It’s been an interesting week for the Bills here in London. Sunday’s game should be a spectacle. Here are your latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills what about right guard. ..
CB: Right guard is going to be handled by Kraig Urbik, with John Miller traveling back to his native Miami after a death in his immediate family. Backing up at center/guard will be Gabe Ikard and Jordan Mills will serve as the swing tackle Sunday.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills is Tyrod’s injury serious?
CB: It’s a sprained MCL. After staying off it last week he tried to practice on it more extensively this week, but he was still limited by it. Head coach Rex Ryan said Friday that he expects Taylor to be back in the lineup in Week 9 after the bye.
CB: I will let Rex Ryan address this himself with respect to this game. Before I do I would like to point out that all this dropping by Buffalo’s defensive linemen that people are griping about is misguided. One player on Buffalo’s starting defensive line dropped into coverage a combined total of 13 times on 61 plays. It’s what Rex Ryan thought would work last week. I’m confident his approach will be different this week.
4 – Hi Chris,
Was wondering if receiver routes were broken down by number 1, 2, & 3. When Sammy is out, does Harvin take over his routes, & Woods take over Harvin’s, with Hogan running Woods’? How do they work that? Do all the receivers need to know all the routes?
CB: The receivers have the responsibility of knowing all the receiver positions. So although some might have primary roles like the ‘X’ or ‘Z’ receiver positions, they have to know the route concepts from the slot among other formations. It’s done for the very situation the Bills find themselves in this week.
Buffalo has just four healthy receivers with Woods, Hogan, Easley and Moore. All four however have learned all the positions, so they can freely move from one role to the other so the offensive play calling isn’t limited.
5 – Hi Chris!
I will be flying to my first Bills game ever next Sunday from Austria and I am beyond excited! Now I wonder what to expect from the Wembley venue and the merchandising options available there! Will it be all Jacksonville merch because of the fact that it’s a Jacksonville “home game” or will both teams have equal space to present their teams and merch in and around the stadium?
What about the fans? Do you know if it will be a Jacksonville crowd?
Keep up the good work! GO BILLS
Stefan from Austria
CB: I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s a safe assumption that there will be Bills merchandise on sale at the stadium on Sunday.
Tags: Bills in London, Fan Friday, Kraig Urbik, pass rush, Rex Ryan, Tyrod Taylor, wide receiver routes
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman isn’t too keen on all the criticism leveled at Buffalo’s defense, particularly the lack of pass pressure and sacks. For Thurman defensive performance is much broader than that and all the aspects of defensive play can be summed up with one simple statistic as he sees it. Points allowed.
“We’re not worried about pass rushing,” said Thurman. “We’re not worried about what you guys are worried about. We’re worried about wins and losses. We need to play better as a defense. I’m more concerned about how many points we’re giving up. I’m not worried about individual statistics. The points we’re giving up, I’m not happy about that.”
When asked if pass pressure is important, Thurman didn’t deny that it wasn’t, but again went back to focusing on the overall picture on defense.
“So is tackling. We missed some tackles. It’s overall performance,” Thurman said. “You guys want to focus on one thing—it’s more than that. It’s point allowed, missing tackles, missing assignments. When you’re going well and you’re playing well, then no one’s concerned about one individual thing. We’re not going to be concerned about one individual part of our defense. We’re concerned about every part of our defense. We need to play better.”
Tags: Dennis Thurman, pass rush
Posted in Inside the Bills
The Bills have another bounce back game on the road just like two weeks ago in Miami. Here’s hoping it’s a repeat performance. Here’s your latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Is John Miller practicing, playing?
CB: Miller practiced all week. He was never full go, but head coach Rex Ryan said on Friday he expects Miller to be back in the starting lineup.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills what’s the word on McKelvin?
CB: McKelvin has made some good strides the last couple of weeks. He’s starting to do real football work on the side now with the athletic trainers. He was pulling an athletic trainer while working on his backpedal with straps attached to his body. The athletic trainer was holding the ends of the straps and McKelvin was pulling him down the field.
He’s certainly worked hard to get all the way back and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s practicing again the first week he’s eligible to do so, which is the week leading up to the London game against Jacksonville. Whether he’s activated off the Reserve/NFI list is another story.
3 – Hey Chris,
My question is on Doug Whaley. How do contracts work for GMs? Unless Whaley got fired is it his job forever?
I really loved your article about him recently because it shows that he doesn’t want this franchise to be successful for a couple of years he wants to build it into a franchise that competes year in and year out. I’ve been listening to him speak about that in the past and I don’t think most fans really pay attention to what he’s been saying. I really do believe we have a GM and a front office that can make this franchise respectable again for a long time. So, do you think Doug Whaley is here to stay for a long time?
Thanks as always, Jillian
CB: I think Doug Whaley is fast proving to be an astute GM who knows how to build a roster for the long haul. General manager contracts work a lot like coaching contracts. They’re just not publicized as much. I think provided the talent that he’s assembled can reach its full potential, Whaley should be building rosters here for a long time.
4 – Chris,
You help keep us fans who live far away up to date, so thank you. My question is about the defense. What has happened to them? Rex said he expects them to be #1 with the roster they have. They stepped up their run defense, but pass has been terrible. We call the front four the cold front, but I haven’t seen anything from them that I’ve come to expect over the last few years. We led the lead in sacks the last 2 years and it seems like a rare occurance if we get one now. Please help me understand what has become of our best asset.
Loyal and true fan in Virginia
CB: First thing to know is the number of sacks a team has doesn’t always indicate a team has a great defense. Perfect example is the 2000 Ravens. They had just 35 sacks, but allowed just 165 points the whole season. That being said, the Bills pass rush has been effectively countered by a quick strike pass game from opponents. Underneath coverage, particularly in the middle of the field has to be better to help the pass rush up front.
That is the only thing that will make opponents pull out of their quick pass game. That or keeping them out of the end zone and putting them behind on the scoreboard. Then the passing game will have to open up and call for longer pass routes to catch up in the game. That leads to the QB holding the ball longer and then the pass rush can have the impact it’s designed to have in this defense.
5 – Chris,
When is Goodwin due back?
CB: Marquise is listed as probable for Sunday’s game, so I think there’s a good chance he’s dressed for Sunday’s game, especially if Sammy Watkins is down.
Tags: Doug Whaley, John Miller, Leodis McKelvin, Marquise Goodwin, pass rush, sacks, Sammy Watkins
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
With guys like (Alshon) Jeffery and (Victor) Cruz missing multiple games with calf injuries, is there any concern Watkins might also?
CB: First, I’m not a doctor, but I have learned through our athletic training staff that not every calf injury is the same, and every player heals differently. Some heal faster than others, some have a higher pain tolerance than others. All that being said a calf injury is a critical problem for a wide receiver. They need it to drive off the line, accelerate, cut, etc.
Cruz’s calf injury from most reports is from overcompensating coming off a knee injury that kept him out most of last year and required surgery. I don’t know that Watkins’ injury is related in any way to overcompensating for his hip that required surgery in the offseason. I think we just all hope that Watkins is back in the lineup sooner rather than later.
2 – Chris,
First off, I’d like to give a shout out to Buffalo Bros. on University Ave in Fort Worth, TX. It’s great to watch Bills games on Sundays surrounded by other Buffalo fans.
Here’s my question: With LeSean McCoy unlikely to suit up against the NY Giants this week, is it likely that Buffalo considers resigning Bryce Brown? I believe that we have an available roster spot after the Cassel trade. He would be a good compliment to Karlos Williams, whereas Boobie Dixon seems like he’s more of a goal line back and special teams contributor.
-Brendan in Fort Worth, TX
CB: The roster spot was actually filled by promoting Jonathan Meeks from the practice squad last week, not that it would keep them from making another move to address their running back position should LeSean McCoy be unable to play Sunday.
The most logical move however, would be calling Cierre Wood up from the practice squad. He’s been with the team since the last half of training camp and showed some flashes in the preseason. Wood has more of a shifty skill set and good hands for catching out of the backfield.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Will this be the week that the #ColdFront starts racking up some sacks?
CB: The pass rush always has an edge when playing at home knowing the opposing offense has the added challenge of crowd noise. Manning however, has not been sacked much so far this season, just three times in three games. Ben McAdoo’s offense is designed to get the ball out fast to protect Manning.
A heavy dose of press coverage could aid in forcing Manning to pump and double clutch the ball to buy the pass rush an extra half second to get home. Some exotic looks could also cross up Manning’s diagnosis of the defensive coverage and delay his delivery of the ball.
4 – Chris,
In the long run, the Bills afford to play Thigpen. I believe they are other returners the Bills have on the roster. The Bills have specialists already in Gay/Sanborn who play minimal. Thigpen has yet to take an offesnive snap. I’d rather see Goodwin active than Thigpen. I would exepct Goodwin to get looks on offense and can return kicks.
CB: Once Marquise Goodwin is healthy I do anticipate he’ll be active. He’s still recovering from a rib injury. Goodwin however, is a kick returner, while Thipen is primarily a punt returner. The kick return job is Percy Harvin’s as of right now. I do believe if Sammy Watkins is unable to play that Goodwin would fill his spot among the receiving corps provided he himself is healthy enough to play.
As for Thigpen I think he was fortunate to make the roster as the team’s seventh WR. I believe the main reason he did is because primary punt returner Leodis McKelvin is on Reserve/NFI until Week 7 when he would be able to practice again if medically cleared. When McKelvin returns there will need to be a roster move.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Who would you have cover Odell B, Darby or Gilmore? Or should they stay on separate sides of the field?
CB: I think Darby has shown well for the most part this season. To this point the Bills have played most passing attacks straight up leaving Gilmore and Darby on their respective sides. Beckham is a unique talent. If the defensive staff decides to have one cornerback follow him the whole game Gilmore is your guy. Beckham’s hands are so strong that you want a corner that can be physical with him not only on routes, but through to the attempt to catch. Darby can do that too, but Gilmore would be the better play if they decide to go that way.
Tags: Bills-Giants, Karlos Williams, LeSean McCoy, Marcus Thigpen, Marquise Goodwin, pass rush, Ronald Darby, Sammy Watkins, Stephon Gilmore
Posted in Inside the Bills
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has taken his fair share of sacks over the years. It’s often a byproduct of the veteran signal caller trying to extend plays and buy time. This season however, Roethlisberger is on pace to set a career-high in sacks taken.
Through Pittsburgh’s first eight games, Roethlisberger has been sacked 31 times. That’s the most he’s been taken down in the first eight starts of any season in his career. Part of the problem is a porous offensive line and the fact that there has been little in the way of a consistent rushing attack to effectively balance out their play calling.
If the Steelers hold to form it should present the Bills men up front with more than their share of pass rush opportunities. Here’s a look at Roethlisberger’s sack totals from the first eight starts in each of his 10 NFL seasons.
Year Sacks taken
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, Bills-Steelers, pass rush, sacks
Posted in Inside the Bills
While Bills GM Buddy Nix is just as happy to see one of Buffalo’s defensive lineman get a sack as any Bills fan, he sees value in any kind of disruption in an opponent’s passing game. And that’s an obvious key Sunday against the Patriots, which we cover on the home page of Buffalobills.com today. But Nix explains how any means of hurrying throws or forcing a QB to reset his feet can change things.
“Everybody puts a lot of emphasis, including us, on sacks and that’s the way that you measure these guys, but the big thing is not sacks,” said Nix in an appearance on the FAN 590 in Toronto. “The big thing is pressure, getting him off the spot that they want to throw from and the rhythm they want to throw with. I think we’ve done that pretty well. We’ve caused pressure and caused them to move and when you do that you give somebody else a chance to get the quarterback, plus some bad throws and turnovers in the secondary.”
Tags: Bills-Patriots, Buddy Nix, pass rush
Posted in Inside the Bills
The Bills only got to Matt Moore one time in their first matchup with the Dolphins in Week 11. The second time around they believe they’ll be a more productive pass rushing unit.
Last in the league in sacks with 19 this season, Buffalo’s defensive staff has tried a countless number of schemes to generate more pass rush. Against a team that’s allowed 44 on the season (2nd most in the NFL), head coach Chan Gailey indicated that his defensive staff has some new wrinkles in the game plan this week.
“We think we can get some pressure on the passer,” said Gailey. “You’ve got to do it different ways. You can’t do it the same way. It’s not just rushing six or just rushing three or four. You’ve got to do some different things to try to create some pressure and I think our defensive staff has come up with some things this week.”
Miami’s offensive line has been bit by the injury bug of late. Left tackle Jake Long is a question mark for Sunday’s game with a back injury and RG Vernon Carey isn’t healthy with an ankle injury.
Tags: Bills-Dolphins, pass rush
Posted in Inside the Bills
Welcome home Bills. Haven’t played at the Ralph in a month! Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 – Chris,
I am really concerned about the linebackers and DB’s. Even though they have a lot of turnovers they look very inadequate in coverage. Nick Barnett is the only linebacker that shows up consistently, and the pass coverage is awful for a team that is supposed to have some good back end players. Is this a scheme problem or are we not talented enough? Turnovers are great but you still have to defend the pass! They’ve played like they were afraid to get beat instead of playing like they are trying to win.
CB: While I will agree that the coverage saw a noticeable drop off against Dallas, I felt it was better against Miami, but slipped due mainly to mental mistakes against the Jets. I believe there are a few things at work here.
First and foremost the pass rush is non-existent. This forces Buffalo’s defensive backs to cover longer, which makes their job more difficult.
Second, the last two weeks Buffalo has had three rookies in the secondary for extended portions of the game. In their nickel package they’ve got Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy and Justin Rogers.
Their lack of playing time in the NFL and together under live fire has compromised the consistency of the coverage down in and down out. All three of them will get better with each passing week, but we’ve seen some growing pains and without a pass rush it’s not making the job any easier.
2 – Chris,
Maybe a stupid question but why don’t they look into the long snapper as the center.. seems like they have similar tasks. I know the communication situation is different but he can obviously snap..
thanks for the work you do.
displaced bills fan in AZ
CB: I think it’s a very valid question actually. For some reason the long snapping job became a specialized role. The long snap is unquestionably more difficult and does require a lot of practice to keep accuracy and proper velocity consistent. That being said I don’t see why a center or even backup center could not have the time to get enough work in to be a good one.
For some reason quality long snappers are pretty hard to find. I recently overheard Bills special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven speaking with one of Buffalo’s players. The player was telling him how at the Division II college level there aren’t many good long snappers and how they just usually have a guy that can chuck it back there. DeHaven responded (tongue in cheek) as follows.
“There aren’t too many good long snappers at this level. There are some long snappers in this league that shouldn’t be doing it.”
Fortunately Buffalo has a quality long snapper in Garrison Sanborn.
Thanks for the kind words.
3 – Hey Chris.
I don’t want to sound pessimistic but I got to call a spade a spade and say that the Bills will be looking at next season because chances are this one is a wrap with the immense injuries and lack of depth the team has on the o-line, wide receiving corps and cornerback.
With that being said the bills were quick to sign Fitz after the couple games he performed admirably. Would Fred Jackson not be a major part of the puzzle that the bills are trying hard to complete but haven’t for the past 10 years???? Do you feel they aren’t willing to pay him the money it looks to me he deserves and this is another cost saving move by management????? Thanks for all the great coverage you do Chris and here’s to hoping the bills get it right in the upcoming off season.
CB: First, thanks for the kind words. Fred Jackson put up undeniable numbers and listening to Chan Gailey I’d be shocked if the team didn’t make efforts in the offseason to get Jackson an extension. He’s currently signed through the end of the 2012 season, but that contract is something I think everyone would agree he has outperformed. To what degree? Well that’s up to the Bills management to decide.
I expect the Bills to do right by Jackson. Fred had a face-to-face meeting with GM Buddy Nix about six weeks ago and was encouraged by what came out of that meeting. Here’s what Fred said when asked about his thoughts on getting a new contract.
“I felt like I did as much as I could,” he said. “That hopefully will just take care of itself. It’s not something I’m going to worry about right now. I put faith in Buddy and that’s all I can do. He’s a man of his word so I’ll have faith in him and see what happens.”
I think it would be hard for the Bills to not extend Jackson’s contract to some degree. He’s not only the offensive MVP for this team, but his performance was among the league leaders in several categories including yards after the catch and the guy is a running back! Add in that this guy is the heart and soul of this team and if the organization does right by him it would also do a world of good in the locker room. If an organization takes care of a player that performs and lays it all out there on Sundays it serves as a powerful message to the rest of the players on the team. Especially one as respected as Jackson.
4 – Chris,
I enjoy keeping up with the Bills, through your column. In the games that I have been able to watch this year, it seems that Fitzpatrick doesn’t have a very strong arm. Is this something that can be strengthened and provide him with more arm strength?
Frustrated fan in Keller, Texas
CB: Thanks for the kind words. With respect to Fitz’s arm strength, Chan Gailey has confirmed that it is a strong enough arm to make all the throws necessary in his offense. Is Fitz’s arm an Elway arm? No, but few are. What makes Fitz so successful is his ability to diagnose and anticipate allowing him to get the ball out quicker thereby getting the ball there usually just as fast as the rocket arm passers.
I think Fitz has struggled with short stretches of inaccuracy (see Miami game). Fact is though that he’s second in the AFC in completion percentage behind Tom Brady, so I don’t know that you want to criticize a quarterback that has a pretty good shot of going to the Pro Bowl.
5 – Chris
After years of watching the Bills suffer players going down on IR, can’t the league eliminate Injured reserve? If and when a player is healthy let him come back. It is ridiculous that players like Fred Jackson, Roscoe Parrish cannot come back and contribute. Also can the Bills question why a compensatory pick cannot be given for a player like Marcus Easley where by no fault of the player or the team, we lose a draft pick and his contribution?
CB: I think the rules for injured reserve will not be changed until and if the league goes to an 18-game regular season. Then I would anticipate an injured reserve where a player would be eligible to return in six weeks or so. The decision on Fred was a tough one because if by some miracle things fall right and Buffalo qualifies for the playoffs, he’d likely be ready to play the second weekend in January.
Compensatory picks for a player lost to a medical condition is not going to garner any support as I see it. Luck of the draw is the response I’d anticipate from the league and its owners.
Tags: Buddy Nix, Chan Gailey, Fan Friday, Fred Jackson, injured reserve, long snapper, pass rush
Posted in Inside the Bills
Well Bills fans this week’s game will determine what the last five weeks of the regular season will be about. Everyone knows what a win and what a loss will do for Buffalo down the stretch. Let’s hope for the best and get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 – Hey Chris,
What’s going on with the offense? CJ Spiller & BRad Smith were brought in to provide a spark on offense and aren’t being used as well as they should be. There’s only so much Fred can do, we should’ve been utilizing our 3 possibly 4 headed rushing attack against a jets D that’s not good against the run and the cowboys aren’t the team they’re hyped up to be. I’m a faithful bills fan since the 80’s but I can’t stand to watch this team on tv anymore
As always thanks for all the work u do, and GO BILLS!!!!!
CB: Well you’ll see a lot more of C.J. now with Fred out for the season (broken fibula). The one plus is we’ll really be able to gauge C.J.’s progress here in his second season as he’ll be carrying the load for the last six games of the season. When young players get an opportunity like this it can also accelerate their improvement, so going into next season Spiller may be better equipped to do more, much like David Nelson did this year after playing a lot last season.
2 – Chris,
What are Nix and Gailey going to do about the utter lack of a pass rush? When the “D” does nothing to stop the opposing quarterback, it makes Fitz think he has to go out there and win the game himself. Is it too late for the pass rush to get fixed, either by new blood on the roster or shuffling around who we now have?
Kenny in Indiana
CB: I think the pass rush is going to be a tough thing to fix because the team does not have a proven pass rusher on the roster. Danny Batten, Antonio Coleman and Arthur Moats are nice young prospects, but they’re far from proven. Without a proven pass rusher that opponents have to account for they can spread their protection evenly across the front and the opposing quarterback rests a bit easier.
DC George Edwards has tried to mix in some blitz packages through the course of the season and some have worked (See: Philly game) and some have not. But until they get a proven pass rusher on this roster Edwards will be forced to create pressure with extra rushers and that leaves them vulnerable in coverage at times. It’s risk-reward at its highest level.
3 – Hi Chris,
First off, thank you for all the updates and info…it really means a lot to those of us outside the Buffalo area.
I know a lot of people have written off Shawn Merriman but as a true Bills fan, I can’t help but have hope. Have you received any updates on Mr. Merriman? Has he had surgery? If so how did it go? I realize that it’s very early, but is there a prognosis for his future in the NFL?
James – Wheaton MD
CB: It’s hard to blame those fans that doubt Merriman will ever be the same. They’ve haven’t seen his old form in a few years, and this year ended much like the others in recent years on I-R. Surgery was successful. He did not rupture his Achilles, but he did have his Achilles repaired. Whether he has a rehab as long as those players that rupture their Achilles I do not know. Suffice to say it’s going to take several months before he’s doing football related work again. When we get an update we’ll pass it along.
4 – Hey Chris, will you be doing the live blog again Sunday? Once again no Bills on TV here in Danville, Va. Thanks a lot. Hope to be chatting with you on blog soon.
CB: We’ve got the live blog up every game day on Buffalobills.com so if you’re somewhere in the U-S where the game is not broadcast we can help you out with a running play-by-play and a fan forum where you can ask me questions during the game and converse with one another. Just check the home page right before the game starts.
5 – Chris,
Once again thank you for the website being stationed out in San Diego CA its hard to keep updated on my beloved Buffalo Bills. I am pat of the Bills Backers San Diego club and we all watch the game. Today Mr. Andre Reed showed up and he said the bills are playing with no heart and they look dull. I couldn’t agree more I love my Bills but i’m getting tired of always watching them lose. My question is why have we been abandoning the run game? Fred Jackson get so little touches. But when he does get the ball he makes it happen. The team has even said he is our play maker so why not give him the ball more?
Thanks again Chris.
CB: It’s very hard to disagree with your point. Yes, the last two games got out of hand quickly, which often leads offensive play callers away from the run game. My argument against that at least these past two weeks is there was no rhythm to the passing game, so why not use the run to help move the chains?
Fred only got seven carries against the Dolphins and that game was a two-score game at the half. Now that Fred is out for the season I wouldn’t anticipate the Bills leaning on the run game as much when and if they’re behind by two scores or more on the scoreboard. But I think there’s merit to sticking with the run a bit longer even if you’re behind on the scoreboard when the passing game is out of sync. Perhaps if the run game can at least get you a couple of first downs a rhythm can be established.
Tags: Brad Smith, C.J. Spiller, Fan Friday, Fred Jackson, Live Blog, pass rush, Shawne Merriman
Posted in Inside the Bills
The Bills Toronto Series resumes on Sunday at the Rogers Centre. I’m encouraged about this one knowing Chan and his staff has had two weeks to prepare. Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 – Hi Chris,
With the way our defense is playing very well, as in takeaways, keeping us in games, playing very hard and more, we still rank very low ..26th/29th against the opp. pass/rush. Why do you think that is? I’m trying to figure out if it’s because the defense is still meshing, or do we have a lack of talent somewhere or not the right size players yet? And my last question is, if the draft was today which position do you see as our biggest need or an upgrade to be made? Yes, I know it is early however at the beginning of the season I could find endless spots including depth I thought we needed, now how the team is playing and everyone doing pretty well, I can’t see too many spots that need help except maybe WR and that is because of injuries only, not because of a lack of talent.
Thank you for your time
-Showtime. GO BILLS!
CB: The problem is pass rush. Buffalo is not getting enough consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. We’ll see if George Edwards and his defensive staff have come up with some new schematics to help the players be more effective in that area, but there is no real proven pass rusher on the roster. Merriman was the only one and he wasn’t the same with his Achilles problem and is now on I-R.
With that in mind it’s the answer to your second question as well. Buffalo needs a pass rusher off the edge that opponents have to game plan for, so I’d have that at the top of the list with respect to the draft next spring.
2 – Chris,
What can Bills fans expect from Torell Troup this season? With the possibility of Kyle Williams missing games, this is the perfect opportunity for Troup to stand up and demonstrate that his value as a high draft pick was justified. Also, if the Bills haven’t done so already, they should look into treating Troup’s lingering lower back pain with acupuncture. It may be an unconventional method however, as someone who suffered from LBP myself, I know how effective acupuncture can be when more traditional means fail. Hope you continue to appear on Rodger Wyland’s Big Board Sports. You are a wealth of knowledge of the Bills’ operation.
CB: Thanks for the kind words. With respect to Troup he’s had two different issues with his back. Without getting into details, the first problem has been remedied and he’s told me the second problem will eventually dissipate as well. He still doesn’t look full speed to me in practice, but he insists he will get better with time. Knowing that it’s hard to predict just what they’ll get from Troup this season. If he does in fact get back to 100 percent I believe you’ll see a much improved player. He worked his tail off this offseason and looked very good in the early stages of training camp. If he gets back to that kind of play he’ll be making plays with regularity at nose tackle.
If not, then I think we’re looking at a situation where he’s a rotational player giving Kellen Heard a break as long as Kyle Williams is out of the lineup.
3 – Hi there Chris,
I’m just going to come out and say it, no beating around the brush. Our Buffalo Bills have the best hair in football. You can tell that many members of the team take extreme care in their hair. What saddens me is that there are quite a few members of our team that used to have long, beautiful, rock-star like hairdos (Steve Johnson). . . Are any Bills thinking about growing back their locks? Or maybe team beards? Dumbledore/ZZ Top beards?
Brenning Greenfield (Crozet, VA)
CB: I do know that Andy Levitre is working feverishly on a Fu-Manchu mustache, but beyond that and Fitz’s beard, which is supposed to go the distance this season, I’m not aware of any specific hair growing commitments on the part of the players, though Kellen Heard has been growing his for a year a half. He keeps it trimmed though. Erik Pears is growing his beard out. I’ll investigate though to see if there are any others.
4 – Hey Chris,
What’s going on with Kirk Morrison? Why is he not getting any playing time? Also how much longer is Aaron Williams expected to be out for?
Clayton from Buffalo NY
CB: Hopefully you saw my story on Aaron Williams’ progress in his return from a chest/shoulder problem earlier this week. He believes he’s about two weeks away from playing in a game which puts him at the Dallas game.
As for Morrison, he’s strictly a reserve player. He’s an inside linebacker and he’s behind Nick Barnett, Andra Davis and Kelvin Sheppard on the depth chart right now. A good player, but doesn’t have as much time in the system and the playing time is going to Shep and Barnett right now.
5 – Hi Chris!
This old timer has been shouting “Go Bills” since being transfered to Buffalo in ’61 (our second year). I live now in Gainesville, Florida. I have a comment and a question.
I hope the younger fans appreciate the website in general and BDC in particular. In the Super Bowl years fans had to wait for detailed information until “Shout” magazine arrived–sometimes as much as eight days after a game. Great job, Chris.
Could you give us an insight into what happens at One Bills Drive after a Sunday game? We know that Tuesday is an off day with practices the rest of the week, but what do the players, trainers, and coaches do on Monday? What time do they all report? How long are they there? What is the routine; what takes place?
Best, Bill Laney — ( 51 years a faithful fan )
CB: Basically on Mondays, injured players or players that are nicked up get treatments in the training room. Players watch game tape from Sunday’s game with their position coaches and are graded on their performance. Then coaches go over corrections with them. There is also some light conditioning work that’s done with the strength and conditioning staff to stimulate blood flow, which helps get the soreness out of the body sooner rather than later. That’s pretty much it. Thanks for the kind words.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Fan Friday, Kirk Morrison, pass rush, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Torell Troup
Posted in Inside the Bills
Time for everyone to catch our breath here in the bye week before the Bills work their way through the last 10 games of a promising season. Keep sending your questions in to AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Let’s get to this week’s questions.
1 – Chris my question is around defense. The Bills still do not have any pass rush that I have observed. Are the Bills trying to design some sort of pressure? Also Shawne Merriman has been non-exsisent so far so what is being done to get him more involved. The Bills will not keep winning without a better pass rush, and more activity out of our linebackers…
CB: You’re right about pass rush production. It’s been lacking. As we reported this week it was at the top of the ‘to do’ list for head coach Chan Gailey and his staff. Buffalo simply can’t get home with four rushers and against the Giants they couldn’t get to Eli Manning when they sent five on almost every third down in the first half. Gailey said part of the problem is they’re not winning their one-on-one battles when they have them. They said they’d harp on improving pass rush technique with the players up front.
Unfortunately I think they’re going to have to rely on scheme a bit more to generate pressure instead of pure talent and that’s not easy. Fortunately Merriman is supposed to be back in the lineup as well as Kelsay, so hopefully things can improve in that area. Otherwise big plays against the Bills will continue to be made.
2 – Hey Chris,
I was Just wondering what the status is on Jasper and if they are working him in to the offensive tackle position, much like they did with Jason Peters before he was traded. If the Bills staff get him going I think they would add great size and run block for the running game.
Secondly, do you think the stadium will get any more upgrades?
Thank you for what you do for the fans everyday!!
CB: Jasper has been working at guard for the past month. The first week in which he was switched to the offensive line he manned the tackle spot, but shortly after the Bills picked up Sam Young off waivers and he’s been at right tackle with the reserves kicking Jasper in to guard. Jasper played guard his last two collegiate seasons at Bethel and it’s probably his most natural position on the offensive line.
He’s got the athleticism to pull from there on run plays, and he obviously has the girth to stand in there against the big DTs in pass protection. He’s also been working even harder to get his weight down more. He’s at 373 now with a goal weight of 360.
3 – Chris,
Has there been any news on either Fred Jackson (2012) or Ryan Fitzpatrick’s (2011) contract extensions? Given their production (especially Freddy – no slight to Fitz, but Freddy has done quite a bit), you’d think and I hope Management will make a motion to keep them.
CB: There’s been a lot of progress with Fitzpatrick’s contract negotiations. I think Fitz will be done sooner rather than later, but to lay out a timetable would be foolish because no one can predict the pace of negotiations. As for Fred I agree, he has outplayed the value of his contract. However, with Stevie Johnson’s contract up after this year I would anticipate that he is taken care of after Fitz.
Fred is still under contract through the 2012 season, so the same urgency to get Jackson a new deal might not be there as for players like Fitzpatrick and Johnson. That being said knowing that Jackson has stated publicly more than once that he’d like to have a new contract, I do know that he met with Bills GM Buddy Nix a couple of weeks ago and that the meeting was very positive.
Does that mean negotiations are going to be kick started? I don’t believe so. I don’t think there’s any debating that Fred is deserving, but there are other players on his side of the ball that have to addressed first.
4 – Hi Chris,
Hats off to the Bills for their great start. I think Fred Jackson is the best running back they have had since Thurman Thomas. Having said that, I am a little concerned over the alarming amount of yards they are giving up on defense. True, they are a plus nine in turnovers and they are doing a great job with that, but they need to stop people better. Based on what I saw in the game against the Eagles, the linebackers are not one hundred percent sideline to sideline, meaning their lateral pursuit is lacking. Teams that run well off the edge will continue to have huge gains. They ran zone blitzes on Michael Vick and they were successful, but they still give up too many big plays. What is your take on this? I will look forward to your answer.
Tony, Daytona Beach, Fl
CB: I think your concerns were fully realized in the Giants game. Without takeaways the yardage allowed was magnified and without a pass rush big plays were more prevalent. Buffalo was also without three starters in the front seven. In addressing the range of Buffalo’s linebackers Barnett has been playing with a bad ankle and Andra Davis is more of an in the box ILB. I think that’s partly why Kelvin Sheppard is getting more and more playing time moving forward. He has sideline to sideline range and can also be utilized as a blitzer. So his mere presence on the field makes them more athletic and versatile. Whether it makes a noticeable difference is something we’ll have to wait and see.
5 – Now that the Ralph is rocking again, selling out the games and the Bills are headed in the right direction how much longer do we need to play one game in Toronto? It is a huge disadvantage for us and we haven’t won there yet.
CB: You’re right the Bills have not won a regular season game in Toronto to this point. With respect to the Bills Toronto Series however, no matter if the Bills sell out every home game at the Ralph, to remain financially competitive in the NFL they need to continue to regionalize the franchise and that includes Toronto. Buffalo by itself does not have the corporate tax base to sufficiently fill premium and luxury seating at Ralph Wilson stadium. It’s big companies that often invest in suites and premium seating.
Part of the Bills Toronto Series aim is to draw more of the large corporate base from Toronto back to RWS for that kind of investment. The state of economics in the NFL, even in the wake of the new 10-year CBA makes it a necessary approach.
Tags: Bills Toronto Series, Fred Jackson, Mike Jasper, pass rush, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shawne Merriman
Posted in Inside the Bills
As we profile on the home page of Buffalobills.com today (Wed.) at the top of the priority list for the Bills in the bye week is improving their pass rush, which ranks last in the league right now in terms of sacks with just 4. Chan Gailey and his defensive staff will no doubt come up with some potential solutions during the bye. The hope is then that the players can implement those solutions effectively to take some of the scoring burden off the offense.
Without a pass rush the big plays by the opponent, which will likely continue minus some improvement, will need to be matched by Buffalo’s offense each and every week.
That’s not going to be easy with four of the Bills last 10 games coming against defenses that rank in the top 10 in the league, including a Redskins defense in Week 8 that’s stands third in the league in sacks with 17.
Tags: Chan Gailey, pass rush
Posted in Inside the Bills
While Buffalo’s offensive line has been great out of the gate ranking first in the league in sacks allowed per play, Buffalo’s defense is at the opposite end of the spectrum ranking 32nd in sacks per play as they have two on the season. However, as Kyle Williams explains facing a pair of top flight running teams followed by a quick throwing Tom Brady getting pressure on the quarterback hasn’t been the focus.
“We want to hit the guy and we want to disrupt the guy more,” said Williams. “I think some of it is you have to look at what we are doing defensively and you have to look at what they’re doing offensively. I’m not making excuses or anything like that, but the guy we just played (Tom Brady) he gets rid of the ball. If you look at the game he’s hitting a lot of crossing routes and different things like that. So, it’s a little bit above but it’s something we want to get more out of as we have opportunities to do it. When guys get one-on-one you have to win. You have to get pressure, hit the quarterback and disrupt his lanes.”
Againsts New England Buffalo rushed just three and four a lot committing more players to coverage while the down linemen clogged passing lanes in an effort to deflect passes, which worked (See: Marcell Dareus tip).
Facing Cincinnati rookie QB Andy Dalton this week could present more opportunities.
“I think with something like that you have to be able to give him different looks,” said Williams. “Maybe get him confused a little bit not knowing what he’s seeing. Maybe he holds the ball a half second longer and that’s lot of pass rush you know it’s holding the ball a half second longer where hits turn into the sacks, non pressure turns into pressure. But with them they are going to hang their hat on running the football. And if we can’t stop the run we aren’t going to be able to give him different looks and get after him throwing the ball.”
Tags: Andy Dalton, Kyle Williams, pass rush, Tom Brady
Posted in Inside the Bills
As we explained in our pass rush story on the home page today, Buffalo’s veteran defensive linemen have been given the freedom to improvise with their pass rushes by the defensive coaching staff. Chris Kelsay explains how it happens.
“We’ve got total communication out there all the time. We have our calls coming in from the sideline with Paul (Posluszny) handling that in the headset, but we’ll set something up while they’re determining what we’re going to play,” said Kelsay. “If it’s a blitz, obviously we just take the stunt or whatever (tackle-end) game we just talked about off, otherwise we go with it.
“We’ve gotten to the point where certain down and distances combined with the knowledge of the opponent and where we are on the field we kind of know what to expect from Perry (Fewell) and what call he’s going to give us. If he has us going four man (rush) we’ve already discussed it, and if he wants us to blitz we just ‘ice’ the stunt and we run the blitz.
“We communicate better and play off of one another better and we’re having fun. Any time you do something as a team or as a group there’s just something special about that. Prior we were running stunts that were drawn up on the blackboard and most of the time you know who is going to make the play. But with this your buddy is helping you out and he’s just as much a part of making a play as you are and vice versa and it’s fun to play like that.”
Tags: Chris Kelsay, pass rush, Perry Fewell
Posted in Inside the Bills