Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 7-3

Posted by Chris Brown on July 3, 2015 – 12:04 pm

Happy 4th of July weekend everybody. Get your grill on! Here’s your latest round of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Any realistic chance that Buff can strike a deal for K. Cousins? I think he still has upside even though his value dropped.

killerbeekevin

CB: I’m not anticipating any moves at quarterback at this point. The Bills seem content to go into camp with the three quarterbacks they have battling for the job. Now if some QB of greater caliber than Cousins was available they’d get on the phone, but I don’t see the Bills giving something up for Cousins to add him to the fold.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Is Tyrod Taylor the next Bills QB?

Sportsworld716

CB: I think that’s a question that even the Bills coaches can’t answer at this point. Taylor clearly has the strongest arm of the three QBs in the competition. He’s got a pretty good head on his shoulders when it comes to processing information and reading things pre-snap. And we all know about his foot speed.

I think if he wants to be the Bills starting QB his ball location and overall accuracy will have to take a noticeable step forward. That’s not to say that Taylor hasn’t been accurate at times. I just think to separate himself from the other two it has to be more consistent than it was in the spring practices.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Since Greg Roman uses the Tight End so much.. Is there any chance that we carry 4?

CoreyCraig_

CB: I think there’s a very good chance the team carries four tight ends. There are just too many multiple tight end sets in Greg Roman’s offense to think they can get through a season with just three, even with a fullback expected to be on the roster as well.

 

4 – Hi Chris thanks for keeping us out of Staters informed.

My question is assuming our offense performs well and we make the playoffs, won’t we end up losing Greg Roman?

Then we go through establishing a new offense all over again. Is there an assistant who is an apprentice to him we can retain so we can keep some continuity, instead of constantly changing “the system”. That seems to be our biggest problem, we are constantly on a learning curve.

Thanks
Ron from North Carolina

CB:
Your point is a very valid one. The Bills have had extraordinary turnover at the coordinator position on offense. There’s little question that if the Bills reach the postseason for the first time in 15 years that Greg Roman will be a hot name when the head coaching vacancies open up next offseason.

I think the Bills are more focused on winning first. Then if they do, they’ll deal with the problems that come with winning later. I don’t think there’s a true apprentice on the roster now who is learning at the elbow of Roman.

They have a veteran offensive assistant in Chris Palmer and QBs coach David Lee has run offenses himself as well, but neither had a prior working history with Roman.

Roman is a valuable play caller and perhaps one of the best offensive coordinators they’ve had since Ted Marchibroda, but I get the sense that it’s a ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it’ approach.

 

5 – Hey Chris,
Thanks for everything Bills related.

From what I’ve read it seems as if Cassel has struggled to this point and EJ has actually taken a step in the right direction. It seems as if the coaching staff loves Taylor so my question is, do you think that if Cassel continues to struggle and is truly out played he could be cut?
Thanks again
Frank

CB: I think the quarterback competition is just getting started and there’s a long way to go before any roster decisions are made. That being said I’m pretty confident that with as loaded as this roster is spots on the 53-man squad are going to be at a premium. So keeping three QBs on the roster is probably far from a lock. More and more teams are only carrying two QBs, so if that proves to be the case one of the three competing for the starting role will be the odd man out. But to say it’ll likely be Cassel is very premature.


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Kelly on Bills QB situation

Posted by Chris Brown on June 18, 2015 – 1:22 pm

Bills HOF QB Jim Kelly made an appearance on the NFL Network this week and was naturally asked about Buffalo’s quarterback situation with the three man competition. Kelly is hopeful that one of the three separates himself from the other two to be a clear cut starter.

And Kelly doesn’t believe the starter has to be a Pro Bowl caliber player.

“There are a lot of quarterbacks that have won Super Bowls that are not in the Hall of Fame, that only had a few Pro Bowls,” Kelly said. “But it’s the whole team…But you need a guy there that maybe wins one or two games. He doesn’t have to be the superstar on the team but he has to manage it; make sure he doesn’t make those crucial mistakes at crucial times in the game.”

When asked why he thought it’s been so tough for the Bills to find a franchise quarterback, Kelly cited the talent around the signal caller.

“A lot of it has to do with people around him,” Kelly said. “Even though they’ve had some talent, it’s the system sometimes. Right now we have to look towards what is here and now. With the offensive coordinator we have now that came from the San Francisco 49ers [Greg Roman], I think that might be a system that EJ [Manuel] can thrive on. He’s got the Kaepernick-type of skills. You have Matt Cassel who is coming in who has won and shown people he can play. I don’t know. I just pray every night that guy comes in sooner than later. I’m tired of not having a team come to Buffalo in January. That’s when the playoffs start.”


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McCoy has seen rotation at QB before

Posted by Chris Brown on June 17, 2015 – 3:42 pm

With a healthy dose of new faces on the offensive side of the ball for the Bills this season there are some outside observers who believe it’s imperative that a starting quarterback be named to allow all the new players to get acclimated to one signal caller. As far as LeSean McCoy is concerned it’s not as big an issue as some might make it out to be.

McCoy, who saw a healthy amount of quarterback changes during his time Philadelphia, says the key difference here is the rest of the offense is being exposed to all three QBs who are part of the competition for the starting job.

“I’m used to it,” said McCoy. “In Philadelphia, we had a lot of different quarterbacks coming in and going out. I’m kind of used to that. The biggest thing here is, all the quarterbacks are getting reps with the first team. It’s not like I’m not getting reps with none of the quarterbacks. They’re all rotating out with the ones—each day they have their day with the ones. They get a lot of work with the first team.”

 


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QBs not surprised competition is tight

Posted by Chris Brown on June 16, 2015 – 5:54 pm

All three of Buffalo’s quarterbacks in the competition for the starting job had their moments on Tuesday, but head coach Rex Ryan said he’s not expecting true separation until training camp.

“There’s not going to be any separation until the pads come on,” said Ryan. “It’s not going to be won until we get to playing real football. I think the number one thing is to pick the right guy. Is time on our side a little bit? Yes it is. In an ideal world, would you rather have your quarterback named by now? Yeah. That’s an ideal situation. But you know what — we’re not there.  We’re in an ideal situation to have competition at that spot and I welcome it.”

Ryan’s comments that the competition figures to stretch well into training camp is anything but surprising to Buffalo’s signal callers. They figured the offensive staff would wait until real football when more realistic decision making becomes part of the competition.

“I figured that’s what it kind of would be anyway just by the way we’ve been rotating in OTAs and in minicamp,” said EJ Manuel. “It is what it is. I think the way you have to go into this thing is do your best with the reps that you get and at the end of the day they’ll make the decision that’s best for the team.”

When asked if he felt the competition was close Manuel simply sees all three QBs in the competition faring well.

“I think we’re all doing a good job,” he said. “Everybody is being very sharp and picking up the offense like coach Roman wants us to do pretty quickly. When you’re playing against good competition in the league that’s how it is so it’s the little small things that will separate all of us.”


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What Rex has learned about QB competitions

Posted by Chris Brown on June 11, 2015 – 12:38 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan may have cut his teeth in the league on the defensive side of the ball, but he’s had more than enough experience dealing with big offensive decisions like who his starting quarterback will be. Having been through quarterback competitions before he knows how to handle his three-man competition with the Bills heading into mandatory minicamp.

Chief in the approach of weighing each of the quarterbacks against the other is not setting a drop dead date to make a decision.

“I don’t think you want to back yourself into it,” said Ryan. “If I give you a date and it comes back around to Week 2 and there’s no starting quarterback, I think I’ve learned you let that thing sit there. I think the appropriate time will be obvious to all of us if that happens.  It may not happen until the week of the Colts game, so we’ll see.”

We assessed the state of the Bills’ quarterback competition in our OTA Observations Wednesday.


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Fan Friday 6-5

Posted by Chris Brown on June 5, 2015 – 11:45 am

Another week of OTA practices in the books. Let’s get to your latest round of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you think we are getting these (young offensive tackles) ready to step up in case we don’t re-sign Glenn? Some big money contracts are coming.

JameShoup

CB: You’re right there are some big money contracts on the horizon (Dareus, Gilmore, Glenn, Bradham). They can wait a little on Gilmore after picking up his fifth-year option, but the others will need to be addressed.

Knowing the lack of offensive tackle depth on this roster however, I think re-signing Glenn is a must. The only other true tackles on the roster are Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio and undrafted rookie Tyson Chandler.

Yes, they want to get Henderson and Kouandjio as much experience as possible, but Glenn is a cornerstone player. So provided they can make things work under the cap he is an important piece to Buffalo’s offensive puzzle.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

What can fans expect with this new offense and all these weapons?

golden1ne

CB: In a word, variety. Greg Roman is going to take advantage of all the weapons on offense with a system based on multiplicity. Multiple formations, pre-snap shifts and motions as well as multiple personnel groupings. I believe LeSean McCoy will still be the engine of Buffalo’s offense this season, but there is talent that can also take the cover off a defense. Roman won’t ignore those options.

The only unknown and hope is that one of these quarterbacks steps up and separates himself from the other two and becomes a reliable trigger man for the passing game.


3 –
@ChrisBrownBills

Hey Chris, Rex seems to be building an AFC version of the Seahawks. Duke Williams is a hard hitting safety, has he looked good?

BlackArtVision

CB: Duke has held his own during these OTA sessions, but the physical part of his game is obviously not on display in this kind of setting. I think what Williams has to prove to the coaches if he wants to win the vacant strong safety job is that he can direct traffic with the back seven on defense pre-snap.

The defensive coaches need to have confidence that he can make the right pre-snap calls and dole out checks and adjustments correctly and quickly.

 

4 – Hello Chris,
I know that the team used iPad play books last year.
Was that trial considered a good addition and will the team continue using them?

Thanks for the great work you continue to do with Murph.  I appreciate the closeness to the team that you provide.

GO BILLS!
Pete Tokarczyk
“Born and raised in Buffalo but now living on a mountainside in Kentucky”,

CB: Yes, the I-Pads are back this year. In fact the use of digital devices has become pretty commonplace with NFL clubs the last couple of seasons. The main advantage is coaches are able to update film reviews of practice, the practice schedule and game plans all by uploading revised material that the players can access from their devices.

Players also have access to as much film as they want to review on their own time from the team’s video library.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

I am really excited about the team this year with the off-season moves so far. Like many people though, my concern is at the QB position. The coaches have stated that it will be an open competition. The way it looks, unless E.J. Manuel shows major improvement, Matt Cassel will probably start. While I think Matt has the ability to win now and lead us to the playoffs with the talent around him, I don’t think he is the long term answer the Bills need. So my question is, how truly open will the competition be?

P.S. Thank you for all your efforts to bring us a look inside the Buffalo Bills.

Paul M.
Rochester, NY

CB: Rex Ryan has maintained that the competition will provide equal opportunities for the top three QBs and to this point it’s looked that way in OTA practices. Running two offensive units simultaneously has made it possible.

And I don’t think that approach will change until either one quarterback begins to separate himself from the other two or one quarterback falters and can compete with the others. So the first step very well could be the three-man competition shrinking to a two-man race.

It will obviously be the most closely watch element of training camp this summer.


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Whaley comments on EJ, Cassel

Posted by Chris Brown on May 23, 2015 – 8:32 am

Bills GM Doug Whaley made an appearance on the Jim Rome Show this week and naturally was asked about the quarterback competition, which will ramp up again when OTAs start on Tuesday.

First, Whaley was asked about the speculative story that Manuel was potentially on the outs with the club this season absent improvement or if he’s unable to win the starting job. Much like offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Whaley dismissed that notion.

“I look at it this way, in this business controversy sells,” Whaley said. “The more controversy that you can drum up then the more interesting people are going to be with whoever brought this idea to the lexicon of thinking. So for us we’re excited about the future of all three of those guys. It’s going to be a great competition. And we can keep three quarterbacks. So I dismiss that as just someone trying to get something stirred during this down time and lack of media stories for the NFL.”

As for his expectations for Manuel heading into the throes of the competition as more of the work moves to the field this spring, Whaley is only anticipating Manuel’s best.

“I look for him to come in and compete and try to take the job,” he said. “Everybody has got an equal footing. It’s a clean slate for all four of our quarterbacks. We’re not tied to anybody. We just want the best man to start. It’s exciting for us.”

Whaley also had good things to say about how Cassel has transitioned to Buffalo following the offseason trade from Minnesota.

“He’s been exactly what we expected,” said Whaley of Cassel. “A veteran force who can galvanize the team and he can teach the young guys the intricate things that quarterbacks do that doesn’t take place on the field. Bringing receivers in and talking about preferences and what he’s seeing. Basically a lot of the things that people on the outside don’t see. He’s done that and he’s not afraid of the challenge. He’s ready to compete.”

Whaley also confirmed that the quarterback competition is more than just a two horse race between Manuel and veteran Matt Cassel, mentioning both Tyrod Taylor and Jeff Tuel. Head coach Rex Ryan has made sure to mention Taylor when asked about the competition as well.

“The way they’re structuring practices everyone is getting a run with the ones,” said Whaley. “So it’s a fair shake. In this system that we’re trying to figure out who is going to be the number one it’s all about competition. That’s why everybody involved is excited about it.”


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Jim Kelly talks Bills QBs

Posted by Chris Brown on May 18, 2015 – 9:38 pm

In an appearance on NFL Network Bills Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly was asked about EJ Manuel’s future and the quarterback situation heading into OTAs. 

When asked specifically about Manuel’s future he’s optimistic for Manuel, but knows it’s put up time

“I think that with the new offensive system Greg Roman brings from San Francisco, I think it might be something that EJ needs,” said Kelly. “He’s a good kid. I’ve heard him talk to the players, I’ve heard what type of leader he is. He has it all. But he knows he has to get it done on the field. 


“Now he has competition with Matt Cassel coming in who has a very, very strong arm. It’s a new system for both of them, it’s a learning experience for both of them. We’ll see what happens. But that is one key position. I don’t care if you’re Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, whoever it may be, if you don’t have a guy under center that can get the job done week in and week out, you’re not going anywhere. So I wish one of those two step up and rise and be the quarterback we need them to be.”


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Gruden on Bills QB competition

Posted by Chris Brown on April 22, 2015 – 10:28 am

ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden weighed in on the impending Bills quarterback competition that will ensue next week during the team’s voluntary veteran minicamp.

On a national conference call this week, Gruden believes EJ Manuel could be aided by the addition of offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

“They’ve signed some quarterbacks. They’re going to have a three or four-man battle for the position,” Gruden said. “EJ Manuel is still a young player. I think the offensive coordinator coming over from San Francisco (Greg Roman) has dealt with a mobile quarterback in Colin Kaepernick so maybe that will stimulate and help EJ.”

Gruden is also a big fan of Ryan as an NFL head coach.

“I’ve always liked Rex Ryan,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time over the years with the Jets coaching staff (when he was there) studying football. I really like his system. Getting Rex Ryan will be exciting for Bills fans and I think players will respond to him.”


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Roman: All 4 QBs to get starter reps

Posted by Chris Brown on April 13, 2015 – 4:37 pm

In the early stages of what both Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have called an open quarterback competition it sounds like the four QBs on the roster will rotate through with the first unit.

“I think all four are doing a very nice job in our meetings and in communicating, as we are in a teaching phase,” said Roman on Monday. “They’re all going to have ample opportunity to get out there and practice.

“Everyone will have a chance to work with the first team and everybody’s going to have ample opportunity to put their best foot forward. When we start evaluating then we’ll start to play around with things a little bit, who’s with the first team the one day, and the next day, and so forth.  We’ll have a good feel for it as we go.”

 


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QB Cassel on the new parts blending

Posted by Chris Brown on April 8, 2015 – 3:56 pm

Bills QB Matt Cassel was one of the many veteran players participating in the voluntary offseason conditioning program this week. He’s also one of the many new parts on the offensive side of the ball. Having been a new face in a new place before Cassel outlined how he expects the chemistry to develop with the new players on his side of the ball.

“I think you start to build a foundation,” he said. “You build that rapport, you build those relationships and you start to understand what guys do well and what I do well.  As you get closer to the season you start to refine that and get better as you go.  But I think you take huge steps and make huge strides in OTAs and minicamps of doing that.”

Cassel is seen as one of the top two competitors for the starting quarterback job with EJ Manuel.

 


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TE Clay weighs in on Bills QB situation

Posted by Chris Brown on March 23, 2015 – 4:44 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan said he would hold an open quarterback competition for the starting role for his offense. So what does new tight end Charles Clay think of what he and his other offensive teammates have to work with at QB?

In an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio Monday, Clay when asked about Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel specifically, laid out his thoughts on Buffalo’s roster of quarterbacks.

“I think those are two qualified guys. EJ being a young guy and bringing in Matt Cassel, who has been around the league and knows the ropes and can kind of guide him,” Clay said. “It’s always good to have that competition to have someone push you. And not even just those two, they signed Tyrod Taylor and brought him in to throw him in there. You’ve got guys who can add a completely different dimension to your offense. Guys who can move around, and having that veteran leadership in Cassel, a guy who has done it and a guy who smart, knows defenses and knows how to read coverages to kind of bring those guys along while also pushing them, it’s good. It’ll be good to get up there and work with those guys and pick their brains. I can’t wait.”


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Fan Friday 8-23

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2013 – 11:48 am

Camp is over and the third preseason game, the most important for the starters is the next on the docket. Now to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris —

Thanks for keeping us updated daily with what we hope is a little bit of inside information.  I have a question about the management structure in the front office.  Over the past three years Buddy Nix made no bones about the fact he did not negotiate contracts — that was the exclusive bailiwick of Jim Overdorf, who presumably got his marching orders from Mr. Wilson.

With Russ Brandon taking over as President and Doug Whaley assuming GM duties, is this still the mode of operation?  Does Doug as GM have any authority to say “I want this guy” to get a deal done, or is he beholden to the number Overdorf (who reports to Brandon) says is the Bills’ top dollar?  Does Overdorf have any obligation to take the sides’ respective “final positions” to (preferably) Whaley or (probably) Brandon for a final decision?

Personally, I like the stance Buffalo took with respect to the Byrd situation, but I’m curious as to who has the final say in contract negotiations.

Appreciate any insight you can provide.
Thanks again and Go Bills!

Eric Haase
Season Ticket Holder since 1990

CB: As Doug Whaley outlined the other day in a radio interview Jim Overdorf, the Senior VP of Football Administration takes the lead on contract negotiations. He keeps Whaley and Russ Brandon in the loop on developments and consults with them on the state or direction of negotiations.

I don’t know this for sure and Whaley did not spell it out, but I think going into the negotiation all parties involved in the Bills front office know where the line is on a specific contract, so I don’t believe the checking back with decision makers needs to happen. I think the line is drawn in the sand with respect to their budget beforehand.

2 – What’s up Chris

I have a question about the usage of E.J Manuel in year 1. If he doesn’t win the job out right do you think that Nate Hackett will install a package for him so he can get some game experience and slowly work him into the starting role. Or do you see him doing more of the holding the clip board work.

Brian in South Carolina

CB: I think this QB competition is an all or nothing thing. You’re either the starter or you’re not. So if Kolb moves forward as the starter whether by earning it or due to Manuel’s injury, I’m not sure they switch things for a series or two just to get EJ some exposure.

 

3 – Chris, camp is coming up, very quick. I am very excited!

I noticed a parallel between the way Zimmer in Cincinnati uses hybrid linebackers (Maualuga), the way Pettine is starting to with us. I believe the two systems will have a lot of similarities in disguising looks, etc. Do you see the same and also, think that is becoming a trend in 3-4 schemes? What is your opinion of hybrids or twiners, in general?

Thank you for your excellent coverage over the years. The fans appreciate it.
Nick

CB: The similiarities are not by accident. Marvin Lewis and Pettine were both schooled under aggressive 3-4 defensive principles. Lewis in Pittsburgh under Bill Cowher and Pettine in Baltimore under Rex Ryan. Zimmer first learned the 3-4 defense under Bill Parcells. Both have morphed into hybrid-front schemes. Disguising looks is more effective when you have hybrid players because the opposing offense cannot identify whether a certain player is a linebacker or a safety (e.g. Bryan Scott), or a DE or an OLB (e.g. Jerry Hughes). As Pettine has said himself, versatility is the strength of his defense. I would imagine Mike Zimmer feels the same.

 

4 – Hi Chris. Thanks for all the information you provide for Bills fans that live outside Western NY. I have always enjoyed reading all your posts. My question is:

With the Bills analytics dept using GPS to better monitor performances during practice, how will they measure these same variables when it comes to full contact games? Are the players allowed to wear these devices during games, or will they only be used during practice? As the season progresses I would imagine that analyzing data from each game from each player might help training staff find potential for injuries and keep them out a couple days of Practice that next week to give them time to recover before they go out and hurt themselves in a practice or other setting.  Thanks again for all the info you provide.

Larry in Tucson

CB: Unfortunately as it’s been explained to me the NFL prohibits GPS tracking devices to monitor performance in games. You’re right they would certainly help in matching the data to the results, or determine based on player load whether resting them is warranted. We already saw an example of that in training camp when Kiko Alonso was held out of the Minnesota game and a couple of practices because his player load was through the roof.

5 – Hey Chris,
Appreciate all the work you do and insight you provide. I remember Stevie saying at one point that under Chan Gailey the receivers were able to have some freedom with running their routes just as long as they got to their spot at the right time. I was curious if Doug Marrone will still allow Stevie to run his routes as he has been.  I feel like Stevie has a unique skill set with the way he gets open and shakes defenders. I see the other receivers gearing towards running more quick crisp routes which matches their skills. I’m hoping the staff does recognize Stevie’s abilities and can get creative with him. I was curious of your thoughts or if you had any insight regarding Stevie and how he fits in their offensive plans. I’m really looking forward to his season. It’s about time he gains some respect around the league. One last thing do you know if the Bills are sticking with the blue away pants this year?

Thanks for your time, Jillian CT

CB: Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett shed a little light on this subject. He and receivers coach Ike Hilliard have reined Johnson in a bit in some areas with his improvisational route running. Hackett emphasized the timing of the quarterback’s footwork with the precision of the route as the reason why.

Johnson will still have opportunities to go with the ‘herky jerk’ as he calls it, he just won’t make use of it as often.


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Marrone: Kolb’s 1st game like EJ’s first

Posted by Chris Brown on August 17, 2013 – 12:30 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone when asked if Kevin Kolb got off to a slow start Friday night against the Vikings likened how Kolb’s evening played out to that of EJ Manuel’s NFL debut last Sunday.

“I think he probably got off to the same start as EJ got in to last game,” said Marrone. “I think the goal for that and I think it’s tough when you come in to those games and you’re first time you come in to it you want to get in that rhythm. If you don’t, once you get in to it you have to find a way to get the quarterback in to it. We did later on and he was able to move us down the field.”

Kolb did finish the night completing 10 of his final 13 passes on the two field goal drives to end the half.

Friday night was Kolb’s first live game action since Week 6 last season when the Bills knocked him out of their game against Arizona, which Buffalo won in overtime on October 14th.

“It was good to get back in the groove, forget the competition; it was good to get back in the groove for myself,” Kolb said. “Again, you guys know when you all knocked me out last year and it’s been a long time to now. It was just nice to get back out there and feel the sweat a little bit. Get padded up and start working. I’m just a little bit unhappy that it took so long.”


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Bills GM weighs in on QB competition

Posted by Chris Brown on July 28, 2013 – 2:30 pm

While Doug Marrone has made it clear that the quarterback competition will be a fair one when it comes to dividing reps in camp practices, GM Doug Whaley was asked about the potential of EJ Manuel as a franchise caliber quarterback.

“Well, I tell everybody teams that consistently compete have a franchise quarterback and we think EJ can be that franchise quarterback and we’re excited,” said Whaley. “We’re excited to see him grow and we’re excited to see him compete with Kevin Kolb and the best man win.”

The message from Marrone concerning how he’ll make his choice is he will go with the quarterback that proves he’s the best answer to helping the team win games right now.


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Fan Friday 7-19

Posted by Chris Brown on July 19, 2013 – 11:55 am

Alright Bills fans we’re down to the final week before training camp. Players are expected to report next Friday afternoon. Your wait is almost over. Remember during training camp to keep those questions coming at AskChris@bills.nfl.net on email and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

I like the idea of an “up tempo” offense. It will be exciting to see more plays by the Bills in less time. Hopefully, it will keep opponents guessing and on their heels and wear down the defense. Just wondering……besides having the players to run this, won’t the Bills need to have better stamina than their opponent on both sides of the ball? Better Strength and Conditioning than opponent?

Brian Butch Williamson · Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania

CB: You’re right their conditioning will have to be superior and that’s why the offseason program changed noticeably in terms of the training. Practice tempo is also significantly accelerated to what it used to be under the previous regime. The coaching staff knows to run an offense that way they need to have players properly conditioned for it. They’ll be ready.

2 – Chris,

I’m concerned that the up tempo offense planned this season could also backfire.  Too many 3 and outs, puts a lot of pressure on our D.

Mark Francese · Canandaigua

CB: I actually had the same concern until I looked at what Hackett did at Syracuse. No huddle or up tempo offenses that fall victim to going three and out too often are typically going pass, pass, pass and then they’re off the field. Hackett doesn’t take that approach. He tries to strike a 50-50 run-pass balance.

As an example, last season at Syracuse in their up tempo offense, the Orange averaged 41.5 run plays per game and 37.5 pass plays per game. Hackett ran the ball 52.5% of the time. Syracuse converted almost 50% of their third downs (49.3%). Granted the college game isn’t as competitive, but that conversion percentage would’ve led the NFL last season. New England was the best third down conversion team in the league in 2012 with a success rate of 48.7%.

 

3 – Chris,

Thanks for the continued great work.  As a west coast Bills fan, your work helps us stay connected to the team and community.

I had a comment on the QB situation, and the Tarvaris Jackson move.  I think you addressed a related question last week about Jeff Tuel last week.  A fan said, “He hasn’t been mentioned in press conferences…

I beg to differ.  In almost all the national interviews I’ve seen or heard with Doug Whaley or Doug Marrone, it almost seems like they go out of their way to mention Tuel.  Interviewers mentioned the competition at QB, and would reference Kolb, Manuel and Jackson (before he was cut), and BOTH Marrone and Whaley would actually go out of their way to throw Tuel in the QB competition mix.  This happened repeatedly in national interviews.  Locally, perhaps it’s not something anyone wishes to discuss, with the focus being so much on Manuel.  But I noticed this effort to reference Tuel a few weeks ago, and commented on it among fellow Bills fans.  I even speculated that Tuel was a potential dark horse.  So when Jackson was cut, my “take” was that it had less to do with Manuel, and perhaps more to do with Tuel.  And his performance, however limited, was sufficient to make them comfortable enough to go with just one veteran into training camp.

I’m not suggesting Tuel will necessarily win the job.  Given the investment in Manuel, the Bills’ brass will obviously do all it can to allow E.J. to win the job.  But I think the job is probably Kolb’s to lose, and my opinion is that cutting Jackson wasn’t so much about Manuel, but more about Tuel.  His physical skills, while not freakish like Manuel, are certainly sufficient and even elite in some areas.  Do you see any scenario, however remote, that Tuel could actually win the starting job?  Or maybe even win the backup job over Manuel (or perhaps if Manuel wins the starting job, the Bills cut Kolb).  I know it seems ludicrous on the surface, but the extra effort made by Whaley and Marrone in the interviews I’ve seen with those two makes me think they’re much higher on Tuel than perhaps most people realize.  What do you think?

Jeffrey Suchocki

CB: While I do believe the Bills offensive staff feels Tuel is a quarterback they can develop, the decision to release Jackson was made purely with the aim of making sure the remaining candidates for the starting job (Kolb, Manuel) get enough snaps so the staff can make an accurate evaluation. Splitting QB reps three ways makes it too hard for any of the candidates to separate themselves from the competition because they’re not getting enough time on the field.

The second part of that is as important as it is for Coach Marrone and his offensive staff to make an accurate call on the starter, whoever it is, they also need to get both candidates ready to play. That also could not happen with a three-way battle. Whether it’s Kolb or Manuel starting come September, both have to have enough work on the practice field executing plays so they’re ready to run the offense efficiently and effectively to help the team win games. In fact that’s probably the most important goal.

In this new offense the staff needs to have one of them ready to play come September 8th.

4 – @ChrisBrownBills

What schemes are taking shape of Defense? How often are they blitzing?

purdye86

CB: The best way to explain the defense under Mike Pettine is it’s a multiple scheme with varied fronts and versatile personnel. There is no true identity to the defense, which is what makes it so effective. They might have base sets in their scheme, but the personnel and varied looks keeps them unpredictable.

As for blitzing they were doing it a ton in the practice setting this spring. I think you can plan on Buffalo’s defense to be aggressive without being reckless. How often they blitz however, will only be determined by the opponent each week as well as time and score.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Do you expect a No1 Quarterback to be decided before the start of the season? #bills

CJAugarde

CB: I’m expecting that decision to be made somewhere after the second preseason game. At the latest after the third preseason game. That’s kind of the tipping point to give the majority of the first team reps to someone so they’re fully prepared to run the offense at the start of the regular season.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-28

Posted by Chris Brown on June 28, 2013 – 12:25 pm

Let’s get to the latest edition of your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Thanks for the uploading of the video of EJ Manuel’s pregame speech on BB.com. I, for one, needed to see that. I was questioning whether EJ had the fire for the job, and now I know. It was great to see.

One question about the release of Tarvaris: could one of the reasons for it be that the Bills are impressed with Jeff Tuel, and want to develop him as a future no. 2?

Thanks,

Kenny in Indiana

CB: I think the main reason for Jackson’s release was to thin the competition for the starting quarterback job from three to two. The coaching staff quickly came to realize that conducting a three-man QB competition while also installing a new offensive system was not going to work. The reason why is as much as you want to make the competition a fair one, you also have to make sure that you have a candidate that’s ready to play come the start of the regular season.

With the reps split three ways and the system new to all of the QB candidates, there was a risk that wouldn’t be the case. So they pared the pool down from three to two. This way either Kolb or Manuel will have enough time executing the offense in a practice setting to effectively run it in game situations come the fall.

Now that doesn’t mean they don’t like what they have in Jeff Tuel. I think they do believe his talents can be further developed. Long range he very well could be a backup to Manuel.

 

2 – Hey Chris ,

I was wondering, with the youth movement at one Bills drive from top to bottom there are a couple of players that were brought in by the previous regime, one of those players IMHO has never really lived up to his contract although he did give us a boost in the WR corps when injuries came calling. This player that I am referring to is Brad Smith. Given the fact that we have increased the talent level at the WR position 2 fold & the potential of that group with Stevie, TJ, Woods, Da’Rick, Goodwin, & the possibility of Easley or another player, do you see the current coaching staff keeping Smith around ?

Given the upside of this group & the apparent future movement & then you throw in his contract I can’t see why they would want to keep him around. I read from time to time fans talking about Brad’s athletic talents but even though he may be just that I don’t think that we can afford to keep him when we have others with much more upside & at a much cheaper price. At the very least we could trade him back to Rex for a future draft pick .

Thanks you are greatly appreciated !!

Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: I think teams with new regimes always have these kinds of decisions to make. Weighing the value of a veteran player at a position where there’s a lot of promising youth, but inexperience as well. Brad Smith in the spring practices certainly showed he can bring a veteran presence to the receiving corps. Playing there full time now, he may also be able to deliver more than he has in the past under the previous staff when he had a more varied role.

What the Bills have to weigh is whether his value as a veteran receiver is needed for this roster and the passing game to flourish. The long term upside of several of the young wideouts might be superior to that of Smith, but right now Smith might be deemed an option they cannot do without, especially with the potential of a young quarterback running the offense at some point this season.

Smith has proven to be pretty reliable in the spring practices.

The other side of that coin is this. Young receivers like Woods and Goodwin are players you want to get reps so they can develop quicker. If Smith is out there getting reps, those are reps that the two draft choices are not getting.

So I believe if Woods and Goodwin flash early and often in training camp it could vault them up the depth chart and possibly convince the staff that they can be relied upon to play significant roles. If that proves to be the case then what you suggested is possible.

 

3 – Chris:

If Jairus Byrd refuses to sign with the Bills, could the Bills allow his agent to contact other teams in an attempt to workout a sign and trade deal for agreeable consideration?  What impact (if any) would that have on the Franchise Tag?

 

CB: The Bills issued the non-exclusive franchise tender to Jairus Byrd. What that means is all this time his agent can talk to other NFL clubs to gauge his market value and see if there is a club willing to talk long term contract for Byrd.

Obviously the compensation under league rules would be a pair of first round picks. Of course a team interested in signing Byrd long term could come to the Bills and ask if they’d be willing to accept less than that.

If a sign and trade deal were to occur it would have no impact on the franchise tag for Buffalo. They could use it the following year.

 

4 – Chris,

Once again, hats off to you, Murph and Hannah for the great work you do for all of us Bills fans.

I recently started a thread for this topic and wanted to add your input. Who do you think were the best offensive linemen to wear a Bills uniform? What would be your “dream line”?

CB: I’m not going to pretend that I saw every Bills offensive lineman play, but based on history and what I have seen with my own eyes, my “dream line” for the Bills would be as follows.

LT – Will Wolford
LG – Joe DeLamielleure
C – Kent Hull
RG – Billy Shaw
RT – Howard Ballard

 

5 – Chris,

Assuming that the Patriots win the AFC East division again, as usual, and that the NY Jets, who seem to be a team in disarray, finish last, a battle between the Bills and Dolphins will be shaping up for 2nd place in the division. Miami seems to have really improved this off season, and the Bills also. Since the 2nd place team might have a shot at the playoffs, how do you think that the Bills and Dolphins compare?

LeeD

CB: In light of the offseason setbacks the Patriots have faced this offseason I don’t know that you can hand them anything. Still, as defending division champs we’ll go along with your prognostication.

In comparing the Dolphins and Bills, the one edge Miami does have is they are in the second season of their respective offensive and defensive schemes. So there’s a familiarity with execution there, particularly at quarterback.

Their defense was seventh in points allowed last year and their special teams were very good particularly in the return game. Their offensive line is a question mark, and that will impact the skill position talent they’ve added, especially at receiver.

So while I believe Miami will have a decided edge just based on the fact that they’re in year two under their coaching staff, I think the potential exists for the Bills to pull even and perhaps even pass Miami as the season moves along.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kelly weighs in on Bills QB competition

Posted by Chris Brown on June 27, 2013 – 11:20 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone has labeled the quarterback competition between Kevin Kolb and EJ Manuel a virtual dead heat going into training camp. Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly was asked to weigh in on the competition in his Thursday morning appearance on the NFL Network.

“Both are throwing the ball very, very well,” said Kelly, who attended a few of the spring practices. “I think Kevin Kolb might be a little bit ahead because of the mental approach. He’s been in the league for a number of years. EJ Manuel is a very smart, bright guy. He has the athletic ability that maybe Kolb might not have. I’d say the early pick would probably be Kevin Kolb at this time, but they picked EJ Manuel for a reason. That’s for the future. It’s good that we have two guys that can hopefully take over and lead this team back to the playoffs.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

QB timetable based on performance

Posted by Chris Brown on May 31, 2013 – 3:38 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone knows he’s going to be asked constantly about the state of the quarterback competition, but he’s sticking to his original plan as to how a starter will be reached.

“I think the timetable comes when one of those guys separates themselves,” said Marrone. “The struggle with that position as well as some other positions on the field is it goes back to reps. You only have a certain amount of time. I’m going to take a good look this week and go back and see it. As far as my evaluation the two young guys (Manuel, Tuel) I’m very happy with (them). And Kevin (Kolb) and Tarvaris (Jackson) have been doing a good job of competing out there and we have had enough reps of them to look at see what they’ve done.”

Obviously any coach would want to have a defined answer at that position sooner rather than later, but sometimes it takes until the first or second preseason game for there to be any defined separation between the candidates.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

QB rotation update

Posted by Chris Brown on September 2, 2010 – 11:25 am

After Trent Edwards’ time on the field is done with the starters in tonight’s preseason game against the Lions, here’s how things are expected to go at the quarterback position.

Brian Brohm will be the next quarterback on the field and he’s expected to get two quarters of action. Brohm barely got any playing time in the last preseason game against Cincinnati last weekend. He got on the field with 4:40 left in the game and attempted just one pass.

Buffalobills.com has learned that Ryan Fitzpatrick will not play in tonight’s preseason finale. Fitzpatrick got the majority of the playing time last week against the Bengals where he went 6-9 for 77 yards and a touchdown along with a 130 passer rating. At this point one has to think that the Bills know what they have in Fitzpatrick, which is why he won’t see any time on the field tonight.

Levi Brown will come on after Brohm has had his time on the field.


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Posted in Inside the Bills