Inside The Bills

Bruce: Sack record will stand for some time

Posted by Chris Brown on May 12, 2016 – 9:43 am

Bills Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, whose number will be retired at the home opener this fall, is the league’s all-time sack leader with 200 in his career. Even though the NFL has become much more of a passing league, with many quarterbacks now getting rid of the ball in about 2.5 seconds Smith’s record is likely to hold up for the foreseeable future.

Smith agreed with that assessment in an appearance on the John Murphy Show.

“I think that record will stand for quite some time, but we are in a different age of football. This has become a passing league now. It was a much more balanced attack when I was in the league,” said Smith. “They pass first and run second. They’re passing the ball about 20-30 percent more, so it’s giving guys more of an opportunity to get more sacks. We’ll just have to see guys have the longevity and stay healthy enough to have a long, productive and fruitful career to get far enough to come close to 200 sacks.”

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Bruce: No real significance of No. 78 for me

Posted by Chris Brown on May 11, 2016 – 3:09 pm

With the news of Bruce Smith’s No. 78 to be retired at the team’s home opener on Sept. 15th, Smith was asked if he chose to wear 78 for any special reason.

Smith explained there wasn’t any significant tie to the number and that he came to wear more on happenstance than anything else.

“Well it wasn’t any really, I would say headline stories about how I picked out 78,” Smith said. “I know I wore number 70 in high school and then when I got to Virginia Tech I decided to go with the No. 78 and from that point I just fell in love with and I wanted to make that number special. Obviously with hard work, dedication, and commitment, and overcoming adversity, and a number of other factors obviously if you put your mind to something you can accomplish it.”

Posted in Inside the Bills

The 2 people who whipped Bruce into shape

Posted by Chris Brown on May 11, 2016 – 3:04 pm

As a rookie, Bills Hall of Famer Bruce Smith was a doughy defensive end, who thought his ability was good enough to get away with it. That is until a Bills teammate got on his case about his fitness level, along with someone from his alma mater at Virginia Tech.

Bills Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy relayed a story about the two people who helped to change Smith’s approach to the game.

“In his early years even though he was a number one pick in the draft and so much was expected. He was overweight, self-indulgent, didn’t have great practice habits, all of those things,” said Levy. “Two people had quite an impact on turning him around.

“One was his coveted teammate Darryl Talley, who really sort of gave him that proverbial kick in the butt to get going. But the other in the offseason I understand he went back to Virginia Tech to finish his degree, which was good. There he met a woman counselor who put him on the right track in every respect. Boy he dropped weight with the urgings of her and Darryl. Shaped up and got ready, his principles changed.

“He not only turned out to be the greatest player, he married that woman, what a wife she was, his wife Carmen. So those people had great impact on him. What a change in his practice habits, his excitement about playing the game, all of those things occurred.”

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Brandon on Thurman’s 34: Stay tuned

Posted by Chris Brown on May 11, 2016 – 9:06 am

With today’s announcement by Bills team President Russ Brandon that the club will be retiring Bruce Smith’s No. 78 in a halftime ceremony at the Bills home opener, he was naturally asked about whether Thurman Thomas’ No. 34 could be next in line.

“Stay tuned,” said Brandon in an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. “Today we’re celebrating Bruce, but obviously everyone knows Thurman’s place and it’ll be interesting to see what happens with that number down the road, but you can read between the lines.”

Right now only Jim Kelly’s No. 12 is retired. Smith’s 78 will follow in September. Thomas sounds likely to follow soon after.


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Bills HOF’er & Pro Bowler to announce day 2 picks

Posted by Chris Brown on April 28, 2016 – 5:00 pm

The Bills will have one of their Hall of Famers and one of their 2015 Pro Bowlers at the lectern in Chicago Friday night to announced their day 2 draft picks.

Bruce Smith will be announcing Buffalo’s second-round pick Friday night. He’ll be followed by Bills Pro Bowl center Eric Wood, who will announced the team’s third-round pick.


Both Smith (1985) and Wood (2009) were former first-round selections of the Bills.

Smith was the first overall pick in 1985.

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How Andre’s stage dive almost injured Kelly

Posted by Chris Brown on February 3, 2014 – 5:41 pm

Andre Reed was naturally excited about being named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2014. He was even more excited to see his teammates Saturday night. Fellow Hall of Famers Bruce Smith and Jim Kelly were in attendance at the NFL Honors show and they attended the press conference after the show was over where the Hall of Famers were introduced.

“When I finally found out from Bruce and when it was over and they announced the Hall of Famers and Andre came out and me and Bruce were up front,” said Kelly on WGR Sportsradio 550. “Andre saw us and jumped off the stage right on me and I’m like, ‘Ohhhh my back?!’”

Kelly has had a couple of back surgeries the past couple of years, and his back was not in any shape to withstand a stage dive. Reed admitted he was a little over exuberant.

“I know when I came out at the NFL Honors thing I saw Bruce and Jim and Marv Levy,” Reed told “Out of the whole crowd those were the first people I saw. My guys. I came off and I jumped on Jim and I almost hurt his back. I forgot he had back surgery and I jumped on him.”

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Congrats from Andre’s teammates & coach

Posted by Chris Brown on February 1, 2014 – 8:06 pm

Here’s a rundown of some of the congratulations that Andre Reed received tonight for his selection as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2014 from his former teammates and coach all of whom are Hall of Famers themselves.

“What a thrilling evening it is,” said Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy. “How overwhelmed and proud I am of Andre. How deserving he was to now be a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Great player, great individual, great team man. How fortunate I was that I can say that I got to coach Andre Reed. I wish him well, him and all his family. I know how exultant he has to feel.”

“Congratulations to my Hall of Fame brother Andre Reed. Class of 2014,” said Hall of Famer Bruce Smith.

“Andre Reed, yeah! It’s about time you got in,” said Hall of Famer Jim Kelly. “You deserved to be in a long time ago, but sometimes good things just have to wait. I love you man, we’re going to have some fun.”

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Mario on pace with select sack company

Posted by Chris Brown on January 31, 2014 – 9:12 am

Today (Friday) is Mario Williams’ 29th birthday. The former number one pick in the 2006 NFL draft has rolled up 76.5 sacks through his first eight seasons. Taking a look at where those career sacks rank among some of the best sack artists in NFL history, Williams looks like he has a shot at finishing among the best in league annals if he can stay healthy.

The Bills media relations department complied the number of sacks each player listed tallied before they turned 29 and then the second column is the sacks each player tallied the first full season after they turned 29. Hall of Famer Reggie White was way out in front of some of the other sack leaders early in his career and his production continued in his first season after turning 29 as did Bruce Smith.

Michael Strahan clearly had the most successful season as a 29-year old as he holds the single-season sack record with 22.5.

Player Sacks Before Age 29 Sacks Season After 29
Bruce Smith



Reggie White



Kevin Greene



Chris Doleman



Michael Strahan



Mario Williams



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Bruce sees playoffs for Bills in 2014

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2014 – 3:02 pm

Bills Hall of Fame DE Bruce Smith has been making the rounds at ESPN today (Wednesday) and participated in an online chat with fans. The NFL’s all-time sack leader believes Buffalo’s playoff drought will reach its conclusion this fall.

Here’s the question and answer Smith submitted this afternoon on the ESPN chat.

Kurt (Buff)
Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuce. What is your quick assessment on the state of the Bills?

Bruce Smith
I think the state of the Bills right now is that they’re heading in a positive direction. As this team grows together. As EJ gets more experience, I think they will be able to make a strong run to the playoffs, as early as next year. One of the things that I found was very similar to back in ’87, we were losing a lot of games by 3 points or less. That’s what happened to the Bills this year. The next year we started winning those games by 3 points. Then the next year we started blowing teams out. If they can keep growing and keep adding players to the puzzle, good things will happen.

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Bruce Smith: Bills current D-Line is best ever

Posted by Chris Brown on October 10, 2013 – 6:55 pm

Bills Hall of Famer Bruce Smith appeared on ‘Inside the NFL’ earlier this week and was asked about the state of the Bills, his relationship with EJ Manuel and just how good he believes Buffalo’s defensive line might be.

Smith surprisingly said he believes Buffalo’s current defensive line is the best in franchise history. Watch.

‘Inside the NFL’ airs every Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Showtime.

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Mario in elite Bills sack company

Posted by Chris Brown on October 5, 2013 – 1:11 pm

Mario Williams is off to a fast start this season when it comes to sacks. So fast that he’s on a franchise-best pace.

Through the first five games this season Williams has 7.5 sacks, which is the highest total through the first fives games in team history.

Bruce Smith had 7.0 in 1994, which was the previous best in a season’s first five games.

The Bills defense as a whole has 18.0 sacks and trail only the team’s 1997 defense (19.0 sacks) for the most through the first five games of a season.

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Manuel on seeing Bruce’s HOF bust

Posted by Chris Brown on June 27, 2013 – 1:57 pm

Bills QB EJ Manuel commented on seeing his godfather’s bust at the Pro Football Hall of Fame this week as part of the NFL Rookie Symposium program. Here’s what he had to say.

“I remember first seeing his bust when it was sitting on his kitchen table a summer ago,” said Manuel. “That was incredible to see it and I took a bunch of pictures with it. Now to see it here in the Hall of Fame amongst these other busts and great names that I’ve seen on NFL Films over the years. It’s awesome and it puts a lot of it in perspective.”


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EJ checks godfather’s bust at HOF

Posted by Chris Brown on June 26, 2013 – 11:12 am

Bills QB EJ Manuel is at the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the NFL Rookie Symposium and he took the time to check out his godfather’s HOF bust in Canton.

Manuel’s godfather is Bills Hall of Fame DE Bruce Smith.

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Mario: Condolences to Deacon Jones family

Posted by Chris Brown on June 4, 2013 – 12:28 pm

Bills DE Mario Williams was paying his respects to Hall of Fame DE Deacon Jones, who passed Monday at age 74.

Bills Hall of Fame DE Bruce Smith also reflected on his relationship with Jones as a friend and mentor.

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Virginia based NFL’ers like EJ plentiful

Posted by Chris Brown on May 3, 2013 – 8:47 am

EJ Manuel is just the latest in a long line of NFL players that hail from the Tidewater region of Virginia. As we profiled on the home page of, Manuel is following a few generations of premier athletes that grew up playing on the same fields that he did as a kid. Here’s a list of just some of the more notable names from the NFL who hailed from the so called Seven Cities.

NFL players from Tidewater, Virginia area
Antoine Bethea
Ahmad Bradshaw
Plaxico Burress
Kenny Easley
Charlie Garner
DeAngelo Hall
Thomas Jones
Jerod Mayo
Herman Moore
Darren Perry
Darren Sharper
Bruce Smith
Shawn Springs
Lawrence Taylor
Al Toon
Michael Vick
Damien Woody

In the NBA you’ve got the likes of Allen Iverson and Alonzo Mourning and in baseball there’s B.J. and Justin Upton as well as David Wright. Even in boxing you’ve Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker.

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Manuel has connection with Bruce Smith

Posted by johnmurphyshow on April 12, 2013 – 8:45 pm

Florida State QB E.J. Manuel has worked out for the Bills coaching staff in a private session. And he visited One Bills Drive a couple of weeks ago. But his connections with the Bills franchise don’t end there.

Manuel is a product of Virginia Beach, Virginia, the same hometown as Bills Hall of Famer Bruce Smith. And Manuel says he’s had a longstanding relationship with Smith over the years.

“Bruce is basically my godfather,” Manuel said Friday night, in an appearance on The John Murphy Show. “I’ve known him since I was pretty much a baby. He’s been very involved in this process and when I was in college, giving me a lot of things, and telling me just to enjoy the process.”

The process has been lengthy for Manuel, starting with his work as the Offensive MVP at the Senior Bowl in January, continuing with a strong showing at the Combine in Feburary, and then private workouts and pre-draft visits to several teams, including the Bills.

But he tells host John Murphy he’s looking forward to the payoff–being introduced by Roger Goodell as a first round draft pick on April 25th. He’s one of 23-players invited to attend the draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

“That was one of the bigger goals for me going into this pre-draft process, to get the opportunity to be at Radio City Music Hall for the draft,” he said. “And whenever my name is called, to get a chance to go up and shake Roger Goodell’s hand, that will be a memorable time in my life. I may still be wiping tears from my face, I’m so excited about it.”

Manuel is also excited that his mother, who has been battling cancer, will be able to attend the draft in New York in two weeks.

“She’ll be there,” he said on the radio show. “She still has to get radiation. She’s been working the last two or three weeks and she’s doing a lot better. I’m extremely proud of my mom.”

The entire interview with QB E.J. Manuel is available at\johnmurphyshow

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Carrington ties Bruce Smith

Posted by Chris Brown on December 19, 2012 – 3:09 pm


Bills DT Alex Carrington, who was dubbed ‘Megahand’ by Stevie Johnson after his crucial field goal in the overtime win at Arizona, has now been credited with a third blocked kick this season after a scoring change in last week’s game.

The blocked extra point attempt by the Seahawks last week was originally credited to Marcell Dareus, but has been changed and credited to Carrington. That is his third blocked kick this season making Carrington the first Bills players since Bruce Smith in 1996 to block three kicks in one season.

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Mario: missed tackles cost us

Posted by Chris Brown on October 2, 2012 – 1:56 pm

After reviewing the game tape on Monday DE Mario Williams cited one area of the defensive effort that was sorely lacking in the loss to the Patriots.

Appearing on the Bruce Smith show by phone down in Virginia Beach, Williams pointed to the team’s inconsistent tackling as a big culprit in being unable to stop the Patriots’ offense in the second half.

“After watching film we had good success in the first half. We got off the field without giving them a touchdown and they missed a couple of field goals,” Williams said. “In the second half we didn’t handle the four turnovers very well. When there’s a turnover we have to respond to those sudden changes and aid the offense it’s a team game. When there’s a sudden change we have to go out and execute.

“Those 28 points off turnovers are on us. We have to answer the bell and stop their momentum. That’s something that we didn’t do. For whatever reason we had the most missed tackles in a game this season. In fact there were more than in the first three games combined. We also weren’t in the proper gaps and not playing the scheme right across the board.”

Williams said when the Bills defense started having trouble stopping the Patriots, some guys tried to do too much on defense in an effort to make a play and compromised the scheme as a result.

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Fan Friday 7-27

Posted by Chris Brown on July 27, 2012 – 11:05 am

Alright Bills fans, training camp is underway! Time to get to your questions from, and keep them coming. You can also fire off questions to @chrisbrownbills on twitter if that’s easier. Let’s get going.

1 – Chris,

I understand that Mario Williams is going to do fine in the new 4-3 scheme being installed in Buffalo, but can any comparison be made to how Jason Taylor was used in Miami under Wannstedt?  If so, can you break down how you see him being used and what type of scheme Miami used with Taylor.  Were they just turning Taylor loose to use his ability?  How did the other players on that Miami front 7 compare to the ones in Buffalo?
Rochester, NY

CB: The only real similarity between Jason Taylor and Mario Williams is their height. Both are 6’6”, but as far as body type, style of game and fit in a defense they’re vastly different. Williams at 292 pounds is an Adonis that has uncharacteristic athletic ability for his size. Though he has good speed around the edge, he has a great power game as well. Add in his solid run stopping ability and he really is the total package.

Taylor was a pass rusher first and foremost and did what he could to help against the run, but he played about 50 pounds lighter than Williams.

If anyone on Buffalo’s roster has a role similar to that of Jason Taylor I would expect it to be Mark Anderson. Wannstedt feels Anderson’s quick feet are comparable to those of Taylor, and he’s lining up on the same side of the formation at right defensive end.

So if you’re looking for a pass rusher that’s going to do similar things I’d tell you to watch Anderson.


2 – Chris,
 Once again, thanks for the work you do.  Simple question, I always hear the team talk about how different Stevie runs his routes. Can you explain what makes him different? How hard is it for a receiver with a “different” style of running to make it in the NFL, is Fitz just that kind of QB who can handle what other QB’s cant? I guess just over all what makes Stevie special at his position?
displaced fan in AZ 

CB: What makes Stevie unique is his route running. For decades most receivers focus on the precision of their routes to make their cuts as sharp as possible to gain the necessary separation. The thought being if my routes are as sharp as they can be every single time, I give myself a better chance to gain separation and make a play.

Of course that precision in some ways can also become predictable, making a receiver easier to read and scout and prepare for in a given game.

Stevie is the exact opposite of precision. The way he runs routes is very unconventional. When he runs a comeback or a dig it’s very rarely the same route twice. Johnson uses stutter steps, hesitation, shoulder fakes, side steps and just about every other trick in his bag to gain separation and make a play.

Fortunately for him he has a head coach that’s only concerned that he get to the spot where he’s supposed to be on time. He doesn’t care how he gets there, just as long as he does when the ball is arriving in his timing-oriented offense.

So Stevie has the freedom to improvise his routes so long as they stay within the framework of the offensive system.

This is confounding to defensive backs, even some of the best (See: Revis) because there is no effective way to prepare for Johnson. Rarely does he run a route the same way twice over the course of several weeks let alone a single game. So it’s almost impossible for cornerbacks to anticipate what is coming putting them at a distinct disadvantage.


3 – Chris,
How does Mario Williams compare to Bruce Smith?


CB: That is not as easy a question as it sounds. I think the two were both physical freaks. Uncommonly athletic for men their size while also possessing an unnatural amount of strength. As talented as Mario Williams is he’s got an awful lot more to do in this league to measure up to the all-time sack leader, but there aren’t many other defensive ends over the last 25 years that can match the rare physical abilities of both men.

Lawrence Taylor is one of the few that come to mind.


4 – Chris,

How do you see the cornerback position shaking out? Will they start Gilmore and McGee (if healthy) or might they go with Williams regardless of McGee’s health? Do you believe McKelvin is expendable with Rogers and Brooks pushing hard from behind? Would they keep just 5? Is there anybody on the roster right now who might crack into the top 6 (Gilmore, Williams, McGee, Rogers, McKelvin, Brooks) and push another out? Thanks for your time!

Chris in Binghamton
CB: I think Terrence McGee has some ground to cover in his return from a torn patellar tendon. He’s got some time, but not a lot. The problem with his situation is they can’t wait on McGee very long because if he can’t play effectively they have to make sure they have Aaron Williams ready to start.

As I see it McGee is the only guy that can overtake Williams at left cornerback with Gilmore a virtual lock to start from day one at right cornerback. Leodis McKelvin looks like a guy they want to move inside to the slot for the nickel package.

I like Justin Rogers’ skill set and believe he could be a bigger contributor this year, but covering slot receivers might be the best fit for him. So against four wide sets he could cover the other slot receiver assuming McKelvin is the primary slot defender.

I think Brooks also makes the roster. He’s a top flight physical talent and in my mind has the fastest feet of all the corners. I want to see how he holds up though when the pads go on because he is not the biggest guy. Those are your top 6 and yes, I think keeping six is a distinct possibility with another likely on the practice squad.


5 – Chris,

If Shawne Merriman returns to form (or even gets close to it) and has a productive season for the Bills this season, will Buddy Nix try offering him a contract extension? Thanks! 

Fredericksburg, VA

CB: I think the Bills have a lot of decisions to make on a bunch of players heading into contract years. Most notably Andy Levitre, Jairus Byrd and Kraig Urbik. David Nelson is also a restricted free agent. Those players, who all have a longer career in front of them than Merriman, are likely to get priority when it comes to extensions.

If Merriman is productive I would anticipate the Bills trying to keep him, but it’s not a one player decision.

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Talley’s College HOF induction day

Posted by Chris Brown on July 21, 2012 – 9:10 am

Bills Wall of Famer Darryl Talley is going to see his college football career enshrined for all time later today (Saturday).

The former emotional leader of the famed Bills defenses of the early 90’s is part of the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame induction class for his exploits at West Virginia University. Several of his former teammates, including Bruce Smith who played against him in college, felt the honor was well deserved.

Among the other more notable members of the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame class going in with Talley are Eddie George (Ohio State), Marty Lyons (Alabama), Russell Maryland (Miami), Deion Sanders (Florida St.) and Will Shields (Nebraska).

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