Inside The Bills

A special day from start to finish

Posted by Chris Brown on September 14, 2014 – 7:26 pm

With so much positive news packed into one week for Bills fans, the 73-thousand plus at Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday were just hoping the team would cap the week with a win. Doug Marrone’s men obliged taking a day when the man who founded the franchise was honored, and two of the team’s most famous alumni presented the late Hall of Fame owner’s wife, Mary Wilson, with an honorary Wall of Fame ring. That combined with the Pegula agreement to purchase the franchise and keep it in Western New York brought the week to a fitting conclusion.

“Sunday was a very emotional time,” said Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon. “Not only the tribute to Ralph and to honor Mary Wilson who has been a rock for all of us, and to see Jim (Kelly) and Thurman (Thomas) and all the guys out there. To be out there when Jim (Kelly) got up to the podium was pretty cool. I’ve seen this stadium rock a lot of times, but I’ve never felt it like that, it was awesome.”

When asked what Mr. Wilson might’ve thought of the performance Sunday, Brandon believed his former boss would’ve loved it.

“That’s Ralph’s kind of football,” Brandon said. “He would’ve loved it. He absolutely would’ve loved it. It’s been a tremendous week; it’s a great, great time to be a Buffalonian. Great credit to so many people, governor Cuomo and his staff, and our group and were working together. Football is the ultimate team game. The teamwork that went into making this all culminate to the sale this week, then to cap it off (with a win). It’s going to be a big party in this town (Sunday night) for sure.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mrs. Wilson honored with game ball

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2014 – 9:24 pm

There was a lot for the players to concern themselves with heading into their season opener. On a larger level than just the game was the fact that it was first game for the team without their founder and owner Ralph Wilson, who passed away this past March. After their overtime victory however, Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon made sure Mr. Wilson’s widow Mary was properly honored.

Brandon presented Mrs. Wilson with a game ball in the locker room after the victory.

“Yeah that was huge to come here first and win against another team who has been in the NFL since the origin of the NFL,” said EJ Manuel. “I know Russ Brandon gave a game ball to Mrs. Wilson today and I know that was a very momentous time for her and Russ. So we’re very happy to get this ‘W’ for Mr. Wilson today.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-23

Posted by Chris Brown on May 23, 2014 – 12:22 pm

OTAs are coming up next week. In the meantime enjoy the holiday weekend and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Here now are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Thanks for all the great draft coverage! I personally loved the way the Bills really focused on beefing up the offensive line this year, in addition to the Watkins pick of course! It seems like some great picks at truly great value. I was wondering, if Seantrel Henderson pans out – and he has 1st round talent at LT, could he eventually start there, with Glenn moving to LG? Don’t get me wrong, Glenn is a really good LT, but I imagine a starting line of Henderson, Glenn, Wood, Richardson/Urbik, Kouandjio being among the most dominant lines in the entire league. Thoughts on this?

Thanks again,
Josh

CB: While you certainly have every reason to be optimistic I think you’re getting a bit ahead of yourself. I think all of the linemen drafted this year have talent, but it’s hard to project their immediate future until the pads go on in training camp. There are some proud veterans on this roster so the influx of young talent will ramp up the competition. Henderson most definitely has the skill set to play in the NFL. What he needs to demonstrate is consistency not only in his play, but in his commitment as a pro. Kouandjio might need a little time on the job before he’s challenging Erik Pears for a starting role and we’ll see what Richardson can do.

The picture you’re painting might be more realistic for 2015, and with the way Cordy Glenn played last year, I’m not sure he’ll be on the move even then if that level of play continues.

2 - @ChrisBrownBills

Why would @buffalobills ever pick Bon Jovi’s Lawyer to help sell the team?

MarkSciubbaDoe

CB: I think you need to understand that the Bills organization was seeking one of the most renowned firms when it came to managing estates and trusts. Proskauer was named “Law Firm of the Year” for Litigation–Trusts & Estates in U.S. News-Best Lawyers 2014 “Best Law Firms,” the only firm to receive this prestigious designation in that category. So this is more of what led to the decision to retain them.

It just so happens that Proskauer Rose, which has a gigantic client base in their entertainment department, also has represented Bon Jovi. It’s not clear if they still do at this time. I would think that relationship no longer exists otherwise it could be construed as a conflict of interest.

 

3 – Hey Chris,
There has been a lot of varying reports trying to explain the compensation the Eagles will be receiving for the Bryce Brown trade.  Most of those reports are very confusing to read and have people scratching their heads.  Correct me if I’m wrong here, but didn’t we basically trade Stevie Johnson for Bryce Brown straight up?

Whatever we get for Stevie is what we give to Eagles?…right?  Only exception to this line of thinking or simplification is if we end up getting a 3rd for Stevie because he performs and Bryce underperforms we only are on hook for a 4th….right??

BTW…loved our draft.  Loved the aggressiveness of Whaley.  It was very refreshing and sent a jolt of excitement in the fan base.  Even if it doesn’t pan out I’m still glad he was aggressive.  When u r 6-10 forever and u keep the same draft approach its by definition insane.  Everyone is saying playoffs or bust.  Honestly if we go 9-7 and EJ looks like he takes steps fwd…I will see this season as a success.  Looking fwd to getting out of this 6-10 rut!
Thanks for your time and go Bills!
Tim
NJ

CB: Here’s the easiest way to look at it. If the compensation from the 49ers remains a fourth in 2015, it goes to the Eagles. If Stevie Johnson hits undisclosed performance benchmarks and improves Buffalo’s conditional pick from San Francisco to a third, then the fourth-round pick the Bills owe the Eagles would push forward to the 2016 draft, since they would not have a fourth-round pick to give Philadelphia in 2015.

Bills fans should root for Stevie to do well in San Francisco this season. If he excels Buffalo will have seven picks in 2015 (a 2nd, two 3rds, two 5ths, a 6th and a 7th).

 

4 – Chris,

Thanks for all your news that you provide to Bills fans outside of the Buffalo area.

My question is regarding the off-season training of EJ, while not at the Bills facility. Knowing that OC Hackett, scaled back the offense last year; is there anything that EJ is doing during the off-season to get a much better understanding of the playbook?? or is EJ just working on his mechanic’s ?? Seems like a little waste of time, if EJ is not in some way learning a bit more of the playbook during this down time.

Thanks
Don Busching
Norwalk, VT

CB: EJ has been diligently working on every aspect of his game. That includes mechanics (footwork, deep throws), playbook and working with teammates having worked with some out in California this offseason on their own. I’m confident people are going to see a different EJ on the field this year.

 

 

5 – Hi Chris,

Russ Brandon and Doug Whaley are always quoted as saying that they will “do whatever it takes to make the Buffalo Bills a better football team.”

With that understanding, how does trading away Stevie Johnson (1,000 yard/season, 26 TDs, veteran WR, one more weapon for EJ Manuel) make the Buffalo Bills a better football team?

At the very least, Stevie would draw coverage away from Sammy Watkins!

This is such a typical move for the Bills–make progress with the drafting of Sammy Watkins, trade away good talent in Stevie.  It’s similar to the Marshawn Lynch trade.  Draft CJ Spiller, trade away pro-bowler Marshawn.  I just don’t understand.  What are the Bills not telling us?  On paper these moves make no sense.

Please help me, and many Bills fans, have a better understanding.  PLEASE no “company line” answer.

Michael Mirras
Discouraged Season Ticket Holder

CB: On the field here’s is why the move was made. Buffalo acquired Mike Williams by trade, a true outside receiving threat with proven touchdown production. They traded up to get the best receiver in the draft in Sammy Watkins, another true outside threat. Williams will draw attention from Watkins.

Perhaps even more important Robert Woods is a receiver this coaching staff believes in a lot. There was more than one assistant who believed by the end of last season that he would be the best receiver on the roster. That dynamic changed with Williams and Watkins added to the roster. In order to help Woods flourish in the current corps of receivers Stevie had to be moved from the slot receiver role so Woods could fill it.

It’s believed that Woods can be an even more productive receiver in the slot. Right now he has the most chemistry with EJ Manuel as OTAs are set to begin. What’s more his precise route running provides more consistency for a quarterback looking to take the next step in his on field performance than the unconventional route running of Johnson.

As Doug Whaley has said the aim this year is to help EJ Manuel take the next step in his development as a franchise quarterback. Providing him with the most dynamic receiver in the draft and a proven scorer in Mike Williams, both of whom can high point the ball as well as anyone, and then a reliable receiver in the slot in Woods they believe will enhance Manuel’s chances of succeeding.

In essence it was a bit of musical chairs and when all the moves were completed at the receiver position Johnson did not have an available seat. He would’ve been the team’s fourth receiver at a hefty price tag moving forward.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Goodell, Brandon on stadium discussion

Posted by Chris Brown on May 21, 2014 – 2:22 pm

There was a lot of talk at the spring league meetings in Atlanta about Buffalo’s stadium situation long term. Commissioner Roger Goodell weighed in on the topic as well as Bills President & CEO Russ Brandon.

A day before the Bills announced they had hired financial and legal advisors to begin the sale process of the club, Goodell reiterated his stance that a new stadium would be best for the team’s long term viability in Western New York.

“I believe a stadium is important to the franchise long term to continue to be successful in Western New York,” said Goodell. “But it is a long-term issue. We have a short-term issue. They are making improvements to the stadium and I think those are positive in the short term. But we all know this lease is 10 years and we have to look well beyond that for this franchise to continue to be successful in western New York.”

Appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Wednesday morning Brandon was asked if staying with a retro-fit stadium as a long term solution would keep the team financially viable.

“That’s part of the deliverables of going through the studies,” said Brandon. “Obviously you can look at different markets. Kansas City went through a major retro-fit. Green Bay at Lambeau, they went through a major retro-fit. And then you look at new buildings like Minnesota and Atlanta and some of the new stadiums that have come on stream over the last few years. I think that’s our responsibility to deliver to the league what we think makes sense and what we can deliver from a revenue standpoint.”

Brandon said the new stadium working group will likely meet again at Bills training camp.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Texting in the draft room

Posted by Chris Brown on May 14, 2014 – 11:17 am

With our exclusive access to the Bills draft room on draft weekend we brought you a lot of behind the scenes coverage with our Bills Focus piece on the first two days of the draft for Buffalo as well as our On The Clock – presented by Michelin piece on Whaley’s Decisive Decision Making. There were some other interesting notes about the goings on in the draft room.

Bills GM Doug Whaley, President & CEO Russ Brandon and Director of Player Personnel Jim Monos were all texting a fair amount during the draft. It was most noticeable on day 1 and less so on days 2 and 3. Whaley confirmed for Buffalobills.com that they were staying in touch with other NFL clubs.

“You’re texting because it’s a faster and more efficient way just to make contact with people, especially in the draft room where things can get a little hectic, there might be a phone ringing,” said Whaley. “So it’s just as easy.”

At the start of the draft there was a lot of texting with other teams ahead of them at ninth overall.

“We were making contact with teams ahead of Cleveland just to see what they were thinking,” said Whaley.

Monos, Brandon and Whaley were each assigned different clubs to stay in touch with during round one.

“With that many teams you want to delegate different guys to talk to different teams so you’re not mixing up your information,” Whaley said. “That’s where mistakes can happen.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-2

Posted by Chris Brown on May 2, 2014 – 11:45 am

The draft is next Thursday (finally). Here are some of your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net about the draft and other topics concerning the Bills. Be sure to follow our wall to wall draft coverage on Buffalobills.com and live on the @johnmurphyshow, which can be found on the Bills app or locally on WGR Sportsradio 550.

1 - Hey Chris,

In my opinion, Coach Marrone’s biggest mistake in year one was not having an experienced NFL quarterback on the roster to fill in for EJ. Boy, did the Bills ever pay for that oversight. How, then, is it possible that Doug Whaley has NO PLANS to sign a veteran QB for 2014? Can you shed some light on the thinking at One Bills Drive? Because it sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

Also, something I thought to be a no-brainer now looks as though it’s not going to happen……Why haven’t the Bills signed Jim Leonhard?!?

Thanks for everything,

Kenny in Indiana
CB: I would argue that it was not an oversight. They had Kevin Kolb on the roster. He was supposed to be EJ’s backup, but a preseason concussion landed him on injured reserve two weeks before the season started. The free agent market was a barren landscape of quarterback talent. Fortunately they swung a trade to land Thad Lewis, who is a player the front office and coaching staff is very high on as a backup.

He is the reason why they chose not to pursue a veteran free agent option. He’s had a year in the system and he and EJ now have a full time quarterback coach, who by the way worked previously with both of them (EJ at the Senior Bowl, Thad in Detroit).

As for Leonhard my only guess is he was seen as an ideal fit in a new defensive system last year that he was wholeheartedly familiar with and could teach to the younger players. Now with the scheme change he may not be seen as quite the same fit.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

The transition from Buddy Nix to Doug Whaley has seemed to go very smoothly.

My question is about Doug Whaley’s basic draft philosophy. Buddy Nix was on record saying he didn’t like to move in the draft, whether it was up or down.

I would love to see the Bills move down in the 1st round this year, pending a dance partner, to get more pick(s).  There appears to be a lot of talent in the 2nd & 3rd rounds. Do you think Doug Whaley will be more proactive to move down in the draft than Buddy?

P.S.  I hope 2014 is the year you get to report about more wins than losses!
Trade Down Tim

CB: I do think that Whaley is more aggressive by nature to make a deal. He was very honest about keeping all options open with their pick at nine. That includes trading up, which I think is a distinct possibility. We’ll see what happens, but at the pre-draft press conference I was encouraged by this comment from Buffalo’s GM.

“If you have a calculated system, and you use that approach, and the deal makes sense, and you see hey, we can move down to this point and still get a guy that we’re excited about, pick up another pick, then don’t be afraid to make the deal,” Whaley said.
3 – Chris,

I saw a rumor going around on nfl.com saying that Houston is “trying very hard to move down to acquire draft selections” and that Buffalo is a potential trade partner.  I would like this move and I hope Buffalo goes for the #1 pick.  I would love to see them pick up Greg Robinson or Sammy Watkins.  Do you think this is a good possibility?  Who do you think they would be chasing after to give up picks to make sure they land?

Thanks,

Alec……..Adams, NY

CB: I tend to doubt the Bills will move up to the top spot. Even the Bills at nine would have to give up an awful lot to make that happen. That being said I do think that moving up to a spot between 4 and 6 is a possibility if the right player is still on the board for them. There’s no way to gauge the likelihood of that happening because there’s no way to tell whether the compensation offered will be accepted for such a move to occur. I do think if the right talent is sitting there on the board Buffalo will at least make an attempt to make something happen.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

With the passing of Mr. Wilson how will this affect spending for the organization in the coming months? Certainly, the staff had a license to spend when he was alive but given that his estate needing to be settled, was a plan put into place so the day to day and free agent spending would not have cash limits. I  just wonder when a player needs to be paid millions of dollars to sign who writes that check now?

Thanks,
Chris Z.

 

CB: As team President and CEO Russ Brandon and GM Doug Whaley said at the pre-draft press conference their operations as a football club are unaffected moving forward. Here are their direct quotes.

Doug Whaley – “The ownership situation has no bearing on us trying to win football games.”

Russ Brandon – “In regards to the ownership transition, it’s business as usual in every facet of our operation.”

 

5 – Chris,

Does Austin Seferian-Jenkins fit what the Bills are looking for in an athletic tight end? Does he have the speed to be a juke type of tight end? I think he’s the second best tight end beside Ebron. Is he a viable candidate in round 2?
CB: He is a round two prospect so I suppose he is an option if Ebron isn’t the pick in round one, but I just don’t see him as a fit for Buffalo. He is a giant man, but he does not have the athleticism of Ebron. Apparently no one else does in the class at the position either. Seferian-Jenkins has above average athleticism for a tight end his size (6’5 ½” 262), but there are work ethic questions about him and some off the field issues. There’s not a lot of wiggle to him after the catch as he generally tries to run through defenders. He’s still a work in progress when it comes to blocking.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Stadium group’s work will be lengthy

Posted by Chris Brown on April 2, 2014 – 4:26 pm

They were just getting to know one another at the initial meeting of the three parties representing the state, Erie county and the Bills as part of the Stadium Advisory Committee, and right away all three arms of the group agreed on the amount of time it will take to reach a conclusion on what they’ve been assembled to accomplish.

“This will be a process. It will be a long process,” said Bills President & CEO Russ Brandon, who will serve as one of the co-chairs of the committee. “There is a lot of work that needs to be done, but I know that our group is up to the task and look forward to working with everyone in the future.”

“It’s an advisory committee which will be making recommendations based on the accumulation of information that’s going to take some time,” said Erie Count Executive Mark Poloncarz, also a co-chair. “I agree with Russ it’s not going to be a short process. I wouldn’t be shocked if it lasted a few years. We want to make certain when the recommendations are made, that we’ve looked under every stone and did everything possible to ask the right questions of the community and ourselves so that we know we’re doing the right plan to keep the team here long term.”

“Everybody understands the seriousness of this process,” said Lt. Governor Bob Duffy, the third co-chair. “I believe we have the right people at the table from all three entities and the people we have put on our teams. This is the first of many, many meetings. A lot of work to be done. We know what all of our goals are, but we can’t predict the future. We just have to follow the process and work and I think it was a great first step.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Super Bowl of Lobby Watching

Posted by johnmurphyshow on March 24, 2014 – 11:57 am

It’s the Super Bowl of lobby watching–day one of the NFL Owners Meetings in Orlando, Florida.

BuffaloBills.com is here with complete coverage of the three day event and we’ll be broadcasting The John Murphy Show live from the meetings tonight and Wednesday night.

NFL personnel have gathered in the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes Hotel in Orlando for day one of the sessions. The entire group, coaches, GMs, and top level club executives, held a meeting in one ballroom at 830 Monday morning, and then the group broke up around 10am. Head Coaches, GMs, and other football personnel went to a Football Operations session at mid morning. Later today, the NFL Competition Committee, chaired by Rich McKay, will hold a news conference to discuss some of the propsals on the table.

The Bills are represented here by President and CEO Russ Brandon, General Manager Doug Whaley, the club’s Executive Vice President for Strategic Planning, Mary Owen, the Senior Vice President of Football Administration, Jim Overdorf, and Head Coach Doug Marrone.

As of noon on Monday, the media gathered here at the Ritz Carlton have spent the day loitering outside the meeting rooms, taking video and pictures of NFL luminaries going from meeting room to meeting room, and waiting for the morning meetings to recess so that we can talk to the principals. We expect things to pick up shortly.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills plan to be active in free agency

Posted by Chris Brown on March 6, 2014 – 10:51 am

NFL free agency is fast approaching as teams can begin negotiating with agents for unrestricted players as early as Saturday with signings permissible Tuesday at 4 pm. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon addressed the level of involvement the team will have when the market opens.

Brandon appeared on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 this week and confirmed they will have a presence in the market next week.

“We’ll be active in free agency,” Brandon said. “We have a master plan on everything related to our current roster and going into free agency. And that starts right at the conclusion of the season from the Senior Bowl to the Combine and obviously there are pro days throughout the country over the next month. Our scouts and Doug (Whaley) and our player personnel people will be all over doing that. We have a plan going into free agency and a master plan tied into the entire roster.”

At the same time GM Doug Whaley has said repeatedly that they will not be pursuing “big splash” players. Whaley said they will pursue players of value not unlike the ones they picked up last offseason like Manny Lawson and Alan Branch.


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Brandon on chain of command in front office

Posted by Chris Brown on March 6, 2014 – 10:46 am

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon thought it was ridiculous to even question how it functions, but when asked how personnel and contract values are set in Buffalo’s front office, he provided an in depth answer to eliminate any doubt as to how things trickle down from GM Doug Whaley when it comes to football and salary cap decisions.

Appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Brandon explained how personnel and salary cap decisions are delineated.

“I have great belief in our structure, and let me be real clear about this,” said Brandon. “When Doug Whaley was brought in as general manager he was given sole responsibility for the 53-man roster and the value equation on each player. So the composition of the roster and the value on players are totally his responsibility. So he directs the ceiling on each negotiation and he has full salary cap at his disposal and he’s empowered to deploy it as he sees fit.

“My belief is the general manager position is all about personnel and all about player acquisition. (Senior VP of Football Administration) Jim Overdorf is our lead negotiator on each contract. He takes his direction from the GM chair. He is one of the most respected individuals at his craft in this business.

“Every team has a lead negotiator. Jim and I and (Player Personnel Analyst) Kevin Meganck and Doug Whaley sits in on that as well. Quite frankly I don’t want Doug worried about which legal clause to put in a contract when he’s at a pro day, which he is (doing now). But make no mistake he sets the ceiling on each player and how the composition of the roster looks.

“I will tell you this, this organization has never been in more lock step. To offer any other commentary on that is really nonsense and sophomoric in my opinion.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Atlanta game impacted move to postpone

Posted by Chris Brown on March 5, 2014 – 12:51 pm

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon announced Wednesday that the Bills Toronto Series would be postponed for the 2014 season with all eight home games to be played at Ralph Wilson Stadium. When asked if the atmosphere of the Atlanta game last December, which sounded neutral at best, had an impact on the decision Brandon admitted it played a role.

“I think that’s a fair comment,” Brandon said. “Obviously we’re trying to build a fan base north of the border and this year I would say it was a neutral crowd. Some of that had to do with how we played over the last six years has really not been conducive to building a lot of fans that were NFL fans, but we’re trying to make them Bills fans.

“We’re going to continue to try to do that through a variety of initiatives that we will be working with Rogers over the next year in a very robust sponsorship and partnership that we will have that will cater to fans above the border.”

Brandon was asked if the interrupting of the series would include 2015 as well. The Bills President and CEO said an evaluation needs to take place about where to go from here.

“We’re going to go through a detailed full analysis. Most of our analysis that we’ve been through over the past few months has been more top line,” he said. “We’re going to look at every aspect that if we do come back we have a more robust fan experience and try to create more of a home field advantage for us. Right now that was not the situation. That was one of the reasons we want to get in to a lot of detail with our partners up there and see if that is viable moving forward.”


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Plan to extend Aaron in works for 2 months

Posted by Chris Brown on March 5, 2014 – 12:42 pm

At the end of the season the Bills front office laid out their plans for the offseason with regard to the roster and President and CEO Russ Brandon made it clear that an extension for Aaron Williams was part of their plan.

“After the season we had a comprehensive meeting off-site with Coach Marrone and Doug Whaley and Jim Monos, our Director of Player Personnel, and really laid out in detail our master plan moving in to the future,” said Brandon. “Obviously extending a player like Aaron was a priority for us and we’re thrilled that he’s going to be with us long term.”

Williams confirmed for Buffalobills.com that he was approached by the team at season’s end about a multi-year extension.

“The Bills actually came to me at the end of the season and I told my agent, ‘Hey this is what they’re thinking. I don’t want any say in it until the right time. I’m going to let y’all handle it and take care of business and I’m going to go work out and just enjoy some of my time off,’” said Williams.

 


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New assistants give Bills added QB acumen

Posted by Chris Brown on February 20, 2014 – 4:33 pm

Buffalo’s new offensive assistants, QBs coach Todd Downing and senior offensive assistant Jim Hostler will provide many benefits to the offensive staff. One of which is the ability to adapt to whatever their quarterback picture looks like come training camp.

Bills head coach Doug Marrone said the quarterback coaching experience of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, combined with Downing and Hostler has put them in a position where they’ll be able to handle any QB roster combination in 2014.

“I think we don’t want to ever put ourselves in a position where as an organization we can’t get the best thing out there (on the field) for us,” said Marrone. “That’s a collaborative thing between myself and Doug (Whaley) and Russ Brandon and Jim Monos and (Director of College Scouting) Kelvin (Fisher).

“So for us what I felt is we brought in a quarterback coach, one who has worked with EJ before. We brought in Jim Hostler who I’ve been with and knows the system that we have. We’ve set ourselves up where we can go ahead and get a veteran quarterback if that’s what Doug would like to do. We can draft a quarterback if that’s what Doug wants to do. Or we can stay status quo if that’s what we want to do. So we’re prepared as a staff to go in any direction.”

For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-24

Posted by Chris Brown on January 24, 2014 – 12:48 pm

Well the Bills have begun their search to find the best successor to Mike Pettine now that he’ll be running the Browns. Here’s the latest edition of your questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – With Mike Pettine going to the Browns do you think the next coordinator Buffalo hires will employ the same scheme and same terminology as Pettine, or will it be totally different, or will it be a similar scheme with different terminology and maybe some different details. It’s a shame that we’re losing Pettine. I was looking forward to having the same d-coordinator and scheme going into the next season; that hasn’t happened in a long time. It would be nice to be able to get deeper into the current scheme in the off season rather than starting from scratch like we’re usually doing.  I think this is a big step back for the defense, you can’t build a consistently dominate defense if you’re constantly changing schemes and coaches.  The good teams in this league seem to have consistency.

CB: I think the future of the defensive scheme will depend largely on whether the replacement at defensive coordinator comes from outside the organization or is an internal hire. If it’s an internal hire then the chances are far greater that the scheme remains the same. If it’s a hire outside the organization there’s a chance that the scheme changes, which we all know will lead to a new learning curve. It’s my understanding that coach Marrone will not limit himself to promoting only from within.

I think hiring an open-minded defensive coordinator is the best way to go, one who isn’t married to a specific system. One who, much like Pettine, fits the scheme to the players, not the players to the scheme.

Continuity is a factor granted, but Marrone knows he has to get the best defensive play caller to help maintain the level of productivity and play on that side of the ball. Restricting his search to only the men already on his staff would be just that, restrictive.

 

2 – Hello Chris,

Goodbye Stevie Johnson and hello Sammy Watkins.  We need a real game breaker now!!!  After watching everyone pick Geno Smith #1 last year (lol), it won’t be Bridgewater either.  Any team in their right mind is going for Clowney.  QB is too risky at #1.  What are your early thoughts on the Bills pick?

Jim (Skaneateles)


CB:
First, I don’t get the sense that Stevie Johnson is going anywhere. I admit things appeared sketchy for his future here at the end of the season. Even I was wondering what the future might hold. But I think we need to remember that to help EJ Manuel progress you need to surround him with as much talent as possible. Johnson is the most accomplished receiver on the roster.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think the Bills need to make an addition to the team at receiver. I think they need to add a size wideout. In the words of Doug Whaley, “Big wins.” But I expect the Bills to at least explore veteran options in free agency because there already is so much youth in the receivers room.

Second, I don’t expect Sammy Watkins to be on the board at nine. He’ll be gone in the first three to five picks. If he slips I’ll be stunned.

I think at nine, and Bills fans might not like me for this, but based on the talent that should be there an offensive tackle would make a lot of sense. There’s a long time between now and the draft, which is in May this year, but I think knowing how QB needy some of the teams ahead of Buffalo are I believe that some of the top O-line talent could be sitting there for the Bills. We can’t forget that the Bills gave up the third-most sacks in the league last year (48), and with an emphasis on surrounding EJ Manuel with talent, and more important keeping him healthy, protection will be at a premium.

 

3 – Chris,
Any word from EJ as to his training regimen during the off-season? Will he be going back to Ken Mastrole or is he mostly just for getting ready for pro days and combine prep? Do you think there will be a QB coach added this year?

CB: In a recent interview EJ said he was actively rehabbing to get his knee back to 100 percent. He did say he planned to do more offseason work with his personal QBs coach. And hopefully you’ve seen our reporting on Doug Marrone’s plan to hire a quarterbacks coach to lighten the burden that was on offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett last year.

In fact by this time next week there might already be a QBs coach on staff.

 

4 – Hey Chris,

I was wondering, with reading about the Toronto series & seeing R. Brandon at the year end press conf. exactly how far does Brandon’s power reach into the actual football side of the team ? Meaning setting up the draft board, choosing players, who to keep /who to let go (as in the Fitz decision) & so on . I know the guy is supposed to be a great mind when it comes to the advertisement & selling of the team but there have been more than a one decision that has been made this & previous years when it comes to the team that I personally wonder who made these decisions .

I know Russ wasn’t promoted until this past year & I would hope that he would leave the player & direct football decisions to those that were hired to make those calls, but i do know like in the case of some teams the owner & or president of operations power is used sometimes far too much to influence the direction or decisions of those hired to do those jobs of which some recent decisions to me any way seem as though that may have been the case . I am in agreement with the way that the team is going & some of the players that have been brought in but as all fans I have my own ideas & opinions (which don’t amount to much) but try not to draw conclusions with out knowing more than I do & that is why once again i turn to you for some possible answers. Which again as always I thank you for the time & efforts that you put forth to keep us all in the know!!

Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: I think Russ Brandon said it best himself at the end of the season press conference. He was asked for his assessment of EJ Manuel and he gave the following response, which I believe explains a lot with respect to his role on the football side of the organization.

“My assessment really is empowered through Doug Whaley and coach Marrone. That’s what I empowered these guys to do last year and certainly we’re going to put every resource behind all 53 of our guys to improve. Obviously the bell cow is usually the quarterback and gets all the publicity and all the media attention as we mentioned earlier. But we’re going to put everything behind him and try to see some marked improvement moving forward.”

 

5 – Chris,

I’m not finding anywhere that has where the Bills overall on offence and and defence were among the rest of the league. (Just stuff like #2 in rushing…) maybe you could post something about it?

thanks,
jeff zinger

CB: Here are some of the more noteworthy statistical rankings that I believe you’re interested in.

Offense
Total yards per game – 19th
Rushing – 2nd
Passing – 28th
Sacks per play – 28th
Third down – 29th
Points per game – 22nd

Defense
Total yards per game – 10th
Run defense – 28th
Pass defense – 4th
Sacks per play – 3rd
Third down – 14th
Points allowed per game – 20th

Special teams
Punt return avg. – 29th
Kick return avg. – 29th
Net punting – 30th
FG % – 10th

Punt coverage – 25th
Kick coverage – 17th
Net punting against – 27th
FG % against – 17th


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Offer sheets going out to Bills FAs soon

Posted by Chris Brown on January 21, 2014 – 11:02 pm

Bills GM Doug Whaley is actively scouting prospects at the Senior Bowl, but before he left Buffalo, he along with President and CEO Russ Brandon and Senior VP of Football Administration Jim Overdorf put their priority list together of their own free agents. The ones at the top of their list are likely to receive offer sheets soon.

“We ranked them and prioritized them and put a value on each guy,” said Whaley. “With our cap space it shouldn’t prohibit us from doing what we need to do. In this business you can’t get everybody, but we have a priority list and we’ll go down that list.

“We’ll get to work on our guys before that (March 11th) deadline because we have exclusive negotiating rights. Jim Overdorf is at home crunching the numbers right now to get some offer sheets ready to send out to their agents.”


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Marrone on Pettine situation

Posted by Chris Brown on January 20, 2014 – 4:02 pm

Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine remains in contention for the vacant Cleveland Browns head coaching vacancy after interviewing with the AFC North club last week. There are reports he will interview a second time with Cleveland. Bills head coach Doug Marrone commented on how the situation may impact his team if things work out for Pettine in Cleveland.

“Obviously Mike has done a great job even prior to coming to Buffalo and obviously did a great job for us this year,” Marrone told Buffalobills.com. “We’re in a profession where people are going to recognize that. We’re very happy for Mike.”

“Obviously he’s in a process that Cleveland controls right now. They’re getting ready to make decisions and we’re there to support Mike and help him and if it goes well and he has the opportunity to go then Doug (Whaley), myself and Russ (Brandon) have already met and we’re ready to do what we have to do for our organization.”


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Offer to be made to Byrd, Carpenter

Posted by Chris Brown on December 30, 2013 – 5:58 pm

Bills GM Doug Whaley said they intend to pursue some of their own free agents vigorously between now and the start of free agency. Chief among them Jairus Byrd and kicker Dan Carpenter.

“We’re going to leave all options on the table. We had a conversation myself and Russ (Brandon) sat and talked to Jairus and we’re going to make an offer to the guy,” said Whaley. “We’re going to try to keep him to the best of our ability. We’re in the business of collecting good players and he’s a good player.”

When asked if making use of the franchise tag could happen again, Whaley did not rule it out.

“That’s always an option,” said Whaley. “We’re not going to back ourselves into a corner and eliminate any possibility of trying to retain a good player.”

Dan Carpenter, who tied a team record with 33 field goals made (Steve Christie, 1998), said he’s keeping his options open, but Whaley made it clear he too will try to be re-signed.

“Absolutely,” Whaley said. “Russ (Brandon) and I talked to him and we’re going to reach out to his agents pretty soon and see if we can try and get something done.”

Whaley also said they intend to present Brian Moorman with an offer too.


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Bills only focused on supporting Stevie

Posted by Chris Brown on December 18, 2013 – 10:44 am

After losing his mother, who passed unexpectedly over the weekend, Stevie Johnson’s availability for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins is undetermined. Head coach Doug Marrone may shed some light on the receiver’s situation in his Wednesday press conference this afternoon, but Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon did confirm one thing concerning Johnson.

In his weekly radio appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550, Brandon said that the team will provide Johnson with any means of support that he or his family might need this week.

“We’ve been in communication with him since Saturday evening,” said Brandon. “What he’s dealing with is a very difficult situation. It’s a private thing for him. I can’t anticipate what’s going to happen on Sunday. My only focus is on making sure we support him and his family and take care of him in any possible way that we can.”

 


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Brandon: Miami game to be blacked out

Posted by Chris Brown on December 18, 2013 – 10:14 am

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Wednesday was up front in admitting that they will not be able to beat the blackout deadline of Thursday at 1 pm and sell out Sunday’s game against the Dolphins.

“We won’t meet the sellout,” said Brandon. “The game will be blacked out, but we will have a good crowd there and they’ll be boisterous for sure. Everyone always gets a little extra amped up when the Dolphins come to town. We’ll be ready and I know the fans will be ready and we’d love to knock them off their playoff perch.”

Brandon said there are about 16,000 tickets left for Sunday’s game. This is the first TV blackout of the season for Buffalo.


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Brandon to evaluate Toronto Series

Posted by Chris Brown on December 4, 2013 – 10:26 am

Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 this morning, Bills President and CEO was asked several questions about the viability and prudence of the team’s Toronto Series, in which they play one regular season home game north of the border every year at the Rogers Centre. Brandon made it clear that he’s evaluating that along with a host of other aspects and ventures of the organization in this his first year of running the franchise’s day-to-day operations.

“One of the things I said to the fans on January 1st of this past year was that I was going to review every phase of this operation and this series comes within that framework,” Brandon said. “There’s a full evaluation that will take place on all of our business relative to what this series means and I’m going to look at it very closely because, what’s good for business, obviously Toronto has been positive for us down here. We’ve had great growth in the Southern Ontario marketplace over the last five years back here at Ralph Wilson Stadium. That has been a big positive. It has been a challenged market there and certainly has not translated in to enough wins for us there. As I mentioned almost a year ago, we’re going to look at everything and this will be within something I look at.”

Brandon was also asked if he was staying true to his position that the organization’s most important goal is winning, knowing the struggle it has been to win games in Toronto with the team now 1-5 in games played at the Rogers Centre.

“It’s also about being viable and that’s one of the things that we’ve talked about for many years here,” he said. “Look at it from the standpoint of where we’ve been on the ticket side. We’ve taken the game out of the market which essentially has taken 70,000 seats out of the market and have truly only sold out two of our home games. We’ve manufactured sell-outs in the other four or five. We’re trying to find ways to obviously keep this franchise viable which we’ve done a very good job at and this series has obviously contributed to that. With that being said, nothing comes above winning. When I took over the reins on January 1st, I said that was the number one focus and that will be the number one focus. That’s one of the reasons that this will be reviewed in a grand manner.”


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