Inside The Bills

Nix on Jackson’s strengths

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2012 – 4:18 pm

The Bills newest quarterback, Tarvaris Jackson, is known as a mobile and athletic talent. Here’s what Buddy Nix chose to peg as Jackson’s strengths as a QB.

“He’s a strong-armed guy, good athlete,” said Nix. “He’s played good like I say at times. He throws the deep ball well and a big, strong guy that we think athletically can do what we need to do.”

Nix realizes that Jackson’s physical attributes might not look all that different from those of Vince Young, but with Young things just didn’t pan out.

“Some of the things we do don’t work out like you want them to, but if you don’t keep trying to improve and get better you probably won’t,” he said.

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Nix on Young: “It just didn’t work out.”

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2012 – 4:07 pm

Bills GM Buddy Nix commented on the acquisition of Tarvaris Jackson Monday afternoon, but he also addressed what went wrong with Vince Young.

“Vince I don’t want to get into what he can do and can’t do, it just didn’t work out,” Nix said. “Vince did everything he could. He worked hard at it and did everything we asked him to do. It just didn’t work so we go another route. It’s not like we’re thinking (Jackson) can do something that Vince couldn’t do. We just needed to move on and give this guy a try.”

Young had a preseason passer rating of 48.2 in three games with Buffalo.

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QB Young tweets

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2012 – 10:44 am

Quarterback Vince Young has tweeted that his time as a Buffalo Bills has come to a close.

Vince Young “I want to thank the Bills organization for the opportunity and wish the organization and my teammates good luck this season”.

Nothing has been confirmed by the team at this point.

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QB rotation might only be Fitz & Young

Posted by Chris Brown on August 25, 2012 – 4:10 pm

The quarterback rotation is pretty cut and dry with Ryan Fitzpatrick going the distance with the starters tonight against the Steelers, but there could be a change on the back end.

Vince Young will take over after Fitzpatrick and run the second unit for the second straight preseason game. He could very well go the rest of the way with Tyler Thigpen not taking a snap at all in the game. This shouldn’t be seen as a bad sign for Thigpen. In the minds of the offensive coaches they need to see much more of Young in a game situation than Thigpen.

“I know what Tyler can do,” said Chan Gailey. “We need to see more of what Vince can do.”

Brad Smith won’t see any action at quarterback because he’ll be lining up at receiver and as a kick returner tonight against Pittsburgh.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-24

Posted by Chris Brown on August 24, 2012 – 12:50 pm

Two preseason games to go before the real thing. Let’s get to your questions from and @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,

I would like to cover two points: Obviously, I am aware of the Bills big splash in free agency, and their very good draft. Although the Bill’s pass rush appears to be very potentially awesome, I am a little concerned about their run defense. Yes… I think highly of Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, but what happens if the opponent can get huge chunks of yardage between the tackles? That is another Bills problem where an issue may or may not be solved. 

Secondly, regarding wide receiver: If Stevie Johnson goes down with an injury, who would be his replacement? Would David Nelson become the replacement? This is why the Bills should have signed Robert Meachem; they would have had a legitimate insurance policy in the scenario I had just mentioned. In a previous Q+A with you, your points were valid regarding not signing Meachem, since he demanded a salary close to Stevie’s, and this would potentially lead to internal conflict about number 1 and number 2 receiver.

Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

CB: Personally I believe Buffalo’s run defense is going to be much improved. All the hype has been about how much the pass rush is going to take a jump this season, but with Kyle back in the fold, the interior run defense is extremely solid. When you consider that the backup DTs are Dwan Edwards and Spencer Johnson there’s reason to believe that there will be zero drop-off when those two rotate in.

Concerning Stevie Johnson, should injury strike Donald Jones would probably be the primary replacement in a pro set (2 WRs). If it’s a three-wide or four-wide set, Derek Hagan would line up in Stevie’s ‘X’ receiver position with Jones as the flanker or slot with Graham the opposite outside WR in a four-wide look (minus Stevie).

2 – Hey Chris, every year there is a numbers game involved in cutting to the final 53.  The interesting battle to me is D-line. We know the 4 starters with Mario, Marcel and Kyle and Anderson. My question is how many more do you expect them to keep? With Kelsay, Edwards, Johnson, Carrington, Troup, Heard, etc, it sounds like someone who played a lot last year will be cut this year!

CB: I’m afraid that will be the case. The starting four are locks as well as Kelsay. Edwards and Johnson I believe are also safe. I think if all holds to form, Kyle Moore will be the team’s fourth end. So that’s eight defensive linemen. If they keep a ninth I believe it’ll be a defensive tackle, so it comes down to Carrington, Heard and Troup.

3 – Chris,  
Do you think Thigpen, Vince Young & Brad Smith will all be on the roster week one?  Also,  I’m sure the Bills would prefer a roster spot go to a long snapper/OLB rather than just a long snapper, so I’d like to know if you think Batten has a shot at winning the long snapping job? 

Pete Howell

CB: No, they all will not be on the roster. Brad Smith is a lock as the #3 QB. Chan Gailey said as much. Vince Young currently has the edge on the #2 QB job, but it will either be Thigpen or Young that will be moved off the roster. In an ideal world a long snapper can do more than just long snap, but a majority of the teams in the league have a specialist just to long snap.

The Bills have a very, very good one in Garrison Sanborn, who just signed a contract extension this past offseason. Danny Batten has tried long snapping here and there, but no one on this roster right now is going to unseat Sanborn as the team’s snapping specialist.

4 – Hi Chris,

I have heard rumors about Vince Young running the wildcat this year. Could you potentially see Coach Gailey install a wildcat offense that Vince and Brad run together?  


CB: I don’t think I would trust your sources. That’s not to say they couldn’t be on the field at the same time knowing one of Brad Smith’s roles is as a wide receiver, but within the scope of the Wildcat? I don’t see it.

5 – Chris:

I’m a life-long Bills fan living in New England.  Over the last 10+ years, this has been more of a challenge of hearing it from Pats fans with their team’s success, and the Bills lack of winning.  As of last year, local Pats fans have been harping on me that the Bills and Buddy Nix made the wrong move in paying Fitz too early after a little success with the big contract, and that the Bills won’t go far with him because he proved he wasn’t good after receiving the contract and going 2-8 once he was paid.

Now as a true Bills fan, I hope/trust that last year’s finish of 2-8 wasn’t an accurate finish to portray with Fitz is all about.  I try to explain to the non-Bills fans that due to injuries/lack of depth, a weak defense (adding pressure to Fitz & poor field positions), and the questionable rib injury Fitz took in week 8 – these are all reasons as to why the team and offense flopped after the hot start.

I have to figure that Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey know more than we all do and that they felt at the time that Fitz was the real deal before week 8 of last season when they gave him the big pay day, and that he
is the real deal going forward.

Chris, do you think he’s the real deal?  Is he worth the contract he has?  Do you think a couple seasons from now the whole league will look back and applaud Buddy and the organization for locking Fitz up in 2011 with this deal?  Will I and other Bills fans finally be able to say to everyone else ‘I told you so’?

Doug Glassman
Waltham, MA

CB: First, if you take a look at his contract it’s commensurate with quarterbacks in the middle tier of starters in the league. So I believe too much is made of the size of the contract. Second, I think fans and outside observers get blinded by the interception total and understandably so, it led the league.

But despite the second half swoon, Fitz still finished 6th in the NFL in completions, 9th in completion percentage, 10th in touchdown passes and 11th in passing yards. He also had a lot to do with being the least sacked quarterback in football getting the ball out so quick.

He was also 11th in pass plays of 25 yards or more last year. The names of the QBs ahead of him in that category? Brees, Brady, Rodgers, Stafford, Rivers, E. Manning, Romo, Newton, Dalton, Ryan.

With another year in Gailey’s offense, a quarterbacks coach that should improve his accuracy and a receiving corps with which he’s wholly familiar with I believe Fitzpatrick can be a top 10 quarterback in this league.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Vince pulling ahead

Posted by Chris Brown on August 18, 2012 – 12:29 am

The number two quarterback job has been a tightly contested race through camp, but head coach Chan Gailey even had to admit that Vince Young pulled ahead after Friday night’s performance.

“Vince did a good job,” said Gailey. “He hit the big pass, made a check out there and got us in a good spot to score the touchdown. He did good. Tyler had done good until he threw the interception. The last two throws he had were not good throws, but up until that he had played pretty well. So you’d have to say Vince came out a little bit ahead tonight.”

For much more on this developing story, check out John Murphy’s Bills Focus feature on the #2 quarterback race on Sunday morning in the Media Center at

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Why no 7-on-7 for Fitz

Posted by Chris Brown on August 15, 2012 – 11:37 am

On Monday and Tuesday Ryan Fitzpatrick did not take any snaps during 7-on-7 team work in practice. Head coach Chan Gailey said there was more than one reason why it was done.

“It was two-fold,” said Gailey. “Ryan had taken a bunch of throws and we wanted to get him some rest. We wanted the other guys to make a lot of throws and further evaluate those two guys. So it was really a two-fold things. Ryan didn’t throw the one-on-ones for a couple of days. So we’re taking that opportunity to rest him and get them reps.”

Fitzpatrick was fine with giving his arm a break, but says his arm is in good shape at this point.

“They’re just giving me a little more rest and giving those guys some reps in the 7-on-7 stuff,” he said. “That’s a good time to go through your reads and make sure you’re throwing to the right guy. To me that team work (11-on-11) is really important in terms of the live rush and doing that so I wanted to make sure I focused on that and gave the other guys some time in 7-on-7’s and get down some of the timing and throws.”

The Bills QB says once you get to the preseason games and have off days coming out of those games there really is no concern about burning out your throwing arm.

“My arm feels good and once you hit the season you’re not throwing every day so it’s never an issue,” he said.


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Fan Friday 8-10

Posted by Chris Brown on August 10, 2012 – 11:30 am

Well preseason game number one is in the books. Just another four days of camp and the team returns to One Bills Drive. Let’s get to your questions from and @ChrisBrownBills on twitter.

1 – Chris,
I was wondering what kind if influence an improved defense would have on the offensive play calling?  If (IF) this bill’s defense can live up to its billing, will Fitzpatrick need to throw as much?

CB: I asked both Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick this very question a while back. Both indicated that when you’re playing with a lead more often there’s less of a need to take risks. Here’s exactly what they had to say about your question.

“You have a football team,” said Gailey. “You don’t have an offense, a defense and special teams. You have a football team and the objective is to win the game. So you’re always adjusting to what the situation in the game is and if we’re in closer ball games and we have leads you do change your thought process and the way you approach the game. And it allows Fitz to alter the way he approaches the game a little bit. We’ve got to continue to work that because we’ve not been in that situation in the last couple of years.”

I think it allows you to limit the risks you take,” said Fitzpatrick. “I think if you’re in games all the time and not falling behind whether it’s from a poor performance early from the offense or whatever it is, you certainly have to be a smarter and more reserved quarterback. With our offense there are going to be times where we take chances because that’s what makes us good as well. But there’s a balance we have to find there in terms of when we’re taking those chances and when to take the checkdown.”


2 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for your daily articles and updates.  I had a question about offensive tackle based on your latest article.  A lot of scouts seem to believe that both Glenn and Hairston could be great RT’s.  So why is there only competition at LT?  I think Pears played well last year at RT and I’m glad we have him, but I think he still has plenty to prove.  It’s not like he’s an All-Pro, but it seems like he’s just being handed the RT job without having to compete for it.  Why shouldn’t the loser of the LT competition be considered for the starting spot on the right side?  Isn’t it possible that Glenn and Hairston could be the two best OT’s on the team?

Denver, CO

CB: It’s my opinion that Erik Pears had a very good season last year from start to finish. He was a much stronger player after spending an offseason in Buffalo’s conditioning program and put on 20 pounds. His play was rewarded with a three-year contract extension.

Right now he’s working back from a groin strain in camp, so Hairston has been forced to line up on the right side. I think part of the reason RT has been Pears job and his job only (before injury) is because he played very consistently last season and is a veteran presence on what is a pretty young line.

I’m not saying at some point the player that finishes second in the LT competition can’t be the team’s starting right tackle, but I think there’s value in continuity as well and keeping Pears at RT knowing he can do the job is viewed as the best idea by the staff moving forward (provided he’s healthy).


3 – Hey Chris,

My question is who are going to be the backups in the secondary? Where do you see Bryan Scott? Do you see much from Searcy? There was a lot of talk about him when the Bills drafted him but hadn’t heard much.


bigfoot21 here is sunny South Carolina.


CB: Bryan Scott is a linebacker in the nickel packages and that’s really the extent of his role. Da’Norris Searcy as we’ve mentioned several times in our daily Practice Notes reports has been getting time with the starting unit rotating in for both George Wilson and Jairus Byrd. I think the staff wants to try to find a role for him presumably in a subpackage (nickel, dime).

I think sooner rather than later Searcy will be making an impact on Buffalo’s defense. He’s been impressive in the time he’s been with the ones on the practice field. We’ll see what he can do in the preseason.


4 – Hi Chris, thanks for all the information through the years. Living in San Diego, my son and I only see the Bills in enemy territory. I am trying to take him back to Buffalo to show him how a real football crowd is.

My question is does Shawn Powell or John Potter have any realistic chance making this team? Though I like the veterans, these young players look pretty good and it might be time for a change. Again thanks, Art
CB: I think Potter could make the roster as a kickoff specialist and kicker on long field goal attempts 55-yards plus. Chan Gailey has made no secret of his feelings about what kind of a weapon he believes Potter can be if he can prove that he can deliver touchbacks with regularity. He basically told me that if Potter can guarantee the opponent is starting in their own 20-yard line every time then it’s worth using a roster spot.

As for Powell I think he’s got an uphill battle. He has raw talent, but he’s not as consistent or polished as Moorman. In a year where the Bills are gunning for the playoffs you keep the guy you can count on punt in and punt out.


5 – Hi Chris, thank you for taking my question.

Is Vince Young getting the same attention from Coach Lee on his mechanics and decision making as Fitz is? And if so is he seeing any improvement in his game?

I appreciate your insight. Thanks!

– Chris Kenyon (Albany, NY)

CB: Vince Young is being schooled on the same lower body mechanics as Fitz. The same with Thigpen. A quarterbacks coach works with all of his players and David Lee is no different. Young has performed better over the past week of camp with his accuracy. Young’s arm delivery isn’t prototype, but because he’s so tall it’s a throwing motion that can work in the NFL.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Chan on the backup QBs

Posted by Chris Brown on August 10, 2012 – 8:36 am

Tyler Thigpen and Vince Young both got more than 20 plays in Thursday night’s preseason opener with Thigpen running the twos and Young the threes. Both had some good hits, and some misses.

“There were some good things in there, but to play that position you have to be consistent,” said Gailey when asked about Thigpen’s play. “That’s the one thing you’re trying to find. Who can create that consistency for you at the backup quarterback? That guy doesn’t get a lot of reps during the week so he has to be able to be consistent without getting a lot of reps. That’s what we’re trying to get both of them to do.”

Thigpen was 3-for-8 passing for 38 yards and an interception. As for Vince Young, Gailey thought he too made some plays.

“He created some things tonight and made some things happen,” said Gailey. “That’s what he can do. He brings that to the football team. We’ve got some work on some other things to get done to better help him out and he’s got to get better, but he brings that speed and that ability to go make a play with his feet to the football team.”

Young was 5-12 for 50 yards passing. He was sacked three times as the third string offensive line struggled, evidenced by Young’s team-leading 37 rushing yards including a 21-yard scamper to convert a long third down.

Next week Young will work with the second offensive unit and Thigpen will work with the third.

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Chan on QBs Thigpen & Young

Posted by Chris Brown on August 1, 2012 – 10:41 pm

For backup quarterback candidates Tyler Thigpen and Vince Young the first week of training camp has not been an easy go. Both have tried to get a better feel for their receivers in terms of timing, but even head coach Chan Gailey admitted both are struggling with their accuracy.

“It’s a little early, but it’s a concern,” said Gailey of the accuracy issues. “It’s not just Tyler. He and Vince are both having some trouble there. The twos in general are not performing very well offensively. Our ones are doing some good things, but our twos are struggling right now offensively.”

Gailey chalked up some of the struggles of the second team offense to the second team defensive line, which for the most part has consisted of Spencer Johnson and Alex Carrington inside and Shawne Merriman and depending on the RDE rotation Chris Kelsay or Mark Anderson. But Gailey made it clear that the entire second unit on offense has got to step their game up.

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Fitz: It’s a tough offense to get

Posted by Chris Brown on July 27, 2012 – 8:08 pm

Ryan Fitzpatrick is supremely familiar with the inner workings of Chan Gailey’s offense. He’s been immersed in it for three years. That’s why when asked how Vince Young is absorbing the system he admitted it’s no easy task.

“It’s a tough offense to get,” said Fitzpatrick. “For him it was good to get the OTAs and minicamp so just like the rookies he was able to digest it. It’s a new system for him with new terminology and that’s not easy as a quarterback. It’s been very vanilla the first few days, but as we get going here we’ll see how much he can process and how much he can retain that stuff that we learned back in the OTAs and carried it onto the field.”

Head coach Chan Gailey has indicated that camp really begins when the pads go on, so the pace of play installation will probably increase. That won’t make it any easier on Young and anyone else that is new to the scheme.  

“The thing that jumps out about him is he’s a great athlete,” said Fitzpatrick of Young. “He’s a guy that can really throw and spin the ball. We’ll see as we go how his progress is. I like to help those guys out and see how they improve.”

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Lee glad to have front row seat

Posted by Chris Brown on July 20, 2012 – 8:40 am

Bills QBs coach David Lee has been coaching quarterbacks for 38 years, but the competition that will ensue for the backup job behind Ryan Fitzpatrick in training camp next week has him as excited as ever.

“That competition between Vince and Tyler is going to be something special,” Lee told “It’ll be fun to watch.”

Lee will have a front row seat as he’s worked with both players through the spring tightening up some of their footwork fundamentals much like he has with Fitz. Young brings actual game experience to the competition, while Thigpen brings a well-versed knowledge of Chan Gailey’s system with him. It’s likely to come down to the preseason games, but it will figure to be one of the more interesting position battles at St. John Fisher.

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Fan Friday 7-13

Posted by Chris Brown on July 13, 2012 – 11:15 am

Less than two weeks until training camp. Hard to believe it’s almost here. Let’s get to your questions from And keep sending them in. I usually get to everyone eventually.

1 – Hi Chris:
Do you think the Bills will carry seven wide receivers for the regular season? They are very deep here, and based on competition, I would say that maybe Naaman Roosevelt and Derek Session do not make the final roster. What are your thoughts? 

Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: I do not think they keep seven wide receivers. As I outlined in our Top 25 Questions until training camp series, I foresee the coaching staff keeping just five with a couple on the practice squad. I don’t dispute that it is a talented group, but in each of the past two years Chan Gailey and his staff have kept just five receivers. The main reason last year being that Brad Smith as the third quarterback can also serve as a wideout. This affords them some wiggle room at the position. Plus with talents like Kamar Aiken, who still has practice squad eligibility they can keep a reputable talent there if needed due to injury.

Six receivers (not counting Smith) is a remote possibility, but seven will never happen.

2 – Chris —

Hoping you might post this “question” (and your response) in your “Fan Friday” blog on  I continually find fellow Bills fans bemoaning the presence of DE Chris Kelsay on the roster.  Kelsay has become a lightning rod of sorts — many fans believe he has underperformed, they don’t understand why he was extended by Nix, and they feel as though he should be a roster cut.  I’ve grown tired of defending him myself, so I hoped you could give the perspective of the organization as to why they believe Kelsay is a valuable piece of the puzzle.

Thanks as always for your contributions,

Eric Haase
Durham, NC
Bills Season Ticket Holder since 1990

CB: I think the reason Chris Kelsay doesn’t garner the respect of some Bills fans is because they pigeon-holed him as a pass rusher. Kelsay is not a pass rusher by trade. He’s said it himself. He’s a well-rounded defensive end that when given an opportunity can log some sacks (see Week 16 vs. Denver last season). But his game is predicated on being good at everything. Not elite, but solid. His leadership both in his work ethic and what he says in that locker room carry weight as well.

The fans with whom I’ve spoke over the years that aren’t a big fan of Kelsay’s, almost all of them say he doesn’t get enough sacks. I’m confident the misperception of him as a pass rusher from the time he came to the team in 2003 is where a lot of this disappointment in his game is rooted.

3 – Hi Chris,               

It was fun getting updates on how the players are doing in the OTAs and being excited about the upcoming season.  One player I hadn’t heard anything about is Fendi Onobun.  How is he doing?  I thought it was great when we acquired him as there have been a number of athletic basketball players that have become really productive as tight ends.  Do you see him figuring into the Bill’s plans?  Thanks.


CB: Onobun is an athletic talent no question about that. The problem is the game is still very new to him coming from a college basketball background. As a result the nuances of the game do not come naturally to him yet. The coaching staff is eager to work with him and develop him, but I would expect him to reside on the practice squad this fall.

4 – Whats up Chris?

Thanks for the weekly insight, but I have a two part question with us drafting T.J. for the other side for Stevie how is he looking so far? Does look like he will have a chance to start opening day? & last I know Stevie gave Stephon his props & corner was 1 of our weaknesses last yr, so how does Stephon & Aarron look so far & could either have shutdown capabilities?
Thanx Chris          

Draper Jackson Memphis,TN

CB: T.J. has definitely made progress. He made more plays in the passing game as OTAs came to a close and ran into spring minicamp. That being said I want to see how he handles things when the pads go on in training camp. It’s a different game against physical corners when the pads are on and closer to what Graham can expect out there on Sundays.

In fact Aaron Williams and Stephon Gilmore would out muscle him for the ball in the spring. Now that they’ll have a chance to work normal contact on him within five yards it’ll be interesting to see how he handles all of it. Training camp and preseason will tell us a lot about what to expect.

Williams and Gilmore looked very good in spring practices. I think those two will only benefit when the pads go on knowing both have a physical style to their play on the corner. It wouldn’t shock me if both wound up being the starting outside corners come Week 1.

5 – Chris,

Last season, I felt that the plays called in the Bills wildcat formation were predictable and unimaginative. Now that we have added a more talented QB in Vince Young to the wildcat formation, do you foresee the Bills using this package more often in ’12 and with Young in there do you predict that he will be throwing the ball more from that position as well. I don’t have the numbers but it seemed that Brad Smith’s arm was never utilized in the wildcat thus giving the Bills’ opponents a lame, predictable and ineffective offense. Will Young provide the wildcat offense with more plays throwing the ball. Chan seemed to have no confidence in Brad Smith’s ability to throw the football.

Thanks for your diligent and thorough coverage as we impatiently wait for this anticipated season to begin. 

Schenectady, NY

CB: The reason the Bills Wildcat package looked so limited last year was because the Bills could not sign free agents until a week before training camp. It prevented the Bills from fully incorporating Brad Smith’s talents into the offense because without spring practices like OTAs and training camp there was no forum to experiment with plays and effectively evaluate what he can and cannot do. Chan often lamented that fact during training camp.

Now with a full offseason Smith will again be the featured Wildcat QB and it’s my contention that he will throw more. Here’s a quote from quarterbacks coach David Lee for you to chew on regarding what they were trying to get out of OTAs and minicamp with respect to Smith’s capabilities.

“Every day the script for him is at the end of the OTAs determine what he does best,” said Lee. “What are Brad’s four best passes from empty? What are his four best passes with six-man protections? We’re trying to find out what he does best right now.”

Presuming they gathered that information in the spring practices the coaches will now install what they feel gives them the best chance for success in that package during training camp and make use of it with Smith at the right times during the season. Make no mistake, Smith is the Wildcat QB.

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Fan Friday 6-22

Posted by Chris Brown on June 22, 2012 – 11:05 am

1 – Chris,

Are we assuming Kyle Williams will be his old self? Most players don’t return to form until 2nd yr after major injury…what say u?


CB: Williams’ surprise participation in OTAs and minicamp can only be taken as an encouraging sign. I think a lot of fans forget that Williams (and Shawne Merriman for that matter) did not rupture his Achilles. He only had to have it repaired. The rehab on such a surgery is 4-5 months. By camp he and Merriman will be 8-9 months removed from surgery.

After seeing Williams in action in the team setting the past month, though his reps were only 5-10 a day, I’m encouraged that you’ll get the old Kyle Williams come training camp, the preseason and the regular season. The sudden burst off the ball was there and knifing through gaps was evident. Get ready.


2 – Hey Chris,

Thanks so much for your daily updates on Bills mobile, one of my favorite things to wake up to! Anyways, I need to ask about the running back situation. Fred recently signed a contract extension, I know this, but when will Spiller be the official starter and get his chance? Even though Fred had a breakout year, I think people tend to forget Spiller was a top ten pick, and I feel as if were completely wasting away his talent.

CB: Chan Gailey has been asked this question in one form or another often. Spiller certainly showed he’s ready for primetime with his performance over the last six games in place of an injured Fred Jackson. As good as C.J. was I think you’re forgetting that prior to the game that Fred got hurt he was first in the AFC in rushing and third in the league, third in the NFL in yards per carry average (5.5), had the second-longest TD run of the season at the time (80 yds) and was 5th in the league in receiving yards for running backs with the second-highest yards after catch average among RBs in the NFL (12.8).

In terms of total scrimmage yards he was second only to Matt Forte, who had him by 15 yards at the time (1,391 to 1,376).

You don’t toss that production aside because you have a top 10 draft choice on your roster. Chan Gailey and his offensive staff know they have to get both players on the field a lot and get them both involved in their attack. This is where having a veteran offensive play caller and designer is an advantage.

I think you’ll see a good number of split backfields with both Jackson and Spiller out there simultaneously. I think there will be a good amount of pre-snap motion with either Fred or C.J. motioning out of the backfield and lining up somewhere else. And while game to game the amount of work each of them get might not be in perfect balance I believe come season’s end, barring any injuries, that both will be integral components in the offensive production.

Coach Gailey has told me it’s impossible to keep everyone happy with the amount of touches they get, but his focus is doing what’s best for the team to win games.  What that translates into could change week to week based on the opponent and based on player performance. Just know as a fan you’ve got a good situation no matter which one of them has the ball in their hands.


3 – Chris, 

With the drafting of TJ Graham, do you expect Marcus Easley to be a factor in the Bills passing game?

And what are his chances of securing the position of the Bills No. 2 receiver? 

William Aiken
Schenectady, NY

CB:  I think Easley’s situation certainly wasn’t made any easier by the addition of Graham. Graham is clearly the fastest wideout on the field. It’s not even close by my eye. He’s very, very explosive. That being said he’s still trying to master the base concepts of the offense.

He was however, given a ton of reps with the first unit through the spring workouts for a reason. They want him out there to stretch the field vertically. I just think when the pads go on it may prove to be harder for Graham to make plays consistently because he may get knocked around a bit.

I still believe that Easley has the best physical skill set of the entire receiving corps for the outside receiver role they’re trying to fill opposite Stevie Johnson. That doesn’t mean I don’t think there are other players on this roster that are capable of holding down that job (see: Donald Jones). I just believe if Easley can put it all together he’s the clear choice out there at 6’4” 225 pounds and running a 4.4 40-time.

He clearly impressed the coaching staff in OTAs and minicamp because in minicamp Easley was given more reps with the first unit.

He plucks the ball out of the air, rarely body catches, can make plays with DBs hanging on him or in traffic. Really the only thing that has stopped him is his body (injury, medical condition). Having three years of exposure in this offense will be an asset, but he’s got to get through camp healthy and not miss time.

I’m confident if he does that he’ll be right in the mix for that outside job opposite Stevie.


4 – Chris,

Shawne Merriman says he has never felt better coming of surgery for his Achilles injury.  Considering how he was a force with San Diego when he was healthy, could he be a sleeper factor in the Bills’ newly revamped pass rushing attack?

Mike in Rochester

CB: After what we saw in OTAs and minicamp I think you can be encouraged that Merriman is as close as he has ever been to his former self when he was terrorizing quarterbacks all over the league and a three-time Pro Bowl talent.

Now there’s still another bridge to cross in training camp when the pads go on, but nothing in the spring workouts gave any indication that he could have a setback. His first step burst has been impressive and his power game looks to be back as well. We’ll know more when the pads are on and the football gets far more physical, but the arrow is pointing up right now on Merriman’s outlook for the first time in a long time.


5 – Hey Chris,

First off thank you very much for all the great Bills coverage you provide us loyal Bills fans every day. My question to you sir is about the QB position and how you think it might pan out. With the signing of Vince Young do you think that Brad Smith will stay listed as a QB?

I would think that Vince Young having the same kind of running QB wildcat potential, and if he wins the QB 2 job I can see it making sense to have him run the packages that were originally designed for Brad Smith allowing Brad to focus on WR/KR and be listed there on the depth chart, relegating Thigpen to the QB 3 roster spot, it’s an intriguing situation and was hoping to get your thoughts, thanks again. 

Sean Clemens
Las Vegas, NV

CB: Appreciate the sentiments. Chan Gailey made it clear that Brad Smith is his third quarterback and will run their Wildcat package. So Vince Young is essentially in a quarterback competition with Tyler Thigpen for the #2 job going into camp.

Through the last week of OTAs and minicamp Young and Thigpen rotated in and out with the second unit and I anticipate that to be the case when we all get to training camp as well. So although Young is athletic Smith is the better option for that Wildcat package.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Where QB Young stands with offense

Posted by Chris Brown on June 21, 2012 – 4:42 pm

Coming out of the minicamp practices Vince Young is still trying to nail down some of the nuances of Buffalo’s passing game, but considering the short span of time the quarterback has had to immerse himself in Chan Gailey’s scheme his progress is considered to be solid at this point.

“He’s done a very good job under the circumstances,” said Gailey. “He had to come in and try to learn all that stuff. It’s very difficult. It wouldn’t have been as hard two years ago, but we’re in so much more of an advanced stage now than we were two years ago. He’s trying to learn what the based concepts were and how we’ve advanced to where we are today without having the benefit of going through the baby steps. But he has a natural feel for playing the position.”

Gailey said that the competition between Young and Tyler Thigpen will be an interesting one to watch in training camp. Young has more regular season experience, but Thigpen has more experience in Gailey’s offense.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Backup QB a two horse race

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2012 – 3:27 pm

It was largely assumed already, but Bills head coach Chan Gailey effectively confirmed that Buffalo’s backup quarterback competition will be a two man competition.

In talking about the team’s plans for Brad Smith, Gailey locked Brad Smith into the number 3 quarterback role as a multi-faceted Wildcat threat.

“He’ll go into the season, unless something major changes which I don’t foresee, he’ll be the third quarterback so he’s got to have enough quarterback knowledge to get you out of a game,” said Gailey of Smith.

That leaves Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen in direct competition with one another for the backup quarterback job behind starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Since Thigpen has returned to the practice setting from his strained abdominal muscle he has seen more of the snaps with the second unit, but Young has rotated in.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

QB Young suing former agent

Posted by Chris Brown on June 12, 2012 – 9:04 am

Bills QB Vince Young is suing his former agent for the loss of millions of dollars in an all too familiar story.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Young’s former attorney and former financial advisor were both entrusted with protecting the quarterback’s assets. The suit claims upwards of $18 million in lost money. Young’s current attorney in the suit also claims there’s evidence of forgeries and fraud regarding Young’s name.  

His former attorney Major Adams was apparently a close friend of Young’s uncle and negotiated the quarterback’s first NFL contract. Buffalo cornerback Terrence McGee was in a similar situation with a former agent earlier in his career, though the amount of lost money wasn’t nearly as high.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Thigpen dealing with minor injury

Posted by Chris Brown on June 1, 2012 – 2:07 pm

Bills QB Tyler Thigpen said he has not participated in the last two days of OTAs this week. Here’s why.

“I’ve got a small tear in my abdominal,” Thigpen told “It’s about a centimeter. I’ve been dealing with it, but we’ve got to rest it and get it right.”

Quarterbacks use their core every time they throw to put added power and torque on their passes. So the abdominal injury is not something that will improve with the constant twisting of the torso when passing. Thigpen doesn’t want to make it a bigger problem than it is now, but did not indicate when he’d be back practicing.

As a result Vince Young took second team reps on offense. Bills OTA practices resume Tuesday June 5th.

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Buffalo Bills idol

Posted by Chris Brown on May 18, 2012 – 7:06 am

In the state of Texas Vince Young is about as close to iconic football status as there is with a few other exceptions (see: Dallas Cowboys). People in his native Houston joked that as a high schooler he was on TV more than the Texans. So it’s only natural that fellow University of Texas alum Aaron Williams couldn’t find the words to describe how cool it was when Young became his teammate when he signed with Buffalo.

“I was in high school when he was playing (at Texas), said Williams. “That guy is my idol. He’s the face of Austin (TX). I’m blessed to be his teammate. I have no words for being around him and seeing him be his normal self and funny. Longhorns stick together no matter what, but having him on this team is a bonus.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Why Fitz feels secure

Posted by Chris Brown on May 16, 2012 – 2:38 pm

Even though Vince Young was signed as a free agent, Ryan Fitzpatrick has been told he’s the starting quarterback. While those outside the organization wonder how tenuous the situation could get, Fitz is as self-assured as ever about his role as a starter and offensive leader.

Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Fitzpatrick explained why he’s so confident he’ll excel in the starter’s role this year.

“I know I have to go out and perform regardless of who is the number two, regardless of who else is on the team,” he said. “But the big thing for me is I’ve got the support and confidence of Chan [Gailey], the head coach, and of all my teammates.  And for me that’s the biggest thing, having the respect in that locker room and knowing that I’m the guy and they’ve got a lot of confidence in me to be the guy for years to come.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills
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