Inside The Bills

The biggest concern for regular season

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2015 – 11:31 am

Buffalo saw a couple of more receivers go down to injury in Saturday’s game with Marquise Goodwin suffering injured ribs and recent signee Austin Willis sustaining a concussion. With most of the team’s top wideouts not seeing much preseason action and unlikely to see much in the preseason finale, Rex Ryan hopes their timing in the passing game is still there.

Ryan was asked how game ready the offense is in light of their receivers not seeing much time in preseason games.

“It better be pretty darn close because here we go,” he said. “The toughest thing about this is we’ve had six wideouts out and five running backs out and that’s the toughest thing. They’re not going to play next week so the timing and all that, we’re hitting our stride with guys who are trying to compete for the back end of the roster. But our top receivers haven’t played. If there’s a concern that I have that’s the biggest concern.”


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Rex: I challenged our defense on purpose

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2015 – 10:28 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan wasn’t overly concerned about his team’s pass defense against Pittsburgh Saturday. While he wasn’t thrilled that they gave up big plays he said going into the game he purposely challenged them on the back end with play calls and a lack of blitzing.

Ryan said the plan was to force his secondary to communicate more to prepare them for stressful times in the regular season.

“I put us in a lot of situations again challenging us,” said Ryan. “I was going to challenge us with different coverages and make them communicate and quite honestly we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be. We’ll learn a lot off of tape, but you can’t just go out there and say, ‘I’m a great player.’ And not communicate. I think it was a great thing for us. Now we challenged our guys in the second half and they responded. That (Pittsburgh) team is talented now. That kid from Clemson was killing us.”

Ryan was referring to Martavis Bryant who had three catches for 138 yards and a touchdown.


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What Rex & staff will base QB decision on

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2015 – 12:08 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan said after Buffalo’s win over Pittsburgh Saturday that there will be three things he bases his starting QB decision on when he and his offensive staff, GM Doug Whaley and owner Terry Pegula reach a consensus.

“What did we say we’re going to base the decision on? The team, the team and the team. Those three things,” said Ryan. “That’s what it’s going to be based on. Have I had discussions with (offensive coordinator) Greg Roman? Absolutely. Have I had discussions with (General Manager) Doug Whaley? With Terry Pegula? Absolutely. But has there been a collaborative deal? We are meeting (Sunday) to discuss our roster. We’ve got to make cuts getting down to 75 and there are going to be some tough cuts to make there let alone to get to 53. So that’s when we’ll have the (discussion), but the (starting quarterback) decision will be made and we’ll move forward.”

Ryan said he won’t make their decision public on Sunday, but the three quarterbacks will be informed.


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Why EJ played again in the second half

Posted by Chris Brown on August 29, 2015 – 9:27 pm

Everyone thought EJ Manuel’s day was done after a pair of successful touchdown drives to start the game, but he returned in the third quarter with the second offensive unit. Head coach Rex Ryan explained why.

Ryan said part of the issue was the offense scored too quickly and it led to very little work for Manuel.

“That was tremendous and that’s what was strange about it,” said Ryan of the quick touchdown drives. “I was going to go two series and two series and two series (with the three quarterbacks), but then they scored and I’m like, shoot I’m going to go back to EJ because he had only thrown two balls albeit one for a zillion-yard touchdown. That’s why I wanted to get him a little more work too. He did a great job. I think he missed only one throw.”

Ryan had high praise for all three QBs saying they’ve all raised their level of play in the preseason.


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Rex updates injuries

Posted by Chris Brown on August 29, 2015 – 9:24 pm

Unfortunately there were a handful of injuries in Saturday’s game for the Bills. Head coach Rex Ryan provided updates on his players postgame.

“(Marcus) Thigpen went out with a lower back,” said Ryan. (Linebacker Tony) Steward had a knee, that’s an MCL which could be a couple of weeks. (Stephon) Gilmore, shoulder, (Marquise) Goodwin, ribs, I think he might’ve had a couple of broken ribs there.

“(Stefan) Charles left the game, but came back it was a bruise. Marcell (Dareus) never played, he had a calf. It was more precautionary than it was anything else. But he felt some tightness and we just held the big dude out. Obviously white lightning (WR Austin Willis) had the concussion.”

Ryan indicated that Gilmore would be fine moving forward, but Thigpen and Goodwin could miss some time leading up to the regular season.

At the end of the game Buffalo had just four healthy receivers.


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Rex not putting more stock in 3rd preseason game

Posted by Chris Brown on August 28, 2015 – 12:26 pm

The third preseason game is typically the last dress rehearsal for the starters on the roster knowing they’ll play very little if at all in the preseason finale next week. But head coach Rex Ryan is not attaching any more importance to this third preseason game against the Steelers than any of the other preseason contests.

“About as much stock as I put in all the other ones, not much,” he said. “But with that being said I always say they’re all important. Every game is important. I don’t say well here is the dress rehearsal, I don’t believe that. Every day you’re evaluating and all that kind of stuff. It’s not that this game is more important than the other games. I don’t look at it that way, unless we win, then I’ll be like, ‘Yeah absolutely.’”

Ryan said all three quarterbacks in the current competition with see time with the starting unit on offense.


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Rex: Incognito better than anticipated

Posted by Chris Brown on August 26, 2015 – 2:31 pm

Bills starting LG Richie Incognito came to the team as a free agent signing and after an 18-month layoff will be playing regular season football. Bills head coach Rex Ryan had faith in Incognito’s abilities, but even he admitted that the veteran guard has surpassed his expectations.

“I think Richie has kind of exceeded my expectations,” said Ryan. “I said it right when we got here. I was surprised with his condition and overall fitness. It’s that of a much younger player. You’d expect him to be physical and all that stuff, but his overall fitness level has exceeded my expectations.”

Incognito has demonstrated some leadership on a line with younger players like Seantrel Henderson and rookie John Miller. When asked how that’s possible in light of his past, Ryan said his situation in Miami doesn’t change the measure of Incognito’s experience.

“Maybe that’s one of the reasons why. He’s been through a lot. He’s seen a lot and has years of experience in this league,” Ryan said. “Just because of his so called past doesn’t mean he can’t be a leader. We welcomed him with open arms and he’s been tremendous here. Can I see him being a leader? Yeah why not?”


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Rex camp gets stamp of approval from players

Posted by Chris Brown on August 26, 2015 – 12:06 pm

The first Bills training camp under head coach Rex Ryan is in the books and the players gave it their overwhelming stamp of approval.

“He did everything in his power to take care of us heading into the season,” said Fred Jackson, who missed some time with a hamstring injury. “It’s one that veterans really appreciated. Having us done every day by six or seven o’clock we were able to get back to our rooms and get off of our feet and get the mental part of it. It was a camp that I think definitely allowed me to add some years to my NFL life. It’s one that I’m appreciative to be a part of.”

“I felt it was good. It was a great learning experience, you know, Rex coming in, bringing in his defense, we were able to learn something new every day,” said DT Corbin Bryant. “(Defensive line coach) Karl Dunbar was able to teach us the techniques that he wants us to take on out on the field and, you know, it’s been good. It’s been a little different than last year. We’ve had a lot more time off of our feet to recover and study on our own and other things like that. But I think this has been one of my better training camp experiences.”


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Charles Clay update

Posted by Chris Brown on August 25, 2015 – 3:31 pm

Bills TE Charles Clay was pulled out of practice early Tuesday with a knee problem. He stayed to watch the remainder of practice, but didn’t take another rep the rest of the session.

“It’s not a serious thing,” said head coach Rex Ryan of Clay. “He’ll probably play the game this week against Pittsburgh and then rest him going into the next one.”

So it sounds like Clay will be among a host of Bills starters who will be sitting out the Detroit preseason finale completely.


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Navigating the injuries & staying on schedule

Posted by Chris Brown on August 25, 2015 – 3:28 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan felt the team accomplished all that they set out to do in training camp at St. John Fisher. There are still a couple of weeks before the regular season so final preparations will continue at One Bills Drive. But Ryan admits all the skill position injuries did make it more challenging.

“It certainly doesn’t help. That’s for sure,” Ryan said. “But guys are on top of it. They’re still studying, they’re going through walk throughs, but there’s nothing like getting out here. I’ll tell you what it does, when a guy is not in there, somebody has to step up and when they do they never look back. We had a couple of guys who have really taken off. I think of (Andre) Davis and (Deonte) Thompson, guys who have really stepped up and taken advantage of the situation.”

Ryan said most of the injured will be good to go come the start of the regular season.


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Bills getting calls about players

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2015 – 5:49 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan said the club has been fielding calls about players on their roster as other teams are hoping Buffalo can part with a player or two at one of their deeper positions. But Ryan is adamant that they’d only entertain a trade if they could get something in return that would help their club.

“I think when people know how deep you are at certain positions they’ll call you,” said Ryan. “Sometimes they call about somebody and it’s like, ‘Dude that guy is going to make the team.’ You know there’s no question. There are several like that. Will Deonte (Thompson) be one of them? That’s a real possibility.

“We’re not just going to, ‘Oh you want him? We’ll help you out and get nothing in return.’ That’s not happening. The only way we’ll trade one of our players is if it can help this team. Other than that, we’re going to be selfish and keep everyone that we can.”

Ryan reference Thompson specifically because in his previous comment, the head coach said they’ve been getting calls about him. Thus far in the preseason Thompson has four catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.

NFL clubs calling other teams this time of year isn’t uncommon. Teams are often looking for ways to fill holes on their roster now to secure a specific player they covet, rather than hoping said player is cut and then fight 31 other teams to sign him.


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Rex on keeping a kickoff specialist

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2015 – 4:34 pm

More and more NFL clubs are making sure they have a kicker who can put the ball through the back of the end zone on kickoffs, be it their place kicker or a kickoff specialist. Last season Buffalo carried Dan Carpenter for field goals and Jordan Gay for kickoffs. In the eyes of special teams coordinator Danny Crossman, Gay’s statistics from the 2014 season make him worthy of a roster spot. So where does head coach Rex Ryan come down on carrying a kickoff specialist?

Ryan gave indication that he’s leaning in the same direction as Crossman, provided the consistency of the kickoff specialist is there.

“Well you prefer not to, unless, you better have a really, really special guy,” said Ryan. “(Gay is) pretty good. He kicks almost a five second hang time on kickoffs and he launches them. So I think his percentage is probably higher than anybody’s in the league on touchbacks in the same type of situations. Some guy can kick it off in Colorado, I don’t know what their deal is, but if our guy did it, he’d kick it out of the stadium probably. So he’s very talented to say the least. But yeah, you have to be special if you’re going to keep somebody like that.”


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Fan Friday 8-21

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2015 – 12:30 pm

Two preseason games in the books, two to go for the Bills. Let’s get to latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Barring a trade for another QB, do you foresee Roman using the Bills QBs as follows;

Start – Cassel

Back-up – Tyrod Taylor, used throughout a game as a change up w/the read Option

3rd – EJ depth in the event of any injuries

Cut – Simms, do not see much upside w/Simms

If they trade EJ,… maybe they could trade for either Mike Glennon, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Mallet or the back up on Titans. Scouts need to do a good job and find a QB in first 3 rounds of 2016.

Randy

CB: I think your scenario could very well play out this way. Matt Cassel seems to be the quarterback they trust the most, due mainly to his experience in the league. Tyrod Taylor as talented as he is doesn’t have an NFL start on his resume. For an offensive coordinator running his offense with new personnel in Buffalo in season one, it wouldn’t surprise me if he feels most comfortable with Cassel running it.

That’s not to say that Taylor couldn’t overtake Cassel for the starting job. Now if Cassel does in fact prove to be the starter I could definitely see a package of plays for Taylor as a read option QB where he comes in for a series or two depending on the opponent that week.

I asked and Rex Ryan confirmed for me that they intend to keep three quarterbacks on their roster. I believe Ryan likes EJ as a quarterback and I think the organization feels there is still some ceiling to be reached by him as an NFL QB.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

With so many WRs injured, any chance the Bills go after a FA like Reggie Wayne?

WillowWatchesTV

CB: I don’t foresee this happening. Buffalo has a strong stable of receiver talent. Yes, they are a bit nicked up right now, but Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Chris Hogan barring anything happening that’s new injury-wise should all be good for the regular season. Rex Ryan even said that Percy Harvin will be fine for the regular season.

So taking all of that into account the need for a Reggie Wayne doesn’t compute. He’d be a better fit for a team that lost a receiver for the whole year like Carolina with Kelvin Benjamin.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

You think Taylor will get another shot with the first team since half his team is injured for the Browns game?

GaynorGuarantee

CB: I think Taylor performed quite well despite the lack of weapons at running back and wide receiver. He went 7-10 passing for 65 yards and had three straight third down conversions on the opening drive. He was also effective on the ground with four carries for 41 yards including a long of 21.

 

4 – Chris,
As Bills fans we all know about the competition for the starting QB position. We have heard so many times that the selection process will e long, open and based upon individual merit. Given that, what does each QB candidate need to specifically improve upon to become the starter. All we ever seem to hear are generalities.
Thanks
Dr. Dennis

CB: Cassel is a 10-year veteran and is what he is as a QB. He’s a capable starter, who can make some plays in the passing game and knows risk versus reward based on time and score, matchup, etc. He’s a good leader and competent game manager.

Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel both have the same task, prove they can be consistent with decision making, accuracy and execution. That means proper ball location every time, proper mechanics every time, the right read every time, the proper touch on a pass every time.

Hopefully that provided some specifics.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any idea the coaching strategy with cassell?
bigred8865

CB: As coach Ryan said they wanted to give extended time to both Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel to get a better feel for the abilities of each of them in a true game situation. I think they feel they know Matt Cassel’s game inside and out.

On a secondary level I think if Matt Cassel played behind that second offensive line he might not have been able to avoid pressure like EJ Manuel did and could’ve been at great risk for injury.


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Mind games for Bills defense

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2015 – 8:59 am

Rex Ryan is supremely confident that he has an elite defense, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to rest on his laurels as a coach because he has a unit blessed with great talent. That’s why Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman put in some multi-faceted adjustments on the fly for their first team defense Thursday night.

“When you have a good defense or an elite defense you challenge them mentally to do things,” said Ryan. “Dennis and I were talking and we put on some checks, some audible checks, calls they never heard and we said, ‘Make it work. Here are the two things we’re going to combine and just based off formation.’

“So we challenged the heck out of them mentally as well. You make adjustments in this league. I want our guys to understand it’s not just one or two defensive calls. We’re very multiple in what we do and we do it for a reason. We take advantage of what we’re seeing and what we’re getting, protections and so forth and we’ve got to be ready to go with it, but I thought they did a nice job and responded well to it.”

Ryan not only has high end talent, he’s got veteran talent that can adjust to mixing play calls in their scheme among other things. Buffalo’s head coach insists they still haven’t shown much of their defensive concepts for the regular season, but it won’t keep them from throwing adjustments on the fly at their players.


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McCoy and Karlos updates

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2015 – 1:58 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan provided a bit of clarity on the return timetable of both LeSean McCoy from injury and Karlos Williams from his surgical procedure.

“When we last spoke we really never knew the extent of it and what it was going to be and everything,” said Ryan of McCoy’s hamstring injury. “We kind of assumed things, but we’re cautiously optimistic that he’ll be ready for the opener. Barring any kind of setback we think he’s going to be ready to roll.”

As for Williams, Ryan said he believes that he’s been released from the hospital at this point.

“Karlos will be ready to roll that first game also,” Ryan said. “It’s going to be a couple of weeks, but he should be ready opening day.”


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Young backs step up

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2015 – 1:58 am

When Rex Ryan saw number 41 running onto the field with the offense he did a double take Thursday night. Jersey 41 is worn by CB Cam Thomas, who hasn’t participated in training camp due to injury, which was probably why Ryan was doing a double take before it dawned on him that it was one of his newest running backs Cierre Wood. Such was the situation for Buffalo’s offense as Wood was lining up for the first time with the Bills in a live preseason game with all of a couple of walk throughs to work off of.

“I swear I looked at 41 and thought he was DB and then it was, oh okay that’s Wood, bring the wood to them,” said Ryan.

The bottom line Thursday night was that rookies Bronson Hill, Ricky Seale and Wood all performed admirably considering that Hill has been with the team for just about two weeks and Seale and Wood four a couple of days.

“Those three did a nice job for us,” said Ryan. “Tip your hat to all three of those young men. They hadn’t been here long any of those guys. That shows you the kind of coach (running backs coach) Anthony Lynn is. We were walking through right up to game time almost and those young guys did a great job for us.”

“Coach A. Lynn did a good job of coaching up the running backs and putting him in the position where they could go out there and play comfortable. I think one of the running backs it was his first time with us today. He was with us in the walk through yesterday, but it was his first time actually taking a snap with us today. They all managed it well.”

Hill caught the game-winning two-point conversion with 1:31 to play and for the most part the backs proved capable in blitz pickup and other pass protection assignments.

“Those running backs, coach A. Lynn did a great job getting those guys geared up,” said EJ Manuel. “Hill did a great job, Wood did a great job coming in. John Conner he did a great job. Seale he did a great job as well. All those guys pitched in. To come in three days of practice and walk through and help us win on a game winning drive says a lot about those guys.”


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Why Cassel didn’t play

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2015 – 1:56 am

He was dressed for the game, but all along there were no plans to play QB Matt Cassel Thursday night. It was by design according to head coach Rex Ryan.

“G-Ro and I had talked about it before,” said Ryan of his conversation with offensive coordinator Greg Roman. “We had told (TV and radio broadcast) production that it was going to happen. I wanted to see Tyrod (Taylor) play extended time with the ones and EJ (Manuel) extended time with the twos and that’s why we made the decision we did.”

No word at this point as to how the quarterback rotation will work for Buffalo’s next preseason game against Pittsburgh.


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Dixon: Karlos will be alright

Posted by Chris Brown on August 18, 2015 – 11:56 pm

While Boobie Dixon didn’t speak directly to fellow running back Karlos Williams, who was admitted to the hospital for a surgical procedure Monday, he did say that the rookie will be fine in the long run.

“We had some of the guys talk to him and he said he was alright and he was doing good and we just praying for him,” said Dixon. “Just trying to be positive and keep our hopes up, keep our spirit up. It’s getting tough out here as you can see. You know we all just got to stay positive, we’re praying for him and he’ll be alright. He’ll be back soon.”

Head coach Rex Ryan said Williams would be out at least two weeks coming off the successful procedure.


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Some insight on number of QBs for the 53

Posted by Chris Brown on August 18, 2015 – 8:55 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan and his offensive staff have a lot of decisions to make in a couple of weeks as they will need to whittle the roster down to 75 and then 53 players. With a roster as deep as Buffalo’s there will be some tough calls, but when it comes to the number of quarterbacks Ryan envisions keeping he sees more than two.

In the first episode of Coffee with the Coach presented by Tim Horton’s, Ryan explained that in keeping the best 53 players on their roster he sees more than just two QBs on the regular season squad.

“No, we’re going to keep 53 really good players and I have a funny feeling that means three quarterbacks,” said Ryan.

Determining the starter at quarterback will be the first order of business, but if the team does keep three QBs all of the signal callers in the competition are expected to stick.


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Karlos Williams sent to hospital this morning

Posted by Chris Brown on August 17, 2015 – 1:26 pm

Bills RB Karlos Williams has had a heck of a training camp so far, but he was not on the field Monday after having to get checked into a local Rochester hospital.

Head coach Rex Ryan explained some of what occurred that forced Williams to be hospitalized.

Karlos Williams, we don’t know the extent of what his injury is yet but some of you know he went off to a hospital this morning,” said Ryan. “We don’t know. It was just, he woke up in the morning and felt a little something weightlifting in the afternoon but it wasn’t anything. Now obviously he had this thing where if you touch him, obviously he’s in a lot of pain.”

No word as to whether a surgical procedure was required to address the problem. We’ll bring you more information on Williams’ condition as it becomes available.


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