Inside The Bills

AFC East foes add incentive in last 2

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2012 – 11:44 am

The Bills are out of the playoffs, but head coach Chan Gailey sees added incentive for his players in the final two games on the regular season schedule.

In his weekly appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550, Gailey admitted at this point self-respect is what you’re playing for.

“You’re playing for pride, professionalism,” said Gailey. “That’s what you’re playing for. I don’t know of anything else that you play for at this point. I think that they’re division games and you want to beat division opponents. We don’t like people in our division in general and you want to beat them because of who they are.”

Buffalo is on the road this week at Miami, before closing out the season at home against the Jets.

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Memo to Jets fans: Talk junk to Mario

Posted by Chris Brown on September 3, 2012 – 12:58 pm

Bills DE Mario Williams, doesn’t need a lot of added motivation when he takes the field in the regular season, but there are some things that get him jacked up to play even more than his own work ethic.

In an interview with GQ magazine, Williams explained what really gets him going before a game.

“Fans get me going,” said Williams. “The worst thing to do is talk junk to me before I’m about to go against your quarterback. Whenever I get trash talked by fans at an away game, that’s the best motivation. Because I know if I get the opportunity to get to the quarterback, it’s going to be even worse now. If there’s a fan telling me I’m garbage and my team sucks, you’re talking directly to me. And I’m going to take it out directly on your quarterback.”

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Mario: ‘An eye for an eye’

Posted by Chris Brown on September 3, 2012 – 12:50 pm

As a premier defensive end in the NFL, Mario Williams is often the target of extra attention by opposing offenses. Often seeing double teams, chip blocks from running backs, Williams is used to the added challenges of getting to the quarterback. What he won’t stand for however, are the illegal blocks that sometimes go unnoticed. And in those cases Williams will employ the old ‘an for an eye’ approach.

In an interview with GQ magazine Williams said if the illegal chop blocks start surfacing there will be consequences.

“You’ve got to be careful of guys trying to chop-block you. You know, running backs, the receivers. You’ve got to just hope that your knees are fine and you can avoid those chop blocks. If you’re engaged with somebody, and then someone else comes from behind you and cuts into the back of your legs and does it purposely, you’ve got to be prepared for it. It happens,” Williams said. “You know what you’re getting yourself into when you step on the field. But I look at it as “Eye for an Eye.” I don’t do anything dirty or cheap to anybody, but if you come out there and disrespect me, don’t think I’m not going to get even. I don’t go around knocking guys heads off while they’re just standing there. But if you do something to me or one of my teammates, somebody has to take care of it. Stuff like that happens over the course of a game. Eye for an eye. And the refs can’t see it all.”

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A sack through the eyes of Mario

Posted by Chris Brown on September 3, 2012 – 12:43 pm

Mario Williams has certainly had his share of sacks in his six previous NFL seasons. But here’s his description of what goes through his head in those three to four seconds from snap to sack.

In an interview with GQ magazine Williams had a description of a sack that may just make the hair on the back of the neck stand up if you’re a Bills fan.

“No matter how fast or how slow you get to the quarterback, it all goes to slow motion when you get there,” said Williams. “Everything just stops. You don’t see anything but the quarterback. You don’t hear anything but the quarterback’s breath. It’s almost like you’re a shark. Your eyes get real big and everything’s just quiet. You don’t hear the fans or anything. It’s just one second, but it feels like forever. Everything just comes to a halt. And then when you get him and bring him down, everything opens up again.” Williams is facing Jets RT Austin Howard this Sunday, who was plugged into the lineup after the epic fail by former starter Wayne Hunter, who was subsequently traded to St. Louis in exchange for RT Jason Smith. Howard will undoubtedly get help in pass protection from a tight end or a back.

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Gailey quietly confident in offense

Posted by Chris Brown on September 1, 2012 – 2:34 pm

Bills head coach Chan Gailey heard all the chatter outside the walls of One Bills Drive concerning the effectiveness of the offense in the preseason. Buffalo’s 11-play 83-yard touchdown drive by the starters against the Lions last Thursday quelled some fan concerns. Gailey however, has remained confident throughout.

“Everybody else, I think, was a lot more worried than I was,” he said. “I think I had seen improvement and the little things getting better each week. I have a great deal of confidence in our offense about getting the job done. I do not put any expectations, numbers or goals out there. We just are trying to score one more point than the other team each week. I think our offense is on the right track.”


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Bills don’t lack for confidence

Posted by Chris Brown on September 1, 2012 – 8:03 am

The Bills’ starters on offense sounded energized by their impressive 11-play 83-yard touchdown drive in the preseason finale Thursday night at Detroit. It has them brimming with confidence heading into their Week 1 preparation for the Jets.

“We have a lot of confidence,” said Ryan Fitzpatrick. “And we talked about it even before that Detroit game. I think on offense we feel we are light years ahead of where we were in the past. We are looking forward to getting off to a fast start to the season. We have a tough opponent with a tough defense to play but we are looking forward to it.”

“Our confidence is high. It’s going to be a hostile environment,” said C.J. Spiller of their Week 1 trip to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. “They’re going to be hyped and we’re going to be hyped. We just have to come back today and get our minds focused because not only is it the first game but it’s a divisional game. To get where you want to go you have to win these types of games. We’re going to be looking forward to it, have a great week of practice and go out there and lay it on the line.”

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Restrictions for new NFL I-R rule

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2012 – 1:45 pm

The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to allow teams to pull a player off of their injured reserve list during the season and re-activate them in 2012. Here are the restrictions for the new I-R rule.

Following the cutdown to 53 players, the new Reserve/Injured rule will work as follows:

1.    Only players with a “major injury” who are placed on Reserve/Injured after 4:00 p.m., New York time, on Tuesday, September 4, or thereafter during the season, will be eligible to be reactivated at a later time.

2.    A “major injury” is defined as an injury that renders the player unable to practice or play football for at least six weeks (42 calendar days) from the date of injury.

3.    Each team may reactivate only one player placed on Reserve/Injured after 4:00 p.m., New York time, on Tuesday, September 4.  That player must be “designated for return” at the time the club places him on Reserve/Injured, and such designation shall appear on that day’s Personnel Notice.

4.    Such player is eligible to return to practice if he has been on Reserve/Injured for at least six weeks from the date he is placed on Reserve.  He is eligible to return to the Active List if he has been on Reserve/Injured for at least eight weeks from the date he is placed on Reserve.

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Wood expecting to be full go Wk 1

Posted by Chris Brown on August 28, 2012 – 7:42 pm

It’s been a steady process for Eric Wood in his return from ACL surgery this offseason, but the patience looks like it has paid off as he’s on track to be full go come next week.

“I think I’ll do everything next week in all the team reps leading up to the game and all the reps in the game,” said Wood in reference to the season opener against the Jets at MetLife Stadium. “We’ve stayed cautious for that reason so in Week 1 I could do that kind of stuff.”

“He’s coming along pretty well,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “Eric has really had no setbacks which is what you worry about and he really has had no setbacks.”

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TV announcers for Bills games

Posted by Chris Brown on August 22, 2012 – 2:47 pm

CBS Sports has released their broadcast announcer pairings for the first four Bills games this season. Here they are in order of appearance.

Week 1 – Bills @ Jets – Marv Albert and Rich Gannon
Week 2 – Bills vs. Chiefs – Spero Dedes and Steve Beuerlein
Week 3 – Bills @ Browns – Spero Dedes and Steve Beuerlein
Week 4 – Bills vs. Patriots – Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf

Quite frankly you’re probably better off turning up Murph and Kelso on the Bills Radio Network and turning down the volume on your TV, especially in Week 4 if you want to avoid all the fawning over Tom Brady and the Patriots.

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Confidence is high

Posted by Chris Brown on July 24, 2012 – 9:30 am

I wouldn’t call it swagger just yet, which is something the Bills had after jumping out to a 3-1 start and handing New England one of just four losses they would suffer in all of 2011, but there is a noticeable confidence among the players as they begin their final preparations for the 2012 campaign.

WR Stevie Johnson, who is expected to be full go at training camp, made it clear that the team believes they can go out and beat anyone on Sunday, no matter what the opponent’s resume might be.

“I think we’ll be a team that people will have to take notice of this year,” Johnson said. “We have a talented group. I feel like when we get to the playoffs, which we can, I think we can matchup with anybody and I think we can beat anybody.”

It’s clear that to a man in Buffalo’s locker room it’s playoffs or bust.

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Why Bills pass rushers are smiling

Posted by Chris Brown on July 23, 2012 – 8:46 am

Buffalo’s pass rushers are already excited about what they could be capable of as a group with proven pass rushers Mario Williams, Mark Anderson and Shawne Merriman lining up at the end position. Add in Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, who each led the team in sacks the past two seasons and there are plenty of positives. But there’s still another for Buffalo’s prospects of getting to opposing quarterbacks in 2012.

The Bills face six of the top eight clubs in most sacks allowed last season, including each of the top 4. Here’s the rundown of the teams that allowed the most sacks last season that appear on Buffalo’s regular season schedule this fall.

1 – St. Louis – 55 sacks allowed
2 – Arizona – 54 sacks allowed
3 – Miami – 52 sacks allowed
4 – Seattle – 50 sacks allowed
T-7 – Jacksonville – 44 sacks allowed
T-7 – San Francisco – 44 sacks allowed

Now you know why Kyle Williams is so eager to get back on the field from his offseason Achilles surgery.

“I think the good thing is we have a whole lineup of guys and a whole room full of guys that I think that’s what they’re built for,” said Williams of rushing the passer. “They’re designed to get down, get off the ball and attack guys. Just speaking for me personally I’m excited about it.”

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Leadership time for Stevie

Posted by Chris Brown on July 19, 2012 – 8:30 am

After signing a big new contract with the team this offseason Stevie Johnson has a couple of big items on his priority list for the 2012 season, which we cover extensively in our Top 25 questions until training camp series today (Thursday). While we cover an item on that list in our cover story on that pertains to his individual game, there’s another item that deals with his intangibles.

Johnson as the unquestioned go-to guy in the team’s passing game and a hefty contract to back that up is a leader now.

This is the beginning for us and that’s what’s exciting. We’ve got a lot of unfinished business out there on the field, things that we want to accomplish together and things that we want to accomplish as a team.

“He’s got to make the next step now and the next step for him is something he’s done and something he needs to continue to build on is being a leader every day,” said Ryan Fitzpatrick. “Not only for the guys in the receiving room but for everyone on the team. This puts him right at the top of one of the big leaders of the team, not just his group of guys. I think he has to realize that. All the stuff with the celebrations and the penalties that happened last year that stuff’s all done with. He’s a leader on this team and he’s a guy that’s concerned now about the team and winning and I think he’ll show that.”

At the same time Fitz and Johnson, who share a similar path to NFL success as former seventh-round draft choices are anxious to take the next step as a passing combination.

“This is the beginning for us and that’s what’s exciting,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’ve got a lot of unfinished business out there on the field, things that we want to accomplish together and things that we want to accomplish as a team.”

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3rd down pct. was top 10

Posted by Chris Brown on July 17, 2012 – 9:51 am

Buffalo’s third down conversion percentage wound up ranked 28th in the league last season with a 32.5% success rate. As we ask in our Top 25 questions until training camp ‘Will the offense rank in the top 10?’ we discovered that the Bills showed they could be a top 10 attack on third downs.

That’s because through the first eight weeks of the 2011 season, Buffalo’s third down conversion percentage was a very solid 41.6%. That would’ve been good enough for eighth in the league last year had the Bills been able to sustain it. And that’s the focus, first recapturing the early season success last season and then sustaining it through the back half of the schedule this year.

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Why good is no longer good enough

Posted by Chris Brown on July 9, 2012 – 9:37 am

For the Bills the past couple of years has been about becoming a good team. Now they want to be better than that.

According to Kelvin Sheppard in his exclusive 1-on-1 interview with, Sheppard emphasized why good is no longer good enough for this team.

“It won’t be good enough or accepted from the players or the coaches,” Sheppard told “On the defensive side and with Fitzpatrick and those guys it’s the same on offense. I know myself last year and they say it went on years before that. When guys have a good game and say, ‘Oh good job. That was good. That was good.’ But hey, how many rings do we have up here? How many banners have we hung up here being good or average?

“So once you take it to that next step is what my coach Bob Sanders preaches to me all the time. He’ll tell me, ‘Hey Shep you had a really good practice, but I’m scared to tell you that because once you think you’re good you get complacent.’ That’s where the failure starts to occur so you always strive to be great. No one is ever going to be perfect, so if you strive for that perfection you have no choice but to succeed.”

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Bills AFC East outlook

Posted by Chris Brown on July 7, 2012 – 8:58 am

As we profiled in our feature story on today (Saturday) the Bills need to reverse the trend of performance in division games. After winning their first division game last season against New England, they dropped the rest of them. They also went 1-5 in the division in 2010. Here’s a look at how the division matchups shape up as the season unfolds.

The first division test comes quickly as they’re on the road to face the Jets in Week 1. It’s a chance to get a leg up right away on the Jets and the rest of the AFC East. The only issue here is the Bills won’t know exactly what the Jets have up their sleeve with respect to Tim Tebow, but there are two sides to that coin.

Buffalo then gets to host New England in Week 4 before having to face them again in Week 10. Knowing the Patriots will have two weeks to prepare for the second matchup coming off a bye, the Bills have to take the first meeting to help their chances of posting a winning record in the AFC East.

The Bills last three division games are arguably easier in terms of opponent and venue. They get the Dolphins at home, albeit off four days rest from the road game at New England (far from ideal) in a prime time game, and then travel to Miami in Week 16 before hosting the Jets in the season finale. It’ll be real interesting if Buffalo and New York are still fighting for playoff position in Week 17.

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Offense to see more Top 10 ‘D’s

Posted by Chris Brown on July 5, 2012 – 8:19 am

Last year Buffalo’s offense faced top 10 defenses in six of their 16 regular season games. That number is going up in a season where the offense is thought to have a good chance to eclipse the 24 points per game barrier.

In 2012 the Bills attack will square off against top 10 defensive units in seven of their 16 regular season games. Perhaps more significant is four of those first seven matchups against top 10 defenses will come on the road. Here’s the rundown of the top 10 defenses they’ll face (based on 2011 season-ending ranks).

Week 1 @ NYJ (5th)
Week 3 @ Cleveland (10th)
Week 5 @ San Fran. (4th)
Week 9 @ Houston (2nd)
Week 13 vs. Jacksonville (6th)
Week 15 vs. Seattle (9th) in Toronto
Week 17 vs. NYJ (5th)

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Gilmore a different breed

Posted by Chris Brown on July 4, 2012 – 8:53 am

Bills top pick Stephon Gilmore has looked like he belongs at the NFL level from the first day of OTAs. That’s why his chances are very good that he’s not just a starter on Buffalo’s defense, but a difference maker.

First-round picks, even top 10 picks aren’t always locks to be playmakers as a rookie. For C.J. Spiller the light bulb went on in year two and he was the ninth overall selection. For Mike Williams it never went on. Gilmore however, has a lot of things working in his favor.

First, he’s a quick study that digests a playbook in short order. Second, his playing style is suited to the NFL game. Third, he has a work ethic that has him prepared like a veteran. And fourth, and perhaps most important, he’s going to get an awful lot of help from his front four in terms of pressure on the quarterback. All of that could translate into a very productive rookie season for Gilmore.

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Clayton likes Bills chances in ’12

Posted by Chris Brown on July 3, 2012 – 10:52 am

First it was ESPN NFL analyst Herm Edwards making the prediction, now it’s veteran ESPN NFL writer John Clayton that likes Buffalo’s chances to end their playoff drought.

In Clayton’s MailBag the NFL beat writer believes this could be the year when Buffalo reaches the postseason (see below).

Q: Are the Bills the real deal? They look great on paper, signing guys like Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to go with second-year man Marcell Dareus, and drafting Stephon Gilmore to go with Terrence McGee and Jairus Byrd in the secondary. Add the killer run game and receiver Steve Johnson, they look like the clear favorites to win that division. Yet, we saw this with Philly last year, and we saw how that turned out.

Chris in Largo, Fla.

A: To be the real deal, the Bills would need to be a playoff team for the next three years. Still, the schedule and roster are set to make a wild-card run this year and I think they could do that.

For years, the Bills were hopeless in a division that was loaded with 3-4 defenses. Chan Gailey installed an offense that caused opposing defenses to get out of the 3-4. The Bills’ defense should make a dramatic improvement.

Plus, they don’t face a lot of great quarterbacks in their eight games in the AFC South and NFC West. If you are a Bills fan, enjoy.

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Why predicting sacks can be tricky

Posted by Chris Brown on July 2, 2012 – 9:43 am

Bills defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt is just as optimistic as any Bills fan about the kind of pass rush his front four is going to be able to generate this coming season, especially knowing he’s got a second wave of defensive linemen that would start on some other NFL clubs. All that being said, Wannstedt cautions that predicting just how many sacks the Bills can log can be tough.

In an exclusive one-on-one interview with Wannstedt touched on a number of topics concerning his defense including just how effective the unit could be in taking down opposing quarterbacks.

“A lot goes into getting sacks,” he said. “I’ve been involved with college teams and pro teams that have led the nation and led the league in sacks. A lot has to do with the situation that you’re in. Are you playing from behind? Are you playing from ahead? A lot of it has to with the guys rushing the passer. A lot has to do with quarterbacks you might face or offensive linemen during the year. We’re going to get our share.”

The league average last season was just over 40 sacks (40.25). Buffalo should easily exceed that total as a team in 2012.

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’96 Bills & ’12 Bills a comparison

Posted by Chris Brown on June 29, 2012 – 9:40 am

With Chris Spielman telling he sees some similarities with respect to the 2012 Bills and the team he signed up to join in free agency back in 1996 we thought we’d take a look at where that 10-6 team in ’96 finished up and what kind of season the 2012 Bills are coming off of a season ago to see if we can gauge just how similar they might be.

The ’96 defense finished 9th overall, 10th in third down defense, 14th against the run, 8th against the pass, 8th in 1st downs allowed, 5th in pass breakups and 3rd in sacks.

The ’12 Bills are coming off a 2011 season in which they finished 26th overall, 21st in third down defense, 28th against the run, 19th against the pass, 27th in first downs allowed, 20th in pass breakups and 27th in sacks.

This year’s team might look a long way off with the numbers, but one has to consider the veteran free agent additions (M. Williams, Anderson), the players coming back from injury (K. Williams, Merriman, McGee), the draft talent added (Gilmore) and the maturation of young players stepping into starting roles (A. Williams, Sheppard) along with a proven defensive coach now running the show (Wannstedt).

Roll all that together and I believe a lot of the numbers put up by the ’96 Bills are very realistic for this year’s squad, particularly the rankings for run defense (14th), pass breakups (5th) and sacks (3rd). So Spielman appears to be onto something with his assessment.  

Yes, the defensive line talent is comparable between the two clubs (Bruce Smith-Mario Williams, Ted Washington-Marcell Dareus, Phil Hansen-Kyle Williams, Bryce Paup-Mark Anderson/Shawne Merriman). That looks like the strength of both defensive units. The 2012 unit however, has more opportunistic safeties than the ’96 squad had in then rookie Matt Stevens and Kurt Schulz, who collectively logged just six INTs.

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