1 – Chris,
Thanks for your tireless work on covering the Bills! Here is my question. Will the Bills be able to carry Seantrel Henderson on the Non Football Injury list, while he is attempting to gain his strength, build his weight back up and determine if he can resume his football career? This will open a roster spot for the team through camp and maybe beyond.
CB: Yes, the non-football injury list is an option for Buffalo with Henderson should your scenario prove to be the case come training camp. Henderson was at 306 during minicamp when he was doing workouts in the weight room on his own in practices. He wants to get up to 325 to 330 pounds when he’s back playing again. We’ll know if the five and a half weeks between now and training camp proves to be enough time for him to accomplish that. If not, the NFI list would seem to be a distinct possibility.
2 – Chris,
I’m curious if you think P Colton Schmidt had trouble holding for K Dan Carpenter last season? In his interview with Brian Moorman he mentioned how difficult it was for him to hold kicks, since he never did it in college. Is it possible the chemistry wasn’t there between the FG kicker and the holder, and the unit suffered as a result?
CB: I give Schmidt a lot of credit for being so honest. There were at least two misses for Carpenter last season that I recall which could’ve been attributed to a less than ideal hold by the Bills punter. One was because the snap was off line and there wasn’t enough to get the ball down and spin the laces out, though I can’t remember the game. On the whole though I felt Schmidt acquitted himself well on holds.
I felt the chemistry was pretty solid between the two with the operation of the kick. I expect it to be even better this year based on what I saw in the spring practices.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you think that the defense can make it back to a top tier defense in the NFL?
CB: This is one of the questions we intend to address during our Camp Countdown, which commences on July 4th. I think there are a host of reasons Buffalo’s defense has a chance to be a top 10 unit again. Much of the talent is still on this roster from the last two times they finished in the top 10 (2013, 2014).
They have upgraded their defensive coaching ranks with the addition of Rob Ryan, John Blake and Ed Reed.
Fixtures in the middle of their defense are healthy again (Aaron Williams, Kyle Williams). Rookie additions look poised to make an impact early (Ragland, Washington and eventually Lawson). And no longer is Ryan trying to blend his proven defensive scheme with elements of Jim Schwartz’s scheme that some players clung to in 2015.
4 – Chris,
Thanks for keeping those of us on the away team up on how our Bills are doing.
I haven’t heard anything about Nick O’Leary since the one game last year. What’s the story?
Thanks again for all you do.
CB: O’Leary is a tight end who didn’t see quite as much action in the spring practices as other tight ends battling for the No. 2 job behind Charles Clay. Blake Annen, who we profiled on Buffalobills.com recently and Chris Gragg got the most work after Clay during the team periods of practice. Both run well and offer more size and athleticism than O’Leary. What O’Leary needs to do is highlight his versatility as much as possible when put in a move tight end role or H-back set.
With true fullbacks on the roster though that task may prove difficult. It’s clear the offensive staff was giving Annen and Gragg most of the reps after Clay. Jim Dray is the clear blocking tight end for this offense. So O’Leary has to have a strong camp to outperform one of the other tight ends and stick.
5 – Chris,
The Bills just signed another FA RB?? With the uncertainly at both the RG & RT positions, and almost NO depth to provide any real backup for either position, Whaley is worried about RB’s. Wait until there is a injury to the OL. The Bills need to get their act together in a hurry. What say you??
Fan in TN
CB: After taking a breath you probably saw the main reason Boom Herron was signed as a free agent. Karlos Williams weight gain and lack of availability in the practice setting was the main reason. Without him taking reps, it would’ve put additional strain on the backs still healthy.
After watching five running backs go down to injury last summer at training camp at the same time, I think you could understand why they made the move.
Offensive line has some depth. Granted none of them are household names, but there’s a veteran C/G in Fernando Velasco, a backup guard in Ryan Groy. Cyril Richardson is still on the roster after serving on the practice squad last year.
I respect the concern for a lack of depth. Undrafted rookies usually aren’t the answer for depth in a win now type of season. I think early in camp if it’s obvious their young depth players aren’t coming along I expect they’ll address things up front.
Tags: Bills defense, Boom Herron, Colton Schmidt, Fan Friday, Nick O'Leary, Offensive line, Seantrel Henderson
Posted in Inside the Bills
The Bills will be bringing a bit healthier roster to the table on Sunday against the Dolphins. Let’s hope home field advantage is a reality this week. Here are your latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills why not switch the guards to different sides? Give the youngsters more experienced neighbors.
CB: I don’t think change is something most offensive coaches subscribe to with their offensive line unless it’s horrific in terms of performance, especially midseason. Based on offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s comments Thursday, about seeing things with the offense getting closer to where they want it, I think they want to push forward with what they have now that starting five are back together with Miller and Henderson returning.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills were the bills ever interested in making a move at the trade deadline?
CB: I think what Doug Whaley’s short track record as GM has shown us is he’s never afraid to make a deal if he thinks it benefits the team, but from what I have been able to gather the Bills were not burning up the phones at the trade deadline this past Tuesday.
3 – Hi Chris,
I was wondering if you know of any plans of NFL or Buffalo Bills stores that will be selling the red jerseys from this week’s game?
Also, will these now become an alternate going forward that the team will wear once in a while or is it a one night only kind of deal?
CB: The Bills Store will have the red jerseys available in store. From what I have been told only LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins jerseys will be available in red. They will also have a Bills color rush hat, sweatshirt and T-shirt available with the red theme too.
Here’s the link if you’re interested in making a purchase – http://bufbills.co/mC0G75
And just to be clear the jerseys will be worn in Buffalo’s Thursday night game at New York against the Jets.
4 – Chris,
Following the bye, do you think Cyrus Kouandjio played well enough in London to remain the Bills starter at Right Tackle?
CB: That is not going to happen as Seantrel Henderson returns to the lineup, but it should be noted that both offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Rex Ryan praised Kouandjio’s play against the Jaguars. Ryan even used the word ‘tremendous’ in describing his play.
I think Kouandjio’s play will serve him best next season when the offensive tackle situation could look a lot different than it does now. Cordy Glenn is slated to be a free agent, and will likely be looking for big money. Buffalo can’t keep everybody and knowing the Bills have only bought themselves a year of time making use of the fifth-year option on Stephon Gilmore, who is playing great right now, he’s the priority. Nigel Bradham is also up at the end of the year.
So to get to the point here, Kouandjio’s play this year is likely to carry more weight next year when the team makes a decision on Cordy Glenn. If Glenn is not here I think Kouandjio will get strong consideration for the right tackle job with Henderson the most likely option for left tackle.
5 – Chris,
Thank you for all the informative work you do from a long time Bills fan out here in New Mexico. Do you have any insight into how the Bills coaching staff see Marquise as a player? From where I sit he is small and injury prone and because of this I don’t think he has been used appropriately. His asset is pure speed yet he was hurt last year on a pass route that had him stop in the middles of the field (negating his speed asset) and he got his so hard it put him out of the game. This year a crossing pattern again injured his ribs, and then a kick-off return (the most violent play in the game) injured him. Why has the staff not used him speed with downfield routes to pull the defense away from the line of scrimmage? Your thoughts?
Ronald Karaskiewicz (Ron K.)
New Mexico Bills Backer
CB: While I understand what you’re getting at with Goodwin’s body type being susceptible to injury, I don’t know how realistic it is to take the approach that, we’re only going to run Goodwin on fly routes when he’s in the game.
I think there is merit to taking him off kick return to reduce the number of violent collisions on him, and I suppose you can have him run more outside routes than crossing patterns. The problem is I believe coaches worry that such an approach quickly becomes easy for opponents to figure out. Perhaps if he’s a role player, which in essence he is, you could limit him to quick outs, comebacks, digs and go routes. But coaches would know better than I would as to whether that’s too predictable and whether or not those limitations would take away from his effectiveness on the field.
I suppose the greater end game is to have him available, so at the very least what you’re proposing might be worth a try. That will have to wait until next year however, with Goodwin on injured reserve.
Tags: Cyrus Kouandjio, Fan Friday, Marquise Goodwin, Offensive line, red jerseys, trade deadline
Posted in Inside the Bills
After being traded to the Bills, LeSean McCoy was fully aware of a couple of things. The quarterback position had to be figured out, but that was no different than what he experienced in Philadelphia. The defense was really good and Greg Roman is a pretty darn good offensive coordinator and utilized his backs in a multitude of ways. His only question was how does the offensive line measure up? After two weeks of training camp McCoy feels pretty good about his trench men.
In an interview with NFL Network, McCoy said he feels the abilities of the Bills offensive line will mesh well with coach Roman’s scheme.
“They look good. That was kind of the question I had coming in: how was the offensive line? Being a young group, they’re very good,” said McCoy. “I think the kind of things that coach Greg [Roman] is asking for, they bring. They can move on the outside perimeter to get to the defense with pulling and even pass-blocking.
“It helps a lot going against one of the best defenses in the game, so going against them every day you only can get better. That’s probably the biggest change in this team, even bringing me here. The guys up front, from when we got here until now, they look the brightest on the team.”
Tags: Greg Roman, LeSean McCoy, NFL Network, Offensive line
Posted in Inside the Bills
It’s only day three of training camp, but barring a 180 in performance everyone from the center to the left tackle on the starting offensive line is pretty much locked into their roles for Buffalo’s offense.
That according to head coach Rex Ryan, who confirmed that in his mind Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito and Eric Wood are all going to be lining up where they are now in Week 1.
Ryan was asked about the competition up front and though there are some open jobs still to be won on the right side of the starting line, from the pivot to the left edge Ryan likes what he has there right now.
“I don’t anticipate Eric Wood being replaced anytime soon, but yeah you’re trying to make sure you’ve got the best guys,” Ryan said. “You know one thing for sure, Richie (Incognito), Richie’s a starter. I mean he looks as good as about any of them. Cordy (Glenn) looks really good, so we’re set there.”
Ryan said John Miller is getting pushed by second-year guard Cyril Richardson. Meanwhile at right tackle Seantrel Henderson and Cyrus Kouandjio will be battling for the starting spot there.
Tags: Cordy Glenn, Eric Wood, Offensive line, Rex Ryan, Richie Incognito
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – Chris,
Do you really need a franchise QB to win the Super Bowl? I refer you to Brad Johnson of the Tampa Bay Bucs. The team went 9-7 the year before, had a new coach and went on to win super Bowl 37. Thoughts on any similarities to the current Bills?
CB: To answer the first question it certainly helps to have a franchise QB to win a Super Bowl because most teams with one are perennially in contention for a championship. Yes, there are Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer examples, but they are few in number.
What Super Bowl-winning QBs, who were a bit better than Johnson and Dilfer, but might not be considered elite like Phil Simms, Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson reinforce is that you need a top flight defense if you don’t have the All-Pro QB.
As for similarities I again point to the defense. Tampa’s Super Bowl-winning defense was number one in the league in total yards allowed, points allowed, touchdowns allowed and passing yards allowed. They were also fifth against the run and tied for sixth in sacks. Buffalo’s defense would likely have to put up a similar type of season this year.
2 – Hi Chris, as always, you do a great job covering the Buffalo Bills.
My question is concerning the possible cut of Fred Jackson. I just feel from a depth standpoint, the Bills need to hang onto him. Obviously, LeSean McCoy will get the bulk of the workload, but Fred Jackson is still a good runner, and excellent pass catcher. If Shady McCoy is injured, you need a proven starter. I’m not sure Bryce Brown, Boobie Dixon or Karlos Williams are ready.
If this is a run heavy scheme, you need a good backup to keep things moving.
Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: I feel pretty good about Fred Jackson being on the roster this season. You’re right he is a good insurance policy for McCoy, but more critical to his job security is his effectiveness in pass protection. None of the other running backs, aside from McCoy, come close to his pass protection reads and ability and that makes him valuable for this offense.
Now if one of the other backs suddenly demonstrates a vast improvement in pass protection I suppose that could change things, but I’m not anticipating that knowing it’s another new offensive scheme this season under Greg Roman.
3 – Chris,
I’m very skeptical of the group of QB’s for the Bills this season, and I’d hate to waste a great defensive season, so are there any guys out there like Kyle Orton was last year that the Bills could bring in if things don’t pan out? Or are the Bills going to just play this QB competition out…? Thanks for your great work Chris!
Sean from California
CB: I understand and respect your skepticism, but there is not a lot out there right now to choose from. Michael Vick is the biggest name out there, but I don’t see Rex Ryan going down that road again after having him with the Jets.
I honestly do not see the Bills looking to add another quarterback unless there is an unexpected release during the preseason or some unforeseen trade option surfaces like the LeSean McCoy deal did in the spring.
4 – Hello Chris:
Thanks for all the 24/7 365 day coverage. I’m a lifelong fan of 55 years born in Kenmore N.Y. now in SLC.
Just a quick question. With our situation on the O-Line, I sure would love to see Evan Mathis in Red White and Blue.
Are we in the running at all? Do we even have the cap space? Are we even trying? Other than questions at QB I see this as our only week spot.
Jon SLC, UT.
GO BILLS, DIVISION WINNERS 2015
CB: Evan Mathis hasn’t signed anywhere because his asking price is too high. Who blinks first, an NFL club or Mathis remains to be seen.
At this point I think the Bills are relatively comfortable with their guard situation with Incognito and rookie John Miller as the projected starters. Kraig Urbik is the center-guard swing player and there’s some youth in reserve.
If the Bills are going to add anywhere on the offensive line it’s going to be at offensive tackle where they have just four true OTs. Buffalo currently has one roster spot open.
5 – Hi Chris!
As a life-of-the franchise long Bills fan, I have always wanted to know more about the newer players.. those who must fight to get a roster or practice squad position. Look at the 90-man roster, there are some I know virtually nothing about.
I am keenly interested this year in our tight ends. At this moment, we have 7 on the roster. I feel certain that 3 or 4 will be on the 3-man roster, and 1 or 2 on the practice squad. I believe that Clay, O’Leary and Gray are virtual locks, with Gragg or Mulligan as possibilities. In that regard, in your opinion, do Marquise Gray and Chris Gragg have basically the same skill set or might they somewhat complement each other? Also, Clay Burton seems to have impressed to this point..might he have a slight edge over Gragg for the 53-man roster? He has a larger frame and might offer more room to develop.
Finally, I am intrigued by Chris Manhertz. Does he show enough potential to warrant a spot on the practice squad? If not the practice squad, is there an alternative system whereby he might continue to learn the position and then return next year for another go?
Thanks for the time you have taken in reading this. Have an abundantly blessed day!
ps….One of my close work associates is a very loyal Virginia Tech man…very hyped about Tyrod Taylor!
CB: Marqueis Gray and Chris Gragg do not have the same skill set. Gragg’s body type is longer and lankier than Gray, who has a bit wider and thicker frame.
Gray’s greatest asset in the tight end competition is his versatility. He can line up in the backfield as a fullback. He can be a move tight end, an H-back, line up detached or in line, though that’s the part he’s probably working on the most. This will help him in the competition because it caters to a lot of what Greg Roman needs from his tight ends.
Gragg has worked hard on his blocking, but his strength is lining up detached. He’s got great straight line speed. I just don’t know if his skill set is as diversified as Gray’s.
Matthew Mulligan was signed for one reason, his blocking. The tight end position didn’t have a dominant blocker among them until Mulligan signed. Knowing how much Greg Roman incorporates tight ends into his blocking schemes in the run game I think is a major plus for Mulligan’s chances of sticking on the 53-man roster.
As for how many tight ends make the 53, I believe there’s a good chance they keep four knowing how much Roman calls on them in his offensive scheme.
Tags: Chris Gragg, Fan Friday, franchise QB, Fred Jackson, Marqueis Gray, Matthew Mulligan, Offensive line, QB competition, Super Bowl
Posted in Inside the Bills
He’s a defensive coach by trade and a head coach by opportunity, but heading into his team’s first voluntary veteran minicamp in less than two weeks, Bills head coach Rex Ryan is looking forward to working with the offensive line the most.
One can understand why Ryan might be paying a bit closer attention to what offensive line coach Aaron Kromer and offensive coordinator Greg Roman decide to assemble up front on offense for the Bills. It’s a picture that is far being in focus. Knowing that his defense returns 10 of 11 starters from last season and has a special teams unit with most of its playmakers back from last year’s number two ranked unit, it makes sense that Ryan intends to spend some time around the offensive line as it takes shape.
“These three days that we have coming up…this voluntary minicamp before the draft…the thing that I’m most excited about is being with the offensive line,” Ryan said. “Being with Aaron Kromer; their position coach, Greg Roman; their system and things like but we have to get to know these players and all that.
“How the meetings that we’ve had, the classroom time carries over to the practice field. Can guys sustain it, carry it, things like that. We’ll see how all that goes. I think it’s too early to say that, ‘Hey: we’re going to plug this player in this spot. That player in that spot.’ I think that’s too early to tell right now. This will be more about teaching how we look at things. How we do things fundamentally and then get it out there collectively.”
Next to determining the starting quarterback, deciding on the starting five up front is probably the second biggest question mark heading into training camp this summer.
Tags: Aaron Kromer, Offensive line, Rex Ryan
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – Hi Chris,
The recent public comments of Brandon Spikes and Doug Whaley regarding his future in Buffalo as a upcoming pending free agent did not provide me with much confidence that he will return. Ultimately money and potential playing time will dictate the outcome and with the return of Alonso and big contracts to be spent elsewhere it doesn’t look particularly promising that he will be back in my opinion.
I think a strong argument can be made for re-signing Spikes. He provides attitude, toughness and leadership to the position and helped to significantly improve the team’s run defense this year. He seemed sincere when he recently commented about enjoying playing in Buffalo and gives the impression that he loves playing the game. Sounds exactly like the kind of player we need to retain. Just wondering what your thoughts are of whether you think there could be a role for Spikes next year with the return of Alonso and if you think the Bills will submit a serious bid to retain Spikes or instead look for the cheaper option of adding depth players behind the projected starters?
CB: It’s hard to say what Buffalo’s plans are concerning Spikes. Alonso’s return is a factor, but I think at the right price Spikes could return to the fold, possibly on another one-year deal. I do remember during a conference call this past season that Rex Ryan who was coaching the Jets at the time said the following about Spikes.
“(Brandon) Spikes is one of those guys that I like because he’s a tough guy, a mean guy, a tough a**,” said Ryan. “I like guys that are competitors and that’s why I like him so much.”
Whether Ryan’s opinion of Spikes has any influence remains to be seen, but it would appear that Spikes has an admirer in Buffalo’s new head coach.
2 – Hi Chris,
Thanks for all the great coverage you continue to provide.
I was wondering what you think the best approach would be in addressing the quarterback postion. Also, do you see Mike Glennon as a fit? I know the Bills were rumored to have liked him coming out of the 2013 draft, and I like much of what I’ve seen from him so far in Tampa. He should be expendable as the Bucs are expected to take a QB #1 overall. What’s your take on Glennon’s potential?
CB: Glennon I felt took a bit of a step back in his second season, which was impacted by a new offense and coordinator. He was also in and out of the lineup with veteran Josh McCown earning the starting job out of training camp. Much like EJ Manuel he is limited with his number of starts after getting only six this past season (19 in his career).
His completion percentage is comparable to Manuel’s (under 60) and he struggled when blitzed this past year. There’s no doubting that his arm strength would be an asset in the conditions the Bills play in at home, but his mobility is limited.
Knowing his skill set is dramatically different to that of EJ Manuel (see: mobility), it’s hard to know if that would be viewed as a negative or a positive or irrelevant by the new staff. I don’t know if Glennon is seen as a match, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills add a young QB in the league or a veteran signal caller either via free agency or a trade.
3 – CB,
What do you think the Bills plan of attack for fixing the O-Line? Richardson stills seems developmental and is poor at pass blocking. Pears should be let go and Urbik is average guard. With Williams injured and unclear if he will come back, how many guards do you expect them to bring in? Free agency or draft? It may hard to find a day 1 starter in draft but they need new guys in there.
CB: I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bills draft a guard and add one in free agency. Buffalo has some young guys already in the fold as you mentioned, but both Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan made it clear they’re going to bring in competition at positions where it’s warranted.
Erik Pears is an unrestricted free agent. Kraig Urbik is a capable player. Chris Williams should be back healthy in time for spring workouts.
One big plus is the hiring of Aaron Kromer, who has produced at least one Pro Bowl lineman on the teams he has coached the last six years. He’s a proven teacher and developer of linemen, so hopefully the younger players on the roster will take a big step forward in their development and be bigger contributors (See: Henderson, Kouandjio, Richardson).
4 – Chris,
On a lighter subject, do you think the Bills would consider going back to their Red helmets? Best years in franchise history were with the Blue uniforms and red helmets.
RC from DC
CB: I would not anticipate that happening. Outside of a throwback type of thing I think you’ll see the white helmets for a long time.
5 – Hello Chris,
I have really enjoyed the information I have received from your Inside the Bills write ups. Thanks for keeping us informed.
Recently, I read and article on NFL.com, in which Mario Williams was excited about moving to the Linebacker position. To date, that information has not shown up on the buffalbills.com website. I have always believe the 4 3 defense was the best scheme, and our personnel matches that scheme. As our defense was one of the top defenses in the league, I am not clear if Rex and company intend to shift to a 3 4 defense. My thoughts are why? Then there is the statement, ” You don’t fix what is broken”. Can you shed some light on what is going on with the Buffalo Bills defensive scheme for 2015?
CB: I think I will let defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman handle this one. He was asked this week if he’s going to run a 3-4 or a 4-3 front. Here was his answer.
“(I will run) whatever talent dictates,” said Thurman. “We’ll play a 3-4. We’ll play a 4-3. We’ll get in a Forty-Six. We’ll give them an odd front. It’s whatever our guys do best and we’re going to play to their strengths and when you do that, you’re giving your guys a chance to be successful and that’s what it really comes down to…is those guys that are out there on that field, are you giving them the opportunity to go out and succeed? So it doesn’t matter. The scheme will be dictated by the personnel that we have.”
I don’t think there’s any debating that Rex Ryan’s defense are largely a hybrid scheme that can morph and change. So to label it a strict over or under front would be inaccurate. And I think Mario Williams will see a healthy amount of action up on the line of scrimmage.
Tags: 3-4 defense, Brandon Spikes, Dennis Thurman, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, Mario Williams, Mike Glennon, NFL free agency, Offensive line, red helmets, Rex Ryan
Posted in Inside the Bills
The new coaching staff is coming together. If you missed any of our Senior Bowl or Pro Bowl coverage check it out on Buffalobills.com. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – Chris,
I don’t think Hughes, Urbik, Lawson, Spiller, Spikes or Rivers will return next year as the money will be spent in other areas. I think the Bills will soon extend the contracts of Dareus and Glenn. Do you have any insight on this?
CB: I think the Bills will work hard to bring Hughes back into the fold. Spiller is expected to have other suitors. Urbik, Lawson and Rivers are all still under contract. Rex Ryan in a conference call this past season said Spikes was a player he liked because he has a grit and attitude to his game that appeals to him, for whatever that’s worth.
As for Dareus and Glenn, the Bills typically address free agents first before worrying about players that are still under contract, so while Dareus and Glenn are seen as long term building blocks for the franchise I don’t see them getting done in short order.
2 – Hi, Chris
Looking for help in understanding what has happened to the offensive line over the past three years.
Fact: Four of the current five starters were also starters on the O-Line in 2012.
Fact: The rushing game produced over 2200 yards in 2012; less than 1400 this year.
Fact: Now former coach Marrone has publicly stated that the problem with the run game is not Coach Hackett’s schematics.
So — if the line has basically the same players, with the same talent, with a couple years more experience, and the techniques and schematics are correct and being taught properly — why has there been such a marked regression in performance, culminating in last Sunday’s horrific 13 yards gained on 13 attempts?
You are close to the scene and obviously can sense better than we fans what is going on. Please help.
CB: There were a number of factors at work. First and foremost you had your top two running backs injured for a stretch of the season. Spiller missed seven games. I think anyone on the offensive line in 2014 would tell you that their play regressed from the year before.
In 2012 their offensive scheme ran out of a spread formation, which created bigger running lanes for the backs. That was not the case in 2014 as they chose to run between the tackles more often than not. I don’t know that the approach offensively always fit the backs they had carrying the ball. That combined with an offensive line that took a step back led to the lowest rushing total in team history in a 16-game season.
3 – Chris,
All Bills fans are disappointed, but so are the fans of the Ravens, Chiefs, Saints, Eagles, a few of them have $100 Million Quarterbacks !! There will be cries for EJ. You get better by practicing your skills, and proving in practice you’re ready to play. Do you feel EJ has shown he’s ready, how about Kouanjio and Richardson?
Jim in Florida
CB: I think the 12 weeks that Manuel had to focus on his personal game served him well over the last three quarters of the 2014 season. He also learned how to effectively prep yourself as a QB watching Kyle Orton get ready for games each week. From watching him the last month of the season in practice I felt his accuracy was improved. He was no longer thinking and concerned about throwing the perfect ball. He was just throwing.
I’m interested to see him as part of a competition for the starting job next year. Has he shown he’s ready? I don’t think we’ll know until we see him at training camp this summer.
As for Cyrus Kouandjio and Cyril Richardson they worked to make the most of their reps. It sounds like Kouandjio will be given real consideration at the guard position, even though it’s very new to him. I also believe competition will be brought in to battle the youngsters for roles on the roster.
4 – Hi Chris: I understand that the Bills offense has been unbalanced between run and pass this past year. What I’m unsure of is the major cause. Could it be that the running backs were banged up this year? Could it be that the offensive line never jelled? Or could it be that most defenses dared us to throw by overloading the box and our pass game didn’t respond as well as hoped? Like everything in life, there’s usually more than one reason. But I was wondering if you could shed some light on what might be the most significant factor(s).
Warm wishes for the New Year!
Paul in Portland (Formerly Paul in Beijing)
CB: I hate to give a token answer, but I think it was all of the above. The running backs were banged up this year. There were times when defenses loaded up the box with extra defenders. The offensive line did struggle to jell at the start of the season due to Cordy Glenn’s undisclosed illness, which kept him out of the majority of the preseason. There was also a move by Erik Pears from tackle to guard, there was a rookie at right tackle and starting LG Chris Williams missed half the preseason due to a recurring back injury.
I also think at times the offensive approach moved away from the strengths of their skill position players in an effort to protect the football with more conservative play.
5 – Hello Chris,
First I’d like to say Happy New Year! Thank You for your news and blogs that us Bills fans love to get answers and info from.. your passion for the Bills is the same that we fans have, and you help us to believe.
My question is about the Offensive line.. I am sure most are wanting to know about the QB, but a big fix we need is on the O-line.
I am wondering what your thoughts(and i’ll get the fans thoughts in the comments section after) on
shifting around the line a bit. What about Buffalo using either their 2nd or 3rd round pick on one of the top 2-3 Centers in the 2015 Draft.. like Dismukes from Auburn, Grasu from Oregon, or Gallik from BC. We can then move Wood back to RG where he did well for us in his first 2 years before moving to Center.. he can still call the protections and he shows the ability to move around to run block very well and the aggression.
Then Chris Williams(we lost a lot when he got hurt) coming back to be the LG.. again, we hope he stays healthy. Glenn as the LT and putting the sophomore slump that seems to bite so many and bouncing back. And then Kouandjio and Henderson fighting for the RT position.
So.. LT Glenn, LG Williams, C Best avail in 2015 Draft, RG Wood, RT Henderson/Kouandjio
NE did something like this with a new Center this year in Stork and they seemed to find a good rhythm in the season… and we could even if need be bring in whomever is not the starter at RT out once in a while to line up next to the starter giving us a 6th Lineman as protection if need be.
Just looking for your thoughts.. as far as where instead of going out to get 2 new G’s in FA and maybe in the draft where a good Center can change it all up and be giving us depth also.
Thanks.. have a nice weekend watching the post season.
CB: I think your thought about moving Eric Wood out to guard, where he began his NFL career is an interesting idea. However, I think the only way it happens is if the Bills bring in a veteran center, not a rookie by way of the draft. If they add an offensive lineman in the draft I would expect it to be more of a guard. But knowing they have a second-year guard in Cyril Richardson and possibly a second guard option in Cyrus Kouandjio they may elect to add a veteran guard as they did last year (Chris Williams).
I think Seantrel Henderson can only improve in his second season if he takes to good coaching with the new staff and his athleticism alone gives him a leg up on Kouandjio for the right tackle job.
Tags: 2015 NFL draft, Chris Williams, Cordy Glenn, Cyril Richardson, Cyrus Kouandjio, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, Kyle Orton, NFL free agency, Offensive line
Posted in Inside the Bills
The end goal of the playoffs unfortunately did not come to fruition this season, but the support of the Bills fans never wavered. One more game up in New England this week. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – Chris,
I think the reason Buffalo cannot win is because they don’t have a franchise quarterback. The reason they don’t have a franchise quarterback is because of how quickly the head coach and the entire staff get fired. There is no way a quarterback will develop if the system changes continually. There are very good examples of this and I will give one … Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning managed only two wins his first year yet the management and fan base stuck with him. Why won’t buffalo bills fan base back a quarter back other than Jim Kelly?
Michael from Nebraska
CB: Your points are very valid. This is the value of continuity that I believe team president Russ Brandon was getting at in a radio interview recently. Constant change over the past 15 years (6 head coaches hired, 9 offensive coordinators, 7 defensive coordinators) has unquestionably compromised the development of young talent on the roster because the approach and philosophy of coaches obviously differs.
J.P. Losman may never have been a great quarterback, but having three different offensive coordinators in his five years with the team greatly impacted his improvement as a player. There’s no debating that changing systems requires a period of adjustment for all players. There’s also a period of adjustment for new coaches, who must learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the talent they inherit.
That’s why the dominance of the Patriots in the AFC East has persisted for so long. It’s not only because they’ve been able to enjoy continuity under Bill Belichick, but their success is also the byproduct of a lack of continuity with the rest of the division. The Jets, Dolphins and Bills have all had a good deal of head coaching and coordinator turnover since2000 with New York expected to see more this offseason.
Change can be good for the clubs that choose that course, but the odds are even better that New England will benefit as a result of that change within their division.
2 – Hey Chris,
Everyone seems to be singling out the QB play, but personally I don’t think that’s the main issue right now; it’s just the easiest to blame. When I watch Orton, I see a pocket passer who makes probably about 7 or 8 out of 10 throws to open receivers when he’s protected. The problem is we can’t run the ball, so the defense tees off on him when he drops back to pass and that further exasperates our horrible pass protection.
That’s why we can’t make plays down the field, because there isn’t the time to let the play develop. Every time I see Orton try to wait for a receiver to come open down the field he has to throw it early, and he’s usually still taking a pretty good hit, so it’s not like he’s throwing it earlier than he has to. Also our receivers have struggled to get open quite a bit this year; I imagine a running game would help with play action, which would help our receivers and O-line.
People seem to forget the super bowl quickly, as great as Peyton Manning is, even he couldn’t win without a running game and pass protection. The plan by this regime was originally to be a dominate run team that plays defense. And I think Orton is a good enough QB to execute that. Just look at his stats after 9 games. To me it shows that he’s capable of passing for around 25 td’s, 12-14 int’s, and around 4,000 yards. If we can run the ball and play defense that is good enough to win. With improved o-line play he might even be able to do better than that.
CB: I don’t disagree with some of the points you make here. I do think however, there have been instances where with time to throw, Orton has simple been inaccurate. Against the Raiders there were two plays on the same drive where Orton missed Hogan running an underneath checkdown route when he stepped up in the pocket. He also missed Watkins on a deep out route with clear separation when he was not under duress.
Obviously all quarterbacks miss throws, but his misses are magnified because the margin for error for this offense is smaller than most. That’s because, as you point out, the run game has fallen on hard times this season. If Buffalo still had the number two rushing offense in the league this season, as they had last year, I believe the Bills would be a playoff team right now.
Unfortunately balance has been sorely absent in Buffalo’s offense more than anything else. The last time the Bills had true balance in their offense was against the Jets in Detroit when they won 38-3. Even when they attempted to have balance in Week 15 against Green Bay, though there wasn’t a great deal of production they were still effective enough to get a win with their strong defense.
When the Bills don’t have balance on offense they do run into a lot of the problems you mention. And since those other elements of their offense are just average, when they’re depended upon to solve the offensive problems, they usually come up short on that side of the ball. And that leads to a lack of points and unless you’re close to averaging 23-24 points per game it’s unlikely you’re going to win more than you lose in the NFL.
3 – Chris,
When the Bills had to play New York Jets in Detroit and free tickets were given out, is the lost in revenue be distributed or totally absorbed by one or two teams?
CB: The Bills, along with most other NFL clubs, has what’s called business interruption insurance. That covers the cost of any financial or revenue losses incurred by having to relocate the Week 12 home game against the Jets to Detroit.
The split of the gate revenue lost for that home game will likely remain the same (60-40). How insurance will determine the revenue lost will likely be based on the number of tickets sold leading up to the game along with a few other estimated variables.
4 – Chris,
Regarding the college draft for the Bills organization, how is the player evaluated? Who makes the final decision on the draft? The Bills has to be congratulated for great finds like Kiko Alonso and Preston
Brown. The skill of Marcell Dareus and Sammy Watkins is public knowledge before the draft. How can we avoid the annual blunders, namely T.J. Graham in 2012, E.J. Manuel in 2013 and Cyrus Kouandjio in 2014? E.J. has great disposition. His shortcoming in precision, judgment and often exposes his receivers for big hit is worrisome. I wish him nothing but the best.
CB: Concerning the college draft GM Doug Whaley makes the final call on a draft choice.
Avoiding draft misses like Graham can’t be completely avoided. There are simply too many variables to successfully navigate a team clear of such picks.
Far beyond, height, weight, speed, character and on field disposition are things that no one can truly measure like how a college player’s game will translate to the NFL.
A perfect example is former Bills WR Josh Reed. At LSU Reed AVERAGED 145 receiving yards a game in an era of college football that hadn’t quite exploded into a wide open spread game with inflated numbers. He was the Biletnikoff winner (award for nation’s best college WR) and when the Bills drafted him in round two back in 2002 he was considered one of the steals of the draft.
We all know how that turned out.
Statistical studies have shown that if a team can hit on 40 percent of their draft choices they are doing very, very well. And most NFL clubs don’t even reach that success rate.
I also think it’s premature to call EJ Manuel or Cyrus Kouandjio draft blunders. High draft choices admittedly come with high expectations, right or wrong, but patience with such talent can often be rewarded.
5 – Hi Chris,
I have a question with regards to offensive creativity. I feel that the Bills offense is incredibly bland when looking at other teams. Obviously we will never be the Patriots but when you watch them they go five wide and other times put Edelman in motion all over to create matchups and get separation. Sammy stays in one spot every time. We also currently have NO play action.
I feel Orton needs to get under center and create some play action or something – we’re TERRIBLE running the ball out of shotgun. I understand the slower tempo but where is the imagination and slant routes and deep middle crosses??
I feel like I’m watching Dick Jauron’s offense and our players are so much better now it’s just so frustrating. I’m also interested in your take on our offensive line coach who no one talks about. Our O line is regressing due to scheme and technique and I thought this was a questionable hire initially and I think we would do well with some new blood there.
It still is beyond me that we can have a kickoff specialist who can’t kick the ball out of the end zone in DENVER and we leave Mike Williams off roster and have no five wide formations. Count me in as one who thinks Marrone’s offense is better suited for college than the pros.
CB: It’s my belief that a lot of the limitations we’ve seen in terms of play calling are rooted in what the coaching staff believes, or doesn’t believe, the unit is capable of executing on a consistent basis. With the struggles of the run game this season to execute effectively, the balance of the offense which is designed to play off a productive run game have been largely compromised as mentioned above.
You can’t have play action if you have a run game that is not producing. If a defense can stop your run game with seven defenders, play action doesn’t draw that safety up into the box to stop the run and leave the secondary with one fewer defender.
I respect the frustration, but with a young receiving corps with no one with more than a couple of NFL seasons under their belt I think the staff is hesitant to expand the scope of the offense for fear of sacrificing what consistency they believe they have.
Tags: Doug Marrone, Fan Friday, Kyle Orton, NFL Draft, Offensive line, Run game
Posted in Inside the Bills
The run game production in 2014 has been in stark contrast to the second-ranked run game they had in 2013, and head coach Doug Marrone, who has spent his fair share of practice time with the linemen in practices this season, met with the five starters and issued a challenge to them.
Marrone outlined what he discussed with his five starting linemen Tuesday.
“I think it’s been inconsistent and I went and I talked to the five linemen that have been playing,” said Marrone. “I went in there and said we are what we put on tape. We did not play well (last Sunday) and during the year we’ve been inconsistent. That’s what I told those guys in my experience being around that group for a long period of time in that position.
“It’s one of the few positions where you’re judged as poorly as the worst player plays. In other words, four guys plays great and one guy doesn’t play well your overall performance is going to be judged on that. There are other things that get into it running backs, tight ends, receivers on the perimeter blocking, but make no mistake about it that group has been inconsistent. I told them that’s on tape and we can’t deny that. But there have been times where each of them have played well during the course of the year and our challenge, and we’re in this thing together, is that come Sunday we’re going to need the best performance of the year out of all five of you. And if you do that we’ll have an opportunity to win the game. That’s what I told those five guys today and I met with those five guys collectively.”
The Bills are coming off a game in which they had just 13 rushing yards on 13 carries.
Tags: Doug Marrone, Offensive line, Run game
Posted in Inside the Bills
The biggest December road game in quite some time is just two days away. Nice to see a game that matters here at this point in the season for the Bills. On to your questions now from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – Hello Chris
I have a couple questions. When will the coaching staff see that the QB play was 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 mellow 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.
Palm Coast, FL
CB: Your numbers for Orton and Manuel are pretty much on the mark. Orton does have eight fourth quarter comebacks in his career. Manuel has one fourth quarter comeback and three game-winning drives, one of which came in Week 1 against Chicago in overtime with the score tied.
I think head coach Doug Marrone explained the quarterback move for what it was. At the time Manuel was struggling to complete passes with consistency. He was missing open targets and it was costing them yards and points and that ultimately costs you games.
Marrone had to decide between development of EJ Manuel or winning games. Winning games trumped Manuel’s development. Orton doesn’t have the physical assets that Manuel possesses. That’s obvious.
What Orton does have however, is the knowledge of where to go with the football regardless of the situation or defensive look. He can diagnose disguised coverages faster and his knowledge allows him to make decisions quicker. I think that results in Orton being more willing to give his receivers opportunities to make plays by taking a bit more risk than Manuel was willing to when he was in the lineup.
That being said Manuel has been working hard on his personal game and I think being able to focus on just himself the last two months has helped Manuel immeasurably. Whether he gets another opportunity this season will likely be tied to Orton’s health.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
What do you think Hughes trade value is? Would you package him and Spiller for a first rd. Pick?
CB: First, I will say I don’t think it’s the primary intention of the Bills to trade either player. In an ideal world they keep both players in the fold. Will it happen? That depends on the intentions of the Hughes and Spiller camps.
In your hypothetical trade situation I think you’re underselling Hughes and Spiller as a package. Hughes is going to have double-digit sacks in back-to-back seasons and is just entering his prime. Spiller is still an elite physical talent no matter what his rushing production numbers say. One first round pick for both of them is far from an acceptable offer.
A first and a second round pick is what would be more equitable. We have to remember that they’re both former first-round draft choices themselves.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
What’s Goodwin’s % to play?
CB: If you want to know if he’ll dress on Sunday I think there’s a decent chance that happens knowing some of Buffalo’s top receivers are nicked up. He can serve as insurance. If you want to know how many snaps he’ll get that’s tough to peg. He got all of two snaps last week on offense and was targeted once. After Marcus Thigpen’s debut performance on returns last week Goodwin is unlikely to re-assume those duties.
Goodwin has just 70 snaps on offense this season. That’s partly due to him being unavailable due to injury, but that’s more than 100 fewer snaps on offense than Mike Williams (194), who has been inactive for three games. Goodwin has been out of the lineup for six games.
The former third-round pick has just six targets this season and one catch for 42 yards.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills
What position will be the top priority to improve in the offseason?
CB: I think the clubhouse leader position-wise is the offensive line. Though the unit has played a bit better of late there just hasn’t been enough consistency up front, so I could see that being addressed in the offseason. Where they come down on the quarterback position is something else that bears watching.
Other positions could be added to the priority list based on potential player departures in free agency.
5 – Chris,
I understand that opponents are working on eliminating Sammy’s impact on games and work on keeping him from beating them. That said, I still think they are under utilizing Sammy, specifically on WR screens. It would be one thing if they were running WR screens on the opposite side of the field as Sammy, but the majority of the time Sammy is lead blocking. I saw this at least two times on Monday night’s game.
I get what Marrone is saying, but their actions don’t always coordinate entirely with what they say.
CB: They have worked to find more ways to get Watkins the ball. We saw some receiver screens last week against Cleveland. I think there would be some merit to stacking receivers at the line with Watkins being the wideout who is second in line on the stack. That could help him gain early separation.
Watkins was targeted nine times last week, but had just three receptions. Part of the problem at times was ball location. Watkins has a wide catch radius, but even he couldn’t make the play on some errant throws. The timing and execution has to be better when Watkins is targeted.
We’ll see if they can get that fixed against a pair of very aggressive corners this week in Denver.
Tags: C.J. Spiller, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, Jerry Hughes, Kyle Orton, Marquise Goodwin, Offensive line, Sammy Watkins
Posted in Inside the Bills
Big bounce back week for the Bills as they host Minnesota. Just have a feeling the run game will be rediscovered. On to your questions this week from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills. Keep them coming.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Why isn’t Kraig Urbik starting? Is it stubbornness or the right call or something else in your opinion?
CB: Coach Marrone has been asked about this quite a bit this season. Based on what he’s said it sounds like he and the offensive staff would like to give rookie Cyril Richardson the opportunity to grow into the position. He said as long as Richardson, and Seantrel Henderson for that matter, are still showing signs of improvement in their play they’ll remain in the lineup.
As for Urbik specifically, here is his most recent answer as to why he hasn’t considered re-inserting Urbik into the starting lineup at either one of the guard positions.
“We feel comfortable what his role is for the team right now,” said Marrone of Urbik’s role as backup center. “If someone’s not playing well or not improving, I think (a change is) a possibility. We talk about that too. I think those (rookies) are getting better in there. And collectively, we’ve got to keep them coming along. It’s an option with him. We’ve got Kraig backing up a lot of positions inside.
“I think his versatility is his strength. I think he has good versatility. If we want to put him in there he has the ability to be a starter and go in there and play. He gives us experience. He’s our best option if something were to happen with Eric Wood, and to be ready in case we ever do anything.”
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Will the bills be as predictable as last week? First down, run. Second down, run. Third down, pass.
CB: Contrary to what you might think the Bills threw a good deal on first down last week. In fact on first down they had 12 runs and 15 pass attempts. Granted in the second half they were behind and had to throw more, but even in the first half they had eight runs and six pass attempts. Here were the results.
1st half rush figures – 8 carries, 29 yds, fumble lost
1st half pass figures – 6 pass attempts, 7 yards, INT, sack – fumble lost, 2 incompletions
2nd half rush figures – 4 carries, 6 yds
2nd half pass figures – 9 pass attempts, 24 yards, touchdown, 5 incompletions
Against Detroit the week before the Bills ran on first down 11 times and threw 21 times. So until the propensity to run on first down becomes predictable we’ll take a closer look at the play calling by the offense.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
How much do the Bills spend on real scouting and that’s both Collegiate & Pro CFL/NFL?
CB: There’s no way for me to get you the budget line for the Bills scouting operations, but I can tell you that the personnel department has upwards of 20 scouts, counting GM Doug Whaley. There are pro scouts, who do the advance scouting of future opponents and put together reports on every prospective free agent in the league. They will also take a look at CFL talent.
The college scouting department makes up the bulk of the group and they are scattered across the country. Each scout is assigned to region of the country and they are assigned to all the schools in their territory, with some overlap between scouts so they can get more than one opinion on a prospect.
The Bills as an organization have long believed in the value of scouting when it comes to building a roster and that has not changed one iota under Doug Whaley.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills
Why do u think they haven’t used Sammy in the screen game? It was what he did the most in college and excelled at it.
CB: I’m not sure why he hasn’t been used more in the screen game. They have run a handful of receiver screens this season, and Mike Williams is an excellent blocking receiver as is Robert Woods. What I like most about your idea is it is an easy way to get the ball in Watkins’ hands regardless of what the opposing defense is doing coverage-wise.
You’re right he did excel at it. Whether it is something the offensive staff turns to more moving forward however, remains to be seen.
5 – Hi Chris,
My question has to do with the offensive line. If Orton can improve the play at the QB position even just a little this team can make a run at the playoffs. However all the QB attention has hid some issues on the offensive line. This offensive line is massive in size but for some reason seems to get very little push and obviously lacks in mobility compared to smaller, quicker lines. What is most disconcerting is that when they run between the tackles there is little space for Freddy or CJ. Most of their run yardage comes when they bounce it outside and get around the edge with their speed. I guess my biggest problem has to do with their philosophy of getting BIG linemen as opposed to smaller more athletic guys that you tend to see on successful teams like the Patriots. Do you think outside of QB, the offensive line is the biggest area of needed improvement and should Marrone be held responsible for this since that is his area of expertise?
CB: Coach Marrone himself admitted that the line play up front needs to be better. Against some of the better defensive fronts this season Buffalo’s offensive line has had trouble winning at the line of scrimmage. It’s a bit surprising in light of their size as you mentioned. All that size has left them a bit less mobile for screens and pulls.
I agree with coach that the line play has to be more consistent and not just in the run game, but in pass protection as well. They’ve got to raise the level of play quickly, and that won’t be easy with a couple of rookies learning on the job.
Tags: Doug Marrone, Doug Whaley, Fan Friday, Kraig Urbik, Kyle Orton, Offensive line, play calling, Sammy Watkins, scouting department
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – Hi Chris,
Brandon Spikes only signed a one year deal in the off season, do you think the Bills will try and wrap him up long term?
Paddy, Vancouver Canada
CB: Spikes was brought in for a reason, to improve the team’s run defense. I think the one-year contract is very indicative of the club’s approach. It appears to be a let’s see how it goes approach. So it’s my belief that the powers that be will see how Spikes’ season plays out, and come the offseason they’ll assess his value and potential contributions for the team’s future.
I can say that in talking to Spikes he likes his teammates, coaches and the atmosphere here in Buffalo. He brings additional value with his veteran leadership, but I think it’s only fair for both sides to allow his full body of work to be reviewed before making any future decisions.
2 – Chris,
The #1 weakness for Bills is the Offensive Line. Same story for the past 14 years. Right now, I have no faith in either Right Guard or Left Guard. Our O-line has been a disaster. I hope Richardson can play better than Chris Williams (who the Bills front office paid way too much for a below average guard). I think the Bills front office should have done a better job in free agency at the guard position.
Not sure the Erik Pears experiment is going to work out. With Pears at guard he has not been effective pulling for screen plays, sweeps or trap plays.
Question: I love Wood at center, but if the Bills guard troubles continue, perhaps the Bills could play Urbik at center and play Woods at guard again.
Next year Bills need to Upgrade – O-Line, Tight End position and perhaps Quarterback if progress is not made this season.
South Florida,…………. Thank you Terry and Kim Pegula!!!!
CB: Concerning your question about Eric Wood, I think he is at his most valuable position at center. That’s not to say he couldn’t play guard, which he did early in his career with the Bills. It seems as though they’re interested in letting Cyril Richardson learn the ropes when Chris Williams’ back doesn’t allow him to play.
That being said your idea isn’t a bad one. Kraig Urbik is the team’s backup center, so it is an option if the offensive staff feels it’s necessary to make a different kind of change at guard. I just think Wood is so valuable making the calls and performing in the pivot that I’d be hesitant to move him.
3 – Hey Chris,
My question is regarding the switch from Manuel to Orton. My understanding is that the Bills are under pressure to win now, EJ just isn’t where he needs to be and so Marrone needed to make the decision before the losses got out of hand. My question is, do you think that the plan they had going into the season regarding EJ and the offense is not working? I mean the O-line is really struggling which is making the run game struggle which forced EJ the past 2 games to throw over 40 times. I wonder if part of this move is not only about winning but it could also be about protecting EJ and his psyche. So now Orton will come in and fans seem to think that he can do a better job, but he also needs the same formula as EJ, a good O-line a strong run game and defense and I’m worried that the Bills have a bigger issue than just QB. I was just wondering your thoughts about that.
Thanks for all your time, Jillian
CB: I think based on everything we’ve heard from coach Marrone on this subject that it was purely a performance decision. As coach Marrone said when he initially made the change at quarterback, he needs more production from that position. He was not getting enough positive plays from the quarterback position in the passing game and it was compromising their effectiveness on offense.
We’ll see where things go with Kyle Orton now in the lineup, but this is a performance-based business and I believe that was the crux of coach Marrone’s decision.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills How do you think the the Bills stop the short/quick passing game of the Pats this week
CB: Flooding the short passing lanes with defenders can help to disrupt some of the rhythm that Tom Brady relies upon in the Patriots’ passing game. How the Bills choose to do that remains to be seen. The general consensus by those outside the organization is to pressure Tom Brady, but that’s easier said than done even with a Buffalo defense that leads the league in sacks.
Kansas City had an awful lot of success rushing four and dropping seven into coverage. They dropped linebackers and their box safety into zones and defended the middle of the field pretty well, which is where Brady likes to work with his tight ends and Julian Edelman. Buffalo could take a similar approach if they so choose. They have comparable personnel to the Chiefs up front and at the second level.
5 – Hello, Chris,
In addition to your written work and videos on BB.com, I really enjoy your regular updates on the JMS. You are very frank and insightful on those calls and I look forward to them each week.
My question relates to a subject I have not heard one person in the Buffalo print media nor BB.com family address since the announced QB switch – Kyle Orton’s motivation/determination. I have always thought Orton has all the necessary QB skills. Most importantly, he has the ability to read a defense and deliver the ball to the open receiver. I felt EJ was sadly lacking in both case aspects. However, I do not question EJ’s heart. He took a beating the last two weeks and seemed to courageously get back on his feet and put the last hit behind him every time. Do you think we can expect that with Orton? My biggest concern regarding his signing apparently “out of retirement” was the possibility he was just looking for a paycheck to hold a clipboard and mentor EJ. After nine years of bouncing around the league, does he have the personal motivation to lay it on the line for one more chance at football glory?
I have not heard nor seen anything, other than the circumstances around his signing, to create that doubt, but I have not seen nor heard anything to suppress it, either. We will know soon enough, I suppose, once he gets under center. However, it would be great to hear from inside the Bills family that Orton is the committed to going into combat with his teammates. I truly believe the Bills have the skill players to make big plays on a consistent basis with a bunch of hungry young players surrounding a decent QB, and I hope the QB can mirror their intensity.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
CB: I appreciate the kind words. I think there is a measure of motivation for Kyle Orton with this current opportunity. In talking to him he admitted to me that this team is constructed in much the same way as the 2005 Chicago team he had to quarterback as a rookie after Rex Grossman was injured.
Their defense was outstanding, they had good special teams and a strong rushing attack with Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson. Orton didn’t have to go out and win games there, and he may not have to do much of that here.
The benefit for the Bills is he’s a much wiser quarterback and a much more seasoned leader now than he was then.
I do believe the motivation could be at its highest this week, knowing his former head coach in Denver Josh McDaniels, is on the other sideline. McDaniels buckled to the pressure in Denver to start Tim Tebow, despite the fact that Orton led the Broncos to a 6-0 start.
I don’t know this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that coaching/organizational decision sticks in Orton’s craw perhaps more than any other. I don’t know that it does, and I’d never expect him to ever say that, but looking at all the decisions that went against him in his playing career, if I put myself in his shoes that one would sting the most for me.
Tags: Bills-Patriots, Brandon Spikes, EJ Manuel, Eric Wood, Fan Friday, Kyle Orton, Offensive line
Posted in Inside the Bills
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.
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.
Tags: Doug Marrone, EJ Manuel, Erik Pears, Fan Friday, Ike Hilliard, Jerry Hughes, Mike Pettine, Offensive line, T.J. Graham
Posted in Inside the Bills
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 Buffalobills.com 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 Buffalobills.com. “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.
Tags: Offensive line, Zebrie Sanders
Posted in Inside the Bills
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.
Tags: Buddy Nix, Chan Gailey, Joe D'Alessandris, Offensive line
Posted in Inside the Bills
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.
Tags: Offensive line
Posted in Inside the Bills
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.
Tags: Joe D'Alessandris, Offensive line
Posted in Inside the Bills
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.
Tags: 2012 NFL draft, Andy Levitre, Eric Wood, Offensive line
Posted in Inside the Bills
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.
Tags: Offensive line, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Posted in Inside the Bills