It’s the bye, but we’re still grinding here at Buffalobills.com. A big 2015 midseason report coming on Monday on Buffalobills.com, the good and not so good, broken down several different ways. Here are your latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills any updates on when the defense from last year is going to return?
CB: While I understand your frustration there are some encouraging signs on defense. Run ‘D’ has been top five all season, pass defense has been top 5 in the league since the bad day against the Patriots. Pass rush has to step up and I think it’ll be back to where it was last year. A better pass rush helps their third down ‘D’, which right now is middle of the pack.
2 – Chris,
I know the schedule was addressed a few years ago with Buffalo having to face many teams coming off a bye or Thursday night game. That is happening again this year. First was the Pats and not the Giants. Look at how those games turned out. Granted, those were also our worst penalty games too. Between the refs and scheduling, it seems like the NFL is making it very difficult for the Bills to have a fair opportunity to show they can be good. Can anything be done about this?
Thanks for everything you do.
Very frustrated and loyal fan in Virginia
CB: You’re right that three of Buffalo’s first five opponents came off extra rest and prep time to face the Bills (Pat, Giants, Titans). Even when the Bills have an advantage of the bye this week it’s mitigated by the fact that Miami played Thursday night this week, so they’ve got three extra days to prepare for Buffalo.
The Bills will get extra time to prep for the Patriots coming off the Thursday night game against the Jets.
Believe it or not Buffalo’s situation is a bit more favorable than some other clubs this year in terms of opponents getting extra rest and prep time.
Truthfully with the Thursday night schedule running from Weeks 2 to 15 there are at least 13 teams with at least one game against a team getting extra rest. I don’t get the sense that the NFL sees the extra rest on the back end of a Thursday night game as much of an advantage, since that team is at a disadvantage getting only three days prep time heading into their Thursday night game. They likely see it as a wash.
3- Hi Chris,
It’s hard to get a true perspective on Tyrod’s passing struggles from the TV broadcasts. Is he not finding open receivers quickly enough? Are receivers not open a lot of the time? With our team talent in that area it’s hard to believe we’re being defended that well.
CB: With his last game being the Titans game I can see why you’re concerned about this. I do believe more often than not Buffalo receivers are gaining separation. I think it’s a matter of trust on Taylor’s part as to what he’s seeing.
The biggest hurdle here is Taylor’s inexperience. We have to remember he had 14 game appearances in the regular season before this year and those weren’t even starts. They were largely mop up duty type appearances where he handed off in games that were over with just one start. So I think there are some parts of the game where Taylor is still feeling his way at this level.
So he might just miss someone completely or he might not trust what his read is telling him. It’s the process a quarterback goes through when they’re new.
4 – Chris,
I’m reading where Sammy says, “Give me the Damn Ball”, can u imagine designing a game plan around him with his work history ?? He hasn’t proved he’s durable enough to get the ball 8-10 times a game.
No doubt he’s a fine athlete, can anyone explain why he is injured so much. What are ur thoughts ?
Jim in Florida
CB: I don’t think there’s an easy way to explain his recent injury history, primarily because in college he was never injured. Didn’t miss a practice or a game in his college career. Granted the game is more physical in the NFL, but he’s just had a rough stretch.
He’s clearly more frustrated by the injuries than the fans. All he wants to do is contribute and a competitor like him can’t stand being sidelined when he knows his talents can help the team. Hopefully he’ll be good to go out of the bye and can stay on the field for the last nine weeks.
5 – Chris,
Assuming both are healthy, I would love to see Karlos and Shady in the backfield together. They are both really good in the passing game and both are playmakers. Any chance this happens?
CB: I wouldn’t rule it out. Knowing how varied Greg Roman likes to be with his formations and pre-snap motion, I think Karlos and McCoy in a split backfield or I-formation is not out of the realm of possibility. If Roman believes there’s an advantage to be had with such a look he won’t hesitate to make use of it.
Tags: Bills defense, bye week, Fan Friday, Karlos Williams, LeSean McCoy, NFL scheduling, Sammy Watkins, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
Back in February a group of University at Buffalo researchers presented their paper at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytic Conference on systematic inequities in NFL scheduling dealing chiefly with matchups between teams with uneven rest leading up to those games. The research came in the wake of a Buffalobills.com report on the subject when the league’s 2013 schedule was released. The NFL is now apparently interested in comparing formulas to create more fairness in their scheduling.
That according to ESPN, which reported Thursday that Mike North, NFL Director of Broadcast Planning, and a key member of the league’s scheduling group, spoke with Dr. Murat Kurt and Dr. Mark Karwan, both UB professors. The report indicates that their model will not have an impact on the 2015 regular season schedule, which will reportedly come out in the next week, but that their input could be a factor in future years.
“We would look at this as something fun for us and maybe a help for the NFL,” Karwan told ESPN. “You can’t get a perfect schedule, but … our goal would be to show them that a lot of the schedules they generate could be improved.”
The Buffalobills.com report back in June 2013 revealed that more than half the league (17 teams) had one or no games against opponents coming off extra rest, while the Bills had five games against opponents that had extra rest prior to their matchup with Buffalo to lead the league.
The NFL stated that TV considerations for quality primetime matchups is one of the hurdles the league has to clear, which makes striking a more competitive balance difficult, but at least the league is trying to make an effort to level the playing field by consulting with the UB professors.
“It’s probably going to take two or three years to expand our method,” said Karwan. “It’s possible we’ll have to loosen some of our other conditions to make it work. But we have the ideas, and they said they could get us the data. Maybe it is a situation where we could eventually generate the 2018 schedule after it’s announced and then we can compare.”
Tags: NFL scheduling, University at Buffalo
Posted in Inside the Bills
As we reported this past summer, the NFL schedule for 2013 scheduled six games for the Bills, three within their own division, in which their opponent would come off extra rest via a Thursday night game the week prior or a bye week. It was the highest total in the league, with Atlanta the only other team close in number with four. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon said he has brought issue up to the NFL and their schedule makers knowing the advantage it can provide to both players and coaches.
Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship WGR Sportsradio 550, Brandon said the scheduling disadvantage Buffalo has experienced this season has been effectively communicated to the league.
“We certainly have talked to the league about this because it’s been disappointing where teams are coming off a bye or a long week,” said Brandon. “This (Sunday) is the second time we’re playing the Jets coming off a Thursday night game and now we’re playing them coming off a bye. We lead the league in amount of games coming off of extra time or a bye week. It is a very, very tough job what they have in scheduling with all the different things that go into the formula and the stadium commitments and TV schedules, but it’s certainly something that needs to be addressed.”
Tags: NFL scheduling, Russ Brandon
Posted in Inside the Bills
Training camp is here as the players will be voluntarily reporting to camp today. The official report date is Saturday with the first practice Sunday night. We’ll have full coverage on Buffalobills.com with daily video reports (Bills Roundup), daily written practice reports and feature stories both written and video. As always this Inside the Bills blog will be updated constantly each day with extra news and tidbits of Bills information that you’re always looking for.
For now let’s get to your latest edition of questions from those two places.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Who do you think will make the bills at 5th/6th receiver?
CB: I think the best candidates for those roles entering training camp are Da’Rick Rogers, Chris Hogan and Kevin Elliott. Those three turned in the most plays in the spring practices. Obviously that can change because when the pads go on the game gets considerably more physical and it can change how effective a receiver is depending on his character makeup and mettle.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
With the Patriots turmoil do you see us closing the gap significantly this season? Will it be a competitive game week 1?
CB: Greg Bedard on the new Monday Morning Quarterback Column site did a great piece on how Bill Belichick has successfully navigated the Patriots through crises before from the QB change from Bledsoe to Brady, to the predicted revolt after Lawyer Milloy was released days before the season started and signed with the Bills, to Brady’s season-ending ACL injury back in 2008.
I think their depth of talent is thinner than it was during those setbacks, so the Patriots might slip a bit, but I don’t foresee a collapse. New England is a very consistent organization and Belichick is a master adjuster. He will only be more motivated to succeed with outsiders doubting his club.
3 – Chris,
Straight to the point: Of the 5 teams we play on extra rest how many of those games are played at home and by home I mean in Buffalo not Toronto? Clearly playing the Jets twice one of them will be away just curious about the rest of ’em.
Thanks for digging into the schedule you found some pretty compelling info that truly should be addressed. I may with my spare time look at schedules past for this discrepancy. I agree this is an issue worth citing. Keep up the great work!
Montour Falls NY
CB: Two of the five games in which their opponent coming off extra rest is at home. Those two are the Jets and Cincinnati. The Bills also face Atlanta at home after the advantage of their own bye week is neutralized by the fact that the Falcons are coming off a Thursday night game and will have 10 days rest between games while the Bills have 14. The Dolphins, Jaguars and Jets will come off extra rest to face Buffalo in their own home stadiums. Here’s the full story for those that missed it.
4 – Chris,
I understand that the GM has final say on draft day, free agent signings and undrafted signings. The GM assembles the talent pool. What about the other end of the process – cutting from 90 players to 54 (or whatever the number is)? It seems to me that whereas the GM is in the best position to draft (having scouted all year), the coach might be in the best position to make final cut decisions having worked closely with the players. How do the Bills handle this?
Patrick in Indianapolis
CB: Roster decisions concerning player cuts are typically handled by the coaching staff with the head coach making the final call. General managers and personnel directors assemble the talent, but the coaching staff decides who he wants to keep.
That’s not to say that a general manager doesn’t have input, he does, especially on close calls for final roster decisions. That’s when a GM might be asked to offer an opinion.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Can the Bills use Gragg, in a similar way the Patriots used Hernandez? Using his speed to play a TE/WR hybrid?
CB: I think Gragg, who ran a 4.5 40-time at the Combine, best of all tight ends, is capable of lining up in a detached role almost like a tight receiver. So yes, I think he could be a hybrid type option in the Bills passing game for offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. It just depends how he fares when the pads go on at camp. He certainly flashed as a receiving threat in the spring practices.
Tags: AFC East, Chris Gragg, Chris Hogan, Da'Rick Rogers, Fan Friday, Kevin Elliott, NFL scheduling, roster decisions
Posted in Inside the Bills