Inside The Bills

Stark contrast with TDs allowed run/pass

Posted by Chris Brown on December 24, 2017 – 11:10 am

In our feature on Buffalo’s brand new secondary we chronicled how the Bills lead the league in fewest passing touchdowns allowed (11). Unfortunately the situation is much different when it comes to preventing rushing touchdowns.

Buffalo is last in the league in rushing touchdowns allowed giving up 19 so far this season. The first meeting against the Patriots was a microcosm of these two divergent statistics.

The Bills did not let Tom Brady throw a touchdown pass in the first meeting with the Patriots three weeks ago, but they did give up a pair of rushing touchdowns to Rex Burkhead.

Buffalo’s defense likely doesn’t care which means of preventing touchdowns happens, so long as they prevent them, but the run defense in the red zone obviously has to be at their best today.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Buffalo’s run ‘D’ impressive

Posted by Chris Brown on August 15, 2015 – 9:28 am

They didn’t have Kyle Williams, Alex Carrington or Stefan Charles available in Friday night’s lineup. It didn’t matter. Buffalo’s run defense was extraordinarily stout against the Carolina Panthers ground game. In fact two of their first three carries went for negative or no yardage.

Top RB, in the absence of Jonathan Stewart, Fozzy Whittaker had gains of one, zero and negative three yards on his first three carries. He finished the game with five carries for three yards. Those three rushing yards were all the Panthers could muster against what was largely Buffalo’s starting defense.

Conversely, Buffalo’s offense had 126 yards rushing at the half and 206 by game’s end.

“We had 206 yards rushing to their 73,” said Rex Ryan. “I think they had three (yards) at halftime, so when I said we outplayed them we did. There’s no denying that. So that was pretty good. I thought the execution went really well until the end there.”

“We did well,” said Preston Brown. “We shut down the run and that’s the thing we want to do.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex’s run ‘D’ history

Posted by Chris Brown on July 22, 2015 – 9:30 am

Our latest installment of Camp Countdown presented by M&T Bank focused on whether the run defense can crack the top 10 this season. They finished 11th last year, but slipped noticeably over the final 10 games of the season. One of the major positives in the run defense equation for the Bills this season is Rex Ryan’s track record when it comes to run defense. Since he was promoted to defensive coordinator in Baltimore in 2005, Ryan’s defenses have ranked in the top 10 in eight of the last 10 seasons.

Here’s a look at where Ryan’s defenses have ranked against the run when he’s making the defensive play calls. Of greatest notice is where his defenses ranked in his first year taking over with those respective clubs.

Baltimore (2005-2008) & New York (2009-2014)

Year Yards allowed Rank
2005 99.4 9th
2006 75.9 2nd
2007 79.3 2nd
2008 81.4 3rd
2009 98.6 8th
2010 90.9 3rd
2011 111.1 13th
2012 133.6 26th
2013 88.3 3rd
2014 93.1 5th
2015 ??? ???

Here are the Bills run defense ranks over that same time period

Year Yards allowed Rank
2005 137.8 31st
2006 140.9 28th
2007 124.6 25th
2008 121.6 22nd
2009 156.3 30th
2010 169.6 32nd
2011 139 28th
2012 145.8 31st
2013 128.9 28th
2014 106.4 11th
2015 ??? ???


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-20

Posted by Chris Brown on February 20, 2015 – 1:12 pm

It’s day three of our Combine Coverage presented by NAPA. Let’s get to your questions from email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

As good of a guy as CJ is..will he really fit Roman’s system?


CB: As GM Doug Whaley has said Roman wants a mixed bag of backs that can do different things. Just because you didn’t see a C.J. Spiller type back in San Francisco’s offense when Roman was running things out there doesn’t mean he can’t use a talent like Spiller in his scheme.

Whaley characterized Bryce Brown and Spiller as the speed backs, Dixon as the power back and Fred Jackson as the pass catcher/pass protector. So it appears Roman would like to have three or four backs to work with, not to mention a fullback.

Additionally Rex Ryan has said that with their coaching staff it’s player over scheme every time, so if they can keep Spiller in the fold they’ll devise a way to make him a productive element in Roman’s system.


2 –  @ChrisBrownBills

Do you think OL Ali Marpet will be there in the 4th?


CB: I think Marpet opened some eyes at the Senior Bowl when he showed he could hang with the top senior talent in college despite playing at Division III Hobart. He’s off to a good start with his workout here at the NFL Combine as well, running the fastest 40 time among offensive lineman with a five flat.

Obviously the 40 time isn’t a major influencer on draft grade for offensive linemen, but Marpet is legitimizing his ability to play at the NFL level. The Bills did meet with him and though he played tackle in college, he projects to guard in the NFL.

Will he be there in the fourth round? It’s possible. He could also be gone in the third.


3 – Chris

Thanks for providing a forum for fans to express opinions and ask questions.
With all the QB’s available in Free Agency, College, Canadian League, other pro leagues, I can’t grasp the Bills unable to develop one over the last 20 years. We seem to have chosen one alone and spend all our resources in proving we were right to pick them, rather than looking for the one who pops out and distances himself from the others. Brady popped out, as did Wilson, Romo, Foles etc. I’d be interested if you think this process will change with the new regime ?

Also, if we have two QB’s, shouldn’t they be similar in style, either mobile or pocket passers, so if one is injured the offense doesn’t have to change to adapt to two different styles, like last year with Manuel and Orton ?

Jim in Florida

CB: I think the Bills are more apt than ever to add another young quarterback to the roster, especially with a thin free agent class of options at the position. Adding two veterans is probably unlikely so a vet and a young player is the most likely combination to fortify the position on Buffalo’s roster.

I found it interesting that Doug Whaley and his personnel department intend to meet personally with every quarterback prospect here at the Combine not named Mariota and Winston. After the Combine they also will dispatch QBs coach David Lee to go and work these quarterback prospects out at or around their pro days. Whaley described their planned search to be exhaustive.

He mentioned this on the John Murphy Show and in addition when asked about the philosophy of drafting a quarterback every year he said he was not opposed to it.

I would think similar style quarterbacks would make sense, but sometimes you’re willing to sacrifice similarity if it means getting a better player overall.


4 – Hi Chris

Could you please explain to me how David Lee, who couldn’t get Jets quarterbacks to play better, is going to help EJ Manuel and any other quarterback we have on the roster ?

Thanks, Dale

CB: Rex Ryan has answered this question. David Lee is an expert when it comes to teaching quarterback fundamentals, and really that’s his main job with the signal callers on the roster. To keep their mechanics sound. That’s easier with some quarterbacks than others obviously, but knowing the worker that EJ Manuel is I would anticipate seeing improvement in everything from Manuel’s footwork, to the consistency of his arm angle, release point, hip drive, etc.

While you may knock the results in New York with Geno Smith, David Lee successfully turned Tony Romo from a third string QB into a Pro Bowl starter. I’ve talked to David Lee about that transformation and he said the only reason Romo was successful was because he wanted to work at it.

Romo needed to make 10-thousand throws to improve his passing efficiency because his release point was too low as a younger player and too many of his passes were getting batted down at the line. But he worked with Lee every day. Knowing that Manuel has a similar work ethic, I think we’ll see a difference with him too.



5 – Chris,

I was very disappointed to see Jim Schwartz leave considering the outstanding work he did with the defense last year especially with stopping the run. Now with Rex Ryan in the fold, the defense will most likely look very similar to what we experienced during the 2013 season under Mike Pettine. With that said, our run defense was not very good under Pettine. Is there real reason to worry it might struggle again with Rex Ryan going back to more of the 3-4 hybrid system that Pettine used? I know we have an outstanding defensive line but they seemed to be in better position to stop the run under Schwartz’s system. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks.

-Mike from Syracuse

CB: I don’t think there should be a big worry about the run defense. Yes, Schwartz did simplify things, which made it easier to execute. By the same token Rex Ryan defenses have almost always finished in the top 10 in run defense. Buffalo finished 11th last season. So if anything it could improve under Ryan based on the track record of his defenses. Combine coverage is presented by NAPA Auto Parts.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills number one in run ‘D’ for now

Posted by Chris Brown on October 6, 2014 – 10:21 am

After Sunday’s Week 5 action including Buffalo’s impressive stifling of the Lions run game, the Bills have the number one run defense in the NFL.

Jim Schwartz’s unit is allowing just 71 yards rushing per game. Their standing at the top of the league in run defense could be short lived. That’s because the number two run defense in the NFL is Seattle and they play tonight against the Washington Redskins. The Seahawks are giving up just 72.3 yards rushing per game.

So if Seattle can smother Washington’s run game in much the same way that Buffalo did with Detroit, the Seahawks might be able to reclaim the top spot.

Buffalo is also number one in third down defense, and they should be able to carry that distinction into Sunday’s game with New England. The Bills are allowing opponents to convert less than 32 percent of the time (31.8%).

Run ‘D’ and third down defense were the two areas that Schwartz was counted upon to improve walking in the door. So far, so good.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills run ‘D’ was dominant

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2014 – 10:00 pm

The Buffalo run defense was so dominant against the Houston Texans’ fifth-ranked run game Sunday that head coach Bill O’Brien scrapped it altogether. Through three quarters of the game the Texans had five carries for eight yards. It wasn’t until they were ahead on the scoreboard late in the fourth quarter that they chose to run the ball more in an effort to kill clock. Nevertheless the Bills run defense allowed just 1.5 yards per carry and a total of 37 yards on 24 carries in the game. As Aaron Williams saw it however, it wasn’t enough.

“Once you stop one part of their game it can only go one direction,” Williams said. “Unfortunately, Fitz just made a lot of great plays. When he scrambles, we had guys covered down the field. It’s when the QB scrambles for first downs that we have to do a better job of controlling things. It’s just little mistakes like not touching a guy down when he catches a ball, and he rolls over for a first down. It’s just little ones.  It never, it wasn’t any big plays. They made plays when it counted.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-29

Posted by Chris Brown on August 29, 2014 – 8:36 am

The preseason is now in the books and rosters will all be down to 53 by Saturday at 4 pm. For now let’s get to your questions from email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills do you have an early projection for which wideouts will make the team?


CB: I honestly believe the wide receiver position is pretty cut and dry in terms of personnel. Most of them have solidified their roles either on offense or their contributions on special teams. I think the bigger question is how many do they keep?

In Doug Marrone’s first season as head coach the Bills kept six receivers. I think this time around there is a realistic chance they keep seven. Now that obviously means they would have to trim from another position, presumably on offense. Do they only keep two quarterbacks? Do they keep one less tight end?

The Bills will also have an extra roster spot to play with knowing that Nigel Bradham will presumably go on the reserve suspended list and not count toward the 53-man roster.


2 – @ChrisBrownBills Will Coach Hackett be on sideline or in booth this season?


CB: The Bills offensive coordinator made a move down to the sidelines last season and intends to stay there. He’s been on the sideline all preseason so I’ve got no reason to think that will change this coming week.


3 – Chris:

Thanks for your coverage on the team!
I have a question on the Bills Offensive philosophy in short yardage and Red Zone.  It appears (at least in the preseason) that the Bills are going the stay with the tight formations on short yardage and goal line situations (basically power on power) why don’t they use the spread more?  Not to bring up previous situations but the Bills seemed more consistent and successful (under Chan Gailey) spreading the defense which opened more running lanes and the middle of the field. Do you see the Bills incorporating some of that offensive thinking?


CB: I think what you saw in the preseason is only some of what you should expect in the regular season. The Bills have spent the better part of the last two offseasons trying to increase their size and girth on the offensive line. That was done with winning those short yardage battles by plowing straight ahead in mind. In all likelihood that will be the approach a good amount of the time this season, but I wouldn’t rule out some spread looks as well.


4 – Chris,

So far through the preseason games, the Bills run defense looks a lot better than it has in years. I feel a big reason for that has been the addition of Brandon Spikes at MLB (and of course, Jim Schwartz as DC). I know Spikes signed a one-year deal with the Bills in the offseason, do you see the Bills offering him a long-term contract extension sometime during the season? I would love to see Spikes re-signed as I feel he’s been a great mentor to the younger players on the team, as well as being a great MLB.

Thanks for the great coverage on the Bills!

Steve B.
Fredericksburg, VA
CB: There’s no question that Spikes is a guy that younger players follow. They respect his instincts for the game. To further illustrate that I’ll let LB Ty Powell explain it himself.

“Me and Preston Brown are usually side by side, following Spikes and stuff,” said Powell. “Spikes has a lot of knowledge of the game, he has great instincts, so we just follow him around.”

The young linebackers on the roster are just trying to soak up whatever they can about playing linebacker in the NFL from Spikes.

As for an extension I would expect that to be a wait and see situation, but the run defense is probably the most encouraging thing about this team to come out of the preseason.


5 – Hello Chris,

Love the work you do for the Bills and Fan Friday. I am wondering if the I-formation seen in preseason, is what we will be mainly seeing by the Bills. With all the talent they have a wideout, Williams, Woods, Goodwin, seems crazy they wouldn’t stick to more of a spread offense? Plus this would create space for Spiller. Maybe they are just not showing much of their packages at this point but still. Thanks for the Bills Coverage.


CB: My suspicion is that while that is a part of their offensive playbook we won’t see nearly as much of it in the preseason. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has always been about putting his five best playmakers on the field for the offense. That should mean more wideouts on the field more often come the regular season.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Run ‘D’ has stymied opponents

Posted by Chris Brown on August 17, 2014 – 1:31 am

It has been a perennial problem since 2005, Buffalo’s run defense. Enter defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who through three preseason games has his first team defense locking down consistently in the run game.

Through three preseason games Buffalo’s first team defense has allowed 30 rushing yards on 18 carries, not counting Landry Jones kneel down at the end of the half. That’s a yards per carry average of 1.66. On Saturday the Steelers power run game managed just 11 yards on seven carries against the Bills first unit.

“I credit a lot to the coaches and the players I really do. Jim (Schwartz) even when he came here and everyone was asking about that if you go back and look at the scheme they run they’ve always been very good against the run,” said Doug Marrone. “There’s another level where there’s three linebackers instead of two or sometimes one or whatever we’ve been in the past. People have been able to make some big plays on us, so we’ve done a good job of keeping that ball inside.

“The players have responded well to it and have done a nice job up front. I think that’s something that we need to continue to do and play well.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Run ‘D’ emphasis in practice pays off

Posted by Chris Brown on August 9, 2014 – 2:20 am

The men on Buffalo’s defense weren’t happy with the way the Giants were able to run the ball at times against them in the Hall of Fame game last week. With a short turnaround and just three total practices before Friday night’s game at Carolina defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz set out to make their run defense a top priority. Mission accomplished.

Carolina’s run game was stymied from the get go by Buffalo’s first, second and third defensive unit. The longest run of the game was a quarterback scramble that went for 11 yards. At halftime the Panthers were averaging 1.7 yards per carry and at game’s end they had just 2.9 per rush.

“There was a big emphasis on that,” said Manny Lawson. “We wanted to correct last week moving on to this week. Being consistent more than anything in the run game and it’s one thing we really focused on in practice.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Schwartz feels corners will be key to run ‘D’

Posted by Chris Brown on July 9, 2014 – 9:44 am

Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has a long track record of success defending the run with his defensive units. What’s interesting is what he feels is a key to a strong run defense. It’s not a mammoth nose tackle or a top flight middle linebacker. It’s top end cornerbacks. That’s why he’s excited about what he can do with this Bills defense. Here’s his explanation.

“I think what gives me confidence there is the fact that we have corners who can cover,” said Schwartz in his belief that the run defense can be much improved this season. “It’s hard to stop the run unless you have some corners that can win on the outside. It’s hard to get an extra safety in the box if you’re trying to protect your corners. With Gilmore and Leodis and also Corey Graham and Brooks has had an outstanding run in OTAs. We have some real talent at corner, guys that can win one-on-one on the outside part of the field. I think if you look across any run defense that’s a common ingredient and I’m excited for those guys.”

With corners who can cover in one-on-one situations the defense can commit a safety to the run front more often than not. Add in some of the other factors we covered in our Camp Countdown on how much the run defense will improve and Buffalo’s defense stands a good chance of being in the top half of the league in that all important category.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Schwartz’s DC resume with Titans impressive

Posted by Chris Brown on January 24, 2014 – 9:23 pm

Bills new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz served as a defensive coordinator for seven seasons with the Tennessee Titans (2001-2008). Over that span his unit’s numbers were very impressive in comparison to the rest of the league at the time.

Schwartz’s defenses over that eight-year span ranked in the top half of the league in the following categories.

5th in run defense – Titans gave up 103.5 rush yards a game (2001-2008)
6th in 3rd down defense – total conversion pct. allowed of 36.1%.
9th in interceptions – total of 138 in those eight years.
13th most turnovers – 230
13th in sacks – unit had 293 sacks.
14th in pass breakups – 642 PBUs

The run defense is what is most encouraging. Tennessee in 64 home games with Schwartz as defensive coordinator allowed just nine 100-yard rushers.

Knowing the Bills finished second in the league in INTs and in sacks this past season, one would expect similar success in those two categories, and with Schwartz’s strong run defense resume Buffalo’s run defense may finally move into the upper half of the league.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-1

Posted by Chris Brown on November 1, 2013 – 2:21 pm

The Bills face a Chiefs team that has not won in Buffalo at the Ralph since 1986. Here is your latest edition of questions on email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.


1 – Chris,

The Bills are playing much more aggressive defense, and yes the sacks and interceptions are up.  However, the Bills run defense is still vulnerable. In addition, even though the Bills offense is putting 20+ points up per game, the defense is giving up more.

Is the Bills D-Line overrated and in need of an upgrade to shutdown the run ?

Let’s GO Buffalo
Randy C
South Florida

CB: The run defense has not been up to snuff. Coaches and players have cited sound fundamental tackling as the main culprit for this. Arthur Moats had a good explanation for me this week. Here’s what he said.

“When we’re making that initial contact we have to continue to drive our feet,” said Moats. “That’s the technique part of it I was talking about and not letting those guys fall forward for extra yards, not letting them leak out after getting hit initially. I feel like once we start doing that more consistently we’ll definitely see better results.”


2 – Chris,

Thank you so much for the information that you provide, especially to us fans who aren’t in the Buffalo area.  In regards to the Buffalo-Miami game.  There were 4 sacks and a lot of qb hits.  I can’t remember how many.  I believe I read where you reported that during the week Coach Marrone spent extra time working with the Offensive Line.  It seems to me that there were more sacks and hits in this game than in previous games.  What more can be done to increase the protection?

Buffalo fan in Virginia

CB: I think the Bills will need to turn to a quick passing game more often as they face defensive units that can successfully rush the passer. They’re going to need to turn to three and five-step drops and deliver the football on timing patterns. Seven-step drops against teams like the Chiefs for example are a death wish.

I think short drop timing throws would be good go-to plays, especially for the inexperienced quarterbacks Buffalo has had to put in the lineup. Then when DBs start squatting on routes, work the middle of the field like they did last week and take a few deep shots.


3 – Hi Chris,

After looking at the statistics, it appears that among the linebackers, Kiko Alonso and Manny Lawson are making many tackles and that Nigel Bradham is not experiencing the production that Lawson and Alonso are. Is it because Bradham is not strong against the run? The Buffalo Bills defense is decidedly better than last year’s version in terms of making plays, but would they go after another linebacker in April’s draft? It seems that the defensive line is strong, and the secondary is strong, but maybe they need one more playmaking linebacker. Your thoughts?

Tony, Ormond Beach, FL

CB: Bradham’s lack of production is directly tied to his lack of playing time. Through the first eight games of the season Bradham has 104 snaps logged on defense. Lawson has 344 and Alonso 626. You can’t expect the same production from a guy playing one third or one sixth of the time.

As for drafting another linebacker I think that there’s a good chance they look to add another LB next April.


4 – Chris:

The Bills did not seem to be using Fred Jackson and CJ spiller in the game at the same time very much when they were both healthy this season.  Do you think we will ever see them utilized in a pro set or veer formation?  I just could see that as a great asset to utilize in a fast paced offence.


CB: Both haven’t been 100 percent healthy almost all season so the opportunity to run a split backfield has been limited. They did do it a bit earlier this season and it is contained in the Bills playbook. I just don’t think we’ll see much of it until both backs are fully recovered from their injuries.

Making use of that formation also depends on the caliber of opponent and what they do well.


5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Thanks for the updates this week on EJ. Can you tell me how EJ looked or did?


CB: EJ threw the ball very well, but his injured knee is not all the way back yet. His right knee is on his back leg on drop backs. Planting that leg firmly in the ground at the top of his drop cannot be enjoyable if he’s still experiencing pain in that knee where he had the LCL injury.

He hasn’t been cleared medically to play in a game and until that happens he’ll just be throwing in practice. EJ hasn’t really done any team work. Head coach Doug Marrone said that there’s an outside chance he plays in the Jets game in two weeks.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Run ‘D’ not perfect, but better in 2nd half

Posted by Chris Brown on October 20, 2013 – 11:12 pm

The Bills run defense has been a bit of a trouble spot for Buffalo this season. Coming into the game they ranked 28th in the league giving up 124 rushing yards per game. And though Miami finished right around that average with a total of 120 rushing yards and a very good 4.8 average, Buffalo’s run defense was decidedly better in the second half thanks to some halftime adjustments.

After giving up 5.7 per carry in the first half, Buffalo only gave up an average of 3.6 yards per carry in the second half as Miami got just 40 yards on 11 second half rushes.

“They did a great job of adjusting the second half, just trying to stop the run,” said Lamar Miller. “We just have to find a way to win the game.”

The numbers at the end might not look good, but Buffalo did take a step in the right direction Sunday with their second half run defense, much like their performance the previous week against Cincinnati.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Potential key to run ‘D’

Posted by Chris Brown on July 17, 2013 – 9:33 am

The Bills run defense has not ranked better than 28th over the last four seasons. In three of the last four seasons it’s ranked 30th or worse. That figures to change in 2013 under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. As we outline in our Top 25 questions until training camp, the run defense should be much improved from it’s ranking of 31st last season. Pettine and his staff should certainly help, but there’s one key addition that could really help on the field.

Second-round pick Kiko Alonso is taking aim on the starting middle linebacker position and was all over the field making plays in the spring practices. It’s clear that head coach Doug Marrone has already recognized what Alonso could do for Buffalo’s defense.

“I see a player that’s very comfortable out there,” said Marrone. “Sometimes you look at someone and they’re bright-eyed and trying to get of sense of what’s going on around him. I see him coming in with a purpose and a willingness to compete for a starting position. He’s shown he has all the ability to play all three downs within the defense whether it be run, pass, nickel, sub, whatever it may be. We’re excited about seeing how he progresses, but again we’ll see if he can make the same type of growth he’s making now.”

Provided he lands that starting role, his play will be critical to Buffalo’s hopes to improve an area of their defense that has been sorely lacking.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills run ‘D’ now 4 straight of less than 90

Posted by Chris Brown on December 9, 2012 – 6:25 pm

Buffalo’s run defense has now made it four straight games of surrendering less than 90 yards rushing to their opponent. That’s something that hasn’t been accomplished by a Bills defense in this century.

Buffalo defense held St. Louis to 67 rushing yards. Steven Jackson had just 64 yards on 19 carries and averaged just 3.4 per rush. The Bills four-game streak is the longest since the 1999 season when the Bills had the number one defense in football and went four straight without allowing 90 rushing yards from games two through five that season.

“Yeah I mean you watch them on film and you let Steven Jackson get going and he can hurt you,” said Kyle Williams. “He can bleed the clock and he can do a lot of damaging things to a defense. We were able to control that, but in the end we were not able to win the game or control the game.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills run ‘D’ tops over past month

Posted by Chris Brown on December 3, 2012 – 2:23 pm

Buffalo’s improved run defense of late has been well documented. But after allowing just 50 rushing yards Sunday, the Bills run defense over the past month has been the best in the NFL.

Over the last four games, Buffalo is first in yards per carry average allowed (3.1 ypc) ahead of Tampa Bay (3.3), Denver, Cleveland and San Francisco (all 3.4).

The Bills are also third in the league over that four-game span in rushing yards allowed per game (78.5) behind only Washington (57.5) and Cleveland (65.7).

In fact Buffalo’s overall defense over the past four games is among the league leaders. The Bills are allowing just under 270 yards of total offense the last four times out (269.8), which ranks second best in football over that stretch. Only Pittsburgh has been better (239.6).

Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills run ‘D’ peaking?

Posted by Chris Brown on December 2, 2012 – 7:35 pm

Buffalo’s run defense has been much improved since the bye week and on Sunday they did something a Buffalo defense has not done in nine seasons.

In holding the Jaguars to just 50 yards rushing on Sunday, it marked the third straight game they’ve held their opponent to fewer than 90 yards rushing (Miami – 60, Indy – 87, Jax. – 50) . The last time a Bills defense held three straight opponents to less than 90 yards rushing was the 2003 season (see below) as we mentioned in our Saturday story the day before the Jaguars game.

11/30/03 vs. Giants – 13 carries, 24 yards
12/7/03 vs Jets – 26 carries, 88 yards
12/14/03 vs. Tenn – 32 carries, 86 yards

Jairus Byrd, who has the best view of the run defense from his free safety position liked what he saw on Sunday.

“They were getting the ball and were getting hit immediately,” said Byrd of Jacksonville’s backs. “Guys were running to the ball, pursuing and I’m on the back end just looking at it getting excited. Holes were there and they were getting hit. Anytime you see that especially on the back end you’re loving that because then it leads to being one-dimensional.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Improved run ‘D’ had simple solution

Posted by Chris Brown on December 1, 2012 – 11:49 am

When Buffalo’s run defense was having problems all you heard from the players and coaches was they needed better gap responsibility and better tackling fundamentals. And that’s exactly what they attribute to their improved run defense numbers the past two weeks in which they’ve held both the Dolphins and Colts to less than 90 yards rushing.

“It is that simple,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “We’ve said all along the early part of the year the most important thing was that we had consistency from our defense and that was gap fits and consistency in our tackling. We’ve gotten so much better at that in the last four or five weeks. Really it started back in Arizona. Our run defense started getting better there. I feel very good about where we are, but we’ve got to step it up even more.”

If the Bills can hold the Jaguars to under 90 yards rushing Sunday,  it would be the first time the Bills have posted three straight games of allowing fewer than 90 rushing yards since the 2003 season.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-16

Posted by Chris Brown on November 16, 2012 – 12:35 pm

Alright Bills fans, here’s the latest edition of Fan Friday courtesy of your questions sent to and @ChrisBrownBills on Twitter.

1 – Chris,

Don’t you think maybe it is time to have an offensive coordinator instead of Chan so he can concentrate on the real problems and evaluate first half problems? I think maybe he has too much on his plate. The head coach needs to evaluate all aspects of the game and talent. I don’t believe he is doing that.


CB: I think there is merit to your comment. When Chan Gailey was first hired he did say that eventually he would turn over play calling duties on offense to his coordinator Curtis Modkins. When eventually is remains to be seen. It certainly won’t be any time this season. I believe coach Gailey has to get the offense to a point where execution is so consistent that he feels a coordinator and the unit can work in concert effectively week in and week out.  


2 – Chris,
Here is the dreaded Marcus Easley question. With Ron Brooks back and assuming the special teams gunner, could Easley replace Martin. Martin only plays special teams. It’s time to see what Easley’s got. Martin really doesn’t add to the passing game. Easley has potential and with Nelson out for the year they need to add another WR


CB: Easley did play there some in training camp. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Easley line up outside in this offense. I think what has held him back to this point is while he has 4.4 speed, it’s build-up speed. What that means is it takes 8-10 strides for him to get up to full speed. This quick timing offense is predicated on the receivers getting quick separation to make receptions.

Easley has improved in this area, but because his strength is deep speed and not quickness in short areas, it doesn’t make him an ideal fit for what Chan Gailey wants executed in this attack. I think he can be an NFL receiver, but I don’t know how much his game can expand and progress in this offense.

I’d be inclined to use him in the red zone knowing he’s capable of elevating and making plays on jump balls.


3 –  Chris,
What are your thoughts on why the Bills don’t run the ball with conventional offense at times?   With QB under center and use of fullback now and then as blocking back.  SF has a middle tier QB (similar to Fitz) and they’re successful using the run to set up the pass with play action. It seems the Bills still utilize the pass to set up the run with most of their running plays coming out of shotgun.  Also, with use of so many empty backfield sets, there is 0% chance of a run, and now defenses can tee off on Fitz.  Have been pleased with Gailey as play caller until now, it seems like we could show more looks and keep keep defenses off balance more.


CB: The Bills run a spread offense and their line works best with a hat on a hat approach. Their inside zone run game is their bread and butter and works very well. I’m not sure why you would want to change a run game that ranks second in the league in yards per carry. Also San Fran, while they do line up a fullback more than the Bills, a good portion of the time they move that FB out of the backfield as a receiving option or to seal the edge.


4 – Dear Chris,

I have been a Bills fan for years now and know we have struggled over the years. I have noticed that we have been doing terrible against the run, especially up the middle. We have done a great job ont blocking runs to the outside. On defense we have also not did that great in disturbing the pass, mostly in man coverage on the outside and zone coverage in the middle of the field. On the blocking the run should we start have more corner or safety blitz’s while disguising them at the same time? Also, while disrupting the pass, should we try putting some corners in different areas of the field, and who?


CB: I think we saw some of this against the Patriots in Week 10. There were some run blitzes with the safeties that worked well. Dave Wannstedt doesn’t call blitzes a whole lot. The numbers this season have proven that. Changing things up couldn’t hurt knowing the unit’s relative lack of success overall this season. We’ll have to see what happens down the stretch.


5 – Chris-

Just wondering if Justin Rodgers has been or will be considered to start opposite Stephon Gilmore? Leodis seems to have really settled into his role playing special teams and an occasional appearance in nickle or dime packages. He has had plenty of chances on that corner, and be it lack of ball skills or whatever, it just looks flat out like it’s not the spot for him.  Rodgers on the other hand, from where I’m sitting, seems to have at least earned a shot out there. He has been making plays from the moment he stepped on the field in his 1st training camp. I realize that doesn’t mean he necessarily will be able to handle a starting CB spot, but by now, having seen both his, and Leodis’ body of work, doesn’t it at the very least earn him a chance? Is there something else holding him back that we as fans are unable to see?



CB: I think Rogers has had an up and down season working in the nickel since unseating McKelvin there. I think they want him to focus on playing the slot receiver knowing his quickness and great change of direction ability caters to playing inside. He’s also on the smallish side so matching up with the larger outside receivers would prove to be a stiffer challenge, both off the line and on jump balls. He’s a better fit inside.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Can’t knock the run ‘D’ in this one

Posted by Chris Brown on November 5, 2012 – 9:08 am

Arian Foster got off to a solid start against the Bills with 62 yards on his first seven carries, but he only had one big carry for 21 yards. What’s more come the second half Buffalo’s run defense clamped down on him forcing the Texans to beat them in other ways.

In the third quarter Buffalo’s defense held Foster to 16 yards on eight carries, and through the Texans final touchdown drive he actually lost yardage to total just 15 yards on 11 second half carries to that point.

“I definitely think we made some progress as far as that goes on our run defense and other aspects of the game, but we’ve still got a long way to go,” said Nick Barnett. “We’ve got to get up field and cause some turnovers and make a play on the long ball. We didn’t. We let a couple of little sneak boots come out of there on throwbacks and we have to be more technique-sound on that.”

Foster finished with 111 yards on 24 carries, but got a lot of garbage yards at the end when Houston was trying to kill clock and shorten the game. For more on Buffalo’s improved run defense check out John Murphy’s Bills Focus package in the Media Center on

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Posted in Inside the Bills
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