Inside The Bills

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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Bye week times out well for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on October 28, 2014 – 2:26 pm

The Bills bye week has come right in the middle of the season in Week 8. When they come back however, they’ve got two games in a span of five days with Kansas City followed by Miami on the following Thursday night on the road. So the players are making a point to rest up knowing they’ll be right back at it in short order.

“For me just take the load off myself,” said Sammy Watkins of his plans for the bye. “Rest up and be smart and still work out a little bit. A couple of days off can’t hurt you. So for me it’s rest up and get away from football, but also know I’ve got to come back prepared because it’s a short week. We’ve got two games in (less than a week).”

Of course riding high at 5-3 some players are reluctant to take the break even though their bodies are welcoming the rest.

“Anytime you win you’d like to get right back out on the field and go at it again,” said Kyle Orton. “But yeah it’s been a long eight weeks and it’s always a good time at the midpoint to get away from it refreshed and be ready to go for the second half.”


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Watkins, Bills ‘D’ make PrimeTime’s Countdown

Posted by Chris Brown on October 28, 2014 – 8:32 am

Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders does his weekly PrimeTime Countdown and the Bills got a dual nod.

Checking in at number eight on his top 10, Buffalo’s defense with six takeaways and Sammy Watkins with his three-catch 157-yard, one touchdown performance earned the kudos on the countdown.

You can watch PrimeTime’s Countdown right here or on NFL Network every week


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Watkins wins Rookie of the Week

Posted by Chris Brown on October 24, 2014 – 5:58 pm

Great job voting this week Bills fans! For the second time this season Sammy Watkins was named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week.

Watkins won the award for Week 7, the NFL announced Friday. Fans voted for one of five players on NFL.com/rookies to determine the winner.

After the regular season, five players will be nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year honors. Fans can vote for the winner on NFL.com/rookies throughout the month of January.

The Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year will be announced at the “4th Annual NFL Honors” awards show in Arizona on NBC on Saturday, Jan. 31, the night before Super Bowl XLIX.


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Fan Friday 10-24

Posted by Chris Brown on October 24, 2014 – 12:27 pm

A big division tilt with the Jets on Sunday at MetLife stadium before the bye. Here are your questions this week from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills. Keep them coming.

1 – Hello Chris, thank you for keeping us Bills fans up to date with all the great insider news!

My question is very simple. With such a stout defensive line and very talented linebackers, and a talented secondary why is it in your opinion the bills give up so many pass yards?

CB: The passing yards given up by most NFL defenses are sometimes a byproduct of having a good run defense. In the Patriots game for example, Buffalo completely shut down the Patriots run game, so New England turned to their passing game. Unfortunately Tom Brady got hot and there were some miscommunication problems in the secondary according to the players.

In most cases strong run defenses make opposing offenses one-dimensional and the opponent turns to the pass game. So a good number of teams that play great run defense give up more yards through the air. Generally it’s because the opponent is behind on the scoreboard because they’ve been punting the ball away because they’re unable to run and hold onto the ball through a balance attack.

The Bills aren’t a true representation of that rule because they’ve been behind on the scoreboard a good deal, even in their last two victories. But their run defense is ranked in the top five and often forces opponents to start throwing to move the ball. More passing yards are then racked up and the Bills pass defense ranking suffers. Hope that spells it out.

 

2 – Chris,

Thanks for the work you do. When I talk to my fellow fans the thing I hear most often is some variation of “Why do they keep trying to run Spiller up the middle?”  I’ll admit I ask the same thing when I see this electrifying player disappear into the line. Does coach Hackett hear the same criticism that I do? Spiller is great in space, and the the inside of the line is our weakest position. Has he been asked about it? Do you think he’s capable of adjusting his offense to utilize Spiller’s strengths? Or is he happy with the results he is getting?

Thanks again,
Brian

CB: As the players and coaches have explained the lack of success up the middle is an all-encompassing problem. Their inside zone runs used to be their bread and butter plays going all the way back to running them under former head coach Chan Gailey. They have been less successful of late including the carries by C.J. Spiller. Spiller, before he got hurt, told us he has to trust his eyes more and that the hole will be there when he arrives.

The linemen have blamed themselves for not effectively controlling the line of scrimmage on a consistent basis. Coach Marrone has also put it on himself and his offensive staff to devise more effective ways to get more productive run plays for all of their backs.

 

3 – Hey Chris,

Some sites say Orton is making $5.5 mil a year on a two-year deal. Other sites say $3mil this year. Are they wrong or is he getting $3mil salary this year and a $2mil signing bonus for this season?

Thanks for the clarity!

Go Kyle, Go Bills!

CB: It is a two-year deal and the total value is $11M. The other reports you’re seeing are just breaking down the money differently based off of base salary, signing bonus amortization and guaranteed money. Signing bonus is paid out as soon as the contract is signed, but that money is averaged out over the length of the contract when it comes to the salary cap hit.

 

4 – Hi Chris:

I can’t for the life of me figure out why our offensive coaches won’t use Fred and CJ on the field in the backfield together (Pro Set)? The only time I can recall seeing this formation was a couple years ago in the red zone and they scored on the play. It seems like a no brainer to have two of your best playmakers in the backfield together. It’s a matchup nightmare given their pass catching abilities. It also dictates to the defense, because they are forced to respect their abilities and account for both. I wish this message could be personally relayed to Nathan Hackett. Thanks for your time and I appreciate all the insight.

Regards,
Nick U.

CB: They have been on the field together at the same time, albeit sparingly, this season. Now neither are available, but I understand your point. I thought with the running back talent in reserve on this roster (Brown, Dixon) that there would be less of a risk in using both Jackson and Spiller on the field at the same time. I know they have a specific package for that split back look, and they have been on the field at the same time with Spiller split wide. There just wasn’t a lot of it prior to the two of them getting hurt.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

I have been following the Bills for years in Ohio and NC and you truly do a great job bringing Bills coverage to people outside of WNY.

My question is about the pass interference/defensive holding call against Sammy Watkins on the sideline in the Detroit game that was picked up and given an explanation of “all contact was legal” by the ref. I almost had a coronary when that happened and am sure Coach Marrone felt the same way. The CB was all over Sammy on that play and for the flag to get picked up blew my mind. Has there been any reasoning from the league or officials as to that play?

Thanks for everything
Chris in NC
CB: Thanks for the kind words Chris.

Unfortunately there’s no good answer for you on pass interference and defensive holding because it’s a judgment call by the officials. On that play it was a 3rd-and-8 with Watkins beyond five yards and standing at the first down marker when Darius Slay was flagged for defensive holding. We have a great look at it at the 1:35 mark of our ‘Wired for Sound’ feature from that week when we had Watkins wearing the mic. You’ll see the flag is thrown. Later it was picked up.

At that time it was the third flag picked up of the season that would have benefited the Bills. I think every NFL team understands it’s going to be a judgment call. What really makes it difficult for teams to accept is when the call is changed after it is made or wiped out completely, especially in the competitive atmosphere of a game.

The Bills just like any other club handle those issues internally with the league’s head of officiating, Dean Blandino.


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Sammy earning All-Rookie pub

Posted by Chris Brown on October 24, 2014 – 10:11 am

We’re just about halfway through the 2014 NFL season, but that hasn’t kept some media outlets from naming an All-Rookie squad for the first half of the year. Not surprisingly, Buffalo’s top draft choice is among those recognized.

Sammy Watkins was listed on the Grantland All-Rookie (so far) team. Here was their synopsis of his play to this point.

Offense
Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills
If I were Sammy Watkins, every day on the way out of work, I’d give Kyle Orton an uncomfortably long hug. The jump from EJ Manuel to Orton has been just enough to unleash Watkins on any defense that doesn’t feature Darrelle Revis. In his two non-Patriot games since Orton took over, Watkins has averaged eight catches and 104.5 yards on 13 targets a game, and he’s doing it in a ton of different ways.

The way Watkins accelerates across the field makes game tape look doctored. With enough time, he’s impossible to stay with on crossing routes, and on his first touchdown Sunday, he showed off that same speed up the sideline. Right now, there’s reason to get excited every time the Bills drop back to pass. It’s been a long time since anyone could say that. Since the merger, 12 rookie receivers have gone over the 1,000-yard mark, and with Orton playing quarterback, Watkins is a good bet to be no. 13.


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Watkins surge gaining attention

Posted by Chris Brown on October 24, 2014 – 8:52 am

Bills WR Sammy Watkins surge in production the last three weeks is garnering more and more national attention. His breakout game last week, which was capped with the game-winning touchdown catch with a second left on the game clock has only increased his gravitational pull on the media. Breaking down the improvements of his game from college however, is not something that many are qualified to do. Former Bills safety Matt Bowen is and he does so in this breakdown of Watkins.

Bowen has a weekly NFL Film Study column, and here’s what he wrote about Watkins.

  1. The Quick Development of Rookie Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins

With any rookie wide recover, my focus is on route running and the ability to create separation within the stem and at the break point versus man-coverage.

In Week 7, Watkins consistently worked the Vikings cornerbacks to gain leverage off the release while showing an aggressive burst at the top of the route to gain that separation back to the football on both inside and outside breaking cuts.

Watkins’ game-winning touchdown on the quick out route versus Xavier Rhodes with the ball on the near hash is a prime example.

His acceleration on the break after Watkins sets up the cornerback at the top of the route is impressive. There are at least two yards to work with (into the boundary) as Watkins secures the catch from Kyle Orton and gets the feet down.

With a matchup on Sunday versus the Jets, Watkins can use the same aggressive route running style to win in the short-to-intermediate passing game while stacking on top to run the 9 (fade) route versus a secondary he matches up well against.


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Vote for Sammy

Posted by Chris Brown on October 21, 2014 – 12:37 pm

For the third time this season Sammy Watkins is up for the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week. Here’s how you can vote for Watkins.

Watkins, who had nine catches for 122 yards last week and both of Buffalo’s touchdowns including the game winner with one second left on the clock last Sunday, is a nominee for the third time for the award. You can vote as many times as you want for Watkins right here.

Watkins won the award back in Week 2, but did not win back in Week 5 for his exploits in the win at Detroit.

Voting closes at 3 pm ET to determine the PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE WEEK. The winner will be announced Friday on NFL Total Access on NFL Network and on NFL.com.

 


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Sammy’s bro hug

Posted by Chris Brown on October 20, 2014 – 5:30 pm

While everyone reveled in Sammy Watkins’ game-winning touchdown Sunday to help lift Buffalo to a fortunate 17-16 victory over Minnesota, everyone forgot all about Watkins’ first touchdown in the game, and what he did after it.

Right after he pulled in a 26-yard pass for his first score of the game from Kyle Orton, Watkins spotted a Bills fan going nuts after his touchdown. Buffalo’s receiver went over to celebrate with the fan.

“I saw him screaming, being active in the game, going crazy,” said Watkins. “I was like, ‘I might as well go over there and give him a hug.’ That probably made his day. That was the first touchdown that I had in the game, so it was a big touchdown to tie the game up.”


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Orton a calming presence on final drive

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2014 – 7:09 pm

Bills QB Kyle Orton did not have the best day when it came to protecting the football or in getting rid of it when the pocket broke down (sacked six times), but he did come through when the game was on the line. Almost as important as his play making on that final drive was his demeanor in the huddle when they got the ball back with 3:07 to play at their own 20-yard line.

By all accounts in the huddle on the last drive, Orton was upbeat, confident and most importantly relaxed.

“He was poised, he even came in there and cracked a smile at one time,” said Boobie Dixon. “He was like, ‘C’mon guys, we got this. It’s not as much pressure as it really is.’ He made us feel comfortable, he kind of relaxed us, he settled us down and got the job done.”

“Kyle did a great job keeping us under control,” said Chris Hogan. “His poise is pretty unbelievable in a high pressure situation like that. He helped us when we were in long situations, either at the end when we had to get everyone up there and clock it. He did a great job that whole drive.”

“He’s a leader,” said Sammy Watkins. “He knows what he’s doing with the ball. He puts us in the greatest situations. He knows how to help us out on the field, put us in different areas. That’s what we need in a veteran quarterback.”

On the final drive Orton was 8-12 passing for 105 (gross) yards and the game-tying touchdown pass to Watkins.


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