Inside The Bills

How to counter Panthers speed on defense

Posted by Chris Brown on September 17, 2017 – 10:45 am

The Carolina Panthers are a fast flow defense. They have great speed at the second level and get to the ball quickly in numbers. Their men up front are all attack-minded and come full speed on every play. When facing talent that can match your skill position players in the speed department, there are some things that can be done to slow them down.

Misdirection on plays can keep a defense like Carolina’s honest. If they bit too hard on the initial fake, there could be some big gains to be had on the back side.

“Sometimes, yes, I will say that’s definitely something that I feel like we can get a chance at, as far as the misdirection,” said Tyrod Taylor. “The way we run the football, the way Shady is downhill, the way [Mike] Tolbert is downhill, the way we’re able to stretch fields laterally, I think that we can definitely get those types of plays. We have to go out there and execute.”

Another part of the offense that could serve the Bills well if the Panthers are pinning their ears back and driving hard up field is the screen game. LeSean McCoy could have a big day in the receiving game if Carolina is reckless in flying up field or in the direction of the ball at the snap.

“They’re a good team, they’re a good defense, so in times they are victim of over-pursuing plays, but that’s a gift and a curse,” said McCoy of the Carolina defense. “They’re talented at the positon, especially at linebacker. “They get happy and they kind of over-pursue though, so it’ll be a game. It’ll be a good game.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Webb the best Cam, Bills ‘D’ could ask for

Posted by Chris Brown on September 17, 2017 – 9:16 am

Bills QB Joe Webb is unlikely to see action at quarterback on Sunday against Carolina. He will play on special teams, as he served on kick return and some other units last Sunday. But some of Webb’s best work at quarterback came in practice this week to help Buffalo’s defense prepare for Cam Newton.

Each week coaches try to find the player for the scout team that offers the most realistic look of the opponent, including the player skill set if possible. Joe Webb was a perfect match to play Cam Newton for Buffalo’s defense in practice this week for a few reasons.

First, Webb isn’t much smaller than Newton at 6-5 and 220 pounds. He has an athletic skill set like Newton and he knows the Carolina offense having been immersed in it the better part of the last three years.

As the week came to a close, Buffalo’s defensive players felt as prepared as possible for what Newton can do based on the looks Webb gave  them on the scout team offense in practice.

“Joe gave us a good look man,” said Shaq Lawson. “Joe has been with those guys. He knows how Cam practices. He knows him inside and out. Joe gave us a great look at practice all week and prepared us the best we could. So I thank Joe for that. Joe is a special player. He can do it all. I’ve never seen a guy who can play quarterback, special teams and receiver in the NFL. He’s great.”

Webb appreciated the positive feedback, but as much as his imitation of Newton helped with preparation, Webb knows it’s still on Buffalo’s defense to make the plays.

“In the end our defense has to make the plays in the game no matter how good the look is in practice, they’ve got to see it and recognize it in the game,” said Webb. “I just did my best to be him this week. I’m just trying to help my defense get in the best position.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-15

Posted by Chris Brown on September 15, 2017 – 12:19 pm

Week 2 is a step up in competition with the Panthers on the road. Let’s get to your questions on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills and email at

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Are the Bills more prepared to play against mobile QBs like Cam due to practicing daily vs Tyrod Taylor?

Michael Kielma

CB: In training camp the defense went against Tyrod, but during the regular season they face a scout team quarterback. Fortunately for the Bills defense that scout team QB is Joe Webb. Not only is Webb wholly familiar with the Carolina offense, having run it the last couple of years, but he’s also extremely athletic and is a good mimic of Newton as a player.

So the defense should be well prepared for the real thing on Sunday.


2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Who, in your opinion, needs to “show up” in Carolina this week?

Bryan Metz

CB: In a word everyone. I know the Panthers didn’t make the playoffs last year, but Newton couldn’t throw the last month and a half of the season before undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. This is a talented team that was a perennial playoff team with three division titles under their belt and an NFC title. So all 11/11ths need to be performing on Sunday for the Bills to have a shot at a win.


3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Chris, been reading CAR trying to limit Newton leaving pocket. I get he’s the franchise & a lot of $$ is committed to him, but bad idea, no?

Andrew Farrell

CB: They’re trying to reduce the number of hits Newton takes and he’s free game the minute he declares himself as a runner. All those hits wore his body down and we witnessed the effects of those last season.

I don’t see Newton as anything close to an elite pocket passer. He’s never had a completion percentage above 60 percent in his career. Which is a shame because he has the physical stature to make plays with bodies hanging on him. That’s what makes this season so intriguing with him.

Can he transition to being a successful pocket passer as he gets close to the midway point of his career? He’s not going to have his legs forever.


4 – Chris,

Members of the Bills practice squad are free agents.  Can the Bills retain a player after another team claims them?

Steve O’Brien

CB: There are ways that a team tries to retain a practice squad player they’d like to develop. They can either, A, pay them more money on the practice squad or B, make room on their active roster to hold onto them. Often times players choose to stay with the club they’ve been with just because of scheme familiarity and the chance to play right away.

Going to a new team, especially within the season, can be a tougher transition to the field. But players do tend to go if they think there’s a better opportunity to get on the field and stay on an active roster long term.


5 – Chris,

Obviously the Jets win doesn’t prove much, but how good does Tyrod have to be to keep his job going in to next year? Is it playoffs or bust? Just imagine the weapons we could add in next years draft with all of our picks if we’re not using them to trade up for a QB.

Frank from Long Island

CB: With respect to Tyrod’s game, as long as he continues to make strides in working the middle of the field in the passing game, and is consistent with his ball location and timing in this offense, he could play the whole season. While his play is certainly tied to how strong a hold he has on the starting job, I don’t know if his play has any impact on the team’s plans at the position for the future.

This is shaping up to be one of the better quarterback draft classes in some time. So if the Bills believe they have to land one of them, they will do their level best to make that happen, regardless of who is on the roster now or how Taylor plays.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Tolbert: Snitches get stitches

Posted by Chris Brown on September 13, 2017 – 3:02 pm


There are a couple of players and a head coach who might be viewed as mercenaries by the Carolina Panthers fans this Sunday in Charlotte. Having moved on to the Bills they’re the enemy now, but between head coach Sean McDermott, Mike Tolbert, Joe Webb and Kaelin Clay, there’s a lot of useful information they can provide. From player strengths and weaknesses, to player preferences in certain situations.

“There’s a rule out there that snitches get stitches, but I’m going to get a lot of stitches this week,” said Tolbert.

Tolbert along with Webb and Clay will offer what they can to assist their Bills teammates with their matchups, and the players who don’t know the Panthers well are eager to scoop up all the intel they can.

“Oh yeah I’m going to sit down with him this week,” said Bills return man Brandon Tate the time he intends to spend with Joe Webb on Carolina’s special teams coverage units.

Regardless of all the help it can provide, the Bills still hold an enormous amount of respect for a team as battle tested as the Panthers. It’s why players like Tolbert, Webb and Clay are doing their level best to prepare for Sunday’s game like any other. It’s something that has won the respect of their teammates.

“They’re not getting wrapped up in the rivalry or battle. We’re their teammates and we’re supporting them. It’s a regular game. Everybody looks at things differently. I kind of looked at it like a revenge type of game when I played back home,” said McCoy of his game against the Eagles in 2015. “But them guys I like their attitudes. It’s more positive. It’s more team based. It’s working out. We have one goal and that’s to go to North Carolina and get a win.”



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Posted in Inside the Bills

Panthers to scale back McCaffrey’s workload?

Posted by Chris Brown on September 12, 2017 – 10:55 am

After he played 70 percent of the snaps in Carolina’s Week 1 win at San Francisco, head coach Ron Rivera gave indication that he and offensive coordinator Mike Shula will be scaling back on rookie RB Christian McCaffrey’s reps moving forward.

That according to

“It’s like getting that new toy at Christmas,” Rivera said. “You open up the box and there’s what you’d hoped for. But you also have to be wise and smart about when you play with it and when you don’t, because you don’t want to wear the batteries out. You don’t want to break it.”

McCaffrey is a dynamic weapon out of the backfield, which is what made him a first-round draft choice. Whether his workload is scaled back in Week 2 against the Bills remains to be seen.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rivera wary of Rex’s multiple defense

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2015 – 1:56 pm

Carolina head coach Ron Rivera has known Rex Ryan since he played linebacker for his dad, Buddy Ryan, in Chicago in the mid-80’s. So he’s all too familiar with the unpredictable nature of Ryan’s play calling. And in a preseason game setting with a new roster, Rivera knows Ryan is going to be even harder to figure out.

“I hate it. I really do because they can do anything,” said Rivera of Buffalo’s defense. “When that happens you’re kind of guessing as coaches. It’s hard to see the game because unless you’re hitting it right on anything can happen. Guys could be running around free, the quarterback may not have any time. Your running back may not have an opportunity to run. It’s going to be tough on our offensive line to handle it. I expect Rex to be as aggressive as he normally is.

“On the offensive side I think we feel a little more comfortable. We know what they’re capable of on the offensive side and we expect a physical running style. Coach (Greg) Roman coming from San Francisco we expect that running game to carry over.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Stevie tries hand at safety

Posted by Chris Brown on September 16, 2013 – 12:44 pm

Stevie Johnson’s day wasn’t done on Sunday after he pulled in the game-tying touchdown pass with two seconds remaining.

After the ensuing kickoff Carolina had one second remaining for Cam Newton to chuck a desperation pass down the field. The Bills put their prevent defense out on the field with Stevie Johnson as one of the deep safeties in the right side of the end zone.

“I’m back there ready to get an interception on Cam Newton,” said Johnson. “I was ready to get a touchdown and an interception. I was ready it was a play that we practice. Just a simple prevent and I’m out there on the side just trying to sneak in there. I was hoping he was going to throw it. Kiko decided to ensure the win.”

Alonso ended the game with a sack of Newton to seal the win.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Cornerback injuries cost Carolina

Posted by Chris Brown on September 15, 2013 – 10:58 pm

The Carolina Panthers were already down one cornerback in James Dockery, who was out with a thumb injury. They also had a young cornerback on the inactive list in Melvin White. In hindsight they would’ve preferred to have all the healthy corners up for Sunday’s game.

Carolina CB Josh Thomas went out in the first half with a concussion. CB Josh Norman missed time with a thigh injury and S Charles Godfrey was carted off with an ankle injury. All told the Panthers were down to just three healthy corners and it had an impact on the final offensive play of the game for Buffalo.

With six seconds left on a 2nd-and-1 at the two-yard line, Norman, who returned to the game had Chris Hogan in man to man coverage lined up outside. Reserve CB D.J. Moore had Stevie Johnson inside in the slot man to man. Moore isn’t typically the team’s slot corner, Captain Munnerlyn typically slides inside when defending three wide sets.

Hogan ran a slant inside while Johnson slid behind him on a corner route.

It looked as though Norman thought they were staying with their coverage assignment through the entire play, while Moore thought they would switch coverage assignments if they crossed their face. Moore stopped covering Johnson to switch to Hogan and bumped into Norman, who stayed with Hogan. Johnson was wide open for the game-tying TD.

“We got rubbed off, is basically what happened,” said Carolina head coach Ron Rivera. “We’re in man coverage right there. We’ve got to work through the pick, make sure we’re communicating and get through, and not get picked off. It was a tough situation, and unfortunately, it worked to their benefit.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Blind faith

Posted by Chris Brown on September 15, 2013 – 7:00 pm

Bills CB Leodis McKelvin has not been a part of too many come from behind victories in Buffalo, but he was convinced they were going to win the game after Carolina’s late field goal made it 23-17 with 1:38 remaining and the Bills out of timeouts.

“I wasn’t worried, I wasn’t watching the game, truly,” said McKelvin. “I knew we were going to win. I told Aaron (Williams) before they kicked the field goal, if they kick the field goal we’re going to win this game. They kicked the field goal I was on the sidelines chilling out. Not paying attention to the game, but I wasn’t worried at all.”

I’m not sure if there was a Bills fan that was as relaxed at that point in time.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Byrd was key piece in last win over Panthers

Posted by Chris Brown on September 15, 2013 – 10:05 am

The last time the Bills faced the Panthers was in Charlotte in 2009. Buffalo was in the last year of the Dick Jauron regime, and had no business winning the game in Carolina that day. Marshawn Lynch rushed for just 40 yards and Ryan Fitzpatrick had just 123 yards passing on the day, but one player had a big hand in making those numbers irrelevant in a 20-9 Bills victory.

Jairus Byrd had a pair of interceptions. The first put Buffalo up early as he picked off Jake Delhomme at the Panthers 45 and returned it to the Carolina seven-yard line. Lynch would score on the next series for a 7-0 lead.

In the second half, Byrd again picked off Delhomme deep over the middle on a tipped pass at his own 40-yard line and returned it to the Carolina 27. Again the Bills put the ball in the end zone on a two-yard strike from Fitzpatrick to Lee Evans.

George Wilson had the third interception off Delhomme, who three for 325 yards on the day.

Carolina outgained Buffalo 425 yards to 167, but the turnovers, which included a muffed punt return late by Carolina were 4-0.

Byrd is doubtful today with his foot injury.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Close wins elusive for Bills and Panthers

Posted by Chris Brown on September 15, 2013 – 8:47 am

The Bills and Panthers have not been close to reaching the playoffs the past two seasons. One of the biggest reasons why is both have been unable to pull out close games.

Since 2011, the two clubs haven’t had a lot of success in games determined by a touchdown or less. The Bills are 5-10 over that span including their Week 1 loss to New England.

Carolina has been even worse. The Panthers are just 3-12 in games decided by a touchdown or less since 2011.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Spy Cam?

Posted by Chris Brown on September 14, 2013 – 10:20 am

With the running threat that Cam Newton can be the Bills will have to be mindful of the read option plays, something that Buffalo’s defense has had trouble with in the past.

Seattle’s Russell Wilson victimized the Bills in 2012 with the read option and Buffalo’s defense had a measure of trouble with the read option plays run by Pat White in the preseason game against Washington a few weeks ago. The question is whether or not to put a spy on Newton.

It appeared that the Seahawks used MLB Bobby Wagner as a spy at times in the Week 1 game between Seattle and Carolina. Newton had just five carries for 38 yards against a pretty athletic linebacking corps for Seattle.

We asked head coach Doug Marrone if spying Newton has been a popular tactic of Carolina’s previous opponents.

“Athletically anyone you put in there to spy on him you’re going to be in trouble,” said Marrone. “I think he can beat that matchup. Not to say that we won’t look at that and give away some plans. He’s a very, very good quarterback I don’t ever want to lose sight of that. But he’s also an outstanding athlete.”



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Posted in Inside the Bills

CB Josh Thomas to start vs. Bills Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on September 13, 2013 – 1:18 pm

He gave up the game-winning touchdown pass to the Seahawks last week in Carolina’s Week 1 loss to Seattle, but CB Josh Thomas will remain in the Panthers starting lineup on defense.

That according to the Charlotte Observer, who quoted Panthers head coach Ron Rivera as saying the following about the University at Buffalo alum.

“It was one bad play,” Rivera said. “Hopefully, it doesn’t become two.”

Carolina doesn’t have too many other options. Fourth corner James Dockery is out Sunday with a thumb injury. Josh Norman is the Panthers’ nickel corner, but he lines up outside and kicks starting corner Captain Munnerlyn to the slot.

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LB Beason probable for Panthers

Posted by Chris Brown on September 13, 2013 – 1:04 pm

The Carolina Panthers don’t look as though they’ll be missing any key starters that appeared on their injury report. LB Jon Beason did not practice Thursday with a knee problem, but practiced fully on Friday and is listed as probable for Sunday’s game against the Bills.

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said that Beason would be limited to 25-35 snaps in Sunday’s game according to the Charlotte Observer.

Here’s the full Carolina injury report.

Out for Sunday
RB Kenjon Barner – foot
CB James Dockery – thumb

DT Dwan Edwards – thigh
TE Ben Hartsock – foot
LB Jon Beason – knee
WR Domenik Hixon – hamstring
S Mike Mitchell – calf
G Amini Silatolu – hamstring

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Lewis doing his best Cam Newton

Posted by Chris Brown on September 12, 2013 – 4:35 pm

Cam Newton is a unique quarterback. Not many signal callers that stand 6’5″ 245 pounds can move like he can, especially when he takes off to run. Buffalo has employed a pretty mobile quarterback on their roster to emulate the Panthers franchise QB.

Practice squad QB Thad Lewis, an athlete himself, has been imitating Newton on Buffalo’s scout team offense all week.

“That’s what you have to do to give the guys the looks,” Lewis told “Basically running the option and giving them the best look possible. We’re trying to do everything he does so the defense can be ready for Sunday.”

Typically even the offensive players on Buffalo’s practice squad watch and study the defensive film of their upcoming opponent so they’re prepared in the event of an emergency call up that week. But Lewis found some additional Carolina film waiting for him on his I-Pad.

“When I went to look at Carolina defensive film on my I-Pad I saw that there was some Carolina offense in there too,” said Lewis. “So I watched Cam a little bit to get a feel for how he moves because you want to prepare the guys as best you can. So there was a little multi-tasking this week.”

Lewis knows right now being the best Cam Newton this week is the way he can make the best contribution to the team’s success on Sunday.

“It’s not hard. You read the cards and go,” he said. “Then just basically try to do all the little things right with the reads and the option so our defense is ready.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

1,600 tickets left for Sunday’s game

Posted by Chris Brown on September 11, 2013 – 10:05 am

The Bills Week 2 matchup with Carolina on Sunday still has tickets available. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon laid out the numbers and plan for this week with the blackout deadline approaching on Thursday at 1 pm.

“We do have some tickets to move,” said Brandon, who appeared on the Howard Simon show on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. “We have about 1,600 tickets left remaining for the game. The deadline is Thursday at 1 pm. Tickets are moving and we’re confident we’ll be able to get the game sold out.”

When asked if the team would buy out the remaining tickets to make it a sellout to get the game televised, Brandon said that won’t happen.

“No, the plan is to sell every ticket we can,” he said. “Our fans have done a great job stepping up, but we need to move through these tickets. We’ll be selling right through kickoff because we will have some visiting (team ticket) returns probably on Friday and Saturday. So we’ll have tickets right up to kickoff.”

When asked how confident he is in getting the game on TV, Brandon believes it will happen.

“I’m fairly confident,” he said. “Actually I’m more than fairly confident. I think we’ll get it done. The sales staff is doing an excellent job and the fans have done a good job the first couple of days this week and we’ve got a lot going on with the Wall of Fame ceremony Sunday as well.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills
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