Tag:Ryan Fitzpatrick
Posted on: September 21, 2011 2:16 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 3:23 pm
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Film Room: Bills vs. Patriots preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



We’ll find out this Sunday just how "for real" the Bills are. It’s one thing to face unfamiliar foes from the iffy AFC West. It’s another to face the perennial bully of your own division. Before we forecast the matchup, let’s use the first four points to understand what these 2-0 teams are all about.

1. Patriots passing attack
The last time New England’s juggernaut offense was hitting on this many cylinders was 2007, when the rest of the NFL had no answer for Randy Moss over the top and Wes Welker underneath. New England runs a much different offense now than in those Josh McDaniels days.

Under McDaniels the Patriots in 2008 went 11-5 with Matt Cassel filling in for the injured Tom Brady. The system still worked because of the unique combination of Moss and Welker. If the Patriots were to lose Brady in their current system, they’d plummet to the middle of the AFC East. Virtually everything New England does is predicated on Brady’s unbelievable ability to diagnose a defense and set his feet before throwing.

Most NFL passing offenses are built on the quarterback anticipating where the receiver is going. The Patriots’ offense is essentially built on Brady seeing where the receiver is going before firing. The reason for this is New England’s heavy use of option routes.

The patterns that Patriot receivers, as well as their sensational young tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (who will miss this game with a knee injury), run often hinge on what the defense does. It’s up to the receiver to correctly assess the coverage – both presnap and on the fly – and choose his route accordingly. This is the premise of an option route.

Because of this, the Patriots don’t look for size and speed at wide receiver; they look for intelligence and precise route running. That’s why Wes Welker and Deion Branch, two classic role players, are stars here. They’re perfect for this system.

Option routes are designed to specifically exploit the weakness of a coverage. The reason other teams don’t run option routes nearly exclusively is because they take a split second longer to unfold, and other teams don’t have a quarterback who can make accurate throws a split second later in the down. Brady happens to have an unmatched ability to square his body and throw soundly with defenders around him.

It’s incredible – the guy has a quick, picturesque release, and you almost never see him throw off-balance. Even other superstars like Rodgers and Brees can’t quickly square up and fire under duress the way Brady can.


2. Buffalo’s quarterback
Since last season, the Bills have been higher on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick than any other team in football. There are rumors that the front office is looking to quickly sign the 28-year-old Harvard alum to a long-term deal before his market value skyrockets.

But how good is Fitzpatrick, really? Most of his supporters tout his grit. Praising a quarterback’s grit is like praising a girl’s personality. Even if the praise is justified and honest, it still feels backhanded because it implies the absence of more obvious (important?) physical attributes.

While Fitzpatrick is no Chad Pennington, he doesn’t have the world’s strongest arm. He can scramble and buy time with his feet, but he’s no Aaron Rodgers. And he reads a defense OK (he was phenomenal recognizing Oakland’s blitzes last week), but he’s no Peyton Manning. Most concerning is his occasionally erratic accuracy. Every game, poor accuracy costs him a few quality completions. And because he’s such a risk-taker, there’s an increased possibility that his inaccuracy translates to interceptions.

Don’t take this as “Fitzpatrick hating”. We only harp on his negatives because, these days, so many are highlighting his positives.

3. Chan Gailey’s adjustment
Even in the shortened offseason, the Buffalo Bills managed to drastically alter their offensive playbook. Prior to the season, we heard that Chan Gailey (who runs the offense) and Curtis Modkins (who coordinates the offense) would implement more spread formations. A lot of teams talk abot spreading out and being more aggressive, but the Bills have actually done it.

This is somewhat surprising because the Bills, especially after dumping Lee Evans, don’t seem to have the receiving personnel for this. None of their wideouts other than Roscoe Parrish – who is out for the season with an ankle injury – have great speed. And all of them are young.

However, through two games, Buffalo’s spread approach has worked marvelously. Stevie Johnson’s improvement as a route runner (he gets open late in his patterns extremely well) has compensated for his middling speed and made him a veritable No. 1 target. David Nelson, who’s a lanky 6’5” and has a newfound comfort for hauling in passes, has been a matchup nightmare both inside and out.

Donald Jones offers decent quickness off the line of scrimmage, and Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller (who, by the way, are both running with outstanding fluidity, especially on the perimeter) are capable of flanking out, which gives the Bills formation flexibility in their personnel packages.

Tip your cap to the historically power-run oriented Gailey for recognizing the direction that the NFL is going in and, at age 59, adjusting his philosophy accordingly.

4. The defenses: 4-3 or 3-4?
Both teams have run hybrid 3-4-slash-4-3 defense in recent years, not because they have versatile players or schemes but because they’ve been without a quality pass-rusher and have looked for creative (i.e. desperate) ways to manufacture pressure on the quarterback.

As it stands, neither team still has a quality rusher. Knee injuries have robbed Shawne Merriman of his burst and direction-changing ability. Merriman still has decent power, but without the movement prowess, he’s a shell of his former self. Opposite him, Chris Kelsay, though playing faster than usual this season, is not consistently dynamic. In New England, Bill Belichick is hoping elder newcomers like Shaun Ellis and Andre Carter can skim the edges on third down.

Despite feeble pass-rushing resources, both teams’ 3-4/4-3 ambiguity appears to be gone this season. Both made personnel moves that suggest a commitment to one system. The Bills spent the No. 3 overall draft pick on Marcel Dareus, a classic 3-4 end. So far, Dareus has shown intriguing power in shedding blocks, both laterally and in penetration. The Patriots traded for Albert Haynesworth, a classic one-gap tackle (just ask him) and have settled into a 4-3.

So far, Haynesworth has been a monster, but only in sub-packages. He must improve his endurance if he wants to be an everydown player like Vince Wilfork.

5. The Bills’ prayer
Do they have one this Sunday? They won’t be able to get pressure on Brady, so their best bet is to play coverage and hope for a timely turnover or two. That will be tough, though, as No. 1 corner Terrence McGee is out and his replacement, Leodis McKelvin, has struggled in man coverage.

Also, strong safety George Wilson, while stout in the box, is a slow runner with limited coverage skills. The Raiders took advantage of this with screen passes and underneath passing routes last week; the Patriots, with Gronkowski and Danny Woodhead, will have no trouble doing the same.

Thus, it’s on the Bills offense to control the tempo and shorten the game. Buffalo’s front five, coached by Joe D'Alessandris, has been phenomenal through two weeks. Center Eric Wood has the run-blocking movement skills of a Pro Bowler, while left tackle Demetrius Bell (whom yours truly has been very hard on the past few years) has shown good awareness and improved mechanics in pass protection.

A good front line is key to having a sustainable offense. But unless the Bills can work some magic on special teams, they won’t need a sustainable offense to have a chance Sunday…they’ll need a perfect one.

So who will win? Check our expert picks for all Week 1 games.


Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 4:01 pm
 

NFL Week 2 podcast review

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Week 2 is (almost) in the books and that means time to hop on the podcast machine. Bonus: today we give away free Papa John's pizza on the show! (No seriously. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and email us the answer to the trivia question here and we'll hook you up, while supplies last.)

We break down what happened in the Eagles-Falcons game (a ... metamorphisis if you will), whether the NFL needs to suspend Dunta Robinson, what happened to the Chargers, how the Ravens came out so flat against the Titans, who among the Bills, Redskins and Lions are contenders, whether Tony Romo is tough or not now, and just how awesome Cam Newton is.

All that and much, much more. For free. For you.

Hit the play button below to listen (and did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?). If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: September 18, 2011 7:47 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 11:15 pm
 

Bills continue to be pleasant surprise

D. Nelson caught the game-winning TD pass in Buffalo's win (AP).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

One of the biggest surprises of last week was the Buffalo Bills. They dominated the Chiefs on the road, winning by 34. They got wonderful quarterback play from Ryan Fitzpatrick (if you saw him as Carson Palmer’s backup in Cincinnati, that was downright shocking), and they showcased one of the underrated running backs in the league with Fred Jackson.

But these are, after all, the Bills, and even though they were at home vs. the Raiders, it seemed like a pretty good bet that Buffalo would return to normalcy. And after falling behind 21-3 at halftime, that’s exactly what I thought had happened.

Coach Chan Gailey had made the organization better, but he’s not a miracle worker. It’s not like the Bills’ stay at the top of the AFC East would last more than a week. And then Fitzpatrick went to work. And so did Jackson. And so did Buffalo’s offensive line.

And when Jason Campbell’s last-second Hail Mary attempt was intercepted in the end zone by Da’Norris Searcy, the Bills’ comeback attempt was complete. This week, Fitzpatrick went 28 of 46 for 264 yards, three touchdowns and an interception; Jackson rushed 15 times for 117 yards and two scores; and Buffalo’s stay in the AFC East penthouse will last at least another week.

"That was an amazing gut-check by our football team,” coach Chan Gailey said after the game. “What they did coming out of halftime was amazing. I was really proud of it.

While last week was a laugher the entire way in Kansas City, this week’s performance was even more impressive.

After falling behind by 18, the Bills had five offensive possessions in the second half. They scored five touchdowns. It’s not like the Raiders shriveled up; they kept answering with touchdowns of their own, but eventually, Buffalo got the lead. Only to give it back, which set up the last drive, perhaps the most impressive of the game.

After Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell -- who had a pretty good game in his own right -- hit Denarius Moore for a 50-yard touchdown to give Oakland the 35-31 lead with 3:41 to go, the Bills didn’t panic. They went back to work, and Fitzpatrick started targeting David Nelson.

Already, Fitzpatrick had completed three passes to Nelson -- who recorded 10 catches for 83 yards (both career highs) and a score -- on the final drive, and on third and 10 from the Oakland 15 with 27 seconds to play, Fitzpatrick found him again for a nine-yard gain, setting up the fourth and one with 18 seconds remaining.

Then, Fitzpatrick let Nelson win the game for him. With Nelson lined up on the left side of the line, he took advantage of a busted Oakland coverage (both Raiders defenders shadowed the slot receiver on Nelson’s inside), Nelson worked his way to the post and caught a wide-open 6-yard touchdown to seal the come-from-behind win.

It was, according to Rapid Reporter Mark Ludwiczak, the result of smart play-calling. According to him, the same play was used earlier in the game, but instead of Fitzpatrick throwing the ball to Nelson, he went to tight end Scott Chandler in the slot instead.

This time, of course, Fitzpatrick went the other way.

“I think they were all keying on (Chandler)," Nelson said. "They saw the similar play and I just slipped right underneath."

The Bills have done the same thing, slipping underneath the radar thus far. At 2-0, they’re still a surprise, and if they can actually compete with the likes of the Patriots and the Jets, that would be an even bigger shock. But there’s no question that the Bills have a different attitude this year. And if they can blow out one team and make a nice comeback on another, who’s to say Buffalo can’t continue to surprise all year long?



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Posted on: August 21, 2011 11:41 am
Edited on: August 21, 2011 11:23 pm
 

Broncos S Rahim Moore should expect fine for hit

Posted by Ryan Wilson

One of the subplots heading into the Bills-Broncos Week 2 preseason game was the battle for Denver's backup quarterback gig. By the time it was over, Brady Quinn appeared like the clear-cut No. 2 behind Kyle Orton. But a bigger story emerged from Saturday night: the rash of serious injuries, one of which will almost certainly earn Denver rookie safety Rahim Moore a hefty fine for his hit on Buffalo wide receiver Donald Jones.

Broncos coach John Fox said after the game that "[Moore's] a rookie, so I'm not going to fault him," before adding: "I think it was helmet-to-helmet, I'll have to go back and view it, but either way, they viewed it as a penalty."

Moore sounded contrite but also realistic given his line of work. "I want the guy to at least make it out of bed the next morning," he said, according to the Denver Post's Mark Kiszla. "I mean no harm. But you know what? It's football. … If you don't be physical, somebody else will."

Moore continued: "I'm a jokester, I laugh a lot. But once I strap up, I turn into a different person. ..I don't want to hurt anybody to where it jeopardizes his season or his career. If it was the wrong thing to do, I apologize." Kiszla writes that, once Moore returned to the sidelines, he was advised to play smart but coaches also told him to "keep it up."


The hit led to shoving by players from both teams. When asked at halftime about tempers flaring, Bills head coach Chan Gailey, with pursed lips and a steely gaze, only said "Be smart -- but don't back down from anybody," before heading to the locker room.

Jones' teammates weren't happy about Moore's hit, either. "For someone to come after ... our guy, that didn't sit well with us," QB Ryan Fitzpatrick said, adding that he saw Jones at halftime and the wideout appeared OK. "We're not going to be pushed around by anybody."

The Bills' receiver wasn't the only player who had to leave the game with what appeared to be a head or neck injury. Running back Johnny White was carted off the field on a stretcher after being slammed to the ground by Broncos linebacker Mario Haggan.

"I know the injuries were a concern to everyone, and the good news right now is there were no serious injuries out of the night," Gailey after the game, according to the Buffalo News. "Guys will miss awhile but they're going to eventually be fine." White was healthy enough to fly back to Buffalo with the team.

Haggan later left the game with a shoulder injury, and Denver running back David Bruton also ended up in the hospital with a head injury after attempting to make a tackle during the fourth quarter.

Josina Anderson of Denver's Fox31 tweeted early Sunday morning that sources said Bruton initially couldn't answer standard memory questions like how he got to the game, details of the game, or repeating numbers backwards.

The NFL has implemented recent rules changes specifically designed to reduce injuries. There's always a lag between when rules are made and how long it takes players to adjust to them, but ultimately, it should make the game safer. Unless, of course, the owners truly are interested in pursuing the 18-game-schedule idea that didn't come close to making into the latest collective bargaining agreement.

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Posted on: June 29, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 4:52 pm
 

Hot Routes 6.29.11: Carson's Cincy home: sold



Posted by Ryan Wilson
  • First the Bills get new uniforms and now Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly says that the team was wise to pass on a QB early in the April draft. Turns out, Kelly thinks incumbent Ryan Fitzpatrick is more than capable.
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Posted on: April 30, 2011 8:39 pm
 

What the NFL draft taught us

C. Newton will try to make it big in Carolina (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

NEW YORK – Well, the 2011 NFL draft has come and gone. The ESPN and NFL Network sets, the podium and the big-screen TVs can be placed back into storage – along with the 2011 NFL season for now.

That being said, the draft taught us quite a few things about where the organizations are going and, maybe, why they won’t get there. Here are a few observations about what we learned.

1. The Panthers still have no idea about their quarterback situation – and about their direction in general: It feels like Carolina HAD to take Cam Newton with the No. 1 pick, and if the Panthers hadn’t, Newton could have fallen all the way until the middle of the first round. So, Carolina has taken a quarterback in the second round (Jimmy Clausen) and a quarterback in the first round (Newton) in back-to-back years. Are they any better now than they were three days ago? Probably not. Are they actually in a worse spot than they were three days ago? Quite possibly.

2. The Raiders still are too in love with speed:
Their third-round pick (CB DeMarcus Van Dyke) is really fast, but other than that, he has many way too many deficiencies. Their fourth-round pick (CB Chimdi Chekwa) is really fast, but he isn’t a great cover guy. Their second fourth-round pick (RB Taiwan Jones) is really fast, but he’s very brittle. It’s a replay of almost every other season. Which likely means Oakland still isn’t going to be much better than average for the foreseeable future.

3. The Patriots might be the new Bengals: OK, that’s perhaps a bit of a stretch, but maybe could you make the case that Bill Belichick’s arrogance of drafting players with off-the-field issues this year compares to Mike Brown’s indifference of drafting players with off-the-field issues. Either way, the Patriots took QB Ryan Mallett (you know his story well by now) in the third round and TE Lee Smith (who left Tennessee for Marshall after he was arrested on a DUI charge). Now, the Patriots will have to make sure they keep those guys in line. The Bengals haven’t always done such a great job of that, but I think Belichick can manage just fine.

4. Apparently, everything is cool with quarterbacks in Arizona, Seattle and Buffalo: Maybe those front offices forgot they’ll enter 2011 with Derek Anderson/Max Hall/John Skelton and Matt Hasselbeck/Charlie Whitehurst, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, respectively. I kid, I kid. The Bills apparently like Fitzpatrick, and the Cardinals almost certainly will go to free agency to find a QB. Maybe, though, those three teams also subscribed to the theory that this year’s quarterback class wasn’t really all that tremendous and decided to try another route to fill the needs of their team.

5.Maybe teams should look more toward the north part of the South for pro prospects:
Nine (!) North Carolina players were drafted (that’s right; I double-checked), six Clemson players were taken (and Da’Quan Bowers was only the third picked!), and, hell, even three Appalachian State players were nabbed. Why, then, were the Tigers and the Tar Heels a combined 14-12?

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Posted on: April 29, 2011 8:46 am
Edited on: April 29, 2011 9:29 am
 

Ryan Mallett is there for Cincy's taking

Posted by Andy Benoit
R. Mallett (US Presswire)
Sot the first round has come and gone. From it, we saw four quarterbacks come off the board (Jake Locker at eight?! Christian Ponder at twelve!?) But two high profile quarterbacks still remain: Andy Dalton of TCU and Ryan Mallett of Arkansas.

Many have long figured that the Bills (picking second in the second round) and Bengals (picking third) are in the market for a new signal-caller. Don’t bet it on with Buffalo – the coaching staff is genuinely pleased with Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bengals, on the other hand, are more of a mystery.
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We’ll find out Friday exactly where the Bengals stand on the Carson Palmer saga. Mike Brown is a sucker for top-notch athletes (character concerns be damned) and it’s possible that Mallett was Cincy’s targeted quarterback all along. If that’s the case (and this is merely educated speculation that it is), then the Bengals find themselves with a golden opportunity to cut bait with Palmer and commit to their future.

We’ll find out Friday.

Tom Murphy of Arkansas Online spent draft night with the 70 Mallett family members and friends at Steel Wings duck lodge in Humnoke, AR. As the first round concluded, Mallett said, “Whatever team is going to be smart enough to pick me, we’re going to make something happen. I just want to play ball, that’s what I say.

“I’m not disappointed. I mean I’m disappointed, but I have a chance to play in the NFL, so I’m not too disappointed.”

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Posted on: April 20, 2011 1:44 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 1:45 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Buffalo Bills

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

S. Johnson had some good moments last year for Buffalo (US Presswire).

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups . Also, check out our checkup podcast:




Although the Bills went 4-12 last season and were never in contention for any kind of postseason berth, there was reason for optimism at the end of last year. Against all previous indications, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t half-bad, young faces like RB C.J. Spiller and WR Steve Johnson showed potential, and the team took the Steelers, Chiefs and Ravens into overtime before eventually losing.

The head coaching abilities of Chan Gailey – in college or in the NFL – have never been that impressive to me, but I’d be an idiot if I didn’t say that he is making progress in Buffalo. Progress enough to compete with the rest of the AFC East? Not yet. But any kind of progress is good.




Very little elite talent

This obviously is a problem, because, aside from NT Kyle Williams – who’s a top-five interior defensive lineman – the Bills don’t feature any elite players (maybe S Jairus Byrd can get there at some point). With the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft, that should change (you’d like to think so at least, if you’re a Bills fan). But remember, Buffalo went with Aaron Maybin with the No. 11 pick in 2009 and Leodis McKelvin with the No. 11 pick in 2008. Apparently, this franchise doesn’t always know how to pick the elite guys.



1. QUARTERBACK
While Fitzpatrick did a decent enough job at the starting spot last year, after Trent Edwards thoroughly failed at it and Brian Brohm didn’t do enough to win it, Fitzpatrick doesn’t scream, “FUTURE FRANCHISE QB.” Since the Bills have the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft, it makes sense for them to take somebody who could make that claim. Considering GM Buddy Nix said that now is the perfect time to draft a QB, Buffalo might just do it.

2. LINEBACKERS
Buffalo needs to shore up its 3-4 defense in a big way and procure players who can figure out how to get to the opposing quarterback. The Bills – who were tied for 27th in sacks last year – already have Shawne Merriman and Aaron Maybin at OLB, but it’s unclear if the former can stay healthy and the latter has been a big draft bust thus far in his career. Von Miller’s elite speed certainly would help in the linebacker corps.

3. DEFENSIVE LINE
The Bills were the worst team in football at stopping the run, so this spot obviously is in need of an upgrade. The line itself seems to be OK with Kyle Williams and Dwan Edwards, but a Da’Quan Bowers pick wouldn’t be shocking (though many experts are predicting Miller).




The Bills are still nowhere near making a bid for the playoffs, but there’s no reason they can’t improve on last year’s record. I think 8-8 would be a stretch – especially if Fitzpatrick is back at the QB spot – but 6-10 or 7-9 wouldn’t be out of the question. And it would be a sign of more progress.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com