Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 9-4

Posted by Chris Brown on September 4, 2009 – 8:42 pm

Well some big stuff going down at One Bills Drive today. Here are some of your questions.

1. Hi Chris:

Lifelong Bills fan from Long Island here. Just got the news about Schonert.
Tough break….but something needed to be done.

Any thoughts from the organization in bringing Kelly in as a consultant or on the staff since he is SO familiar with the no huddle?

Good luck and GO BILLS!!!!!!!!!!
Ed Norris

CB: Jim Kelly has stated time and again that he does not have an interest in coaching. A consultant however, is interesting. That being said, Alex Van Pelt was a reserve QB behind Kelly when the K-Gun was being run here. So Van Pelt knows it just as well as Kelly does.

We’ll see how he approaches the use of the no huddle, which Dick Jauron said will continue despite the firing of Turk Schonert. I’m both happy for Van Pelt and concerned for him.

Yes, it’s a good opportunity, but how many of you would want to be handed a play calling job with 10 days to prepare and you’re facing Belichick? I think Van Pelt is more than capable, but I think he’d prefer to have more than 10 days to prepare, especially since he hasn’t called plays in a game since 2005.

It’s a tough spot. If he comes through he’ll be a hero. He’s got my support, I just wish the circumstances were different for him.
2. Dear, Chris
How is Dominic Rhodes handling 3rd team offence, because with his track record of being a solid # 2 back, with about 8 carries and 7 catches a game throughout his career, but now with buffalo he might get that the first 3 games but after that, he might be inactive with our deep Wr and Db corps. The bills ran w/ 2 Rb’s active last year they’ll probably do it again. Is he banking on Special Teams, im not sure why he wanted to go to the bills, i understand why the bills pick him up. How many years is his contract?
~  Will-O

CB: Rhodes has a 2-year deal with Buffalo. I think they’ll use him for the first three games in the same way they’ve used Fred Jackson when Marshawn was the feature back. Of course with Alex Van Pelt now the play caller that could change.

Rhodes is a proven back and for a smaller guy he runs tough between the tackles. He’s a proven receiver out of the backfield. I think there are several ways Van Pelt and Eric Studesville can make use of him even when Lynch is back with the team.
3. Hey Chris,
 I am completely obsessed with the battle for the NB position. Who do you think will end up getting it since we have so much depth? I think Florence will get it though Corner deserves it. Plus I wish Corner would get the chance because he is starting to really prove himself and make plays. Watching him play on TV, there is something about him that says potential starter and I think getting the younger guy in there will give them a chance to train him to be a starter one day. Plus, though I love Youboty (being an OSU fan and all) but he cant really stay healthy?

Thanks and keep up the great work!
Jim (Ohio)

CB: Thanks for the kind words Jim. As for the nickel back role it’s going to be interesting to see what transpires there. Florence had a stranglehold on the job before he suffered the sprained knee in the Chicago game. He’s expected to begin practicing with the team again the middle of this coming week.

But Corner has really been excellent filling the void. I think the coaching staff prefers Florence only because he’s stronger than Corner physically. And that’s important especially in 3rd and short to 3rd and medium situations. The reason why is if it’s 3rd-and-3 teams usually pass, but if they see a smaller nickel corner sitting in the slot, they’ll try to run right at him to get the first down.

I’m not saying the Corner is not good in run support. I’m just saying that Florence is a little better and would be a little more of a deterrent to teams thinking about running on a 3rd-and-3 if he’s in there. That being said Corner has proven to be more opportunistic in defending the pass. He led the team in INTs this preseason with 3, including one that he returned for TD.

It’s going to be a very tough call, and likely will depend a lot on how Florence looks on the practice field this week.
4. Hey Chris,

 Ive was wondering what your opinion was of the bills offense this year. According to the coaching staff our line is better. Now I have a hard time believing that just becuase of the lack of production. The only good drive the 1st team had going was at the Hall of Fame game when they were driving on the Titans. That ended in a pick becuase of O-line getting pushed back and not being able to create a good pocket. I guess my biggest concern is everyone says this is a make or break yr for Edwards. If the O-line doesn’t get it together I would hate to see Edwards be the fall guy for poor offensive production. I believe he has alot of upside to him and I think if given time to throw he could be a very good franchise QB. What is your opinion on how the Offense will perform from what you have seen in the practices?
Thank you,

Garrett from PA

CB: I think the offense will have its ups and downs this season because of the wholesale changes up front. That degree of change doesn’t just mesh together in a couple of months. I think it could take half a season. Now that doesn’t mean that the line isn’t talented. I think there’s a lot of quality talent up front with this group. Jelling together is what takes time.

I believe this is an O-line that can be better than the one last year. I just don’t know how quickly we’ll see signs of that.
5. Hey Chris,

James Hardy has not practiced yet, right? When do they expect him to be ready? Can he contribute this year?


CB: No, he has not been cleared to practice. The problem is the stamina in his knee isn’t sufficient to get through practice day after day. I expect him to be placed on Reserve/PUP which would give him until the end of Week 6 to build up the endurance in that knee to the point where he can practice with the team again.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-14

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2009 – 1:25 pm

Training camp is winding down, with three days left at St. John Fisher after today. Still some time before the regular season however. Let’s see what you’ve got for me this week.

1. Hi Chris,
Do you think one of the reasons the Bills have been reluctant to deal with the strong outside linebacker spot is because they plan on using Maybin there (as well as DE)?
Mark (State College, PA)

CB: I don’t believe that’s the main reason why, but it could be a factor. The Bills defensive staff really likes what they’re getting out of Nic Harris so far in the preseason. I believe he’ll push Keith Ellison, but ultimately experience will win out there. But Maybin I believe will be used as a rush linebacker in addition to getting snaps at defensive end. I think where he lines up will depend a lot on down and distance.


2. Hey Chris,
I was lookin at your Q&A regarding safties.  You didn’t mention Ko Simpson.  So you think he will be cut this training camp?  I think
that would be a shocker, considering he is young and his experience.  But I guess I can see, with the addition of Byrd, they may not have
the room. Do you think the Bills may look at trading him?

Shawn Sieracki
Dallas, Texas

CB: I think Ko Simpson is a bubble guy in this camp due mainly to the presence of Byrd. Though he hasn’t set foot on the practice field yet, Byrd was taken in the second round for a reason, to get on the field sooner rather than later. Buffalo did not get a single INT from their safeties last season. That has to change. Byrd had 17 INTs in college in three seasons.

If he shows any kind of promise in the preseason games he plays in and doesn’t look lost, he could be a starter before this season is over. Either way he’s a lock to make the roster.

In all likelihood the team keeps five safeties. Right now here’s my list of who I think they keep. Whitner, Scott, Wilson, Byrd and Wendling. Wilson and Wendling make it because they’re more valuable special teams players than Simpson.


3. Chris,
Nice job on the site.  How do you see the O-line situation developing…the situation at guard has been often discussed, but a couple of situations I am interested in is (1) Demetrius Bell – probably not a starter this year, but from what I saw last year it seems like he might have the athletic ability to be a LT – do you see him starting in yr 3 or 4?  Also, what do you see happening at backup center, Brandon Rodd or have somebody like Seth McKinney cover backup at guard and center?

CB: With Bell I think they see him as the heir apparent to Langston Walker, who three years left on his deal counting this season. I believe Bell is left tackle caliber. He’s certainly athletic enough. I think he’ll be the team’s swing tackle this fall.
At center Brandon Rodd has done okay as the backup. You’re right Seth McKinney does have NFL experience there, but he has not seen reps in the pivot thus far. I think he would be an option though. I don’t anticipate them putting Eric Wood in there either, despite the fact that he played there in college.


4. Hey Chris, 
I’ve noticed in most of your articles dealing about the LB position, you always mention Ellison only having two players to battle with for the starting position, Bowen and Harris. Why isn’t Pat Thomas mentioned at all? Is Thomas battling for a back up position behind Kawika or Poz? If Thomas isn’t being considered to battle with Ellison, do you see him actually making the team?
Brian Craig (Walworth, NY)

CB: Pat Thomas is battling for the backup MLB role with Marcus Buggs. It’s been a heated competition with the two of them flip flopping back and forth in the backup role behind Poz. As for Ellison his greatest competition looks like it’s going to be Harris. Bowen has been largely on the weak side in camp.


5. Hi Chris,
The battle to land a spot on the roster at corner is one that I find most intriguting on the Bills this season. How many corners do you figure will make the roster? Which ones?

CB: I think the top four or five corners are easy to determine, but do they keep a sixth is the question. McGee, McKelvin, Florence, Youboty and Corner all make the roster as I see it. Then if they decide to keep a sixth I believe it’s Ellis Lankster. Cary Harris and Lydell Sargeant probably go to the practice squad.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 7-17

Posted by Chris Brown on July 17, 2009 – 4:15 pm

The last few days before training camp. Can hardly wait to get things rolling at St. John Fisher. All through camp you can send your questions to Let’s get to your questions for this week.

1.  Hey Chris,

I was wondering what are your thoughts on perhaps moving Bryan Scott to OLB in place of Ellison.  He’s already 220, is great at run support, and is fantastic at covering TEs (ex Gates).  I know the coaching staff really likes him at SS but if Bryd pans out what the use of having him on the bench???

Bill, New Rochelle

CB: I understand your affinity for Scott’s game. He really showed us something with his coverage abilities last season as you mentioned. As far as Scott playing linebacker, he did see reps there from time to time in the practice setting last season when injuries struck the linebacking corps hard.

He was considered an emergency option there in 2008, but with Alvin Bowen, Nic Harris, Marcus Buggs and Ashlee Palmer in the mix now at LB, I’m not so sure they’ll need Scott to be ready if a couple of guys go down at that position.

In all likelihood, he’ll be the starting SS at the start of the year with Whitner at FS, and then if Byrd really progresses, they’ll try to transition him into the lineup moving Whitner to SS, and then Scott might have to take on a reserve role.

2. Hi Chris,

The Bills had an extremely poor pass rush last season as compared to other teams. So when the reports from the OTA’s came out about how much pressure our defensive line is getting in practice, you take that as good news and I take it as horrible news. Who is right? I think we need to sign 2 more veteran offensive lineman – Levi Jones for a tackle spot and then a guard or center. Also why do we keep taking other teams back up linemen and making them starters on our unit? Melvin Fowler in the past and now Geoff Hangartner.

CB: While I understand your concern, I will tell you that in the spring and typically through the first couple of weeks of camp the defense is usually ahead of the offense in terms of execution. That’s because the offensive line has to work in unison at all times to be effective and that’s a process, especially with five new guys in all five positions up front.

In fact I think it may take longer than usual in light of the degree of change. I’m hopeful they can pull it all together by the opener and with an extra preseason game that can only help. But the truth is the Bills need a successful and consistent pass rush this season as much as they need good line play on offense to get where they want to get this season.

Is anyone going up on the Wall this year?

CB: No, there was no former player or coach that got enough votes to be named to the Wall of Fame this year. But fans will probably see a much better display at the home opener anyway when the 50th All-Time team is introduced.

4. My question concerns OL Demetrius Bell. I just wonder how is strength is now. I know one reason he dropped in the 2008 NFL Draft was because of his strength, being able to only do 10 reps of 225 lbs. at his pro day. This worries me more for an OG than an OT, where you can have quick feet to counteract a potential lack in upper body strength. So has the Bills Conditioning Staff improved his upper body strength?


CB: Bell has come a long way this offseason, to the point where I believe he has a legitimate chance to be the team’s swing tackle this season, with Kirk Chambers focused more on the guard position this year. Bell has great feet for playing on the edge and his  strength has improved a lot. Oftentimes coming from a small college program players don’t get the best strength training out there. Not a knock on Northwestern St., just kind of the way it is.

But Bell has worked hard to improve in that area and all indications from the coaches are that he has made very good strides there. He’ll be an interesting player to watch this preseason.

5. Hello Chris,

I have always been interested in what players have made the most drastic body compositional changes.  I am an amateur bodybuilder and love you’re previous mentions of how Fred Jackson and others significantly altered their bodies in order to earn more playing time.  When a players dedication is rewarded via a contract extension it justifies all the hard work they put in the weight room which most people don’t see.  I was just wondering who has impressed you most this off season in terms of improving their frame? 

Derek Tangredi
London Ontario Canada

CB: Derek Schouman, Steve Johnson and Reggie Corner are three guys that come to mind right away. That’s not to say that there aren’t a host of other guys that have dramatically improved, but those guys have sculpted themselves. Schouman maybe more than anyone else. His upper body is much broader and thicker and it’s likely due to the fact that he knows he’ll probably be playing more up on the line at TE this year.

Johnson just benefitted from being in an NFL setting this offseason as did Corner. Both have come a long way in improving their overall strength.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-19

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2009 – 7:25 pm

We’re in the doldrums before training camp, but there are still some issues to discuss concerning the team. You can always submit questions to
1. Hi Chris-
Any truth to the reports that the K-Gun is returning to the Buffalo offense?
If so…what are your thoughts.
-Jeremy Reiner
CB: I think it’s safe to assume that some elements of the K-Gun offense are being incorporated into Buffalo’s offensive scheme with their no huddle package. But the K-Gun in its entirety I think is unrealistic.

I like that the Bills are turning to the no huddle more to make it more difficult for defenses to substitute and get set pre-snap. Of course the Bills offense has to prove it can sustain drives with consistency as well because if they can’t it puts a lot more pressure on the defense to stop people.

Knowing coach Jauron comes from a defensive background, I’m not sure you should expect to see an overwhelming amount of no huddle. I believe it will be used more, but if you’re looking for more than half a game of no huddle week in and week out I think you’re getting your hopes up.


2. Would it be a bad idea if Mr. Nelson got reps as fullback, not only to improve his blocking skills, but to add a fullback weapon ala ‘that guy from Lewiston.’

CB: I’m assuming you’re talking about Shawn Nelson. At 6’5” putting Nelson at fullback even on the move is a bad idea as I see it. First, blocking as a fullback is different than as a tight end. Linebackers are often coming at you with a head of steam as opposed to a defensive end butting heads with you at the line.

Second, the coaching staff has already made a point of keeping the information flow to Nelson at a manageable level as they have him focused primarily on route running within the offensive scheme, knowing that’s where he can help them the most as a rookie. The blocking will come later since they have two other tight ends to handle it.

And that guy from Lewiston, Moose Johnston and Nelson are two completely different players.

3. Has there been any thought given to asking Bruce Smith in to some of the camps to work with Maybin???  Given his skill set, Bruce has a lot to tech a guy with Maybin’s raw physical talents

Steve Ward
Miamisburg, OH

CB: That’s not a bad idea, but I just don’t see Bruce interested in coaching. I know Steve Tasker has volunteered his time to help Bobby April on occasion with special teams skills, but Bruce was such a great player. As Phil Hansen once explained to me, Bruce could contort his body in a way that no one else could in terms of bending the corner. He’d run upfield straight, while his upper torso was turned 90 degrees and hand fighting the offensive tackle.

Marcellus Wiley once told me he tried to do what Bruce did and just kept falling down. So what Bruce knows how to do I’m not sure can be effectively applied to most players on Buffalo’s roster today.

4. Chris,
Why isn’t Tom Modrak given more credit for the outstanding job he does on day two of the draft (ex. McGee, Ellison, Williams and Butler)?  By the way, this year’s 4th (TE-Nelson) is a home-run.
Guy Devitt

CB: I think the reason is pretty simple. The team hasn’t been successful in terms of winning records and playoff appearances. So as a result those associated with the team aren’t recognized outside of the walls of One Bills Drive for the good work that they do.

I think Modrak’s record as a talent evaluator speaks for itself, well beyond just what he’s done with the Bills. Everyone forgets how much heat he took as GM in Philadelphia when he took Donovan McNabb instead of Ricky Williams with the fifth overall pick. I think that has to be one of his best calls and for it to come with a top five pick was big.

5. Chris,

Who from last year’s draft class will have an impact this season?  I know everyone is counting on McKelvin and Hardy but I’m very interested in how Alvin Bowen and Chris Ellis will do coming off of injuries.

CB: I think that Derek Fine has a chance to make an impact with the starting tight end job up for grabs after the release of Robert Royal. I anticipate he and Derek Schouman to battle it out for the top job. But Fine has looked good in the passing game and has a good chemistry with Trent Edwards. Not that Schouman doesn’t, but I think Fine’s got a shot.

Ellis is flying under the radar with all the hype surrounding top pick Aaron Maybin. I’m really interested to see what Ellis can bring to the table in camp when the pads go on. I think Bowen is also capable of pushing veteran Keith Ellison for the starting outside linebacker job. So you’re on the mark with some guys to keep an eye on.

Reggie Corner could land the nickel job as well and Demetrius Bell could be the swing tackle behind Butler and Walker. Not a bad draft class huh? (See Modrak question 4).

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Youngsters who impressed most at spring camps

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2009 – 8:07 pm

When football is played in helmets and shorts it really lacks the physical element, which is probably the signature element of football. So keeping that in mind and knowing more of the skill position players had a greater opportunity to shine, here are the top young performers from Buffalo’s spring workouts that could do a lot more for the club come the 2009 season.

Stevie Johnson – The second-year wideout made the most of his reps, which at times were more frequent than they’ll likely be at training camp with veterans ahead of him on the depth chart. But his route running was sharper than as a rookie and his hands were consistent. Johnson will have a role on this team in the fall despite the depth at the position.

Derek Fine/Derek Schouman – The reason I list them together is because they worked off each other throughout the spring workouts. Fine looked really good through the first half of the spring schedule while Schouman was on the shelf and then when he returned Schouman was the main target at the tight end position. It should be one of the more interesting position battles come training camp with one being the starter.

Reggie Corner – The second-year cornerback may have had the best spring of any player on the roster. Turning in plays day in and day out, Corner is in the midst of making that big leap in improvement from year one to year two that coaches look for in a player. Based on spring performance he’d be the favorite for the nickel corner role heading into camp.

Ellis Lankster – The consistency isn’t there yet in his game, but what rookie with all of 18 NFL practices under his belt in a new scheme is a consistent player? Lankster made plays on the ball often enough to open some eyes. If that continues in camp he could have a legit chance at the 53-man roster.

Aaron Maybin – Most of his reps came against the second team offense, but Maybin’s ability to bend the corner was apparent even in a non-contact setting as he flushed quarterbacks from the pocket several times during OTAs and minicamp.

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Coverage game plan

Posted by Chris Brown on December 26, 2008 – 4:10 pm

It will certainly be interesting to see how the Bills choose to play Randy Moss and Wes Welker in coverage. For a good portion of the game, Terrence McGee shadowed Moss following him all over the field. And Jabari Greer was often assigned to Welker. Reggie Corner and Donte Whitner were mixed in for slot duty on Welker.

The second time around with Greer not an option, it bears watching to see if they put the same assignment that Greer had on Leodis McKelvin who has come a long way in the last six weeks.

I think they’ll still have McGee follow Moss somewhat after the success McGee had against him in the last game. It wouldn’t surprise me though to see Corner handling the slot at the outset and them leaving McKelvin out on the edge after Corner’s strong game last week.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

What a coming out party for Reggie Corner

Posted by Chris Brown on December 22, 2008 – 7:31 am

Four tackles, a QB hit, 4 PBUs, a fumble recovery and that big play at the end of the game. What a day for Reggie Corner.

I liked this guy a lot in training camp working out of the slot. Going against a wily veteran in Brandon Stokley, Corner was very good on Sunday.

In fact on Monday our Bills Focus will take a closer look at Corner and McKelvin’s performance in the win on Sunday.

It’s an encouraging sign for this secondary moving forward. It’s nice to see that the defensive staff was comfortable enough to put him in the slot and let Donte just focus on roaming in centerfield. I think allowing him to focus raises the odds of him making a big play.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Brown’s Best – Week 12

Posted by Chris Brown on November 24, 2008 – 8:14 pm

There was a lot that the win over Kansas City had to offer so here’s the rundown this week.

BEST START: Blake Costanzo – The Bills coverage player came down the field like a freight train on the opening kickoff and forced a fumble on impact, but the Chiefs recovered.

BEST TWO MAN DRIVE: Marshawn Lynch/Fred Jackson – The two backs accounted for all of the yardage on Buffalo’s first touchdown drive. Nine plays, 61 yards, all Lynch and Jackson.

BEST THIRD DOWN STOP: Copeland Bryan – His third down sack at the Chiefs one-yard line not only forced a punt, but ensured that Buffalo would have great field position.

BEST USE OF HELMET: Reggie Corner – The nickel back forced Jamaal Charles to fumble when his helmet popped the ball loose allowing George Wilson to recover the ball.

BEST GAME CHANGER: Leodis McKelvin – His 64-yard interception return was the turning point of the game.

BEST TACKLE FOR LOSS: Chris Kelsay – His stop on Larry Johnson on a 3rd-and-1 forced the Chiefs to punt… again. Kelsay had two tackles for loss in the game.

BEST PASS: Trent Edwards – His 51-yard bomb to Lee Evans was laid out perfectly for the wide receiver despite tight coverage.

BEST ENCORE: Leodis McKelvin – His second interception looked as though he baited Tyler Thigpen to throw it and quickly closed the space between him and the receiver once the ball was in the air to make a play on it.

BEST IMPROVISATION: Trent Edwards – His roll out to the right was partly by design, but he extended the play an extra second or so and completed a 20-yard pass along the sideline to Josh Reed.

BEST GO FOR BROKE MOVE: Trent Edwards – With no timeouts left and the first half clock winding down, Edwards took off for the goal line and leapt up and over two Chiefs defenders for the touchdown.

BEST JOHNNY ON THE SPOT: Marcus Stroud – His deft scoop of a Tyler Thigpen fumble set the Bills up for another field goal deep in Chiefs territory.

BEST HIT: Ryan Denney – His crack on Larry Johnson in the hole stood the big back straight up at the line of scrimmage on a 1st-and-10 play.

BEST SEPARATOR: Josh Reed – Somehow the Bills receiver was sitting by himself in the back of the end zone where Trent Edwards found him for an eight-yard touchdown reception.

BEST KEEPING OF A COOL HEAD: Marshawn Lynch – After Bernard Pollard cracked him when he got up at the tail end of a run play, Lynch wisely did not retaliate. Pollard’s infraction cost the Chiefs another 15 yards and a first down. One play later Buffalo was back in the end zone.

BEST PRESENCE: George Wilson – The reserve safety tied for the team lead in tackles, had a sack, tackle for loss and a fumble recovery.

BEST SPECIAL TEAMER: Blake Costanzo – The coverage man had an incomprehensible six special teams tackles, which was more than the entire Chiefs special teams unit combined and had a pair of forced fumbles.

BEST RETURN: Josh Reed – The Bills possession receiver made a significant impact in his return from injury with five catches for 50 yards including a touchdown, his first in two years.

BEST POINT PRODUCER: Rian Lindell – The Bills kicker had a career high 18 points in the game and now has 600 for his career becoming just the third Bills player in team history to reach that mark.

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Fewell on McKelvin

Posted by Chris Brown on November 13, 2008 – 3:00 pm

With Leodis McKelvin’s opportunities on defense few and far between the past few games, Bills defensive coordinator Perry Fewell was asked about his rookie cornerback Leodis McKelvin and if he has come along as fast as hoped. Here’s his response.

“Really (it comes down to) the details of what you do and how you do it,” said Fewell. “That could be because of rookie immaturity. Some rookies are more mature than others, paying attention to the fine detail and this is a problem I would say with most rookies: when do you do and what do you do in those critical situations. And sometimes those mental lapses hurt you. It’s a matter of us continuing to train and train him until it sticks so it transfers from practice to the ball games. But that’s really (it), the talent level is there, it’s the when, what, where and why.”

Sounds as if playing fast within the scheme is an issue in some areas and McKelvin is still thinking about his responsibilities instead of just reacting because he knows them cold.

Over the past few weeks Terrence McGee has played on a bad leg (Miami) over McKelvin. And last week Reggie Corner appeared to get more snaps defensively than McKelvin against New England. 

I still think McKelvin will be a very good cornerback for this team, but it looks as though it make take longer than some thought. Corner is not more physically talented than McKelvin, but he knows his assignments and is a good anticipator and these were some of the qualities that were apparent to me about him in training camp. That’s why I thought there was a chance he’d be on the field more than McKelvin this season defensively.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Brown’s Best – Week 10

Posted by Chris Brown on November 10, 2008 – 5:26 pm

BEST AWARENESS: Roscoe Parrish – The Bills slot receiver converted a 3rd-and-7 on Buffalo’s opening drive breaking a pair of tackles and stretching for the first down stick.

BEST OPEN FIELD TACKLE: Reggie Corner – Covering Wes Welker, Corner closed the space on a receiver screen and dropped the slot receiver for no gain.

BEST ANTICIPATION: Bryan Scott – The safety quickly recognized the end around play to Randy Moss and dropped the wideout for a two-yard loss.

BEST PASS BREAKUP – Terrence McGee – His shot on intended receiver Ben Watson as the tight end tried to make the catch jarred the ball loose for an incompletion on a 3rd-and-9 forcing the Patriots to settle for a field goal.

BEST LEG: Rian Lindell – The Bills kicker had a pair of touchbacks to help keep New England’s number one ranked kick return unit from making a big play.

BEST TOUCH: Brian Moorman – The Bills punter may have had his most consistent day of the season with four punts pinning the Patriots inside their 20-yard line. His best kick was probably his 36-yard placement punt that his coverage unit downed at the New England three-yard line.

BEST COVERAGE TACKLE: Jon Corto – The linebacker knifed in low at Ellis Hobbs and dropped him for just a 13-yard return. Copeland Bryan had an assist on the play.

BEST RED ZONE STOP: Ryan Denney/Ko Simpson – The two defenders stopped BenJarvus Green-Ellis on a 3rd-and-2 at the Bills 19-yard line for no gain against forcing the Patriots to take a field goal in the third quarter.

BEST THIRD DOWN STOP: Marcus Stroud – On a 3rd-and-1 Stroud beat his man to take down Kevin Faulk for a three-yard loss to force a punt.

BEST KEEP HOPE ALIVE PLAY: George Wilson/Marcus Stroud – The safety and defensive tackle combined for a sack on Matt Cassel in the fourth quarter. Stroud forced the fumble and Wilson recovered the ball at the Bills 44-yard line down 13-3 to give the offense an extra possession.

BEST RETURN: Leodis McKelvin – His 85-yard return gave the offense an additional chance to put points on the board late in an effort to make a run at the Patriots in the waning moments.

BEST NOSE FOR THE BALL: Ryan Denney, Ko Simpson, Kawika Mitchell – All three finished with 11 tackles on the day to lead the team and were active from start to finish on a day when Buffalo’s defense logged a lot of time on the field.

BEST EXECUTION: James Hardy/Trent Edwards – It came a little too late, but Edwards best throw went right where it should go to Hardy’s backside shoulder on the touchdown reception late.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Corner gets snaps vs. Welker

Posted by Chris Brown on November 9, 2008 – 6:32 pm

On that last New England drive, Reggie Corner was worked in against Wes Welker in the slot as they moved Greer out wide. On the seven plays of that drive, Corner was matched up on Welker three times. Corner gave up just one reception for no gain.

Welker also had a two-yard reception on third down on the last play of that last New England drive, but it was difficult to tell if Corner was covering Welker because the Patriots had a bunch formation.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-7

Posted by Chris Brown on November 7, 2008 – 9:31 pm

Here we go with another week of questions and answers. Remember you can always send me your questions at It takes me some time, but I try to answer every e-mail I get, either personally or right here in Fan Friday.

1. Dear Chris,

With the winter weather coming upon us soon, how do you suppose California native Trent Edwards will fare? In last year’s game against the Giants there were plenty of mistakes from the entire team. But when you’ve had an exceptional cold-weather quarterback like Jim Kelly get the job done time and time again in bad weather, you come to expect your Buffalo Bills QB to lead your team to victory in the chilling winds and snow. I must say that I’m a little nervous to see what will happen with our team when Old Man Winter gets here. Thank you. I enjoy the constant updates.

Corey Doss

CB: I think Edwards will be better in the winter weather this year as opposed to last year. He maintains that he learned from last year’s experiences (Giants, Browns games) and will make the necessary adjustments in throwing the ball should similar conditions arise again this December.

Now what those adjustments are I don’t know, but Edwards says you have to experience it before you know how to play in it. I’d also like to see the running game take some steps forward in the next couple of weeks to support Edwards with the weather getting poorer as well. Running is certainly a lot better way to deal with the elements.



2. Hi Chris-
Do you know why Reggie Corner isn’t being used as an option for this secondary depth problem that we are having?  He had a great pre-season and he was always around the ball in college.  Leodis should not be getting playing time ahead of Reggie just because he was drafted higher.
Fort Lauderdale, FL

CB: You’re likely to see a whole lot of Reggie Corner this week as I believe he’ll be lined up in the slot on Wes Welker Sunday. Previously though Reggie wasn’t used because the Bills were happy with what they were getting from Donte Whitner as the nickel corner with Ashton Youboty out. But now that Whitner is out as well and Youboty is now on I-R, it’s Corner’s opportunity to show what he’s got.

I liked what he had to offer in the slot as a corner, I just worry about drawing Welker as your first NFL assignment.



3. Jabari Greer is my favorite player. With Terrence McGee in and out of the lineup and not playing at the level Bills fans expect, and Donte Whitner claiming that Greer is our #1 corner, do you think that Jabari will get the next contract extension? I sure hope so.
Dave McKibben
Rochester, NY

CB: I think Greer is making a strong case for a long term contract with his play this season. I didn’t hear Whitner make that comment, but Greer has certainly come a long way from being an undrafted rookie free agent. The credit goes to him and I would anticipate the Bills being interested in re-signing him this offseason. Whether Greer chooses to enter the free agent market remains to be seen.



4. Hey Chris,
                You said in a blog that we hadn’t had a blocked FG in 108 games…….but didn’t Langston Walker block a field goal for us last year too?…..I remember him blocking one and then it came out that signing him was good for the o-line as well as blocking field goals for special teams……..I could be wrong.

CB: He did block one in 2007, but it was in the first preseason game against the Saints. Buffalo won the game 13-10 so Walker’s block was instrumental in the exhibition victory, but it doesn’t count toward his career stats or the Bills’ team stats. But I believe that’s the block you’re thinking of.

5. Hi Chris,
With LB John DiGorgio out for the season, which player will wear the defensive radio communication in their helmets in the event that Poz goes out?
Nathan – Amherst
CB: It will be Keith Ellison who is the backup middle linebacker now. I mentioned this in my blog a couple of weeks ago after talking to Ellison about getting used to the radio helmet. So he’s the guy. Let’s just hope that’s not necessary.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bad time to lose emotional leader

Posted by Chris Brown on November 3, 2008 – 7:24 pm

There’s no question that Donte Whitner is Buffalo’s emotional leader on defense. Losing him to a separated shoulder at a time when Buffalo is facing adversity does not serve the best interests of the team in terms of bouncing back from a two-game losing streak.

The big concern with him out of the lineup is obviously the nickel package. If Youboty cannot return from a lingering foot injury this week, Leodis McKelvin or Reggie Corner will have to play in the slot against Wes Welker.

Both McKelvin and Corner got time in the slot during training camp and the preseason. It’s time for them to show the coaching staff what they’ve got. Obviously you’d like to have more experience on the field in a pivotal divisional game like the one the Bills have this week. But you’ve got to go with what you’ve got.

The rookies are on the roster for a reason. The coaching staff believed they were good enough to play and now they’ll have to play them.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday

Posted by Chris Brown on October 31, 2008 – 7:21 pm

Here’s our latest edition. Remember you can send your questions to me at Let’s get started.

1. Chris,

Our three starting DE’s – Schobel, Kelsay, and Denney – have ONE sack each.  Why is nobody talking about their lack of production after all we heard is how they are going to thrive with Stroud, who has been nothing but impressive thus far, and where is Chris Ellis? Why did we draft him if we are not going to give him
a shot?  Thanks

-Nick K.

CB: The main issue with the pass rush as I see it is the quick passing game they’re facing. Every team uses it now offensively and the last three weeks in particular opponents have been relying on it to neutralize Buffalo’s pass rush. So far it’s worked, I believe in part because there hasn’t been a lot of press coverage on the back end.

If you don’t have your cornerbacks press at the line, the quarterback can take three steps and throw it and get five yards. In Arizona in Week 5 Kurt Warner did that the whole game. When defensive ends were coming clean they still couldn’t get there in time. Until there’s more press coverage, teams are still going to take the underneath stuff and move methodically down the field.

The Bills can hope that the opposing QB will screw up at some point, but against veteran signal callers like Warner, Pennington it doesn’t happen often. Chances are greater this week, but Favre is another guy that knows how to throw on rhythm quickly.


2. Chris,
Can you do the fans a favor and talk to either O-line coach about the ‘scheme’ that they use?  There is debate (ongoing would be an understatement) about whether the Bills employ a “zone blocking” scheme or not.  Perhaps they could share their philosophy with you.
Hope you can fit this in.  Thanks.

CB: I talked to Dick Jauron about this and he told me that they make use of a few different blocking schemes including zone blocking. He wouldn’t divulge if they do one any more than the other.

I do know this. They tried zone blocking early last season and when it was not successful they moved away from it and the numbers got a bit better on the ground.

Zone blocking schemes are usually implemented for the lighter more athletic lines in football, but with all the twisting and stunting that defensive lines do these days, it’s almost necessary to incorporate some zone blocking into your scheme.

I’d rather see more plowing straight ahead than zone blocking. Then again when they do try to plow ahead in short yardage they haven’t been overwhelmingly successful there either.

But to answer the question they do some zone blocking, but it’s not their exclusive approach offensively.


3. Chris,
Do you think the Bills made a mistake with focusing so much on size at the receiver position that they ignored the awesome skills and speed of receivers DeSean Jackson and Eddie Royal which would have been a perfect fit for our offense? 
Coach 85

CB: I don’t think the skills of Jackson and Royal were ignored. The Bills scouting staff takes a look at the whole picture of the player. A mismatch in terms of size was essential for the Bills on the outside however. Jackson was not on the board when the Bills were on the clock in round two. He went to Philly in round one. Royal was on the board and went to Denver with the very next pick after Hardy. I know both of them have made an impact sooner than Hardy, but I’m going to encourage you to be patient. He’s coming along in practice. He should have a bigger role this week. We’ll see.


4. I have a question I hope you can answer for me. My question involves a game against the Jets I “Think” in 1995. It was in the 4th quarter with a couple minutes left when Jets were marching down the field. They threw a hail Mary into the end zone. And like all hail Marys everyone jumped for it. Well we were called for pass interference! It was a total BS call. Wade Phillips was HOT! Pete Carroll was the coach and Wade was so ticked off he called the team off the field and went into the locker room leaving time on the clock. Carroll proceeded to rack up points with no defense (Bills) on the field. My question is do you remember this game or can you find this  game for me? I’ve been a Bills fan for 20 years and actually live in California all my life. I have other fans here we watch the games with (Bills Backers) And they don’t remember the game I’m talking about (rookies!). Any help would be appreciated, Thanks Don.

CB: Well Don you’ve got the coaches right, but the Bills were playing the Patriots and it was 1998. This is the infamous “Just give it to them” game. Andre Reed had put the Bills ahead with six minutes left on a four-yard TD reception from Doug Flutie to make it 21-17 Buffalo.

Drew Bledsoe began a Patriots drive. Facing a 4th-and-9, Bledsoe threw a pass to Shawn Jefferson along the Bills sideline with six seconds remaining. Replays indicated that Jefferson not only failed to get two feet inbounds, but went over the sideline short of the first down marker.

The two officials on the sideline huddled to discuss the play and were within earshot of Andre Reed. After talking for about 30 seconds, Reed said he heard one official say to the other, “Just give it to them.”

So the Patriots were given the completion and the first down.

On the next play Bledsoe threw the Hail Mary pass to which you referred from the Bills 26-yard line which fell incomplete with no time left, but the officials called pass interference in the end zone on Henry Jones even though the ball was not catchable.

So the Patriots were given possession 1st-and-goal at the one-yard line and Bledsoe threw a play-action touchdown pass to Ben Coates for the winning points.

After the TD, Wade Phillips pulled his team off the field and the Patriots, with no defense facing them, had Adam Vinatieri run a two-point conversion in for a 25-21 final.

Believe it or not that game is the one that bothers me more than any other. More than ‘wide right’ more than ‘home-run throwback’ because it was the biggest robbery of a victory I have ever seen in my time covering this team.


5. What would be the consequences for local viewership/blackout if the Toronto game didn’t sell out?

To my understanding, the game is considered a sell-out because it was ‘sold’ to Rogers.

Could you please let us know the exact situation and nip any potential panic in the bud?
Thank you,


CB: The Bills-Miami game in Toronto is being treated like any other home game for the Bills with respect to blackout rules as it’s been explained to me.

The game must be sold out 72 hours before kickoff for it to be broadcast on television. Remember clubs and suites do not count toward a sellout, only general admission. So as long as the game is sold out you’ll be good to go on TV.


6. Regarding DiGiorgio’s injury, the linebacker situation and the signing of Buggs (and not Haggan) do you think in the unfortunate event that one of the Bills starting linebackers goes down with an injury that the team employs a 4-2-5 scheme where the DB’s consist of 3 safeties? I feel that with the size and play of Scott that the Bills could still be an effective run defense with a safety tandem of Whitner-Simpson-Scott in the game and only two linebackers.
Andrew Suppo

CB: I think the 4-2-5 is unlikely to be their regular base package if another LB goes down. However, your mention of Scott is very astute. Scott has been getting reps with the linebackers during individual position drills just so he’s familiar with the responsibilities at the outside linebacker position. He’s not all that different from Coy Wire in terms of body type, who was transitioned to linebacker in his final season in Buffalo.

So if there was another injury at the position, I would anticipate Scott to be the next player moving into the lineup at LB instead of Marcus Buggs, Jon Corto or Blake Costanzo. And it would be a move based purely on experience as Buggs, Corto and Costanzo have little to none on defense at the NFL level. 
7. What is the Bills best starting record (I know 5-1 is the best since 1995) but what is the all time best? When can we say this is the best start ever?

CB: The Bills best start ever was in 1964 when they went 9-0 before losing a game. That season they finished 12-2 and of course won the AFL title. Buffalo has gotten off to 5-2 starts eight other times in their history and made the playoffs five times (1980, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1996). In three of those five postseason appearances, the Bills lost in the first round.


8. Hey Chris,
The Bills have been giving up at least two sacks a game. Duke Preston steps in for Melvin Fowler and the Bills allow no sacks. Do you think they are better off with Duke Preston at center?
Thanks  Alex G.

CB: You’re right the Bills did not allow a sack against the Chargers when Duke was in there and he did have a good game against Jamal Williams. Of course the Chargers barely sent more than four pass rushers the entire game which helped as well. Duke might very well be a better fit, particularly against 3-4 defensive fronts when the nose tackles are bigger and stronger on the whole. Preston goes 326 pounds, with Fowler closer to 300. Just being able to stand in there is easier due to size for Preston.

Though Dick Jauron hasn’t come out to definitively say that Duke is ‘the guy’ moving forward, I think he will be in there for the foreseeable future even when Melvin is 100 percent healthy.


9. Can you discuss a bit more about Reggie Corner?  I thought you had said he looked good in pre-season and maybe would be ready to play before Leodis?
Mark Teske

CB: At the time I made that comment on Corner, McKelvin was still unsigned in camp. I said if McKelvin misses much more training camp time, Corner could be on the field before him. I was anticipating that Corner had a decent shot at the nickel job, and knowing they had McKelvin focusing on outside corner almost exclusively that opinion made sense to me.

Of course Ashton Youboty then came out of nowhere to win the nickel job.

I still have faith that Reggie Corner will make an impact before the season is over at CB. I think his best position is the slot and with Youboty’s lingering foot injury not improving they made need him there at times sooner rather than later.

The defensive staff has a hard time putting a lot of faith in rookies knowing the negative consequences that can result (six points) and I totally understand that. But playing McGee last week against Miami instead of a healthy McKelvin might not have been the best idea.

When injuries force your hand you’ve got to put them out there and trust them. Not saying McKelvin or Corner won’t make mistakes, but sometimes the risk has to be taken. They made the roster because they can play. When you’re short handed you’ve got to use them.

But I think Corner can play and make plays on the ball. I still believe he’s going to be a good player for this team when he gets his opportunity.


10. Hey Chris,
I read your blog where you said you were surprised the Bills didn’t re-sign Mario Haggan. Isn’t he suspended for four games if/when a team signs him?
Maybe I made that up, but I thought that news came out over the offseason.
Also, why not Donnie Spragan at linebacker?

CB: Haggan has served his suspension. It covered the first four games of the season whether he was on an NFL roster or not. As of Week 5 he was clear to play for any NFL club that wanted him.

I just thought that with all the experience lost on the special teams coverage units in the offseason, that losing DiGiorgio was another loss of experience that had to be replaced. Haggan made sense to me in that fashion. The Bills thought otherwise.

As for Donnie Spragan, I think his best days are behind him, but in a pinch he could be serviceable. He’s just lacking a bit in space.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Secondary situation

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2008 – 6:57 pm

Buffalo’s secondary situation has been mixing and matching. Ko Simpson has not played defensively in this game despite practicing fully through the week.

Donte Whitner has been playing free safety for most of the game with Bryan Scott at SS. Whitner has also played in the slot in nickel packages with Scott at  SS and George Wilson coming in at FS.

Ashton Youboty has not been seen on the field defensively thus far as well as Reggie Corner. Leodis McKelvin has manned the LCB position the whole game. Youboty’s foot injury is probably such that he will only play in an emergency situation.

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Posted in Inside the Bills
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