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Five Good Questions: Bills designer blitzes generating pressure

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To get the 411 on the Raiders next opponent, I spoke with Chris Trapasso of SB Nation Bills blog, Buffalo Rumblings

1. The Bills went from 25th in rushing in 2014 to the best rushing team in the NFL the past two seasons. Any open thank you letters from the fans to Chip Kelly for gifting the Bills LeSean McCoy?

I'm sure those letters are out there somewhere. He's been special -- especially this season -- beyond just him though... that trade had a ripple effect on the Bills team-building thought process. After trading for McCoy, Buffalo signed Tyrod Taylor, who certainly poses a significant running threat at QB, drafted guard John Miller, who made 46 starts at Louisville, in Round 3 of the 2014 draft, added bulldozing fullback Jerome Felton, and locked up star left tackle Cordy Glenn. Richie Incognito was actually the first move the Bills made after hiring Rex Ryan, and the veteran guard has been a catalyst for Buffalo's run-game prowess.

And, yeah, what was Chip Kelly thinking? McCoy's numbers weren't off-the-charts in 2015 with the Bills, but if you watched him, you saw the same ridiculous cutting ability, quick-twitch movement skills, and burst that made him an elite RB in Philadelphia. Apparently, Rex thought he could scheme production from his linebackers -- hence why he was OK with parting with Kiko Alonso -- and Kelly thought the same for the running back position. Rex was right. Kelly was wrong.

2. The Bills receiver corps seems to be pretty banged up. Walt Powell to IR, Sammy Watkins just getting back from a broken foot and several others on this week's injury list. Give us a status report on the wide receiver situation in Buffalo.

[Ace Ventura on Ray Finkle's porch inhale]

Sammy Watkins should play but isn't 100%. Robert Woods has a knee injury and won't play. Percy Harvin is back... kind of. He played two games but missed last week with migraines and hasn't practiced this week. As you mentioned, Powell is out. So it'll be Watkins, Justin Hunter -- who has four touchdowns on seven catches this year -- and, maybe, just maybe, Marquise Goodwin. The latter injured his wrist at practice on Thursday. Also, primary punt returner Brandon Tate will be split out wide, and Buffalo called up 2015 seventh-round pick Dez Lewis from the practice squad this week. Given the injuries, it's not exactly the most threatening group, but Watkins makes a big impact.

3. On one hand, Tyrod Taylor takes care of the ball. On the other hand, it seems he is quick to give up on his reads in favor of tucking it. Has there been much concern about finding a better balance between using his athleticism as a runner and looking downfield?

Believe me, among Bills fans, this is a fierce, ongoing debate. Because of his immense athleticism, Tyrod isn't going to chill in the pocket for five seconds and scan the field on every dropback like Tom Brady. He'll leave the pocket prematurely on a few occasions. He's not simply a one-read-and-go QB, but once his internal clock hits 0, he will look for room outside to either run or throw. Taylor would probably benefit from staying in the pocket more often, however, he makes up for each "premature pocket departure" with an amazing escape from a sack on another play. He's definitely a unique signal-caller.

4. What do the Bills lose with Seantrel Henderson suspended for 10 games?

Nothing, really. Henderson played all 16 games as a rookie, and as you and your readers likely remember, Khalil Mack absolutely destroyed him in Oakland's win that year. Henderson was a major liability basically all season, but that (old) regime never wavered in their confidence in him, for some reason. Last year, he again was a weak link before he ran into issues with his Crohn's disease forced him to go on IR. He split time with Jordan Mills -- who's now the liability on the line -- two weeks ago in Cincinnati with mixed results.

5. Since the first four questions were about the offense, give us the major strength(s) and weakness(es) of the Bills' defense

Strengths are Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, the linebackers -- Preston Brown and Zach Brown -- and, as a whole, the defense seems to be fully comfortable executing the variety of Rex's complex blitzes. There have been some tremendous individual efforts, yet, a good portion of Buffalo's 33 sacks have come on a play in which a blitz confused the offensive line and gave a defender essentially a free run at the quarterback. The Bills have five players with at least three sacks.

The main weaknesses of the defense has been inconsistency and occasional miscommunication in the secondary. Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby (who probably won't play Sunday) are fine man-to-man cornerbacks yet haven't been as good playing the ball in the air this season as they did in 2015, when they combined for a whopping 41 pass breakups. Beyond that, reliable free safety Aaron Williams is on IR, and there's been a considerable drop off on the last line of defense, especially when it comes to quarterbacking the rest of defensive backs.

To see my answers to his questions, click here.