Inside The Bills

Pegulas felt veteran coach was best fit

Posted by Chris Brown on January 14, 2015 – 7:56 pm

Terry and Kim Pegula along with GM Doug Whaley and team President Russ Brandon went on a barnstorming tour to find a head coach. As they made their way through a dozen candidates it became clear what they felt they needed in a head coach for their team at this time.

“When we went through this process, we went into it open-minded,” said Terry Pegula. “We interviewed some bright, young coaches and some veteran coaches and Doug and Russ obviously had been through this before a few years ago. Like I said, when we meet the right guy, you’ll know it. When we finally talked to Rex and looked at that staff that he put together, I really don’t think that the Buffalo Bills at 9-7, and I really believe two plays away from possibly being 11-5, needed to have a young coach standing in their locker room.

“I thought we needed to go to somebody who’d done it before and if you look at the record of almost every coach like Rex just mentioned it, new coaches fail generally in their first job and I’m not saying that all the new coaches that are going to get hired are going to fail, but it’s more happening in that direction than it is for them to be successful.

“We just felt that he was our guy and trust me, we had some pretty impressive people that we felt could the Bills coach, but we said, ‘Hey, let’s go after Rex.’ Russ told me, ‘Don’t let him out of the building.'”

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Ryan’s pledge to Bills fans

Posted by Chris Brown on January 14, 2015 – 7:47 pm

Rex Ryan talked about a lot of things at his introductory press conference on Wednesday. He also made some promises to Bills fans about the type of team they’ll be rooting for on his watch.

“I’m not going to let our fans down. I am not going to do that,” he said. “I know it’s been 15 years since the Bills made the playoffs.  Well get ready, man, we’re going. We are going. And the guarantee, hey, am I guaranteeing a Super Bowl and all that? I’ll tell you what I will do; I will guarantee the pursuit of it. There is no question about that.

“Through work, through hard work, through preparation, and all that, we’re going to see how many teams match our work ethic, and all that. Because, as we look at it, we represent our community. The Buffalo Bills represent this community of Buffalo. We’re going to be tough. We’re going to be as loyal to our fans as they are to us. We are going to earn that loyalty and that trust, and one thing you’re going to see, come September, this team will be ready, period. And that’s it. That’s going to be my statement, that’s going to be my guarantee.”

Posted in Inside the Bills

Kelly: We have to find out about EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on January 14, 2015 – 7:40 pm

Bills Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly is one that gives it to you straight. He’s also kept a keen eye on what goes on at One Bills Drive, particularly at the quarterback position. As we outlined on Rex Ryan understandably calls the QB picture unclear. With Kyle Orton retired other quarterback talent will be brought onto the roster to join EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel. Regardless of who is brought in, Kelly said the team has to get clarity on just what Manuel can be for the franchise.

“We need to find out if EJ is going to be the guy,” said Kelly. “I don’t care who you are, Don Shula, Marv Levy, Vince Lombardi if you don’t have a guy behind the center you’re not going anywhere period. If you look at all the teams that are in the playoffs now, look who is behind the center.

“Do I think EJ has a chance? I don’t know because of what he has learned when he was on the sidelines. How much he got out of being on the sidelines. Watching Kyle (Orton’s) positives and negatives of how he played. It’s an opportunity everybody is going to have, but that’s a position they definitely have to get solidified and find out who that person is going to be.”

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Bills retain spec. teams coordinator Crossman

Posted by Chris Brown on January 14, 2015 – 4:04 pm

The Bills made a change at offensive coordinator under new head coach Rex Ryan and terminated the contract of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, but Ryan is going to keep special teams coordinator Danny Crossman in the fold for 2015.

The team made the announcement late Wednesday afternoon. Crossman’s special teams units made widespread improvements from 2013 to 2014, with key additions like Boobie Dixon and Corey Graham filling valuable veteran roles. Crossman also capably blended in a rookie punter and kickoff specialist to help improve the coverage units. Here’s a look at some categories where Buffalo’s special teams improved the most from 2013 to 2014.

SPECIAL TEAMS                        2013                                                   2014
Field position                                    26.8 – 25th                                            30.2 – 5th
Avg. drive start KO                          20.7 – 27th                                            22.5 – 10th
Kick return avg.                                20.4 – 29th                                            23.3 – 17th
Kickoffs – TB pct.                            41.5% – 24th                                         60.5% – 9th
Opponent KO avg. start                 22.7 – 23rd                                           20.7 – 5th
Punt return avg.                              6.2 – 29th                                              9.6 – 12th
FG Pct.                                              91.7% – 10th                                         89.5% – 6th
Net punting avg.                             36.6 – 30th                                            38.7 – 23rd
Punt coverage (opp. avg.)             10.6 – 25th                                            6.5 – 4th
Kick coverage (opp. avg.)             23.4 – 17th                                            20 – 3rd
FG Pct. Against                               86.1% -17th                                          81.1% – 9th
Opp. field position                         31.2 – 31st                                            26.9 – 11th

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With Ryan on board, hierarchy takes shape

Posted by Chris Brown on January 14, 2015 – 3:12 pm

The Bills front office structure has undergone some change since the Pegulas came on board as the owners of the club. Now with Rex Ryan as head coach, Terry Pegula laid out how the flow of information will proceed between himself, his wife Kim and the highest ranking officials in the organization.

“Rex (Ryan), Russ (Brandon), and Doug (Whaley) will report to Kim and myself and that’s the way we’re going to have it moving forward,” said Pegula. “I believe in everyone…I think I’ve said this in the past: my style of business is that no one should be afraid to say anything so we will welcome input from anybody; the coach, the GM, the President, myself, Kim and that’s how we’re going to move forward. You should never be afraid to say anything. I don’t care if it’s sports or other business.”

Team President Russ Brandon further expounded on the duties and responsibilities held by the top three ranking executives under the Pegulas.

“When it comes to the 53 (man roster) and player personnel, that’s under the purview of Doug Whaley,” said Brandon. “The game-day roster and the coaching staff is obviously Coach Ryan and I will have business ops and administration ops and football administration budgets. But as Terry said earlier and as Coach said, it’s not only one direction, it’s one mindset and we’ll be in lock-step in everything that we do as an organization.”


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Ryan pledges his loyalty

Posted by Chris Brown on January 14, 2015 – 3:04 pm

In the wake of the abrupt departure of former head coach Doug Marrone, the Pegulas more than filled the void with a big fish in the head coaching pool by the name of Rex Ryan, who was introduced in a formal press conference Wednesday. And Ryan wasn’t shy about pledging his loyalty to a club that just had their head coach walk out on them.

“We’re going to give everything we have every snap out there and again, that represents not just ourselves and it represents our community and we’re proud to represent Buffalo and I’m going to earn the same type of and we’re going to earn it…earn that respect that our fans give,” said Ryan. “It’s the most loyal fan base in the National Football League and we recognize that and with that being said, this fan base, the loyalty that they show that this football team deserves a loyal coach. Ok? And deserves loyal players. That’s what we’re going to bring and we will bring it. Nobody’s more loyal than me as a football coach and I can tell you that.”

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Wood on benefits of run game commitment

Posted by Chris Brown on January 14, 2015 – 9:27 am

As we covered on the Bills are likely to have a power run game as an offensive identity moving forward with Rex Ryan as head coach and Greg Roman as offensive coordinator. In Ryan’s six years with the Jets, New York ranked first in the league in rushing attempts per game (32.1) and Roman’s 49ers offense in his four years as coordinator was third in rushing attempts per game (30.7). As Bills C Eric Wood sees it, that kind of commitment to the run is very appealing.

“Anytime you commit to running the ball you allow the offensive line to get in a flow,” Wood told “I’m not saying we haven’t done that in the past two years. Coach Hackett was definitely a balanced offensive coordinator, which was nice, but when you can really start wearing out a team and really get into a rhythm as an offensive line it gives you a chance to really succeed throughout the game. When you repeat runs or you see the same runs over and over that gives us a good feel throughout the game and towards the end of the game is when you get your more successful runs.”

Wood is right about the previous offensive staff. In 2013 the Bills led the league in rushing attempts per game (34.1), but this past season Buffalo dropped to 20th in that category with just 25.1 rushes per game.

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Spiller: I’ve got chemistry with Rex

Posted by Chris Brown on January 12, 2015 – 4:34 pm

Bills RB C.J. Spiller has a decision to make this offseason as he can become a free agent this March. GM Doug Whaley has said the team would like to re-sign him for the long term. Could Buffalo’s new head coach have some positive influence on Spiller’s decision?

In an appearance on NFL Network Monday afternoon by phone, C.J. Spiller was asked for his thoughts on Rex Ryan. Spiller commented on how he has developed a good relationship with Buffalo’s new head coach, having run into him on several occasions at his alma mater Clemson. Ryan’s son Seth is enrolled at school there and by Spiller’s own account they’ve struck up a good friendship.

“I’ve gotten to know Rex the last two years. His son attends Clemson and he comes down to games and we’ve both been at events they have every year at Clemson,” said Spiller. “He’s a wonderful guy and a great person to get to know, funny, so we’ve had a great chemistry these last couple of years and obviously playing against him the previous five years has also helped.”

How much influence that has on Spiller’s decision about his future remains to be seen, but he does like the fact that the Jets in the six years under Rex Ryan led the league in rushing attempts per game at just over 32.

“That’s what I love to do is run the football and coach Rex that’s what he’s known for, running the football and being physical,” Spiller said. “I’m excited about it. It’s a great opportunity to get this thing turned around. We finished with a 9-7 record and now it’s time to build on that and get into the playoffs.”

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Ryan has affinity for Bills defensive players

Posted by Chris Brown on January 12, 2015 – 10:49 am

He’s had a conference call with the Buffalo media twice a year for the last six years and there have always been a couple of players that new Bills head coach Rex Ryan will single out. Two in particular this past season were on the defensive side of the ball for Buffalo.

Ryan was being asked about Buffalo’s defense in one of his conference calls this past season and he quickly mentioned two players specifically in his comment.

“(Brandon) Spikes is one of those guys that I like because he’s a tough guy, a mean guy, a tough a**,” said Ryan. “I like guys that are competitors and that’s why I like him so much. That’s why I like Kyle Williams so much.”

Ryan has mentioned Kyle Williams almost every season he has been head coach of the Jets on his conference calls, so the new Bills head coach has to be pretty pumped that he now gets a chance to coach him.

Brandon Spikes is set to become an unrestricted free agent. It will be interesting to see how the hiring of Ryan could impact Spikes decision making this offseason.

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What Rex inherits in Bills that’s uncommon

Posted by Chris Brown on January 12, 2015 – 10:40 am

Rex Ryan
The Bills now have a total of 18 head coaches in their history, but Rex Ryan will be inheriting a team that has a quality that only one other Buffalo team had upon getting a new head coach.

For just the second time in team history a new head coach will be inheriting a Bills team with a winning record. Rex Ryan will take a Bills team into 2015 that finished 9-7 the season before. The only other time that has happened is when Joe Collier took over as head coach in 1966 following the abrupt departure of Lou Saban after the AFL championship season of 1965 when the Bills finished 10-3-1.

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Ryan: Got to give Woods credit

Posted by Chris Brown on November 26, 2014 – 11:04 am

Jets head coach Rex Ryan admitted that their defensive game plan was to shut down Sammy Watkins after he torched them in the first meeting for 157 yards on three catches and a touchdown. In the aftermath of their 38-3 loss to the Bills in the second meeting Ryan tipped his hat to Robert Woods (9 rec. 118 yds, 1 TD), who made the Jets pay for focusing their pass defense on Watkins.

“We had a plan to take away Sammy Watkins,” Ryan said. “I thought we pretty much did that, but they kind of exposed us on the other side and I probably should’ve been more balanced in my approach, coverage wise.

“They have some talented players on there and they made some plays. Robert Woods had a career day and again like I said, they knew, they’re no dummies. We weren’t going to let the one kid (Watkins) kill us again, so the other guy hurt us. To their credit, Woods made some great catches. I give him credit.”

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Extra days have helped Jets vs. Bills before

Posted by Chris Brown on November 20, 2014 – 3:59 pm

We noted in this very blog in the past about how the Jets have benefited from extra time and rest in advance of playing the Bills in the past. In both 2011 and 2013 the Jets faced the Bills with 10 days prep coming off a Thursday night game and two weeks prep off their bye week in those two seasons. This year the NFL may have done its best job yet of giving Buffalo a favorable schedule when it came to opponents coming off a short week or coming off their bye. This week was going to be somewhat of a wash between the two teams with the Bills having 10 days to prepare for the Jets coming off their Thursday night game while the Jets came off their bye. That all changed with the lake effect snowstorm this week that shattered all snowfall record totals in Orchard Park and neighboring suburbs as well as the city of Buffalo.

Now heading into Friday with the Bills yet to rep plays on a practice field the Jets clearly have an edge in terms of prep time heading into the game. And under Rex Ryan New York has fared well against the Bills in those situations.

In 2011 when the Jets came off their bye to face the Bills they beat Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium 27-11. They also won coming off their Thursday night game at MetLife Stadium 28-24. New York avoided the series sweep in 2013 with the Jets again the beneficiaries of a bye prior to their meeting with Buffalo and a Thursday night game prior to their other meeting with the Bills.

Last year the Jets won coming off their Thursday night game at home 27-20, but the Bills, thanks mainly to four turnovers, throttled the Jets who were coming off their bye 37-14 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Still, Ryan has a 3-2 mark against Buffalo when coming off a bye or Thursday night game. This year the Bills beat the Jets with New York coming off their Thursday night game prior to their first meeting in 2014.

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Jets focused on ball security

Posted by Chris Brown on November 19, 2014 – 11:53 am

The New York Jets are still a minus-11 in turnover margin this season, but their last outing showed what Rex Ryan’s team is capable of when they protect the football.

The Jets beat one of the hottest offensive teams in football in Week 10 (Jets had a Week 11 bye) when they defeated Pittsburgh 20-13. They did in large part thanks to winning the turnover battle by a count of 4-0. New York scored 14 points off turnovers in the game and jumped out to a 17-3 lead and their defense was stout when it came to keeping the Steelers out of the end zone. Ben Roethlisberger threw for almost 350 yards, but had just one touchdown pass.

On his conference call with Buffalo media Wednesday Ryan was asked if he’s confident his team won’t have a repeat performance against the Bills when they turned it over six times and lost by 20 (43-23).

“We better not I’ll tell you that much,” said Ryan. “You’re not going to beat anybody when you turn the ball over the way we did. I think there were 11 possessions inside the 50-yard line. That can’t happen and that’s our priority going into the game is taking care of the football. It’s easier said than done, but we have to get that done for us to have an opportunity in this game.”

Ryan likes the way Michael Vick has protected the football for the offense since becoming the full-time starter following the loss to the Bills.

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Ryan: Package of plays likely for Harvin

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2014 – 12:05 pm

He’s had all of a week to learn the Jets playbook after he was traded to New York by the Seahawks. That’s why Jets head coach Rex Ryan is planning to have just a package of plays for Harvin in this week’s game plan for the Bills.

“I think that’s realistic,” said Ryan in a conference call with the Buffalo media. “It’s awful hard to come in and, ‘Oh by the way here’s the offense. Learn it in a week.’ I don’t know if that’s realistic. But we’ll have some plays for him and get him back there to return a kick and things like that.”

Ryan is hopeful that if Harvin can’t make as big an impact with personal plays, that his mere presence on the field forces defenses to account for him.

“I’d love to see him make a difference immediately. Obviously. But again we’ll see how he does during the week. How much he can pick up of this offense and then let him go. He gives us a weapon with Decker and Kerley and our tight ends and some good backs. It’ll be interesting to see how people play us if they play us differently or they put everybody in the world down there to stop Chris Ivory and company.”

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Rex dismisses Sat. night outing as mistake

Posted by Chris Brown on November 17, 2013 – 6:15 pm

Much was made of Rex Ryan’s decision to cancel Saturday evening meetings and let his team spend the evening playing arcade games at Dave and Buster’s here in Buffalo less than 24 hours before the game. When asked about it, Ryan dismissed it as added motivation for the Bills.

“Again, I don’t know why that’s added motivation,” Ryan said. “We do different things when we’re on the road. (We) did different things in Atlanta, did different things wherever, so I don’t know how that would give added motivation. Your players go out in groups or whatever. We went out as a team, so that’s what we did.”

Bills head coach Doug Marrone said after the game that he did not use the Jets’ outing as a motivational tool with his team.

“I was aware of it; I did not use it for motivation,” he said. “For me, I was concentrating on getting our football team ready to play a game that we knew was going to be physical against a good football team and that was the thing all week. That’s the way I approached it.”

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Jets taking Bills lightly?

Posted by Chris Brown on November 17, 2013 – 10:18 am

According to a New York Post report Jets head coach Rex Ryan decided to forgo final game plan meetings at the team hotel Saturday night in favor of an outing to the Dave and Buster’s at the Eastern Hills Mall here in town.

Per the report Jets players were hitting the arcade instead of their playbooks. Coming off a bye week one wonders if the leisure outing was necessary. We’ll see if it plays a factor in today’s game.

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Rex seeks Bills intel from brother during bye

Posted by Chris Brown on November 12, 2013 – 11:55 am

Jets head coach Rex Ryan and his team are coming off the bye as they begin preparations for the Bills on Sunday. Ryan spent part of his bye week in New Orleans seeking further intel on the Bills from his twin brother Rob Ryan.

A team’s offense and defense can morph and change over the course of a season, so Ryan was likely checking with his brother to see what ways Buffalo’s offense and defense may have changed since he initially faced them in Week 3.

Rob Ryan is the Saints defensive coordinator, who brought a lot of pass pressure down on QB Thad Lewis making him unavailable for the game the following week in a 35-17 win over the Bills. Rex Ryan faced EJ Manuel in his first road start back in Week 3 and also dialed up a lot of pressure and his team got eight sacks in a 27-20 win.

Although Ryan is 7-2 against the Bills as Jets coach, his teams are 1-3 coming off the bye. He gave his players six straight days off last week.

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Jets could have Holmes back in lineup Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on November 12, 2013 – 8:15 am

Santonio Holmes has missed the last five games for the Jets with a hamstring injury, but he stands a good chance of returning to the New York lineup this week to face the Bills in Buffalo Sunday.

That according to head coach Rex Ryan, who provided a promising update on Holmes’ availability in his Monday press conference.

“I think he’ll play,” said Ryan. “He looks good to me. … I know he had a big game the last time we played Buffalo. Hopefully that’ll be the same this time.”

Holmes biggest game thus far this season came against the Bills back in Week 3 when he had five catches for 154 yards and a touchdown.


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Jets run game vs. Bills has tailed off

Posted by Chris Brown on September 22, 2013 – 10:48 am

The Jets have still found a way to win six of their last eight meetings with the Bills, including a 3-1 mark at the Meadowlands over that four-year span, but the numbers show their run game is not what it used to be.

Back in 2009 and 2010, the Jets ran the ball at will to victory over Buffalo, when the Bills run defense was among the least effective in football. Since then their success running the football has been limited. Here’s a look at their yards per carry average against the Bills in their last eight games.

Year       Yds per carry avg.
2009       7.9, 5.8
2010       5.6, 5.5
2011       3.2, 6.0
2012       3.3, 3.7

In the four games in 2009 and 2010, the Jets were one of the better rushing teams in football, and against the Bills they were even better averaging a fat 6.14 yards per carry. With the losses in recent years of Thomas Smith, LaDainian Tomlinson and primary FB Tony Richardson, the run game hasn’t had the same pop.

In the four meetings from 2011 to 2012, the Jets have averaged just 3.69 yards per carry. Even Jets head coach Rex Ryan admitted they’re not the rushing team they used to be on Friday.

“When we were ground and pound, that thing has come with me forever,” said Ryan. “That was based on our personnel. If you look at the backs that we had, we had three great tailbacks with Thomas Jones, with Shonn Greene and with Leon Washington. That was pretty good. We had [Danny] Woodhead, things like that behind him. That was a pretty darn good backfield, Tony Richardson.

can still win in today’s league with a strong rushing attack, Ryan referenced the personnel he no longer has on his roster.

“Yeah, if we had those backs and the line and all that stuff. And D-Wood [Damien Woody], I’m sure you could.”

So far this season the Jets are averaging 3.6 yards per carry.

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Jets WR Holmes still laboring

Posted by Chris Brown on September 20, 2013 – 9:01 am

Jets WR Santonio Holmes has been dealing with a foot problem since the team returned for training camp in the summer. On Thursday he sat out of practice after being just limited in practice Wednesday.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan indicated that Holmes’ non-participation on Thursday was a planned rest day for the receiver. We’ll see what kind of participation he’s able to muster in Jets practice later today.

Added to the Jets injury report Thursday was rookie backup offensive tackle Oday Aboushi, who sustained a knee injury in practice. He’s supposed to be re-evaluated today.

Three defensive linemen, Quinton Coples (ankle), Kenrick Ellis (back) and rookie Sheldon Richardson (shoulder) were all limited in practice for a second straight day. Coples hasn’t played yet this season as he’s trying to return from a hairline fracture in his ankle. He told Jets reporters he’s ready to go, but that the decision is up to the medical staff.

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