Inside The Bills

Field position a major factor in loss

Posted by Chris Brown on October 18, 2015 – 8:18 pm

It didn’t take Rex Ryan long to get to it. It stuck out like a sore thumb. The difference in field position in the first half largely set the table for the Cincinnati Bengals offense and made it tough on Buffalo’s attack.

“Average starting point for their drive in the first half for the Bengals was the plus-47,” said Ryan. “You’re not going to win that way.”

Cincinnati’s first five possessions were their own 49, Buffalo 49, Buffalo 45, their own 45 and the Buffalo 36. The fact that the Bengals only had 17 points might’ve been more surprising than the difference in field position. Some of those drive starts were due to special teams penalties, which handed the Bengals, the number two offense in football, free yards, which they gladly accepted.

“There are still too many penalties and really just some dumb penalties,” said Ryan. “Still it seems like on special teams we can’t run a play on special teams without getting a penalty for some reason. We’ve got to take a hard look and get that area fixed.”

By game’s end Cincinnati’s average drive start was their own 41. For Buffalo it was their own 15. The deck looked stacked before either offense even snapped the ball.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Ryan seeing penalty improvement

Posted by Chris Brown on October 8, 2015 – 4:42 pm

This week in practice head coach Rex Ryan enacted a push-ups for penalties edict to help curb the rash of penalties the team has committed on Sundays. Buffalo leads the league with 47 assessed penalties in four games. When a flag is thrown by officials at practice everyone but the offending player has to get down and do 10 push-ups. On Wednesday there were a handful of instances. On Thursday things improved.

“We did better. We actually got better,” said Ryan after Thursday’s practice. “I think we only did 20 (push-ups), so that was an improvement. It’s just more the focus, and more the things that recognize and that…You know a penalty doesn’t help this team and so we gotta do whatever we can to fix that, and I believe we’re heading in that direction. I think we understand as a team now the severity of penalties.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills enact push-ups for penalties at practice

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2015 – 4:53 pm

The Bills said that their league-leading penalty count would be addressed by the players. On Wednesday the penalty for committing penalties was push-ups, but not by the person who commits the infraction.

With officials at every Bills practice, WR Percy Harvin explained the whole approach with the push-ups having done it last year with Ryan and the Jets when flags were thrown on the practice field.

“Basically, any time you get a foul, whether it’s jumping offsides or holding, anytime the ref throws a penalty out there, everybody has to drop down,” Harvin said. “Everybody who’s part of the organization has to drop down and do push-ups. But the person who committed the foul has to stand up and watch everybody around do push-ups.  So you can see how many people you’re letting down when you commit the silly penalties that we do.”

Harvin said the Jets had good success with the push-ups as the team’s penance for yellow flags at practice.

“It works. Hopefully we can get our penalties down so we’re not doing too many pushups at practice,” Harvin said. “The point is so the person can see how much the people he affects.”

When asked why he thinks it works, Harvin said it’s simple.

“You get tired of doing pushups. A couple of fouls a game, you’ll be doing fifty push-ups easy,” he said. “It’s definitely something you don’t want to be doing.  All jokes aside, it’s something we have to do because we’re killing our drives. It’s hard to get started when you’re ending every drive on three-and-out or committing penalties.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Painting a picture on 2015 penalties

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2015 – 4:40 pm

It’s been reported in quite a few places as to how high the penalty count has been across the league in the first month of the season.’s Gil Brandt put together some numbers to paint the picture a bit better for all of us.


Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex on discipline for emotional penalties

Posted by Chris Brown on October 5, 2015 – 5:59 pm

The Bills have a total of 14 penalties that fall under the category of personal foul, unsportsmanlike conduct, taunting, etc. It represents nearly 30 percent of the penalties assessed against Buffalo this season. For those players that continue to let their emotions get the best of them and draw infractions like this could face team discipline per head coach Rex Ryan.

Ryan was asked if he would consider benching players that can’t keep their emotions in check.

“Yes,” said Ryan. “Now will we bench him permanently and all that stuff. No, sometimes I think it is more appropriate to sit a guy down if the emotions are getting the better of him. You know, but you can’t have, you can’t let a situation and we did earlier in the year with Aaron [Williams], but when you think it is crossing the line or something like that you have got to get a guy back and let him focus on the job at hand. Our job is not to try to correct an issue that we see. We think and fix it ourselves we can’t do it. You have to line up the next play and do your job.”

When asked by the media specifically about Jerry Hughes four personal foul penalties on the season, Ryan acknowledged it has to be rectified.

“That is something that you know can’t happen,” Ryan said. “You can’t let a play for instances, and not just Jerry [Hughes] but anybody. Maybe there is a hypothetical you think you are getting held or tackled or something like that, and they don’t give you a flag. You can’t now step over the line and do something yourself. You know have justice, it doesn’t work in this league. You know vigilante, we don’t need that. And Jerry is a great football player, but if there is a negative about Jerry we have to get that curtailed. He doesn’t need to get a personal foul player, he is too good a player.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Offense & defense have split penalties equally

Posted by Chris Brown on October 4, 2015 – 11:24 pm

It’s been a flag heavy start to the season for the Bills after the first four games and the players know they have to be on their best behavior moving forward. They’ve pledged to eradicate the penalty problem. Here’s a breakdown of Buffalo 47 assessed penalties based on side of the ball, personal foul infractions and how many the Bills have had declined.

Total penalties  assessed – 47

Total penalty yardage – 428

Penalties on offense – 18 (3 personal fouls)

Penalties on defense – 18 (8 personal fouls)

Penalties on special teams – 10 (2 personal fouls)

Penalties on bench – 1 (1 personal foul)

Penalties declined – 9 (1 personal foul)

A total of 30 percent of Buffalo’s penalties have been personal fouls (14 of 47) so far this season.

And even though the offense and defense have 18 assessed penalties each, the defense has more than half of the team’s 15-yard infractions (8).

Posted in Inside the Bills

Penalties prevalent across NFL

Posted by Chris Brown on September 26, 2015 – 4:31 pm

Through the first two weeks of the NFL season there have been more penalties called than any other time in the history of the league. NFL columnist Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News shed some good light on the subject in a column this week. He reported that the 298 penalties last week alone were the largest total in 14 years. While there is an adjustment period for the players with the new points of emphasis being called more stringently by the officials, the flags have been flying more often than ever before. The Bills, who had 14 penalties for 140 yards last week, had some penalties that one could attribute to adjusting to the points of emphasis this season, which includes defensive holding.

“They have points of emphasis every week and you have to pay attention to it,” said defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman. “Whatever those points are you have to make sure you’re coaching your guys the proper way. Sports is played with your eyes and your feet. Your eyes show you where to go and your feet get you there. When you use your hands, you’re probably not going to be that effective.”

Buffalo also had a handful of 15-yard penalties that were a byproduct of an overemotional team. Rex Ryan has pledged to have one of the most disciplined teams moving forward and asserted that he’ll control his own language on the sidelines as part of that effort.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex: Better team discipline starts with me

Posted by Chris Brown on September 24, 2015 – 10:49 am

Two weeks into the regular season the Bills lead the league in penalties assessed with 25 after an eye opening 14 for 140 yards. Better team discipline is the obvious aim and head coach Rex Ryan put himself at the top of that list.

“I put it on myself first,” Ryan said. “I think I have to do a better job of staying in control too and this team’s very much like me. But I have to hold myself accountable just like I hold the team accountable and so it starts with me. I’m not going to be as animated or whatever if you will. I’ve got to control my language I think a little bit sometimes on the sideline. I think that’ll help, that’s going to be the first thing and then our team as well.

“We want to be the least penalized team in the league and that’s kind of a goal we’re shooting for moving forward. Probably dead last in the league right now but we want to be the least penalized team.”

Among the penalties called on the Bills last week was a bench penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Ryan said that penalty was on him for his foul language.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

What Rex would like to see less of vs. the Lions

Posted by Chris Brown on September 3, 2015 – 10:25 am

He’s mentioned it more than once this preseason as an area where he’d like to see more discipline. Head coach Rex Ryan is far from pleased with the team’s penalty total through the first three preseason games.

Buffalo’s 31 penalties in three games is tied for seventh-highest in the league this preseason among teams that have only played three preseason games. It reached its peak in the Cleveland game with 12, but the Bills were able to cut that in half against Pittsburgh last weekend. Still, averaging more than 10 a game is not even close to acceptable in Ryan’s eyes.

“I think we’ve had too many penalties, so those things have been killing us,” said Ryan. “We’ve got to do a better job of that. In particular the self-inflicted penalties. It’s tough enough in this league when you’re not hurting yourself. Non-aggressive penalties so we’ve got to learn from it. You’ve got to eliminate all communication errors and self-inflicted penalties. If we do that we’ll be good.”

Here’s a look at the most penalized teams thus far this preseason.

Baltimore – 43
Chicago – 41
New Orleans – 40
Pittsburgh – 37 (4 preseason games played)
Jacksonville, St. Louis – 36
NY Jets – 34
Miami – 33
Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia – 31
Minnesota – 31 (4 preseason games played)

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Penalties magnified with no turnovers

Posted by Chris Brown on September 22, 2014 – 2:45 pm

A team that has a high number of penalties in a game can sometimes get away with it if they win the turnover battle. On Sunday in what was a turnover free game between Buffalo and San Diego, the Bills’ 11 penalties were magnified.

The most costly infraction were the two defensive penalties in the red zone that gave the Chargers a fresh set of downs in first-and-goal situations. Defensive penalties gave San Diego five first downs in the game. Meanwhile on offense two of their longest plays from scrimmage were wiped out by penalty. C.J. Spiller’s 29-yard run and Robert Woods 21-yard catch were also taken away by penalties.

“Against a good team like that, a playoff team, a team that’s very experienced, you can’t have many mistakes, especially the penalties,” Spiller said. “You need every yard you can get. Just because of the way the game was going. Obviously, we see that they were trying to milk the clock and keep our offense off the field. Every chance we got we should have taken advantage of it because we didn’t get too many.  At the end of the day it is what it is.  We’ll correct those mistakes.  The only thing we can do is get better.”

After facing a team that made the playoffs last year Spiller believes the players on his team see the difference.

“We’re not where we want to be,” he said. “Penalties really killed us, that’s no excuse. Now we see where we need to be at to be a playoff contender.  I don’t think they made too many mistakes yesterday and that’s what playoff teams do.  You have to minimize those mistakes and the penalties.  We have to do that to take that leap.  But I think we’ll be fine.  There’s a lot of football left to be played.  It’s just one loss.  Obviously, it’s disappointing.  The only thing we can do is regroup and get ready for the Texans.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Jets handed Bills 1st downs

Posted by Chris Brown on September 23, 2013 – 1:33 am

The penalty tally by the Jets was the second-most ever against the Bills. They had an astounding 20 for 168 yards. While the total number came in second behind San Francisco. They committed 22 penalties against the Bills on Oct. 4th, 1998. What’s more interesting is how many of those penalties handed first downs to Buffalo.

While the Bills got four first downs rushing and six via the pass, the Jets handed them eight first downs off of penalty, giving Buffalo a fresh set of downs by penalty more than any other means of moving the sticks.


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Educating players is plan to fix penalties

Posted by Chris Brown on September 19, 2013 – 10:26 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone is not happy with the penalty count for his team, which has carried over from the preseason into the first two regular season games. He said the problems would be dealt with, but it doesn’t sound like negative reinforcement is part of his approach.

“I’ve found that you don’t really get a lot done when you talk about the peer pressure part of it,” said Marrone. “I’d rather be in the education part of it and how we’re going to get it better and working with those players to get those things corrected.

“We’re working on it. I think you see it’s a work in progress. Trying to prevent them and keep educating the players, working in practice that if we do have penalties that we’re working not to get them, whether it’s an offsides or just some mistakes with turnovers and dropped balls.”

Buffalo gave Carolina four first downs on penalties handing the Panthers what wound up being 16 extra plays on offense. Carolina ran 76 offensive plays in the game to Buffalo’s 73. Were it not for those penalties the Panthers would’ve had just 60 plays from scrimmage, and the Bills would have likely had more than their 73 as a result.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Penalties a killer

Posted by Chris Brown on November 11, 2012 – 7:31 pm

The Bills got off to an unfortunate start in the game and part of it was due to penalties. Buffalo finished with 14 for a stunning 148 yards, with is the second-most penalty yardage assessed against the Bills in a game in team history. It was the most penalties since the Bills were flagged 15 times on Oct. 1, 2006 against Minnesota.

“They killed us,” said C.J. Spiller. “3rd-and-20, 3rd-and-15, I mean the chances of completing that are very slim, to none. We inflicted ourselves with that stuff and it’s just something we’ve got to straighten up.  Somethings got to be done, because you’re not going to win too many third downs when you’re behind the chains like that. That was pretty much one of our biggest goals, to get better on third downs this week.”

But Buffalo was very good on third downs going 7-11 (64%). The main issue is how lopsided the calls were in the first half when the count was 10 for 119 yards for Buffalo and twpp for just 30 yards for the Patriots.

“The penalties were terrible,” said Eric Wood. “And we started off the game rough  up front. I think we got our feet set and we came back. Sometimes that’s just the way the game goes. I got a holding call that, I’ve probably had that block fifty times this year, where you accelerate your feet at the end with your hands inside.  That’s a not a hold in this league. Without watching it, I’m sure I tugged him a little bit, and Vince (Wilfork) probably flailed his arms, but early on, that just felt like that was how the game was going.”

“That’s just something you got to play through. It’s not really in our hands.  The refs make certain calls, and there’s nothing really you can do about it. We can’t complain. We’ve just got to play through it. For the most part we did a good job doing that, but we just didn’t come away with the victory.”    

The Patriots finished with seven penalties for 73 yards, still half of Buffalo’s final total.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-17

Posted by Chris Brown on August 17, 2012 – 12:01 pm

Preseason game number two this evening, and great news with Eric Wood and Erik Pears to play about 10 snaps tonight. Let’s get to your questions from and @ChrisBrownBills on twitter.

1 – I haven’t heard any updates on David Clowney and how he’s performed in camp. Is there a chance he doesn’t make the roster? His size and speed is intriguing, but it seems like he hasn’t been able to put it all together for whatever reason with his former teams. Do you think Buffalo has the system that could allow him to utilize his talents? Or do you think he was brought in as an extra body for camp, and that the coaching staff is hoping his game finally fully clicks?
keep up the good work,

CB: Clowney has made some plays here and there, but has run strictly with the second team offense. He’s found it difficult to crack the first team lineup. Right now he’s the seventh or eighth receiver in terms of the reps he’s seen in practice.

Yes, he does have intriguing speed, but he’s been outperformed by the other speed receiver on the roster in rookie T.J. Graham. He’s definitely on the bubble and will have to turn in some plays in the preseason games that remain to improve his chances.


2 – Hi Chris: 

I have heard it said that T.J. Graham is not a Roscoe Parish remake. But can you explain why he is not simply another Roscoe? 

Rick, Portville N.Y.

CB: He’s not a Roscoe clone because he’s a bit bigger in stature at 5’11” and 188 pounds. He’s that wiry kind of strong and he’s capable of lining up outside and make plays on the boundary. Parrish was strictly a slot receiver.

I’ve been impressed with how Graham has progressed and shown an ability to get off press coverage, something I was admittedly worried about going into training camp when the pads went on. But he’s fared well and made plays. Roscoe relied purely on his speed to create separation because he wasn’t strong enough to get off of the jam. I don’t believe that will be the case with Graham.

There’s more to his game than that.


3 – Hello Chris,

After the draft a lot of the draft analyst was talking about Tank Carder and what a deal he was.. but after the draft I have not heard anything about him what’s the deal with him and is he a good player?    

CB: Carder is currently running as the third-string middle linebacker in Buffalo’s defense. Head coach Chan Gailey characterized his training camp as ‘Okay.’ Gailey said where Carder has to improve is with mental errors. He’s not alone in the linebacking corps as there are a lot of young players at that position that are still trying to master the defense.
Coverage assignments seem to be the biggest hurdle for a lot of the young LBs.


4 – Hey Chris,

One thing that we have been getting better at and need improvement still is the frequency of penalties in critical downs. Do the coaches work on this, and is there more emphasis on this during training camp? I know the offensive line was pretty good last year at staying put until the ball was snapped and some of the offenders for holding are no longer with the team. Can you elaborate on this and the last few years stats on our improvement. What do we expect out of our rookies coming out of a college to a Pro regime?

Thanks again for your tight coverage of our Bills!
Best Regards,
Jim In Tennessee

CB: The Bills were 5th best in the league last season for penalties assessed (fewest). Under Chan Gailey the team has been pretty good in this area. That’s due in part to the fact that Coach Gailey detests unforced errors like false starts. There were a few too many in the first preseason game, but I would expect it to get cleaned up by the time the regular season rolls around.


5 – Chris,

What can you tell us about Scott McKillop?  We know that he played under Dave Wannstedt at Pitt where he was an All-American and selected as Big East Defensive Player of the Year.  After being selected in the 5th round, of the 2009 draft, by the 49’ers he appears to have had some success at Middle Linebacker while backing up TKO and Patrick Willis before being injured and then released.  Is he likely to make the final roster behind Shep?

Go Bills!
Ed Nicholson
Season Ticketholder 

CB: I can tell you he’s a very instinctive linebacker that has a strong knowledge of the game. He had an impressive first preseason game against Washington and was the team’s leading tackler. Even Coach Gailey said he’s making a strong run at making the squad. I feel the same way. I believe he’ll be the team’s backup MLB and a feature special teams player this season as long as he stays healthy.

Our own John Murphy did a Bills Focus story on McKillop this past week.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-11

Posted by Chris Brown on November 11, 2011 – 1:32 pm

First, a salute to all our veterans on this Fan Friday. Thanks for your service. It does not go unappreciated. Now on to your questions from

1 – Why are the Bills not throwing the ball down field? They would open up the run game with some long pass plays. Even when they have a 3rd and 5+ they are throwing 2 or 3 yard passes. Teams will be looking at this and reacting if the Bills don’t strech the field.

B. Gately

CB: While I don’t deny that the Bills do have a lot of faith in their receivers to get yards after the catch, you also have to remember what this offense is designed to do. It’s an anticipation offense built on timing to neutralize an opponent’s pass rush. I’ll let Chan Gailey explain in his own words.

“Really that’s our offense, getting the ball out. It doesn’t matter who we play we’re trying to get the ball out. If the team had three sacks on the season we still are going to run our offense. We understand problems and issues, but we’re trying to get the ball in somebody’s hands to make the play.”

Now that doesn’t mean the Bills won’t go deep. Heck they went deep on Darrelle Revis for the longest pass play of the season against the Jets Pro Bowl corner to Stevie (52 yards). But if you’re expecting the Bills to air it out 10 times a game it’s not happening. A half dozen maybe, but not more than that.

2 – Hey Chris,

Through all of the early success for the Bills this season, one of the factors that seems to be flying under the radar is the lack of penalties. I’ve followed their games closely and, compared to recent years, this team seems to attract less penalties. If so, I’m sure it’s attributed mostly to coaching – but is there some other factor that goes into it? Perhaps a mental focus that wasn’t there in previous years amongst the players or maybe they’re just becoming more solid in their fundamentals? Just curious. Go Bills!

Mark V.
Lancaster, OH

CB: Buffalo has 44 penalties at the midseason mark so they’re averaging about 5.5 penalties a game, which is good. Chan Gailey detests unforced errors, so it is a big focus in the practice setting with the players. I think with most of the players being in the second year of the offensive and defensive schemes helps as well. They’re less worried about their execution so they’re more focused on snap counts and such.

3 – Hi Chris,

Thanks so much for your excellent coverage on the Bills.  I really appreciate it no longer living in the Buffalo area (now living in Brooklyn, NY) and it’s my primary source for all things Buffalo Bills.  
In lieu of what the Jets did to us and a few other teams these past two seasons, why don’t the Buffalo Bills try moving back to a 4-3 as their primary base defense?  I think the combination of Kyle Wiliams and Marcell Dareus on the inside (with troup and heard as rotational players) and Chris Kelsay and Alex Carrington (with Dwayne Edwards and Spencer Johnson as rotational players) at defensive end would help us stop the run.  We woud then be able to play Barnett at ILB, with Sheppard and Moats/Batten at OLB.  
Do you foresee us making this change anytime in the future?  Have the coaches entertained this idea in an attempt to stiffen up our front 7?
Brooklyn, NY
CB: I’d be surprised if it happens in light of the time and investment into the current system. Chan did say the Jets were the more physical team and it would be hard to disagree, but that doesn’t mean the Bills aren’t capable of playing that way. I think the pieces that are needed have less to do with the three down linemen. They have enough size, girth and talent up there, though losing Kyle Williams hurts. Losing Merriman for the year and Kelsay for stretches also has compromised the scheme.
The run ‘D’ is improved from last year, but it needs to take another step. With improved depth and another draft class, I think they can make the 3-4 work.
4 – Hi Chris,
Do you know if the team has even considered giving Mike Jasper a shot on the D-line, especially with Kyle going down?
JerryCB: Jasper has been switched to the offensive line since he was added to the practice squad and there’s no need to switch him to defensive line. Buffalo has some depth at nose tackle with Torell Troup and Kellen Heard both capable players in addition to having Marcell Dareus, who can also play the nose. Add in the fact that the Bills have a pair of defensive tackles on their practice squad in Jay Ross and Lionel Dotson and they have options should they get shorthanded due to injury.

5 – Hey Chris,

With the signing of FITZ where exactly are the Bills in terms of the salary cap?  Also, after the Bills re-sign and extend Stevie and Freddy how many of the other Bills free agents do you see us also keeping?  Bell, Pears, Chandler, Parrish, Lindell, and Urbik (restricted) are among the biggest names.  Do Bell’s and Parrish’s injury problems make them expendable? 

Grosse Ile, Mi

CB: If you wanted me to guess which players would be re-signed first I would lean toward Erik Pears and Rian Lindell. I’m not sure if Lindell’s injury complicates things, but those contracts would presumably be easier to complete than those of Jackson and Johnson. I don’t see Jackson getting done until the offseason knowing he still has another year left on his current deal. Johnson is probably going to have to wait until the offseason as well. I heard they spoke at the beginning of the year, but were far apart and haven’t spoken since. So regrouping at the end of the year seems more likely. Bell is a tough call. I think the staff and organization really likes Hairston and wouldn’t be surprised if they choose to tab him as the new left tackle as early as next season, which could leave Bell looking for other options, but that’s just a guess on my part at this point.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills among least penalized

Posted by Chris Brown on November 20, 2010 – 8:15 am

The Bills have really made strides in certain areas of their game this season. They’re tops in the league in red zone touchdown percentage, Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the AFC in third down passing efficiency and as a team they’ve committed the third fewest penalties in the league through nine games.

Head coach Chan Gailey made it clear as soon as he arrived that he detests penalties, particularly the pre-snap penalties. His unit has shown improved discipline as the season has worn on. Now after nine games only Atlanta (35) and Miami (36 – prior to Thursday night’s game) had fewer penalties than the Bills (42).

Buffalo is averaging fewer than five penalties a game (4.66).

“I feel like they’re an intelligent bunch,” Gailey told “They understand we can’t make crucial penalties. We had a little bit of a problem early in the year defensively and we’ve been able to squelch that. Offensively we’re pretty simple. We’re not very exotic so we don’t leave room for very many penalties. We get a holding call every now and then, but we try to avoid pre-snap penalties. I hate pre-snap penalties.”

We’ll see if the Bills can maintain their level of success in not committing errors with four of their last seven games on the road.

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Posted in Inside the Bills