Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 12-25

Posted by Chris Brown on December 25, 2015 – 11:48 am

Merry Christmas Bills fans! We know the players and coaches would’ve liked to leave a bit more under the tree for you this season. It might be hard to see it now, but there are a lot of encouraging signs for the 2016 season. Here are your latest questions from email at and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

How does Karlos look for this week? Starting? Or gillislee taking reps with the ones?


CB: Barring any setbacks with his shoulder I’d expect Karlos Williams to start in place of LeSean McCoy. Mike Gillislee will have a role however on Sunday serving as a complement to Williams.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Isn’t there value in continuity? The most successful organizations have it, right?


CB: Yes, most of the most NFL franchises have some clear measure of continuity. In many cases it’s aided by having a franchise quarterback. Buffalo has found a promising QB in Tyrod Taylor. There are a lot of encouraging elements to Taylor’s game that should only improve heading into next season with another year in Greg Roman’s system. That being said the jury is still out on whether he can be a franchise caliber signal caller.

I’m guessing your question stems from concern about the state of the Bills front office and coaching staff amid a flurry of media reports this week. I will say that things did not go according to plan with this team this season. There is no debate about that. I don’t think making wholesale changes are the way to go or in the offing.

Doug Whaley has proven himself as a talent evaluator in his short time as GM of the Bills. Anyone who can flip Matt Cassel for a fifth-round pick and get a Pro Bowl running back for a linebacker that has had a pair of ACL knee injuries is doing something right. And all the criticism for the draft day trade of Sammy Watkins looks like it has missed the mark.

Rex Ryan despite a disappointing defensive season has been a top 10 defensive coach in this league for all but two of the seasons in which he has been either a coordinator or head coach. He’s a proven innovator in this league and it’s my contention that he’ll be doing some more innovating this offseason to gain the upper hand again on opposing offenses next year.

I know it again sounds like empty promises. Believe me I get it. I’ve been here to witness each of the last 16 seasons. As I’ve said many times, frequent change hasn’t brought much in the way of improvement for this team. I doubt such sweeping change will make this team better in 2016.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Thoughts on Tyrod as long term answer for Bills?

CB: I think Tyrod has certainly made himself the best candidate for that role right now. As I said above Taylor still has some more evidence to provide that he can be that guy, which means making progress in some areas of his game.

The thing that hasn’t made sense to me is the criticism he’s received for not making enough plays in the fourth quarter, leading his team from behind to a victory, etc. The positive things he has done for that position in a brand new offense for every player on that side of the ball should be applauded.

To have the numbers he has, which include an astounding 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio (20 to 5) and a passer rating that is on pace to be the best in team history (yes, better than HOF’er Jim Kelly) and has been over 100 almost all season, is remarkable.

What goes by the board for most fans because they’re not around him every day is the leadership he has demonstrated for this team in his role as QB. I have covered this team since Kelly’s last two seasons with the Bills and having seen all the quarterbacks since then, the only one who led as effectively as Taylor was Ryan Fitzpatrick. The only one who did better was Drew Bledsoe.

But Bledsoe came in the door with a proven resume that included Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl appearance. So stepping in and leading was easy.

Taylor came in as part of a three-man QB competition, no time on the field in the league and in less than a season not only won over the locker room, but produced on the field and then did all the right things off it in terms of vocal leadership, running extra offensive meetings by himself with teammates and counseling younger players on the practice squad (e.g. Dez Lewis, Walt Powell).

In my opinion, Taylor has earned the right to be this team’s starting quarterback next season. If the Bills happen to acquire a quarterback who is superior in every way this offseason then things are different, but until that time this is a quarterback fans should get behind.


4 – Chris,

Do you think the Bills will utilize Bill Polian as a team Consultant?  I totally agree with Mr. Polian’s recent comments, Improve the Offensive Line with talent (a need for past 15 years that has not been properly addressed), add a WR to compliment Sammy on the other side, and add a true quality back-up QB to Tyrod Taylor, while also drafting a young QB to develop for the future.

In addition, my thought is use a defensive scheme that matches the strengths of the Bills personnel.

Randy Culp

CB: I’m not going to pretend to know what Terry and Kim Pegula are thinking with respect to hiring a consultant. What I can tell you is Bill Polian’s job at ESPN is in direct conflict with him having any kind of NFL consultant job with an NFL club. He recently said on Sirius NFL Radio that he would not want to give up his ESPN job to do that.

All due respect to Bill Polian, who is a Hall of Fame executive, but the offensive line is not old and slow. Of the seven offensive linemen who have seen the most time on the field this season, their average age is 26.5-years old. Two of the oldest, Richie Incognito and Eric Wood are Pro Bowl alternates and the team leads the league in rushing.

For you to say the offensive line hasn’t been addressed is also incorrect. They drafted four in the last two drafts. Cordy Glenn, who the team has said is a priority to re-sign, is entering the prime of his career (also a draft choice – 2012).

And I wouldn’t be surprised if they invest in the offensive line again this offseason in the draft. Adding a quarterback I think is also on the to-do list.

Doug Whaley in two short years as GM has done a solid job of fortifying this roster with quality talent. What’s more he’s retained the most important talent on this roster instead of letting it escape to play for other clubs. So I’m having a hard time understanding the criticism for the team’s personnel boss.


5 – ​Hi Chris,

I really think Doug Whaley does a tremendous job identifying talent…but I think he needs some help (as well as Rex) building a TEAM.  As Talley said, and I totally agree, we have a collection of all-stars but no team unity.  Fred Jackson was the glue on this team and Whaley showed me he doesn’t understand the “team” concept this offseason (was Bryce Brown really that talented??  Did anyone not think Goodwin would be hurt in his first game?? With Shady being hurt..cut someone else).  When KW and AW went down that was a huge blow and now young men are trying to become leaders and that will take time.  More so than talent this offseason, I’m really looking for the Bills to become a team and look like the enjoy playing together.  Your thoughts?

St. Louis
CB: I agree that losing Kyle Williams and Aaron Williams for the season were costly losses. They were the primary leaders on defense. I think it would’ve been harder for Fred to lead here in a vastly reduced role that might have found him inactive in certain weeks.

As the season is winding down it is encouraging to see a couple of 2014 draft choices step forward in Preston Brown and Sammy Watkins and take on more of a leadership role in the final weeks. Hopefully they continue to serve this team in that capacity going into next year.

If the productive players on the field are the ones leading off of it everybody follows. It’s unfortunate that a pair of 22-years old have to fill that kind of void, but when veterans choose not to a team has no choice.

As Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells once said:

“Blame nobody – expect nothing – do something. Losers sit around in small groups, b**ching about the coach, the system and other players. Winners come together as a team.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Levy on being Polian’s HOF presenter

Posted by Chris Brown on July 15, 2015 – 7:52 pm


2015 Hall of Fame inductee Bill Polian has stated it before, but it was officially announced Wednesday that his Hall of Fame presenter will be Bills Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy. Levy was touched to be chosen by Polian to introduce him for enshrinement.

“I’m so honored and complimented that he asked me to be his presenter. He’s not just a former co-worker of mine; we are great friends as well,” Levy said. “His contributions to the game have been magnificent and I savor the opportunity to be his presenter.”

It is a reversal of roles for Polian and Levy. When Levy was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 2001, Polian served as his presenter. This marks the fourth time that Levy will serve as a presenter having done so for three of his former Buffalo Bills players, Jim Kelly (2002), Thurman Thomas (2007) and Andre Reed (2014).


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Polian named finalist for 2015 HOF class

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2014 – 4:34 pm

Former Bills general manager Bill Polian has been named as one of two Contributor finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015.

Polian along with former NFL GM Ron Wolf were chosen by the Hall of Fame’s Contributor Committee that met in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.

“It’s an incredible honor that I never envisioned happening,” Polian said.

Polian and Wolf will join senior nominee Mick Tingelhoff and 15 yet-to-be-named Modern Era finalists from which the Class of 2015 will be selected. The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s selection meeting will be held on Jan. 31, 2015, in Phoenix, Arizona, the day before Super Bowl XLIX. Tingelhoff was the nominee of the Seniors Committee that met in Canton in August.

Polian is most noted for turning the fortunes of three different teams that included a combined five Super Bowl appearances by the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts.  He guided the Bills to four straight AFC Eastern Division titles and earned three straight Super Bowl berths after winning the AFC championship in 1990-92.

As the general manager of the expansion Carolina Panthers, he helped build a team that advanced to the NFC championship in just its second season.

Polian next served as President/General Manager of the Indianapolis Colts from 1998-2011 during which time the club captured eight division crowns and advanced to a pair of Super Bowls including a win over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

In all he had a 32-year NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs (1978-1982), Buffalo (1984-1992), Carolina (1995-97), and Indianapolis (1998-2011). He also worked for the National Football League office in 1993 and 1994.

Wolf made his lasting mark as the Executive Vice President/General Manager of the Green Bay Packers and longtime player personnel director for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

HOF chances for Polian significantly improved

Posted by Chris Brown on August 6, 2014 – 6:21 pm

In his Hall of Fame acceptance speech last Saturday night Bills all-time leading receiver Andre Reed mentioned former Bills GM Bill Polian and indicated that he too would soon be in the Hall of Fame. Reed perhaps knew something that others may not have known as the Pro Football Hall of Fame has altered their bylaws making the chances of enshrinement for Polian far greater now than ever before.

On Wednesday the Board of Trustees of the Pro Football Hall of Fame formally announced changes to the organization’s By-Laws for the Selection Committee. They approved a modification to the selection process by which a Contributor – defined as an individual who has “made outstanding contributions to professional football in capacities other than playing or coaching” – will automatically be included among the annual list of finalists for election. The Contributor finalist will also be voted on for election independent of all other finalists. The change to the By-Laws was approved at the Board’s annual meeting last Friday in Canton.

Although the Contributor finalist will be voted on independent of the other nominees, he will still be required – like all other finalists – to receive an eighty percent positive vote for election by the 46-member Selection Committee.

Contributors have previously been part of the modern-era nomination list that included coaches and players. The result has been that since 1963, when the Hall of Fame first opened, only 19 Contributors have been elected and 10 of those were elected in the first five Hall of Fame classes, including six as Charter Members.

“The Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Trustees has carefully reviewed the process as it relates to Contributors,” stated Board of Trustees Chairman Randy Hunt. “It is our belief that this modification will create a more level playing field when it comes to considering Contributors for election to the Hall of Fame.”

The Board, in an effort to address the backlog of deserving Contributor candidates, also approved a temporary measure allowing for two Contributor finalists in years one, three and five, of the next five years. In years two and four of that same period, there will be just one Contributor finalist. At the end of the five-year period, the number of Contributor finalists going forward will be one per year. talked to Hall of Fame Selector Committee member Jarrett Bell of USA Today, who told of the committee’s lobbying efforts to separate contributors (coaches, owners, commissioners, GMs etc.) from players. Now that it has happened Bell believes it will help in two ways.

“I think Bill Polian when you start talking about contributors and front office people and to (get to conference championship games) with three teams, having a second category for contributors will allow a GM type like Polian and NFL owners to get in the Hall of Fame and we can discuss them separately from the players. That will help.”

It will also keep contributors from serving as roadblocks to deserving players as was the case with Andre Reed when Ed Sabol, Bills Parcells and the late Ralph Wilson earned induction over the last eight years forcing Reed to wait until 2014 for enshrinement.

“A guy like an Andre Reed had to wait a little bit longer in part because along the way there were a couple of contributors,” said Bell. “This will help.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Polian’s last memorable talk with Mr. Wilson

Posted by Chris Brown on March 25, 2014 – 8:39 pm

Bill Polian would talk with Mr. Wilson regularly, even over the last few years when he was no longer an NFL GM, and there was one conversation that he will cherish in the wake of his former boss’ passing Tuesday.

“A little less than two years ago I was traveling and got a message from (Bills Vice President of Communications) Scott (Berchtold) and he told me to call Mr. Wilson immediately,” recalled Polian. “I thought,’Oh my heavens something is wrong here.’ Of course I called and he got on the line and he said I just want to be the first to tell you that you’ve been elected to the Bills Wall of Fame. And ahh…(emotional) that’s kind of a cherished memory and it’s one I’ll remember.”

Polian expressed his feelings in a conference call with the Western New York media Tuesday, emotions that most in the region were also feeling.

“Obviously I’m saddened. It’s a really rough week for the Bills family because of Mr. Wilson’s passing and Jimmy’s (Kelly) illness. That Bills family includes virtually everyone in Western New York,” he said. “I’m eternally grateful to Mr. Wilson for giving me the opportunity to become a general manager and giving Marv and I the opportunity to build a great football team. I know for a fact during the course of my tenure with the Bills that he had opportunities to entertain offers to move the franchise to places that would be more lucrative. But he gave his word and like everything else he did in his life he kept his word and he said the Bills would never leave Western New York in his lifetime and he was as good as his word.

“He was a very kind man, a person that on a personal level, while he was a fierce competitor and a tough boss, on a personal level he cared about you and he cared about your family. There never was a time that I talked to him including recently when he didn’t inquire about the family. He would send us a Christmas card every year always with a note and a kind thought. I’ve often said that if anything ever happened to me, the first call my wife would get would be from Ralph Wilson.

“It’s a sad day for all of us, but particularly for me because he did so much for me personally and professionally.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Polian on franchise tag: “If it makes sense, use it”

Posted by johnmurphyshow on February 24, 2014 – 9:01 pm

One of the most astute General Managers in recent NFL history says he would have no problem, if he ran the Buffalo Bills, using the franchise tag for a second year on Safety Jairus Byrd.

Bill Polian there’s no stigma about re-tagging a player for a second year. He made the comments Monday night, in an appearance on The John Murphy Show.

“I think that’s perfectly OK,” Polian said. “If you’ve looked at your situation from a personnel standpoint and you looked at it from a cap standpoint and you looked at it from a cash standpoint and it makes sense, go ahead and do it. That’s what we bargained for in the collective bargaining agreement. It’s there to be used. There’s no prohibition against it. There ought not to be a stigma about it. That’s the way it is.”

Polian is a strong proponent of setting specific priorities for a team’s personnel when it comes to spending in free agency. And the value, he believes, is largely a factor of what position is involved.

“It depends entirely upon what your construct is—who are the critical people in your system offensively and defensively,” Polian told host John Murphy. “Unless the player is an absolute world beater—let’s just say Troy Polamalu, even if that wasn’t a critical position for you, you’d pay him because he’s a difference maker. I don’t necessarily put Byrd in that category.”

Prioritization is critical in setting a team salary structure, Polian says. He’s a six-time winner of the NFL’s Executive of the Year Award. Without setting a pecking order for paying different positions, he says team’s could eventually not be able to pay their most important players.

“You do have to put your resources against the people who make a difference in your system,” he says. “Otherwise, you don’t have the money when the young ones come along at those positions, or you’re able to get someone in free agency and you don’t have the money to sign him.”

The entire interview with Bill Polian is available here

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Value of the combine for NFL GMs

Posted by johnmurphyshow on February 24, 2014 – 8:30 pm

Tuesday is the final day for the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. And a former high profile NFL GM says the combine is an essential part of the scouting process for teams in the league.

Former Bills, Panthers and Colts GM Bill Polian says it’s the medical exams and the weighing and measuring that are the most important part of the six day combine.

“First of all, it’s absolutely critical to get the medical information,” Polian said in an interview on The John Murphy Show from the combine. “And this is the most efficient way to do it, and Indianapolis happens to be the most efficient place to do it because the hospital is literally right across the street.”

“The second thing is the interviews and the psychological testing that goes on,” he said. “And then finally, the benchmarks, the forty yard dash, the jumping drills, the triangle drill, the shuttle drill-all of those things are critically important because they make the difference between, let’s say first rounder and perhaps a third rounder.”

Polian offered a recent example of how measurable, height and weight, make a big difference.

“Russell Wilson for example measures under six feet tall,” he said. “He’s a Super Bowl winning quarterback and no one would doubt his ability, but he was drafted in the third round because he’s under six feet tall. The measureables are important to us, because what they do is eliminate mistakes and that’s what we’re trying to do in each round, keep the mistakes to a minimum. So they’re very important.”

The entire radio interview with Bill Polian is available here

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Polian still excited about Reed in HOF

Posted by johnmurphyshow on February 24, 2014 – 7:50 pm

His mind might be on 40-times and bench presses at the Combine this week, but former Bills General Manager Bill Polian is still gratified by the election of Andre Reed to the Hall of Fame.

Three weeks ago, Reed was elected to the Hall in high eighth year as a finalist. And speaking on The John Murphy Show Monday night, Polian said he couldn’t be happier.

“I was overjoyed,” Polian said. “It’s been so long for all of us associated with Andre and working hard behind the scenes to try to get him elected. It was just such a relief and a joy to see him in because he richly deserves it.”

Polian said it was unfortunate Reed had to wait so long before he got the call to the Hall.

“He should have been in four or five years ago and it happened. I was getting worried very frankly that it might not happen if we went beyond this year. Marv and I and Jim and Thurman and Bruce have been telling everyone we could –listen, this is Andre’s year, this is Andre’s time. And fortunately the electors listened to us.”

The complete interview with former Bills GM Bill Polian from the Combine in Indianapolis is available at

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Polian did “heavy campaigning” for Reed

Posted by Chris Brown on February 3, 2014 – 12:30 pm

Bills former GM Bill Polian, who was part of the personnel department that drafted Andre Reed in 1985, was doing some heavy campaigning for Andre Reed’s Hall of Fame induction this week at the Super Bowl site in advance of the Hall of Fame Selectors meeting on Saturday, which eventually chose Reed for Hall of Fame enshrinement on his eight straight year as a finalist.

Appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 this morning, Polian wasn’t shy in admitting that he spoke to an awful lot of the Selectors this week to advocate for Reed.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Polian. “This was a long time coming. For some reason, I don’t know why, I just felt this was the year. Every voter that I talked to and I was blatantly electioneering and I kept telling them it’s his time put him in and they did.”

What Polian emphasized about Reed’s career was his consistent production.

“Competitiveness and production,” said Polian. “Some people really want to compete and have the gifts and the attitude to produce. That was Andre Reed. He was our go-to receiver. There’s no question about that. There are some who have tried to say that he had Don Beebe and James Lofton with him and Keith McKellar and Thurman Thomas, but in the Greatest Comeback game there was no Jim Kelly, no Thurman Thomas, no Cornelius Bennett it was Frank Reich and Andre Reed and he produced in every single situation.”

Reed caught three touchdowns passes in that AFC Wild Card comeback win over the Houston Oilers after they had trailed 35-3 in the third quarter.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Polian’s Super Bowl lesson

Posted by Chris Brown on January 31, 2014 – 12:40 pm

Appearing on the Mike & Mike show on ESPN Radio Friday, former Bills GM Bill Polian was asked about the importance of the preparation leading up to the Super Bowl game on Sunday. Polian said based on what he learned in preparation for the Bills third straight Super Bowl in Pasadena, the preparation doesn’t carry any weight.

“I found out through five Super Bowls that it doesn’t really mean anything,” Polian said. “We got blown out in the last three quarters against the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVII. We made all kinds of preparations to make sure we did everything right. We took our team out of the downtown Los Angeles hotel to a hideaway hotel in Pasadena, which is absolutely the wrong thing to do. We went and worked out at the Rose Bowl and that was the wrong thing to do. After the game I sat down next to Marv Levy on the bus and we were both downcast and I said, ‘You know what the lesson is? Just win the game. Nothing else matters.’

“We were way too up tight. The one thing we didn’t anticipate and it was entirely my fault. Every time we met the press that week people asked, ‘What if you lose again? Will you be the greatest losers of all time?’

“So that coupled with taking the team away I really believe that it wasn’t our team that day. We played up tight which was not our style. We never did that. The last thing Jim Kelly ever did was play up tight. We also had a lot of bad breaks too, but that’s what happened when you get in one of those games. What it taught me after the fact is the Super Bowl is one game and you can’t control anything that happens so you just do the best job in preparation and roll with the punches.”

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Polian’s outlook for 2013 Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on June 4, 2013 – 10:56 am

Bills former GM and current ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian was asked for his outlook on the 2013 Bills lead by new head coach Doug Marrone. Here was his synopsis, which included a reference to top draft choice EJ Manuel.

“I’ve said numerous times before that Doug Marrone is a great coach. I think he proved that at Syracuse,” Polian said. “I know he’s got a plan for how to proceed. I know he’ll get the players attention and respect. I’m sure he’s got that already. He’s decisive, he’s tough, he’s hard-nosed. He knows how to play. He’s got a great track record not only in college football, but in the NFL. The truth is we both went to the same high school so I’m not neutral  when it comes to him. I’m proud of what he’s achieved.

“That is the first step in the right direction. They’ve got a coach who knows how to win and plans to win. The rest of it now is putting the pieces in place. They’ve got to get better play from the quarterback position. That’s no secret. Buddy (Nix) said that quite clearly. But in the young man that they have he’s got a world of talent, perhaps the most since they drafted Jim (Kelly). I don’t want for one minute to compare him to Jim, that’s not fair to him. The fact is that he’s got some growing to do and I think he’ll go through some growing pains so fans need to be patient with that. But I do think that the future is bright and some good pieces are in place.”

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Draft experts have different job than GMs

Posted by johnmurphyshow on May 6, 2013 – 9:30 pm

He’s seen both sides of it now. Former Bills GM Bill Polian has run draft rooms, as the General Manager of the Bills, the Panthers and the Colts.

And for the last two years, Polian has covered the draft in his role as an NFL analyst for ESPN.

In an appearance on The John Murphy Show Monday night, the Bills Wall of Famer said he’s just come to the realization than the draft gurus on the air, like Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, and Mike Mayock, have a much different job than the team GMs in the draft rooms.

“When I was a general manager, I always used to think the analysts on television were as far off-base as it was possible to be,” Polian said. “But then, when I got to ESPN and I realized what Mel Kiper and Todd McShay do, what they’re doing is about 180-degrees opposite of what a general manager does.”

“As a GM, you’re just trying to pick the seven best players and then sign 7-10 collegiate free agents that you think are going to help your team. As the process gets closer to draft day, you have winnowed the board down to a very few players from a lot. Conversely, Mel and Todd and to a lesser degree, myself, because I had to know the players, we’re looking at everybody. That’s an almost impossible and incredibly large task. They do a great job of it.”

The entire interview with Bill Polian is available at\johnmurphyshow

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Jerry Hughes “turned the corner” last year

Posted by johnmurphyshow on May 6, 2013 – 8:45 pm

Bill Polian used a first round draft pick on Jerry Hughes three years ago. And the former GM of the Colts and the Bills says the veteran linebacker “turned the corner” last year in terms of his development.

Polian appeared on The John Murphy Show Monday night to talk about the draft and the Bills trade for Hughes last week. After watching the former first rounder in his first three years with Indy, Polian said Hughes showed significant improvement last season.

“Last year, as I watched him in Indianapolis, I really felt that he turned the corner,” Polian said. “He became much more assertive. He was flying to the ball. He was doing all of the things we thought he could do when we drafted him. And that’s fine. He was in his third year-that’s when they should start to contribute. He did a really good job of it. I think the light went on for him, as the saying goes.”

Polian, a six time NFL Executive of the Year, believes there’s a role for Hughes to play in Buffalo’s new defensive system.

” As a rush linebacker in Buffalo’s new ¾ or hybrid defense, you got a guy who can get up the field and get to the passer, and put pressure on the passer and that’s something they need,” he said. “He was mis-cast as a ¾ outside linebacker in Indianapolis because he has a really hard time being a five-technique and setting the edge. They want their outside linebackers to be 270-pounds and to be able to bench press that tight end and set the edge, and then rush from there. They want power rushers. And that’s not what Jerry does. He is a slippery, slithery, speedy outside rusher, much like Robert Mathis. He doesn’t have quite the punch that Robert Mathis does, but that’s his style of play.”

The entire interview with Bill Polian is available at\johnmurphyshow

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Polian: free agents changing systems tricky

Posted by Chris Brown on March 11, 2013 – 9:21 am

ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian has been through the free agency process that’s about to begin tomorrow afternoon at 4 pm all too often. In describing what an NFL GM is looking for out on the market he also outlines the dangers of projecting how well or how long it might take a new addition to adjust to a new offensive or defensive scheme with their new team.

“In free agency, you’re absolutely looking at the finished product,” he said. “Those players are not going to get any better than they are now at 26 or 27. They’re at their peak. They’re not going to get better. They are what they are.

“So, in theory, at least, you’re able to say, ‘Okay, I can plug this guy in, and he will perform at a certain level.’ But there is the system issue.

“It’s been my experience that when a player is changing systems, it takes generally a year for him to adapt to his new surroundings to a new system, to new teammates, et cetera. They don’t come in as a general rule and instantly become successes.

“When they’re within the same system, the odds are better that they’ll perform, but there is still, you know you make it a job change. We all know when you make a job change there are issues that you have to deal with.”

Those are issues that Doug Marrone took into account when he assembled his coaching staff. He wanted all of his assistants to already have knowledge of the terminology that would be utilized in their respective offensive and defensive schemes. It makes you wonder the kind of premium Bills GM Buddy Nix and personnel department will put on system familiarity when they put together their list of free agent targets for Tuesday.

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How a GM looks at free agency

Posted by Chris Brown on March 9, 2013 – 9:14 am

He’s been through the free agency process a countless number of times. Now an ESPN NFL analyst, six-time NFL Executive of the Year, Bill Polian explains the thought process of an NFL GM when examining the crop of free agent talent and matching it up to his team’s needs and salary cap budget.

“There are three things at play here in free agency,” said Polian. “The first is the need. Free agency is almost always aimed at a needs situation. So you almost always try to fill a need.

“The second is cost. What is the cost? What is the outlaying cash? What is the outlaying guarantee? In many respects, particularly in this early period that we are about to enter, the marketplace dictates that.

You could sit there, and I often did, and say this player should command only X. And then the market would open up and the player would command X plus Y. And you’d say, ‘Oops, well, that’s not in our bailiwick.’ So we don’t know what the market will bring.

“We know where there are numbers or clumps of players, although the recent franchise use of the franchise tag has reduced that considerably. And this is all tied up with the money, too, are there age and injury concerns? How much of that money are you going to reasonably accrue by signing this player? I believe that the statistics clearly show that there’s (additional) money attached to every free agent signing. There is always some dead money attached to it, and you build that into your budget.

“So the question is how much dead money? Medical and age concerns enter into that. That’s how you view it. And because you’re spending big money, usually and because you’re, again, involved with the reasonable prospect of some dead money at the end, you now come in and say, ‘We have to try to fill this need and at least on teams that I was with, we always had a strata of people.

“If we can’t afford player A, let’s see how much different is player B, and how much different is player C? In the end of the market and in the aftermarket, again, you’re looking to fill needs almost always with reasonably priced players who are not at the same talent level or production level as the top guys.”

It’s interesting that Polian admits to tiering free agents to have less expensive alternatives at the ready to pursue. Polian also talked about how free agency sets up GMs to make mistakes, which is perhaps why Polian while in Indianapolis focused more on re-signing his own than pursuing someone else’s free agents.

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Polian’s assessment of Geno & Barkley

Posted by Chris Brown on March 6, 2013 – 11:10 am

Appearing on a national conference call this week, ESPN NFL analyst and former Bills GM Bill Polian gave his assessment on the collective skill sets of West Virginia QB Geno Smith and USC QB Matt Barkley.

“I can tell you Geno Smith’s strength is the ability to throw the ball down the field,” said Polian. “He’s got good arm strength, he has good athleticism, and can pretty much function in any system.  He’ll have a little learning curve coming in from the spread offense simply because it’s different than the classic and standard NFL offense, particularly in taking the ball into center and handling the ball.

He does some of that at West Virginia but not a lot. The numbers indicate that, but he’s a guy that can pretty much fit into every system. He has a quick release, gets the ball out quickly, so that’s a real plus.

“In Barkley’s case most people seem to feel he’s best suited for a west coast offense where he can deliver the ball quickly and get it out of there and not have to drive it down the field in big chunks on a steady diet and use his mobility to find throwing lanes.

He’s not a guy who is going to be a running quarterback. He does have some mobility in the pocket and his foot work is pretty good, and he gets it out fast. So, generally speaking, probably more well suited to west coast offense.”

Buffalo’s offense is going to contain a good amount of west coast principles, so it’s not unreasonable to say that both signal callers could be seen as fits for the Bills.


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Polian: free agency full of pitfalls for GMs

Posted by Chris Brown on March 6, 2013 – 10:03 am

It’s not surprising that a former NFL GM sees it this way, but considering that Bill Polian is a six-time NFL Executive of the Year it’s interesting that he sees the process of free agency as a set up for general managers to make mistakes.

Appearing on a national conference call, Polian outlined how the free agency process leaves GMs prone to make mistakes due to the risks involved that are sometimes hard to measure.

“I’ve often said you can’t be right in free agency,” said Polian. “No general manager can be right in free agency. This system is designed to have you make mistakes. The union wants players to get paid, and people are going to make mistakes here.

“So you try to eliminate the mistakes, at least from my perspective, you try to eliminate as many mistakes as possible by taking as few risks as possible. Some people may see it differently. And that’s what makes the world go round.

“The period we’re in right now is one where every club is faced with the question how much do I pay a player based upon, A, his productivity, B, his availability, and C, his longevity, and D, his contribution to the overall cap situation?

“So whenever you have red flag like injuries, like potential suspension or character issues, like age, like size, and age, injury, and to a lesser degree size, enter into the dead money issue. You have very, very tough decisions to make.”


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Polian: TE Walker an interesting option

Posted by Chris Brown on March 5, 2013 – 12:07 pm

ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian was on a national conference call assessing the free agent market as was asked about one of the tight ends profiled in our TE free agency preview on in San Francisco’s Delanie Walker. Walker is a player that Polian believes will be in demand if he makes it to the market.

“I think he will command a fair amount of attention,” said Polian. “There’s always a buzz about players that play well in the playoffs and the Super Bowl and he did. In Delanie Walker you have a really, really interesting guy. Age is a bit of a concern, it’s minor, but he’s not 25 any longer. But he’s very, very versatile.

“He can play fullback, tight end, he can play in the slot. He’s very productive and he’s a tough guy. He’s a really good blocker and a willing blocker. So I think he’ll get some activity the question is how much and what’s the fit? That’s always the question in free agency.”


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Polian unsure about returning to the NFL

Posted by johnmurphyshow on February 21, 2013 – 8:45 pm

It’s been more than one year since Bill Polian was dismissed as President of the Indianapolis Colts. But Thursday morning, Polian was back on the job at Lucas Oil Stadium, in his new role as an NFL analyst for ESPN covering the NFL Combine.

Polian appeared as a guest on The John Murphy Show podcast Thursday night from the combine. He was asked if he misses his role running a team one year after leaving the Colts.

“I don’t miss Sunday as much as I thought I would, not nearly as much as I thought I would,” Polian said. “Because of ESPN and Sirius NFL Radio, I have to watch about five games a week on television and then I watch games during the week. I’m getting in a lot of work, I’m doing football work to stay current. But as I say, I don’t miss Sunday as nearly as much as I thought I would.”

“I do miss the personnel work,” he told host John Murphy, “being on the inside of that, the competition committee, I do miss that. That was the fun part of the job. When I come back to things like this, I do get nostalgic. But not as much as I thought.”

What about the future? Would Polian rule out returning to a team again?

“I’ve always said, I could do it, my health is fine,” he said. “I could do the work. The question is, do you really want to and does it fit with where the family is right now. My wife has carried the load for 35-years so she gets a big vote on this. Thus far, she hasn’t said anything that leads me to believe she’s going to say yes, but you never know.”

The entire interview with Bill Polian is available at\johnmurphyshow

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Polian thinks Marrone has perfect resume

Posted by johnmurphyshow on February 21, 2013 – 8:15 pm

The ties between new Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone, and former Bills GM Bill Polian go way back. All the way to Mt. St. Michael’s Academy in the Bronx, the alma mater for both Marrone and Polian.

Polian mentioned those ties Thursday night, in an appearance on The John Murphy Show podcast.

“I know a lot about Doug, we went to the same high school, Mt. St. Michael Academy in the Bronx,” Polian said. “He was a far better football player than I was. The bottom line is, I recommended him very strongly for the Syracuse job, a lot of people did that. We’ve been friends a long time. I followed his career for a long time because he’s a Mount guy, and the he was friendly with people on our staff.”

Polian said he had Marrone number one on his list of potential head coaching candidates when he left his job with the Indianapolis Colts a year ago. And he told host John Murphy Marrone has the perfect professional background to be an NFL Head Coach.

“He has the exact kind of background that you want—pro player, pro assistant, pro coordinator, college head coach, now NFL head coach. He’s far more ready to be a head coach than someone who’s coming from a coordinator’s position in the NFL, because he’s already dealt with the demands of head coaching.”

The entire inteview with Bill Polian is available at

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