.

 

2 – Hello Chris
I have a couple questions. When will the coaching staff see that the QB play is not the problem? EJ could throw a pick a game and not fumble. Plus he had the strength in the pocket plus agility to avoid half the sacks Orton has had. It is play calling I feel. We run such a melo offense. Out of 73 starts for Orton he has 8 comebacks EJ had I believe 4 in just 14 starts. We should have let him continue to develop. Orton has continually been trying to make up for his mistakes. (Pick six in Detroit. That game should have never been that close)
Secondly do they hope CJ may come back with the IR they placed him on? Thanks again for all your coverage of the best team in sports.

Jedediah
Palm Coast, FL

CB: I think Buffalo’s coaching staff would disagree with you. As coach Marrone said when he made the quarterback change, he needed more production from the position. EJ’s completion percentage had dropped below 60 percent and was missing open receivers. They were simply leaving too many yards on the field. For an offense that was starved for points it was a conscious decision by Marrone.

You can make an argument that they should’ve left EJ in to keep developing, but the pressure to reach the postseason trumped Manuel’s on field development.

As for C.J. Spiller we’ll have to see where he’s at when we reach Week 16, the first week he’ll be eligible to return off of I-R. It’s too early to tell where he’ll be in his healing at that point.

 

3 -  @ChrisBrownBills
Will we be able to afford to keep Hughes and Dareus with both their contracts up in the next 2 years?

connordomiano

CB: It’s my understanding that the Bills would like to re-sign Jerry Hughes and that’s job number one on the defensive side of the ball. Picking up Dareus’ option buys them time to address his contract. The catch here is the top three salaries on the team right now are Dareus, Kyle Williams and Mario Williams. Investing another big contract in the defensive line could be argued as an imbalanced approach to the salary cap putting a large percentage of it in just one position group.

At the same time it’s hard to argue with a unit that has largely carried the defense the last season plus which leads the league in sacks and is a top 10 run defense.

The Bills will need to be creative, and I am far from a cap expert, but with the salary cap continually going up in this era of NFL prosperity there is probably a way to make it all work.

 

4 -  @ChrisBrownBills

What are the Bills future plans with the HB position? Any chance they can make a run at Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson?

killerbeekevin

CB: I think we first need to take a look at who will still be under contract next season. Fred Jackson signed a one-year extension this past summer. Brown and Dixon will still be under contract for 2015. So the only free agent is C.J. Spiller and it’s my understanding that the Bills would like to keep their former first-round pick in the fold. And Spiller has said more than once that he would like to remain with the Bills.

Whether the two sides can agree on terms is the obvious question. If for some reason they cannot only then do I see them exploring other possible options.

You’re also assuming that Peterson and Ingram will make it to the free agent market. I think it’s unlikely to happen with Ingram with the production he’s put up when healthy this season. Peterson’s off the field matters may change the conversation in Minnesota, but he’s still a dynamic player and the linchpin of the Vikings offense.

 

5 – Hi Chris;

I appreciate all the updates you and John do all week long to keep us up to date on all things Bills-related.

Can you update us on the  Mike Williams situation? I know the furor over his agent’s supposed request for a trade was negated by Mike, who says he wants to play  here. Since then, we haven’t heard anything about him. Is he still on the ’benched’ list? Will he return? He seems to have vanished into thin air and no one seems to talk about him! Thanks for your feedback.

Darlene  in PA

CB: Coach Marrone has been pressed on this subject with the most recent flurry of questions coming this week. With the offense last in the league in red zone touchdown percentage and the acquisition of Mike Williams executed to help the offense in that area specifically, he was asked why Williams has been inactive in two of the last four games.

Coach Marrone cited a number of different reasons including the challenge of only dressing 46 players on game day and the needs of special teams and versatile players. He also flatly stated that right now a couple of other players are performing better than him.

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett also hinted at how Williams and Kyle Orton are still working on their on field chemistry where Orton can trust Williams on any given play to be in the right place at the right time. These appear to be the biggest hurdles in Williams getting on the field.

He was active Thursday night and got four snaps on offense and six on special teams. He was targeted once in the red zone.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone: changes possible for red zone

Posted by Chris Brown on November 10, 2014 – 2:14 pm

There’s little question that Buffalo’s fumble through the end zone for a touchback and fumbled punt return were costly in the loss to Kansas City Sunday, but a close second was going 0-for-4 in the red zone. Buffalo’s red zone touchdown percentage is now ranked 32nd in the NFL at 41.2 percent. Head coach Doug Marrone knows things have to improve in that area of the field and fast, but on a short week changing significantly is a tall order.

Marrone was asked if players acquired in the offseason like Boobie Dixon (goal line back) and Mike Williams (red zone scoring threat) could be used more moving forward to help boost the red zone touchdown efficiency. Marrone didn’t dismiss the possibility, but again pointed to the challenge of having the right depth for special teams needs and other positions that often make it difficult to dress everyone they’d like to have for specialty situations on offense.

“A lot of it is matchups and what we want to get accomplished, but I’m not going to sit here and deny that it’s not something we talk about quite a bit,” he said. “There are challenges within this roster where if we have injuries you have to back yourself up. Special teams-wise, we have those challenges which probably affect the offensive side of the ball more because of some of the lack of special teams play that we get at certain positions. That’s something that I’ve talked to Doug Whaley about trying to improve to make it better for us as far as numbers in what we’re doing.”

Marrone added later that there probably will be some changes, but in a short week they will not be dramatic. Whether that means a player like Mike Williams is active instead of inactive, as was the case for the second time this season, Sunday remains to be seen.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-7

Posted by Chris Brown on November 7, 2014 – 5:12 pm

Alright Bills fans, giant game this week against the Chiefs. Big AFC playoff implications. Got to get a win at home. For now on to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hello Chris,

Thank you for keeping us Bills fans up to date with all the great insider news! My question is very simple. With such a stout defensive line and very talented linebackers, and a talented secondary why is it in your opinion the bills give up so many pass yards?

Jeremiah T.

CB: What the Bills have surrendered in pass defense is somewhat understandable. For the most part the Bills have been a stout run defense all season long. This often forces an opponent to become one-dimensional, like the Jets offense was a couple of weeks ago.

As a result New York dropped back to pass a lot. Tom Brady was a bit of a different story. He got into such a rhythm passing that the Patriots chose to go with a pass heavy approach and it worked for them. The New England game however, has been the exception rather than the rule.

Buffalo is a very respectable 13th in the league against the pass. To be able to couple that with the eighth-ranked run defense is pretty good.

Often times in the league some of the top run defenses in football don’t have a pass defense ranking nearly as high. It’s because their run defense is so effective it forces opponents to pass to gain yards and score points, usually to try to climb back into the game.

When teams with stout run defenses have a respectable lead in games, they’ll often give up pass yards in exchange for killing time on the game clock. To see Buffalo in the top half of the league against the run and the pass is pretty impressive.

 

2 – Chris,

After Chris Hogan’s catch at the goal line against the Vikings, do you think that coach Marrone is gonna use him more every week???

Thanks,

Chris from NY


CB:
I think things are certainly trending in that direction. He has a good rapport with Kyle Orton and Orton trusts him to execute his route assignments and be in the right place at the right time. Hogan is one of the receivers who participates in Orton’s Tuesday throwing sessions on their off day. So that on field chemistry can only grow and get stronger.

Hogan does all the right things to make himself a better contributor in Buffalo’s offense, so yes I do think he’ll see more playing time as the year wears on.

 

3 – Chris:

Thanks for your coverage, research and opinions.

I ask for your opinion on a few things:
A)  Will CJ Spiller opt out of his final year or elect to rebound next year to improve his potential on the free agency market.

B) Do you think the Bills want him back or are they ready to move on?

C) Will Mike Williams get out of the Head Coach’s Dog House or is he done and will not dressed once the receivers are all healthy?

D) Will the Bills continue to carry a Kickoff Specialist since injuries have impacted the roster and Guy’s touchbacks have seemed to decline?


CB:
Here are my answers in letter order.

A – I think he will make himself a free agent to be.

B – I think the Bills will make an effort to re-sign Spiller

C – Mike Williams to his credit is putting in extra work on special teams during the practice week to get on the field that way. It’s hard to really get to the bottom of what’s keeping him off the field, but seeing a player like Chris Hogan emerge, who does all the right things and puts in the extra work and is reliable might be an indicator.

D – Jordan Gay has been a solid kickoff specialist this season. The only reason is touchback percentage dropped recently (it was at almost 75%) was because the Bills faced a couple of teams who give the green light to their returners even when the ball is kicked nine yards deep (Minnesota, NY Jets).

Gay’s benefit to the team is two-fold. First, it saves Carpenter’s leg through the course of the season. It also takes hits off the bodies of the kick coverage men on his unit when he gets touchbacks because they don’t have to go make a play. It’s hard to know where Gay’s role will go in the future, but he’s performed pretty well this season in my opinion.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

Last year I wrote you and was kinda hard on you, and I appreciate you writing back, I live in Florida, grew up in WNY. Love the Bills, probably too much,  I was at the New England game, I talked to a lot of folks, CJ Spiller is our question, listen to all of the interviews, please could you pass on to him, he always says, always says he will only take what they give him, nobody will give him anything, take more than what they give him, stay inbounds, put your head down and get another yard. It’s time for this team to get some attitude, the fans are mad, we are furious, we have a good team and it is being wasted.

Chris am I out of line, or do you see players that are not working? I really think this team is only as good as our weakest link. Spiller and Gilmore are terrible, they play with no heart, please pass it on , we do not like watching Spiller running out of bounds, its depressing, thanks for listening, go Bills,

Doug Collins

CB: Don’t worry about the harsh words the last time. I know more often than not it comes from the passion you fans have for your team. No offense taken. As for C.J. and Gilmore however, I don’t think you could be more wrong about them not having heart.

They’re two of the harder working players on the team. Their commitment in the offseason is exemplary and both are often putting in extra time after practice.

You’re not alone in being frustrated that C.J. Spiller isn’t more productive in Buffalo’s offense. Obviously now he’s focused on just getting healthy after his shoulder injury, but Spiller wants to succeed more than anybody.

One thing that I’ve talked to Mark Kelso about in the past is how Spiller might benefit from lining up in the backfield deeper. Spiller is so fast that he gets to the line of scrimmage where the hole should be before it actually opens up for him. Arriving so early the hole is not established and he has to find another option, and often chooses to bounce it outside.

Kelso has explained to me, and it makes sense, that if he lines up deeper in the backfield he’ll arrive at the line of scrimmage in better time with the blocks being executed and the hole will be there for him to exploit.

The Kansas City Chiefs do this with Jamaal Charles. Another speedy back, Charles lines up deeper in the backfield and arrives at the line in proper timing with the linemen. I don’t know that it’s a cure all, but if he’s able to come off I-R before the season is over or let’s hope for the postseason I’d like to see if that could fix things.

As for Stephon Gilmore I think he’s played better as the season has gone on. He’s not giving up big plays and he’s been physical with some of the bigger, stronger receivers this season.

 

5 – Chris,
First off, you do a great job keeping us rabid Bills fans informed and do it in a professional manner. Thanks!
I’m sure you are probably sick of hearing about fans complaining of poor officiating.In the NHL, between the intermissions,the officials watch video and are in contact with the league about the calls they made & missed. They make a concerted effort to get better so they make less mistakes during the game-sort of like a coaching staff making adjustments. Could you please let us fans know if the NFL does this and,if not,WHY?
Players,if they make too many mistakes, get cut. Coaches lose too many games,get fired. There is accountability. Doesn’t seem to be the case with NFL officials.

Tom Dinder

CB: To my knowledge NFL officials do not review their calls from the first half at halftime. First and foremost halftime is rather brief (about 10-12 minutes for officials). Officials are schooled up in the offseason and are prepped for the season by attending NFL training camps to get ready for the preseason and regular season.

I do know that coaches will ask officials to keep an eye on certain things as the game unfolds, but beyond that there isn’t much else that’s done proactively by NFL officials as I understand it.

Thanks for the kind words.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mike Williams expected back Wednesday

Posted by Chris Brown on November 3, 2014 – 11:11 pm

Bills WR Mike Williams had an excused absence on Monday as well as rookie G Cyril Richardson. Both players were unfortunately excused for the same reason.

“They have personal situations,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “There’s been a death in both families so they’re taking care of that.”

Marrone said he expects Williams to rejoin the team in time for Wednesday’s practice. Richardson, however, he expects to be away from the team a bit longer. Richardson’s family is based in Texas.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-31

Posted by Chris Brown on October 31, 2014 – 11:41 am

It’s the bye week so focus on your fantasy rosters this week Bills fans. Here are your questions this week from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills. Keep them coming.

1 – Hey Chris ,
Was wondering a couple of things when it comes to EJ & his history with the Bills & prior to . When EJ First came to the Bills the HC & OC led us to believe that they wanted him to have a veteran mentor (which was to be Kevin Kolb) to either sit behind & learn or play & have some one that has played the position to bounce things off of to learn from . So I am wondering why everyone is in such a uproar over this switch ? They are just going back to plan A correct ?

The second part to the question is every article or write-up on EJ prior to him being drafted by the Bills had pointed out a lot if not all of his short comings as a player, It seems from a fan stand point that when it comes to the most important position on a NFL team the Bills come up short when it has come to their decisions at that position both past & present. Were any of those articles or opinions taken into consideration while thinking of drafting him? It seems as though the only people high on EJ were those at one Bills Dr. Then to pass on available QB’s this past draft (if for nothing else to ramp up competition) they pass again on others that had as much if not more potential & better resume than EJ as a backup plan. Personal opinion it seems as though the coaches of this regime in A LOT of different ways show more rookie tendencies than the players !!

Thanks for your time & as always your insight on this & all our fan questions !!
Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: Yes, there was a plan to have a veteran quarterback on hand from the get go and that was Kevin Kolb. He began training camp as the first QB through in the rotation, but it was a competition for the starting job. I think most were expecting Kolb to be the starter at the outset and if EJ came on he’d succeed him. We all know that plan went off the rails early.

I would disagree that every time the Bills have tried to pick a quarterback it has been the wrong quarterback. I’m not absolving quarterbacks drafted in the past for the trajectory of their careers with the Bills, but you do need to look at the circumstances around them.

Constant coaching turnover particularly at the coordinator position with different schemes and systems coming through during a young quarterback’s developmental stages is extremely disruptive to a QB’s progress and growth.

Let’s take J.P. Losman and Trent Edwards’ time with the Bills as an example. Two young quarterbacks who saw a lot of change in their short time with the club.

Losman’s rookie season was 2004. Tom Clements was the offensive coordinator under Mike Mularkey. The next season Mularkey takes play calling responsibility from Clements. After Mularkey is moved out the system changes, Steve Fairchild comes in as the new coordinator with a new system in 2006. After 2007, Edwards’ rookie year, he leaves to coach in college and Turk Schonert is inserted and tweaks the system again. By the 2009 season Losman is gone and Dick Jauron a week before the opener fires Schonert and promotes Alex Van Pelt to run the offense.

A year later Chan Gailey is the head coach with a completely different offense. Edwards’ tenure last only a couple of games into 2010 when he’s benched and eventually released as the Ryan Fitzpatrick era begins.

Now would Losman or Edwards ever fully got it and been successful quarterbacks in this league? Maybe not. Some might even say probably not, but the circumstances that existed in terms of coaching changes and scheme certainly decreased the chances of either of those two developing properly at the NFL level.

There is a value in continuity in the NFL. Organizations like Green Bay, Pittsburgh and the NY Giants have proven it. They limit turnover in an effort to let their players develop and flourish. Does it always work? No, but it has a track record of far more success than failure.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills.

Any news on how EJ is getting on? Also really impressed by his attitude on the sidelines on game day from what I have seen.
rmstrong_1982

CB: By all accounts EJ has been a pro’s pro. We’ll have an in depth story on the work Manuel has been putting in over the past month since he assumed the backup role on Buffalobills.com Saturday. Some great insight from EJ and quarterbacks coach Todd Downing on Manuel’s trust in the system and the extra work he puts in early in the morning with Kyle Orton and long after practice is over on the field. Check it out tomorrow!

 

3 - @ChrisBrownBills

Just curious why Mario Williams snaps have decreased over the past few weeks?

TheRealSeanK

CB: This was a question that both defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and head coach Doug Marrone addressed. Here was Schwartz’s response to Mario Williams drop in snap count the past three weeks.

“I don’t count reps,” said Schwartz. “I’m just worried about performance and production. If our defense is being productive then that’s the only thing we care about. Everybody else can worry about stats and snap counts and everything else, it’s about trying to win the game and doing what we think is best to win the game.”

It’s likely that Schwartz believes in quality over quantity with Mario Williams. I believe him when he says he doesn’t count reps, but perhaps in reviewing game tape he’s found that Williams’ gives him more quality reps (pass rush chiefly) when he plays between 38-45 snaps than when he plays 48-55 snaps a game. The other possibility is Jarius Wynn when he goes in is providing very little drop off in play.

Last week’s game is a good example. Wynn played 44 snaps to Williams’ 40. Wynn had three tackles, a sack and a quarterback hit. Williams had three tackles, a half sack and a forced fumble. Schwartz says they care about performance.

If Wynn is performing leave him in there. In a tight game when the outcome is on the line I’m sure Mario will be in the game.

Coach Marrone earlier this season indicated that he wanted to keep Williams fresh for important third down pass rushes late in a couple of the recent games. This past week up 20 points it’s my belief they wanted to keep him out of harm’s way so as not to risk injury.

The direct beneficiary when Mario Williams doesn’t get his usual number of reps, which is usually around 75 percent of the snaps is Jarius Wynn. The rotational end has performed well this season, and just about every game the percentage of their two snap counts adds up to 100 percent because Wynn is often subbing in for Williams. It will be interesting to see where it goes in the second half of the season.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

Thanks for all the inside info, great reading your work all the time!  My question is regarding Marcell Dareus. He is having a phenomenal year but there still are the negative off the field events that took place in the offseason. Will he be facing any fines or suspensions for his incidents? It would be a shame to have him miss even one game.

Thanks again!
Chris

CB: Marcell is having a great season. Seven sacks in half a season for a defensive tackle, as Jim Schwartz said is pretty hard to do, and that’s coming from a guy who coached Ndamukong Suh.

It doesn’t appear that Dareus will be facing any league fines or suspensions this season for what happened this past offseason. It’s likely that he’ll face some kind of league discipline next year, much the way Nigel Bradham did when he was suspended for the season opener this year, for his off the field incident in the summer of 2013.

 

5 – Chris,

I think Hackett has completely failed on getting Mike Williams into the game plan.  I think Mike Williams could be a very effective WR.  The QB should be dropping back and the OC should have Watkins – Woods and Williams running patterns at the same time in a 3-WR set.  One of these 3 should be open every time.

Fred, Dixon and Brown should be pounding the ball. Seriously, I’m amazed some of these people get paid so much to be coordinators.  I think there are many individuals who could do a better job than Hackett.

Randy
South FL
CB: You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but I think we need to try and read between the lines here with respect to the lack of playing time for Mike Williams. I do agree that Williams is a rare talent. I’ve written many times that he is one of the five best receivers in the league when it comes to high-pointing the ball. You’d figure that would make him a weapon to use at least in the red zone. He did score 23 touchdowns in his first three seasons in the league.

At the same time Chris Hogan has emerged as a slot receiver and is producing. Now he and Williams do not line up in the same place in this offense for the most part, but one word I continually hear from both coach Marrone and Kyle Orton in praising Chris Hogan’s efforts is reliability. They comment often on how Hogan is in the right place at the right time on every play. That reliability is an enormous comfort to a head coach, a coordinator and a quarterback knowing how critical the timing is in Buffalo’s passing game.

A veteran offensive coordinator once told me the NFL is about first downs, not touchdowns. What he meant was in the NFL the talent is a lot more even than it is at the college level, so big play touchdowns aren’t nearly as prevalent. So you prefer to have players you can rely on to make the catches that get you first downs time and again to keep drives and possessions alive. It’s that consistency that wins more often in the NFL.

Do I completely agree with that premise? Not totally. Sammy Watkins has me thinking that three or four big plays look pretty good too. We’ll have to see if Williams play time changes in the second half of the season. To his credit he’s putting in a lot of extra time on special teams of late in an effort to get on the field more.


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Mike Williams: I don’t want to be traded

Posted by Chris Brown on October 15, 2014 – 5:15 pm

Bills WR Mike Williams said it was his agent that took it upon himself to seek permission to explore trade options for his client in the wake of him being inactive for last Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Speaking to the media Wednesday for the first time since news of his agent’s actions broke on Monday, the veteran receiver was clear in stating he wants to remain a Buffalo Bill.

“I always wanted to be here,” said Williams. “This is my hometown. It’s somewhere where I always wanted to be. I just have to fight to be one of the top 46 right now.”

Williams is referring to being one of the 46 active players on game day, something he was not last week after Kyle Williams was cleared to play the day before the game. That prompted a massive lineup shuffle for the game, which involved special teams and tight ends leaving Williams on the outside looking in come game day. For Williams the news was a shock and left him upset.

“You ask yourself if you’re a touchdown scoring machine and you feel like you could help the team win, would you be disappointed,” said Williams in reference to his 23 touchdowns his first three NFL seasons. “That’s how I feel. Of course I’m disappointed I’m not playing. Anybody that’s competitive they better be disappointed if they’re not playing. I might as well retire if I’m not disappointed.”

The receiver said he has since told his agent to stop seeking other options in the league. Williams said being inactive last week has only made him redouble his efforts to prove to the coaches he should be active this week against the Vikings. He said no matter what happens he won’t change the way he approaches practice.

“I keep on playing for the Bills, keep on practicing hard. Try to win scout team player of the week,” said Williams. “I won scout team player (two weeks ago), I would’ve won it if we won this past week. I’ll try to win it this week. I was on scout team again (Wednesday). I didn’t change my routine. I got on the scout team because I wanted to be on scout team. I wanted to do it. They didn’t put me on scout team. I just wanted to be on all the scout team if I’m not going to be getting that many reps (on offense).”

When asked if Mike Williams would be active this week head coach Doug Marrone indicated it was too early in the week to make that determination.

“That decision of who is active and stuff, we’ll see how the week goes because I don’t want to get myself in a bind,” said Marrone.

Williams was asked what coach Marrone told him when he talked to him this week in the aftermath of his agent’s actions.

“That he doesn’t want to trade me,” said Williams. “He basically told me to keep on doing what I’m doing and things will play out.”

 


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Mike Williams says to chill

Posted by Chris Brown on October 13, 2014 – 1:57 pm

In the wake of the reaction to the story about Mike Williams’ agent seeking permission from GM Doug Whaley to pursue compensation for a trade, the Bills receiver is telling the Twitterverse that he has no interest in being traded.

On his Twitter account Williams made it clear he wants to remain with the Bills, citing his Buffalo roots.

GM Doug Whaley said they have no interest in moving any player off their roster right now.


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Spec. teams likely reason why Williams inactive

Posted by Chris Brown on October 12, 2014 – 11:40 am

There was a surprise inactive today for the Bills in WR Mike Williams, who is a healthy scratch today. But here’s probably why the coaches made the decision to sit him this week.

With Aaron Williams inactive for today’s game, Corey Graham is expected to step in at Aaron’s free safety spot on defense. With all those snaps on defense, he’s likely to be pulled off of some special teams duties. That means other players in Mike Williams’ position group, who play on special teams, like receivers Marquise Goodwin and Chris Hogan carry a greater priority than Mike Williams, who does not play on special teams.

So it appears special teams needs could be the primary reason that the staff made the difficult decision to sit Mike Williams this week.

 


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Kyle up; Aaron among Bills inactives

Posted by Chris Brown on October 12, 2014 – 11:39 am

Here are the Bills inactives for today’s game against the Patriots, with Kyle Williams active for today’s game against Buffalo. Aaron Williams however, is not active for today’s game and is expected to be replaced by Corey Graham in the defensive lineup. Here are the rest of the players who will not play today for Buffalo.

INACTIVES
WR Marcus Easley
OT Cyrus Kouandjio
S Aaron Williams
WR Mike Williams
CB Ross Cockrell
RB Bryce Brown
LB Randell Johnson


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Orton can relate to EJ’s current situation

Posted by Chris Brown on October 1, 2014 – 6:24 pm

The man who will replace EJ Manuel this week as the Bills’ starting quarterback is excited about the opportunity, but he can also relate to what Manuel is dealing with after being moved to the second unit. That’s because Kyle Orton has been benched himself.

“I’ve been there,” said Orton. “EJ is going to be a great quarterback. He’s got a long time to grow. I know when it happened to me early on in my career, I wasn’t happy about it at all. But looking back that time off that I had I really grew as a player and used it to my advantage and I’m sure he’ll do the same thing.”

Manuel’s teammates said the second-year quarterback handled his demotion like a professional.

“He took it like a man,” said Mike Williams. “He was still here early. He still practiced hard. He took some scout team reps. He took it like a professional and that’s what you want to see him do.”


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Mike Williams: We had to adjust sooner

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 9:58 pm

Through the first three games of the season the Texans’ defense played soft off coverage on their receiver assignments allowing wideouts to make catches underneath and in front of them. On Sunday against the Bills they switched things up and forced the Bills offense to adjust.

“They had been playing off coverage all year. Letting people catch in front of them, stripping balls and things like that,” said Mike Williams. “We thought we were going to get that, but they came out and played press-man. We had to adjust. We got the calls for off coverage and zone and when you get the calls for off coverage and zone and they play man, it tends not to work. We adjusted a little bit too late.  We just have to adjust earlier, that’s my lesson for the day. We have to adjust earlier.”


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Big Mike: Don’t call it a statement win

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2014 – 1:51 pm

Bills WR Mike Williams is a player who will give it to you straight. There’s no sugar coating anything with Williams. So when he was asked about the significance of Sunday’s season-opening win at Chicago, Williams didn’t see it carrying a whole lot of weight. When asked if Sunday’s victory was a statement win Williams said it won’t mean much if they don’t follow it up with another.

“Really nothing. I don’t think it does anything, that’s not our goal,” Williams said of Sunday’s victory. “If we go and lose 15-straight, we’re 1-15. It don’t do nothing. We need to get ready for Week Two and hopefully we’ll be 2-0 next week. We just look at it as we’re 1-0, we’re happy, we go on to Miami.”

Williams’ approach was a collective one in Buffalo’s locker room Monday, which is a healthy outlook. As important as the win was in Chicago the players aren’t reveling in the win knowing it was just one game. The team sounds like they’re focused more on getting their next victory than enjoying the one they got Sunday.


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Mike Williams: My phone is never busy

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2014 – 1:45 pm

Bills WR Mike Williams had a pair of catches Sunday in Buffalo’s win, including a very big 20-yard grab that he went airborne to make on the team’s game-winning field goal drive in overtime to convert a 2nd-and-9. Williams only saw 30 snaps worth of action on offense, but as he stated, when they needed him he made plays.

“That’s just the type of receiver I am—you call my number I’m going to answer. I always say,my phone’s never busy—if you call me I’m going to answer the phone, that’s how I look at it.  If they don’t need me, I guess I’ll be around, but when they need me I’ll be here.”


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Big Mike likes Kickoff Weekend

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2014 – 10:35 am

Bills new WR Mike Williams is expected to be a frequent target of EJ Manuel this season. It would do Manuel good to look for Williams especially in the red zone in light of his Kickoff Weekend production.

Williams is tied for first among active players with touchdowns in four straight opening games. Green Bay WR Randall Cobb and Chicago RB Matt Forte are the others.

Overall Williams has 15 receptions for 144 yards and four touchdowns in his four career games on Kickoff Weekend.


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Mike Williams hoping for lots of man coverage

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2014 – 9:50 am

Bills WR Mike Williams had a pretty solid training camp and his performance in the preseason though good was limited in terms of opportunities. The big-bodied wideout is hoping the Bears defense offers a lot of man-coverage matchups.

“Oh yeah, hopefully they stay in man the whole game,” he said. “That’s something as a receiver that you want. All those zones and zone blitzes start to mess with people’s heads, but if you’re in man to man coverage it’s me versus you.”


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Fred’s message to team

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2014 – 10:49 pm

With a first half not going particularly well for the offense, Fred Jackson felt it was necessary to huddle up the offensive unit. Here was the gist of his message to the team.

“I was just telling everybody to calm down,” said Jackson. “We’ve got a lot of people that just weren’t on the same page. We’ve got turnovers, we’ve got penalties, things like that, it’s not going to allow you to win a lot of football games. Everybody just has to calm down, go out there and work and let things take care of themselves.  Don’t do everybody else’s job, just do your job and we’ll get back in this thing.”

His teammates echoed the message.

“Basically to stay together,” said Mike Williams. “This is a lesson for us and somebody is testing us. To show that we’re a better team we can go out there and adjust. The second half is about adjustments no matter if you’re up or you’re down. You’ve got to go and make the adjustments and that’s basically what his message was to us and that’s kind of what we did.”


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Offense holding stuff until regular season

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2014 – 10:30 pm

Facing a Tampa defense Saturday night that is a lot like the one they’ll face in Week 1 at Chicago in terms of scheme there was a good chance that offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and head coach Doug Marrone were going to play things close to the vest and not make use of plays they feel might work best against that system. EJ Manuel and Mike Williams essentially confirmed that they are holding onto some key parts of their playbook for the regular season.

“There are a few things that I asked him for and of course he said, ‘Hey we’re saving this and that for the regular season,’” said Manuel. “Which I understand, but at the same time we still want to go out there and win and move the ball and score touchdowns. But there are some things that we’re going to continue to save for Chicago.”

“I don’t want to give away a secret, but I think we’ve been doing what we can,” said Mike Williams. “I’ll just say it like that. I think we’ve been doing what he’s been giving us and we’re trying to get better at that. Our play calling has been simple really. We’ve been trying to get better at the simple things and take away the penalties.”


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Mike Williams’ leadership via text

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2014 – 10:14 pm

Bills WR Mike Williams does things a little differently than most off the field, which is why it was no surprise to hear one of his unconventional methods of leadership for Buffalo’s offense.

After perhaps one of their best passing days this summer in practice Thursday, Williams confirmed that the competition of working with the Steelers brought out the best in them. He then elaborated on how he tries to keep his offensive teammates motivated leading up to practice.

“Being competitive, you want to win every down,” he said. “I send those guys a text, the receivers and quarterbacks, every day telling them we want to win every down. No matter what it is, we want to win. We want to win first down, we want to win second down, third down and if we go for it on fourth. We want to win. I think it’s about all of us being competitive. We want to win because the fans are out here and we want to show everybody that we’re a threat.”

Williams caught four passes in Thursday’s practice and was one of the top 3 playmakers from the session.


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