Inside The Bills

The evaluation of EJ moving forward

Posted by Chris Brown on November 13, 2013 – 10:12 am

The Bills made EJ Manuel their number one draft choice for a reason. As Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon said in his weekly radio appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 said, it’s because “we believe he’s the guy.” So how will the organization move through the evaluation process and how long might it last before they definitively determine that he is in fact ‘the guy.’ Brandon offered the following answer.

With EJ he’s started and finished five games. Let’s keep him on the field,” said Brandon. “He’s 23-years old. He’s seeing things for the first time in this league. We all know that it’s different from college. So I’m excited about keeping him on the field and see where his growth is by the end of the year.

“We were very pleased with where he was heading before he was injured in Cleveland. Last week was not his best effort or from any of us. But I think that’s where we have to go to see how he progresses along, with his full complement of players as well. Marquise wasn’t in for much of the first four games of the year. Robert Woods was out in Pittsburgh. Stevie was out for most of the Cleveland game. We’d like to see him with his full complement of players as well.”


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Brandon doesn’t see any hangover effect

Posted by Chris Brown on November 13, 2013 – 10:09 am

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon made his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 this morning and was asked if he’s witnessed a hangover effect from the disappointing loss at Pittsburgh last week with the players and coaches.

While Brandon admitted that it was a game where he felt they “didn’t finish in any phase of the game,” he said he hasn’t seen any hanging heads at all this week at One Bills Drive.

“Not at all,” said Brandon. “I really don’t. I think our guys have come in and they’re ready to play and they get ready for the work week. I like how this group approaches everything, especially coach Marrone and the staff. I know the guys are excited about being home to play the Jets. I’m anticipating that we’re going to bounce back.”

 


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Jets home game ticket update

Posted by Chris Brown on November 6, 2013 – 9:53 am

The week following this weekend’s Bills game in Pittsburgh, Buffalo hosts the Jets for a 1 pm kickoff on Nov. 17th. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon provided an update on tickets remaining.

Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportradio 550, Brandon said they’ve got some selling to do.

“We’re about 7,000 (tickets) left for the Jets so we’ve made an impact over the last 10 days,” he said. “So we’re going to keep selling and hopefully get that game on TV and the experience over here at the stadium has been tremendous with all the changes we’ve made to help our fans enjoy the experience. We certainly hope that we get that game done and sold out.”

Fans can call 1-877-BB-TICKS or go to Buffalobills.com to order tickets for the Jets game.


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Brandon: EJ should be ready to go Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on November 6, 2013 – 9:41 am

Bills President and CEO in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 was asked about the likelihood of EJ Manuel playing this Sunday at Pittsburgh.

Brandon said team medical director Dr. John Marzo cleared Manuel and that the Bills starting QB is full go for practice today.

“He’s been rehabbing. Last week it was really ramped up as coach Marrone said,” said Brandon. “He responded very well and we anticipate that he will continue to respond well to a full workload of practice. As that goes on each and every day, coach Marrone will evaluate his progress along with coach Hackett and if he’s ready to roll on Sunday he’ll get the green light.

“Unless he has any type of setback through the course of practice he should be ready to go on Sunday.”

We’ll have practice updates here on Buffalobills.com this afternoon.


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Brandon: EJ hopefully back “next month or so”

Posted by Chris Brown on October 16, 2013 – 9:36 am

It wasn’t an official timetable by any means, but Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon did hint at a loose period of time when Manuel might be able to return from his knee injury.

“He’s here constantly going through the rehab process with our training staff,” said Brandon in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. “Hopefully he’ll continue to progress. I don’t have a timetable at this point, but hopefully we can get EJ back on the field as soon as possible. I know that’s what he wants too. Coach (Marrone) will address it later today. Hopefully we’ll have him back in the next month or so.”

Bills head coach Doug Marrone is scheduled to address the media at 2 pm.

 


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Brandon refutes open trade talks on Byrd

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2013 – 9:26 am

Bills S Jairus Byrd is expected to be in the lineup on Sunday against the Bengals. A recent report however, described the organization being open to talks about trading the Pro Bowl safety. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon refuted that report.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this week that the Bills are open to trading Jairus Byrd after being unwilling to do so earlier this season. The NFL trade deadline is Oct. 29th.

When asked about the report in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Wednesday morning, Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon refuted the report and said the organization’s position has not changed.

“I don’t know where these reports come from,” said Brandon. “It’s no different than what we talked about before. Our focus is getting JB back on the field and hopefully that will be this week. We are not actively seeking a deal. It’s not a topic of conversation in our building.”

When asked if moving Byrd would be ruled out if propositioned by another team Brandon answered generally.

“It’s the same thing I’ve always said, when someone calls us we’ll pick up the phone and answer it relative to any subject relative to our peers in the league,” said Brandon. “So I wouldn’t rule out picking up the phone.”

 

 


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Brandon: No trade request came from Byrd

Posted by Chris Brown on September 11, 2013 – 11:09 am

Last week safety Jairus Byrd appeared surprised by reports that he had requested a trade following an offseason in which he and the Bills could not reach a long term contract agreement prior to the franchise player deadline of July 15th. On Wednesday morning, Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon refuted reports of a trade request.

Appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Brandon said a trade request has not been made by Byrd.

“There was no trade request,” said Brandon. “That isn’t even a topic of conversation in this building.”

When asked if the team would even consider a deal for Byrd if they were approached by another club, Brandon didn’t completely dismiss the idea, but made it clear that moving Byrd off the roster is not in their plans.

“You always listen to anything from your fellow clubs, but that is not in our topic of conversation in our building right now,” said Brandon. “Our focus is seeing (Byrd) get back on the field.”

Brandon’s comments about Byrd ran in concert with those of head coach Doug Marrone, who has praised the safety’s approach on the field despite the disappointment of not reaching a long-term contract agreement with Buffalo.

“He’s the exact same guy he’s always been,” Brandon said. “Is he disappointed that we weren’t able to come to an agreement? Absolutely and we are as well. But that’s the business part that we don’t even like talking about. When it comes to the football end and the team end, he’s a great professional and a great teammate. J.B. has been nothing but a professional from the day he walked in the building and continues to do so.”

The team’s chief executive also reiterated that the organization’s goal remains the same as it did in the summer, to sign Byrd to a long-term extension. By league rule that cannot happen until after the regular season.

“We’re disappointed that we weren’t able to come to an agreement,” he said. “We worked hard to try to get him locked in long term. It didn’t happen, but he’s here and he’s on our team. When the opportunity arises and we can get into those discussions again we will go down the exact same path and try to get J.B. locked in.”


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1,600 tickets left for Sunday’s game

Posted by Chris Brown on September 11, 2013 – 10:05 am

The Bills Week 2 matchup with Carolina on Sunday still has tickets available. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon laid out the numbers and plan for this week with the blackout deadline approaching on Thursday at 1 pm.

“We do have some tickets to move,” said Brandon, who appeared on the Howard Simon show on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. “We have about 1,600 tickets left remaining for the game. The deadline is Thursday at 1 pm. Tickets are moving and we’re confident we’ll be able to get the game sold out.”

When asked if the team would buy out the remaining tickets to make it a sellout to get the game televised, Brandon said that won’t happen.

“No, the plan is to sell every ticket we can,” he said. “Our fans have done a great job stepping up, but we need to move through these tickets. We’ll be selling right through kickoff because we will have some visiting (team ticket) returns probably on Friday and Saturday. So we’ll have tickets right up to kickoff.”

When asked how confident he is in getting the game on TV, Brandon believes it will happen.

“I’m fairly confident,” he said. “Actually I’m more than fairly confident. I think we’ll get it done. The sales staff is doing an excellent job and the fans have done a good job the first couple of days this week and we’ve got a lot going on with the Wall of Fame ceremony Sunday as well.”

 


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Fan Friday 8-23

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

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

1 - Chris –

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

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

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

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

Eric Haase
Season Ticket Holder since 1990

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

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

2 – What’s up Chris

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

Brian in South Carolina

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Larry in Tucson

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

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

Thanks for your time, Jillian CT

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

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


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Brandon on camp Marrone

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2013 – 8:06 pm

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon has overseen every training camp at St. John Fisher. He was asked what stood out about the first training camp under new head coach Doug Marrone.

“Accountability, attention to detail and obviously the energy, I know that a lot has been talked about that, but it’s not just on the field. It’s translated to everything we do here within the organization and I think we’ve had a very good camp,” said Brandon. “Fisher has done a tremendous job hosting us and our fans have been great. We’ve had great attendance here over the last month and we’re looking forward to seeing everybody at Ralph Wilson Stadium.”


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Brandon on Byrd

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2013 – 11:52 am

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon commented on the signing of Jairus Byrd late Tuesday, and there’s no change in the team’s approach to get Byrd locked up long term once the regular season concludes.

“We’re thrilled to have Jairus back,” said Brandon. “I look forward to seeing him. He’s had a couple of great years for us and we’re looking forward to him having another great year.”

The Bills and the Byrd camp were able to see eye to eye on a long term contract extension prior to the July 15th deadline, but it never got acrimonious between the two sides. That’s why Brandon is confident a long term pact can be brokered once it is permissible at season’s end.

“As I said from day one there’s nothing personal in this at all,” said Brandon. “He’s a great Bill. We weren’t able to come to an agreement before the July 15th deadline, but as soon as we can go back to work on that our goal is to have Jairus here long term.”


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New stadium feasibility premature per Brandon

Posted by Chris Brown on July 29, 2013 – 10:48 am

In the wake of the new lease agreement between the Bills, Erie County and New York State was the language contained within it that talked of conducting studies and exploring the feasibility of a new stadium for the team. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon was asked if there were any developments on that front. Here was his response.

“Our focus right now is completely on the renovation, but as part of the (Memorandum of Understanding) and the
lease moving forward we will work hand in hand with the Governor’s office and the county on doing studies down the road to see if the stadium situation needs to be altered in any capacity,” said Brandon in an appearance on the Howard Simon show. “When we went through this past renovation we considered new stadium, retro fit, renovation and the renovation process was the route we took. But I think the nice thing about the lease agreement is there are caveats in that which will give us an opportunity with whatever needs to be done in the future.”

Renovations on Ralph Wilson Stadium have already begun, with the initial work focused on the “bones” of the stadium with structural repair and improvements.


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Brandon: Mr. Wilson excited for 2013

Posted by Chris Brown on July 29, 2013 – 10:14 am

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon made an appearance on the Howard Simon show Monday morning on Bills’ flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. He was asked for an update on how Mr. Wilson is doing.

Brandon said the Bills Hall of Fame owner is glad the doldrums of early July are over and football is up and running again.

“I talk to him every day. He’s doing fantastic,” said Brandon. “He’s excited for the start of camp. He’s really doing outstanding.”

 

 

 


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A peek into Bills front office structure

Posted by Chris Brown on July 11, 2013 – 11:37 am

NFL.com’s Albert Breer took the time to breakdown the hierarchy of each NFL front office. Who makes the decisions in what areas of the franchise, who answers to who and who has final say? It’s a pretty comprehensive look at the different power structures in the league.

Here is an interesting, though not surprising look at Buffalo’s new front office structure with President & CEO Russ Brandon now handling day-to-day control and Doug Whaley as GM.

The most interesting part of the breakdown was the opinion of an anonymous NFC executive on Buffalo’s new front office hierarchy.


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Bills have youngest front office trio

Posted by Chris Brown on May 16, 2013 – 1:58 pm

With Doug Whaley named Bills GM on Thursday, the Bills now have the youngest front office trio in the NFL.

That according to the Bills research department. Whaley (40), President and CEO Russ Brandon (45) and head coach Doug Marrone (48) have an average age of just over 44 years of age. It’s the youngest average age for NFL front offices.

“I stood here on January first and made some promises to our fans and quite frankly to people in our organization,” said Brandon. “One of the things that I mentioned was we were going to do whatever it takes to restore the pride in the franchise moving forward. We talked about being progressive and forward thinking and attacking in everything that we do. We also talked about identifying top talent and empowering those people with making impact decisions. We did that today, by naming Doug Whaley the general manager of the Buffalo Bills.”

Some of the other younger NFL front offices in terms of average age were Cleveland, Detroit, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, San Francisco and San Diego.


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Buddy on what changed

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2013 – 5:05 pm

Outgoing Bills GM Buddy Nix said right after the draft that nothing had changed concerning his status as the team’s top personnel man. Now three weeks later he’s stepping aside. In a one-on-one interview with Buffalobills.com, Nix explained what changed.

“Russ (Brandon) and I talk a lot,” said Nix. “Our offices are right here together and Doug Marrone too, we talk about everything. We started after the draft. At the time we were so consumed with the draft going into it and even right after talking about the guys we got. Then after things kind of settled down and we tried to figure out the right timing and to me that’s the big issue here. This is the best time.”


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Bills intend to add undrafted QB

Posted by Chris Brown on April 27, 2013 – 7:36 pm

Bills GM Buddy Nix got the long term answer at quarterback for the future in first-round pick EJ Manuel, but Buffalo plans to add still another quarterback to the mix as they begin their recruiting of undrafted rookie free agents.

“We’ll try to get another one in free agency,” said Nix.

With the 2013 NFL draft concluded, three quarterbacks that made pre-draft visits to Buffalo went undrafted. Arizona’s Matt Scott, Tennessee’s Tyler Bray and Washington State’s Jeff Tuel all visited One Bills Drive earlier this month.

Buffalo also put Bray through a private workout. Seeing the clear focus on adding team speed and versatility Scott might prove to be the more coveted quarterback prospect as he offers the most athleticism of the aforementioned signal callers. But there will also be stiff competition from the other 31 NFL clubs to land any one of them.

“It will be competitive, it always is,” said Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon, who takes part in the recruitment of undrafted rookie free agents. “If you look back historically some of the successes we’ve had with some of the undrafted free agents and it comes down to recruiting and situations within your roster structure and opportunity. We’ll be very competitive.

“If you look at the statistics even just last year, the percentage of undrafted rookies that make rosters and practice squads, it’s significant.”

Nix admitted that there were a couple of times on day two and three of the draft that they considered taking another quarterback.

“Very seriously,” said Nix.

 


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Free agent Davis liked Marrone

Posted by Chris Brown on March 27, 2013 – 12:07 pm

Washington free agent TE Fred Davis said he’s going to be making a free agent visit to Buffalo on Thursday. He also talked about his first impression of Bills head coach Doug Marrone after meeting him over dinner last weekend.

Appearing on PFC Radio Wednesday morning, Davis said he sat down over dinner with Bills President & CEO Russ Brandon, GM Buddy Nix, head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. When asked for his initial impressions of Marrone, Davis said he came away impressed.

“I think when you meet him, just talking to him, he seems like a player’s coach, down to earth and real and that’s something with a lot of coaches you don’t get a chance to see,” said Davis. “He was really cool and all the things he talked about you can tell he’s a humble guy that doesn’t make choices because of money. It’s more about what he wants to do in life.”

Davis said he got a “good vibe” from the Bills brass.

“We’ll see what happens when I get there,” said Davis. “I had a good feeling with them. They’re a good group of guys.”


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Davis: I’m visiting Bills this week

Posted by Chris Brown on March 27, 2013 – 11:56 am

Washington free agent TE Fred Davis already had dinner with the Bills brass over the weekend. Appearing on PFC radio, Davis confirmed he’ll be making a visit to One Bills Drive this week.

“I leave tomorrow morning for Buffalo,” Davis told Pro Football Central radio host Brian Harrington Tuesday.

Even though Davis might be traveling Wednesday, his visit to the facility may not happen until the following day.

Davis said he also has a visit lined up with the Jets “in a couple of days.”

The talented tight end is coming off of a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered last October, but said he’s already running.

“I feel good right now,” Davis said. “I’m only four and a half months out of my surgery and I’m already running and stuff so I know what I’m going to be able to do this year. I will be back to 100 percent.”

He insists he’ll be full go by mid-June, which sounds very amibitious. Typically torn Achilles require 11-12 months of rehabilitation. Davis’ physical will likely be the determining factor in assessing just when he can be expected to get full medical clearance to play again.

The tight end, who insisted he’s more than just a pass catching threat talked about his initial meeting with the Bills saying he dined with President & CEO Russ Brandon, GM Buddy Nix, head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.

“It was a good vibe,” said Davis. “It was more positive than I thought. I talked to them and they’re a good group of guys. I respected what they were talking about and it interesting. It was a good showing.”

In the next breath he did admit that the quarterback situation is a factor.

“That’s the main part of any team. You need that quarterback and you need that leadership,” he said. “I’m sure whatever they do they’re going to go in the draft and try to get someone or make something happen. That’s something you have to think about, but I’m sure they have a plan for that, which every team hopes to have. I hope it works out. That’s an interesting situation.”

At the same time it sounds like Davis wants to look at all his options before making a decision, which means his visit with the Jets could go on as scheduled after his scheduled visit to Buffalo.

“I just want to see where the best opportunity is to be able to win,” said Davis. “I had a great conversation with the Bills. The head coach was really cool. The offensive coordinator was cool. The GM and the president they were all great guys. I had a good time. We had a lot of good conversation about football and life. I liked the conversation we had, but it’s a business so you’ve got to see all your options and then make a decision. You can’t just make a decision after seeing one choice.”


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Brandon: “It’s a different day”

Posted by johnmurphyshow on February 27, 2013 – 9:15 pm

The Buffalo Bills roster makeover continues, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Wednesday’s retirement of DE Chris Kelsay continues the turnover for the Buffalo defense.  Besides Kelsay, the past few weeks have seen the Bills part ways with veterans George Wilson, Terrence McGree, and Nick Barnett.

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon says it’s all part of the process.

“It’s a different day,” Brandon said Wednesday night on The John Murphy Show.  “We’ve had individuals like Chris, who made his announcement today, Terrence McGee, George Wilson, Nick Barnett-guys who’ve contributed over the years, who are no longer with us.”

“I have all the confidence in the world in Buddy and the personnel department to make those decisions,” Brandon continued.  “That’s what they do in their evaluation process.  We’re two weeks away from the start of free agency and with the draft coming up in April, there’s a lot of work to be done. I’m very confident we will put the right pieces in place to make a significant run.”

The entire interview with Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon is available at buffalobills.com/johnmurphyshow


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