Inside The Bills

Houston has up tempo card to play

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 8:47 am

After last week’s inability to mount a comeback in their loss to the Chargers, Bills fans are wondering about Buffalo’s formula for winning games. The Texans have much the same approach to winning as the Bills, but last week they too could not come back from a 14-point halftime deficit losing 30-17 to the Giants. However, they did unveil a pretty effective part of their offense that they’re likely to make use of again.

The Texans rolled up a team record 328 yards in the second half against the Giants, but they only outscored New York over the final two quarters by a point (17-16) in what became a 13-point loss.

What led to all that yardage was Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien choosing to go to a no-huddle offense. As soon as he did Ryan Fitzpatrick staged a pair of scoring drives on back-to-back possessions. The problem was he didn’t turn to it until the fourth quarter.

In the second half, Fitzpatrick played well, going 16-of-21 passing for 250 yards and a touchdown as well as running for a touchdown.

If Buffalo does get ahead of Houston in this one the Texans may pull that card out of their hand a bit sooner Sunday.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Up tempo will be used when time is right

Posted by Chris Brown on September 16, 2014 – 11:26 am

Over the first two games this season the Bills have not cracked the 60-play mark on offense. The Bills had 56 plays on offense in Week 1 and 59 last Sunday. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has the ability to turn up the tempo of the offense at a moment’s notice, but head coach Doug Marrone has chosen to take a more methodical approach on offense the first two weeks. It’s hard to argue with the results. Marrone shed some more light on his plans regarding offensive tempo the first two weeks.

“I think it’s the way the games have gone,” he said. “We’ve had our no huddle packages in both games. It’s just a matter of picking and choosing, strategically, when we want to use them. There was a point where we were going to use it (last Sunday), but, at that time, we felt it was better to slow it down because the defense was on the field for a little bit. We have it in and I think we’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

In Week 1 with a high-powered offense like Chicago’s there was no point in going fast because it would provide the Bears attack with more possession as well. In Week 2, the Dolphins, who have an up tempo capability with their offense as well cranked up the tempo in the third quarter and had a pair of very long drives, which put 10 points on the board. The Bills still had the lead, and their defense needed a break, so speeding up the tempo with their offense was not the play at that point in time.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-22

Posted by Chris Brown on August 22, 2014 – 12:53 pm

The preseason is winding down. Almost time for the real stuff. Let’s get to your latest round of questions from email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – When are the Bills going to address Spiller’s contract?  Is he going to be another Bills 1st rounder they don’t sign and let them leave?

Steve Lehmann
Life-long Bills fan in Charlotte, NC

CB: The current issue concerning Spiller and opening discussions on a new contract is he is currently without representation. The Bills’ back does not have an agent right now and GM Doug Whaley stated recently that the club will wait until Spiller has secured proper representation before approaching him to negotiate a possible extension.


2 – Hey Chris,
Of course us Bills fans are constantly hearing a lot about EJ Manuel in training camp and his “ups and downs”.  The one term I hear used a lot is that he is patting the ball before he throws it.  I read that this can give the defender an extra step because when they see that they know he’s about to throw and it’s likely going to be in their lane. But I also read that it doesn’t always have a negative effect and in fact Drew Bledsoe was known to have a very quick release even though he pat the ball. I’ve also read that this is so the QB can make sure that the ball is secured in their hand before they throw it. Do you think this is something that EJ has to work on and do you think it is affecting his game in a negative way?

Also, a lot has been said about him not being able to read the field and get through his progressions.  Depending on who you listen to some say that’s something you have or you don’t.  But I think that he just needs more time and game time experience and maybe the experience will allow him to get used to the speed of the NFL.  I am interested in your thoughts.

Thanks always, Jillian

CB: There’s no denying that there have been times that EJ has patted the ball or hesitated to pull the trigger. I think all young quarterbacks go through that as part of their learning curve. I will say that Manuel is doing less of it now than he was at the start of training camp.

The patting of the ball is not the concern as much as does EJ trust what he’s seeing unfold around him? Over the past week or so the answer has been unequivocally yes. Now that doesn’t mean that EJ is going to start lighting it up every week on the field, but there is noticeable progress.

We’ll just have to wait and see how more time on the field in games brings his personal game along.

3 – Hello Chris,

Great coverage. I enjoy your analytical approach to our Buffalo Bills. Speaking of just that, I noticed that the Bills were #1 on fumbles last season at 32 according to The data that I saw had:

Combined Fumbles:
Spiller/Jackson at 10
E.J./Lewis/Tuel at 8
Goodwin/Graham/Johnson/Chandler at 6

I couldn’t account for the remainder so I am not terribly confident about the 32 fumbles. I don’t hear much conversation around that stat by reporters (if it’s correct). I would think that with the loss of Byrd and his take away ability that the coaches and media would make that a point of extreme emphasis in achieving a better giveaway/takeaway ratio, which is one of the keys in winning in the NFL.

Color me confused,
Alan from Northeastern NY

CB: To provide a clear picture of the fumble numbers from last season here are all the statistics. First, yes the Bills did have 32 fumbles in 2013 and that did lead the league. However, only 12 of those fumbles resulted in turnovers. That ranked sixth-most in the league.

Part of the reason there were so many fumbles was because the Bills had the most total rushes in the NFL (546). The more plays you have, in general the more fumbles you’re going to have.

Now all that being said the Bills still ranked first in the percentage of fumbles per touch (1.97%). There were only five other teams in the league with a percentage over 1.7 percent (Was., Oak., Sea., Ten., NYG).

So you’re right it is a legitimate concern. Really what it comes down to is ball security, having the proper points of pressure on the ball with your forearm, ribs and fingers and carrying it high and tight. When I get a chance I’ll see if coach Wheatley has any extra insight on it based on last season’s numbers.

4 – Chris,

As usual, thank you for the outstanding coverage from you and your staff, especially for those of us outside of NY State.

My question: The first 2 preseason games, I’ve noticed the offense has predominantly used the standard “huddle” before running plays. Gone is the no huddle or hurry up Offense that we’ve heard was going to be the norm. The Bills ran 64 total plays against the Giants 61 and 63 against Carolinas 69. A difference of -3 for both games. Will the Bills be scrapping the hurry up offense this year?  Thank you.

Pismo Beach, CA

CB: I have faith that the Bills will run their no huddle on offense this season. I don’t think you should expect it to be deployed on ever series of every game. Yes, they do want to go fast and I think there’s a good chance we see some of it on Saturday night against Tampa Bay, but Doug Marrone has said it will be slowed down or sped up based on game situations and on game plans for the particular opponent they’re facing that week.

Quite frankly that makes the most sense. For example, if you’re facing a club with a top five scoring offense, going fast for the whole game might not be the way to go knowing you run the risk of giving their top flight offense more possessions and the potential to score more points too.
5 – Hey Chris,

After the performance by Ron Brooks in the Carolina game, I’m wondering if the Bills are thinking of possibly moving Leodis. Brooks seems to have turned the corner, but he’d be corner #6 on the roster. Do you see him making the roster or getting unfortunately cut?

Tommy in the Pittsford branch of #Billsmafia!

CB: Brooks has had his best camp to date in his career with Buffalo. He was very consistent and got a lot of quality reps with Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin slow to return to the team portions of practice in camp coming off of hip surgeries.

Brooks is essentially running as the fourth cornerback behind Gilmore, McKelvin and Graham if you consider Nickell Robey strictly a slot corner. So right now he’s in the top five at cornerback with rookie Ross Cockrell the likely number 6. So I think Brooks is in great shape to make the roster at this point.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

When the Bills will slow tempo down

Posted by Chris Brown on September 9, 2013 – 8:37 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone effectively explained why his offense remained in their up tempo no huddle style late in the game. Clinging to a one-point lead he and his offensive staff felt they had to score more points to win the game and understandably so, knowing a one-point lead with almost five minutes on the clock is unlikely to stand up against the Patriots. So they remained in their no huddle attack. But there are times when the Bills will slow it down to eat up clock. Here’s when.

According to team captain Eric Wood, the Bills need to be up by a couple of touchdowns before they gear down their offense and focus on chewing up time on the game clock.

“I think you have to be up two scores to slow us down, that’s the strength of our deal,” said Wood. “We want to stay aggressive. Up one point, I don’t think we switch our offense. We were all on board for it. It wasn’t like we were second guessing it at any point. We wanted to go down and score touchdowns. Even looking back, they’re sitting on a knee at the end. It’s maybe one less knee they take because we still go three and out.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills near top in offensive plays

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2013 – 1:49 pm

Granted it was just one week of preseason games, but with all 32 teams now with a game under their belt, Buffalo’s new up tempo offense is leading to a sharp uptick in number of plays per game.

Last season the Bills averaged just 61.5 plays per game, good for 28th in the league. Problems with third down conversions naturally contributed to the issue, but Buffalo also rarely went no huddle with a defensive unit that had trouble stopping people. The league leader in offensive plays per game last year was New England at 74.8 plays per game. This year the Patriots will have company.

With Chip Kelly running the offense in Philadelphia and Nathaniel Hackett in Buffalo, the Eagles and Bills will likely eclipse New England’s league-leading average of a season ago. Their initial outings this past week serve as indication of that.

Philadelphia and Buffalo were first and second in the league this past week in number of plays run in their preseason games. The Eagles ran 86 plays in a loss to New England, while the Bills ran 85 plays in their win at Indianapolis. Below is a list of the top 10 offensive play totals from NFL clubs this past week.

1 – Philadelphia – 86
2 – Buffalo – 85
3 – New Orleans – 83
4 – Houston – 74
T5 – New England – 72
T5 – Cincinnati – 72
7 – Washington – 71
8 – Baltimore – 70
9 – Jacksonville – 69
10 – Detroit – 68

Not to defend Miami, but in the Hall of Fame game they did run 76 plays. This past week they ran just 64 plays.

In 2012 Kelly’s Oregon team ran 84 plays per game while Marrone and Hackett’s offense at Syracuse ran 79 plays per game.

On Sunday Buffalo ran 20 more offensive plays than Indianapolis in the victory.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

No huddle left on shelf Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on December 3, 2012 – 11:05 am

The Bills have had their share of slow starts on offense this season, which is why they had a tempo change planned for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville. But Buffalo never put that plan into action after posting a touchdown on their opening drive, in a rain soaked game where weather also was a factor.

Making his weekly Monday morning appearance on Bills flagship WGR Sportsradio 550, Chan Gailey admitted that the no huddle was a significant part of their offensive game plan for the Jaguars.

“We actually had our no huddle planned to go,” said Gailey. “We had worked on our no huddle, shotgun stuff and it was ready to go. But it didn’t work out that way. All of a sudden our running game is going and we had a lead and so you just keep pounding it.”

Gailey acknowledged that the weather was also a factor.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is excited to use no huddle at some point this season, as it was to be something they intended to turn to a decent amount this year.

“I think that’ll be great (when we use it),” Fitzpatrick said in his weekly WGR appearance. “It was something we talked about going in, definitely the first half the way the weather was it wasn’t going to be something we could use to our advantage so we held onto it. We’ll see where it goes as we go forward here and see who is healthy and who is not because with some of the injuries sometimes you stay away from that stuff and you want everybody on the same page.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

The year Chan ran no huddle all season

Posted by Chris Brown on August 16, 2012 – 8:18 am

As we covered in our front page story on, Chan Gailey calls the no huddle approach employed in the team’s first preseason game last week as just “an element” of their offense, not their identity. But at one time and for one entire season for Gailey the no huddle was all his offense knew.

“I know people don’t realize this, we were no huddle when I was in college in 1984,” Gailey told 

Gailey was the head coach at Troy University at the time, and the no huddle was extremely successful. It was also used all the time in every game for the entire season.

“On every snap of every game except the kickoff and field goals,” said Gailey. 

How successful was Gailey and his team? 

Troy won the Division II National Championship in an 18-17 victory over North Dakota State.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Jauron on no huddle future

Posted by Chris Brown on October 16, 2009 – 5:11 pm

Bills head coach Dick Jauron appeared on Sirius NFL Radio this afternoon with Rich Gannon and Adam Schein and he was asked about whether Buffalo’s no huddle attack will be scrapped moving forward. Here was his response.

“Well, we’ll look at everything as we go through this week and then we’ll see how things go in the game on Sunday,” said Jauron. “But we certainly have committed ourselves to that up to this point, but we’ll consider anything to help us win a football game.” 

Jauron clearly isn’t ruling out making such a change for Sunday’s game. After penalties were a big problem last week in a home game it’s hard not to think the offense will huddle up more in what is expected to be a hostile road environment.

Whether they go exclusively to huddling up remains to be seen.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

No huddle to be scuttled?

Posted by Chris Brown on October 14, 2009 – 5:52 pm

According to, the Bills will be tossing the no huddle out of their offense this week.

ProFootballTalk cites a “league source” for the story that head coach Dick Jauron has decided to do away with the no huddle, which the Bills have run the entire offseason, preseason and first five games of the regular season.

If the report is accurate, the decision likely was borne out of the offensive struggles that were only compounded by 11 offensive penalties including nine false starts.

Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt did comment on what needs to be done to be more successful on offense Wednesday.

“Eliminate the penalties is the first thing we start to concentrate on,” Van Pelt said. “And put more emphasis on the snap count, and then continue to do the things that we’ve done well, such as run the football.”

When asked what his message was to the offense this week he offered the following.

“Execute, simplify, execute, and make the plays when they are there,” he said. “As simple as that.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

No huddle takes on quicker pace

Posted by Chris Brown on August 16, 2009 – 4:09 am

The biggest story to come out of Buffalo’s second preseason game wasn’t the five takeaways by the defense. It was the noticeably increased tempo of Buffalo’s no huddle.

There were times where I looked down to jot down the play that just happened and by the time I looked up Edwards was snapping the next play. There were instances where there were just 10 seconds of real time between plays. It was decidedly faster than it was in the Hall of Fame game and coach Jauron admitted as much.

Turk Schonert has talked about changing the tempo and wearing opponents out. Dominic Rhodes saw evidence of that in the game.

“It was good. I saw those guys getting tired,” said Rhodes. “We were able to exploit some of the times when they weren’t ready or they weren’t lined up good. That’s what the no-huddle brings. It gets you the opportunity to catch guys when they’re tired and on their knees and they can’t really get up and get lined up and get their defenses in, and you can exploit people like that.”

In the press box I spoke to an AFC scout who was in attendance and he said he has not seen an NFL team run the no huddle that fast, “in a while.” It’s going to really be interesting to see where this no huddle attack goes from this point forward.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

No huddle used half the time?

Posted by Chris Brown on July 2, 2009 – 3:13 pm

How often the no huddle will be used by Buffalo’s offense is compelling question, which is why we made it part of our 25 questions until training camp. In the write-up I mention some of the more overlooked factors when theorizing how often Edwards and company will go no huddle.

Namely the effectiveness of Buffalo’s defense and the opponent. The Bills defense still had trouble getting off the field last season, and it was due in part to there not being enough playmakers to make something happen (sack, forced fumble, INT, etc.).

The Bills feel they have added a playmaker or two in Maybin and Byrd and guys like McKelvin and Poz are poised to step into playmaker type roles as young vets. If their takeaways go up and they can demonstrate consistency in getting 3-and-outs or heck 6-and-outs, I think Dick Jauron will be more confident in using the no huddle more of the time.

Still Buffalo’s opponent will influence how much they use it too. You’ve got to remember this is year one with this thing as a main component of their offense. They’re far from a smooth running machine. Rolling it out full throttle against the Pats for example, in Week 1 could put a lot of unnecessary pressure on your defense if you can’t convert a first down on your first three hurry up possessions.

I’ll say right now I’d be surprised if it’s used more than half of the offensive snaps this season. I think we’re looking at a 50-50 split at best. Jauron values time of possession and the run game and who wouldn’t with the stable of backs the Bills now have.

Knowing that I just can’t see the Bills going no huddle full time, unless they’re remarkably successful with it.

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Posted in Inside the Bills
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