Inside The Bills

Sammy Watkins holds local ProCamp

Posted by Kelly Baker on July 21, 2016 – 3:43 pm

watkins-camp-story

Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who has spent a majority of his summer in Buffalo, hosted his third annual youth football ProCamp at Erie Community College on Tuesday, July 19 and Wednesday July 20. The camp featured a turnout of around 200 youngsters. Looking to advance their skills, the participants took part in several drills.

The fun and educational experience allowed the campers to learn football basics from Watkins and prep school and college coaches from the area. Each camper also received some special memorabilia to take home such as, an autographed item from Watkins and a camp team photo.

watkins-camp-story-2


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Watkins in top 20 for fantasy players

Posted by Chris Brown on July 15, 2016 – 10:11 am

The NFL Network has been unveiling their top 50 Fantasy Players for 2016 as compiled by the NFL.com fantasy experts. Sammy Watkins was the latest Bills player to appear on the list after LeSean McCoy was ranked 26th overall earlier this week.

Watkins checked in at 20th overall in the latest portion of the list unveiled Thursday night. Here’s a look at the top 50 list thus far, with the top 10 to be unveiled tonight (Friday) on NFL Network at 8 pm EST.

50. Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals, TE
49. T.Y. Hilton – Indianapolis Colts, WR
48. Emmanuel Sanders – Denver Broncos, WR
47. Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers, TE
46. Doug Baldwin – Seattle Seahawks, RB
45. Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins, RB
44. Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins, TE
43. Kelvin Benjamin – Carolina Panthers, WR
42. Latavius Murray – Oakland Raiders, RB
41. Ryan Matthews – Philadelphia Eagles, RB

40. Jeremy Maclin — Kansas City Chiefs, WR
39. Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks, QB
38. Jarvis Landry – Miami Dolphins, WR
37. Julian Edelman – New England Patriots, WR
36. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers, RB
35. Keenan Allen – San Diego Chargers, WR
34. Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos, WR
33. Matt Forte – New York Jets, RB
32. Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers, RB
31. Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers, QB

30. C.J. Anderson – Denver Broncos, RB
29. Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders, WR
28. Brandin Cooks – New Orleans Saints, WR
27. Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers, QB
26. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills, RB
25. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints, RB
24. Eddie Lacy – Green Bay Packers, RB
23. Thomas Rawls – Seattle Seahawks, RB
22. Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers, WR
21. Brandon Marshall – New York Jets, WR

20. Sammy Watkins – Buffalo Bills, WR
19. Alshon Jeffrey – Chicago Bears, WR
18. Jordy Nelson – Green Bay Packers, WR
17. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers, RB
16. A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals, WR
15. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons
14. Allen Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars, WR
13. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans, RB
12. Jamaal Charles – Washington Redskins, RB
11. Dez Bryant – Dallas Cowboys, WR


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Watkins committed to recovery

Posted by Kelly Baker on July 8, 2016 – 1:35 pm

CM9_3691

After sitting out of OTAs and minicamp this offseason due to a foot injury, which required surgery, Bills top wide receiver Sammy Watkins is looking primed to make a speedy recovery. Dedicated to his rehab routine, Watkins is taking every step necessary to get ready for the 2016 season. As seen in a few recent posts on his Twitter and Instagram accounts, Watkins is up and running.

 


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Watkins in Buffalo this summer to get healthy

Posted by Chris Brown on June 20, 2016 – 9:31 am

Bills WR Sammy Watkins missed all of the spring practices due to a surgically repaired foot. Now in the rehab process Watkins’ plan is to remain in Buffalo most of the summer to stay close to the medical and athletic training staff to make sure he stays on track with everything so his foot is right come training camp and the preseason.

In a community appearance in Toronto over the weekend, Watkins was asked by TSN if he’ll be ready for training camp and Watkins talked about his plans of staying close to One Bills Drive.

“The important part is getting on the field and staying healthy,” he said. “So, basically my whole summer will be staying in Buffalo getting better.”

Watkins also plans to do a full physical assessment to maximize his performance on the field and help keep his body strong and healthy through the course of a 16-game season.

“Once I figure my body out and do the assessment I need to do, I’ll figure out what type of food, everything I need to do to keep myself on the field,” he said.


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Update on Sammy, Henderson, Shaq

Posted by Chris Brown on June 14, 2016 – 3:55 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan provided an update on the rehab status of three players who won’t take part in mandatory minicamp. Sammy Watkins is coming off foot surgery, Shaq Lawson had shoulder surgery and Seantrel Henderson is coming off a pair of surgeries for his medical condition. Here’s where they stand.

“We’ll start with Sammy-he’s out of the boot and that’s good,” said Ryan. “He’s in here all the time. Every time you turn around there he is. He is working his tail off to get out there. Same thing with Shaq.  Seantrel’s is different-it wasn’t an injury, it’s a medical deal. We’ll see how it is. I can tell you this-he wants to get back on the field in the worst way and we’re all pulling for him.”

Watkins is not expected to do anything at the outset of training camp. Lawson probably won’t participate in training camp either. Henderson’s status doesn’t really have a timetable as the offensive tackle works to put weight back on his frame and get stronger.


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Fan Friday 6-3

Posted by Chris Brown on June 3, 2016 – 11:40 am

Two weeks of OTAs down, one to go. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Where has Lavar Edwards lined up? OLB or DE?

Brett Triplett @BrettsterBills

CB: Edwards has lined up exclusively at defensive end through the OTA practices. I think while Edwards has the ideal height to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 system at 6-4, it’s apparent that Buffalo’s defensive coaches believe they have other options with better coverage skills to play that position. Plus Edwards is built in such a way where he can hold the edge in the run game pretty effectively as I see it. So where they have him lined up makes sense to me at this stage.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills how big of a role will Jonathan Williams have year one?

Mark Sciubba @MarkSciubbaDoe

CB: As I mentioned in a blog post earlier this week, I think Jonathan Williams can give Karlos Williams a run for his money as the backup behind LeSean McCoy. Watching his game tape from Arkansas the thing that impresses me most is his contact balance. Just the way he bounces off that initial tackler almost every time and keeps his legs churning for extra yards. I think his thick build fools opponents into thinking he’s just a downhill runner.

He can do that, but he’s also got some elusiveness and speed to pull away from people. Now he’s probably not outrunning some of the faster safeties in the league should he reach the secondary on a play, but he knows angles and has a more diversified skill set than people realize.

The last thing about him is he’s a driven person. He handles adversity very well so I think the challenge of Greg Roman’s voluminous playbook won’t be much of a hurdle for him. That should lead to competent and consistent play and will enable him to push for a bigger role than some might be anticipating from him in 2016.


3 –
@ChrisBrownBills Which players are poised to become major team leaders this upcoming season?

Matt Williams @SportingGlasses

CB: I would put players like Preston Brown in that category as well as Sammy Watkins. Those two have embraced the added responsibility of leading not only by example, but vocally as well. In my mind Tyrod Taylor became a major leader last season.


4 –
@ChrisBrownBills Do you think the Bills will continue to move Sammy around like they did vs the Jets? Or do u think its game plan specific?

@Jiillyy

CB: While the opponent is always a factor in how offenses make use of their most dangerous weapons, I would anticipate moving Sammy Watkins around to continue. It makes him harder to track, thereby making it more difficult for opposing defensive coordinators to stick to a specific plan designed to neutralize him.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills where do you think eric striker fits on this defense if he makes the team?

Ser Davos Seaworth @matt_faso

CB: I think inside linebacker is the only place where he can line up in this scheme. He’s not tall enough to play out on the edge at outside linebacker. If he makes the 53-man roster, knowing how effective he was as a pass rusher I wouldn’t be surprised if he was utilized in some subpackages as an overload rusher off the edge in obvious passing situations.

But he’s going to make this roster because he’s an impact player on special teams, which I believe is certainly in the realm of possibility.

 


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Tyrod on lack of field time with Sammy

Posted by Chris Brown on May 20, 2016 – 1:54 pm

With Sammy Watkins expected to spend the better part of the next 12 weeks on the sidelines rehabbing from foot surgery, starting QB Tyrod Taylor will be going through Buffalo’s offseason workouts without any reps on the field with his top receiver. Always even keeled, Taylor is not concerned with the absence of Watkins at this point.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show, Taylor said the priority is for Watkins to get to full health. On field chemistry can come after.

“The main thing for Sammy is that he gets healthy,” said Taylor. “We know that he wants to be out there, but the main focus for him is to get healthy and be ready for training camp. We’ve been talking together and getting on the same page. We want on the field work obviously, but we’ll get that when the time comes. The main thing is that he gets healthy so he can play at the level that we know he’s capable of playing at.”


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Fan Friday 5-20

Posted by Chris Brown on May 20, 2016 – 12:18 pm

Bills OTAs get rolling on Monday. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Why haven’t Bills looked at Anquan Boldin as he seems to fit what they need a WR. Thanks!

BC72 @bchud1972

CB: I think there could be a number of issues at play here. First, Boldin, though productive last season (69 rec. 789 yds, 4 TDs) is 35-years old. Second, and probably more important is the Bills are probably in a position where they could only offer a veteran receiver the league minimum, and with Boldin a 10-plus year player he would cost $985K. As accomplished as Boldin is I don’t know if he would play a 14th NFL season for that.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Bills have any interest in Dwight Freeney or Greg Hardy?

joseph tadak @jt9591

CB: I don’t see Greg Hardy as a realistic option due to his off the field issues. No one else seems all that interested either. I understand fans trying to connect the dots to a veteran to fill the potential void left by Shaq Lawson’s surgery, which will probably keep him out for a portion of the first half of the season.

I wonder how much of a commitment the Bills would want to make to a stop gap solution. If they were to sign Freeney and he was on the roster beyond Week 1 his contract would be guaranteed even if they released him once Lawson returned to the roster.

I don’t know if that’s a good call for someone who would be a part-time player (pass rush specialist).

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you see Gilmore or Taylor getting extended before season, during season, or after if at all?

Grayson Tumult @GraysonTumult

CB: I believe the likelihood of a new deal for Gilmore before/during the season is greater than Taylor. The reason why is the Bills probably want to see Taylor take the next step in his development during the season. Then if they have to back up the Brinks truck to keep him after the season is over, so be it.

The reason Gilmore’s deal will probably take a bit longer is because Washington threw the whole cornerback market out of whack with their contract for Josh Norman ($15M/yr.) after Carolina rescinded his franchise tag, making him a free agent.

With Norman at age 28 getting $15M per year and he’s largely a zone coverage corner, it makes it difficult for Buffalo to negotiate with Gilmore’s camp when he’s 27 and plays a more demanding role at corner as he’s often in man-to-man.

I think top 10 cornerback money is realistic for Gilmore. Top five money might be a different story, and if the Gilmore camp is looking for that it could make for a longer negotiation.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills Any real worries with Watkins foot? Similar to Dez foot injury that kept him out all year?

jason plunkett @j_plunk

CB: First, Dez Bryant did not miss the whole year. He injured the foot in Week 1 and missed the next six weeks. The Cowboys rushed him back and he struggled through the rest of the season, but suited up and played in eight of the last nine games.

I expect the Bills to go to school on how things played out with Bryant and Julian Edelman for that matter, who also needed a second surgery because he came back too soon in the playoffs.

I’m not a doctor, but based on what I’ve read, Watkins’ Jones fracture, a common injury for NFL wide receivers, usually takes longer to heal (8-12 weeks) than most fractures (six weeks) because the blood supply to that area of the foot isn’t as good as other parts of the body. That’s why the surgery has a screw inserted in that area to promote the healing of the bone.

The Cowboys tried to get Bryant back in six weeks and it was too soon. That’s why I think even though Sammy Watkins will be right around the 12-week mark at the start of training camp I would not expect to see him do much of anything on the field until the second full week of camp at the earliest.

And even then it will be a slow and steady process. Yes, reps with his quarterback are important, but most important is Watkins’ availability on Sundays in September. If the process is rushed risk of re-injury increases.

Being patient with a player of his caliber is difficult for fans, but the payoff is he’ll be less likely to run into future problems with the foot during the season.

 

5 – Chris,

Last year’s defense was a disappointment. Veteran players could not fully adapt to this complicated front seven scheme then play at a high level. Also, expectations turned out to be unrealistically high.

Is there any way 3 rookies can leap to the NFL, play in this same defensive front, simplified or not, and have success? Or do we need to start managing expectations now to avoid more disappointment?

Thanks,
Ron

CB: From what I have been able to gather Rex Ryan and Dennis Thurman have reduced the number of checks pre-snap on defensive play calls for this season knowing the problem it presented last season. Whether they’ve found the happy balance between remaining unpredictable while allowing their players to play fast remains to be seen, but the effort was made to make execution of the defensive system easier for the players.

As for the rookies, Adolphus Washington’s position doesn’t require as much pre-snap adjustment as Reggie Ragland or Shaq Lawson. Ragland doesn’t have to run the defense, that will be on Preston Brown, but as GM Doug Whaley mentioned the scheme Ragland ran at Alabama is very similar to that of Buffalo’s defense. Ragland has said there’s a lot of carryover that’s a plus.

Lawson might have the toughest time adjusting knowing he’s likely to miss the offseason practices and some time in the first half of the season. Not having those physical reps could make it hard on the top pick to assimilate himself into the defense.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Confirmed: Watkins had foot surgery

Posted by Chris Brown on May 16, 2016 – 5:18 pm

In the wake of the news that Shaq Lawson will undergo pre-emptive shoulder surgery Tuesday, Buffalobills.com has learned that he’s not alone. Team officials have confirmed that WR Sammy Watkins has had offseason foot surgery. 

Per the Bills, Watkins will recover in time for the season opener so he’s not expected to miss any regular season time. 

Last offseason Watkins had hip surgery and his reps were closely monitored in training camp. It would not be surprising if the Bills take a similar approach with Watkins through the course of the preseason. 


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Trust between Sammy & Tyrod set in London

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2016 – 9:33 am

The second half of the 2015 season was when the connection between Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins was not only established, but completely exploded. Taylor hit Watkins for seven touchdowns over the last nine games of the season, after just two in the first seven outings. Watkins also rolled up 900 of his 1,047 receiving yards in those final nine games, a total that was third-best in the league over that span with only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones ahead of him. So why did it take half the season for Taylor and Watkins to get in sync?

Taylor, who made an in studio appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Friday, explained why it was difficult to get acclimated to one another on the field early in the season.

“If people remember Sammy was injured throughout the preseason so I really didn’t get a chance to work with him then,” said Taylor. “Through the last OTA period he was rehabbing (hip surgery) as well so I didn’t get a chance to work with him. Early in the season we connected on some things. Then he got injured early in the season in Week 3 at Miami and then I got injured a couple of weeks after that against Tennessee.”

Though injured both players made the trip with the team to London for the Week 7 game against Jacksonville. It was there that they spent a lot of time outlining what they had to get accomplished on the field when they were healthy.

“We spent some time talking a lot in London when we were getting treatment together,” said Taylor. “So we got on the same page, and when it was time to come back on the field for both of us we had talked through a lot of things.

“I remember throwing some with him after the bye week and trying to understand how to work off each other. He’s one of the top receivers in this league and I have to get him the ball. He can be very dynamic once the ball is in his hands. We got on the same page and trusted each other and that continued to build. He is one of the best receivers in the league at tracking the ball. I love playing with him and I like what we have going on and we’re going to continue to keep building.”

Perhaps the best example of their quarterback-receiver relationship reaching critical mass was in Kansas City when Taylor let Watkins dominate the first half, scoring on a pair of passes, even when he wasn’t completely open.

“It’s a trust factor and that’s something we talk about. Just giving him a chance,” said Taylor. “If your best guy is one-on-one with the safety or one-on-one with the corner and the safety is coming, but not in the picture, then you feel like he’s open. Like he told me, ‘Just give me a chance and I can either catch it or knock it down.’ And we’ll take those chances.”


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PFF ranks Darby & Watkins in their top 100

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2016 – 8:47 am

The NFL Network apparently isn’t the only outlet doing a top 100 NFL player list. Pro Football Focus is doing their based on their film review from the 2016. Their findings have Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby ranked in the first release of ranked players from 100-76.

Watkins was ranked 95th overall while Darby checked in with a ranking of 82. Here was their breakdown as to why each Bills player wound up where they did.

95. Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills (unranked)

There may have been more impressive raw statistical performances from wide receivers out there, but Watkins posted an impressive receiving grade and averaged 17.5 yards per reception in 2015. At times he was short-changed by the rest of the offense, as passes didn’t quite get to him even after he did excellent work to get open, and the trouble he gave Darrelle Revis in both of their matchups this season really encapsulates the improvement in his game from one year to the next.

Best performance: Week 13 versus Houston: +3.5 grade

Key stat: Watkins had the second-most yards from deep passes (20-plus air yards) in the entire league at 606 yards.

82. Ronald Darby, CB, Buffalo Bills (unranked)

Rookie cornerbacks are not supposed to play as well as Darby did this past season. In contrast to Marcus Peters, who was very much boom-or-bust (eight interceptions and eight touchdowns surrendered), Darby was far more consistent in a down-to-down basis. He may have only notched two interceptions, but he also had 13 passes broken up and was beaten for an average of just 11.6 yards per reception.

Best performance: Week 4 versus Giants: +4.1 grade

Key stat: Darby had the eighth-highest coverage grade for CBs at +11.1.


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Clemson’s 1st round run in Buffalo

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2016 – 1:11 am

It started way back in 1975 with when a wide receiver was made the fifth overall pick in the draft by Buffalo. Then in 1982 another Clemson wideout was selected with the 19th overall pick (like Shaq Lawson). Since then three more of Buffalo’s first round picks have pulled talent out of the South Carolina football powerhouse in the last seven drafts.

Here’s a look at all of Buffalo’s first-round picks to come out of Clemson.

1974 – WR Jerry Butler – 5th overall
1982 – WR Perry Tuttle – 19th overall
2010 – RB C.J. Spiller – 9th overall
2014 – WR Sammy Watkins – 4th overall
2016 – DL Shaq Lawson – 19th overall


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Watkins embracing leadership role

Posted by Chris Brown on April 27, 2016 – 1:52 pm

He got a feel for it late last year when he witnessed how a team that allowed dissenters voice negative opinions compromised a team’s success on the field. Sammy Watkins vowed to be part of the solution and take on more of a leadership role in 2016. The time to lead is now for the third-year receiver and he’s committed to being vocal in Buffalo’s locker room.

Watkins spoke with NFL Player Engagement about the new role he is willingly taking on while also sharing how his family will be living with him in Buffalo during the season.

“I know now I have to be a leader, I have to speak up more,” said Watkins. “For a couple years I didn’t talk to nobody. And that’s with dealing with a new coach (Rex Ryan) and foundation. I was quiet, really didn’t do anything but work hard and try to make as many plays as I could. And now it’s more vocal and really stepping up to be a leader.

“And I try to do lot of things in the community because this is now my home. My family’s here (longtime girlfriend Ta’La and their daughters Samiah, 2, and Azaria, 1) and I’m enjoying it. I do a lot of things with my babies and my girl and try to have fun with my family. I’m more so of a homebody than anything.”


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Darby named to All-Under 25 team

Posted by Chris Brown on March 4, 2016 – 8:48 am

Ronald Darby didn’t win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, but his play did garner the attention of a lot of NFL talent evaluators. It also earned him a spot on an up and comers list.

Darby was named to the NFL.com All-Under 25 team. Here’s what they wrote about the Bills cornerback.

Cornerback: Ronald Darby, Buffalo Bills

The 2015 campaign was a down year for the Bills’ defense, but not because of Darby. Marcus Peters deservedly took home the DROY hardware, but when you dive into the numbers, Darby is right there. He allowed fewer receptions, yards and touchdowns than Peters, while posting more tackles. What a second-round find.

Why Sammy Watkins, who is just 22, isn’t on this list is beyond me, but these lists are always pretty subjective.


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A passing game rendezvous

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2016 – 9:32 am

At the close of the 2015 season Bills QB Tyrod Taylor and WR Sammy Watkins both gave strong indication that there would be plans for some of the men in Buffalo’s passing game to get together on their own in the offseason to work on their on field chemistry. Some more details on that came to light Friday.

Bills GM Doug Whaley, appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Friday spoke to Taylor and found out where and who would be working together in the near future.

“I’ve talked to Tyrod and he, Sammy and Charles Clay are going to be in Florida working out together,” said Whaley.

As Whaley sees it that will only benefit the efforts to develop better overall consistency within the framework of Buffalo’s offense.

“All of a sudden next thing you know when we’re in a two minute drill there may not even be any verbal communication,” Whaley said. “There might just be some hand signs or some head nods where everybody is on the same page and that’s where you start to see an offense or even a defense make strides and take off.”

Whaley acknowledged that being able to keep offensive coordinator Greg Roman on staff will also do wonders for the offense as they’ll all be able to progress together.

“Just like any relationship the longer you’re together the closer you’re going to get and it gets to the point where Tyrod will anticipate what G-Ro is thinking and vice versa,” said Whaley.


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Watkins makes his ‘Bama-Clemson prediction

Posted by Chris Brown on January 11, 2016 – 2:48 pm

Sammy Watkins will be at the National Championship game tonight between Alabama and his alma mater Clemson in Glendale, Arizona. Watkins appeared on ESPN2’s First Take and provided his thoughts on the matchup tonight.

“It’s a big game not only for our team, but for the alumni and the fans,” Watkins said. “We’ve just got to go out there and be consistent and just give them a match and fight. That’s what the game is about. At the end of the day there’s going to be a lot of talk and everyone has their predictions, but nobody will know. It’s two great teams that’s one and two that’s in the national championship. Anything can happen.”

When asked for a prediction, Watkins naturally sided with his Tigers.

“I’ve got Clemson winning of course,” he said. “It’s going to be a tight game. I’ll say 24-17 Clemson.”


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Fan Friday 1-8

Posted by Chris Brown on January 8, 2016 – 10:50 am

Into the offseason we go. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Why did it take Rex so long to compromise his own defensive philosophy to fit the players?

LoretoB10

CB: In fairness to Rex Ryan, he recognized how married some of the players were to the previous scheme and tried to incorporate some of those concepts from last year into his scheme. By midseason he realized that wasn’t working and scrapped it to have the players focus only on his scheme.

Unfortunately there were players who refused to buy in, and Ryan’s scheme, or any other for that matter, doesn’t work unless all 11 players execute their assignments. Preston Brown addressed that when I asked him a few questions about it after the Washington game.

“Guys have got to buy into the system, especially on the defensive side,” said Brown. “We don’t really know how good we could’ve been because everybody wasn’t doing what they were supposed to do on each play. We can’t say it was the scheme or everybody is not playing with effort. Mentally everybody wasn’t there.

“We have to understand that everybody has to be working as one and we haven’t done that this year. Everybody has been kind of doing their own agenda on our side of the ball. So it’s something that we need to get covered and handle these last couple of games and years down the road.”

When I asked Preston why the defense had players being selfish and doing their own thing this was his response.

“I’m not sure. Everybody keeps saying last year we were a top four defense and everybody was still thinking about last year. We’ve got to get over that,” said Brown. “It’s not last year and guys were still thinking, ‘Oh we did this last year.’ Well we’re not doing that this year. So we’ve got to understand that we’re doing a different scheme and a different system and it works if everybody does it the right way.”

Complete buy in by the defensive players didn’t happen until the last two weeks of the season according to the players I spoke with and we saw good results over the final two games. So when the players tell me and media members that Rex is not at fault with what happened to the defense and that it’s on the players, I take them at their word.

For the record Rex tried to appeal to the players in different ways to get full buy-in knowing it wasn’t there. I wrote about that this week. But the bottom line, as Sammy Watkins said, is it’s on the players to take control of how players prepare, practice and play on game days. And if someone is being selfish or slacking they need to be called out by teammates.

That’s why Watkins and Brown stepped forward as leaders late this season. They don’t want to see what happened to their defense because of a couple of selfish players happen again.

 

2 – Chris,

I’m still trying to make sense of this season, as results have been significantly below expectations.  There have been too many games where the team has been unprepared, undisciplined, and let games get away from them that they should have won.

Why move up in the draft and give up so much in 1st round draft picks to select Sammy Watkins and not find a way to incorporate him more into the offense.  Other WRs Calvin Johnson, Beckham, Antonio Brown defenses focus on, and yet their Offense still get them the ball.  Why do they mainly use Sammy for only deep passes or screens that never seem to work.  How about running Sammy across the field like Andre Reed always did or the way the Patriots utilize Edelman and just have the QB lead him on a pass as he runs a short crossing route and then takes off?

CB: The main reason why Watkins wasn’t made more of a focal point of the offense was two-fold. First, Buffalo was committed to being a run-first attack. Second, offensive coordinator Greg Roman has said they wanted to bring Tyrod Taylor along steadily to see how much he could capably handle on a week to week basis. They were trying to help him progress while limiting setbacks and gradually gave him more rope as the season wore on.

Once they felt comfortable that Taylor could handle more you saw the deep passing game flourish. Since the bye week only two other receivers had more yardage than Watkins 900 in the last nine games. They were Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. For a first-year offense with a first-year quarterback you have to walk before you can run, and rely on the run before you rely more on the pass

Under Roman’s guidance the Bills did that. It probably would’ve been effective enough to reach the postseason had the defense not taken a step back. I think moving forward Watkins will continue to be a dominant weapon as the rapport between him and Taylor continues to develop.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills how long of contract terms are Glenn and Richie looking at receiving and possibly getting?

Brady_P

CB: Glenn is the one who will be cashing in with a long-term deal. At age 26 he’s entering the prime of his career, so a long term deal would make sense and he plays at a position that commands more pay in terms of average salary. Incognito is 32-years old, so I’d be surprised to see anything more than a three-year contract. Probably a two-year deal with a team option for a third.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills Given that releasing EJ Manuel would save no money & leave the team with dead money, can you see any upside to releasing him?

cdevaney

CB: The question here with EJ Manuel is can you do better at backup quarterback than EJ?  If the front office feels the answer is yes, Manuel’s dead money on the cap of a little over $2.8M is not crippling with the cap likely to be up around $153M for 2016.

So when money doesn’t impact the decision GM Doug Whaley largely lets the performance on the field determine make the call.

It’s my belief that the Bills will add a backup quarterback prospect from the draft. Someone they feel they can develop behind Tyrod Taylor. Is it likely such a prospect would be more NFL ready than Manuel? No.

So it’s possible they keep Manuel on the roster until they see more of whatever quarterback they draft or add looks in their offense. But it wouldn’t shock me if the organization decides to turn the page.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills what is the outlook for the Bills to receive a compensatory draft pick this year? #fanfriday

lophus89

CB: Taking a more in depth look at things with some help from the front office as to who qualifies as a free agent addition and a free agent loss (the rules are endless) the Bills may be entitled to one compensatory pick this year.

The Bills added – Alex Carrington, Jerome Felton and Tyrod Taylor (Charles Clay – transition player???)
The Bills lost – Erik Pears, Da’Norris Searcy, Lee Smith and C.J. Spiller

Harvin and Incognito were not unrestricted free agents because they had contracts that were terminated. And Clay will be argued by the Bills as someone who should not count because he was a transition player. We’ll see if the league disagrees because there is precedent with transition players counting toward the free agent add count, but if not the Bills should get one compensatory pick this year.

 


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Offensive playmakers to meet up in offseason

Posted by Chris Brown on January 6, 2016 – 9:05 am

Tyrod Taylor didn’t know any of his new teammates after signing with the Bills last March. Likewise, none of his teammates knew if he was going to be the starting quarterback for the Bills come the fall. Now after Taylor had an impressive season as a first-year starter, Buffalo’s quarterback and his offensive playmakers plan to spend some time together in the offseason with player organized practices.

“The thing that changes (this offseason) is you get a chance to work with the guys you’re going to be playing with,” said Taylor. “I’m looking forward to working with these guys once everyone gets healthy and have time to go back to spend time with their families, I’m looking forward to getting in there and working with these guys. We’ll definitely get together. We’ve already talked about it and looking forward to it.”

“We’ll be getting a lot of time in the offseason throwing and catching with each other,” said Sammy Watkins. “I don’t know about his future here, but I can say I stand up for him. He’s a great player and a great leader for this team. He’s only going to get better. Every game you don’t have to worry about Ty making plays or working us out of situations. That’s what he came in to do. He’s going to put us in the right situations, he’s going to throw the ball down the field. He’s going to do his job.”

 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

More prep time for Revis matchup #2 for Watkins

Posted by Chris Brown on December 31, 2015 – 3:01 pm

Heading into the first meeting against the Jets, Sammy Watkins was coming off a short week and there weren’t many practice reps to be had before facing New York with the game on a Thursday night. It cost Watkins and Tyrod Taylor a couple of opportunities to make some big plays in the Week 10 win over the Jets. Now with a full week of preparation offensive coordinator Greg Roman was asked to assess if Watkins might have more success against Jets CB Darrelle Revis.

“We went into that game on a short week,” said Roman in reference to the Week 10 game. “We were banged up. We really couldn’t practice. So we had to go in there kind of roll the dice a little bit, gamble on a game plan to find a way to win and we were fortunate it worked out. But I think it’ll be a good battle. They got a lot of other cover players on their defense too though. It’ll be a really good test for us.”

In the first meeting Watkins had just three catches for 14 yards, though two of them went for first downs.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-25

Posted by Chris Brown on December 25, 2015 – 11:48 am

Merry Christmas Bills fans! We know the players and coaches would’ve liked to leave a bit more under the tree for you this season. It might be hard to see it now, but there are a lot of encouraging signs for the 2016 season. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

How does Karlos look for this week? Starting? Or gillislee taking reps with the ones?

Ethan_Diep

CB: Barring any setbacks with his shoulder I’d expect Karlos Williams to start in place of LeSean McCoy. Mike Gillislee will have a role however on Sunday serving as a complement to Williams.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Isn’t there value in continuity? The most successful organizations have it, right?

XKC4338

CB: Yes, most of the most NFL franchises have some clear measure of continuity. In many cases it’s aided by having a franchise quarterback. Buffalo has found a promising QB in Tyrod Taylor. There are a lot of encouraging elements to Taylor’s game that should only improve heading into next season with another year in Greg Roman’s system. That being said the jury is still out on whether he can be a franchise caliber signal caller.

I’m guessing your question stems from concern about the state of the Bills front office and coaching staff amid a flurry of media reports this week. I will say that things did not go according to plan with this team this season. There is no debate about that. I don’t think making wholesale changes are the way to go or in the offing.

Doug Whaley has proven himself as a talent evaluator in his short time as GM of the Bills. Anyone who can flip Matt Cassel for a fifth-round pick and get a Pro Bowl running back for a linebacker that has had a pair of ACL knee injuries is doing something right. And all the criticism for the draft day trade of Sammy Watkins looks like it has missed the mark.

Rex Ryan despite a disappointing defensive season has been a top 10 defensive coach in this league for all but two of the seasons in which he has been either a coordinator or head coach. He’s a proven innovator in this league and it’s my contention that he’ll be doing some more innovating this offseason to gain the upper hand again on opposing offenses next year.

I know it again sounds like empty promises. Believe me I get it. I’ve been here to witness each of the last 16 seasons. As I’ve said many times, frequent change hasn’t brought much in the way of improvement for this team. I doubt such sweeping change will make this team better in 2016.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Thoughts on Tyrod as long term answer for Bills?

TheGreatMikesby
CB: I think Tyrod has certainly made himself the best candidate for that role right now. As I said above Taylor still has some more evidence to provide that he can be that guy, which means making progress in some areas of his game.

The thing that hasn’t made sense to me is the criticism he’s received for not making enough plays in the fourth quarter, leading his team from behind to a victory, etc. The positive things he has done for that position in a brand new offense for every player on that side of the ball should be applauded.

To have the numbers he has, which include an astounding 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio (20 to 5) and a passer rating that is on pace to be the best in team history (yes, better than HOF’er Jim Kelly) and has been over 100 almost all season, is remarkable.

What goes by the board for most fans because they’re not around him every day is the leadership he has demonstrated for this team in his role as QB. I have covered this team since Kelly’s last two seasons with the Bills and having seen all the quarterbacks since then, the only one who led as effectively as Taylor was Ryan Fitzpatrick. The only one who did better was Drew Bledsoe.

But Bledsoe came in the door with a proven resume that included Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl appearance. So stepping in and leading was easy.

Taylor came in as part of a three-man QB competition, no time on the field in the league and in less than a season not only won over the locker room, but produced on the field and then did all the right things off it in terms of vocal leadership, running extra offensive meetings by himself with teammates and counseling younger players on the practice squad (e.g. Dez Lewis, Walt Powell).

In my opinion, Taylor has earned the right to be this team’s starting quarterback next season. If the Bills happen to acquire a quarterback who is superior in every way this offseason then things are different, but until that time this is a quarterback fans should get behind.

 

4 – Chris,

Do you think the Bills will utilize Bill Polian as a team Consultant?  I totally agree with Mr. Polian’s recent comments, Improve the Offensive Line with talent (a need for past 15 years that has not been properly addressed), add a WR to compliment Sammy on the other side, and add a true quality back-up QB to Tyrod Taylor, while also drafting a young QB to develop for the future.

In addition, my thought is use a defensive scheme that matches the strengths of the Bills personnel.

Randy Culp

CB: I’m not going to pretend to know what Terry and Kim Pegula are thinking with respect to hiring a consultant. What I can tell you is Bill Polian’s job at ESPN is in direct conflict with him having any kind of NFL consultant job with an NFL club. He recently said on Sirius NFL Radio that he would not want to give up his ESPN job to do that.

All due respect to Bill Polian, who is a Hall of Fame executive, but the offensive line is not old and slow. Of the seven offensive linemen who have seen the most time on the field this season, their average age is 26.5-years old. Two of the oldest, Richie Incognito and Eric Wood are Pro Bowl alternates and the team leads the league in rushing.

For you to say the offensive line hasn’t been addressed is also incorrect. They drafted four in the last two drafts. Cordy Glenn, who the team has said is a priority to re-sign, is entering the prime of his career (also a draft choice – 2012).

And I wouldn’t be surprised if they invest in the offensive line again this offseason in the draft. Adding a quarterback I think is also on the to-do list.

Doug Whaley in two short years as GM has done a solid job of fortifying this roster with quality talent. What’s more he’s retained the most important talent on this roster instead of letting it escape to play for other clubs. So I’m having a hard time understanding the criticism for the team’s personnel boss.

 

5 – ​Hi Chris,

I really think Doug Whaley does a tremendous job identifying talent…but I think he needs some help (as well as Rex) building a TEAM.  As Talley said, and I totally agree, we have a collection of all-stars but no team unity.  Fred Jackson was the glue on this team and Whaley showed me he doesn’t understand the “team” concept this offseason (was Bryce Brown really that talented??  Did anyone not think Goodwin would be hurt in his first game?? With Shady being hurt..cut someone else).  When KW and AW went down that was a huge blow and now young men are trying to become leaders and that will take time.  More so than talent this offseason, I’m really looking for the Bills to become a team and look like the enjoy playing together.  Your thoughts?

Chris
St. Louis
CB: I agree that losing Kyle Williams and Aaron Williams for the season were costly losses. They were the primary leaders on defense. I think it would’ve been harder for Fred to lead here in a vastly reduced role that might have found him inactive in certain weeks.

As the season is winding down it is encouraging to see a couple of 2014 draft choices step forward in Preston Brown and Sammy Watkins and take on more of a leadership role in the final weeks. Hopefully they continue to serve this team in that capacity going into next year.

If the productive players on the field are the ones leading off of it everybody follows. It’s unfortunate that a pair of 22-years old have to fill that kind of void, but when veterans choose not to a team has no choice.

As Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells once said:

“Blame nobody – expect nothing – do something. Losers sit around in small groups, b**ching about the coach, the system and other players. Winners come together as a team.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills