Tuesday - Jan 15, 2019

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Deeper & Down – Buffalo Bills




BUFFALO

BILLS

MAJOR NEEDS: QB, NT, LT OLB, MLB, SS


 

DEFENSE

The Bills have a ton of needs and are in major rebuild mode – something that departed head coach Dick Jauron did his best to paper over for some time. The addition of George Edwards at Defensive Coordinator will definitely make an often underrated defense better, but he’s also asking an awful lot of the existing personnel to make that transition. Aaron Maybin should be one of the players that could improve, but regression would hardly be possible for him at this stage. He should draw inspiration from Mario Williams as it took him a while to settle in too, but with

Buffalo
’s track record of missing in the draft you would be forgiven for still not being either overly enthused or optimistic, despite the addition of Edwards.

Edwards will be reunited with Marcus Stroud, whom he coached in college (Georgia) and between Stroud and Kyle Williams, Edwards should only be a nose tackle short of his defensive linemen with  Aaron Schobel and Maybin kicking to outside linebacker and Paul Posluszny and Kawika Mitchell being the inside linebackers. It looks “okay” – but that lineup? You’re asking a few players to play out of their comfort zone in positions which may suit them in theory, but have not had much prior experience in practice by comparison.

Schobel has said he welcomes the change as it would play to his strengths – something

Buffalo
has criminally failed to do since they acquired him. Will it be enough to stop him from retiring? That’s an unknown at this point and is anyone’s guess. Hopefully, Edwards has skills of persuasion to match his knowledge of the 3-4 defense as losing Schobel now would deprive Buffalo of some much-needed veteran leadership qualities as well as making a position they are very weak in already even more anemic.

The defensive Front 7 is short four or five players at least from being viable. The lack of depth and quality at linebacker after Pozluszny and Mitchell for a 3-4 defense won’t be rectified in one season There are a number of free agents this off season they might look to target (see Miami Dolphins next), as well as through the draft, so they could go in a number of directions, there. The nose tackle position – as mentioned previously – is a major worry, however.

“Don’t think that the guy that plays nose has to be a 330- or 340-pound guy,” new head coach Chan Gailey said. “We’re not going to take good football players and stand them over there beside me on game day. We’re going to put our best players on the field. If you have to put a smaller guy on the field to play there then you move him and do some different things with him. There are a lot of different ways to skin the cat and that’s what we’ll do. We’ll get our best football player on the field and let them play.”

Edwards echoed those sentiments, saying ideally you’d like to have a big man in the middle, but that you can’t pigeon hole yourself into that line of thought.

“You have ideal size that you want at particular positions,” Edwards said. “That doesn’t mean you’re always going to have the ideal size at those positions so you have to play to the size and the strength of the people that you have on your roster.” (taken from a Feb. 12 interview on

Buffalo
radio station 103.3 FM The Edge)

Interpretation? We will play whoever we can get at nose tackle, defensive end or outside linebacker whether it’s Maybin, Stroud, Williams or Schobel.

You can either outscore your opposition … or you can stop them from scoring.

Buffalo
manages neither with an alarming efficiency. The one small crumb of comfort they can console themselves with is that they are stacked at corner – Terence McGee, Reggie Corner, Drayton Florence and … even Ashton Youboty have been serviceable in certain packages. They aren’t too bad at safety either, and in having both Jairus Byrd and Donte Whitner they could probably afford to trade a player or possibly two from their only real positions of strength to address their other deficiencies, of which there are many to be blunt.

The Bills also have a huge amount of deadwood, detritus and players of dubious ability currently eking out a living on the back end of the defensive roster. Primarily caused by an absolutely atrocious streak of injuries (

Buffalo
led the NFL in Injured Reserve players in both 2007 and 2009), I fully expect to see a number of these fringe players cut. The Bills have also taken the step of acquiring not just one, but two conditioning coaches to try and redress this worrying trend of injuries that has been a recurring factor of Jauron’s tenure, whatever the underlying reason.

The loss of Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April to the Eagles was as big a loss to the Bills as any other this offseason. The Bills’ special team unit was a highly respectable one and ranked among the leagues best. It’ll be interesting to see how Bruce DeHaven does in mitigating that loss on his return to the Bills after stints with the Seahawks and Cowboys.

In IDP leagues you will
WANT to own one of a few players on the

Buffalo
defense as – inevitably – they spend as much time on the field as the officials some weeks. As a Defense/Special Team unit overall? Just walk away. Because of the time spent on the field, they will very often capitulate in the fourth quarter. In public leagues there will be weeks where they could be a serviceable plug and play, but that is about as good as it will get in 2010.


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