Inside The Bills

Players were concerned about offense

Posted by Chris Brown on September 6, 2009 – 11:09 pm

The Bills players shared a little more information about their concerns with the offense through the course of the preseason on Sunday, two days after Turk Schonert was replaced by Alex Van Pelt as offensive coordinator.

“I think everybody had some concerns about it,” said Lee Evans. “It was one of those things when you play games like that it leaves a type of feeling in your mouth, you always wonder if there’s something wrong and you want to do things to fix it. So, two back-to-back games of not playing well always causes some concern.”

“We had voiced some things with what direction it was going and where it needed to go and coach Jauron made the decision on how he felt and what he felt the offense needed best,” said Trent Edwards. “It’s a combination of everyone, as a whole, every player on the offense, every coach and everyone within the organization talks with coach Jauron and that decision was made based on those collective conversations.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-4

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

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

1. Hi Chris:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garrett from PA

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

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

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


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

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Tough turn of events

Posted by Chris Brown on September 4, 2009 – 6:34 pm

There’s little question Dick Jauron had to do something to address the state of the offense. Making Alex Van Pelt the team’s play caller was the best option the Bills head coach had at his disposal.

Bringing in a coordinator with more experience and a different system was not an option this close to the regular season.

Jauron hinted as being more aggressive with the play calling, but was clear he did not want to get into specifics as to how they want to tweak the team’s attack.

It’s a nice opportunity for Van Pelt and a tough spot at the same time. Play calling is what Van Pelt has always wanted to do being a former QB, but being thrust into the role with 10 days to prepare for an opponent the caliber of the Patriots is a supreme challenge.

It’s not that I don’t think he’s capable. I have faith in what AVP can do. I just think even he would say he wishes he had more than 10 days to work with.

The Bills will try to make this as seamless a transition as possible, but everyone on the offensive side of the ball is going to need to pull on the rope a little harder now to help Van Pelt and make things better.

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Kelly has offered input to offensive staff

Posted by Chris Brown on June 1, 2009 – 3:29 pm

Bills HOF QB Jim Kelly has offered some input to the offensive staff with respect to the no huddle approach. Here’s what Jim had to say about it.

“From what I understand they’re going to run a little no huddle offense and I’ve talked to Alex and I’ve talked to Turk about some of the things and whether they implement any of it or not, we’ll see,” said Kelly.

“But I think what I’ve seen looks alright. Now it’s going out there, getting the play into them quick enough and letting them go with it and not… If it’s a no huddle offense let them run the no huddle offense.

“I think they’ll do alright, and you know what? The bottom line is they have no other choice.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Jim Kelly golf tourney underway

Posted by Chris Brown on June 1, 2009 – 3:10 pm

I’m out at the 23rd annual Jim Kelly golf tournament this morning. A lot of familiar faces out here.

Talked to Jim, Bruce, Andre, Tasker and Phil Hansen among others.

Among the current Bills taking part that I spotted were John Wendling, John McCargo, Derek Fine, Gibran Hamdan, Paul Posluszny, Jonathan Stupar, Trent Edwards and Matt Baker.

Among the coaches I saw were Tyke Tolbert, Turk Schonert and Alex Van Pelt.
We’ll have full coverage of the event later this afternoon in the media lounge on

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Offensive changes should be tweaks

Posted by Chris Brown on April 9, 2009 – 3:05 pm

I don’t think anyone should expect any kind of major change to Turk Schonert’s offense. I think they’ll simply add some route concepts that Owens excels at most. Beyond that the only other changes could be the frequency with which the personnel groupings are used.

I think there’s a good chance there are more three and four wide sets provided the offensive line is effectively re-tooled and comes together well in training camp.

And you’ve got to believe they’ll be going deep more often with Evans and Owens outside, again provided the staff is confident in the new chemistry of the line and the protection is consistent through the course of the season.

That’s not a knock on the offensive line. It’s just a testament to the fact that it always starts with your front five.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Royal subtraction raises TE position need

Posted by Chris Brown on February 26, 2009 – 10:06 pm

With the release of veteran TE Robert Royal, Buffalo now has three tight ends on their roster (Fine, Schouman and Stupar) who combined have a total of 18 NFL starts. All of those belong to Schouman (13) and Fine (5).

And while I certainly have faith that Fine and Schouman in expanded roles can provide more production than they have thus far, it’s clear the Bills want to add more playmaking talent to the position.

Offensive coordinator Turk Schonert said he wanted to have four or five in training camp this summer. At least one of those two remaining tight end spots has to be filled by an in line blocker and the other a playmaker. Preferably one guy answers both needs, but good luck finding that in free agency.

Oklahoma St. TE Brandon Pettigrew looks like he has the potential to be both. And now taking him with the 11th pick is a far greater possibility, whether he’s considered a solid value there or not. He’s the only two-way TE in the draft that you could start next to a tackle as a rookie.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Backing off on Edwards practice reps

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2009 – 4:10 am

After a year in which Trent Edwards took the lion’s share of the reps at quarterback and took a fair number of hits in games, he experienced general shoulder soreness, that fortunately did not require surgery. But looking back on it offensive coordinator Turk Schonert thinks they may have to pull the reins in a little on Edwards reps over the course of the season.

“You might have to in practice,” said Schonert. “A lot of that is wear and tear just getting hit. A lot of times when you get hit you’re going down on your shoulder. He took some hits last year. One thing we’ve got to improve is our pass protection. We’ve got to get a lot better at pass protection and try to take some of those hits off him. That’s wear and tear.”

When I asked him if he thought the soreness was more from the hits than all the throwing Schonert felt it all fit together.

“It was a combination of both,” he said. “It’s all the throws that you get once you start training camp and into the season and the number one guy takes most of the snaps. And he’s got to learn and last year was the first year he was a full time starter so it was the most that he’s thrown in a season in his football career. He’ll be used to that. We’ve got to learn from it too because we might have to back off a little bit with his arm.”

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Fan Friday 2-20

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2009 – 3:24 am

It’s been a busy couple of days so I apologize for getting this up so late. You can send questions to me at I answered more questions this week figuring there would be more draft related questions, but nothing on the combine. Catch up with you next week.

1. Chris,

I know you think a pass rush DE is our likely 1st round pick, and other Mock Drafts have us picking a TE with that first pick (which I think is a huge reach at 11) but what about Aaron Curry, OLB from Wake? Assuming Crowell doesn’t re-sign after his issues with the front office this past season, we will be looking at hypothetically losing not only depth if Ellison doesn’t re-sign, but also potentially our starting OLB.

Todd McShay has the Seahawks picking him at #4, but I don’t see it– especially with glaring needs like WR, and people like Michael Crabtree likely being available when they pick. Curry is big, physical, and has the high motor that the Bills love (ie Kyle Williams)– so why not Curry at 11?

Thanks Chris,

Matt, Beverly MA

CB: I wouldn’t rule Curry out as a possibility, but I’d be surprised if he’s there at 11. I suppose it’s possible, but this guy is super on the field and super off. Squeaky clean and a playmaker. Jerod Mayo went 7 last year to the Patriots. I can’t see him dropping to the Bills at 11, but if he does I wouldn’t mind the Bills taking him at all. He’s one of the safest picks in the draft.

2. Chris with Mr. Wilson stating that our beloved Bills lack talent what do you see as a realistic off season as far as resigning our own or free agents go? Very interested in your response.
Scott Eustace


CB: I think some of the restricted players could be retained in addition to Jenkins and DiGiorgio like Keith Ellison and Gibran Hamdan, but I think Angelo Crowell will be allowed to test the market. If it’s lukewarm and he has trouble getting offers I think the chance of him returning increases. As for Greer, I fear that his asking price will be too high. Buffalo is heavily invested in Leodis McKelvin and could probably re-sign Terrence McGee to an extension as an alternative. I think Kirk Chambers and Duke Preston stand a good chance of being re-signed, but I think both would be reserve players if the Bills acquire what they want to in free agency and the draft.

3. Hey Chris,
I don’t agree that it is imperative to find an experienced backup QB. I think Trent will be fine. Of course the game is still a bit fast for him, he has only played a little more than one season. The second time he saw the 3-4 defenses and 8 in coverage he handled it. (The running game wasn’t exactly helping the first time through those teams either!). No one works harder wants to learn more, and don’t you think we may already have a decent backup??
Thanks, Ray Perez

CB: While I agree with some of what you’ve said, I think an experienced backup would be a welcome sight for the Bills quarterback position. Talking to Turk Schonert at the combine today he too would like an experienced backup.

The reason why is he believes a veteran, that knows his role, can really help Edwards with some of the nuances of the game that he may not have experienced extensively as of yet. The problem is the free agent pool at quarterback is so thin that I don’t know that they’ll find a good fit for the Bills.

Finding an experienced backup, that knows his role, is actually a way to help Trent (and the team) not to threaten him with competition.


4. In your opinion, what needs to be upgraded more, offense or defense? I am of the opinion that offensive success is more due to strategy (ie: playcalling), and defensive success is more due to talent. I’d like to see the Bills draft defensively. Also, do you think Schonert will finally implement the no-huddle? It’s something the OC’s have talked about for a couple years now, but we’ve yet to see. What are your thoughts?
-John, Rochester NY.

CB: I think both offense and defense need to add playmakers. When opponents can double Lee Evans and shut down the passing game, that screams for more talent, despite the fact that I think Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish are good complementary receivers. The added talent has to come at tight end to help Reed in the middle of the field. On defense you’re right another pass rusher, and outside linebacker that can start are two big pieces that need to be added.

As for the no huddle Turk Schonert addressed why they didn’t use it as much at the Combine today. I’ll let him explain.

“We didn’t use it a lot, not like we wanted to for various reasons,” said Schonert. “We’d use it for a series and we actually used it in the fourth quarter of the Oakland game and it helped us win the game and wore them out. We started a couple of games in no huddle, but we didn’t execute and weren’t very good so I got out of it in the first quarter.

“Last year we had to back off a little bit at the start of the season because of Jason’s (Peters) holdout. All of a sudden he’s coming into a terminology change so we had back off at the beginning of the season due to that. Then Josh (Reed) gets hurt, he’s out three games and we had a rookie flanker in there. Then Trent (Edwards) got hurt. We kind of hit these roadblocks that kept us from using it as much as we wanted to.”

As for 2009, Schonert said that they plan to use it more.

“We’re going to continue to work on it, we like it, we want to use it,” Schonert said. “But we’re going to use it, try to improve it and plan on having it in our arsenal.”


5. Hey Chris;
Is there any chance the Bills keep Greer? It would be tough to watch another player that has developed into a dependable starter at a vital position walk (Winfield, Clements). It would seem they want McKelvin to take that starting role with Youboty as the nickel, and Corner as the dime. It would be great to see McKelvin battle Greer for the starting role, with the player finishing second be the nickel. Greer seems to always come to camp prepared to compete, and would push McKelvin to do the same, or become the nickel, which would still give them 3 top corners, and solid depth.
The need for a solid starter at weak side linebacker needs to be addressed. How do you see the Bills taking care of that need? Crowell?
Thanks;   Dan from Williamsville

CB: As Russ Brandon told me today at the Combine they’ve maintained an open dialogue with Greer’s representatives, and have made it clear that they would like to bring Greer back. The problem is the money. My guess is that Greer’s agent is looking for $7-$9M a year in light of some of the recent contracts signed by comparable corners (Kelvin Hayden, Corey Webster). I can’t see the Bills committing that kind of money to Greer as much as they’d like to retain him. I think he hits the market.

As for the strong side linebacker position (Mitchell plays the weak side), there are options in free agency like Tyjuan Hagler, who could come in familiar with the system having played in Indianapolis in similar scheme. I think Morlon Greenwood would be an affordable option too.


6. Hey Chris,
I heard the Lions are leaning toward giving Culpepper the #1 spot and releasing Kitna.
How would Kitna fit in as a back up to Trent? How much do you think he would cost? Would any team look at picking up Kitna as a #1?

CB: I think Kitna would be an interesting option. I think the first thing that has to be clear is that Kitna is willing to accept a backup role and realize in Buffalo he would not be able to compete for the starting job. As long as he can do that, I think he could be a capable backup. Kitna has always been prone to at least one big mistake in games, but as a backup that’s less likely to happen. He has seen a lot in this game and could probably assist Edwards in the quarterback room.


7. Hey Chris,
I really like Eric Wood (out of Louisville) at center.  I am a U of L fan so I have been able to watch this guy for a while.  Where do you see him going in the draft itself and could the Bills use him?
Mike Lundert

CB: There’s no debating that the Bills need help at the center position. Jason Whittle, Duke Preston and Melvin Fowler are all free agents. I think Preston is the most likely to be re-signed before free agency opens, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they seek another veteran player, and add another interior linemen in the draft. It could be a player like Wood, who figures to go late 2nd to top half of the third round.

I like the way Wood finishes plays, but according to the experts drive blocking is where he needs to get better. I liked some of the tape that I saw on him and he seems to get to the second level pretty well. I think he’d be a good player to groom behind a veteran center to eventually take over the job in a couple of years.

8. Chris,
I know this may sound crazy but consider this. I  don’t think the Bills want to spend the money that Peters would be looking for thus making him an unhappy Bill. Trade for a top 5 pick and another solid pick. Bills won’t want to pay for a top 5 pick so trade down to near 10. Use the pick to get another tackle. Trade into top 10 with the other pick from Peters trade to get one of the top DE’s. Then use second round pick for TE?
After seeing what you wrote about the other OT getting big money I think there is trouble ahead with Peters.

CB: Sorry, but I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one. If it were up to me a bird in the hand (or in this case a franchise left tackle) is worth more than two in the bush. You have a bona fide Pro Bowl caliber left tackle on your team that is unhappy because he feels he’s underpaid, and he played like it last season.

I believe the Bills will find a way to rectify that situation in the form of a new contract for Peters. They’ll have to make some roster decisions to do so, but left tackle is the second most important offensive position after quarterback and you’ve got a guy that can play eight to 10 more years. I’m confident that if Peters gets a contract he is happy with he will be back to Pro Bowl form on the field.


9. Chris,
My question is what likelihood do you think there is that the Bills draft Pettigrew. He has character issues and I have to believe we will be very gun shy. A lot of the pundits have us drafting him with the first pick. I say “no way.” Have a good one.
Mark Tate

CB: I think Pettigrew is a very impressive player. He’s the only major all-around tight end and will be a first-round pick. His off the field blemish stemmed from a house party and he was charged with assaulting a police officer when he “elbowed” one in the chest as he was dispersing. Rest assured the Bills just like every other team will investigate it fully.

I felt Pettigrew came across well in his interview with the media. He seems very focused on his career and excelling at the next level.

I’m still a bit apprehensive about making him the 11th pick in the draft. There aren’t many picks of tight ends between 8 and 15 in the last 15 years that have proven worthy of a selection that high. Tony Gonzalez is one of the few exceptions.

And I think if you’re taking a tight end that high he has to be Tony Gonzalez good.


10. Chris,
What do you think about Torry Holt being traded to the Bills in a Stroud-esq. trade? He makes perfect sense considering he has two years on his contract, and we will have a solid receiver alongside Evans while Johnson and Hardy are learning the system and will prove to be the real deal or not. He’s played well on a terrible team and before this year had 83 receptions on a team that drafts top 5. He had a slight dip with comparable numbers to Lee Evans. With Holt, Edwards will have another great target and a better learning curve.
My concern is his transition from 6 games in a dome to 6 games in swirling winds and cold weather. He respects the Bills as he’s said prior to playing us and wants to be traded.
What do you think the likelihood is of us bringing him in and what would it take?
Jonathan – Westchester, NY.

CB: I think it would take probably a third or fourth-round pick, but I’m just guessing. Holt is on the decline, but I like your thinking in terms of another weapon to work opposite Lee Evans. Holt is still respected by opposing defenses so it’s not a bad idea. A veteran receiver is what is needed not more youth.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fullback profile might change for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on February 20, 2009 – 8:31 pm

With limited production at the fullback position in 2008 and Corey McIntyre a free agent, Buffalo’s coaching staff is re-assessing how they make use of the fullback role in their scheme.

“Right now we’re evaluating our offense and what we did last year and how much we used it,” said offensive coordinator Turk Schonert of the fullback position. “We haven’t determined how much we’re going to use the fullback this year. We have some tight ends that we can put in the backfield as well, they’re versatile guys. All of that evaluation is happening right now. I don’t know how much we’re going to use that guy and what type of guy that’s going to be.”

With fullbacks harder and harder to find in the college landscape, Schonert sounds as if he might be leaning toward using tight ends Derek Schouman and Derek Fine on occasion in that role and even Fred Jackson, meaning that a true lead fullback would be phased out, especially considering the fact that the Bills were more productive in the run game out of the two tight end formation.

“We were more productive in the run game there and that’s something we’re going to look at,” said Schonert. “Our productivity with two backs in the backfield, in some cases with Fred Jackson in there with Marshawn was very productive for us because you don’t know if we’re going to be a two back or a one back offense with Marshawn out there too.

“We have to look at those things and see how much we’re going to use a two back or a one back and the thing with Fred or the two tight end system, we could be a one back or a two back. It gives defenses problems where if you put a true fullback in they know you’re going to be a two back and scheme for it.”

If the Bills do in fact bring in a fullback in free agency or the draft it will likely be a more athletic fullback that can do more than just lead block.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Schonert on offensive game management

Posted by Chris Brown on February 20, 2009 – 5:45 pm

Bills offensive coordinator Turk Schonert addressed the offensive game management subject, which came up Thursday at the combine with head coach Dick Jauron. With respect to burning timeouts Schonert was pretty straightforward with some of what led to barely getting plays off at times and burning timeouts.

“It happens to everybody,” said Schonert. “New England wasted a timeout against us, but does anyone say anything about it? No, because they won the game. In the playoffs you saw teams burning timeouts. It happens. As long as it doesn’t happen all the time or five times a game. Through the course of the season and the plays, and where spots are. You’re getting a spotter telling you it’s 3rd-and-2 and now it’s really 3rd-and-1 and we’re closer than we thought or further than we thought and a change has to be made. Then we had instances where I called for Marshawn and Fred to be in at the same time, and then I’m told that Marshawn is not in the game and we can’t. So now a change has to be made. So there are things that go on in the season that force you to get a play in a little late so you just go and try to get it off and if you have to burn a timeout, you burn a timeout.”

“First half timeouts to me are overrated. If you have to burn a timeout you burn a timeout. Second half you want to try to keep  those for the end of the game obviously. But I learned from Bill Walsh. He said first half timeouts are overrated so if you have to use one don’t make a big deal out of it. If you don’t score at the end of the first half, you don’t score, you go in the locker room and regroup and come out with a whole half to go. If you have to do a two minute without timeouts in the first half you do it and make the best of it. The second half is a different story.”

While it is true that the Bills aren’t the only team that burned timeouts last season, there were more instances than Buffalo would have liked. Even Jauron acknowledged Thursday that they have to be more efficient.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

A veteran QB

Posted by Chris Brown on February 20, 2009 – 4:13 pm

With J.P. Losman expected to go elsewhere in free agency this offseason and Gibran Hamdan a restricted free agent, Buffalo will have to find a capable backup QB to Trent Edwards.

Offensive coordinator Turk Schonert wouldn’t be opposed to seeing an experienced backup on the roster.

“I think it’d be good to have a veteran behind Trent that knows his role and can help Trent in the room,” said Schonert. “Now who that guy is, I don’t know.”

The free agent market is pretty thin at QB so whether they can fill that backup spot with an experienced guy that knows his place might be tougher than you think. Honestly there aren’t a lot of attractive names, but when you’re talking backup quarterback you can’t be too picky.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-5

Posted by Chris Brown on December 5, 2008 – 6:29 pm

Fan Friday 12-5

Here’s the latest rundown of questions posed by you the fan. You can always e-mail me at I try to answer each and every question, if not personally in this blog. Let’s get rolling.

1. At the end of a game and in critical situations, who makes the offensive play calls? Is it Turk or Jauron?
Thanks, John

CB: I don’t know exactly how it works specifically with Schonert and coach Jauron. In a lot of cases the head coach will have a ‘check with me’ policy in crunch time. A lot of times a head coach will be in a coordinator’s ear where he’ll tell him any number of things from, ‘Run it again’ to ‘you’ve got two downs here because we’ll go for it on fourth down if necessary.’ But head coaches don’t often tell a coordinator what specific play to call. They like to have their coordinator feel like he has he freedom to call the game the way he feels comfortable. Otherwise why did you hire the guy to begin with?

2. Chris
I was curious of what direction you think the team will take with the following free agents:
Angelo Crowell   (has this ship sailed when the team placed him on IR ?)
Melvin Fowler   (Lost his starting job to Preston, can he handle the big 3-4 NT?)
Duke Preston  (He’s done well the last few games, at the very least a valuable back up)
Jabari Greer   (Has developed into a very good corner, also one we won’t be able to afford)
CB: I would be surprised if Crowell is back in light of how his whole injury situation/surgery decision went down at the beginning of the season. I don’t anticipate him being back because that situation did not appear to go amiably.

Melvin Fowler I think is another player that doesn’t stand a good chance of being re-signed. I think Preston is a possibility, but I believe the team will find quality competition for him at center whether it’s in the draft or in free agency.

As for Greer, I don’t think his contract demands will be up in the stratosphere like Nate Clements were. They might be able to work something out, but if he hits the open market it will be much more difficult.



3. Hi Chris,
I’m a Bills fan stranded in Phoenix. Anquan Boldin is keeping quiet for now but has not changed his mind about wanting out of AZ. I have dreams of seeing him line up opposite Lee Evans- what a Christmas present that would be !
If I were GM I’d offer the Cards a #1 pick plus James Hardy, McCargo (if they are interested), and their choice of Kelsay or Denney. I might even dangle Jabari Greer if he’s not interested in signing an extension w/ the Bills.

AZ has been getting by with journeyman CBs Hood & Green and would like an upgrade- they also need an upgrade over aging and injury prone DE Bertrand Berry.

James Hardy would be a reasonable replacement at WR with Steve Breaston moving into Boldin’s slot.
If you don’t think I’m offering enough, keep in mind Boldin wants to get paid what Fitzgerald is making and I don’t think AZ can afford to tie up so much of their salary cap in 2 WRs. And the Bidwells are ALWAYS looking to pinch pennies.
What do you think?
Gilbert, AZ

CB: Well there’s no question that you’ve thought this through. Unfortunately the problem that the Cardinals have in keeping Boldin happy ($$$$), is the same problem any other team would have in acquiring him. He’d likely want a new deal for considerably more money and since his career numbers are better than Evans, he’d probably want more than him.
I just don’t seeing that flying in Buffalo. So as much as I like your dream, I think you’re going to have to keep dreaming.



4. Do you think now that Turk is calling plays from upstairs it will help the Bills offense and maybe get a better view of what defenses are trying to do?”
Mike from Williamsport, PA

CB: That’s what he seems to think after I spoke to him following the Chiefs game outside the locker room. Most coaches say they can more definitively see what is unfolding with respect to defensive coverages or offensive formations depending on which side of the ball the coordinator is in charge of. That should translate into quicker play calls and more effective counter punches. It’s been two weeks and the results have been very different from on the field from one game to the next. We’ll see how things work in the last four games.



5. Any news on their prospects for Schobel, Whitner and Greer returning?

Also, what are your thoughts on the play of Ko Simpson? On the surface he appears to be soft & late in pass coverage and has looked out of position on several of the long runs the team has given up.

Mike M.

CB: Schobel is not playing this week. He practiced fully according to Dick Jauron on Wednesday and Thursday, but in the brief time we watch practice, he did not look game ready. The good news is he won’t need surgery.

Whitner should play on Sunday (he’s questionable) and Greer (out) is probably a week or so away. As for Ko Simpson I think the organization was expecting he would be making more plays at this point in his career. That’s why Donte Whitner has been steadily transitioned to free safety.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Why offense had to take unnecessary timeouts

Posted by Chris Brown on November 24, 2008 – 6:44 pm

I had a chance to stop Turk Schonert for a minute before he left the stadium Sunday after the game and asked him about the decision to sit in the coach’s booth for the game instead of being down on the sideline as he had been all season, as well as what was going on when Trent had to call some seemingly unnecessary timeouts during the game.

Turk said there were problems with the radio device in Trent’s helmet.

“For a while there though the communication device to the quarterback went out,” said Schonert. “That’s why we had to use a timeout one time and we had to signal and use the wristband. So that messed us up for a little while. There were a couple of times where he didn’t get the play and then it was below 15 seconds and the shut off happened and he can’t hear anyway.”

In one instance Trent had to call the play himself or risk burning another timeout.

“He just went up and called a run play, and I had called a pass play,” said Schonert. “But that’s what happens sometimes.”

Schonert put Edwards out on the move a handful of times in the game feeling it was something they could exploit against the Chiefs defense.

“That was part of the game plan,” said Schonert. “We just felt they were a fast flow team and they were going to give us some opportunities to get him out on the edge and he did. He made some great runs and some great decisions throwing the ball and it kept them off guard a little bit.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-21

Posted by Chris Brown on November 21, 2008 – 6:28 pm

Here’s the latest installment of answers to your questions. Remember you can always send me anything you’re wondering about via e-mail at I try to answer every one I get either personally or here on the blog.

1. I don’t know where the Bills can go from here. Is it the players, coaches, confidence, desire, intelligence? Nobody on the field is a leader, and Trent looks lost. What do you suggest? If nothing changes (and fast) the Bills will find themselves 5-11 this offseason.
Tony D

CB: I think the fans have a right to be concerned. Watching their team go from first place in the division to last in the span of a month is rare. I don’t know if any of us can put our finger on the crux of the problem here. But I think a kick in the pants is in order here and that’s got to come from the coordinators. Turk Schonert and Perry Fewell have the demeanor to demand better from their players.

To help Trent I think the offense needs to shorten the receiver routes to help him get back in a rhythm and get the ball out of his hand faster. On defense I think they’re been pretty effective. Fewell was more aggressive with his blitzes last week and I wouldn’t mind seeing that continue in light of how thin they are in the secondary. But firing these guys up is in order.


2. Hi Chris,
Kelsay and Denney over the last 4 weeks have combined for maybe 1 pressure. I don’t see why the coaches insist on keeping them in there when they clearly will not disrupt the pocket. Ellis and Bryan seem to at least mix things up when they are on the field and try a variety of pass rush moves. If they got more snaps they would get into a rhythm. And just to point out, Kelsay was the same even when Schobel was starting so its not as if his play had dropped off due to the loss of Schobel, he has been like this dating back to last season. Shouldn’t there be some accountability at some point?

CB: I understand your frustration with the lack of a consistent pass rush. Kelsay would be the first to tell you he’s not a premier edge pass rusher by trade, and I suspect Denney might say the same. But both are veteran players that defend the run well and go all out on every snap.

That being said I’m not opposed to mixing it up more with Bryan and Ellis to see if they can’t capture the edge a bit better on a pass rush. But Kelsay and Denney are two of the most accountable players on the roster. Believe me when I tell you they wish they were contributing more.


3. There was a three year contract extension reported for Dick Jauron. But it has not been reported on the website. Are these just rumors? Even Dick Jauron hasn’t talked about it. I’m a bit confused.
Thank you,
Matt from Toronto

CB: As it has been explained to me, it is team policy to not discuss or publicize contract details of coaches. Therefore I have not been able to report it on the team website.

I should also make clear that it has not been confirmed for me by anyone at One Bills Drive that coach Jauron has been extended, presumably for the reason I just mentioned above.

Just guessing, I believe a contract extension has been completed, but until coach Jauron shows up for the first free agent signing in March we won’t know for sure.


4. Chris,

I want to know why there’s neither fire nor urgency nor passion in this team right now – and I’m not talking about post-game interviews. I’m talking about playing with heart on the field while it matters.

I can tell you the players aren’t playing with the urgency that every play matters.

This is the NFL, and if our entire sideline just goes out there on Sundays to either bend-but-don’t-break or get-into-field-goal-position, then we’re in for one rough second half.

Let’s get some passion back!

CB: I couldn’t agree with you more. The team looked lifeless in New England a couple of weeks ago. Some players get excited after plays, but this team is in the midst of a crisis and everyone is very methodical about getting back to winning football. It doesn’t just happen because you’re practicing hard, all professional teams do that.

Like I said in my first response, this team needs a kick in the pants from someone. If not they’re going to wake up too late to reclaim a playoff berth. Heck it might be too late already with the hole they’ve put themselves in with division record.


5. Hi Chris,
I have a few questions for you.
What does our coaching staff and team consider the best way to attack a defense that is dropping 7-8 into coverage?

Is Trent allowed to audible at the line of scrimmage?  How many plays has he actually changed the play?

How many times have the Bills attempted play-action passes this year?  Can you recall any instances since this streak of pathetic offensive play began.  I know that it helps to have a running game that is working.
Matt Buffan

CB: The answer to your first question is run the ball. The Browns provided the latest example of this and Buffalo responded with a strong day running the football. That’s what forces defense to pull defenders out of coverage and into the run front. I’m all for sprinkling in draw plays too in those instances.

As for Trent, yes he is allowed to make audibles at the line of scrimmage. As for number of times he’s changed the play, I don’t have that figure. I would say it’s not much more than 3-4 times per game.

Again I don’t have a play action figure for you, but the Bills have done less play action than most teams, and I believe that’s been primarily due to the fact that they hadn’t been able to run the ball effectively up until the Cleveland game. When you run the ball well, it’s a legit threat that has to be respected. When you’re not, nobody is buying your run fake and that’s what the Bills were dealing with for a while, hence, no sense in going to play action if no one is biting on it.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Schonert issued the warning a while back

Posted by Chris Brown on November 20, 2008 – 4:19 pm

Even when the Bills were rolling up victories at the start of the season, offensive coordinator Turk Schonert warned his players not to rest on their laurels because there were deficiencies to their game.

“Everyone kind of forgot we are a young team,” said Schonert. “Not just (Edwards), our running backs, our tight ends, our receivers.  We are a young football team.  I told these guys way back when, we have won a few games and we have made mental errors.  If we don’t correct them it is going to come back to bite us in the butt, and it did and it has.”

There’s no debating that it’s harder to take lessons from a win because you’re so happy you won, and when you win four in a row it’s easy to forget the errors. I’m not saying the Bills did, but Turk certainly seems to think so. Hopefully the losses have them focused on fixing what is affecting their consistency.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Pats are always switching it up

Posted by Chris Brown on November 6, 2008 – 4:39 pm

Defensively the Patriots are still as versatile as they’ve always been, and very rarely do they show the Bills the same thing twice in a season.

One big example last season was when in the second meeting in Buffalo, the defense jumped into a 4-3 front instead of their usual 3-4 and caught the Bills offense off guard.

“We didn’t practice all week against a 4-3,” said Edwards, who watched J.P. Losman start in last year’s second meeting. “We weren’t really expecting that and that’s tough to do defensively, to switch into a brand-new scheme and beat a team like that. I have a lot of respect for the way they can jump into and out of different schemes like that. They can effectively switch in and out of different schemes, different fronts, different coverages and not a lot of teams in this league can do that. The Patriots do it the best of anyone in this league and that’s going to confuse a first-year quarterback or a 15th-year quarterback.”

“They went to a four-man line and we didn’t execute hot reads,” recalled Turk Schonert. “They just brought one more guy. It wasn’t anything that we haven’t seen before, but we fell asleep because we were used to a 3-4 and it takes two guys to make us hot on certain protections and now it only had one. Those are the little details you have to execute and that is what makes it hard against this team because they have the flexibility to go three-man, four-man and give you the different looks.”

In all likelihood the Patriots will see what kind of success they can have doing a lot of what the Dolphins and Jets did in terms of committing seven and eight players to coverage, while only rushing 3 or 4, especially if Buffalo can’t get it’s run game going.

But you can rest assured that they’ll have some of their own wrinkles for the Bills on Sunday. Just got to hope the offense can adjust on the fly and execute.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fine to make debut

Posted by Chris Brown on October 26, 2008 – 4:51 pm

With Justin Jenkins inactive, the player that essentially takes his place on the active roster today is rookie TE Derek Fine.

For the first time this season the Bills will have three active tight ends on the game day roster. I talked to Dick Jauron about a three tight end look last week and he said it was something they would strongly consider once Fine was fully healthy.

You have to wonder if Turk Schonert has an offensive wrinkle he’s ready to insert into the offensive game plan in which three tight ends are employed.

It will certainly be something the Dolphins haven’t seen on tape since the Bills have had just two healthy tight ends most of the year.

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Posted in Inside the Bills


Posted by Chris Brown on October 20, 2008 – 7:29 pm

This was a week of several stellar individual efforts. We run some of the less noticed ones in addition to the stand outs right here.

BEST VERSATILITY: Donte Whitner – He played free safety, slot corner, a touch of cornerback and strong safety all in one game. San Diego didn’t even test him deep in centerfield. There aren’t many strong safeties in the league that can do all that he did and not get roasted.

BEST EARLY CHEMISTRY: Trent Edwards-Lee Evans – The quarterback-receiver tandem had a good rhythm going on the opening drive as Edwards hit his top wideout three times on the team’s first five plays from scrimmage for three first downs and 43 yards in gains to set up an early field goal.

BEST SCARE: Kyle Williams – His impending hit on Philip Rivers was so alarming to the San Diego quarterback that he just dropped the ball.

BEST POUNCE: Marcus Stroud – Williams’ fellow defensive tackle made the quickest drop to the ground of any 300-plus pound man I’ve ever seen as he made the fumble recovery.

BEST BUMP: Marcus Stroud – Celebrating with George Wilson after his fumble recovery, Stroud engaged in a chest bump celebration with Wilson and knocked him flat on his back.

BEST DRIVE COMBO: Marshawn Lynch/ Fred Jackson – Buffalo’s two backs were the team’s first touchdown drive. Lynch had three carries for nine yards including a grinding five-yard run on a 3rd-and-4 to keep the drive alive and a five-yard reception, while Jackson had a 14-yard catch and then a three-yard inside run to set up 1st-and-goal at the Chargers two. The two accounted for 28 of the 38 yards on the scoring drive.

BEST DAVID TYREE IMPERSONATION: Lee Evans – His one-handed press the ball against the helmet and shoulder pad catch was remarkable.

BEST FEET: Lee Evans – As impressive as his catch was getting a total of three feet down along the sideline was even more eye-popping as his momentum was taking him over the sideline quickly.

BEST DECEPTION: Turk Schonert – On the touchdown pass to Lee Evans, Schonert lined up two tight ends on the left with a fullback and tailback in the offensive backfield. The Chargers expecting a run up the gut put 10 men in the box, leaving Evans one-on-one with Quentin Jammer. Surprise!

BEST RECEIVER BLOCK: Josh Reed – He smacked a defensive back hard on a five-yard reception by Fred Jackson.

BEST OPEN FIELD HIT: Donte Whitner – His shot on Malcolm Floyd kept a big play from happening as he brought the big receiver down after just a three-yard gain.

BEST COVERAGE: Bryan Scott – Matched up one-on-one with Antonio Gates on a 2nd-and-goal from the 12, Scott stayed on Gates’ hip and prevented a touchdown pass from being completed.

BEST REVERSE: Fred Jackson – Vincent Jackson’s reverse notwithstanding, the Bills had an answer. On a 2nd-and-2 play Fred Jackson somehow gained the corner despite some very, very good pursuit to gain six yards and a first down.

BEST BLOCK BY A LINEMEN: Jason Whittle – The reserve guard stepped in and took out two defenders with a sliding cut block on Marshawn Lynch’s nine-yard TD run.

BEST BLOCK BY A BACK: Fred Jackson – Leading for Lynch, Jackson lowered the boom on Quentin Jammer driving him five yards deep into the end zone allowing Lynch to coast to pay dirt.

BEST THIRD DOWN STOP: Kawika Mitchell – Out on the wide side of the field with Darren Sproles coming at him, Mitchell prevented the speedy back from getting the edge on a 3rd-and-1 from the Buffalo 41-yard line.

BEST ONE LEGGED EFFORT: Brian Moorman – Despite a cramping plant leg, Moorman still got off a 49-yard punt.

BEST SERIES: Kawika Mitchell – On the first play of San Diego’s fourth quarter drive to try and re-take the lead Kawika Mitchell batted down a pass attempt on first down. Four plays later Mitchell pressured Rivers to force an incompletion. Three plays after that Mitchell anticipated a pass to Gates in the end zone and made a leaping interception returning it 32 yards to the Bills 30-yard line.

BEST ACCURACY: Trent Edwards – While his day on the whole was stellar (25-30 passing) his throw to Josh Reed on a 2nd-and-5 from his own 36 with 5:40 remaining was put in a very tight window between two defenders for a 16-yard gain that got Buffalo to midfield. It was a big time throw. The drive ended with a field goal to put the Bills up by two scores.

BEST CLOSER: Kawika Mitchell – His sack and forced fumble with just over three minutes remaining killed any chance for San Diego to come back in the game.

BEST UNRECOGNIZED PERFORMANCE: Copeland Bryan – The defensive end pressured Rivers before he threw the interception to Mitchell and then following Mitchell’s sack and forced fumble recovered the loose ball to secure the victory.

BEST TACKLER: Jabari Greer/Paul Posluszny – Greer was instrumental in limiting yards after the catch with solid wrap-ups, while Posluszny was a force near the line of scrimmage including one tackle for loss. They finished atop the team tackle chart with eight and seven tackles respectively.

BEST BELL ANSWERER: Duke Preston – Preston stepped in for the injured Melvin Fowler and handled a Pro Bowl caliber defensive tackle as Jamal Williams was a virtual non-factor in the game. Honorable mention to Jason Whittle.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills formation was deceptive

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2008 – 6:05 pm

On the 2-yd TD pass from Edwards to Evans to give the Bills the lead, Turk Schonert went with a two tight end, 1 fullback, 1 back, 1 receiver formation. The Chargers were expecting run out of that formation, but Edwards went with a fade to Lee Evans who was one-on-one with Quentin Jammer. Lee made a great one-handed catch. 10-7 Bills.

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Posted in Inside the Bills
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