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Bills notebook: Computer to analyze feedback from players, coaches

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Buffalo Bills will clean out their lockers Monday morning, but coach Doug Marrone wants them to leave their thoughts behind.

Marrone’s exit interviews include a 360-degree feedback review. Each player and assistant will answer a detailed questionnaire about the organization, coaches and teammates. The surveys are aggregated to reveal problems to address and strengths to embrace.

Previous Bills coaches didn’t use these 360 reviews, which are common in the corporate world. Marrone instituted them at the end of last year, his first season as an NFL head coach.

“Stuff we suggest gets done, which is nice,” Bills center Eric Wood said after Sunday’s 17-9 victory over the New England Patriots. “It can be anything from nutrition to the strength program to anything.

“Anything is fair game in those reports, and they will get addressed for you.”

Marrone explained that a computer analyzes the responses and highlights them in three categories: red for issues that need immediate attention, yellow for lighter concerns and green for affirmation.

“We keep it very simple,” Marrone said. “It’s a large scale of questions about everything that we do in the organization, and that’s the best way to get the input from the players.”

Marrone indicated the 360 reviews are dependent on players and staff being brutally honest. He will use their responses to help determine the course for establishing the team’s culture.

Players put their names on the 360 reports, so there isn’t any anonymous criticism. Marrone emphasized the information gathered will remain in-house.

“A lot depends on the players,” Marrone said. “I have a plan as a coach. We have a plan as a staff. We try to implement that plan, and what we talk to the players.

“That’s why we do 360s, and we get a feel for the players and exactly where we’re at, things we need to work on.”

Players evaluate Marrone and their position coaches. Marrone’s assistants also evaluate him.

“It’s important if they want the program to be better and the organization to be better,” Marrone said. “It gives them a chance to tell us.”

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Patriots tight end and former Williamsville North star Rob Gronkowski didn’t play, although he wasn’t on the injury report.

“We tried to create opportunities for some guys that the experience will benefit them going forward,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

Gronkowski wasn’t happy with Belichick’s decision, but a fresh Gronkowski is important. He has a history of being banged up in the postseason.

Gronkowski’s bum ankle might have kept the Patriots from winning the Super Bowl three years ago. He had zero catches in a playoff victory over the Houston Texans two years ago and was unable to play in the AFC Championship Game, a loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

The Bills didn’t feel sentimental about Gronkowski’s absence. In seven career games versus the Bills, Gronkowski has 37 receptions for 543 yards and nine touchdowns.

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Guess who has the highest career passer rating in Bills history.

Jim Kelly, you say? Drew Bledsoe? Jack Kemp?

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

The correct answer is Kyle Orton. His 87.8 rating through 12 games is better than the previous Bills record of 85.5 held by? Why, of course, Rob Johnson. (Minimum 250 attempts.)

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Bills defensive end Mario Williams established a new personal best with 14.5 sacks. The four-time Pro Bowler recorded 14 for the Houston Texans in his second season.

Dan Carpenter’s 48-yard field goal in the second quarter was his 34th of the year, a new Bills record. Carpenter tied Steve Christie last year with 33 field goals.

Sammy Watkins didn’t reach his milestone. The rookie receiver needed 75 yards to hit 1,000, but caught only three passes for 57 yards.

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With 104 yards Sunday, the Bills finished with 1,482 rushing yards, their worst total since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978.

The previous low was 1,552 yards in 2006.

The Bills ran 402 times for an average of 3.69 yards, eighth-worst in club history and the lowest since 1996.

They also broke the record for fewest rushing first downs with 65, undercutting their nine-year-old mark by 10.

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Buffalo’s victory was rare in many ways, including the first in Gillette Stadium after losing the first 12 tries.

The Patriots had won 35 regular-season home games in a row against AFC opponents, a record since the NFL and AFL merged in 1970. Their previous inter-conference loss at home was to the Pittsburgh Steelers in November 2008.

If the Patriots won, they would have tied the post-merger record for consecutive home victories against a division opponent. The streak ended at 17 games, equaling the Bills’ streak from 1988 to 1992.

New England also had won 16 straight regular-season games over any opponent in Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots failed to score a touchdown Sunday. The last time they didn’t cross the goal line at home was a 9-3 victory over the Cleveland Browns in October 2003.

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Bills receiver Marquise Goodwin finished the year with one catch. Last year’s 78th overall draft pick was a healthy scratch Sunday.

Goodwin played 10 games. He was targeted nine times. He also ran three times for 8 yards.

As a rookie, he had 17 receptions for 283 yards and three touchdowns.

email: tgraham@buffnews.com

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