Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 6-21

Posted by Chris Brown on June 21, 2013 – 12:19 pm

Let’s get to the latest edition of your questions from and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

The media and players talk a lot about enthusiasm and things they love about the new coaching staff being brought in. Is it any MORE enthusiasm than any other new regime that you’ve seen take over? Or is it the same kind of enthusiasm you get when the coaching staff gets replaced for a new one?


CB: I would say that the enthusiasm witnessed here is greater than any new regime I’ve covered, which numbers six counting Marrone. I think Marrone and his staff have done an excellent job of developing a completely different approach from that of the past. The coaches are for the most part younger and more energetic, which enables them to relate to the players more. I also believe the staff is cutting edge and the players know it.

These coaches sound as though they have a plan for everything that can or will come up through the course of a football season. The players feel like the coaches have the answers. Of course executing those answers out on the field is the most important thing, but these players have come to quickly believe that they’ll be put in the best position to succeed.


2 – Hey Chris,

First off, I want to thank you for your in-depth coverage of the Bills. It’s really great for us fans living in other parts of the world!

My question is why are the kickers only taking 6 to 7 kicks a practice? Seems like so few “reps” when there is such a stiff competition at the position. Also, who do you see as the leader going into voluntary workouts?

Thanks again,
Brenning Greenfield
Crozet, VA

CB: The kicking statistics I would periodically provide in my OTA and minicamp practice notes were only the kicks that were attempted during the team portions of practice for special teams. During practice the kickers and punters typically go on a neighboring field to kick when the offense and defense are working on the main practice field.

Since I need to track the goings on during the team portions of practice with offense and defense I don’t have the option of going to view the kickers at that time. So yes, they do kick a good deal more than just those handful of attempts that occur during team segments.

3 – Hi Chris

I was wondering about your interaction with players on a personal level.  Over the years, have you ever made friends with any of the players to the point where you kept in touch once they left?   Have there been any players who really liked to ‘give you a hard time’ in a teasing/joking around way?

Just curious as to their interactions with you when the cameras are off, any insight would be great.

Brad in Rochester

CB: I’ve obviously come to know players that have been around a bit longer than others. I don’t really strive to know players on a personal level because it makes things awkward on both sides in light of my role with the team. I certainly know there are some players with whom I have a lot more rope when it comes to joking around, but it’s important that the players know they can trust me to fairly report on their play and performance. Befriending players muddies the waters.

As for players that would yank your chain, Sam Adams often tried to mess around with me. Aaron Schobel was another, but he did that with everyone.


4 – With Tarvaris Jackson being released it makes me think. We gave up a, what 3rd round pick this year for a player that didn’t dress for a game all last year? And didn’t make it to training camp.

After just re-signing him to a new contract. What a waste of time & money. Sure make Buddy look silly. Is there more to this story? ie attitude, poor performance, lack of effort..

Thanks Gary in Indy
CB: The Bills gave up just a seventh-round pick for Jackson, and yes there is more to the story. The Bills coaching staff quickly discovered that the combination of three quarterbacks vying for the starting job while also trying to install a new offensive system with three new signal callers was a bad one.

As important as it was to find the best quarterback for the job they also needed to provide enough reps to each of the QB candidates in the spring and training camp to ensure that any one of them would be ready to play come Week 1. That wasn’t going to happen with three of them splitting the snaps in practice.

So the coaching staff made a difficult decision to pull the odd man out, which was Jackson. Now whether it’s Kevin Kolb or EJ Manuel that’s the starter, they’ll both have enough reps in the system where they and the staff will feel comfortable with them running the offense when the games count.


5 – Chris,

Great work covering our Bills, as always.

As far as WRs go, I heard you and Murph on Wednesday night talking about the top 5 being Stevie, Woods, Graham, Goodwin and Rogers and it being hard to unseat those guys. Then after that, you lumped 3 different WRs fighting for that #6 spot. I noticed that you did not mention Easley into that top group of WRs. In all that’s happened in the last few years, does Easley have an uphill battle to make the roster?

Is the talent that deep that we may not see him make the roster this year? I believe his practice squad eligibility is over, but it’d be a shame to lose him completely from the roster (and possibly the NFL) without seeing what his size and talent could bring to this team.

-Nate in Rochester

CB: I’ve been one of the biggest supporters of Easley over the years. I believe he does have a skill set that could succeed in this league, but his body just won’t cooperate. This spring he again missed a good deal of the practices due to an undisclosed injury.

His inability to stay healthy has been a hurdle that’s proven difficult for him to clear. Knowing the Bills made sizable investments in Woods and Goodwin with day 2 draft choices and knowing that Easley is a player that is now being inherited by the current staff without any measure of production at the NFL level he’s in a tough spot.

I’m not saying the challenge he’s facing is insurmountable, but he has to be healthy and get through the entire camp and preseason to even have a shot. After pure talent the second most important quality in a player is arguably availability. That’s something Easley has unfortunately struggled with the most.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-14

Posted by Chris Brown on June 14, 2013 – 11:46 am

The players are done with minicamp and get a six-week break from field practices before training camp. But questions abound! Let’s get to the latest edition of your questions from and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Thanks for all you do Chris!
Two questions: One, why haven’t we heard much about Jeff Tuel? He hasn’t been mentioned in press conferences or included in any stats. Two, out of all the QB’s, which to you has been most impressive? Thanks Chris!

CB: Tuel had not been mentioned much prior to this week because he wasn’t getting much work in practice. Typically it was fewer than five snaps a practice, so outside of individual drills it was tough to get a feel for what he can do.

He got some more work in the minicamp this week and has what look to be good physical skills. Clearly the Bills believe he can be developed since he was kept over Tarvaris Jackson.

With respect to the quarterbacks as a whole it’s hard not to be impressed by EJ Manuel’s physical ability. The ease with which he throws a pass and the charisma he carries is noticeable and we haven’t seen that around here in some time.

2 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for all of your great coverage every year of our Buffalo Bills.  I really enjoy reading all of your updates and breaking news.

So my question is around Jarius Byrd. I know he hasn’t signed his franchise tender yet, so what happens if he decides to not sign it at all?  What are the Bills options at that point?


CB: After July 15th if Byrd still has not signed his one-year franchise tender, the Bills would not be eligible to negotiate a long-term contract with Byrd until after the 2013 regular season is over. So really they’d have no options other than trading his rights.

At that point the ball would be in Jairus Byrd’s court as to whether he wants to sign the one-year tender and play this season with Buffalo. In order to get credit for an accrued season in 2013, the latest that Byrd could wait to sign the tender would be November 12th. If he doesn’t sign by then he’s ineligible to play in 2013.

If that happens the Bills would be within their rights to place the franchise tag on Byrd again for 2014. The only difference for Buffalo is the compensation in that case would be a first and third-round pick. The current compensation this year is a pair of first-round selections.

3 – Hi Chris,

I loved the draft this year, I think the Bills addressed the needs. I feel we got 2 WR that will be big contributors from day one. The UDFA ,out of all the UDFA we picked up , who do you believe will make this team and becomes a big factor Now?

Also do you think guys like Brad Smith and T.Jackson might be gone now that we have filled the holes at QB,and WR. Will we see Byrd this year or is his days in Buffalo numbered?

One final question, is Manuel the future of this team? Do you think he can bring this team back to life? He has the size and the arm, but can put it all together to be that guy, does he have what it takes to become a Very good QB in this league, or does it come down to Hope and Prayers?

Thanks Doug

CB: I think among the undrafteds, Da’Rick Rogers and Nickell Robey have both put themselves in good position to land a roster spot, but it’s early and it’s still not real football. The two of them have not looked out of place in practice and have made plays regularly. Again things will be different when the pads are on and I’m admittedly concerned about Robey holding up in the run game at 165 pounds, but we’ll wait and see at camp.

Well you were correct about Tarvaris Jackson, but I think he was more a victim of logistics than anything else. Head coach Doug Marrone indicated releasing Jackson was due to the fact that they would not be able to have a proper evaluation of a real competition with three QBs rotating through.

As for Brad Smith, he’s performed well in the spring practices and could be a coveted veteran presence among this corps of young receivers. I’m interested to see what he can do now that his offensive focus is solely on receiver.

Concerning EJ Manuel, much like I said after the draft, he was the quarterback prospect in this year’s class that has the best chance to be great. Not someone you can win with, or above average, but great. It’s just a matter of how long before that greatness emerges, but it can never hurt to pray.

4 – Chris;

Most Defenses use two D Lines and substitute freely throughout the game, while the O Line usually stays the same except for injury! Why is that?

It would seem a rest in the game would also benefit an O Lineman? It would also further develop our backups.


Jim from Florida

CB: While I think some of your points certainly have merit, the offensive line is a different animal from defensive line. On offense those five guys need to work in sync on every play where on the defensive front there’s less of that. Sure there are stunts and twists where ends and D-tackles work together, but it’s limited in comparison to the blocking schemes of the offensive line.

So I would attribute the lack of substitution on the O-line to that, the need for continuity and consistency with the personnel in the blocking schemes.

5 – Hi Chris,

What’s your early feeling/assessment on E.J. Manuel from watching him in the spring?

I think we are way overdue for a Franchise QB and hope is he the guy.


Thanks for all the news!

Big Bills Fan in Denver, CO

CB: As I stated above his physical ability is impressive. In terms of his physical talent he’s probably comparable to Cam Newton in terms of mobility and throwing arm talent. Manuel needs time on the field in the practice setting and he’ll get that now with one less quarterback in the rotation.

I think this offense caters well to a young signal caller, so if he wins the competition I think he’ll be able to make progress each week as a rookie. I just haven’t seen enough of him to know if it’s fair to expect the wild success that the rookies last year like Luck, Griffin and Wilson had out of him in 2013.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Respect for QB Jackson

Posted by Chris Brown on June 11, 2013 – 8:01 pm

Even though players understand the business of the game leads to transactions like the release of QB Tarvaris Jackson Monday, they still respected the work that he put in during his time with the club.

EJ Manuel and Kevin Kolb were both asked about the benefit of getting more reps with Jackson no longer on the roster, and both made a point to comment on the time they spent with Jackson this spring before answering the question.

“First of all I enjoyed my time with Tarvaris I thought he was a heck of a player, super talented and a heck of a guy,” said Kolb.

“T-Jack did a great job helping me when he was here,” said Manuel. “The first couple of weeks when we had the OTAs, he did a great job preparing me.  I would ask him a lot of questions and he gave me great feedback.  So I definitely respect him and thank him for that.”

Kolb even took the time to call Jackson after he had been released.

“I talked to Tarvaris last night,” said Kolb. “I got cut so it’s going to happen at one point. We’re all going to get fired. You’ve got to be able to let it roll off your back and get better, but I’m obviously glad to be here and glad to get some more reps and get some more work with the ones.”

Coach Marrone explained that it was a tough decision, but that it had to be made to gain a clearer picture on the quarterback competition. Rotating three men through with the offense was not accomplishing the goal in an effective way. Still, it didn’t mean Marrone lacked any respect for the work that Jackson put in during his time at One Bills Drive.

“It’s a very tough profession and we really appreciate the job that Tarvaris did and how hard he worked,” said Marrone. “He was improving, and now he has an opportunity to catch on with another team and I think that’s important. He deserves that.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

OTA reps for Jackson, Kolb make sense now

Posted by Chris Brown on June 11, 2013 – 7:05 am

Through the course of the OTA practices it was Tarvaris Jackson and Kevin Kolb getting the majority of the reps while EJ Manuel got noticeably fewer snaps. It may have seemed peculiar on the surface knowing Manuel would need all the snaps he could get in order to get up to speed sooner rather than later. Now looking back Buffalo’s offensive staff may have been using OTA practices for a much different purpose.

As their first-round pick Buffalo’s offensive staff knew that Manuel was going to be one of their top two quarterbacks on the roster regardless of how much work he got in OTAs. He is the long term investment. What they probably didn’t know for sure was which quarterback would serve as his stiffest competition. Perhaps that’s what Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett were working on in terms of decision making in having the two veteran QBs get most of the work through the OTAs.

Kolb and Jackson provided enough practice tape for Marrone and Hackett to make an evaluation and determine which quarterback would serve as Manuel’s main competition in training camp. With the release of Jackson, it will obviously be Kolb.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

QB Jackson release a plus for Manuel

Posted by Chris Brown on June 10, 2013 – 8:17 pm

The release of Tarvaris Jackson presents an obvious plus in getting top pick EJ Manuel up to speed.

During OTA practices it was Tarvaris Jackson and Kevin Kolb getting the majority of the reps in team drills. EJ Manuel was third in terms of snaps in practice. That all changes now. With Jackson no longer on the roster Buffalo’s top draft choice will get a good deal of reps in practice in this week’s mandatory minicamp and training camp.

That should serve the rookie QB well as he tries to compete for the starting job.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

QB timetable based on performance

Posted by Chris Brown on May 31, 2013 – 3:38 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone knows he’s going to be asked constantly about the state of the quarterback competition, but he’s sticking to his original plan as to how a starter will be reached.

“I think the timetable comes when one of those guys separates themselves,” said Marrone. “The struggle with that position as well as some other positions on the field is it goes back to reps. You only have a certain amount of time. I’m going to take a good look this week and go back and see it. As far as my evaluation the two young guys (Manuel, Tuel) I’m very happy with (them). And Kevin (Kolb) and Tarvaris (Jackson) have been doing a good job of competing out there and we have had enough reps of them to look at see what they’ve done.”

Obviously any coach would want to have a defined answer at that position sooner rather than later, but sometimes it takes until the first or second preseason game for there to be any defined separation between the candidates.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone’s assessment of QBs

Posted by Chris Brown on April 18, 2013 – 2:17 pm

With the Bills first voluntary minicamp under head coach Doug Marrone in the books, the Bills sideline boss was asked for his impressions of the top two quarterbacks on his roster after watching them in action for three days.

“For the amount of volume that we have in on both sides of the ball, for a quarterback in Kevin who was injured and hasn’t played a lot lately to Tarvaris who wasn’t available to play last year and to come into a camp where they’re not out throwing on 7-on-7 before a camp or they’re not at a high school field, I was very impressed with how they handled themselves in the classroom with
excellent questions,” Marrone said. “I was very impressed with how themselves on the field especially with all the stuff that was going on the field on both side. I was very happy with how they handled themselves in light of what they’ve dealt with the past

Both Kolb and Jackson appeared to execute better on the final day of the minicamp than they did earlier in the practice sessions.

“It’s good. It really is,” said Kolb. “I think for a new system in all three phases, a lot of new players, I think practice has gone fairly smooth for our situation. Obviously a lot to build on, a lot to correct, but it’s all making sense for everybody and everybody is kind of catching on phase by phase.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

A second chance for Tarvaris Jackson

Posted by johnmurphyshow on April 3, 2013 – 2:15 pm

Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson spent last year on the Buffalo Bills roster.  But it ended there.  He never took a snap in a game.

Now, with a new contract, Jackson is back and looking forward to competing for playing time at the quarterback position.

Jackson was on hand this week for the start of the Bills Voluntary Offseason Conditioning program.  And he told reporters at One Bills Drive he’s looking forward to a second chance to show the coaching staff that he can play.

“I haven’t played in a whole year,” he said.  “I just came here last year trying to learn as much as possible, just in case something happened.  I didn’t really know how things would play out.  Every year in the NFL, you gotta put it on tape.  Right now, I’m just trying to compete and get better.”

The Bills acquired Jackson in a trade with Seattle last August.  He was inactive for all 16-games, but the Bills re-signed him to a free agent contract in February.  Jackson says his understanding with Bills GM Buddy Nix essentially hasn’t changed since he came here last August–he’s expected to work hard and see if he can get some playing time at quarterback.

“He mentioned just when I first got here, just come here and learn as much as I could, and we’ll see what happens,” Jackson said.  “Nothing really happened.  We just talked about how things played out, and it will be a little different this year–I get a chance to compete.  That’s all you can really ask for.”

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Fitz took open competition news well

Posted by Chris Brown on February 22, 2013 – 6:30 pm


Bills head coach Doug Marrone announced that the starting QB job was open to competition last week when the team announced they had re-signed Tarvaris Jackson. At the NFL Combine he explained how each of the top two competitors in that forthcoming battle took the news.

“I’ve talked to Tarvaris on the phone, I’ve spoken to Ryan on the phone,” said Marrone. “Really my conversations between the players are private. I think that Ryan… and I really hate speaking for the players, but I think that (Ryan’s) good. I think we’re all competitors. When I was interviewing for the job there were other people interviewing for the job and I’m okay with that. I’m competing. When I was a player myself we were always with competition whether it was from someone else or competition within. I know in my experience I’ve never really seen a player that wasn’t open to competition.”

Marrone said with both players having NFL experience and NFL starts under their belt an open competition was “natural.”

“I think that players whether  they’re competitive with themselves to be the best they can be or competitive going against people at their position to prove that they should be on our roster is in all of us,” he said. “So for us to come in we’re all being competitive in what we’re doing.”

Buffalo’s head coach also said he’s conducted an evaluation of Fitzpatrick and Jackson on tape, but he’s not going to share his conclusions with the media or the public without talking to the quarterbacks themselves first. That won’t happen until April 2nd when players can report for the offseason conditioning program.

“I’m a big believer is watching the tape is part of the process,” said Marrone. “If I was going to talk to evaluation of a player I would want to do it face to face with the player first. I can’t do that until the players report. So I have to wait until I start working with the players on the field and even when we do that we’re in t-shirts and shorts and the game is a contact sport.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone: open competition at all positions

Posted by Chris Brown on February 15, 2013 – 12:09 pm

With the announcement that Tarvaris Jackson has re-signed with the Bills, head coach Doug Marrone made it clear that the starting quarterback job and every other position on the roster is up for grabs.

“We will have an open competition at all positions on our team heading into our offseason work,” said Marrone. “I believe that our players will embrace this challenge. We are looking forward to working with our players as we prepare for the 2013 season.”

A team-wide open competition is not uncommon when a new coaching staff is hired, and that will be the case under Marrone for the Bills. Knowing players have to prove themselves to a new staff, there’s sure to be intense position battles at training camp this summer, including starting quarterback.

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Fan Friday 2-8

Posted by Chris Brown on February 8, 2013 – 1:41 pm

Here’s the latest edition of Fan Friday with your questions from and on Twitter at ChrisBrownBills as we touch on free agency, the draft and some Bills players rehabbing from surgeries and their progress.

1 – Hi Chris,

My question is about the Bills pick in the first round. Do you see the Bills taking T’eo, I think that T’eo would fit in with the Bills defense next season? Because we got a healthy Mark Anderson coming back, plus, Mario Williams if not do you think that the bills might go after Ryan Nassib from Syracuse? If not one of them then who do you think the bills might take in the first round?

Thanks for all the work you guys do
CB: I think a lot of the direction the Bills choose to take in the first round of the draft will hinge on what acquisitions are made in free agency. Te’o is an interesting case. He was a playmaker in college, but so was Paul Posluszny. That production and playmaking ability did not carry over to the NFL game. I’m no scout, but I wonder if Te’o is not the same kind of linebacker. Obviously how he times at the Combine will say a lot about whether he’d be a true sideline to sideline player at the NFL level. His lack of playmaking against Alabama was eye opening against top college talent. Knowing that he’ll be facing comparable and better talent in the league makes me wonder about his long range potential. And if there’s that kind of doubt among scouts I think he goes late first round, not top 10.

2 – Chris,

As free agency approaches it’s clear the Bills will want to retain Byrd and Levitre.  However, isn’t Spiller going to demand more if he stays the course, and wouldn’t it be in the Bills best interest to extend him now rather than later?  In addition, has Marrone made any indication on the status of Ryan Fitzpatrick, as I’m one of the few that would rather have him while prepping another quarterback.

Dave Faber

CB: Spiller still has two years left on his contract. I think in due time the Bills will make sure he’s extended to ensure his future with the club, but players like Byrd and Levitre are far more pressing in nature with them set to hit the market in just over a month if they’re not re-signed. So at the earliest I would expect Spiller to possibly be addressed next offseason.

3 – Good Day Chris,

I have not heard much from the Bills this season about the Tarvaris Jackson trade / signing.  Has anyone at One Bills Drive talked about his addition to the team in 2012 and what progress he might have made during the season?  If I understand correctly, he is a free agent soon and I wonder if the Bills have any plans to extend his contract?  Especially given the draft pick they needed to give up getting him.  It would be a shame to let him walk now with 1 less pick come the draft this year.  

Best Regards,
Fonthill, ON

CB: It’s hard to ascertain at this point whether there are plans to retain Jackson for 2013. You’re right he will be an unrestricted free agent. What is working in Jackson’s favor concerning the new coaching staff is prior to coming to the Bills this past season the only offensive system he knew was the West Coast offense, or some variation thereof.

Knowing Nathaniel Hackett’s offense is rooted with West Coast principles he is at least well versed in a lot of the concepts that Buffalo’s offense would presumably run.

Is that enough to interest Buffalo’s offensive staff in re-signing him to their roster? That remains to be seen.

4 – Chris,
Any news on how Torell Troup’s recovery is progressing?  I want to see him in our rotation next year.

John MacGaffick

CB: Hopefully you saw our write up on Troup’s Battle Back this week on Troup is finally back to normal and two arduous years of back problems. He’s still rehabbing now, but expected to be ready to roll for OTAs in the spring.

5 – Hi Chris,

Thank you for answering our questions. It’s very helpful. Can you please explain players who are signed as reserve/future players?

Bob Hammond

CB: Typically they’re players that served the previous season on the team’s practice squad. In order to retain those players NFL clubs have a week to sign them to a future free agent contract. Teams can also sign players from other practice squad units if they’re not re-signed by their former club, or a player that joined the team as a signee in the second half of the season (after 10th regular season game) with one accrued NFL season of credit or less can be signed as a future free agents.

It’s essentially a category for rookie or first-year players that clubs want to retain and see how they develop from their practice squads.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-1

Posted by Chris Brown on February 1, 2013 – 12:55 pm

Here’s the latest Super Bowl week edition of Fan Friday with your questions from and from Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – opp57 Jan 27, 7:48am via Web

@ChrisBrownBills is E.J. Manuel a good fit for Buffalo?

CB: It’s hard to say who is and isn’t a fit since there isn’t a definitive approach to what Buffalo’s offense will look like. Yes, we know that the offense will be rooted in the west coast system, but it has been very varied and unpredictable under Nathaniel Hackett when he was at Syracuse. Hackett naturally prefers to be unpredictable.

At the same time Hackett will be looking to improve and advance the offense and suit it to Buffalo’s personnel. Manuel certainly offers the physical skills necessary to play at the NFL level. His decision making and deep ball accuracy have been questioned by some. A good number of talent evaluators out there do not think he’s a finished product suitable to lead an offense from day one.

As to whether he fits what Buffalo wants to do I’ll let Buffalo’s offensive coordinator answer that.

“Everybody could have a chance in a system like this because I could tailor it to them,” Hackett said. “Figuring out everybody across the board and who it is and then trying to fit that person into the system is the biggest critical factor.”

2 – Chris,

I’ve heard it talked about amongst fans for a long time, do you ever foresee the Bills re-aligning to the AFC North by swapping with Baltimore? I think the proximity of Cincy, Cleveland and Pittsburgh would create outstanding rivalries, with all 4 teams being within a few hours’ drive of each other. Baltimore would seemingly be a better fit for the East, being that NY, NE and Miami are all along the coast as well. Your thoughts?


CB: I have felt the same way for a long time. When realignment occurred in 2002 I thought that was the best case scenario for the Bills long term, but I think the preservation of classic rivalries like Miami carried the day and kept Buffalo in the East. Geographically it makes way too much sense. Unfortunately I don’t foresee a change, especially with the Baltimore-Pittsburgh rivalry being the fiercest in the NFL in my opinion.


3 – NL_RandyK 10:01am via Twitter for BlackBerry®

Hey @ChrisBrownBills what are chances #Bills draft 2 QB’s? Besides backer and maybe free safety, what are other needs?

CB:  I tend to believe that will not be the case. Buddy Nix mentioned a month ago that he said they will try to draft one and perhaps add another in free agency. I think the free agent crop is thin, but it’s my feeling that Nix and his staff would prefer to add a veteran free agent in addition to rookie. Whether the opportunity presents itself to acquire a pair of quarterbacks along those two avenues is another story.


4 – Hi Chris….
As always thanks for the great coverage. I wondered what the environment must be like at one Bills Drive now that the GM, Head Coaches and OC and DC are in place….are these guys meeting together to talk about talent….thanks


CB:  We have a story that will appear on the website about the nuts and bolts of what the new coaching staff is doing at this time. They’re evaluating cut-ups of the Bills 2012 season by position and as offensive and defensive units. Every player will have a report put together on them by the staff. There will also be a good deal of time spent by the staff on reviewing their offensive and defensive schemes, how they apply to the talent on Buffalo’s roster and how said systems can be improved for the better. All of this takes a good deal of time.


5 – Chris
Thanks for your great work.  My question is about Tarvaris Jackson.  Initially, when the Bills traded a draft pick to Seattle for him and became responsible for his 2012 salary, everyone assumed he would become the Bills backup QB and Thigpen (who had been unproductive in pre-season) would be cut.  Then the Bills said Jackson did not know the offense well enough to be the backup, and Thigpen stayed on the roster after final cuts. But Jackson remained inactive for every game, and by mid-season the Bills said it was impossible for Jackson to learn the offense well enough to play because there was not enough practice time to give him snaps with the first team offense.  Jackson remained inactive the entire season and is now an unrestricted free agent. 

If the Bills’ explanation is correct, and it is impossible for a veteran QB to learn the Bills offense during the season because there is not enough practice time, why did the Bills give up a draft choice to get him when training camp was over?  

CB:  Buddy Nix has said more than once that the Tarvaris Jackson trade was a move made purely for insurance. With the Vince Young situation not working out, Buffalo had a short window to address the vacancy at the QB position without a lot of options out there short of a trade. Jackson was acquired for a seventh-round pick in the event that Ryan Fitzpatrick was hurt and out for an extended period of time. Short of a long term injury to Fitzpatrick, Jackson was never going to see the field.

To be fair to Jackson, he knew and understood the offense. The bigger issue was the previous coaching staff did not see Jackson under live fire before in their offensive system. That gives coaches ulcers when they have to put a player on the field without any prior knowledge of what they’re capable of when the real bullets are flying.

So while Jackson did his due diligence to learn the offensive system he was never afforded the opportunity to execute it in the practice setting due to time constraints. That left the previous coaching staff without any way to develop confidence in Jackson since they never saw him execute it effectively. It was very much a catch-22.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Gailey will stick with Fitz for Jets game

Posted by johnmurphyshow on December 24, 2012 – 3:00 pm

Just one game left in the season for the Bills, and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will get the start for the finale.

Head Coach Chan Gailey said Monday he won’t use the Jets game this Sunday to take a look at either of the other two QBs on the roster, Tyler Thigpen or Tarvaris Jackson.

Speaking of Fitzpatrick, Gailey said simply, “He gives us the best chance to win.”

And the Head Coach pointed out that Fitzpatrick had a good day throwing the ball in a losing effort at Miami.

“I  still have a great deal of confidence in Fitz,” Gailey said.  “Really, he threw the ball extremely well yesterday. If we had just hung onto it and catch them, the game’s totally different to me.  I thought he did some great things yesterday and he  competed his rear end off.  I have a lot of confidence in Fitz. ”

Gailey was asked specifically why he would not want to give backup Tarvaris Jackson a shot to play this week.  Jackson’s been on the inactive list since he was acquired in a trade with Seattle four months ago.

“I try to win every game,” he answered.  “I don’t care what the situation is, I’m trying to win every game.  Who gives us the best chance to win?  That’s what I’m about.”

In fact, the Head Coach said he would not use Sunday’s season finale as a chance to give playing time to little-used backups.

“The best players are going to play,” Gailey said.  “They’ve earned the right to play.  They want to play in the games, that’s what they want to do—they want to play in the games.  They’ve earned the right to play, and if they’re ready to go, the best players are going to play.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-14

Posted by Chris Brown on December 14, 2012 – 2:17 pm

Here’s the latest edition of your questions from and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris:

Has Chan Gailey maintained a 100% offensive play calling role or has he given some or all of the play calling authority to Curtis Modkins?

Some of the talk this year is about the “Pistol” Offense run by Washington.  Am I correct in my assessment that it is an offense that is an extension of the “Wild Cat” and the only real difference is the Pistol is run with a true starting Quarterback who has the athletic ability to run as well as throw the football?     


CB: Yes, Chan Gailey is still the only offensive play caller on the roster. When first hired, Gailey mentioned that he intended to eventually turn over play calling duties to a coordinator, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Your assessment of the Pistol offense is not wholly accurate. The Pistol just references a backfield formation where the single back lines up directly behind the quarterback, who is in the shotgun. One of the advantages of this look is it does not tip off to the defense which direction a run play is headed.

Washington runs out of that formation with Robert Griffin a good deal, but Chan Gailey first popularized it in the league in Kansas City a few years ago running it with Tyler Thigpen there. The Bills have even made use of it this season at times.


2 – Hello Chris

Thanks for your insight into the organization, my question is with the apparent need for an elite franchise qb in order for a team to not only compete in the league these days but to have a chance to build a team around, and have a chance at the ultimate goal which is to Win the Superbowl, why won’t the Bills draft a QB in every round until we get The guy to Win it, this team has pieces but is lacking the by far most needed piece a elite QB!! Thank you, Tom Neaverth, life long Bills fan 

CB: I can tell you that won’t happen, although the Redskins did draft a pair of quarterbacks last spring (Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins). I can say that the Bills will likely draft one this spring. Here’s what Buddy Nix said on the subject.

“There’s a time in the era that you’re in with the development of your team I think there’s a time when you can move up a round to take a quarterback and I think the time is now for us,” said Nix. “If a guy is there, and they’ll be one out there, if the guy is there then I think we’ll target, as I’ve said before, drafting a good quarterback. We need a good, young quarterback and we’ll do our best to get one.”


3 – Hey Chris,
 I think the game against the Colts was when CJ split out wide and got chased by a linebacker. He beat his guy right at the snap but Fitz missed the throw, my question is, why not try that every game when there’s clearly a mismatch with almost any linebacker vs Spiller and a chance for a big time play?
Thanks, Ryan

CB: I can tell you that it’s relatively rare to get C.J. Spiller matched up on a linebacker. It’s why defensive coordinators spend as much time as they do with their game plans to avoid such mismatches. When the Bills do get them they have to make opponents pay. Unfortunately they were unable to do so in that situation.


4 – Hey Chris,
What was the thinking behind the trade for TJack? And if Nix is talking QB lately it would seem that he thinking of going away from Fitz which is understandable so why not give the guy some reps in practice to see what he has?  Or will this turn out to be another trade that does nothing for the Bills?

CB: Buddy Nix has gone on record as saying the trade was made with Tarvaris Jackson serving purely as an insurance policy at the quarterback position. Ryan Fitzpatrick is the quarterback they have hitched their wagon to and they do not intend to make a change at the quarterback position so long as Fitzpatrick is healthy.


5 – Hi Chris –

It was my pleasure to be part of the Bill’s crowd at the Jags game. I saw many excited fans doing their best to back their team. Are the players aware of their fans presence at away games? Do you think it is of any value to the team?

Thanks for your time – Dan Garigen/Bay City, MI

CB: Bills players do recognize Bills fans at away games. In fact at the Cleveland game back in Week 3, when most Browns fans had filed out, more Buffalo fans came down to the lower seats in the one end zone and near the end of the game the players could hear the Bills fans singing the ‘Shout’ song and were pumping their fists at them.

After the game they came over and shook some hands with the fans that made the trip. So you are noticed and heard!


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Chan talked with Tarvaris Jackson

Posted by Chris Brown on December 12, 2012 – 12:59 pm

Bills head coach Chan Gailey has had a few conversations with QB Tarvaris Jackson this week. It’s rooted in preparing for his former team on Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks.

“We’ve talked to him a lot about (Seattle’s) personnel more than anything,” said Gailey. “Not scheme, but more personnel and what he feels about their guys and strengths and weaknesses. We’ve talked to him a lot.”

When asked if getting some info on an opponent’s personnel is a big help, Gailey downplayed it a bit.

“Less than people think,” he said. “It has some impact on things you think about and ways you set up run and pass situations. But you really have to go by what you see on film because there are some new people there as well. It has some impact, but maybe not to the extent that people think.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-26

Posted by Chris Brown on October 26, 2012 – 12:30 pm

Here’s the latest edition of Fan Friday with your questions from and @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

The accuracy required to play QB in the NFL is on another level entirely–and at some point, talent is as important as work ethic and practice.  Is it possible that Fitz is turning into a “head case” with all of these adjustments with David Lee and his throwing mechanics?  What, if anything, are the coaches and Fitz doing to try and stem this problem?  The Bills will only go as far as Fitz will take them.  And I fear if he doesn’t revert to something close to what we say early last season, this team won’t improve much or go very far, no matter how much the defense improves or how much talent they put around Fitz.  It’s a QB driven league.  And while there are examples of teams winning SBs with a less than elite QB, it’s not very common.  And his current level of performance certainly will not be sufficient.  What, if anything, can be or is being done?

Thanks again for your coverage of the team.
Jeffrey Suchocki
CB: Ryan Fitzpatrick even agrees with you that his first half of the season has not been what he thought it would be. His completion percentage is admittedly down (61%) from where it was at this time last year (67.7%). I think we should be encouraged by what we saw in the Tennessee game, save for the late INT.

What went by the board in that disappointing loss was the fact that it was clearly Fitz’s best passing game of the season. He even got off to a fast start, something that doesn’t always happen in games for Fitzpatrick either.

He finished that game 27-35 for 225 yards and three touchdowns with the INT and a passer rating of 109.8. The interception aside, that’s the way Fitzpatrick needs to play for this team to have a chance to win every week. His completion percentage of 77% was the highest single-game completion percentage since the Washington game a year ago this week (77.8%).

So I think the hope is that Fitz has begun to rediscover his rhythm in the passing game. Now we just have to hope that the bye week didn’t disrupt that rhythm and he can have a second half of the season, like he had the first half of last season.


2 – Hi Chris,

When a player goes on I-R does he still receive 100% of his pay while he is unable to play?
Thank you again.

Bob Hammond
Rochester, NY


CB: I’m not going to pretend to know all the ins and outs of the injured reserve rules so I tapped into the expertise of Bills Senior VP of Football Administration Jim Overdorf. So with respect to a player getting his full pay when he goes on I-R, the answer is it depends. 

A player who has a split contract (meaning he gets a lower amount if he is on I-R) will get the lower amount of pay if he goes on I-R (there is a league minimum that corresponds to the number of credited seasons). Split contracts are more commonly seen in rookie contracts and with street free agents. 

It’s rare to see a split contract for a marquee player (e.g. a first or second round draft pick). Most rookie contracts do not include the third year as a split amount. So those players more often than not will receive full pay. However, that full pay may be at a lower amount if it has been negotiated in the deal.


3 – Hi Chris,
Just wondering when the Bills are going to turn T.J. Graham loose on some fly patterns. I know at the outset the Bills brain trust wanted Graham to have a better knowledge of the playbook, but with his blazing speed, when will they test defenses? The vertical game will just help Stevie Johnson and Donald Jones more. I know the spread offense is predicated on short and medium range passes, but showing the opposition some danger cannot hurt. What are your thoughts?

Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: I think it’s something that bears watching. The deep passing game is not a common focus in Chan Gailey’s offense. He’d rather get the ball out quick and let the playmakers get yards after the catch. That being said Gailey does want to have a role for Graham week in and week out. How big the role gets will likely depend on what Graham does with the opportunities he gets. But stretching the field is certainly something he can do.”


4 – Hi Chris,

I was wondering if you have an update concerning Tarvaris Jackson and how he is progressing.  Is there any chance he will overtake Tyler Thigpen as the #2 QB or is the task of learning the system a case of too much too soon?  The reason I ask is actually the potential return of Ron Brooks to the 53-man roster at the end of the month.  His expected role as a gunner on the punt coverage team (not to mention adding an extra CB to the mix) means someone will have to be cut.  Could it be Thigpen?

Thanks much,
Jeff Horn

CB: I don’t know what the chances are that it happens this year. Chan Gailey has said time and again that with no time during the practice week in preparation for a game to get him reps in the offense, Jackson is pretty much relegated to third QB status.

I will say that he did get some reps during the bye week practice this past Wednesday, but I don’t know how much weight should be put on that.

As for Brooks they can elevate him to the 53-man roster Wednesday. If they do they have to move someone else off the roster, but I’m not going to speculate about a guy getting released or not. I don’t think it would be Thigpen however, since his contract is guaranteed by virtue of being on the roster through the first week of the season.


5 – CB, 

Many fans are simply upset that the Bills haven’t drafted a QB. Why don’t they go after a developmental raw QB, though he might not pan out, it worth having one for either next year. Buddy Nix has passed on too many quarterbacks that are now successful (Andy Dalton). Buddy said he would want to draft 1 QB every year but only drafted Levi Brown in the 7th round. A QB on the squad could be developed in time by Chan. Both Ryan and Tyler were 7th round picks as well both learned under Chan. 
CB: I respect the frustration. Buddy Nix did say at one point that he’d like to draft a quarterback every year, but he had a roster with a plethora of positional needs that he had to fill out first. Perhaps now that the roster is a bit deeper at a good number of positions he can afford to take a QB in the draft.

Philadelphia has made a habit of this, taking a QB almost every year. Nick Foles is their latest example and he’s the team’s backup QB this season.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

QB Jackson likely to remain in #3 role

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2012 – 4:37 pm

The Bills acquired QB Tarvaris Jackson via trade after it became clear that free agent signee Vince Young wasn’t a fit. The timing of the acquisition however, is going to make it difficult for Jackson and the Bills to find him the snaps needed in the practice setting to get a proper handle on the offense.

In his weekly conversation with head coach Chan Gailey said it’s unlikely that Jackson will move up from the number three role this season to challenge for the backup job due to those practice dynamics.

“It would be very tough for Tarvaris to challenge for that spot this year because of limited reps (in practice),” said Gailey. “Fitz takes almost every rep we have on offense during the course of the week. The backup gets very few reps through the course of practice. So it’s hard for him to get the reps necessary to make a viable charge at this point for that position. We knew it would be a challenge. We knew that when we made the move, but we were hoping that we would be able to keep him around and keep him learning and eventually by osmosis pick up enough to help us if something were to happen later in the season.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Why it won’t be easy for QB Jackson

Posted by Chris Brown on September 14, 2012 – 10:47 am

Bills QB Tarvaris Jackson is doing his level best to absorb Buffalo’s offensive system, but GM Buddy Nix explains why the task proves more difficult once the regular season starts.

“It’s tough. It really is. I’m not going to sugarcoat that. Once the season starts it’s really hard for a guy,” said Nix in his weekly appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550. “Now he’s in every meeting so he’ll be prepared for that mentally. He’s a smart guy, but as far as reps in practice he doesn’t get many.”

For a third quarterback the number of reps to get further acclimated to the offensive system are few and far between in the practice setting, because the main focus is to get the starting quarterback ready to execute the game plan for that week. The second QB then gets a handful of reps in the event that there’s an injury and he has to step in. The 3rd QB really only gets scout team reps where he’s executing plays of the opponent instead of the plays in his own team’s offensive system.

This week Chan Gailey is likely to still have Tyler Thigpen as the number two signal caller as Jackson continues to work to get up to speed with the system.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

QB Jackson not yet ready to back up

Posted by Chris Brown on September 11, 2012 – 11:06 am

QB Tyler Thigpen served as Buffalo’s backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1 and it’s likely to be the case for the next couple of weeks.

Head coach Chan Gailey said that recently acquired QB Tarvaris Jackson still has a hefty amount of ground to cover in Buffalo’s offense.

“He’s still not ready to go,” said Gailey. “He’s still got a lot to learn. That was a tough situation he was in and he’s still learning the whole system. He is.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Thigpen earns added respect

Posted by Chris Brown on September 9, 2012 – 10:01 am

Tyler Thigpen wasn’t exactly feeling comfortable when the Bills signed Vince Young earlier this offseason. Even after it was proved that Young wasn’t a good fit for Buffalo’s offense and he was released, Buffalo traded for another backup QB candidate in Tarvaris Jackson. Thigpen took it all in stride and still made the team’s 53-man roster, and in the process earned some additional respect from his team’s GM.

“The situation I was put into this preseason with them bringing in Vince Young, with them bringing in Tarvaris Jackson, Buddy Nix told me I gained a lot of respect from him by the way I handled myself and the situations,” Thigpen told the Myrtle Beach Sun News this week.

Thigpen also confirmed that he agreed to re-do his contract.

“Once the final cuts came up that day, I spoke to my agent and they wanted to free up a little cap space to sign some other players,” Thigpen said. “I was willing to do that. Obviously you don’t want to take a pay cut, but if it helps the team out I’m willing to do it. I’m just glad to be here in Buffalo still, with this team, and not having to learn a new offense and go to a new area.”

Thigpen is signed through the 2012 season.

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Posted in Inside the Bills
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