Two preseason games to go before the real thing. Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and @ChrisBrownBills.
1 - Hi Chris,
I would like to cover two points: Obviously, I am aware of the Bills big splash in free agency, and their very good draft. Although the Bill’s pass rush appears to be very potentially awesome, I am a little concerned about their run defense. Yes… I think highly of Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, but what happens if the opponent can get huge chunks of yardage between the tackles? That is another Bills problem where an issue may or may not be solved.
Secondly, regarding wide receiver: If Stevie Johnson goes down with an injury, who would be his replacement? Would David Nelson become the replacement? This is why the Bills should have signed Robert Meachem; they would have had a legitimate insurance policy in the scenario I had just mentioned. In a previous Q+A with you, your points were valid regarding not signing Meachem, since he demanded a salary close to Stevie’s, and this would potentially lead to internal conflict about number 1 and number 2 receiver.
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: Personally I believe Buffalo’s run defense is going to be much improved. All the hype has been about how much the pass rush is going to take a jump this season, but with Kyle back in the fold, the interior run defense is extremely solid. When you consider that the backup DTs are Dwan Edwards and Spencer Johnson there’s reason to believe that there will be zero drop-off when those two rotate in.
Concerning Stevie Johnson, should injury strike Donald Jones would probably be the primary replacement in a pro set (2 WRs). If it’s a three-wide or four-wide set, Derek Hagan would line up in Stevie’s ‘X’ receiver position with Jones as the flanker or slot with Graham the opposite outside WR in a four-wide look (minus Stevie).
2 - Hey Chris, every year there is a numbers game involved in cutting to the final 53. The interesting battle to me is D-line. We know the 4 starters with Mario, Marcel and Kyle and Anderson. My question is how many more do you expect them to keep? With Kelsay, Edwards, Johnson, Carrington, Troup, Heard, etc, it sounds like someone who played a lot last year will be cut this year!
CB: I’m afraid that will be the case. The starting four are locks as well as Kelsay. Edwards and Johnson I believe are also safe. I think if all holds to form, Kyle Moore will be the team’s fourth end. So that’s eight defensive linemen. If they keep a ninth I believe it’ll be a defensive tackle, so it comes down to Carrington, Heard and Troup.
3 - Chris,
Do you think Thigpen, Vince Young & Brad Smith will all be on the roster week one? Also, I’m sure the Bills would prefer a roster spot go to a long snapper/OLB rather than just a long snapper, so I’d like to know if you think Batten has a shot at winning the long snapping job?
CB: No, they all will not be on the roster. Brad Smith is a lock as the #3 QB. Chan Gailey said as much. Vince Young currently has the edge on the #2 QB job, but it will either be Thigpen or Young that will be moved off the roster. In an ideal world a long snapper can do more than just long snap, but a majority of the teams in the league have a specialist just to long snap.
The Bills have a very, very good one in Garrison Sanborn, who just signed a contract extension this past offseason. Danny Batten has tried long snapping here and there, but no one on this roster right now is going to unseat Sanborn as the team’s snapping specialist.
4 - Hi Chris,
I have heard rumors about Vince Young running the wildcat this year. Could you potentially see Coach Gailey install a wildcat offense that Vince and Brad run together?
CB: I don’t think I would trust your sources. That’s not to say they couldn’t be on the field at the same time knowing one of Brad Smith’s roles is as a wide receiver, but within the scope of the Wildcat? I don’t see it.
5 - Chris:
I’m a life-long Bills fan living in New England. Over the last 10+ years, this has been more of a challenge of hearing it from Pats fans with their team’s success, and the Bills lack of winning. As of last year, local Pats fans have been harping on me that the Bills and Buddy Nix made the wrong move in paying Fitz too early after a little success with the big contract, and that the Bills won’t go far with him because he proved he wasn’t good after receiving the contract and going 2-8 once he was paid.
Now as a true Bills fan, I hope/trust that last year’s finish of 2-8 wasn’t an accurate finish to portray with Fitz is all about. I try to explain to the non-Bills fans that due to injuries/lack of depth, a weak defense (adding pressure to Fitz & poor field positions), and the questionable rib injury Fitz took in week 8 – these are all reasons as to why the team and offense flopped after the hot start.
I have to figure that Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey know more than we all do and that they felt at the time that Fitz was the real deal before week 8 of last season when they gave him the big pay day, and that he
is the real deal going forward.
Chris, do you think he’s the real deal? Is he worth the contract he has? Do you think a couple seasons from now the whole league will look back and applaud Buddy and the organization for locking Fitz up in 2011 with this deal? Will I and other Bills fans finally be able to say to everyone else ‘I told you so’?
CB: First, if you take a look at his contract it’s commensurate with quarterbacks in the middle tier of starters in the league. So I believe too much is made of the size of the contract. Second, I think fans and outside observers get blinded by the interception total and understandably so, it led the league.
But despite the second half swoon, Fitz still finished 6th in the NFL in completions, 9th in completion percentage, 10th in touchdown passes and 11th in passing yards. He also had a lot to do with being the least sacked quarterback in football getting the ball out so quick.
He was also 11th in pass plays of 25 yards or more last year. The names of the QBs ahead of him in that category? Brees, Brady, Rodgers, Stafford, Rivers, E. Manning, Romo, Newton, Dalton, Ryan.
With another year in Gailey’s offense, a quarterbacks coach that should improve his accuracy and a receiving corps with which he’s wholly familiar with I believe Fitzpatrick can be a top 10 quarterback in this league.
Tags: Brad Smith, David Nelson, Donald Jones, Fan Friday, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Stevie Johnson, Vince Young, Wildcat offense
Posted in Inside the Bills
Buffalobills.com had a chance to talk with Brad Smith a day after the first Wildcat installation plays went in at practice early this week. Smith is excited knowing there’s far better preparation to execute elements of that package this year as opposed to last.
“We got a good start on it, some things that coach has put in, and like any other play in any other scheme you’ve got to work on it so it was good to get it in and get the guys moving and get the timing down and everything so it was good for us,” said Smith.
Last year with the NFL lockout, Smith was signed as a free agent right as training camp opened and had to wait a week by rule before he was allowed to practice. It compromised the degree to which they could make use of Smith in the offense last season.
To this point Smith has lined up solely as a quarterback and kick returner as well as the signal caller on punt team. But eventually Chan Gailey says Smith will also line up at receiver.
“We want to keep giving him quarterback,” said Gailey. “He’ll be the third quarterback going into the season so he’s got to know the offense to finish a game. So we’ve got to give him enough where he’s comfortable, about as comfortable as he can get taking as many limited reps as he’s taking. We’ve got to get him that before we take him to receiver.”
Tags: Brad Smith, Chan Gailey, Wildcat offense
Posted in Inside the Bills
Vince Young is now on board after agreeing to terms with the Bills Friday. By most accounts his workout was impressive in terms of his passing accuracy and touch with receivers he had not worked with prior. But the comment by GM Buddy Nix leads one to believe that this addition could be more about Young’s legs.
Nix made the following comment when it was announced that Young had agreed to terms.
“He brings with him some unique physical abilities that most are aware of and that will make the competition interesting,” said Nix.
Both Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith are mobile quarterbacks with Smith being the team’s wildcat option quarterback. Could Young offer wildcat potential as well? He certainly seems athletic enough to be worthy of consideration.
Head coach Chan Gailey does value mobility in his quarterbacks, but who earns wildcat duty might prove to be the most interesting part of the quarterback competition behind Ryan Fitzpatrick on the depth chart.
Tags: Brad Smith, Buddy Nix, Chan Gailey, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyler Thigpen, Vince Young, Wildcat offense
Posted in Inside the Bills
For those that need a refresher course on the Wildcat or spread option attack of the Dolphins, NFL.com’s Solomon Wilcotts, who’s also the color analyst for the broadcast this week, has a review of the concept.
He put it on his blog and it explains the basics. It’ll be interesting to see if they choose to use it more this week now with Pennington lost for the season.
Tags: Wildcat offense
Posted in Inside the Bills
Here’s the latest installment. As always if you have a question e-mail me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and I’ll do my best to answer everyone. Just remember you can always check here for answers.
1. Allowing most of the sacks on the line, and the production value being so positive for Kirk Chambers, would a consideration of benching Jason Peters be an option? Also, I find it hard to believe that with such a productive college transition and very good pre-season, that Steve Johnson doesn’t get a lot of playing time at the Wide Receiver position. What are your thoughts? Thank You.
CB: I asked Dick Jauron just last week for a progress report on Jason Peters and he told me that while he has missed on a couple of plays that, “he has dominated the opposition far more than he’s been dominated.” He also told me that he has no worries with Peters on the left side. I don’t see the Bills changing anything up front.
As for Johnson I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more of him myself. But there are veterans like Evans, Reed and Parrish entrenched at receiver and even Justin Jenkins has more time on the field than Johnson. The staff is trying so hard to get Hardy up to speed that Johnson is kind of lost in the shuffle.
2. Dear Chris,
I’m thrilled regarding the Lee Evans contract extension. But one Lee Evans-related issue that is bothersome is how under-utilized Lee is. Lee at the time I’m sending this ranks 35th in the NFL in terms of number of targets to a player. Yes, Lee is great at the long ball, but why don’t the Bills involve Lee more in the short passing gaming (e.g., slants)?
CB: I think the coaching staff would like to do more of that. That’s why Turk Schonert has been open to moving Lee around in the formations to get different matchups and work different parts of the field. Ultimately however, Lee is the team’s best threat at stretching the field and now that he’s burned a couple of teams he puts genuine fear in teams (see Chargers). As a result I think you’ll see Lee factoring in more heavily to the underneath part of the passing game since teams will be very worried about getting toasted.
3. We have spent a lot of money on the line and I consistently hear good things about the individual abilities of our cast. I’m just wondering why the holes are not opening up? Is it because we are too big and slow? Is there a lack of effort? Problems with the scheme? Poor RB vision? I was just wondering if your observations have focused in on a flaw and I am interested in your response.
Thanks Chris, I enjoy updates
CB: Coaches always say that running the ball is an attitude. There’s no doubt Marshawn Lynch has that attitude. There’s no question the men up front have to come off the ball stronger.
From what I see they can’t consistently win that battle at the line of scrimmage. There are glimpses of it improving, but it hasn’t been consistent. The linemen know that and OL coach Sean Kugler knows that. They’re working on it. Hopefully it busts loose soon because with the bad weather on the way they’ll need to run it more.
4. What do you do during the Bills game and do you attend every one? I see that you blog 8 or 10 times during a game. What do you do for the other 2 and a half hours?
CB: During the game I’m writing the game story for the home page of Buffalobills.com. So as it’s happening I’m writing a story. I’m writing down plays on a steno pad for reference for the story and I’m conversing with my co-workers at Bills Digest and Buffalobills.com on potential sidebar stories and secondary angles.
I have to file the game story right after the final gun before going down to the locker room, and it’s easier said than done, especially when it’s a close game that could go either way.
I’m also writing a script for our video wrap up package that appears in the media lounge of Buffalobills.com as part of our post game coverage. And blogging of course.
5. Wondering if we have considered using the Wildcat offense? Especially against the Dolphins. It might throw them off a bit. It would also give our defense some practice against it. Didn’t Freddie do some quarterbacking? Just another suggestion for Turk I guess.
CB: I don’t see Dick Jauron resorting to that. The team is averaging 25 points per game doing what they’re doing. The Dolphins don’t have much firepower at wide receiver so they need something different to increase their production like a scheme of this nature. Not knocking it. It’s worked for them.
However, if the Bills were to run it I think J.P. Losman would be perfect for it. He has the legs to run out of it and obviously would afford an offense much more versatility from a passing perspective out of that set.
Brown is not the best passer, though his TD throw to Fasano was pretty good against the Pats. We’ll see just what kind of a copycat league this is by how many teams adopt this formation.
Tags: Buffalobills.com, J.P. Losman, Jason Peters, Lee Evans, Marshawn Lynch, Offensive line, Sean Kugler, Wildcat offense
Posted in Inside the Bills