Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 11-7

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

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

1 – Hello Chris,

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

Jeremiah T.

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

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

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

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

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

 

2 – Chris,

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

Thanks,

Chris from NY


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

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

 

3 – Chris:

Thanks for your coverage, research and opinions.

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

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

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

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


CB:
Here are my answers in letter order.

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

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

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

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

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

 

4 – Hi Chris,

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

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

Doug Collins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Tom Dinder

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

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

Thanks for the kind words.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-24

Posted by Chris Brown on October 24, 2014 – 12:27 pm

A big division tilt with the Jets on Sunday at MetLife stadium before the bye. Here are your questions this week from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills. Keep them coming.

1 – Hello Chris, thank you for keeping us Bills fans up to date with all the great insider news!

My question is very simple. With such a stout defensive line and very talented linebackers, and a talented secondary why is it in your opinion the bills give up so many pass yards?

CB: The passing yards given up by most NFL defenses are sometimes a byproduct of having a good run defense. In the Patriots game for example, Buffalo completely shut down the Patriots run game, so New England turned to their passing game. Unfortunately Tom Brady got hot and there were some miscommunication problems in the secondary according to the players.

In most cases strong run defenses make opposing offenses one-dimensional and the opponent turns to the pass game. So a good number of teams that play great run defense give up more yards through the air. Generally it’s because the opponent is behind on the scoreboard because they’ve been punting the ball away because they’re unable to run and hold onto the ball through a balance attack.

The Bills aren’t a true representation of that rule because they’ve been behind on the scoreboard a good deal, even in their last two victories. But their run defense is ranked in the top five and often forces opponents to start throwing to move the ball. More passing yards are then racked up and the Bills pass defense ranking suffers. Hope that spells it out.

 

2 – Chris,

Thanks for the work you do. When I talk to my fellow fans the thing I hear most often is some variation of “Why do they keep trying to run Spiller up the middle?”  I’ll admit I ask the same thing when I see this electrifying player disappear into the line. Does coach Hackett hear the same criticism that I do? Spiller is great in space, and the the inside of the line is our weakest position. Has he been asked about it? Do you think he’s capable of adjusting his offense to utilize Spiller’s strengths? Or is he happy with the results he is getting?

Thanks again,
Brian

CB: As the players and coaches have explained the lack of success up the middle is an all-encompassing problem. Their inside zone runs used to be their bread and butter plays going all the way back to running them under former head coach Chan Gailey. They have been less successful of late including the carries by C.J. Spiller. Spiller, before he got hurt, told us he has to trust his eyes more and that the hole will be there when he arrives.

The linemen have blamed themselves for not effectively controlling the line of scrimmage on a consistent basis. Coach Marrone has also put it on himself and his offensive staff to devise more effective ways to get more productive run plays for all of their backs.

 

3 – Hey Chris,

Some sites say Orton is making $5.5 mil a year on a two-year deal. Other sites say $3mil this year. Are they wrong or is he getting $3mil salary this year and a $2mil signing bonus for this season?

Thanks for the clarity!

Go Kyle, Go Bills!

CB: It is a two-year deal and the total value is $11M. The other reports you’re seeing are just breaking down the money differently based off of base salary, signing bonus amortization and guaranteed money. Signing bonus is paid out as soon as the contract is signed, but that money is averaged out over the length of the contract when it comes to the salary cap hit.

 

4 – Hi Chris:

I can’t for the life of me figure out why our offensive coaches won’t use Fred and CJ on the field in the backfield together (Pro Set)? The only time I can recall seeing this formation was a couple years ago in the red zone and they scored on the play. It seems like a no brainer to have two of your best playmakers in the backfield together. It’s a matchup nightmare given their pass catching abilities. It also dictates to the defense, because they are forced to respect their abilities and account for both. I wish this message could be personally relayed to Nathan Hackett. Thanks for your time and I appreciate all the insight.

Regards,
Nick U.

CB: They have been on the field together at the same time, albeit sparingly, this season. Now neither are available, but I understand your point. I thought with the running back talent in reserve on this roster (Brown, Dixon) that there would be less of a risk in using both Jackson and Spiller on the field at the same time. I know they have a specific package for that split back look, and they have been on the field at the same time with Spiller split wide. There just wasn’t a lot of it prior to the two of them getting hurt.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

I have been following the Bills for years in Ohio and NC and you truly do a great job bringing Bills coverage to people outside of WNY.

My question is about the pass interference/defensive holding call against Sammy Watkins on the sideline in the Detroit game that was picked up and given an explanation of “all contact was legal” by the ref. I almost had a coronary when that happened and am sure Coach Marrone felt the same way. The CB was all over Sammy on that play and for the flag to get picked up blew my mind. Has there been any reasoning from the league or officials as to that play?

Thanks for everything
Chris in NC
CB: Thanks for the kind words Chris.

Unfortunately there’s no good answer for you on pass interference and defensive holding because it’s a judgment call by the officials. On that play it was a 3rd-and-8 with Watkins beyond five yards and standing at the first down marker when Darius Slay was flagged for defensive holding. We have a great look at it at the 1:35 mark of our ‘Wired for Sound’ feature from that week when we had Watkins wearing the mic. You’ll see the flag is thrown. Later it was picked up.

At that time it was the third flag picked up of the season that would have benefited the Bills. I think every NFL team understands it’s going to be a judgment call. What really makes it difficult for teams to accept is when the call is changed after it is made or wiped out completely, especially in the competitive atmosphere of a game.

The Bills just like any other club handle those issues internally with the league’s head of officiating, Dean Blandino.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Lawson: Big plays hurt

Posted by Chris Brown on September 21, 2014 – 6:17 pm

The Bills through the first two weeks of the season had given up just one pass play of 20 yards or more. On Sunday against the Chargers they gave up six, including a pair of 49-yard catches to Malcom Floyd. It made scoring drives that much easier for San Diego in their 12-point victory.

“We allowed too many big plays,” said Manny Lawson. “We can’t have that to be a great team and to get to where we want to go.  We have to learn from our mistakes and limit the big play aspect.”

And even though Buffalo’s defense stiffened in the fourth quarter, Lawson felt it was too little, too late.

“We’ve got to start earlier,” he said. “We can’t wait until the fourth quarter to play defense.  We have to play defense as soon as the whistle is blown, as soon as the ball is kicked, as soon as we step onm the field.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills