Run Defense: Some way, some how, the Buffalo Bills have got to start stopping the run. We've all identified the issues. Instead of re-hashing, I'm going to try to point out some ways to fix the problem, and avoid talking about the 2011 off-season in the process. Outside linebackers set the edge in the 3-4 defense. Call it setting the edge, anchoring, digging a hole, whatever. The outside linebacker funnels the play back into the middle. It's more than that, though. The outside linebacker also needs to compress the play. Just simply not letting the runner outside is not enough; the edge-setter needs to not get pushed back, and if possible, push his blocker back into the running lane. It creates less room for the runner. The defensive line needs to draw double-teams. The only guy that does so on a regular basis is Kyle Williams, though he's not playing a true two-gap zero technique while doing so. Without these two elements, the inside linebackers won't have much of a chance to make plays.
: I'm leery of saying the offensive line is good or bad on just one viewing, because Ron does a much better job. I'm pretty confident in saying that had his way with Howard. Hali was in 's grill all game, particularly at the end of the second half. Howard may eventually be a decent-to-good offensive lineman, but dare I say that I can't wait until is healthy. Yikes!
Offensive Philosophy: Why Buffalo isn't mirroring what Kansas City is doing boggles me. Theknow they have a good, but not great quarterback, average receivers, an average line, and two good backs. So they ran the ball 45 times and passed 26 times. Classic Parcells Erhardt-Perkins football. I know Chan Gailey likes to get his playmakers the ball in space, but Buffalo is under similar conditions to the Chiefs. Why not pound the football, limit mistakes, and protect the defense?
Kyle Williams and : Williams is out of position and doesn't have a true home in the scheme, but give the guy some credit. He's the only player than opposing offenses have to worry about on the defensive front. His effort level is well known, and everyone is starting to see that his Pro Bowl alternate status from last year wasn't a fluke. He was disruptive all day. Posluszny didn't stand out at the line of scrimmage so much, simply because he's getting washed out of most plays because the line doesn't hold. He did do a great job of open field tackling, though, and showed good range, stopping a few Chiefs drives and holding them to a field goal on one drive. He may never approach status, but he could be very good when the front solidifies.
Scoring Defense: To be fair, it's hard putting a defense that surrendered 274 yards on the ground into this category. They did, however, hold the Chiefs to 13 points. A case can be made that Todd Haley and Charlie Weis ran their offense close to the vest, but this is also a Chiefs team that scored 42 points on Jacksonville the week prior. The defense bent - a lot - but didn't break and made stops when it was necessary. It's nice to see the streak of opponents scoring over 30 points in a game end, too. Editor's note: Buffalo's defense has now allowed just 16 points in what basically amounts to their last six quarters, plus five minutes of overtime in Baltimore.
Offensive Play Calling: Though I disagree with Gailey's philosophy, the plays he did call worked. His second half adjustments worked, something Buffalo lacked in past years. Gailey stopped running wide and started running dives in the second half. The pass plays transitioned to three- and five-step drops in the second half to relieve pressure on the line. The receivers starting running shorter slant and inside routes to get open. Even the game plan for C.J. Spiller was good. The first half center screen for Spiller was a Fitzpatrick off-pass from being a big gainer. Spiller on the 9 route versus the linebacker was also a Fitzpatrick off-pass away from being a touchdown. And Spiller as the decoy got open on the flag route, setting up . If this offense gets a franchise quarterback and another offensive tackle, it could be scary good.
Outlook: Hope. Buffalo has competed for two weeks now, on the road, against tough competition. A couple weeks ago, I didn't think Buffalo would win more than three games, with only Detroit and Cleveland looking truly beatable. Now, almost every team in the schedule needs to be considered beatable. Buffalo may still be the front runner for the first overall pick, and may only win a couple of games. The days of being shelled and wondering if the team could win a game may be gone. Baby steps, Buffalo. Baby steps.
Next up: Chicago at the Rogers Centre, 1 PM on Sunday. A month ago, this game could be written off as a loss, but now looks like a game where Buffalo can get two monkeys off the back: first win at the Rogers Centre and first win this season.