1 – Hey Chris,
I love these Fan Fridays, and thank you if you get to reading and responding to my question. With Michael Buchanan is it a possibility that he plays defensive end like he did in college and I think in his first year, and moving Jerry Hughes back to line backer as he did some coverage as linebacker as he did is his first year of with the Colts, if I’m not mistaken. So to summarize. Is it possible for that exchange to occur with the possibility if this free agent signing?
Thank you Chris,
CB: Buchanan has lined up exclusively at defensive end since he’s been on the practice field with the Bills. He’s a long and angular player. I think Buchanan will be fortunate to make the 53-man roster knowing the depth Buffalo has on the defensive line. So unseating Jerry Hughes is a pretty big leap to make. That being said I do think Hughes could see some time as a stand-up OLB in some of Buffalo’s defensive looks, where he rushes the passer that way instead of as a traditional end.
2 – CB,
Most teams carry 4 offensive tackles. Right now the Bills have 3. Do you see them signing someone? I assume they hope Cyrus can be their swing tackle or push Henderson. How many guards do you expect to make the roster. Rex wants to keep Urbik but they are very high in numbers (Williams, Richardson, others). They can’t keep all these guys. I hope John Miller wins the job. What your idea of the the line/backups will fare out?
CB: The Bills have a fourth OT in Tyson Chandler an undrafted rookie. There isn’t much on the free agent market in terms of proven talent. I do believe the Bills will try to add a fifth tackle at least for training camp. They need numbers there for reps and in the event of an injury. Knowing how thin the veteran free agent market is it’ll probably be a young player if it happens.
As for guards I think they keep three true guards and Kraig Urbik, who is a center and guard.
3 – Chris,
I appreciate the excellent reporting you provide for all of us Bills fans in Nevada.
How serious was Matt Cassel’s injury and where does he stand in his rehab?
Is there the potential for the tutoring that EJ is receiving from Steve DeBerg to be in conflict with what David Lee will teaching him?
Will coach Ryan or Thurmond be calling the plays on game day?
Hank from Boulder City, NV
CB: Thanks for the kind words. Cassel’s foot injury was a very serious one last season. He is fully cleared to practice and insists his foot is fine. I think when we get closer to game speed in the preseason it’s something to keep an eye on. I’m not saying that because of anything I’ve seen in OTAs. I’m saying that because we know QBs are untouchable in the training camp setting, so in the preseason if he takes a hit or two on that foot it will bear watching to see how it holds up.
As for EJ’s tutoring from Steve DeBerg they did focus on throwing motion, release point and footwork, so I suppose there is a chance that DeBerg’s teachings could conflict with that of Bills QBs coach David Lee. I don’t anticipate there being any major differences however, between the two coaches where it would set Manuel back because the biggest focus was making his throwing motion more compact. Manuel had a bit of wind-up last year and needed to shorten it up. I’m confident David Lee likely came to a similar conclusion watching Manuel’s 2014 tape.
Finally, as it’s been explained to me, Rex Ryan will call the defensive plays on game day.
4 – Chris,
Thanks for all of the excellent year-round Bills coverage. Knowing that the Bills have been among the league leaders the last couple of years in having to play teams off a bye week or extra rest, how does the schedule look this year in regards to that? How many games do the Bills face an opponent coming off a bye or three extra days of rest due to a Thursday night game? Also, do the Bills face any division opponents coming off extra rest?
R.J. Rome, NY
CB: The situation is a bit better for the Bills facing opponents coming off extra rest, but not by much. Buffalo has three games against opponents who will be coming off extra rest. The unfortunate part is they’re all clumped together in the first five weeks of the season, and yes one is against a division opponent.
In Week 2 the Bills will host the Patriots, who will be coming off an extra three days rest by virtue of their season opening Thursday night game against Pittsburgh.
In Week 4 they host the Giants, who will be coming off a Thursday night game in Week 3 and will also have three extra days of rest before facing the Bills.
In Week 5 Buffalo travels to Tennessee to face the Titans, who will have a full extra week to prepare coming off a Week 4 bye.
In Week 15 Dallas will technically have an extra day of rest going into their game against Buffalo because they play Saturday in Week 14, but that will be somewhat negated by the fact that the Cowboys have to travel to Buffalo. So in essence it’s three games.
Washington leads the league this year with five games against opponents with extra rest.
Buffalo has two games against opponents where they’ll have the extra rest and both are against division opponents (Week 9 vs. Miami, Week 11 at New England). Of course in between those two games is a Thursday night road game at the Jets.
Three straight games against division opponents is not a good draw at all, especially when the first two will be played in a four day span (Week 9 vs. Miami, Week 10 at Jets – Thurs. night). Basically the Bills face all three division opponents in a stretch of 15 days with two of them on the road.
That’s probably more of a disadvantage than playing teams off extra rest because of the importance of those games in the AFC East standings. Of course they could be the Packers, who play four division games in a row from Week 10 to Week 13. Ugh.
5 – Hi Chris,
Just wondering what your thoughts are on one last years late round picks, Randell Johnson, and what his chances are of becoming a contributor? I didn’t hear much about him last year, but his instincts and tackling really stuck out to me last summer in the preseason. Now that a lot people are saying LB is a need I’m wondering if he can possibly fill it.
CB: I believe the coaching staff is hoping he can provide some valuable depth at linebacker, and they’re giving him every opportunity to prove himself. Through the OTA practice sessions Johnson has largely run with the second unit at outside linebacker. His length (6-4, 245) is perfect for a 3-4 front. Defensive coordinators look for long body types there.
There is a lot to process in this defense and I feel like he’s working his way through it. Right now I don’t see anyone really pushing him for that outside spot on the second unit, but that could change come training camp. Knowing his assignments well enough to just freely run and hit will be beneficial to his game.
Tags: Bills 2015 schedule, Fan Friday, Matt Cassel, Michael Buchanan, Randell Johnson
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills newest DE Michael Buchanan got his first practice in on Wednesday with his new Buffalo teammates. He got some time with the second unit at defensive end as he begins to get a handle on the playbook. Head coach Rex Ryan explained why Buchanan was an appealing player for their defensive scheme.
“He’s a guy that’s got length, he’s got some pass rush ability,” said Ryan. “In our system he can be flexible. We’re looking for a guy who can compete to be the backup behind Jerry Hughes in particular. I think he has that. He has some pass rush ability and it’s kind of a—a guy has to have pass rush ability, drop ability, and length, and that’s hard to find—but he has those things. The young man will be given an opportunity here.”
Tags: Michael Buchanan, Rex Ryan
Posted in Inside the Bills
The Bills signed DE/LB Michael Buchanan on Tuesday, less than a week after he made a free agent visit. Buchanan, a former seventh-round pick of the Patriots in 2013, has appeared in 18 career games. Here’s how his playing time for New England breaks down.
Buchanan saw more time on New England’s defense in 2013 than last season. As a rookie he logged 122 snaps on defense for the Patriots serving primarily as a pass rusher off the edge. In fact 87 percent of his defensive snaps were in a pass rushing situation according to Pro Football Focus.
He was used in a pass coverage role just three percent of the time and run defense about 10 percent of the time. Buchanan also contributed five tackles on special teams in 2013.
Come 2014 his playing time dwindled considerably due mainly to a season-ending injury that allowed him to play in just three games. He was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 7th last season. He saw just 25 snaps on defense all season with a balanced role being used on run and pass downs. His time on special teams was also compromised by the injury.
Buchanan is likely to be used to as an edge defender in Buffalo’s 3-4 looks. His measurables fit that profile at 6-6 and 255 pounds. It will be interesting to see him develop in a system that might be just the right fit.
Tags: Michael Buchanan, NFL free agency
Posted in Inside the Bills