Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 5-31

Posted by Chris Brown on May 31, 2013 – 4:31 pm

Time for the latest edition of your questions from and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hey Chris

Concerned that the offensive line went unaddressed so far in this off season. Seems we lost 2 of our 3 best guards to free agency. Do you know of any plans to address this?  If not I sure hope EJ can run as fast as reported as he might be running for his well being.

The only bills fan in New Hampshire

CB: I think there will still be time to address the offensive line in the summer if the Bills personnel department and coaching staff feels it needs to be addressed. I believe with the team not playing real football yet with pads on, it’s been difficult for the staff to assess whether or not an addition needs to be made. I believe the team is in good shape at the tackle position. Obviously the guard position saw two players that played an awful lot of football walk out the door. I’m confident if a position needs to be addressed it will be by this front office.


2 – Chris,

We need our receivers to be at top speed by opening day. We need them working with someone like Jerry Rice right now. Like Eric Moulds did on the offseason. Remember the difference that made with Eric?

CB: The receiving corps is young agreed. The comments from the coaches are that this offense caters to aiding younger receivers so they can contribute sooner. You talked about the team needing someone that’s been successful in the league. The Bills already have that in receivers coach Ike Hilliard. In fact Coach Marrone tipped his hat to Hilliard based on how the young receivers performed during OTAs.

“I think a lot of the credit goes to Ike Hilliard and knows what it takes for a young player to make a team because he’s been through it before,” said Marrone. “Those types of experiences with some of our coaches that have an NFL background, we talk to our players all the time about it. But I think it means a little bit more when it comes from a coach that has already done it.”


3 - Hi Chris,
Now moving forward to the 2013 season, I have a few questions: why did the bills swap linebackers with Indy, and pick up Jerry Hughes? Is Hughes better than Kelvin Sheppard? As far as the coaching staff, do you feel that the Marrone regime will hold players more accountable than the Gailey regime did? Do you anticipate EJ Manuel being the starter when the regular season commences?

As always, looking forward to your input.

Tony, Ormond Beach, FL

CB: The Bills made the trade I believe for one major reason. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has said the strength of his defense is its versatility. Jerry Hughes is a more versatile player than Kelvin Sheppard. Sheppard in this kind of defense would probably have been just a two-down linebacker. Hughes is a better athlete that can line up at more than one position and might be more effective in the impact he can make for this defense than Sheppard would have been.

Marrone has been all about accountability since he got here, not only with the players being accountable to one another, but he wants the players to hold him and his coaches accountable too.

Projecting EJ Manuel as the starter is a bit premature. Though he has coach Marrone encouraged, I think we really won’t know how ready Manuel is until we see how he performs in the preseason games.


4 - Hey CB

How is Pears looking in practice!!, I here he is getting healthy and should be in good shape by pre-season!!

clickrjp – a fan

CB: Pears over the past week or so has slowly worked his way in to the team portions of practice. It’s been a long road back for Pears after injuries slowed him in 2012, but he saw his most extensive work in team portions of practice Friday. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come for the right tackle come the mandatory minicamp next month.


5 – Chris,

First off you & John Murphy are my only means of Bills info(all the way in Memphis). Keep up the good work guys. My question is with the acquisitions of 2nd rd Robert Woods,3rd rd Marquise Goodwin,& Undrafted FA Da’rick Rodgers, which I’m excited about especially Woods & Rodgers, so with us getting Goodwin to possibly be the slot guy. Where does that leave T.J. Graham?

He’s a layover from the last coaching staff & not Marrone’s guy. Where does he fit? & throw a talented a Brad Smith in the mix. How are they get all of this talent on the field with Stevie? Is it gonna be a rotation or what? Man I really wanna know.

Draper Jackson
Patiently waiting in Memphis,Tn

CB: I think T.J. Graham has been the most consistent receiver in the OTA practices. He looks like a player that’s ready to take a sizable jump in performance this year despite the new offense. Brad Smith was another consistent performer with Stevie Johnson missing most of the OTAs, it afforded them a good deal of snaps in practice.

I would tend to believe that the Bills keep six receivers on the roster. All of the aforementioned wideouts are firmly in that mix. It’s not going to be an easy call when it comes to picking the fifth and sixth receivers, but Graham is not one you need to worry about. Heading into the mandatory minicamp he’s positioned himself well for a notable role in the offense.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

OL Sanders a guard option?

Posted by Chris Brown on March 22, 2013 – 8:16 am

With the free agent departures at guard this offseason for the Bills it has fans wondering what the options are at guard. Colin Brown was re-signed and Kraig Urbik is in the fold long term. Buffalo has some other young options on the roster, but one of the better ones could be last year’s fifth-round pick.

Buffalo was not a healthy team at offensive tackle last season, but that figures to be different this year. With Erik Pears finally healthy after a 2012 season marred by groin problems, he along with Cordy Glenn and Chris Hairston forming a pretty solid top 3 at the position. Sam Young saw time on the field last season as well, though most of it was as a fill-in guard, not his natural position at 6’7″. Matt Welch is still another candidate.

That leaves Chris Scott, David Snow and possibly Zebrie Sanders. In an interview with Sanders, who played tackle in college and in training camp last summer, admitted he hadn’t given guard much thought.

“It hasn’t crossed my mind,” Sanders told “I’ve been really focused on just getting back out there. I’ve always followed the mentality that the best five players will play and I’ll be happy just to be out there whether I’m tackle or guard, as long as I’m on the field. Wherever the coaches feel it’s best for me to play and wherever I can be the most help to the team I’ll be in that position.”

With all the tackle candidates on the roster and guard a bit thinner in numbers it wouldn’t be surprising if Sanders is lined up inside at times as the new coaching staff searches for viable options there.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Nix on attitude of O-line

Posted by Chris Brown on September 21, 2012 – 11:36 am

Bills fans in attendance at Buffalo’s home opener last Sunday witnessed some of the Bills offensive linemen coming to the defense of their skill position players after Chiefs’ defenders tried to deliver some extra shots at the end of plays in the second half. Bills GM Buddy Nix explained where that attitude of defending your own comes from.

“Attitude starts with Coach Gailey and it continues with (offensive line coach) Joe D’Alessandris, but it starts with guys like Eric Wood that is a highly competitive guy and he’s got the temperament you want in an offensive lineman,” said Nix. “Erik Pears has quietly got the same kind of stuff and Cordy doesn’t back off. Andy and Urbik those guys will scrap you so that’s exactly what we’re trying to get.”

Nix appears every Friday morning at 8 am during the season on Bills flagship WGR Sportsradio 550.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

O-line ranks pre-2012

Posted by Chris Brown on May 8, 2012 – 12:41 pm

The Bills offensive line was bolstered by the addition of three draft choices a couple of weeks ago. Now O-lines across the league are being re-ranked based on those additions.

Rotoworld took the latest stab at it ranking Buffalo in the middle of the pack. Here’s their assessment.

13. Buffalo Bills

LT: Cordy Glenn
LG: Andy Levitre*
C: Eric Wood*
RG: Chad Rinehart*
RT: Erik Pears*

Top reserves: OT Chris Hairston, OG Kraig Urbik*, OT Sam Young, OT Zebrie Sanders, OG Michael Jasper.

Overview: The Bills’ 2011 offensive line graded out as the NFL’s top pass-protecting unit, according to both Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders. Though no doubt assisted by Ryan Fitzpatrick’s quick release, Buffalo allowed a league-low 23 sacks, which is another strong vote for the argument that elite left tackle play isn’t necessarily a difference-making NFL quality. The Bills feel they improved on the left by stealing Glenn with the 41st pick in the draft, and bring back incumbent Hairston as a talented, tested backup. Similar players Urbik and Rinehart will vie for the right guard job. Wood is returning from a torn right ACL, but should be close to 100 percent by camp and has been a dominant center when healthy. While this group lacks household names, its combination of continuity, athleticism, and impressive scheming makes it quietly a top O-Line.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills O-line to be honored

Posted by Chris Brown on May 2, 2012 – 12:03 pm

Buffalo’s offensive line will be toasted next Monday evening at a reception at Ilio DiPaulo’s.

Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant, along with co-sponsor, Hanes Supply, Inc. will host a Sports Night to toast the Buffalo Bills offensive line on Mon., May 7. The line will be recognized for giving up the fewest sacks in the league and ranked fifth in the NFL in yards per carry average. 

The event, to be held at Ilio DiPaolo’s in Blasdell, New York, will begin at 6 pm with cocktails, dinner at 7 PM then a Chinese Auction and program to follow.  Tickets are $30.00 each with proceeds to benefit the Police Athletic League of Buffalo.

Members of Buffalo’s offensive line will be on hand and there will be a video presentation by Bills offensive line coach, Joe D’Alessandris.  Also in attendance will be several past & present Buffalo Bills players as well as, the Buffalo Jills. 

Tickets are limited. Call 825-3675 for reservations.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Why guards, centers going earlier

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2012 – 10:33 am

The last few years in the NFL draft there have been more and more interior linemen drafted sooner rather than later, when it used to always be the offensive tackles that came off the board first. While tackles still go high, prospects like Buffalo’s Eric Wood (1st round) and Andy Levitre (2nd round) have gone in the first two rounds, and this year’s class offers some similar type prospects.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper was recently asked why interior linemen are becoming more and more prevalent in the early rounds, and Kiper feels it’s not just based on talent alone.

“I think it’s because of the defensive tackles and the ability to get that push. This year the one player is (Stanford guard David) DeCastro. Fundamentally, technically, everything about him is top notch. Only knock is he’s a pure guard. You can’t hold that against him when you rate him though and he’s 12th on my board.  Somewhere in that top 15.

“Cordy Glenn at Georgia is another kid that’s intriguing because he played left tackle this year and held up very well, played guard in the past and could be a right tackle in the NFL. Then of course Peter Konz, the junior center from Wisconsin, but his only issue is durability. Missed multiple games each of the last three seasons with injuries, but with his size and coming out of the Wisconsin program that’s developed a lot of good O-linemen you think of him early to mid-second round.”

Talent is still the top determining factor, but defensive play has probably played a role. Either way it again appears as though there are a healthy number of interior linemen that will be selected on the first two days of the draft.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

A peek at Bills O-line chemistry

Posted by Chris Brown on October 20, 2011 – 12:23 pm

Most fans know the important of chemistry to an offensive line. A lot of that chemistry can be built off the field, which is what Buffalo’s offensive linemen do with their quarterback.

Here’s a Sporting News piece on what Buffalo’s offensive linemen do on Fridays with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Tip of hat to O-line

Posted by Chris Brown on September 11, 2011 – 9:25 pm

They’ve been much maligned this preseason, but on Sunday the offensive line did top notch work in the 41-7 victory.

Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked just once  and though the statistics say he was hit five other times, I personally only recall seeing a pair of legitimate shots. Head coach Chan Gailey tipped his hat to his linemen as well.

“The key to the whole thing is pass protection and I think we got sacked one time,” he said. “Erik (Pears) let the guy get around the corner. We got hit maybe two more times, but other than that Fitz was able to stand back there and see things and throw it where he needed to throw it. The pass protection was huge for us.”

If the pass protection stays the course the Bills will be putting up a lot of points this season.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fred on O-line rotation

Posted by Chris Brown on August 19, 2011 – 9:26 am

Bills RB Fred Jackson was asked about the offensive line rotation that’s been going on the last few days at left guard with Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart and how it affects him as a running back.

“It’s tough to adjust,” he said. “You try to jell with the guys that are up there and then you get things that throw off your mentality. It’s one of those things you have to be able to adjust to. Injuries happen during the season, so you want to adjust to whoever is in front of you and pickup on what they’re doing as fast as possible.”

Buffalo’s offensive staff is no doubt looking to nail down their starting five on the line as soon as possible to have as much cohesiveness as they can muster going into the season opener.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Screen game has potential

Posted by Chris Brown on August 31, 2010 – 8:47 am

Screens and draws are two elements of Buffalo’s offense that have been noticeably absent the past few years as they’ve been run rather infrequently. That could change this season.

The Bills had a pair of well executed screens in Saturday night’s win over Cincinnati. One went to Corey McIntyre and picked up 16 yards, while the other went to C.J. Spiller and picked up 26. One of the main reasons for that success were the key blocks delivered by Buffalo’s offensive linemen who got downfield.

“They did a good job,” said Chan Gailey of his offensive linemen. “We’ve got some pretty good athletes up front that can run, so that’s got a chance to be a pretty big part of our ball game before it’s over with.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

OT Green a likely game day decision

Posted by Chris Brown on August 18, 2010 – 8:05 am

Right tackle Cornell Green has participated in practice all week coming off a knee injury suffered in practice the week before, but head coach Chan Gailey wants to wait on making a final call on Green’s availability for Thursday night’s preseason game in Toronto.

“There’s a chance. I think we have to see. He went (Monday) night, went again (Tuesday). Let’s see how he feels come Thursday night,” said Gailey.

With Demetrius Bell and Eric Wood expected to see some brief action, if Green is able to play it would be the first time the projected starting five offensive linemen would be together in live action.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

O-line left to right

Posted by Chris Brown on December 3, 2009 – 7:30 pm

Here’s the Bills lineup on the offensive line for tonight.

LT Jonathan Scott, LG Andy Levitre, C Geoff Hangartner, RG Kendall Simmons, RT Kirk Chambers.

This is the same lineup as the week before, just the second time that has happened this season.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills O-line confidential

Posted by Chris Brown on October 3, 2009 – 2:30 pm

The Buffalo Bills offensive linemen gathered together for an evening of food and conversation, and somebody invited the tight ends to come along too.

It’s an entertaining interaction from Buffalo’s men up front courtesy of Good for a few laughs for sure.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday

Posted by Chris Brown on October 24, 2008 – 7:28 pm

Here’s the latest installment. As always if you have a question e-mail me at and I’ll do my best to answer everyone. Just remember you can always check here for answers.

1. Allowing most of the sacks on the line, and the production value being so positive for Kirk Chambers, would a consideration of benching Jason Peters be an option? Also, I find it hard to believe that with such a productive college transition and very good pre-season, that Steve Johnson doesn’t get a lot of playing time at the Wide Receiver position. What are your thoughts? Thank You.
Nolan Cool

CB: I asked Dick Jauron just last week for a progress report on Jason Peters and he told me that while he has missed on a couple of plays that, “he has dominated the opposition far more than he’s been dominated.” He also told me that he has no worries with Peters on the left side. I don’t see the Bills changing anything up front.

As for Johnson I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more of him myself. But there are veterans like Evans, Reed and Parrish entrenched at receiver and even Justin Jenkins has more time on the field than Johnson. The staff is trying so hard to get Hardy up to speed that Johnson is kind of lost in the shuffle.


2. Dear Chris,

I’m thrilled regarding the Lee Evans contract extension.  But one Lee Evans-related issue that is bothersome is how under-utilized Lee is. Lee at the time I’m sending this ranks 35th in the NFL in terms of number of targets to a player. Yes, Lee is great at the long ball, but why don’t the Bills involve Lee more in the short passing gaming (e.g., slants)?

Andy Evens

CB: I think the coaching staff would like to do more of that. That’s why Turk Schonert has been open to moving Lee around in the formations to get different matchups and work different parts of the field. Ultimately however, Lee is the team’s best threat at stretching the field and now that he’s burned a couple of teams he puts genuine fear in teams (see Chargers). As a result I think you’ll see Lee factoring in more heavily to the underneath part of the passing game since teams will be very worried about getting toasted.


3. We have spent a lot of money on the line and I consistently hear good things about the individual abilities of our cast. I’m just wondering why the holes are not opening up? Is it because we are too big and slow? Is there a lack of effort? Problems with the scheme? Poor RB vision? I was just wondering if your observations have focused in on a flaw and I am interested in your response.
Thanks Chris, I enjoy updates
Alex Barnard

CB: Coaches always say that running the ball is an attitude. There’s no doubt Marshawn Lynch has that attitude. There’s no question the men up front have to come off the ball stronger.

From what I see they can’t consistently win that battle at the line of scrimmage. There are glimpses of it improving, but it hasn’t been consistent. The linemen know that and OL coach Sean Kugler knows that. They’re working on it. Hopefully it busts loose soon because with the bad weather on the way they’ll need to run it more.


4. What do you do during the Bills game and do you attend every one? I see that you blog 8 or 10 times during a game. What do you do for the other 2 and a half hours?
Wheatfield, NY

CB: During the game I’m writing the game story for the home page of So as it’s happening I’m writing a story. I’m writing down plays on a steno pad for reference for the story and I’m conversing with my co-workers at Bills Digest and on potential sidebar stories and secondary angles.

I have to file the game story right after the final gun before going down to the locker room, and it’s easier said than done, especially when it’s a close game that could go either way.

I’m also writing a script for our video wrap up package that appears in the media lounge of as part of our post game coverage. And blogging of course.


5. Wondering if we have considered using the Wildcat offense? Especially against the Dolphins. It might throw them off a bit. It would also give our defense some practice against it. Didn’t Freddie do some quarterbacking? Just another suggestion for Turk I guess.


CB: I don’t see Dick Jauron resorting to that. The team is averaging 25 points per game doing what they’re doing. The Dolphins don’t have much firepower at wide receiver so they need something different to increase their production like a scheme of this nature. Not knocking it. It’s worked for them.

However, if the Bills were to run it I think J.P. Losman would be perfect for it. He has the legs to run out of it and obviously would afford an offense much more versatility from a passing perspective out of that set.

Brown is not the best passer, though his TD throw to Fasano was pretty good against the Pats. We’ll see just what kind of a copycat league this is by how many teams adopt this formation.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Pass protection has been great

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2008 – 6:11 pm

Buffalo’s pass protection has been good for the whole game thus far. Edwards has been throwing a lot to the backs (Jackson, Lynch) who have caught six passes already, but Trent has had a lot of time back there and his stats prove it. Entering this current drive he’s 14-15 for 125 yards and a TD. Passer rating 123.

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Posted in Inside the Bills