Inside The Bills

Watkins: Fighting to the end

Posted by Chris Brown on December 11, 2014 – 10:35 am

The players in Buffalo’s locker room realize the situation in which they’ve put themselves. There is no margin for error with three games to play. Even though it’s his first time going through it at the NFL level, how things have played out has not sit well with Sammy Watkins.

“Very upset,” he said of Buffalo’s current standing at 7-6. “We understand as a team and an organization that it’s not all on what everybody is saying. It’s about what we do. I think we let a couple games slip on ourselves so we put ourselves in this situation. But we still have control of our destiny. We could win out three games and be 10-6 and hopefully make it to the playoffs. That’s what we’re fighting for.”

 


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100 catch seasons not so rare in 90’s

Posted by Chris Brown on December 10, 2014 – 11:54 am

There’s a common perception that with the NFL becoming more and more of a passing league that there have been far more 100-catch seasons in the last eight or nine seasons in comparison to the 10 or 11 seasons prior. Buffalo has a pair of receivers in both eras who were number one picks in Eric Moulds and Sammy Watkins, who were the subject in our exam of the 2014 WR class to that of the ’96 class. Moulds already has a 100-catch season, which is the only in franchise history. Watkins will probably flirt with some 100-catch seasons in his career, but in counting up the 100-catch season in the NFL in those two eras might surprise you.

From 2006-2014 there have been 33 100-catch seasons posted. Wes Welker has five of them for the most in that span. But between 1995 and 2005, granted an 11-year span instead of eight-year plus span, there were 34 100-catch seasons by individual receivers.

As far as Eric Moulds is concerned it shows that the receivers from his era were more productive arguing that today’s receivers get more targets per game and thus more opportunities to make more catches. The fact that there aren’t appreciably more receivers today posting 100-catch seasons than there used to be when he was playing is proof as far as he’s concerned.

“You look at the New England Patriots. They just plug guys in,” Moulds told Buffalobills.com. “They lose Wes Welker and plug in (Julian) Edelman and he gets 100 catches. It’s one of those things where you throw the ball so much and you put so much emphasis on the passing game that you’re obviously going to have an opportunity to make plays. They’re given so many opportunities with the passing game.”

Moulds said in a conversation with former teammate and Hall of Famer Andre Reed the two leading receivers in team history entertained the thought of playing in today’s game and how many more chances they’d have to produce.

“You’re always going to say, ‘What if I was playing this era,’” said Moulds. “I had a conversation with Andre Reed right before he went into the Hall of Fame and he was saying, ‘Moulds what if we were playing in this era where they throw the ball a ton? Even when I was in the K-Gun we didn’t throw it this much.’ I said, ‘Man, it would be great.’”


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What Moulds told Watkins

Posted by Chris Brown on December 10, 2014 – 11:52 am

In today’s headline story on Buffalobills.com we take a look at how the 2014 draft class of receivers stands a good chance of eclipsing the gold standard for receiver draft classes, which was the 1996 group. Buffalo has a first-round pick in each of those classes at the receiver position in Eric Moulds and Sammy Watkins. Recently Moulds was on hand for a Bills home game to lead the charge prior to kickoff. He also had an opportunity to talk to Watkins. Here was some of the exchange between the two.

“I did catch up with him on the sideline,” said Watkins. “I had a couple of words with him and that was great to see guys like him. Guys I look up to and now they’re coming to watch me play.”

Moulds was the one who did most of the talking during the meeting between the two first-round picks.

“I just told Sammy that I was a big fan of his and I expected big things out of him,” Moulds told Buffalobills.com. “I told him I was looking forward to him breaking all of my records and Andre Reed’s records. If he does that it means the team is successful.”

The Bills’ record holder for two of the highest reception season in team history, Moulds put the onus on Watkins to earn Pro Bowl recognition sooner rather than later.

“I told him the last time a receiver from the Bills went to the Pro Bowl it was me,” said Moulds. “It’s long overdue. I also told him that the last time a Pro Bowl receiver took a Bills team to the playoffs it was me as well. So it’s up to him and (Robert) Woods and (Chris) Hogan and they have to step it up and make plays.

“Once they get their offense down and Sammy gets in a situation where he’s comfortable, because teams are paying a lot more attention to him when you’re making plays like he was making. He has to watch a lot of film to figure out how he can get open and beat double teams. It’s going to come with time, but he’s still a rookie.”

Moulds also extended Watkins the invitation to call him at any time for any questions he might have about the game, like getting separation off double teams, something Moulds saw a lot in his time with Buffalo.

“No, I told him that if he had any questions he could reach out to me and I’d be happy to help,” he said. “I just told him just be ready to play, but we could always talk whenever or I could come back up to town. Sammy kept saying, ‘Yes sir. Yes sir.’ He’s one of those guys. I said, ‘Sammy I’m not that old so you don’t have to call me sir.’”


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Bills now have 3 with 50 catches

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 1:14 pm

With Fred Jackson and Sammy Watkins both busy in yesterday’s loss to the Broncos, the Bills now have three players with at least 50 receptions this season. It’s a feat that hasn’t been accomplished by too many Bills teams.

Jackson (53 rec.) and Watkins (58 rec.) joined Robert Woods (52 rec.) to give Buffalo three players that have not eclipsed the 50-catch mark this season. It is just the seventh time in team history in which at least three players have 50-plus receptions.

Below is the list of previous seasons in which the Bills had three players with at least 50 catches apiece.

Year Players
1987 Andre Reed (57), Chris Burkett (56), Ronnie Harmon (56)
1991 Andre Reed (81), Thurman Thomas (62), James Lofton (57)
1992 Andre Reed (65), Thurman Thomas (58), James Lofton (51)
1993 Pete Metzelaars (68), Bill Brooks (60), Andre Reed (52)
2001 Larry Centers (77), Eric Moulds (61), Peerless Price (52)
2003 Eric Moulds (64), Josh Reed (58), Bobby Shaw (56)
2014 Sammy Watkins (58), Fred Jackson (53), Robert Woods (52)


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Watkins: Defense supports us

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 12:19 pm

The tight-knit nature of the Bills locker room has helped this team through the large amount of adversity they’ve faced all season. And while the defense has been the best side of the ball this season, WR Sammy Watkins says their support of the offense has been unwavering.

“You see it on the sideline,” said Watkins. “Those guys could look at you funny and say, ‘Let’s go, go score a touchdown.’ But they continue to encourage our offense and push us. I think that’s one of the things that’s been happening late in the season. They’ve been pushing us to be great and they depend on us to score and we’ve just got to keep helping those guys out.”

“We’re the defense. Our job is to go out there and stop points,” said Jerry Hughes. “We came out we made some adjustments in the second half and guys came together and played well. We’ve just got to play four quarters of football and just come together as a team and just stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”

 


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Getting to the red zone the issue

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 12:49 am

Bills WR Sammy Watkins had his first 100-yard receiving day in a month and a half, but it still wasn’t enough to help change the outcome in the loss to Denver. Watkins felt a recurring problem resurfaced on Sunday.

“We’ve got to get better in the red zone and put some points on the board,” he said. “I think we got aggressive in the second half and we started moving the ball. We just need to change our whole approach. I think once we get that killer instinct mindset to go down the field no matter what, no matter who we’re playing, we’ll be a great offense.

“We drove the ball down the field and we didn’t help ourselves out by putting seven on the board. Those are things that we have to clean up.”

Buffalo actually went 2-for-3 in the red zone Sunday. The bigger issue was sustaining the drive long enough where it reached the red zone.

Before Buffalo’s two late touchdown drives the Bills had eight possessions. The deepest penetration the offense made on those first eight possessions was the Denver 19-yard line, and the drive ended with an interception. The Bills only crossed midfield on three of those first eight possessions.


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Fan Friday 12-5

Posted by Chris Brown on December 5, 2014 – 11:20 am

The biggest December road game in quite some time is just two days away. Nice to see a game that matters here at this point in the season for the Bills. On to your questions now from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hello Chris
I have a couple questions. When will the coaching staff see that the QB play was not the problem? EJ could throw a pick a game and not fumble. Plus he had the strength in the pocket plus agility to avoid half the sacks Orton has had. It is play calling I feel. We run such a mellow offense. Out of 73 starts for Orton he has 8 comebacks. EJ had I believe 4 in just 14 starts. We should have let him continue to develop. Orton has continually been trying to make up for his mistakes. (Pick six in Detroit. That game should have never been that close)
Secondly do they hope CJ may come back with the IR they placed him on? Thanks again for all your coverage of the best team in sports.

Jedediah
Palm Coast, FL

CB: Your numbers for Orton and Manuel are pretty much on the mark. Orton does have eight fourth quarter comebacks in his career. Manuel has one fourth quarter comeback and three game-winning drives, one of which came in Week 1 against Chicago in overtime with the score tied.

I think head coach Doug Marrone explained the quarterback move for what it was. At the time Manuel was struggling to complete passes with consistency. He was missing open targets and it was costing them yards and points and that ultimately costs you games.

Marrone had to decide between development of EJ Manuel or winning games. Winning games trumped Manuel’s development. Orton doesn’t have the physical assets that Manuel possesses. That’s obvious.

What Orton does have however, is the knowledge of where to go with the football regardless of the situation or defensive look. He can diagnose disguised coverages faster and his knowledge allows him to make decisions quicker. I think that results in Orton being more willing to give his receivers opportunities to make plays by taking a bit more risk than Manuel was willing to when he was in the lineup.

That being said Manuel has been working hard on his personal game and I think being able to focus on just himself the last two months has helped Manuel immeasurably. Whether he gets another opportunity this season will likely be tied to Orton’s health.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

What do you think Hughes trade value is? Would you package him and Spiller for a first rd. Pick?

crazyeyes7711

CB: First, I will say I don’t think it’s the primary intention of the Bills to trade either player. In an ideal world they keep both players in the fold. Will it happen? That depends on the intentions of the Hughes and Spiller camps.

In your hypothetical trade situation I think you’re underselling Hughes and Spiller as a package. Hughes is going to have double-digit sacks in back-to-back seasons and is just entering his prime. Spiller is still an elite physical talent no matter what his rushing production numbers say. One first round pick for both of them is far from an acceptable offer.

A first and a second round pick is what would be more equitable. We have to remember that they’re both former first-round draft choices themselves.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

What’s Goodwin’s % to play?

8three7six6zero

CB: If you want to know if he’ll dress on Sunday I think there’s a decent chance that happens knowing some of Buffalo’s top receivers are nicked up. He can serve as insurance. If you want to know how many snaps he’ll get that’s tough to peg. He got all of two snaps last week on offense and was targeted once. After Marcus Thigpen’s debut performance on returns last week Goodwin is unlikely to re-assume those duties.

Goodwin has just 70 snaps on offense this season. That’s partly due to him being unavailable due to injury, but that’s more than 100 fewer snaps on offense than Mike Williams (194), who has been inactive for three games. Goodwin has been out of the lineup for six games.

The former third-round pick has just six targets this season and one catch for 42 yards.

 

4 -  @ChrisBrownBills

What position will be the top priority to improve in the offseason?

JaredBailey23

CB: I think the clubhouse leader position-wise is the offensive line. Though the unit has played a bit better of late there just hasn’t been enough consistency up front, so I could see that being addressed in the offseason. Where they come down on the quarterback position is something else that bears watching.

Other positions could be added to the priority list based on potential player departures in free agency.

 

5 – Chris,

I understand that opponents are working on eliminating Sammy’s impact on games and work on keeping him from beating them. That said, I still think they are under utilizing Sammy, specifically on WR screens. It would be one thing if they were running WR screens on the opposite side of the field as Sammy, but the majority of the time Sammy is lead blocking. I saw this at least two times on Monday night’s game.

I get what Marrone is saying, but their actions don’t always coordinate entirely with what they say.

Thoughts?

Thanks,
Elliott

CB: They have worked to find more ways to get Watkins the ball. We saw some receiver screens last week against Cleveland. I think there would be some merit to stacking receivers at the line with Watkins being the wideout who is second in line on the stack. That could help him gain early separation.

Watkins was targeted nine times last week, but had just three receptions. Part of the problem at times was ball location. Watkins has a wide catch radius, but even he couldn’t make the play on some errant throws. The timing and execution has to be better when Watkins is targeted.

We’ll see if they can get that fixed against a pair of very aggressive corners this week in Denver.


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Bills top 3 WRs limited

Posted by Chris Brown on December 4, 2014 – 3:32 pm

injury-report-header

 

 

 

 

Bills head coach Doug Marrone isn’t concerned about whether they’ll be available on Sunday, but it’s clear that each of Buffalo’s top three receivers are at less than 100 percent.

Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Chris Hogan were all limited in practice Thursday as the team prepares for a big road date at Denver. Fellow WR Mike Williams also sustained a calf injury in practice Thursday and was limited too.

Player Pos Injury Participation Thursday
Jarius Wynn DE Knee DNP
Chris Gragg TE Knee DNP
Dan Carpenter K Right Groin LP
Bacarri Rambo S Hamstring LP
Sammy Watkins WR Hip LP
Marcell Dareus DT Hip LP
Chris Hogan WR Hamstring LP
Robert Woods WR Ankle LP
Mike Williams WR Calf LP

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Kyle, Cordy sick; Dareus, Watkins limited

Posted by Chris Brown on December 3, 2014 – 4:10 pm

injury-report-header

 

 

 

 

Bills DT Kyle Williams and OT Cordy Glenn were both absent at practice Wednesday due to illness. Limited in practice were a handful of players including DT Marcell Dareus and WR Sammy Watkins.

Stepping in for Glenn at left tackle was Chris Hairston and filling in for Kyle Williams was Stefan Charles.

Player Pos Injury Participation Wednesday
Jarius Wynn DE Knee DNP
Chris Gragg TE Knee DNP
Kyle Williams DT Illness DNP
Cordy Glenn DT Illness DNP
Dan Carpenter K Right Groin LP
Bacarri Rambo S Hamstring LP
Sammy Watkins WR Hip LP
Marcell Dareus DT Hip LP
Chris Hogan WR Hamstring LP
Robert Woods WR Ankle LP

 


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Whaley on Watkins

Posted by Chris Brown on November 18, 2014 – 11:56 am

There has been a lot of debate in the media on the Sammy Watkins trade and whether it was worth the trade up that sent Buffalo’s 2015 first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns. Bills GM Doug Whaley was asked for his opinion in an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550.

Whaley was asked if it was necessary to trade up and get Watkins where they did, in light of the success of most of the first-round wide receivers this season, which includes Tampa’s Mike Evans, the Giant’s Odell Beckham Jr. and Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin

“We look at it this way. We knew it was going to be a talented group, but we’re very excited and we felt that this guy would bring something to our team that we didn’t have,” said Whaley. “We thought he was the best player for our situation. I’m sure you’re trying to get out of me whether I thought the trade was worth what we gave up. I’ll say it like this. I can count at least three games where he was an integral part to us winning and I would hate to see our record if he was not on our team.”

Whaley is likely referring to the wins over Miami, Detroit and Minnesota. He was also pretty important to the win over the Jets, but the six takeaways played a bigger role in that win.

 


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Watkins: We’ll be okay

Posted by Chris Brown on November 9, 2014 – 6:17 pm

No one in Buffalo’s locker room was in a good mood after their defeat at the hands of the Chiefs Sunday. They know their loss to another AFC opponent was costly, but the men on offense feel they failed to execute more than Kansas City’s defense stopped them.

“It was a tough one, we just didn’t finish,” said Watkins. “We’ve got to do better as a group and you can’t win like that. Turning the ball over, not making the plays we need to make in critical situations. We’re going to be okay, we’ve just got to move past this point and get ready for Miami.”

“We definitely lost an opportunity,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “We worked hard to get to a point where we had the ability to win this game, being the first game of the third quarter. We’ve lost an opportunity. We’ve got to brush this thing off. I don’t think it’s a secret of what happened out there. We made mistakes and then didn’t take advantage of those opportunities. We had an opportunity to get to 6-3. Now we’re going to have to fight our way back and come back and find a way to win our next game.”


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Jackson and Watkins active

Posted by Chris Brown on November 9, 2014 – 11:49 am

Bills RB Fred Jackson and WR Sammy Watkins are both active for today’s game against the Chiefs. Here are the inactives for Buffalo.

WR Mike Williams
S Jerome Couplin
CB Ron Brooks
RB Phillip Tanner
LB Randell Johnson
G Cyril Richardson
WR Marcus Easley


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Report: Optimism for Jackson & Watkins

Posted by Chris Brown on November 9, 2014 – 7:20 am

Sammy Watkins wasn’t able to practice all week. Fred Jackson was limited in practice in his attempt to return to game action. Both players are listed as questionable for today’s game against the Chiefs, but there are reports now that the Bills are optimistic that the two offensive playmakers will be able to dress for the game today.

That according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Albert Breer.

If both are able to suit up it’s unclear how limited or extensive their roles would be. Buffalo does have some capable depth at running back in the form of Boobie Dixon and Bryce Brown. Watkins’ role could be spelled somewhat by Mike Williams, who is the most comparable physical talent on Buffalo’s roster, should Watkins be unable to handle a full workload. Again that’s if they do in fact dress for today’s game at all.


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Watkins comparing notes with Jackson

Posted by Chris Brown on November 7, 2014 – 2:35 pm

Bills WR Sammy Watkins is in uncharted territory. Having never had a muscular injury of any significance in his career he’s not sure how to work his way through his current groin ailment. That’s why he’s been seeking counsel from Fred Jackson, who also has a groin injury.

“Never dealt with a serious injury so I really don’t know how to treat a groin,” said Watkins. “I’ve never been through one so I don’t know how to feel right now.”

“It’s one of those things where I told him to see those guys in that training room,” said Jackson of his conversation with Watkins. “They’re going to do everything they can to get you ready. Take everything they give you because they’re the ones who are going to get you back out there sooner rather than later.”

Both players are questionable for Sunday’s game. Head coach Doug Marrone hopes that Watkins can use his current ailment as a learning tool.

“I think as a player in talking to him, like we talk to all the players, especially the young ones, the way you have to start understanding your body and what’s an injury and what’s something where you’re not going to hurt yourself further,” said Marrone. “That’s something you learn throughout the process. I think if he does come back and he is able to play again I think he’ll have a better feel for where his body is.”


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Watkins, Jackson update

Posted by Chris Brown on November 6, 2014 – 3:38 pm

A day after sustaining a groin injury in practice WR Sammy Watkins did not participate in practice Thursday. Fred Jackson practiced for a second straight day, but was limited. Head coach Doug Marrone provided an update on Jackson’s outlook.

“I think Fred’s not ready to go yet,” said Marrone. “We’ll see how that keeps progressing during the week. Right now, I’m not sure.”

Player Pos Injury Participation Thursday
Sammy Watkins WR Groin DNP
Cyril Richardson G Not injury related DNP
Ron Brooks CB Groin LP
Marcus Easley WR Knee LP
Marquise Goodwin WR Hamstring LP
Ty Powell LB Ankle LP
Fred Jackson RB Groin LP
Robert Woods WR Back FP

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Report: Watkins will be ready to play Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on November 6, 2014 – 9:04 am

He wasn’t able to finish practice on Wednesday after sustaining a groin injury, but reports are that the injury isn’t serious enough to keep Sammy Watkins out of Buffalo’s game Sunday against the Chiefs.

That according to the Associated Press, which cited an anonymous source saying that Watkins “is fine and ready to go.”

The Bills offense has already been hit hard at the skill position with injuries to Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller and Marquise Goodwin in recent weeks. Watkins leads the team in receiving and was just named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for October.


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Marrone on Watkins injury

Posted by Chris Brown on November 5, 2014 – 4:55 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone didn’t have a lot to offer on the groin injury suffered by Sammy Watkins in practice Wednesday, primarily because he did not talk with the athletic training staff prior to his media press conference. Watkins, who had been listed as a full participant in practice with a groin injury each of the previous two weeks before the bye was a limited participant Monday. Here is what Marrone could offer on Watkins situation.

“He got hurt in practice and didn’t finish,” Marrone said. “He didn’t finish practice so I don’t know where he’s going to be tomorrow. I really don’t. He can play or he can be out for two or three weeks. Who knows? He’s like Fred (Jackson). I have no information except that he didn’t finish practice.”

More is expected to be known on Thursday.


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Watkins headlines injury list

Posted by Chris Brown on November 5, 2014 – 2:16 pm

The Bills had everyone participating at practice Wednesday, but not everyone finished including Sammy Watkins.

Watkins suffered a groin injury in practice and was pulled out of the session early. He did not return and was listed as limited. Here’s the full injury report.

LIMITED
WR Sammy Watkins – groin
CB Ron Brooks – groin
WR Marcus Easley – knee
WR Marquise Goodwin – hamstring
RB Fred Jackson – groin
LB Ty Powell – ankle

FULL PARTICIPATION
WR Robert Woods – back


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NFL Live has midseason honor for Watkins

Posted by Chris Brown on November 5, 2014 – 9:05 am

ESPN’s NFL Live show was handing out their midseason awards and Bills WR Sammy Watkins was on their list.

Watkins was named their midseason Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Watkins currently sits ninth in the AFC in receiving yards with 590 on the year.


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Bills know 3rd qtr of season critical

Posted by Chris Brown on November 4, 2014 – 2:47 pm

With eight AFC teams 5-3 or better including the Bills, the players in Buffalo’s locker room know November is the time to make a move in the standings and separate yourself from the rest of the pack if you’re going to stake a claim on a playoff berth.

Bills WR Sammy Watkins is hoping they can put together a strong third quarter of the season after going 3-1 in the second quarter.

“We’ve got to finish this quarter 4-0 or 3-1,” Watkins said. “So we’ve got to keep being consistent and stay in tune and keep on pushing through.”

Watkins spent his bye week with family, but did make a point of watching the Chiefs-Jets game last Sunday.

“I watched a little bit. They played pretty good on defense,” he said. “They’ve got some linebackers that can run and their secondary is pretty athletic and big. So we’ve just got to come out and be physical and threaten them.”

All four of Buffalo’s opponents in the third quarter of the season are from the AFC.

 


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