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Inside The Bills

Chan and Fitz give and take

Posted by Chris Brown on November 29, 2012 – 9:10 am

Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has discussions with head coach Chan Gailey each and every week after Gailey and his staff formulate the game plan. Fitzpatrick shed some light on the ways they interact and discuss what utilized most and least in the game plan each week.

“I sat down and talked with him Tuesday and Wednesday,” said Fitzpatrick. “We talked about stuff, and we’re focused on these last five games, I think that’s the most important thing. It’s very important in these last five games to show the progress that we think we’ve made in the last few years. There has been progress. We think we are much better, but we’ve got to be able to go out there and do it, show it on the field.” 

With respect to the game plan Fitzpatrick says after it’s put together by the staff Gailey and he discuss the elements of the offensive plan.

“They come up with all kinds of different ideas and different ways they want to attack different personnel groupings and things like that,” he said. “Usually, we’ll sit down in our Wednesday morning meeting, and he’ll go over everything that they’ve installed and put in. We’ll kinda talk about comfort level, what we like and what we don’t like, and tinker with stuff during the week, if we feel like there are some changes to be made, whether it’s third down, red zone or the regular down and distance stuff.”


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Chan on Fitz’s future

Posted by Chris Brown on November 28, 2012 – 2:58 pm

Bills head coach Chan Gailey was asked if Buffalo’s season and performance on offense doesn’t improve could it have an impact on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s status as the team’s starting quarterback. Here was Gailey’s response.

“I think we’ve always said we’re looking to develop a quarterback for the future, but I don’t think it’s the near future,” said Gailey. “I think we’re talking about Fitz being the guy for us, and as we continue to get better, I think he’s going to be the guy.  I see us being able to be very productive as an offense with Fitz at quarterback.  I’ve always said that, and I believe that.”

When asked why he believes that Gailey followed up.

“I’ve seen him play extremely well,” he said. “When you’ve seen a guy do it, then you have confidence in him.  If you’ve never seen him do it, then you probably would have made a change somewhere else down the line already.  We all saw what he can do, when everything’s hitting on all cylinders.  So that’s why I have confidence, because I’ve seen him do it.”

Fitzpatrick was asked the same question about his hold on the starter’s job if his performance doesn’t improve down the stretch.

“Yeah, I mean especially as a quarterback, it’s all about production, it’s all about wins, and that’s the number one important thing,” said Fitzpatrick. “That’s something that each week I’ve got to go out there and help the team in any way that I can in getting these wins.  That’s a big part of it for me.  That’s something that’s weighed on me, it’s weighed on me all year long in terms of not being able to do it, not being able to be successful as we wanted to be.  I’ve got no choice but to go out there and try to continue to put together successful plays and successful drives and win games.”


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Stevie defiant about postseason hopes

Posted by Chris Brown on November 27, 2012 – 12:42 pm

Bills fans may disagree, but Stevie Johnson isn’t giving up the ship when it comes to Buffalo’s playoff hopes despite a 4-7 record.

“No, really we’ve still got action,” said Johnson after being asked if Buffalo’s playoff hopes would require a mathematical miracle. “I’m not going to say we’re out of it yet. I think we’ve still got action at being 9-7 and making the playoffs. We’ve still got to rely on other teams, but I seriously think we can still win out and make it to the playoffs.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t stick his neck out quite as far as his top receiver, but is committed to keep fighting for wins.

“It stinks,” said Fitzpatrick of being 4-7. “We knew that was a big game for us.  It would have put us right in contention, really, right in the hunt. It’s dim, the hopes are dim, but there’s still a little bit of hope and we’re just going to continue to keep fighting and keep playing.”

Currently three other AFC clubs are 4-7, the Dolphins are 5-6 and the Steelers, Bengals are 6-5. With the win Sunday Indianapolis is 7-4.


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How Colts neutralized Bills screen game

Posted by Chris Brown on November 26, 2012 – 11:42 am

Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians said going into Sunday’s game that he considered Buffalo the best screen team in the league. That healthy respect for the Bills screen game had Indy’s defense ready to neutralize it.

Screen passes have been an integral part of Buffalo’s offense this season and not many teams have had much success stopping it, but the Colts did, mainly by grabbing the receiving targets and impeding their progress.

“They were doing a good job of their inside guys grabbing our screen guys,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “So we actually went to more of the outside screens than the inside screens and had a little bit of success, not as much in the fourth quarter. They were grabbing the receivers and mirroring them and not letting them get out.”

“That one D-lineman he grabbed me right there and they were looking for it,” said C.J. Spiller. “The whole game they were calling out the screens and calling out the draws. And they did a good job of defending it. That was probably the best team that defended our screen game so far. We’ve just got to see what we can do to design it better to get guys open so it can be a big part of our offense. But those guys did a good job of defending it.”

Arians admitted after the game that they were lobbying with the officials to keep an eye out for the Bills sending an illegal man downfield to block on the screens.

“We put a bunch of emphasis with the officials on the linemen being downfield,” said Arians. “They’re a great screen team, the one got us down there in the red zone was a well-executed one. I still think the guard was downfield but that doesn’t matter, that’s not the officials fault.”

In the end Ryan Fitzpatrick had to throw some designed screen passes away as the Colts either chucked the receiving targets or got hands in the passing lanes with their pass rush.

“I had to throw one away, I threw one we got a holding call on. I threw a couple to Donald. We had some stuff that we did. I think they were very aware and conscious of it,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think when you play a team like this their rush is tough so they’re getting at you faster and you’ve got to get the screen off a little faster and that makes it difficult.”

Knowing the copycat league that it is the Bills can expect that their future opponents including the Jaguars this week will pay very close attention to what the Colts did successfully to stymie Buffalo’s screen game.


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Stevie on Fitz changing plays pre-snap

Posted by Chris Brown on November 25, 2012 – 8:47 pm

Stevie Johnson like everyone else was disappointed in the loss to Indy on Sunday. He also expressed his opinion about adjusting plays at the line pre-snap.

“How I see it, I think we need to let our quarterback call these plays,” he said. “He’s out there on the field, he sees the adjustments that need to be done.  We should just let him make the adjustments on the go, I think that way we can move the ball better.  He did it a little bit in the game and we moved the ball, so, that’s how I feel about it.”

When asked if he had an issue with the play calling, Johnson made it clear that’s not what he was getting at.

“Nah, the play calling is cool, the plays are good that we have,” he said. “But in situations, we’re the ones out there on the field. He knows what to check into, check out of. It’s different than when you look at it from the booth, and say OK, they might be in this, than when you’re out there. That’s just my take on it.”


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Fan Friday 11-23

Posted by Chris Brown on November 23, 2012 – 12:51 pm

Happy Thanksgiving Bills fans. Here’s the latest edition of questions from you the fans at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hi Chris, 
Short passes are good if the QB makes good throws but that is not the case with Fitz.  He is having trouble on possession throws and deep throws as well, perhaps playing tight with all changes made to how he throws?  Which begs the question how does the coaching staff change their coaching and change alignments to get optimal results from their players so fans do not have to read every week that the loss is on us from the players? The results when repeated over and over are on the coaching staff and how they drill, align, condition, and make things as easy as possible for players to understand and use on the field.  We are in last place, do you see this changing?  Do we now have to win the division to get to the playoffs?

CB: Actually Ryan Fitzpatrick’s accuracy is up considerably. Over the last four games he’s completed more than 68% of his passes (96-140 – 68.6%) with five touchdowns against two interceptions, which translates  to a passer rating of 94. He’s raised his completion percentage on the season over those past four games from 58.9% to 62.5%.

As for alignments, Chan Gailey is a master at altering alignments to get defensive players to cheat ever so slightly to enhance the potential gains on plays that often catch that defensive player paying for cheating to one half of the field or the other.

Both the offensive and defensive staffs drill proper alignment and assignment, but they can’t go out on the field and execute too. That’s why the players have put the blame on themselves primarily. They insist that their game plans that they get from the coaching staff are sound, but the execution is not.

Last week against the Dolphins, the run defense was as sound as it’s looked all season. The players chalked it up to fitting up gaps and holding them effectively along with sound, fundamental tackling. All of those elements have not been consistently present for the defense, though it looks like it’s on an upswing looking at the last few outings. 

As for the AFC playoff race, catching the Patriots looks to be a difficult task. They’re three games back and New England has the series sweep head-to-head. The Wild Card is what should be targeted first, knowing there is still a cluster of teams between 4-6 and 6-4, which right now is good enough to hold a Wild Card spot in the AFC.

 

2 - Hey Chris,

Big fan of the Bills down in Staten Island. We are rare down here but we are strong. My question is about Tarvaris Jackson. Why did we trade for him if he never dresses for games? My thought was that if he doesn’t play at all it impacts the draft choice that we have to give Seattle. I know Fitz is Chan’s guy, but I feel his confidence isn’t there and a shake-up might help him. Any thoughts?

CB: As I mentioned above, Fitzpatrick has been much more consistent in the last four games, but Jackson’s status as an inactive player each week to this point has frustrated more than just you. I get several emails each week about fans wanting to know why Jackson doesn’t even dress. I’m still working to confirm this, but we believe that if Jackson is dressed for six games or more this season, Buffalo’s conditional seventh-round pick which was sent to Seattle to acquire Jackson, becomes a sixth-round pick. With six games left in the season, we’ll see if Jackson is suddenly active in a couple of weeks.

 

3 - Hi Chris,
Regarding the Bills offense, when they go against teams, why don’t they open up with the no huddle, score a couple of touchdowns, then go to the two tight end formation and control the football? Obviously, in terms of opponents, they cannot open up the same way with every team, but why not incorporate a portion of that for most of their games? Success with either approach would be a key, but I just think that if they approached their game planning a little smarter, they may in better shape than they are in right now. Obviously, the spread offense is the main objective, but a wrinkle here or there could mean the difference between a win or a loss. They have two very good running backs, which are being underutilized. Even if a team shuts down their running game, a short pass attack all the way down the field mixed in with runs would work too.  

Regarding the defense, I think Dave Wannstedt needs to blitz more. I know his reasons for not doing so, but teams are never going to be afraid of our defense unless we show more aggression. We have good talent all the way around, I think our coaching on both sides of the ball is the problem.

Your thoughts,
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: I would not be surprised if we so a no huddle approach used in the coming weeks as a surprise element, whether it’s to start a game or to start a second half. I think the struggles of the defense in the first half of the season forced Chan Gailey and the offensive staff to move away from it. But with Ryan Fitzpatrick playing better football and the defense more consistent of late I think there’s a greater likelihood that it’s utilized at some point in the near future.

Your call for the defense to blitz more is a common one among fans. We saw some run blitzes against the Patriots a couple of weeks ago, but if the front four continue to improve blitzing might not be as necessary a change-up as it may have been just a few weeks ago.

 

4 – Chris,
Since the Bills offense is predicated on quick passing and short routes.   It seems a few of their WR’s are ill suited for this offense (Graham and Easley) who are more speed guys and less polished on short routes.    It seems to me a Naaman Roosevelt, although not a huge special teams contributor, would do well in this offense with good routes and great hands.   David Nelson also thrived in our offense and he won’t be confused with a speedy WR.   It seems as though if Roosevelt was running that post route rather than Graham, the Bills may have beaten the Pats.   Your thoughts whether our we’ve been drafting truly fit our schemes
Thanks
-Jim

CB: I think your question is a valid one. Roosevelt is a good fit for the quick underneath stuff that the Bills employ, but they already have those kinds of wideouts on the roster in the form of Nelson (though he’s on I-R) and Donald Jones. Even Stevie is that kind of wideout. The idea of drafting Graham is to further diversify the offense. They just have to wait on Graham to develop before that happens.

So that’s really the approach there with Graham on the roster. Easley is another example of that, deep speed to stretch the field and diversify the offensive approach.
5 – Chris,

I wanted to address the “Fitzpatrick Situation”. A few weeks ago, Buddy Nix acknowledged the need to upgrade the quarterback position, which was in stark contrast to his and Chan’s position on the issue 11 weeks ago. My fear is this seems to be set in motion more by public opinion than cognitive thought and, given the incoming crop of potential rookie quarterbacks, a draft pick may be sacrificed to appease the fan base rather than invested on more pressing needs in the secondary and linebacking corp.

Thanks for all you do.
Rob

CB: To be clear Buddy said they’re in a position now where if there’s a quarterback prospect they like that can be a franchise type quarterback that can play for the next 10 years, they’re in a position now where they can afford to sacrifice draft choices to get that guy.

Nix has also said that even if they draft one early it doesn’t mean he’s going to be thrust into the starting lineup right away. He’ll compete and play when he’s ready. The Bills GM gave no indication that the team would be turning away from Fitzpatrick as the starter next year. I believe everyone incorrectly assumed that if the team drafts a QB high that it automatically means Fitz is out when I think the opposite might be true.


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Colts Arians sees imposing Bills attack

Posted by Chris Brown on November 20, 2012 – 5:46 pm

Interim Colts head coach and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has begun to take a look at the Bills and with a solid offensive football mind of his own, he’s impressed with what he sees from Buffalo’s attack on film.

“They can sling it,” said Arians appearing on the Indianapolis based Pagano show with Bob Lamey. “(Ryan) Fitzpatrick is a gunslinger that just rears back and fires it. He doesn’t hold anything back. He’s a very bright guy. He’s a Harvard guy and he’s very mobile too. That’s another thing that he brings to the table. They’ve got skill players coming out of the kazoo. C.J. Spiller is one of the best young backs in the league. They’ve got weapons on offense.”

Fitzpatrick currently ranks 15th in the league in passer rating (87), while Andrew Luck ranks 28th (77.2).


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Hall of Fame night on The John Murphy Show

Posted by johnmurphyshow on November 13, 2012 – 6:17 pm

We’ve got quite a lineup tonight on The John Murphy Show, as the Bills prep for their appearance in the prime time spotlight Thursday night.

We’ll start with Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick at 7:20pm.  We’ll talk to Fitz about the uptick in offensive production in recent weeks, and the disappointing end to the Patriots game last Sunday.  We’ll also look ahead to the game against the Dolphins Thursday.

At 8pm, Hall of Fame Running Back Thurman Thomas makes his usual Tuesday night appearance in studio with us.  Thurman played for both the Bills and the Dolphins during his NFL career.

At 8:20pm, we’ll talk to another Hall of Famer.  Former Dolphins Quarterback Bob Griese joins us live from South Florida, where he’s the color commentator on the Dolphins radio network.  He’s also the co-author of a new book celebrating the 40th anniversary of Miami’s perfect season.  The book is called “Perfection: the Inside Story of the 1972 Miami Dolphins Perfect Season.”  We’ll ask Griese about his memories from that season, and what to expect from the Dolphins this week at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

As usual, we’ll take your phone calls and have updates on the latest from the Bills and the NFL.

The John Murphy Show airs weeknights from 7-9pm on the flagship station of the Buffalo Bills, WGR Sports Radio 550.


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Fitz on Spiller opportunities in games

Posted by Chris Brown on November 12, 2012 – 2:30 pm

Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was asked for a second straight week about getting C.J. Spiller more opportunities with the ball in games. Appearing on his weekly radio show on WGR Sportsradio 550, Fitz for the second straight week was supportive of Spiller getting the ball more.

I think you can never give him enough touches,” said Fitzpatrick. “We can all see what he can do with the football. When he and Fred are playing you look at it collectively. We try to get both of them a big number of touches. We stayed with the run game in the second half even though we were behind.

“We’ve got to continue to find ways to get him his touches and get him in space because the guy is absolutely electric and in the 13 touches he had yesterday made some huge plays for us.”

Spiller on 13 touches gained 131 yards from scrimmage for a 10 yards per touch average.


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T.J. gains respect in shouldering blame

Posted by Chris Brown on November 12, 2012 – 2:09 pm

Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick said he learned something about rookie WR T.J. Graham after hearing that the receiver took the blame for the failed pass to the end zone that wound up being intercepted by Devin McCourty with 23 seconds remaining preventing a come from behind Bills win Sunday.

In his weekly appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550, Fitzpatrick was quick to address Graham’s comments that he messed up the pass route on the critical play.

“First I’d like to point out that shows a lot of maturity for T.J. to come and shoulder the blame for the play,” said Fitzpatrick. “There’s no reason he had to do that. The onus is on the quarterback there to make sure everybody is on the same page and to make sure he knows what I expect out of him in that situation. It was a judgment call on his part on whether to go under or over the top. I was hoping he went under and he went over the top and that was the disconnect on that play.”

Fitzpatrick indicated that because of Graham’s willingness to point at himself first, it’s likely to strengthen their on field relationship in the wake of the failed play.

“T.J. is a guy that is so willing with all this stuff it’s a learning process,” said Fitzpatrick. “For him to accept the blame that tells me a lot about him because he didn’t have to do that. It’s a judgment call, so it doesn’t mean he didn’t know what he was doing. That makes me even more likely to go back to him because he holds himself accountable just like everybody else does.”

Fitzpatrick also said based on the coverage that the Patriots were showing, Fitzpatrick had determined that he was going to Graham with the ball seeing it as the best opportunity for success on the play.


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Fitz calls Pats LB Spikes “a punk”

Posted by Chris Brown on November 11, 2012 – 6:25 pm

Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had his helmet knocked clean off his head by Patriots LB Brandon Spikes on an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit that was flagged by officials in the fourth quarter. When Fitzpatrick got back up minus his helmet he went and confronted Spikes face to face. He also had some choice words to describe the type of player he thinks Spikes is after the game.

“I think the biggest thing is we’re not going to back down from anybody,” said Fitzpatrick. “Spikes is an emotional player. I think he’s a punk at times and took a cheap shot at Scott in the first game and was doing a lot of jabbering and talking and hitting out there. Not one of my favorite players. Not high on my list. I think that’s our mentality and I think it’s important that you make sure you don’t back down from anybody.”

Spikes was fined $21 thousand for the cheap shot he took on Scott Chandler in the first meeting between the two teams. He’s likely to draw another fine from the league for his latest dirty hit, which could be even more money being a repeat offender. 

Jerod Mayo was also flagged for unnecessary roughness when he body slammed C.J. Spiller to the ground out of bounds later in the fourth quarter. The penalty led to a Donald Jones touchdown.


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Graham’s role based on trust

Posted by Chris Brown on November 10, 2012 – 2:31 pm

Heading into the second half of his rookie season, WR T.J. Graham would welcome more opportunities, but at this point it’s tough to say just how many he’ll get over the final eight games.

Head coach Chan Gailey clearly feels there has to be air tight trust between Ryan Fitzpatrick and his receivers, knowing very often the design of the offense is for Fitz to deliver anticipation throws. He’s expecting the receiver to be in the spot when the ball gets there and thus delivers the ball before a receiver is even out of his break.

If the receiver can’t be trusted to read the defense the same way the quarterback does and be in the right spot to make a play on the ball, a coach is going to be hesitant to put him on the field. And it appears that might be the case with Graham.

 

“The one thing you can’t do is force things,” said Gailey. “I go back to the analogy I used earlier in the season. C.J. was in the same spot, lots of talent, just hadn’t quite learned all the nuances of the game yet. You try to put him in there too much then you’re putting him in a bad situation.

“With the passing game it’s even more so because now not only are you putting him in a bad situation, but if the understanding isn’t there you’re putting Fitz in a bad situation. You’re trying to get the ball here and T.J. doesn’t understand what you’re trying to get done with a route or a concept and it doesn’t come out right. You want to involve him and we want to keep trying to work with him, but we’ve got a ways to go.

“He’s very talented, he’s going to be a very good player, but he’s not there yet. We’ll continue to work with him.”

Ironically, Graham’s most extensive playing time came in the first meeting with the Patriots when he got 60 snaps. Here are his snap counts by game this season.

Wk 1 – 0
Wk 2 – 29
Wk 3 – 40
Wk 4 - 60
Wk 5 – 38
Wk 6 - 54
Wk 7 - 50
Wk 8 – 35


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Fitz acting debut airs tonight on FX

Posted by Chris Brown on November 8, 2012 – 12:28 pm

Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will be making his acting debut on FX tonight (Thursday) as a guest star on the show ‘The League’ at 10:30 pm ET.

For Fitz it was his first on camera role, which he taped this past offseason.

“I haven’t seen it,” said Fitzpatrick. “It airs tonight at 10:30 on FX. I’m interested to see how long it is. It’s probably going to be 10 seconds and I shot for five hours. This show ‘The League’ it’s not like I was given scripted lines. The actors show up and they give them a general direction they want to scene to go and those guys just improv and are ad libbing the whole time. The first half hour they’re talking circles around me and I try to jump in when I can. I have horrible acting skills. So I got a little bit better as it went on, but I’m interested to see what they put in.”

The show is based on a group of mid to late 30-year old men that were high school buddies and now are in a fantasy football league together. As the show’s website states ‘A group of old friends in a fantasy football league use every opportunity to win and make each other’s lives miserable.’

The main writers of the show, a husband and wife team, Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus Schaffer, were given the idea to use Fitzpatrick in an episode by Fitzpatrick’s friend, who is a comedy writer from L.A. currently doing freelance work.

“He submitted some ideas to Jeff and they had a little bit of an email dialogue going on,” said Fitzpatrick. “He thought I should go on the show and that it would be funny.”

Schaffer, who is also a Harvard alum like Fitzpatrick, also wrote for Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

“The show has that same kind of dialogue,” said Fitzpatrick. “Seinfeld is my all-time favorite so that’s right in my wheel house. And on FX they can take it a little bit farther. The language and that kind of stuff. It was awesome.”

Other NFL players have made cameos on the show including Chad Johnson and Matt Forte. Fitz provided some details for the scene he appeared in.

“The scene takes place in a bar and I walk up to the bar and order a soda because I’m getting ready to deliver a speech somewhere that night and one of the guys recognizes me,” he said.


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Much of Bills game plan left on shelf

Posted by Chris Brown on November 4, 2012 – 9:06 pm

The Bills had what they felt was an effective game plan for Houston, but it was the Texans’ own plan defensively that eliminated any opportunity for Buffalo’s offense to use much of what they wanted to run.

“We had a lot of stuff that we didn’t get to because of how they were playing us,” said Ryan Fitzpatrick. “That’s just the way it is with our team and the things that we do. When teams play against us that’s the biggest thing teams try to do is stop the run, stop C.J., stop Fred and make you beat them with the pass. That’s what the Texans came into the game saying and that’s what they did.”

The chief problem was Houston’s use of a regular front seven against Buffalo’s three wide set. The kept their third LB in instead of subbing him out for a nickel corner and dared the Bills to beat them with the pass. Buffalo didn’t execute often enough.

“It’s something we need to evaluate and figure out and have a good plan for and we’ve got to be able to take advantage with our guys on the outside as well,” said Fitzpatrick.


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Nix on quarterbacks-John Murphy Show

Posted by johnmurphyshow on November 2, 2012 – 2:45 pm

Bills GM Buddy Nix joins us on The John Murphy Show tonight at 7pm.  And during his appearance, which was taped this afternoon, he spent some time talking about drafting quarterbacks.

The Bills GM insists his approach has not changed–he’s always in the market for a franchise quarterback when draft time rolls around.

“I’ve said this every year,” Nix told us.   “Any time you mention quarterback it gets your attention.  But again, it’s the same approach we’ve always taken.  We’d like to have a young guy to develop to sit there behind Fitz or compete with Fitz, as far as that goes.   We want to make sure we get the right one,   but, again, every year we’ve tried to do that.”

Nix has spent the last couple of weeks on the road scouting during the Bills break for the bye.  And he says even though he’s looking at the quarterbacks, he will not reach to draft one.

“A bad thing is not drafting one, but a worse thing is drafting the wrong one,” he said, “because then you double the time it takes.  It takes you about three years to find out the guy can’t play, you get that staff fired, and then you try to get one that can play, and then it takes you another three.  So it takes you six, seven years, it sets you back.”

Nix says his interest in quarterbacks in the draft is not a reflection at all on the way the franchise feels about current quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

“I don’t think it changes anything.  I said something to him about it jokingly, this morning; he didn’t know what I was talking about.  That doesn’t change anything around.”

You can hear the entire interview with Buddy Nix tonight at 7pm on The John Murphy Show, on the flagship station of the Bills,  WGR Sports Radio 550.


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Fan Friday 10-26

Posted by Chris Brown on October 26, 2012 – 12:30 pm

Here’s the latest edition of Fan Friday with your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

The accuracy required to play QB in the NFL is on another level entirely–and at some point, talent is as important as work ethic and practice.  Is it possible that Fitz is turning into a “head case” with all of these adjustments with David Lee and his throwing mechanics?  What, if anything, are the coaches and Fitz doing to try and stem this problem?  The Bills will only go as far as Fitz will take them.  And I fear if he doesn’t revert to something close to what we say early last season, this team won’t improve much or go very far, no matter how much the defense improves or how much talent they put around Fitz.  It’s a QB driven league.  And while there are examples of teams winning SBs with a less than elite QB, it’s not very common.  And his current level of performance certainly will not be sufficient.  What, if anything, can be or is being done?

Thanks again for your coverage of the team.
Jeffrey Suchocki
CB: Ryan Fitzpatrick even agrees with you that his first half of the season has not been what he thought it would be. His completion percentage is admittedly down (61%) from where it was at this time last year (67.7%). I think we should be encouraged by what we saw in the Tennessee game, save for the late INT.

What went by the board in that disappointing loss was the fact that it was clearly Fitz’s best passing game of the season. He even got off to a fast start, something that doesn’t always happen in games for Fitzpatrick either.

He finished that game 27-35 for 225 yards and three touchdowns with the INT and a passer rating of 109.8. The interception aside, that’s the way Fitzpatrick needs to play for this team to have a chance to win every week. His completion percentage of 77% was the highest single-game completion percentage since the Washington game a year ago this week (77.8%).

So I think the hope is that Fitz has begun to rediscover his rhythm in the passing game. Now we just have to hope that the bye week didn’t disrupt that rhythm and he can have a second half of the season, like he had the first half of last season.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

When a player goes on I-R does he still receive 100% of his pay while he is unable to play?
Thank you again.

Bob Hammond
Rochester, NY

 

CB: I’m not going to pretend to know all the ins and outs of the injured reserve rules so I tapped into the expertise of Bills Senior VP of Football Administration Jim Overdorf. So with respect to a player getting his full pay when he goes on I-R, the answer is it depends. 

A player who has a split contract (meaning he gets a lower amount if he is on I-R) will get the lower amount of pay if he goes on I-R (there is a league minimum that corresponds to the number of credited seasons). Split contracts are more commonly seen in rookie contracts and with street free agents. 

It’s rare to see a split contract for a marquee player (e.g. a first or second round draft pick). Most rookie contracts do not include the third year as a split amount. So those players more often than not will receive full pay. However, that full pay may be at a lower amount if it has been negotiated in the deal.

 

3 – Hi Chris,
Just wondering when the Bills are going to turn T.J. Graham loose on some fly patterns. I know at the outset the Bills brain trust wanted Graham to have a better knowledge of the playbook, but with his blazing speed, when will they test defenses? The vertical game will just help Stevie Johnson and Donald Jones more. I know the spread offense is predicated on short and medium range passes, but showing the opposition some danger cannot hurt. What are your thoughts?

Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: I think it’s something that bears watching. The deep passing game is not a common focus in Chan Gailey’s offense. He’d rather get the ball out quick and let the playmakers get yards after the catch. That being said Gailey does want to have a role for Graham week in and week out. How big the role gets will likely depend on what Graham does with the opportunities he gets. But stretching the field is certainly something he can do.”

 

4 – Hi Chris,

I was wondering if you have an update concerning Tarvaris Jackson and how he is progressing.  Is there any chance he will overtake Tyler Thigpen as the #2 QB or is the task of learning the system a case of too much too soon?  The reason I ask is actually the potential return of Ron Brooks to the 53-man roster at the end of the month.  His expected role as a gunner on the punt coverage team (not to mention adding an extra CB to the mix) means someone will have to be cut.  Could it be Thigpen?

Thanks much,
Jeff Horn

CB: I don’t know what the chances are that it happens this year. Chan Gailey has said time and again that with no time during the practice week in preparation for a game to get him reps in the offense, Jackson is pretty much relegated to third QB status.

I will say that he did get some reps during the bye week practice this past Wednesday, but I don’t know how much weight should be put on that.

As for Brooks they can elevate him to the 53-man roster Wednesday. If they do they have to move someone else off the roster, but I’m not going to speculate about a guy getting released or not. I don’t think it would be Thigpen however, since his contract is guaranteed by virtue of being on the roster through the first week of the season.

 

5 – CB, 

Many fans are simply upset that the Bills haven’t drafted a QB. Why don’t they go after a developmental raw QB, though he might not pan out, it worth having one for either next year. Buddy Nix has passed on too many quarterbacks that are now successful (Andy Dalton). Buddy said he would want to draft 1 QB every year but only drafted Levi Brown in the 7th round. A QB on the squad could be developed in time by Chan. Both Ryan and Tyler were 7th round picks as well both learned under Chan. 
CB: I respect the frustration. Buddy Nix did say at one point that he’d like to draft a quarterback every year, but he had a roster with a plethora of positional needs that he had to fill out first. Perhaps now that the roster is a bit deeper at a good number of positions he can afford to take a QB in the draft.

Philadelphia has made a habit of this, taking a QB almost every year. Nick Foles is their latest example and he’s the team’s backup QB this season.


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Fitz: Goals to be reassessed in bye week

Posted by Chris Brown on October 23, 2012 – 10:58 am

The Bills had some lofty goals heading into the 2012 season. A 3-4 start has compromised some of those goals, but being just a game back of the AFC East division leader Ryan Fitzpatrick believes their goals simply need to be readjusted to where they stand now.

“In the NFL nobody knows whats going to happen,” he said. “We go into a season, and you have to continue to adjust and manage your goals, because we want to go undefeated at home, we want to go undefeated in our division, and that’s not going to happen now.  That’s not possible.  We have to reassess where we’re at as a team, and I think the bye week is the perfect opportunity to do that.  Maybe look and evaluate at what we’re doing, set new goals as to how we’re going to get to the playoffs, and go from there.”


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What happened on the INT

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2012 – 11:55 am

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s interception with three minutes remaining and the Bills up six was a mistake that the Buffalo quarterback put on himself. Head coach Chan Gailey in his weekly appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550 explained what happened on the play.

“Fitz thought that the corner was going to squat and take Stevie (underneath),” said Gailey. “We had Stevie breaking out. We had thrown the same pass earlier in the game and Fitz thought that the corner was coming off of Donald (on the sideline) and was going to play Stevie and (Fitz) didn’t see him drop underneath Donald. He threw it out to Donald in the hole between the safety and the corner and the corner had dropped, he didn’t squat.”

“I just got greedy in a situation that I did not have any business being greedy in,” said Fitzpatrick. “It was a dumb throw, dumb decision by me. Third down at the end of the game, game on the line, Chan (Gailey) put the ball in my hands essentially and I threw an interception.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Chan: Deep ball not our pass game solution

Posted by Chris Brown on October 20, 2012 – 2:57 pm

Bills head coach Chan Gailey acknowledges that the passing game isn’t where it needs to be right now, and Ryan Fitzpatrick has admitted his game isn’t at a level that’s acceptable by his own standards right now. But the solution as Gailey sees it is not throwing the ball deep.

Gailey’s offfense is built on getting the ball into the receivers’ hands quickly so they have room to run after the catch. Those passes haven’t been hit on rhythm in their timing offense the past couple of weeks very often and they spent more time on that in practice this past week.

“I think we’ve got an opportunity to make some bigger plays in the passing game and we’re not getting them right now,” Gailey told Buffalobills.com. “We’ve had a big play from Donald this year where he went 70 this year. Stevie has caught a couple of quick slants and made 20 or 30 the past couple of weeks. If we keep developing that I think we’ll get our passing game where it needs to be.

“We’d like to throw it deep a little bit more, but that’s not something we feel we have to do unless they start squatting on everything.”


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Bills 10 longest pass plays this season

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2012 – 9:27 am

Buffalo’s passing game hasn’t delivered quite as many big pass plays as they did at this point last season. In 2011 Buffalo was tied for 13th in the league with 13 pass plays of 25 or more  after six games. This year they stand 23rd with nine. Below are the Bills’ 10 longest pass plays so far this season along with how far the pass traveled through the air on the play.

10 - Tie – 24 yards – Scott Chandler TD from Fitzpatrick (distance of pass – 24 yards) vs. New England – Week 4
24 yards – Dorin Dickerson from Fitzpatrick (distance of pass – 0 yards) vs. New England – Week 4

9 - 27 yards – C.J. Spiller from Fitzpatrick (distance of pass – 0 yards) vs. Kansas City – Week 2

8 – 29 yards – Stevie Johnson TD from Fitzpatrick (distance of pass – 14 yards) vs. NY Jets – Week 1

7 – 30 yards – C.J. Spiller from Fitzpatrick (distance of pass – 25 yards) vs. NY Jets – Week 1

6 – 32 yards – C.J. Spiller TD from Fitzpatrick (distance of pass – 6 yards) at Cleveland – Week 3

5 – 34 yards – Fred Jackson from Fitzpatrick (distance of pass – 31 yards) vs. New England – Week 4

4 – 35 yards – Brad Smith from Fitzpatrick (distance of pass – 25 yards) vs. New England – Week 4

3 – 43 yards – Scott Chandler from Fitzpatrick (distance of pass – 11 yards) vs. Kansas City – Week 2

2 – 49 yards – Stevie Johnson from Fitzpatrick (distance of pass – 7 yards) vs. Kansas City – Week 2

1 – 68 yards – Donald Jones from Fitzpatrick (distance of pass – 7 yards) vs. New England – Week 4


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Posted in Inside the Bills