Buffalo Bills: Where is the Defense?


When Rex Ryan was hired to lead the Buffalo Bills, it was the offense that was a major concern, not their Defense. Last season it was because of that vaunted defense, the Bills were able to finish 9-7 and just one game out of that elusive playoff spot.

If anything, with Ryan coming in, everyone figured the defense would get even better. There were even some comparisons to the defense of the 2000 Ravens, or even the 1985 Bears, led by Rex’s father Buddy Ryan.

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY SportsMari

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For a team that came into the season with a defensive line making somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 million a year (Jerry Hughes five-year, $45 million contract signed in offseason, Mario Williams six-year, $96 million contract signed in 2012 and Marcell Dareus six-year, $96.5 million deal signed in offseason), the unit nicknamed “The Cold Front” has been anything but intimidating this season. They have amassed just 9 sacks, which ranks 24th in the NFL.

As a matter of fact, in all three of their home losses, Andy Dalton, Tom Brady and Eli Manning have thrown for 921 yards and nine touchdowns while only being picked off once and being sacked three times.

Defensive End Mario Williams thinks the issue lies with the defensive scheme the Bills are playing, and even told NFL.com (via Albert Breer), “The biggest difference I see, you look at the last few years and obviously our numbers, to speak of the guys in our room, the D-line, we’re going. We’re playing the run, we’re playing the pass. When you look at the numbers from last year and compare them to this year, we’re dropping a lot.”

But it wasn’t just Williams sounding off on Rex Ryan’s play calling, as Dareus echoed Williams sentiments to Yahoo! Sports’s Dan Wetzel, “We like making plays. We like getting sacks, just being out there exerting a lot of energy and having fun. But when we’re dropping, when I’m not out there on third down or just I’m dropping or Kyle [Williams] is dropping or Mario is dropping or Jerry [Hughes] is dropping…. It’s not been a lot of times where there have been all four of us, full tilt, ears pinned back and we’re going after it. We haven’t had a lot of that this year. Hopefully Rex is going to implement it. There’s nothing we can do.”

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Even Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly sounded off about it to Wetzel saying, “Dropping Mario Williams into coverage a lot? Didn’t we pay him a lot of money to hit the quarterback? And if I’m the opposing quarterback and I see him dropping into coverage, oh, that’s a big plus. I’d definitely have a smile on my face.”

It is not too late for this Bills team to turn it around. Thanks to the AFC being a little weaker than normal, even at 3-3 the Bills are only one game out of the playoffs and with a game this week against the one of the worst teams in the NFL, they have a good chance to go into their bye week with a winning record.

Aug 29, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams (94) against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

After the bye will be the Bills true test, and will be a deciding factor if this team is capable of making the playoffs and ending the drought. Their first four games after the week off is a home date with Miami, then three straight road contests at the Jets, at the Patriots and then at Kansas City (yes the Chiefs are 1-5, but Arrowhead Stadium is always a tough place to play).

If they can come out of that daunting string of games with a 3-1 record, the rest of the season should line up nicely for them. Of course, if they continue to not be able to get any pressure on opposing QB’s, the thoughts of being invited to the post season will be as distant as the sun shining in Buffalo in December.

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