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Inside The Bills

With Chandler back Whaley liking TE group

Posted by Chris Brown on March 14, 2014 – 12:10 pm

Bills fans might not see much difference than that of a year ago, but with Scott Chandler back in the fold, Bills GM Doug Whaley believes their talent at tight end covers every requirement of the position.

In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Whaley gave his thoughts on the tight end group on Buffalo’s roster.

“I like the skill set that our tight ends bring to our roster,” he said. “You’ve got Lee Smith and his primary role is a blocking tight end. You’ve got Chris Gragg and the speed aspect he brings to the table. Chandler brings the size and then you have Tony Moeaki if you look in his past he’s a good combination guy with receiving skills and blocking. We’ve got the gamut covered so we think we’re pretty solid, but that doesn’t prohibit us from getting anybody that we think might be an upgrade.”

When asked if Moeaki’s role could be larger in 2014, Whaley confirmed that’s their intent.

“That’s the plan, but again it’s competition and we expect it to be heated competition,” he said. “We’re excited and as I always say competition makes everybody elevate their game.”


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Fan Friday 2-7

Posted by Chris Brown on February 7, 2014 – 2:06 pm

Buffalo’s coaching staff is now complete with the hiring of Rob Moore as receivers coach. Now preparations for the NFL Combine will ensue. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - @ChrisBrownBills

With some mock drafts saying TE Eric Ebron for us that would be a huge upgrade and the big addition the offense needs. Can Buffalo afford Byrd and LT Albert?

JamesKnapp

CB: I think Branden Albert is unlikely based on what Bills GM Doug Whaley said on the John Murphy Show last week. He indicated that they will continue to take a measured approach to free agency and not break the bank on high-priced free agents. Albert would certainly fit into the high-price category.

Here’s what Whaley said at the Senior Bowl a couple of weeks ago.

“We were extremely happy (with our free agents last year),” Whaley said. “I think we’re going to stay that course, value picks, guys that can come in and contribute and we get a real good return on our investment. They’re not going to be big splash guys.”

That being said I do believe they will make every effort to re-sign Jairus Byrd to a long term contract extension.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills Thoughts on Rob Moore ? Cuse guy!

Mikefromplayers

CB: I know Rob Moore’s coaching experience is not lengthy on paper, but having met him here at One Bills Drive and being very familiar with his playing career from the time he was in high school I believe he has a lot to offer Buffalo’s receiving corps. He has an interesting approach that I think will cater well to both the youth and the proven vet in Stevie Johnson in the receivers room.

For those that don’t know his playing career all that well he was a two-time Pro Bowl receiver in his 10-year career and was 1st Team All-Pro in 1997 when he led the league in receiving with 1,584 yards on 97 catches and eight touchdowns.

I anticipate his transition to this staff will be seamless having worked with Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett in the past.

 

3 – Hi Chris,
Thanks for your continued hard work into the offseason. My Question is in regards to this upcoming draft. Buddy Nix always had the take the “best player on the board” Mentality. Do you see anything changing now with Whaley, and maybe start drafting more with the mentality of positional need??

I think the Bills are a lot closer to being a legit playoff team and its only a few “holes” that need to be addressed, And not just take a player just because they are a good football player.

Thanks, Tim in St.Catharines Ont.

CB: I don’t think GM Doug Whaley would debate that they still have a few positions in need of a upgrade. The difference now compared to a few years ago is they don’t have a dire need to plug a hole at almost any position.

Could they use a top flight size WR, a game breaking TE or a young offensive tackle? Absolutely, but they won’t be in deep trouble if they don’t. And with that in mind I think now more than ever they can truly go for the best player on the board.

I think if they’re in a situation where player grades between the top two or three players on the board is negligible they’ll address what they feel is a position of need, but beyond that Whaley seems to believe now more than ever they can go best player on the board regardless of position.

 

4 – Hi Chris,
Thanks for all your info you translate to us fans! My question is, why did we not see what Moeaki or really what Gragg had to offer this season near the end?  Why do teams sign players and never play them? It’s not as though Moeaki was a practice squad player. I really thought the Bills would have liked to see him get on the field and show what he can bring! Your thoughts??
Eileen in Niagara Ont.

CB: I think the offensive staff did want to make more game day use of the two tight ends, but game situations and circumstances compromised those plans. I can say that both players will be in the fold all offseason, which should afford the coaching staff more than enough time to gauge where both should appear on the depth chart as well as the roles they might play.

Also remember that even though the fans didn’t see much of them, the staff saw Gragg every day in practice for all of 2013 and got a month-long look at Moeaki in the practice setting to make some judgments on him. So while the book on those two for fans might be short, it’s not for the coaches. They’ll have a plan for both of them.

 

5 – Hey Chris,

A quick question about Stephon Gilmore. I’ve wondered why he has been so inconsistent and the game against the Steelers indicated to me some of his problems. In a game against a smaller receiver like Antonio Brown, Gilmore seemed overwhelmed and slow. I think his problem is that he plays like a smaller player when he should be using his size as an advantage over smaller receivers by jamming them at the line. Why doesn’t Gilmore play more like Revis? The talent, in my opinion is there, but I feel Gilmore is being used incorrectly.

Thanks,
Tommy in Pittsford


CB:
I think you’re missing the obvious here. Gilmore’s broken wrist, which required surgery prevented him from using the greatest strength of his game. His ability to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and steer and muscle them around is 75-80 percent of his game. The guy played with one arm and one hand for essentially 10 games last season. He had pins in his wrist.

Essentially he had to play cornerback completely different than he had ever done before, which is why in your words he played like a smaller corner than he looked. When he finally was fully healed you began to see the Gilmore everyone expected. Unfortunately the injury made 2013 somewhat of a lost year for him.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Moeaki to lean on playing experience

Posted by Chris Brown on December 21, 2013 – 12:47 pm

Bills TE Tony Moeaki will be up and active Sunday against the Dolphins. How much time he’ll see on the field remains to be seen, but Moeaki has been working hard to master the game plan and playbook since he arrived. He knows only being immersed in Buffalo’s offense for just a little over two weeks won’t make it easy, but he’s not using his lack of exposure to the Bills scheme as an excuse.

“It’ll be a challenge, but I always take pride in knowing the x’s and o’s and knowing my assignment and trying to be accountable if my number is called,” Moeaki told Buffalobills.com. “So I’m going to do my best and if I’m not sure about something, I’ll ask the QB to make sure I do know. I’ve been picking things up pretty good and just little things every day and I feel like I have a good grasp on that going into the game.”

Buffalo’s coaching staff has been happy with what they’ve seen from Moeaki, who has demonstrated good athleticism and up field transition after the catch. Moeaki is a very smooth route runner and will bring added athleticism to Buffalo’s tight end position.

“I just go out there every day trying to get better. I’m trying to learn the playbook at the same time, while sharpening the fundamentals because coming off an injury and not playing regularly on Sundays I’m just trying to pull it all back together and make sure I’m ready. I have playing experience so I’ll be leaning on that as well.”


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Moeaki to be active Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on December 20, 2013 – 12:31 pm

For the first time since he joined the team as a free agent signee a couple of weeks ago, TE Tony Moeaki will be active for Sunday’s game against Miami.

Moeaki has been practicing for just over two weeks and has been impressive in the practice setting.

We’re trying to see what he can do,” head coach Doug Marrone told Buffalobills.com. “He’s a player who has had some productivity prior to him being hurt.  What I’ve seen from him on the field is that productivity. I’ve seen him moving as well as he did before the injury. That’s exciting. He’s a heck of an athlete. I think we can get a lot out of him and now we’ve got to get him on that field.”

“I’m excited,” Moeaki told Buffalobills.com. “I’ve got to be ready for anything to happen. Injuries, stuff like that. I’m not quite sure how many plays I’ll get, but I’m going to be ready and I’m just excited to get out there and put on a Bills uniform for the first time.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-13

Posted by Chris Brown on December 13, 2013 – 2:31 pm

Down the stretch they come. Bills at Jags Sunday, but first your questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris,

Two quick questions-  Kyle Williams had surgery on each of his Achilles tendons, and both procedures were successful as reported.  Why is he still constantly on the injury report with this problem and needing to be rested during the practice week.  Is it a long recovery thing or a permanent condition?

Also, during the Atlanta game, I noticed when E. J. Manual came up to the line of scrimmage he had his mouth guard stuck in his face mask about half the time.  With the increased focus on him avoiding injuries, how is it that the coaches or other players weren’t on him about that?  Maybe he has trouble talking with it in, but forgets to replace it before calling the signals.

Thanks.
DR

CB: Kyle Williams Achilles’ surgeries were not to repair ruptures. They were to repair fraying and to remove bone spurs that were rubbing on his Achilles. To repair it they had to detach each Achilles, remove the bone spurs, repair the tendons, and then re-attach them.

Rehab for those procedures are typically 4-5 months. Those Achilles in the line of work that Williams does get very sore and stiff after games. So the coaching staff affords Williams an extra day of rest to recover on Wednesdays.

Just think for a second about having double Achilles surgery and then grappling with 300-plus pound guys 60 times a game and you’re holding your ground and driving up field relying on those two Achilles to power your body forward.

That’s a lot of stress and wear on those tendons each week.

As for EJ’s mouthpiece, he takes it out at times when he needs to communicate with the O-line pre-snap. Sometimes it’s because it’s an option play that he wants to change from a run to a pass. Sometimes it’s to change a protection. But talking with that thing in your mouth is almost impossible for a QB.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

I saw a press conference recently that Doug Marrone conducted in the aftermath of Buffalo’s 34-31 loss to Atlanta. Based on that, It seems like he is still changing the losing culture in the locker room. Earlier this week, the Bills had signed Tony Moeaki. Just wondering if this was because of the turnover suffered by Scott Chandler?

It appears to me that whoever the player is, no matter how talented they are, if they are not committed to winning (or at least if he sees it that way), he will get rid of them. Now, I have no problem with that approach, but will he over time overturn the whole roster? He had a private meeting with Stevie Johnson, ( is Stevie Johnson not committed to winning?) Is this a sign of things to come?

I do believe the Bills are better than last year in terms of competitiveness, but they still do need a running back, two linebackers, and a receiver. I guess time will tell. I do believe that Doug Marrone is superior to Chan Gailey in terms of attitude, and holding players accountable. He is also wonderful with the press. Your thoughts,

Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

CB: As I said on the radio earlier this week, there are roster changes on every NFL team every year, but I foresee changes here in Buffalo that will surprise some people in the offseason. This first year, Marrone has been very thorough in making assessments of the players on this roster and whether he can win with them his way.

If he feels he cannot they will not be here long term. And let me be clear in saying what can earn a player a ticket out of here sooner rather than later goes far beyond athletic ability. Work ethic, commitment to team and professionalism are all qualities that are coveted by Marrone and his staff too.

In fact in some cases lacking in one of those three areas might lead to a player dismissal (cut or traded) even if said player has the ability to help them win.

Da’Rick Rogers should’ve served as a prime example at the beginning of the season. A ton of ability, but no professionalism or commitment to team.

If players on this roster didn’t get that message then, they may end up learning the hard way.

 

3 – Chris

Thank you for your coverage for us Bills fans!!

I have very good thoughts about Wingo and his abilities and really see him as a possible replacement for Fred Jackson in time.  Hes got the talent to be a great offsetting tandum with Spiller…Now that we will get the chance to see how he performs I have a question about the future of the franchise.  The Bills are almost rebuilt, missing a few pieces to having a very competitive team.  If Wingo performs well the rest of the season can you see maybe the Bills trading away Fred Jackson and running with Wingo.  I love Freds leadership and still believe he has a few great seasons left in him.  But his age and injuries catching up faster and faster each year so why not get something for him to bring more youth and promise to the team?

CB: I believe you’re getting ahead of yourself here. Wingo’s playing time will not be sufficient enough to make that kind of assessment, unless Spiller or Jackson sustain a season-ending injury.

I think Wingo is a player of interest to the Bills, but this is a guy they need to develop through this coming offseason to help him improve. Unseating other players is just too premature right now.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

Thanks for your hard work to keep us fans up to date with the Bills. After watching this past game against the Bucs, I noticed that not 1 deep ball was attempted, and it seems like the bills offense has had success with it in the past. Coach Marrone said they may have to “scale” things back a bit for E.J Manuel. Could that be an indication that he just may not be ready yet to play in this league? This is a very young Football team and I was wondering if its just as simple as these Rookies and second year players having to “learn” how to win in the NFL?

Thanks Again, Eileen in Ontario

CB: I think the worst thing that happened to rookie QBs in the NFL was the rapid success of Andrew Luck, RG III and Russell Wilson. Due to the fact that three rookies succeeded in their first year as starters, it created the false premise that rookies QBs on the whole can succeed right away.

There are instances where that can happen, but more often than not it doesn’t. EJ Manuel has started just 10 games. In the words of Coach Marrone he has a lot to learn.

When he talked about scaling things back it was because since the second Jets game they have been increasing the amount of things on his plate to see how he would handle it. He didn’t handle it well in Tampa, so now they will cut back and simplify.

It’s the typical approach with a rookie QB. See how much they can handle and if it’s too much cut back.

 

5 – Chris,

I realize you want to create a winning culture with a young team with a new coaching staff but it’s clear this is not the team that can produce winning football. So I’m curious on what your outlook for the last three games is, I’ve been ready to settle for draft picks since the Pittsburgh game but many people may oppose tanking the rest of the year for picks.

Also I was wondering how you’d grade EJs performance this year, I personally like his attitude and demeanor  but he looks like a new born baby when he plays within the pocket it’s just painfully awkward to watch. He also just looks odd when he throws, consistently putting it over the heads of targets or in the dirt, I’m not sure why but do you think this is correctable through footwork?

Last question is about the draft we obviously need  a linebacker, guard and maybe another tackle but a big wideout seems to be a popular pick but where do they fit into our receiver room, seems that Stevie, TJ, and Robert are fixtures as the top three while we struggle to work in Goodwin. So who gets bumped out probably Marcus Easley but do we really draft a “big wideout” to be our fifth or sixth wideout? Or do you anticipate more fluctuation at this position in the offseason? As always keep up the great work covering our Buffalo Bills, and I look forward to your responses.

Will

CB: You have to win the remaining games as I see it. You’re never going to change the losing culture unless you win. If you can win these last three it helps in that effort.

EJ has had his ups and downs this season like any rookie quarterback. I think he has what it takes, but it’s going to take some time for him to put it all together. We all need to remember he’s made 10 starts.

As for team needs I agree with your linebacker and offensive line adds as well as a big receiver. I also think a big back would be prudent to groom as an eventual replacement for Fred Jackson.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Moeaki getting acclimated

Posted by Chris Brown on December 13, 2013 – 12:59 pm

Bills TE Tony Moeaki has now spent about a week and a half with his new teammates in what is a new offense for him. So is he any closer to dressing for a game on Sunday?

Head coach Doug Marrone did not make any promises for Sunday, but feels Moeaki has made good progress with each passing day of practice. By the sound of things for this week, it might be difficult to have him among the 46 active players on Sunday.

“We’ve just got to do a good job of getting him acclimated and learning,” said Marrone. “I like a lot of what he’s doing out here. Then it’s just a matter of how we get him up (active Sunday) and can we get him (active). Sometimes those things take care of themselves. Sometimes you can’t really get that done.”

If a player like Kiko Alonso, who is questionable, cannot play Sunday due to injury (knee) that could create an opening among the 46 actives to make Moeaki active. Otherwise it sounds unlikely that he will dress this week.

 


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Moeaki “smooth” in first Bills practice

Posted by Chris Brown on December 5, 2013 – 2:27 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone took the long layoff of 12 weeks into account when preparing to evaluate newly signed TE Tony Moeaki in his first Bills practice Thursday. Marrone was pleased with what he saw as Moeaki looked sharp in his first session with his new teammates.

“I thought he did some nice things out there,” said Marrone. “It’s the first day back. He’s been out for a while, but he looked good. Normally you’re going to be a little bit rusty, but he looked very smooth.”

With only a month to get a look at Moeaki the coaching staff is trying to force feed the tight end as much of their playbook as possible so as to more effectively evaluate how well he can fit in Buffalo’s offensive scheme.

“We try to cram it and do as much as we can and see what he can retain and keep evaluating him,” said Marrone. “Obviously we brought him in here for a reason and the question is can he get back to the level of play when he was in this league and playing because when he did play he was extremely productive.”

Buffalo’s sideline boss isn’t convinced that Moeaki will have enough time to make an impact this season, but they’re going to do their best to make that happen.

“That’s our goal, whether that happens or not is going to depend on the progress,” he said. “Sometimes you may be forced into that situation from an injury standpoint and sometimes you can play yourself into that situation. It’s going to be evaluated and we’re excited about having him.”

Marrone did say that Moeaki is not expected to be active for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay.

“I don’t think so,” said Marrone. “I think it would be very difficult to get a player ready to go when you bring him in during the middle of the week.”

 

 


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Moeaki has former teammate in locker room

Posted by Chris Brown on December 4, 2013 – 4:35 pm

Bills newest tight end Tony Moeaki has never had to latch on with another NFL club late in the season. He spent his entire NFL career with Kansas City. That’s why he’s glad he’s got a former college teammate in the Buffalo locker room to help him get up to speed sooner rather than later.

Moeaki was college teammates for two seasons with fellow TE Scott Chandler at Iowa.

“I came when he was a junior and we both worked together there in two tight end sets for two years so I know Scott pretty well,” said Moeaki.

With only four games and a month of practices to show his ability to the coaching staff, Moeaki sees the value of having a former teammate on the roster.

“It helps to have a friend on the team at the same position that you’ve played with, especially in this situation, new city, new team, so it’s nice,” he said.

Chandler will be also be able to give advice on how best to jump in and assimilate himself late in a regular season with a new club, since that’s exactly what he did with the Bills when he was claimed off waivers by Buffalo almost three years ago to the day (Dec. 3rd, 2010).

He practiced with the club over the final month of the season and appeared in the last four games, mostly on special teams. Chandler also posted one catch for nine yards before winning the starting tight end job the following season.


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