Inside The Bills

Bills dominating the red zone

Posted by Chris Brown on October 1, 2017 – 11:10 am

Buffalo’s performance in the red zone has been strong on both sides of the ball thus far this season. Can it be the difference in today’s game against the Falcons?

The Bills rank second in red zone touchdown percentage on offense scoring at better than a 71 percent clip. Meanwhile they’re just as effective in keeping opponents out of the end zone. Buffalo is allowing opponents to reach the end zone from inside their own 20, less than 29 percent of the time (28.6).

The Falcons high-powered offense ranks a pedestrian 14th in the NFL in red zone offense scoring touchdowns 60 percent of the time. Atlanta’s defense is a step below that ranking 17th in red zone defense. They’re allowing opponents to score touchdowns a bit more than half the time (55.6%).

Buffalo has yet to allow a passing touchdown this season from any distance, short or long.

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Marrone on the most necessary improvement

Posted by Chris Brown on November 30, 2014 – 10:50 am

He had pointed to it for a few weeks and coming off a game in which they were as successful as they’ve been all season, head coach Doug Marrone is sticking with it as the most necessary area of improvement if the Bills are to follow through and become a playoff club.

When he was asked this week for the one most important improvement to finish the season off and qualify for the postseason Marrone pointed to red zone execution.

“It’s been our red zone production and the ability to run the ball better than we have, especially in the red zone where we haven’t been efficient,” said Marrone. “I think we saw that against the Jets where we went 3-for-3 in the red zone and really pull away from a team. If you go back and look at the games where we haven’t played well we ended up kicking a lot of field goals and not really being able to score. I think at the end of the day when you have those opportunities, and we’ve had many, we’ve got to make sure that we score. That’s the one area that if we improve upon and keep going the way we’re going in the red zone then I think we’ll be in very good shape.”

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Bills look to end red zone slump

Posted by Chris Brown on November 23, 2014 – 1:33 pm

The Bills had a good deal of success in the red zone in their first meeting with the Jets going 4-for-6 in their 20-point win back in Week 8. Since then however, Buffalo’s offense has gone 0-for-8 in the red zone since. Head coach Doug Marrone has been preaching a more aggressive approach inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, and the players are taking that message to heart.

Robert Woods explained what that means for him as a receiver.

“Be physical, run, be an open target at all times. Really just play fast,” said Woods. “When he says play aggressive it just means be ready for everything. Attack them when you come off the ball and make them back up and play everything, play honest.”

“We’re getting down there enough and moving the ball efficiently,” said Kyle Orton. “We had two drives in the first half last game and we had a 16-play drive and a 12-play drive. We had some issues early on on third down and we’ve done a better job with that.

“The red zone seems to be the last thing that comes. Everything is tighter down there. Everything is tougher down there. I think we’ve just got to keep working, keep pushing and when we finally break through we’ll do a good job.”

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Hogan: Players have to adjust to defenses

Posted by Chris Brown on November 15, 2014 – 12:51 pm

On more than one occasion Kyle Orton has tipped his hat to the opposing defense citing their ability to make a good play call to counteract what the Bills had planned in a crucial situation in each of the last two games, both losses. As Chris Hogan sees it they just have to be better and make adjustments on the fly to make it a successful play anyway.

“That’s part of the game. Those guys get paid too,” said Hogan of their opponents making plays against them, particularly in the red zone. “They do their homework and they do their scouting and everything. You got to expect that sometimes when you get down there they’re going to have the right plays called and the right defenses dialed up for the plays we want to run down there.  That’s just part of the game.  We just have to, as players, adjust to it.”


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Marrone will spend weekend on red zone

Posted by Chris Brown on November 14, 2014 – 5:43 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone was quick to acknowledge there’s a lot that he, his coaches and his players have to fix in a short amount of time to get their season back on track. Afforded a weekend of time to dive into it, Marrone himself has one particular area of focus.

“I’m specifically going to utilize it by going back into the red zone. I’m not going to lie to you. I’m going to go back there and I’m going to take a good look at it,” Marrone said. “It’s my responsibility to answer those questions. I’m responsible for that. There’s no doubt about it. Yes, Nathaniel is the offensive coordinator and Jim [Schwartz] is the defensive coordinator. Defensively, we didn’t tackle well. We couldn’t get them into many third downs. There are things that we did in special teams we had an opportunity to pin them back there and we punt it and put it on the two, that when I say a team loss is a team loss.

“But I’m responsible for all of that. For me, the critical area right now for us is obviously the red zone. I’m going to take the majority of my time, outside of managing the team and doing the things I’m supposed to do, I’m going to spend any type of extra time I have in that phase.”

When asked what he thinks is missing from their play in the red zone on offense, which currently ranks last in the NFL, Marrone said on the surface the problem appears to be pretty evident.

“Execution and making plays really,” he said. “I think that some of the things we have to do, we have to look at it more. We’ve been struggling there. We’ve been trying different things. They haven’t been working. I think we’ve just got to keep going and figure out what is it going to be from a concept standpoint and a running game standpoint in terms of what works for us and we’ve got to get better at it.”

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Red zone play proving costly

Posted by Chris Brown on November 14, 2014 – 11:22 am

Now 0-for-6 in the red zone the last two games, it’s no surprise that Buffalo was unable to win their games against Kansas City and Miami. The struggles inside the opponent’s 20-yard line is something the Bills are trying to get a handle on. They know if they don’t fix it fast they make it that much harder to win games.

“We’ve got to finish drives and make the plays down there. If they’re bringing pressure we’ve got to handle it,” said Scott Chandler. “If they’re in coverage, they dropped into coverage a couple of times down there, they mixed it up pretty well. We’ve got to execute better and we got to be able to finish drives.”

“Oh, man, it was a struggle,” said Boobie Dixon. “I don’t know exactly what happened, I’ve got to watch the film to see what exactly went down.  We didn’t get the job done. It’s been a problem and we definitely have to fix it. We’ve got the players, we’ve got the coaches. It’s just not happening for us.  It’s just something that we’re not getting right now. We got to get it fixed if we want to have a shot at this thing. It’s frustrating, but at the same time you’ve got to stay positive and keep on grinding.”

“Our performance isn’t good enough right now,” Kyle Orton said. “We’ve got to go back to the drawing board a little bit and just the only thing I know is to go back and work harder and try to work harder and try to get better and it starts with the quarterback. My job is to put points on the board and whatever I need to do to get the offense better that’s what I need to do.”

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Goal line gift for Bills?

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

On two of their more recent goal to go opportunities the Bills were unable to punch the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. In Week 6 against Cincinnati, Thad Lewis was stopped short of the goal line on a fourth down rollout leading to a turnover on downs. Last week Jeff Tuel’s third-and-goal pass attempt went 100 yards the other way. Sunday against the Steelers however, could present far more favorable odds of finishing off such an opportunity with a touchdown.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are an average red zone defense as they’re allowing opponents to score touchdowns once in the red zone at better than 55 percent (15th). Their defense is also allowing opponents to average 3.47 yards per play in the red zone, which is the fifth-highest allowed in the league.

Furthermore the Steelers defense is at its worst in goal-to-go situations. When Pittsburgh’s opponents are in a goal to go situation they convert with a touchdown 75 percent of the time. That percentage ranks Pittsburgh 26th in goal-to-go defense.

When the situation is first-and-goal at the five-yard line or closer Pittsburgh opponents have scored every single time this season, making the Steelers one of the worst goal-to-go defenses in the NFL.

Of course the Bills offense is 31st in the league in goal-to-go scoring converting just over 46 percent of the time (46.2%), so one side of the ball in these situations has got to give. Fred Jackson is hoping it’s Pittsburgh.

“We haven’t been consistent in what we want to get done,” said Jackson. “We’ve got to focus on that this week and get that taken care of.  Any time we get in the red zone, we need to score touchdowns.  That’s something we said we wanted to get done and we haven’t done that.”

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Red zone changes will be subtle

Posted by Chris Brown on November 9, 2013 – 11:58 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone has pledged to make changes with his red zone offense, which has quickly slipped to 31st in the NFL with a touchdown success rate of just 42.3%. asked Marrone the degree of change that should be expected once Buffalo’s offense cracks the opponent’s 20-yard line.

“I think when the changes work people will say we’ve made dramatic changes and they look great,” Marrone told “If they don’t work people will think we didn’t make any changes. A lot of it depends on your execution of things. When we looked at it in the red zone we’re not getting the results that we want, so it wasn’t a matter of the

“It’s basically the execution of things. So what we had to do was put our players in a mindset of where they can execute at a higher level. Probably right now we’re looking at subtle changes, but if we do well people will consider them dramatic changes. We have to make those changes because we have to do better. If we keep doing things the same way then they’re not going to change.”

Pittsburgh’s red zone defense is ranked in the middle of the pack. The Steelers are 15th in the league allowing touchdowns more than 55 percent of the time.

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Bills planning changes for red zone offense

Posted by Chris Brown on November 7, 2013 – 10:17 am

Buffalo hasn’t been a bad red zone offense all season, it’s just been the last three games where they’ve slipped down the league rankings to their current spot of 31st. Goal line execution is part of the problem along with quarterback decision making.

The Bills over their past three games have converted just two of their eight red zone opportunities into touchdowns (25%). That’s what has dragged down their red zone touchdown percentage to its current mark of 42.3%. Here are some of the trouble spots.

Buffalo’s collective passer rating inside the opponent’s 30-yard line ranks 27th in the league (77.7) almost 15 points below the league average. Plugging Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel into the lineup over the past month has affected the continuity of the pass game. The Bills third down percentage in the red zone has also been subpar as Buffalo ranks 26th with a conversion rate of just under 29 percent (28.6%).

“We’ve left a lot of yardage out there,” said Marrone. “There are some things we’re doing well. There are some situations like the red zone touchdowns—we’ve obviously went back and did some more studying on how other teams have been successful in the red zone.  How we’re going to do something different, how we’re going to get over that hump.  Because obviously if we’re doing the same things we’re not going to get any different results.”

Still, the Bills yardage gained in the red zone ranks in the middle of the pack. They’re tied for 16th in the league at 2.83 yards per play, which isn’t bad down in the tight quarters of the red zone. Eric Wood is all for making some changes.

“I think we’re going to address our plan down there,” said Wood. “I think guys are going to look at themselves to see who they’ve executed individually down there and just try to fix what we’ve been doing. Whether that’s different schemes, you personally improving. I think it’ll all contribute.”

The Steelers rank 15th in the league in red zone defense allowing touchdowns more than 55 percent of the time (55.6%).

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Red zone fixes won’t be easy

Posted by Chris Brown on September 24, 2013 – 9:17 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone after reviewing the game tape, didn’t feel all that different about what cost them the game Sunday against the Jets. He knows what needs to be fixed, chief among them execution in the red zone on offense.

“Defensively we’ve done a good job this year in the red zone,” Marrone said. “Teams have been able to convert 40 percent for touchdowns, which is much improved than we’ve been before. Offensively right now we’re at 50 percent and that’s what hurt us. We wound up kicking three field goals and we weren’t able to convert them into touchdowns. That’s what we need to do to win. That’s it in a nutshell.”

Improving red zone touchdown efficiency may be easier said than done this Sunday when the Bills face the Ravens at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Baltimore’s red zone defense ranks ninth in the league, tied with the Bills defense allowing opponents to score touchdowns just 40 percent of the time. The difference between Baltimore and Buffalo however, is the Ravens have allowed half the number of possessions inside their 20-yard line.

The Bills have given opponents 10 possessions inside their 20 while Baltimore has surrendered just five. With just two touchdowns scored from the red zone on the Ravens all season, only Kansas City has allowed fewer touchdowns (1) this year through the first three weeks.

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