Inside The Bills

Players on Stevie non-TD

Posted by Chris Brown on December 23, 2012 – 9:00 pm

There were a lot of opinions after the game on Stevie Johnson’s non-touchdown call. We’ve already outlined the referee’s stance on the play. Here’s what the players thought.

“We thought it was (a touchdown),” said Spiller, who was on the sideline since he had just made a 62-yard run. “But the ref made the call that he made and we had to come back and try to get it again. It definitely worked in their favor. We definitely thought he scored on that one.”

“I have no idea,” said Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was far from the end of the play. “I threw it and I thought he grabbed it took a couple of steps and as he went down it popped out. That’s all I saw. They obviously ruled it an incompletion.”

“I caught the pass, put it over the pylon, and then hit the ground,” said Johnson. “I didn’t come up with it.  And like last year or the year before, with Calvin Johnson, I understand it, it’s an incomplete pass.  But my frustration was with the play before that, where I had the ball, and then it came out before I even took a second step, and they called that a fumble.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-21

Posted by Chris Brown on December 21, 2012 – 2:01 pm

A great day for the Bills and Bills fans, with the new 10-year lease agreement. You can find all the information you need on the home page of Here’s the latest edition of your questions from and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills. Let’s get to it.

1 – Chris, 

Which Bills will be free agents at the end of the year. I know the Byrd and Andy will be.  Has Buddy made any in-roads with either? Or maybe locking up Wood too. Can you break down the rest? Do you know who is a RFA and regular free agent? Would like to see lots of these guys stay? Especially Kyle Moore and Dickerson. Also what is Tarvaris Jackson’s contract? 

Josh in CA  

CB: Here’s the official list of Bills unrestricted, restricted and exclusive rights free agents.
Unrestricted FAs
FS Jairus Byrd
RB Tashard Choice
QB Tarvaris Jackson
DL Spencer Johnson
G Andy Levitre
WR Ruvell Martin
FB Corey McIntyre
CB Leodis McKelvin
DE Shawne Merriman
DE Kyle Moore
G Chad Rinehart
LB Bryan Scott                      
QB Tyler Thigpen

Restricted FAs
C/G Colin Brown
WR Donald Jones
WR David Nelson

Exclusive Rights FAs
TE Mike Caussin
TE Dorin Dickerson

Dickerson is a virtual lock to stay. All the Bills have to do is present him a qualifying tender to maintain their exclusive rights to him. The potential danger with Donald Jones and David Nelson is if they tender them low qualifying offers and another team chooses to sign them to an offer sheet the Bills would have just a week to match the offer otherwise they would receive zero compensation. That’s because both of them were undrafted rookies.

So provided the Bills want to keep both players in the fold for the future that they would explore contract agreements that go beyond just a one-year tender offer. That’s just a guess, but knowing there’s no compensation protection (getting a draft pick back from club that signs him) because they were undrafted it might be the best course of action.


2 – Hey Chris,
Any chance the Bills will every break out the 90s unis as their “throwbacks”? That was the “glory years” for me (I moved to Buffalo in 1986), and it seems like it’d be fun to see them out there in those Super Bowl uniforms again (the blue home jerseys, of course…)

Greg Campbell

CB:  At this point I have not heard anything about a 90s throwback jersey. I think the Bills as an organization recognize that era as a popular one, so I’m sure it’s something the club may explore further down the line. If and when it comes to fruition is another story altogether.



3 – Hi Chris,
Chan Gailey has only attempted one 50+ field goal all year. Is this lack of faith in Lindell or is he just too conservative? Could this put Lindell’s future with the team In jeopardy?

Thanks for your time,
CB: Coach Gailey has stated more than once that he has not lost faith in Rian Lindell, who is 1-for-1 from 50-yards plus this season. In fact Lindell is currently having his most successful season from field goal percentage this season (20-21 – 95.2%), which we will cover in detail on Saturday morning.

Gailey has also said it’s always been his position that when it comes to 50-plus yard field goals and field position he traditionally will put more value on field position. In his first two years when his defense was playing poorly field position likely did not matter as much. In all three instances this season when he has chosen to bypass a chance for points (Ariz., Indy, Jax.) on a 50-plus yard attempt, his defense was playing very well in those games.

So I believe time and score and the way in which his defense is playing at the time influence him in that decision making as it should. If you choose to call it more conservative coaching that’s your prerogative.



4 – Hey Chris
I have recently heard you say that the Bills are 15-7 when Fitzpatrick throws the ball less the 30 times i just wanted to ask you if you believe that speaks more to Fitzpatrick ability to screw thing up the more times he has the ball in his hands or is it the confusing play calling by Gailey? A few times this season the play calling on offense has be laughable and just downright questionable and frustrating. Is this the right time for the Bills to part ways with Chan?

Thanks so much for all you do Chris,
Josh, Baldwinsville NY

CB: Bills GM Buddy Nix has publicly stated time and again that he does not want to start over, much as the Bills have done for the better part of the last 13 years with new coaching staffs ever 3 or 4 seasons. No one can deny that a new coaching staff would be a step back because of all that’s involved in starting with new coaches, schemes, etc.

With respect to the statistic you referenced it is accurate. Buffalo is 15-7 when Ryan Fitzpatrick throws less than 30 times in a game. Fifteen of those 22 games have been under Gailey and the record is 11-4. 

There are other factors involved naturally, so what you make of those statistics is up to you, but Buffalo is 5-24 when Fitzpatrick throws 30 times or more in a game.



5 –  Hi Chris,

First off thank you for the great coverage of our buffalo bills. Obviously this season has been a huge disappointment in which we find ourselves playing for draft picks. When I look at this roster I’m finding it hard to find a lot of holes but the product on the field clearly is showing something different. so i guess my first question would be, have I just bought in blindly because I’m a fan and want to believe that this team is better than it is or is this just an inexperienced group that has the talent I’ve been told is there. Also I have this overwhelming feeling that regardless of this poor season and a half for Fitz and this Bills team, Fitz is going to be the starter throughout the next season barring injury. It seems as long as Chan is here so to will Fitz.  This makes me think we will not address our QB situation till the later rounds so I was wondering where do you think we go with our first few picks? Do we go after another corner or safety(good chance we lose Byrd) or linebacker in that case who’s out Shep or Bradham? Or do we go wideout or interior line. Where do your gut feelings lie? I guess is my main question. Again thank you for keeping the Bills nation updated on all things bills. GO BILLS
Thanks Will
CB:Personally I think the Bills will try to land a quarterback somewhere in the first three rounds. I don’t see them waiting until the later rounds.

As for other areas they’re likely to address early I’d say linebacker and wide receiver. I wouldn’t worry about returning players getting bounced out of their current roles. That gets settled in training camp.

Thanks for the kinds words.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Levitre, Chandler not practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on December 19, 2012 – 2:22 pm

Bills guard Andy Levitre  and tight end Scott Chandler are among those not practicing here on Wednesday.

Levitre was questionable for last week’s game with a knee ailment, but played. Chandler was listed as probable last week with a groin injury and also started against the Seahawks and finished the game, though Ryan Fitzpatrick stated after the game that Chandler was “fighting through some things.”

Here’s the list of Buffalo’s other non-participants today.

DT Kyle Williams
CB Leodis McKelvin
LB Chris White
WR Marcus Easley
TE Scott Chandler

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fitz & Stevie on deep passing misfires

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2012 – 5:09 pm

Buffalo had a few opportunities deep downfield in the passing game. Stevie Johnson had a step on his defender, C.J. Spiller did as well and so did T.J. Graham, but none of their deep shots were completed. They could’ve changed the complexion of the game. Johnson and Ryan Fitzpatrick tried to make heads or tails as to why they’re having trouble connecting.

“We had a couple that were close in the last game, and for whatever reason, they don’t seem to be happening,” said Fitzpatrick. “We’ve just got to continue to take the shots down the field and make some plays, whether it’s the catch that Stevie made on the seam route that he ran was unbelievable. But whether it’s a guy making an unbelievable play, or me just putting it right on the money, there’s some stuff that we’ve got to do better. The one we hit to TJ down the middle of the field we’ve been very successful recently in practice with all that stuff, and we just need to carry it over into the game.”

Johnson had only one answer to get it right and hit on some of those big pass play opportunities.

“Just keep working. I can’t even answer. I don’t even know why,” he said. “We’re doing the same thing that other teams are doing in the league. We’re getting behind corners and the ball is out there. We can’t blame our speed now. We’re there. We’ve just got to keep working at it.”  

Entering Sunday’s game Buffalo ranked 30th in the league in passer rating on passes that traveled more than 20 yards through the air with a rating of 40.3.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Deep passes were dialed up

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2012 – 11:21 am

Very often this season Bills fans have clamored for more deep passes downfield. Buffalo had about a half dozen deep passes called, but could not connect on any of them in Sunday’s loss to Seattle.

Ryan Fitzpatrick just missed Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham and C.J. Spiller on deep throws that could’ve dramatically changed the complexion of the game.

Head coach Chan Gailey in his weekly appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550 Monday morning offered comment on the game plan and taking deep shots down the field in the passing game.

“(Fitzpatrick) overthrew them just a little bit and we had two or three others called and they ran back deep with them so we dumped it off underneath,” said Gailey. “We’ve done some good things as far as percentages of passes. Our percentages are up. We’re not getting some run after catch that people get, but sometimes our guys are not in that position and we’ve just got to work on getting better at the deep ball and hit a few of those. If you hit a few of those they make a difference in the ball game. The thing about it is we throw it great in practice, but in the game it doesn’t happen.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Carroll on fake punt call

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2012 – 10:10 am

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was asked after the game about the fake punt his team ran up the middle with Michael Robinson going 29 yards to the Bills 14-yard line up 47-17. Here was his comment.

“I feel bad about this. That was part of our game plan. It was something I could have called off and I didn’t,” said Carroll. “It was an automatic for us, and I didn’t do it. It happened. We’re trying to make first downs so I let it go. It’s unfortunate that it comes across that we’re doing something wrong there. That’s my fault totally for not stopping it from happening.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t comment specifically on the play, but had this reaction to the timing of the fake punt.

“You guys can write your opinions on that,” Fitzpatrick said to the media postsgame. “I don’t know that if that’s really my style. It’s just personally not my style.”

When Bills head coach Chan Gailey was asked about it he said, “No comment.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Gailey resolute in belief team is better

Posted by Chris Brown on December 11, 2012 – 10:44 am

The won-loss record isn’t doing much to reinforce it, but head coach Chan Gailey and his team believes they are an improved team from last season.

“We haven’t gotten over the hump. That’s where we are. We haven’t gotten over the hump,” said Gailey. “We’re close. I told the players that we’re three, four or five plays from having this record flipped to 8-5. To me we’re a better football team than we were three years ago when we got here. Now we don’t have as many wins to show for it at this point, but I believe we can get there and I believe we will get there. And I have a great deal of confidence in the direction we’re headed.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick was also adamant that the team has improved.

“The one thing that really matters at the end of the way is wins and losses. I think we all know that,” said Fitzpatrick. “Me, especially, as a quarterback, the only thing I’m measured in are wins and losses. Not being where we want to be right now, a lot of that falls on me. I’m 100 percent fine with that. I haven’t  played as well as I wanted to play this year. Unfortunately, our win-loss record is where it is and a lot of that falls on me.  

“I think if you look at who we have, the nucleus of guys that we continue to put together and build on, I think that says a lot for where we’re headed. And like I mentioned earlier, the continuity deal in the NFL is such a huge thing, and something that I think is necessary in order to be a productive team.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

2012 attack had shift in philosophy

Posted by Chris Brown on December 10, 2012 – 7:37 pm

After the Bills wrapped up the 2011 season with C.J. Spiller exploding onto the scene over the last six games of the year in place of the injured Fred Jackson, it led to the decision by Chan Gailey and his staff to change their offensive approach.

Instead of going to a largely spread attack much like the first two seasons, Gailey and his offensive assistants chose to lean more heavily on their two dynamic backs, an approach that the Bills head coach had not previously adopted in his NFL career. In his offensive coaching career Gailey had leaned on one feature back whether it was Bobby Humphrey in Denver, Jerome Bettis in Pittsburgh or Emmitt Smith in Dallas. Obviously injuries to Jackson at three different times this season compromised those plans this season.

“Last year when C.J. got a chance to play and show how explosive he was and we came into the season saying we’ve got two great backs, let’s use them both,” said Gailey Monday reflecting back on the previous offseason. “Let’s let them both get carries that way we may not wear one down and keep them for the whole year, which didn’t work out, but that was the plan.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick acknowledged that their approach did shift from a wide open spread attack to an offense that was designed to run it more.

“I think our philosophy has changed a little bit this year, just in terms of how dynamic our guys in the backfield are, and trying to get them the ball,” he said. “I think the numbers with the passing game are down in terms of yardage, I don’t know about completion percentage, passing efficiency, any of that stuff. I think we want to be a team that obviously we feature our guys in the backfield, we want to get them the ball.” 

With Jackson in and out of the lineup with two knee injuries and a concussion it compromised the offensive approach for 2012 and has left the Bills still searching for a true offensive identity.

“I think this year has been a little bit different in terms of trying to gain our identity,” said Fitzpatrick. “But there has been a change this year—there’s more play action. We’ve been trying to move a little bit more towards that because how effective we’ve been in the ground game this year.  The four wide receiver sets used to be our M-O, but with David (Nelson) going down, moving more to having Scott (Chandler) in there with the three wide receiver sets—there’s definitely been some changes this year.” 

Despite the struggles on offense of late, Gailey believes his decision to make use of both Jackson and Spiller as much as possible was the right call.

“We made the decision, which seemed like the best decision at the time, which I still believe is the best decision that we could’ve made considering our situation with two great players,” he said. “I’d do it again if I had it to do over. It was the best decision and you go with the best decision.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Players see killer instinct as issue

Posted by Chris Brown on December 10, 2012 – 11:17 am

Closing out tight games has proven difficult for the Bills. They did kneel out their five-point win over Miami and they killed the clock in their Week 3 win at Cleveland, but they’ve found it tough to hang on to leads in some other close games and it has the players wondering about their killer instinct.

“Yeah, we have to develop a killer instinct,” said Ryan Fitzpatrick. “We have to win those games if we want to be one of the teams that is sitting there at the end of the year getting ready for the playoffs. We have to be able to win games like this. As an offense we have to be able to put them away and we did not do it (Sunday).”

“Obviously we did not finish it off,” said Nick Barnett. “So the killer instinct was not there enough for us to win. I have high confidence in our defense in being able to get off the field in that opportunity, and it did not happen that time, whatever the reason was. But as far as killer instinct – yes, we should be able to close out these games, in all phases. Unfortunately it did not come out that way, but we will keep working.”

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Bills to practice outside today

Posted by Chris Brown on December 6, 2012 – 10:40 am

Last week the Bills practiced outside on Thursday to take advantage of the windy conditions, knowing they’d be close to the windy conditions last Sunday against the Jaguars. This week they’re doing much of the same as they’re practicing outside here on Thursday this week at One Bills Drive.

“I think the guys get accustomed to what it’s like to be in the stadium under similar weather conditions,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “It’s never going to be the same because it’s not normally the same two days in a row in Buffalo. You get similar weather conditions and you get to experience it then it’s not a big deal. It’s not a shock to them when they walk out there on Sunday. You’re trying to create practice experiences as close to game experiences as you possibly can, and one way you can do it is with weather.”

“We have to be able to embrace that,” said Ryan Fitzpatrick. “We have to be able to use that as an advantage for us in these December games. As a quarterback, do I hope that it’s really windy and rainy?  No I don’t.  But if it is, we’ve got to be able to use that to our advantage.”

Right now Sunday’s forecast is rain, high of 41 degrees with sustained winds of 10-15 mph.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

No huddle left on shelf Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on December 3, 2012 – 11:05 am

The Bills have had their share of slow starts on offense this season, which is why they had a tempo change planned for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville. But Buffalo never put that plan into action after posting a touchdown on their opening drive, in a rain soaked game where weather also was a factor.

Making his weekly Monday morning appearance on Bills flagship WGR Sportsradio 550, Chan Gailey admitted that the no huddle was a significant part of their offensive game plan for the Jaguars.

“We actually had our no huddle planned to go,” said Gailey. “We had worked on our no huddle, shotgun stuff and it was ready to go. But it didn’t work out that way. All of a sudden our running game is going and we had a lead and so you just keep pounding it.”

Gailey acknowledged that the weather was also a factor.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is excited to use no huddle at some point this season, as it was to be something they intended to turn to a decent amount this year.

“I think that’ll be great (when we use it),” Fitzpatrick said in his weekly WGR appearance. “It was something we talked about going in, definitely the first half the way the weather was it wasn’t going to be something we could use to our advantage so we held onto it. We’ll see where it goes as we go forward here and see who is healthy and who is not because with some of the injuries sometimes you stay away from that stuff and you want everybody on the same page.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

30 pass attempts a key number?

Posted by Chris Brown on December 2, 2012 – 7:05 pm

The Bills won-loss record after Sunday’s victory is now at 5-7 on the season. What’s interesting is their won-loss record when using 30 pass attempts as an over-under barometer.

When Ryan Fitzpatrick has fewer than 30 pass attempts in a game in his career with the Bills, Buffalo is an impressive 15-7. Obviously part of this winning percentage is due to the team typically having a lead in such games and being able to run the ball more and throw the ball less. This past Sunday’s win is part of that total when Fitz attempted just 17 passes on a wet and rainy day at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The team had the lead and the defense was in control. 

When Fitz attempts 30 passes or more in a game Buffalo is 5-22. Now there are a lot of factors that go into that too. Fitz is usually throwing more when the team is behind on the scoreboard already, so naturally a good number of those games when he’s got more than 30 pass attempts are going to wind up being losses.

Nevertheless it’s an interesting winning percentage to examine knowing Buffalo has to win out to have any shot at the postseason.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Casserly on Gailey: “One of best coaches in the league”

Posted by johnmurphyshow on November 30, 2012 – 8:20 pm

Former NFL executive Charlie Casserly has an impressive resume.  He was part of four Washington Redskins Super Bowl teams.  He spent 16-years in the league as General Manager of the Redskins and the Houston Texans.  And now he’s an analyst for the NFL network.

And Casserly has some strong opinions on Bills Head Coach Chan Gailey.

“I think Chan Gailey is one of the best coaches in the league,” Casserly said Friday night on The John Murphy Show.  “If you can’t get to your ultimate potential with Chan Gailey,   you’re not going to get there.”

Casserly made the comments in a discussion on the radio about the recent struggles of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.  The former architect of the Redskins and Texans teams says Gailey and his coaching staff have tried to rein in the “gunslinger” tendencies that sometimes get Fitzpatrick in trouble.

“It’s kind of a love/ hate relationship,” he said.  “He’s a gunslinger who’s streaky.  He’ll get hot and he’ll make some really good throws, and then he’ll turn around and make some throws that, gosh darn, you just shake your head at.  Ultimately, I think the Bills have to improve at the quarterback position to take the next step.”

After Casserly said Gailey is one of the best coaches in the league, host John Murphy asked the former GM to elaborate.

“In no particular order, I think he’s a great scheme coach, creative in what he does,”  Casserly said.  “I think he’s excellent in the passing game.  I think all those things are really good about him.  He develops quarterbacks.  I have no issue with him as an offensive coach, Head Coach, quarterback coach—I really like the guy.”

Casserly is no stranger to withering criticism from NFL fans.  He was vilified in 2006, when he was GM of the Texans, and the team chose DE Mario Williams with the first overall pick.  RB Reggie Bush and QB Vince Young were considered the better choices by fans around the league.   And Casserly says the Bills would be making a mistake if they make major changes in their football department.

“The key thing for Buffalo, and Buddy Nix said this earlier in the year, there’s got to be some patience there,” he said.  “You can’t every couple of years when things look like they’re not going well, blow it up and start over again. ”

Casserly was asked if Bills fans could reasonably expect to be patient, after 12-years without a playoff berth, and possibly a 13th.

“Buddy has not been in charge for those 13- years.   Chan Gailey hasn’t been the head coach for 13-years.  That’s the issue. Sometimes you’ve got to be able to live through a number of losing seasons to come out with a winning record.  If you keep changing every three or four years, then you’re just on a merry-go-round.”

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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Posted in 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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Posted in Inside the Bills

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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Posted in Inside the Bills

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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Posted in Inside the Bills

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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Posted in Inside the Bills

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 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

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.

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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Posted in Inside the Bills

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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Posted in Inside the Bills