Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 1-24

Posted by Chris Brown on January 24, 2014 – 12:48 pm

Well the Bills have begun their search to find the best successor to Mike Pettine now that he’ll be running the Browns. Here’s the latest edition of your questions on email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – With Mike Pettine going to the Browns do you think the next coordinator Buffalo hires will employ the same scheme and same terminology as Pettine, or will it be totally different, or will it be a similar scheme with different terminology and maybe some different details. It’s a shame that we’re losing Pettine. I was looking forward to having the same d-coordinator and scheme going into the next season; that hasn’t happened in a long time. It would be nice to be able to get deeper into the current scheme in the off season rather than starting from scratch like we’re usually doing.  I think this is a big step back for the defense, you can’t build a consistently dominate defense if you’re constantly changing schemes and coaches.  The good teams in this league seem to have consistency.

CB: I think the future of the defensive scheme will depend largely on whether the replacement at defensive coordinator comes from outside the organization or is an internal hire. If it’s an internal hire then the chances are far greater that the scheme remains the same. If it’s a hire outside the organization there’s a chance that the scheme changes, which we all know will lead to a new learning curve. It’s my understanding that coach Marrone will not limit himself to promoting only from within.

I think hiring an open-minded defensive coordinator is the best way to go, one who isn’t married to a specific system. One who, much like Pettine, fits the scheme to the players, not the players to the scheme.

Continuity is a factor granted, but Marrone knows he has to get the best defensive play caller to help maintain the level of productivity and play on that side of the ball. Restricting his search to only the men already on his staff would be just that, restrictive.


2 – Hello Chris,

Goodbye Stevie Johnson and hello Sammy Watkins.  We need a real game breaker now!!!  After watching everyone pick Geno Smith #1 last year (lol), it won’t be Bridgewater either.  Any team in their right mind is going for Clowney.  QB is too risky at #1.  What are your early thoughts on the Bills pick?

Jim (Skaneateles)

First, I don’t get the sense that Stevie Johnson is going anywhere. I admit things appeared sketchy for his future here at the end of the season. Even I was wondering what the future might hold. But I think we need to remember that to help EJ Manuel progress you need to surround him with as much talent as possible. Johnson is the most accomplished receiver on the roster.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think the Bills need to make an addition to the team at receiver. I think they need to add a size wideout. In the words of Doug Whaley, “Big wins.” But I expect the Bills to at least explore veteran options in free agency because there already is so much youth in the receivers room.

Second, I don’t expect Sammy Watkins to be on the board at nine. He’ll be gone in the first three to five picks. If he slips I’ll be stunned.

I think at nine, and Bills fans might not like me for this, but based on the talent that should be there an offensive tackle would make a lot of sense. There’s a long time between now and the draft, which is in May this year, but I think knowing how QB needy some of the teams ahead of Buffalo are I believe that some of the top O-line talent could be sitting there for the Bills. We can’t forget that the Bills gave up the third-most sacks in the league last year (48), and with an emphasis on surrounding EJ Manuel with talent, and more important keeping him healthy, protection will be at a premium.


3 – Chris,
Any word from EJ as to his training regimen during the off-season? Will he be going back to Ken Mastrole or is he mostly just for getting ready for pro days and combine prep? Do you think there will be a QB coach added this year?

CB: In a recent interview EJ said he was actively rehabbing to get his knee back to 100 percent. He did say he planned to do more offseason work with his personal QBs coach. And hopefully you’ve seen our reporting on Doug Marrone’s plan to hire a quarterbacks coach to lighten the burden that was on offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett last year.

In fact by this time next week there might already be a QBs coach on staff.


4 – Hey Chris,

I was wondering, with reading about the Toronto series & seeing R. Brandon at the year end press conf. exactly how far does Brandon’s power reach into the actual football side of the team ? Meaning setting up the draft board, choosing players, who to keep /who to let go (as in the Fitz decision) & so on . I know the guy is supposed to be a great mind when it comes to the advertisement & selling of the team but there have been more than a one decision that has been made this & previous years when it comes to the team that I personally wonder who made these decisions .

I know Russ wasn’t promoted until this past year & I would hope that he would leave the player & direct football decisions to those that were hired to make those calls, but i do know like in the case of some teams the owner & or president of operations power is used sometimes far too much to influence the direction or decisions of those hired to do those jobs of which some recent decisions to me any way seem as though that may have been the case . I am in agreement with the way that the team is going & some of the players that have been brought in but as all fans I have my own ideas & opinions (which don’t amount to much) but try not to draw conclusions with out knowing more than I do & that is why once again i turn to you for some possible answers. Which again as always I thank you for the time & efforts that you put forth to keep us all in the know!!

Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: I think Russ Brandon said it best himself at the end of the season press conference. He was asked for his assessment of EJ Manuel and he gave the following response, which I believe explains a lot with respect to his role on the football side of the organization.

“My assessment really is empowered through Doug Whaley and coach Marrone. That’s what I empowered these guys to do last year and certainly we’re going to put every resource behind all 53 of our guys to improve. Obviously the bell cow is usually the quarterback and gets all the publicity and all the media attention as we mentioned earlier. But we’re going to put everything behind him and try to see some marked improvement moving forward.”


5 – Chris,

I’m not finding anywhere that has where the Bills overall on offence and and defence were among the rest of the league. (Just stuff like #2 in rushing…) maybe you could post something about it?

jeff zinger

CB: Here are some of the more noteworthy statistical rankings that I believe you’re interested in.

Total yards per game – 19th
Rushing – 2nd
Passing – 28th
Sacks per play – 28th
Third down – 29th
Points per game – 22nd

Total yards per game – 10th
Run defense – 28th
Pass defense – 4th
Sacks per play – 3rd
Third down – 14th
Points allowed per game – 20th

Special teams
Punt return avg. – 29th
Kick return avg. – 29th
Net punting – 30th
FG % – 10th

Punt coverage – 25th
Kick coverage – 17th
Net punting against – 27th
FG % against – 17th

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Posted in Inside the Bills

The reason why the roof will be closed Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on December 2, 2008 – 6:48 pm

For those wondering why the roof has to be closed Sunday at the Rogers Centre for the Bills-Dolphins game, here is the official statement on the subject.


Rogers Centre is defined as an open-air facility with the ability to close.  As such, the roof’s status is not dependent and driven solely by the baseball season and therefore it is not sealed at the conclusion of the Blue Jays season. In the last few years, we have worked alongside the Toronto Argonauts, for one, to have the roof open during their games weather permitting.

The roof at Rogers Centre is sealed sometime in late October or November depending on the weather.  When the snow, sleet, cold rains being to arrive, for safety and longevity of the technology, we do need to seal the roof.  We continue to work with our tenants and event promoters to find a balance as to when that takes place. 


So it appears that had the Bills game in Toronto been played earlier in the year, the chances of the roof remaining open were more likely. It simply won’t happen in December. I also doubt there will ever be a Bills game in this Toronto Series played there any earlier than December due to the fact that the Argonauts make use of the facility as well.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Home field advantage?

Posted by Chris Brown on December 2, 2008 – 4:44 pm

With this week’s game in Toronto I’m really curious to see just what the atmosphere will be like and how it will compare to a home game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. My fear is it won’t be a decided home field edge. Apparently Sportsnet in Canada feels it could potentially be pro-Miami.

They claim that with the familiarity with Ricky Williams following his one-year CFL sojourn with the Argos and the popularity of the Dolphins in general, stemming from their glory days of the 70’s that Miami’s Canadian fan base will be well represented.

I don’t know if I’m ready to buy all of that. But I will say when I went up to Toronto for the preseason game against Pittsburgh, I talked with several Canadian Bills fans at the rally in Dundas Square the day before the game.

One thing they kept repeating was that if you’re a Bills fan in Canada you’re in the minority. From the responses I got the general consensus was that most Canadians that are avid followers of the NFL generally root for three teams. The Dallas Cowboys, the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Miami Dolphins.

Dallas made sense to me with their high profile, but I asked about the other two. The explanations I got were that the Steelers have a history of past and recent success and the Dolphins have a history of past success and play in south Florida where a lot of Canadians vacation, sometimes during football season.

I will say at the preseason game that there was more than a smattering of Steelers fans, and the atmosphere was neutral at best. Now you know why I’m so curious to see what Sunday has to offer.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills-Dolphins came close to being flexed

Posted by Chris Brown on November 25, 2008 – 2:44 pm

The Bills-Dolphins game on Dec. 7 in Toronto came close to being flexed according to a league source. The game was one of three games being considered to move to Sunday night. In the end the league chose the Ravens-Redskins game to be played in Baltimore.

So the Bills-Dolphins game, the first regular season contest of the Bills Toronto Series will remain a 4:05pm start.

Posted in Inside the Bills
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