Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 12-2

Posted by Chris Brown on December 2, 2011 – 11:00 am

Welcome home Bills. Haven’t played at the Ralph in a month! Let’s get to your questions from

1 – Chris,

I am really concerned about the linebackers and DB’s. Even though they have a lot of turnovers they look very inadequate in coverage. Nick Barnett is the only linebacker that shows up consistently, and the pass coverage is awful for a team that is supposed to have some good back end players. Is this a scheme problem or are we not talented enough? Turnovers are great but you still have to defend the pass! They’ve played like they were afraid to get beat instead of playing like they are trying to win.  

Thanks,  Dale
Tillsonburg, ON.      

CB: While I will agree that the coverage saw a noticeable drop off against Dallas, I felt it was better against Miami, but slipped due mainly to mental mistakes against the Jets. I believe there are a few things at work here.

First and foremost the pass rush is non-existent. This forces Buffalo’s defensive backs to cover longer, which makes their job more difficult.

Second, the last two weeks Buffalo has had three rookies in the secondary for extended portions of the game. In their nickel package they’ve got Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy and Justin Rogers.

Their lack of playing time in the NFL and together under live fire has compromised the consistency of the coverage down in and down out. All three of them will get better with each passing week, but we’ve seen some growing pains and without a pass rush it’s not making the job any easier.


2 – Chris,
Maybe a stupid question but why don’t they look into the long snapper as the center.. seems like they have similar tasks. I know the communication situation is different but he can obviously snap..
 thanks for the work you do.
displaced bills fan in AZ
CB: I think it’s a very valid question actually. For some reason the long snapping job became a specialized role. The long snap is unquestionably more difficult and does require a lot of practice to keep accuracy and proper velocity consistent. That being said I don’t see why a center or even backup center could not have the time to get enough work in to be a good one.

For some reason quality long snappers are pretty hard to find. I recently overheard Bills special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven speaking with one of Buffalo’s players. The player was telling him how at the Division II college level there aren’t many good long snappers and how they just usually have a guy that can chuck it back there. DeHaven responded (tongue in cheek) as follows.

“There aren’t too many good long snappers at this level. There are some long snappers in this league that shouldn’t be doing it.”

Fortunately Buffalo has a quality long snapper in Garrison Sanborn.

Thanks for the kind words.


3 – Hey Chris.

I don’t want to sound pessimistic but I got to call a spade a spade and say that the Bills will be looking at next season because chances are this one is a wrap with the immense injuries and lack of depth the team has on the o-line, wide receiving corps and cornerback. 

With that being said the bills were quick to sign Fitz after the couple games he performed admirably. Would Fred Jackson not be a major part of the puzzle that the bills are trying hard to complete but haven’t for the past 10 years???? Do you feel they aren’t willing to pay him the money it looks to me he deserves and this is another cost saving move by management????? Thanks for all the great coverage you do Chris and here’s to hoping the bills get it right in the upcoming off season.

CB: First, thanks for the kind words. Fred Jackson put up undeniable numbers and listening to Chan Gailey I’d be shocked if the team didn’t make efforts in the offseason to get Jackson an extension. He’s currently signed through the end of the 2012 season, but that contract is something I think everyone would agree he has outperformed. To what degree? Well that’s up to the Bills management to decide.

I expect the Bills to do right by Jackson. Fred had a face-to-face meeting with GM Buddy Nix about six weeks ago and was encouraged by what came out of that meeting. Here’s what Fred said when asked about his thoughts on getting a new contract.

“I felt like I did as much as I could,” he said. “That hopefully will just take care of itself. It’s not something I’m going to worry about right now. I put faith in Buddy and that’s all I can do. He’s a man of his word so I’ll have faith in him and see what happens.”

I think it would be hard for the Bills to not extend Jackson’s contract to some degree. He’s not only the offensive MVP for this team, but his performance was among the league leaders in several categories including yards after the catch and the guy is a running back! Add in that this guy is the heart and soul of this team and if the organization does right by him it would also do a world of good in the locker room. If an organization takes care of a player that performs and lays it all out there on Sundays it serves as a powerful message to the rest of the players on the team. Especially one as respected as Jackson.


4 – Chris,

I enjoy keeping up with the Bills, through your column.  In the games that I have been able to watch this year, it seems that Fitzpatrick doesn’t have a very strong arm.  Is this something that can be strengthened and provide him with more arm strength? 

Frustrated fan in Keller, Texas
Kevin S.

CB: Thanks for the kind words. With respect to Fitz’s arm strength, Chan Gailey has confirmed that it is a strong enough arm to make all the throws necessary in his offense. Is Fitz’s arm an Elway arm? No, but few are. What makes Fitz so successful is his ability to diagnose and anticipate allowing him to get the ball out quicker thereby getting the ball there usually just as fast as the rocket arm passers.

I think Fitz has struggled with short stretches of inaccuracy (see Miami game). Fact is though that he’s second in the AFC in completion percentage behind Tom Brady, so I don’t know that you want to criticize a quarterback that has a pretty good shot of going to the Pro Bowl.



5 –  Chris

After years of watching the Bills suffer players going down on IR, can’t the league eliminate Injured reserve?  If and when a player is healthy let him come back.  It is ridiculous that players like Fred Jackson, Roscoe Parrish cannot come back and contribute.  Also can the Bills question why a compensatory pick cannot be given for a player like Marcus Easley where by no fault of the player or the team, we lose a draft pick and his contribution? 

Thanks Travis

CB: I think the rules for injured reserve will not be changed until and if the league goes to an 18-game regular season. Then I would anticipate an injured reserve where a player would be eligible to return in six weeks or so. The decision on Fred was a tough one because if by some miracle things fall right and Buffalo qualifies for the playoffs, he’d likely be ready to play the second weekend in January.

Compensatory picks for a player lost to a medical condition is not going to garner any support as I see it. Luck of the draw is the response I’d anticipate from the league and its owners.

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