After 4 years as the Head Coach at Syracuse University, the Buffalo Bills named Doug Marrone to the same position. The Bills will face Baltimore looking to even Marrone’s NFL Coaching record to 2-2.
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1) As Marrone transitions to the NFL, his offense is being led by rookie NFL QB EJ Manuel. Manuel has great size (6’4, 237 lbs), and moves well in the pocket. During all the Pre-Draft coverage in the Spring, Manuel was doing interviews everywhere. I came away thinking that despite some obvious physical talent, his best attributes might be his intelligence and disposition. In his first 3 games in the league, his attempts per game have increased weekly. Currently he is averaging 229.7 yards per game, and completing 59.3% of his attempts. ESPN’s QBR metric has him 22nd overall at 47.4. He has 4 TD’s against 1 pick, and has ran for 76 yards on 13 attempts. After Week 3, Pro Football Focus noted: “Only 12.6% of E.J. Manuel’s drop-backs have been play action passes which is the second lowest rate in the league. However, when he does use play action passes his yards per attempt is 11.6 — the highest for a QB not named Manning.” Inside The Bills speaks with Manuel about how the QB knows he needs to go down the field more often. Looking at the recaps of the 3 previous games, the two most prevalent comments have been 1) Inconsistent, and 2) Poised in the pocket. I think that bodes well for the Bills future (figuring he will be less inconsistent with experience), and for the Ravens this week. There figures to be times Sunday where Manuel makes plays, followed by times where he looks uncomfortable as a Rookie. Mix up the defenses and looks, and hope you can force him into mistakes.
2) The Bills have allowed 9 sacks on the year. The starting line (from left-to-right) is Cordy Glenn (2012 2nd rd pick, 6’6 345 lbs), Colin Brown (6’7, 326 lbs), Eric Wood (2009 1st rd pick), Kraig Urbik (6’5, 324 lbs, signed a 4 yr extension last year), and Erik Pears (6’8, 316 lbs). Don’t know how great they are at blocking, but that is a line with a lot of size.
3) CJ Spiller hurt his quad early against the Jets last week, and did not return. Due to that, he has had just 43 carries on the year, and is averaging only 3.6 yards per carry. Last year Spiller had 1,200+ yards on the ground, averaging an outstanding 6 ypc. He also averaged 28.7 yards per game as a receiver, down to 9.7 so far here in 2013. He should play Sunday, and is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball. The backup RB is Fred Jackson, who has ran for over 900 yards in a season 3 times. He is averaging 5.3 ypc on his 32 attempts this year, and has averaged 4.6 ypc for his career. Like Spiller, Jackson is a threat as a receiver as well.
4) 5’9, 248 lb Frank Summers is the FB. Drafted in 2009 by Pittsburgh, Summers had his first two touches (both receptions) on the 15th vs. Carolina.
5) Stevie Johnson has played in every game the past 3 seasons, and had 76+ catches in each of those years. The 6’2, 207 lb wr has averaged 13.0 ypc, and 4.7 yac for his career. After drafting Manuel, the Bills looked to provide him with weapons; using 2nd and 3rd picks on WR’s. The 2nd rd choice was Robert Woods out of USC. Woods has 7 catches for 121 yards (17.3 ypc) and 1 TD. The 3rd choice was Marquise Goodwin out of Texas. Goodwin is currently out of action with a broken hand. Starting opposite of Johnson is T.J. Graham, a 3rd rd pick in 2012. Graham had 31 catches last year, but just 2 (for only 13 yards) so far here in ’13. Graham complained Sunday that he was running by his defender all game.
6) Over the past two years, TE Scott Chandler has had 12 combined TD’s, and 81 receptions. This year Chandler been targeted 6 times each game, and is coming off his best week of the season – where he had 79 yards, and 1 score. The TD came on a 33 yard grab in the seam.
7) The Bills suffered a number of injuries this past Sunday. One of the injuries which will have the most impact is the loss of starting LDE Alex Carrington. That is not going to help an already porous run defense (currently allowing 155 yards per game). Corbin Bryant looks to replace Carrington. The LDT is Marcell Dareus, a 2011 1st round pick. Dareus has had 5.5 sacks in each of his first two seasons. After spending 3 seasons at NT, Kyle Williams now plays DT in the Bills 4-3 defense. Williams was a 2010 All-Pro. Mario Williams is the RDE, and a pretty interesting guy if you’ve ever heard him interviewed. After getting 4.5 sacks against Carolina on the 15th, he made the rounds on ESPN. Williams spoke about being a perfectionist, and is own harshest critic. ESPN did not get into it with him, but he came across as a guy still uncomfortable with having been the 1st overall pick of the 2006 draft – and maybe not meeting his own standards. Or perhaps on top of that, signing a large deal with Buffalo prior to last year and wanting to justify the contract (he did have 10.5 sacks last yr). While Williams might feel he has more to prove, he is a 2x All-Pro, with 68.5 career sacks. Former Colts #1 pick (2010) Jerry Hughes is a reserve lineman.
8) Left LB Manny Lawson was originally a 1st round pick of San Francisco in 2006. After spening the two previous years with Cincinnati, Lawson signed a 4 year deal with Buffalo this year. The Bills had two 2nd round picks this year, and used the 46th overall selection to grab MLB Kiko Alonso out of Oregon. Alonso has been a difference maker so far, playing a high percentage of snaps. He already has 2 picks, 1 sack, and 17 solo tackles.
9) LCB is Leodis McKelvin is a 2x All-Pro who is dealing with a hamstring injury. He missed practice today, but is expected back tomorrow. The SS is Aaron Williams, a 2011 2nd rounder from Texas. The FS is Jarius Byrd, who like McKelvin is a 2x All-Pro. (EDIT: Byrd is dealing with plantar fasciitis and might be out against this week.)The Bills used their Franchise tender on Byrd prior to this year. The should be starter pposite of McKelvin is 2012 1st round pick Stephon Gilmore. Unfortunately for the Bills, Gilmore had wrist surgery and is out of action for at-least the first 6 weeks. Backup CB Ron Brooks is also out of action with a broken foot. The Buffalo News speaks to the Bills being low on CB’s here.
10) Buffalo enters Sunday 14th in Total Offense, and 28th in Total Defense.