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When it comes to throwing deep, Bills' school not in session

By Tim Graham

When discussing why the Buffalo Bills don't try to air the ball downfield more, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said, "the way that we're set up and the way that we play offense, that's not what we're going to major in."

OK. Fine.

So I asked coach Chan Gailey on Monday what it would take for the Bills to take some electives here or there.

"There's so much that goes into how you design things," Gailey said. "You design them around your players. You do what they do best. You try to make sure that you are making first downs and giving your players a chance to make first downs and giving your players a chance to be successful.

"So everything's designed around what you feel like your players do the best. That's what you do."

Gailey, however, claimed he has the personnel to go deep. Without naming names, Stevie Johnson has caught long balls before. The Bills traded up to draft sprinter T.J. Graham in the third round.

Even though Gailey has done it before in his coaching career, he agreed with the suggestion he simply doesn't see much benefit in trying to stretch the field with his current offense.

"There's some of that," Gailey said. "It's more of that than having people that can go deep. It's more of by design that it is by lack of personnel; that's for sure."

Gailey shared some additional thoughts on throwing long.

"What you have to do is throw it deep enough to keep people honest," Gailey said. "You just can't throw 6-yard routes the whole ballgame. There's a lot of different ways to do it.

"If you go back and look, I think Houston threw it deep twice when the game was in the balance. They threw one deep late on fourth down, but I think they threw it deep a couple times in the ballgame.

"Sometimes it's deep over. Sometimes it's deep crossers. It's things like that that you have to get a guy to catch a ball and go make a few yards on his own. So I think it's a matter of getting guys to do what they do best. Fit it in to the offense the way it needs to be fit in, and then you go from there."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |