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Browns vs. Bills: Getting to Know the Enemy With Buffalo Rumblings

Brian Galliford from Buffalo Rumblings exchanged five questions with us, discussing the issues that fans have with SS Donte Whitner, how good the Bills' secondary is, what has happened to the production of WR Sammy Watkins, and more.

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This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the Buffalo Bills. To help preview this week's game, I reached out to Brian Galliford from Buffalo Rumblings and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!


Chris: "I think it's safe to say that Donte Whitner isn't well liked by Bills fans. Besides his Twitter encounter with fans this offseason, was there already a rift between Whitner and Bills fans? If so, why?"

Brian: "To be honest, Bills fans are not blameless in this situation. We carried high expectations for Whitner, a former Top 10 pick, and his Bills career was thoroughly mediocre (he has been better since leaving after the 2010 season). He was a frustrating player to watch, and Whitner's post-Buffalo attacks on the city, the team, and its fans were not entirely unprovoked. That said, Whitner has always been a bit of an excuse-maker and troll, and no, there are not many Bills fans that go out of their way to support the dude. But when you get right down to it, it's a fairly basic situation that turned ugly because of the way Whitner is wired."

Chris: "The Browns have had difficulties against tough defensive fronts this year (Jacksonville and Houston). The Bills boast a unit that far exceeds either of those teams, but the Browns have Josh Gordon now. Have any receivers been able to have a big day against the Bills' secondary? Is there a 'weak link' in coverage?"

Brian: "It has not happened often this season. The Bills currently rank fifth in the NFL in pass defense, giving up under 214 yards per game through the air. They've held their opponents to 264 or fewer passing yards in nine of their 11 games, and are on a particularly hot streak over the past month, keeping opponents at 205 or fewer passing yards in each of their last five games.

There are only two teams that really burned the Bills through the air: Chicago in Week 1, when top cornerback Stephon Gilmore was sidelined, and then, of course, Tom Brady and the Patriots in Week 6. Golden Tate (7-134-1) in Week 5 is the only 100-yard receiver the Bills have allowed all season - though a handful of other players have had solid days. It's a good pass defense, spearheaded by that league-best pass rush, but it's not invulnerable - particularly if you can exploit the athletic limitations of the safeties."

Chris: "It's hard to believe that Boobie Dixon of all people is currently the Bills' leading rusher, but Fred Jackson seems to be healthy. What type of rep distribution should we expect to see from the Bills' backfield?"

Brian: "Jackson will be the primary pass-down back, because he's the best receiver and pass protector of the bunch. He'll probably be right around the 50 percent (of snaps) mark for the remainder of the season. Dixon will be an early-down back - put him at maybe 30 percent - and then Bryce Brown will be used as a receiving option and to add a bit of speed into the mix. There is no doubt whatsoever, by the way, that this group is lacking big-play ability with C.J. Spiller out of the lineup."

Chris: "Sammy Watkins started tearing up the league in October, but in November, he only has 10 catches for 94 yards (over his past three games). Why has Watkins' productivity slowed down? Do Bills fans still support giving up an extra first-rounder in 2015 for him?"

Brian: "He may not be entirely healthy, and he's also been playing like a rookie, to be frank (getting caught from behind in New York, dropping passes, concentration lapses, and the like). Mostly, though, teams have been making an effort to roll coverages his way, because up until last week, when Robert Woods caught nine passes, no Bills player was stepping up to make defenses play more honest coverages. Watkins is going to be an elite player, and has already had huge games, and opponents will continue to recognize that until the Bills can get more out of the rest of their receiving group - Woods in particular."

Chris: "Talk about the offensive line -- who is the Bills' best offensive lineman, and who is the weak link?"

Brian: "Cordy Glenn, the left tackle, is still the best lineman on the team, though he is not playing as well as he did in 2013. Ever since the team put veteran Kraig Urbik back into the starting lineup at left guard, the unit has been far more consistent in pass protection, and they have been slightly more efficient running the ball of late, as well. But when you get right down to it, this line is not at all great; Eric Wood is having a down year at center, rookie right tackle Seantrel Henderson is still inconsistent, and right guard Erik Pears (a converted tackle) is the weakest link of all. This line can be beaten by good scheme, and we know firsthand how creative Mike Pettine can be on that front."


Thanks again to Brian for taking the time to answer my questions.