Here’s our latest edition. Remember you can send your questions to me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Let’s get started.
Our three starting DE’s – Schobel, Kelsay, and Denney – have ONE sack each. Why is nobody talking about their lack of production after all we heard is how they are going to thrive with Stroud, who has been nothing but impressive thus far, and where is Chris Ellis? Why did we draft him if we are not going to give him
a shot? Thanks
CB: The main issue with the pass rush as I see it is the quick passing game they’re facing. Every team uses it now offensively and the last three weeks in particular opponents have been relying on it to neutralize Buffalo’s pass rush. So far it’s worked, I believe in part because there hasn’t been a lot of press coverage on the back end.
If you don’t have your cornerbacks press at the line, the quarterback can take three steps and throw it and get five yards. In Arizona in Week 5 Kurt Warner did that the whole game. When defensive ends were coming clean they still couldn’t get there in time. Until there’s more press coverage, teams are still going to take the underneath stuff and move methodically down the field.
The Bills can hope that the opposing QB will screw up at some point, but against veteran signal callers like Warner, Pennington it doesn’t happen often. Chances are greater this week, but Favre is another guy that knows how to throw on rhythm quickly.
Can you do the fans a favor and talk to either O-line coach about the ‘scheme’ that they use? There is debate (ongoing would be an understatement) about whether the Bills employ a “zone blocking” scheme or not. Perhaps they could share their philosophy with you.
Hope you can fit this in. Thanks.
CB: I talked to Dick Jauron about this and he told me that they make use of a few different blocking schemes including zone blocking. He wouldn’t divulge if they do one any more than the other.
I do know this. They tried zone blocking early last season and when it was not successful they moved away from it and the numbers got a bit better on the ground.
Zone blocking schemes are usually implemented for the lighter more athletic lines in football, but with all the twisting and stunting that defensive lines do these days, it’s almost necessary to incorporate some zone blocking into your scheme.
I’d rather see more plowing straight ahead than zone blocking. Then again when they do try to plow ahead in short yardage they haven’t been overwhelmingly successful there either.
But to answer the question they do some zone blocking, but it’s not their exclusive approach offensively.
Do you think the Bills made a mistake with focusing so much on size at the receiver position that they ignored the awesome skills and speed of receivers DeSean Jackson and Eddie Royal which would have been a perfect fit for our offense?
CB: I don’t think the skills of Jackson and Royal were ignored. The Bills scouting staff takes a look at the whole picture of the player. A mismatch in terms of size was essential for the Bills on the outside however. Jackson was not on the board when the Bills were on the clock in round two. He went to Philly in round one. Royal was on the board and went to Denver with the very next pick after Hardy. I know both of them have made an impact sooner than Hardy, but I’m going to encourage you to be patient. He’s coming along in practice. He should have a bigger role this week. We’ll see.
4. I have a question I hope you can answer for me. My question involves a game against the Jets I “Think” in 1995. It was in the 4th quarter with a couple minutes left when Jets were marching down the field. They threw a hail Mary into the end zone. And like all hail Marys everyone jumped for it. Well we were called for pass interference! It was a total BS call. Wade Phillips was HOT! Pete Carroll was the coach and Wade was so ticked off he called the team off the field and went into the locker room leaving time on the clock. Carroll proceeded to rack up points with no defense (Bills) on the field. My question is do you remember this game or can you find this game for me? I’ve been a Bills fan for 20 years and actually live in California all my life. I have other fans here we watch the games with (Bills Backers) And they don’t remember the game I’m talking about (rookies!). Any help would be appreciated, Thanks Don.
CB: Well Don you’ve got the coaches right, but the Bills were playing the Patriots and it was 1998. This is the infamous “Just give it to them” game. Andre Reed had put the Bills ahead with six minutes left on a four-yard TD reception from Doug Flutie to make it 21-17 Buffalo.
Drew Bledsoe began a Patriots drive. Facing a 4th-and-9, Bledsoe threw a pass to Shawn Jefferson along the Bills sideline with six seconds remaining. Replays indicated that Jefferson not only failed to get two feet inbounds, but went over the sideline short of the first down marker.
The two officials on the sideline huddled to discuss the play and were within earshot of Andre Reed. After talking for about 30 seconds, Reed said he heard one official say to the other, “Just give it to them.”
So the Patriots were given the completion and the first down.
On the next play Bledsoe threw the Hail Mary pass to which you referred from the Bills 26-yard line which fell incomplete with no time left, but the officials called pass interference in the end zone on Henry Jones even though the ball was not catchable.
So the Patriots were given possession 1st-and-goal at the one-yard line and Bledsoe threw a play-action touchdown pass to Ben Coates for the winning points.
After the TD, Wade Phillips pulled his team off the field and the Patriots, with no defense facing them, had Adam Vinatieri run a two-point conversion in for a 25-21 final.
Believe it or not that game is the one that bothers me more than any other. More than ‘wide right’ more than ‘home-run throwback’ because it was the biggest robbery of a victory I have ever seen in my time covering this team.
5. What would be the consequences for local viewership/blackout if the Toronto game didn’t sell out?
To my understanding, the game is considered a sell-out because it was ‘sold’ to Rogers.
Could you please let us know the exact situation and nip any potential panic in the bud?
CB: The Bills-Miami game in Toronto is being treated like any other home game for the Bills with respect to blackout rules as it’s been explained to me.
The game must be sold out 72 hours before kickoff for it to be broadcast on television. Remember clubs and suites do not count toward a sellout, only general admission. So as long as the game is sold out you’ll be good to go on TV.
6. Regarding DiGiorgio’s injury, the linebacker situation and the signing of Buggs (and not Haggan) do you think in the unfortunate event that one of the Bills starting linebackers goes down with an injury that the team employs a 4-2-5 scheme where the DB’s consist of 3 safeties? I feel that with the size and play of Scott that the Bills could still be an effective run defense with a safety tandem of Whitner-Simpson-Scott in the game and only two linebackers.
CB: I think the 4-2-5 is unlikely to be their regular base package if another LB goes down. However, your mention of Scott is very astute. Scott has been getting reps with the linebackers during individual position drills just so he’s familiar with the responsibilities at the outside linebacker position. He’s not all that different from Coy Wire in terms of body type, who was transitioned to linebacker in his final season in Buffalo.
So if there was another injury at the position, I would anticipate Scott to be the next player moving into the lineup at LB instead of Marcus Buggs, Jon Corto or Blake Costanzo. And it would be a move based purely on experience as Buggs, Corto and Costanzo have little to none on defense at the NFL level.
7. What is the Bills best starting record (I know 5-1 is the best since 1995) but what is the all time best? When can we say this is the best start ever?
CB: The Bills best start ever was in 1964 when they went 9-0 before losing a game. That season they finished 12-2 and of course won the AFL title. Buffalo has gotten off to 5-2 starts eight other times in their history and made the playoffs five times (1980, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1996). In three of those five postseason appearances, the Bills lost in the first round.
8. Hey Chris,
The Bills have been giving up at least two sacks a game. Duke Preston steps in for Melvin Fowler and the Bills allow no sacks. Do you think they are better off with Duke Preston at center?
Thanks Alex G.
CB: You’re right the Bills did not allow a sack against the Chargers when Duke was in there and he did have a good game against Jamal Williams. Of course the Chargers barely sent more than four pass rushers the entire game which helped as well. Duke might very well be a better fit, particularly against 3-4 defensive fronts when the nose tackles are bigger and stronger on the whole. Preston goes 326 pounds, with Fowler closer to 300. Just being able to stand in there is easier due to size for Preston.
Though Dick Jauron hasn’t come out to definitively say that Duke is ‘the guy’ moving forward, I think he will be in there for the foreseeable future even when Melvin is 100 percent healthy.
9. Can you discuss a bit more about Reggie Corner? I thought you had said he looked good in pre-season and maybe would be ready to play before Leodis?
CB: At the time I made that comment on Corner, McKelvin was still unsigned in camp. I said if McKelvin misses much more training camp time, Corner could be on the field before him. I was anticipating that Corner had a decent shot at the nickel job, and knowing they had McKelvin focusing on outside corner almost exclusively that opinion made sense to me.
Of course Ashton Youboty then came out of nowhere to win the nickel job.
I still have faith that Reggie Corner will make an impact before the season is over at CB. I think his best position is the slot and with Youboty’s lingering foot injury not improving they made need him there at times sooner rather than later.
The defensive staff has a hard time putting a lot of faith in rookies knowing the negative consequences that can result (six points) and I totally understand that. But playing McGee last week against Miami instead of a healthy McKelvin might not have been the best idea.
When injuries force your hand you’ve got to put them out there and trust them. Not saying McKelvin or Corner won’t make mistakes, but sometimes the risk has to be taken. They made the roster because they can play. When you’re short handed you’ve got to use them.
But I think Corner can play and make plays on the ball. I still believe he’s going to be a good player for this team when he gets his opportunity.
10. Hey Chris,
I read your blog where you said you were surprised the Bills didn’t re-sign Mario Haggan. Isn’t he suspended for four games if/when a team signs him?
Maybe I made that up, but I thought that news came out over the offseason.
Also, why not Donnie Spragan at linebacker?
CB: Haggan has served his suspension. It covered the first four games of the season whether he was on an NFL roster or not. As of Week 5 he was clear to play for any NFL club that wanted him.
I just thought that with all the experience lost on the special teams coverage units in the offseason, that losing DiGiorgio was another loss of experience that had to be replaced. Haggan made sense to me in that fashion. The Bills thought otherwise.
As for Donnie Spragan, I think his best days are behind him, but in a pinch he could be serviceable. He’s just lacking a bit in space.
Tags: Aaron Schobel, Andre Reed, Ashton Youboty, Blake Costanzo, Bryan Scott, Chris Kelsay, Coy Wire, Dick Jauron, Donnie Spragan, Doug Flutie, Drew Bledsoe, Duke Preston, Fan Friday, James Hardy, John DiGiorgio, Jon Corto, Leodis McKelvin, Marcus Buggs, Mario Haggan, Melvin Fowler, Reggie Corner, Ryan Denney, Wade Phillips, zone blocking
Posted in Inside the Bills