1 – Hi Chris,
What are the illuminated numbers for when the Bills are on Defense? We sit on the visitors side of the Bills Stadium and often wonder if it signals to the defense.
CB: The fluorescent number cards held up by a Bills sideline assistant when the Bills defense is on the field is a cue card. The number on it identifies the personnel grouping of the opposing offense on that particular play. For example, a card that has an 11 on it means 11-personnel, which is one back, one tight end and three receivers. If it’s a 22 that means two backs and two tight ends. The number in the tens column identifies the number of backs in the grouping. The number in the ones column identifies the number of tight ends in the grouping.
Knowing you’ve got five lineman and a quarterback, you can do the math to figure out how many receivers you need to get to 11 total players based on the number of backs and tight ends.
It’s just a simple identifier tool for the defense so everyone is on the same page and can focus on the defensive play call and any pre-snap checks.
2 – Chris:
In the week that the Bills had to play the Jets in Detroit it was stated by Coach Marrone that it was a tough week because he prefers a set routine in preparing the team and he feels the players like a set routine. The way the team performed and had energy against the NY Jets after all the upheaval with the weather, do you think coaches should re-think the need to have a set routine? Do you think by following the same routine a team could get stale and cause players to lack energy and concentration. I feel it may be best to change practice routines and schedules during the season which may keep players sharp and fresh.
CB: I think the coaching staff makes an effort to tweak certain aspects of the practice week to keep players on their toes, but largely football players and coaches are creatures of habit. I don’t know that it’s fair to take one isolated performance in a neutral site situation with a lot of upheaval to the normal schedule and let that convince you that the schedule should be altered every week.
3 – Hi Chris,
Is it possible that the Bills will give a free agent a chance at being the franchise QB? I am actually targeting Kirk Cousins from the Redskins. He has one year left on his contract, but I really don’t see him as a fit for the Buffalo Bills. Obviously, EJ Manuel will be given another chance, but Cousins is a bomber, and I think it would be exciting to watch Cousins with our current wide receivers. I would most definitely keep Kyle Orton as insurance, he has more than proven himself.
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: I think the quarterback position could be a very fluid situation this offseason. You have EJ Manuel under contract and I still believe you have to work with him and develop him further. Giving up on him after just 14 starts seems foolhardy. Ryan Tannehill didn’t look like much in his first two seasons, but now in year three he’s demonstrated bona fide progress and has grown into the role for Miami. The Dolphins stuck with him and he’s rewarding them for that despite a change in offensive system this year.
Whether the Bills choose to stick with Orton as the veteran or bring in another is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to offseason decisions that must be made.
4 – Chris,
Can you give fans an update on the RT position. How has Henderson been doing? Fans are probably upset at Cyrus’ development since he got beat out by a 7th round pick. What is the future for Cyrus. I really don’t see him playing guard in the future. The Bills thought he had first round talent. I know Henderson may have been a steal. With no first round pick next year, it looks bad their 2nd round pick can’t be active on game day.
CB: Henderson has had his share of ups and downs this season. He has had some steady games and some unsteady games, but that inconsistency is to be expected with a rookie who is starting at this level for the first time. His athleticism and physical gifts are unquestioned and his work ethic has been pretty solid all year.
Cyrus Kouandjio is much younger in football than Henderson. Henderson played four years of college ball and all through high school. Kouandjio played two years of high school ball and declared early for the draft. Kouandjio is also just 21-years old.
He’s still growing into his body frame. Kouandjio needs to get stronger and needs reps. I think the team has to be patient with him and let him grow and learn for a couple of years. In time he could very well justify being a second-round pick, and the Bills knew when they picked that they’d have to wait on him a bit.
Kouandjio will never have the athleticism or feet that Henderson does. That’s God-given. Had Henderson not had all the off the field red flags, he’d have likely been a first-round pick for what it’s worth. I believe Kouandjio will be a contributor in time, but that’s what it’s going to take before he maximizes his potential. Time.
5 – Hi Chris,
Now that TV networks hire former referee’s for insight during the broadcast, would the Bills be able to hire a former ref to be on the staff and be on the sideline to assist the Head coach with challenge calls for example?
CB: That’s a pretty clever idea. Knowing how there seems to be an expert for every part of the football operation, why not a former official on your staff? I’ll have to check to see if there are rules against doing that. The only thing that I could see preventing that is a coach being concerned that it would indicate that he doesn’t know the challenge system well enough.
Tags: Cyrus Kouandjio, Doug Marrone, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, Kirk Cousins, officiating, personnel groupings, Seantrel Henderson
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills offense exploded last week. Gotta hope for more of the same against a Chiefs weak pass defense. Could be another shootout this week. Keep your questions coming at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Now to your questions for this week.
1 – Hey Chris,
I was writing in regards to the comments made by Ralph Wilson about persuing a QB next year. Do you think that was a shot at Fitz? I think Fitz is doing an excellent job of hanging in there and making some plays when everyone else is falling apart. I think the number one priority definitely needs to be defense. This is the second straight year they can’t even come close to stopping the run. I mean Fitz has been putting up points and enough to win if your defense is anywhere near respectable.
What do you think we need to focus on in terms of personel for next year? I know Fitz probably won’t be the guy for the next ten years but I see much bigger holes to fill that even Tom Brady couldn’t win with.
CB: There’s no question that the defense has more holes to fill than the offense, but I believe that two of the top three most important positions on a football team are quarterback and left tackle along with a top flight pass rusher. All three remain holes for this team to fill.
Yes, Fitz has been on a tear and he’s remarkably effective in organizing the protections while also surveying the coverage pre-snap. After the Baltimore game some are tabbing him the future QB. I say let’s let the last 10 games play out before anyone passes judgment as to what the plan should be at QB.
The bottom line though is I remain convinced that QB, pass rushing OLB and LT all need to be addressed in this draft first and foremost.
2 – How’s Ed Wang doing? You hardly ever hear about him, is he working with the team? He sounds big enough to keep some of those people off our QB.In Fla we hear nothing about the Bills. So I go to Buffalo on the computer. I haven’t heard anything about Ed. Hope he is helping out???
CB: Ed Wang has been practicing with the team since the start of the regular season coming off of thumb surgery after suffering the injury early in camp. He missed the entire preseason and had to practice with a giant club on his hand.
In the last two weeks he’s shed the club and is practicing normally with the thumb. All that being said, Wang had been working for about a month at guard and this week was transitioned back to tackle. Head coach Chan Gailey has told me they’re cross training him to see where he might fit best.
However, I don’t expect to see him on the field on Sundays this season. He’s got an awful lot to learn and missed an inordinate amount of time (the whole preseason) due to thumb surgery. This will be a learning year for him and little more unless there’s a rash of injuries on the offensive line.
3 – Chris,
I cannot understand how Reggie Corner’s interception at the end of the first half against the Ravens wasn’t awarded to the Bills. Did the NFL ever issue a statement explaining the call? I understand that only one of Corner’s feet touched the ground and the other one landed on Boldin’s shin, then he basically landed in Boldin’s lap and rolled out of bounds. But if Boldin is in the field of play, shouldn’t his body also be considered part of the field of play? If the rule states that a defender’s body isn’t part of the field of play, then, hypothetically, when a receiver jumps to make a catch, a defender could catch the defender while he’s in the air and carry him out of bounds. Couldn’t he? Is there anything in the rule book that would prevent this from occurring? Any clarification you could give would be greatly appreciated.
-Brendan, Las Vegas
CB: You hypothetical situation is correct. The force out rule, which was amended prior to the 2009 season allows a defender to carry a player out of bounds preventing the receiver from getting two feet down in bounds and is an incomplete pass.
With respect to Reggie’s INT play in the end zone against the Ravens, the NFL rule book states the following under Rule 3, Section 6, Article 7 under Interception/Recover
Note 3: If a player would have caught, intercepted, or recovered a ball inbounds, but is
carried out of bounds, player possession will be granted (8-1-3 item 6).
In referencing Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3 – item 6 as stated in parentheses it states the following.
Item 6: Carried Out of Bounds. If a player, who is in possession of the ball, is held
up and carried out of bounds by an opponent before both feet or any part of his body
other than his hands touches the ground inbounds, it is a completed or intercepted
In reading the first note one might think that Corner was deserving of an interception since he was rolled out of bounds by Anquan Boldin before he could get both feet down. However, in reading Item 6: Carried out of Bounds, it seems that Corner would have to be held up and carried out of bounds to be awarded the interception.
Corner was rolled out of bounds as part of a regular football tackle. So unfortunately it becomes a matter of interpretation by the official. Nowhere in these two sections is anything mentioned about a tackler being an extension of the field. That issue only seems to come up when there is a loose ball.
In talking to Chan Gailey about this play he told me he did not have an issue with not being awarded an interception. He said he argued with the official about offensive pass interference. Gailey said Boldin was grabbing Corner’s right arm before the ball arrived, forcing Corner to catch it with one hand, which he did. Hope this helps.
4 - Hey Chris,
I read your article Chiefs Plan Encouraging for Bills Future and it strengthened my opinion that the Bills just haven’t been bad enough the past decade to really get better. They have had a slew of seasons where they won 6-8 games, never quite giving them that big-time draft pick. The Chiefs seem to be ahead of our Bills on getting their team turned around, mainly because they were worse sooner (and they seem to have done a better job adding talent).Picking in the top ten of the draft for 4 years helps. What are your thoughts that if the Bills hit bottom sooner, they may be better today?
Thanks a lot,
Crozet, VA; Richmond, VA; Canisteo, NY
CB: I do believe at this day and age of the NFL it’s easier to get better if you simply bottom out. The Chiefs, as I mentioned in my story on Buffalobills.com, are an example of this as are the St. Louis Rams. After going 1-15 and 2-14 the past two seasons they’re on the way back up with premier young talent.
If the Bills in fact bottom out this season it makes climbing back up the mountain easier in my opinion because the players you’ll have in your arsenal will be the best in their class.
5 – Chris,
The individual draft choices of the Buffalo Bills since the last time the Bills were in the playoffs – what has been their fate? Have they been traded (if so to whom), been let go, where they kept, injured and retired, etc. Thanks,
CB: Well we’ve got to start with the 2000 NFL draft and I’m not going to list pick by pick each year. Here are the Bills first-round draft choices and what became of them.
2000 – Erik Flowers – washed out after just two seasons and played a few seasons as a reserve for the St. Louis Rams.
2001 – Nate Clements – was the team’s leader in interceptions each of his five seasons in a Bills uniform, but signed a gigantic free agent deal with San Francisco that Clements has been unable to live up to.
2002 – Mike Williams – Bills held onto him for four seasons. He had ability, but just did not have the passion to play football. Made a brief comeback with the Washington Redskins last season.
2003 – Willis McGahee – Could not play his rookie year due to his catastrophic knee injury in the National Championship game in college, but ran for 1,100 yards in his first NFL season. Grew disenchanted with Buffalo as a city and was traded to Baltimore for a pair of third-round picks and a seventh-round pick.
2004 – Lee Evans, J.P. Losman – Evans has been the team’s number one receiver for the past five years. Losman was appointed the starter in 2005, but never nailed down the job for good and was eventually allowed to depart as a free agent after the 2008 season.
2005 – No first-round pick – as part of the trade up to get Losman in 2004. Roscoe Parrish was the team’s first pick in round 2.
2006 – Donte Whitner, John McCargo – Whitner has been a starter at strong safety for almost his entire career with Buffalo. McCargo has one career start with the Bills.
2007 – Marshawn Lynch – Had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, made the Pro Bowl, but was traded after three seasons to Seattle.
2008 – Leodis McKelvin – One of the team’s top three cornerbacks. Currently starting in place of an injured Terrence McGee.
2009 – Aaron Maybin – Struggling to get on the field right now. Does not have an NFL start on his resume to this point.
2010 – C.J. Spiller – Has a 95-yard kick return for a touchdown and is playing a complementary role on offense to Fred Jackson in the offensive backfield.
BONUS - Do you think Fitz has a chance to solidify the role of the long term number two, similar to what Frank Reich was in the glory days, with a chance to start for a year or two while the long term QB we hopefully draft next year develops in the practice setting and adjusts to the NFL? I think this would be the smartest thing to do in my opinion if Fitz continues to play well this year. That way we can build our talent in the trenches so our long term QB doesn’t get Trent Edwards syndrome.
CB: I think this is a very prudent and realistic approach after this season is over. Fitz is the perfect guy to have especially if you don’t believe a highly touted draft pick is ready to be thrown into the fire right away. Having them sink or swim right away or having them watch and learn for a year has worked in the NFL (example for each would be Elway, Rodgers).
Often the mental toughness and character makeup of a player will let a coach know if a rookie QB can handle or persevere through an NFL schedule. So it would ultimately depend on the rookie signal caller they would bring in, but I’m not opposed to that type of arrangement at all, if Chan Gailey believes the young quarterback is better off in the long run.
Tags: Ed Wang, Fan Friday, first-round picks, NFL rules, officiating, Ralph Wilson, Reggie Corner, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Posted in Inside the Bills