Bills have personnel to run hybrid defensive looks

One of the chief reasons that new Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey hired George Edwards as his defensive coordinator was because of his experience working in both 4-3 and 3-4 defensive alignments. We've known for about three months now that Buffalo would be switching its base alignment from a zone-based 4-3 to the 3-4, but given the sheer magnitude of that undertaking, we've also assumed that the team would be sprinkling in 4-3 looks as well.

GM Buddy Nix has focused on quantity this off-season, building competition across virtually every position on his young roster, throwing the proverbial noodles against the wall to see what sticks. As a result, Buffalo has numbers and options defensively, particularly along the defensive line and in the secondary, that should allow them to run 3-4 and 4-3 looks with ease.

The real question, however, isn't about whether or not Buffalo has the personnel to run those schemes. It's fairly clear that they do. What Edwards must accomplish is putting his best defensive talents in a position to succeed at what they do best. That's where the hybrid looks will be a means to that end; versatility is meaningless unless you get utility out of it.

General personnel roles
This is currently my own subjective analysis of where each of Buffalo's defenders fit in terms of their positional role.

5-technique DE: Dwan Edwards, Marcus Stroud, Alex Carrington, Will Croner
0-technique NT:
Torell Troup, Marlon Favorite, Lonnie Harvey
1- and 3-technique rotational penetrator:
Kyle Williams, Spencer Johnson, John McCargo, Rashaad Duncan
Pass-rushing OLB:
Aaron Schobel, Aaron Maybin, Chris Ellis, Danny Batten, Antonio Coleman
Run-fit OLB:
Chris Kelsay
ILB:
Andra Davis, Paul Posluszny, Kawika Mitchell, Arthur Moats, Mike Wright
Nickel 'backer:
Keith Ellison, Nic Harris, Jon Corto, Ryan Manalac
Edge cornerback: Terrence McGee, Leodis McKelvin, Ashton Youboty, Cary Harris, Ellis Lankster, John Destin
Slot cornerback: Drayton Florence, Reggie Corner, Lydell Sargeant, Stephan Virgil
Coverage safety: Jairus Byrd, Donte Whitner, George Wilson
In-the-box safety: Bryan Scott, Dominique Harris

That breakdown is obviously somewhat debatable, but by and large, I think the point gets across - in the base 3-4, this is how you'd break down personnel. You need 5-techs and 0-techs for your basic 3-4 alignments, but it's nice to have guys that can play other techniques when you go to hybrid looks. Linebackers, too, have specific strengths, and thus can be rotated in situationally. You don't get much rotation at cornerback, you just need a lot of bodies there; at safety, there's run and pass differentation, which adds to a defense's versatility.

Because Buffalo has numbers at all of those positions - as well as a large number of players with solid talent and potential - there are a lot of different groupings they can throw out there. What follows aren't projections; they're just examples of how Buffalo can utilize its personnel to play situational football.

3-4 run defense
DE: Marcus Stroud
NT: Torell Troup
DE: Dwan Edwards
OLB: Chris Kelsay
ILB: Andra Davis
ILB: Paul Posluszny
OLB: Aaron Schobel
CB: Terrence McGee
SS: Bryan Scott
FS: Jairus Byrd
CB: Drayton Florence

3-4 pass defense
DE: Alex Carrington
NT: Kyle Williams
DE: Dwan Edwards
OLB: Aaron Maybin
ILB: Kawika Mitchell
ILB: Paul Posluszny
OLB: Aaron Schobel
CB: Terrence McGee
SS: Donte Whitner
FS: Jairus Byrd
CB: Drayton Florence

3-lineman nickel package
DE: Alex Carrington
NT: Kyle Williams
DE: Spencer Johnson
OLB: Aaron Maybin
LB: Kawika Mitchell
LB: Keith Ellison
CB: Terrence McGee
SS: Donte Whitner
FS: Jairus Byrd
CB: Drayton Florence
CB: Leodis McKelvin

3-lineman dime package
DE: Alex Carrington
NT: Kyle Williams
DE: Aaron Schobel
ILB: Kawika Mitchell
ILB: Nic Harris
CB: Terrence McGee
CB: Reggie Corner
SS: George Wilson
FS: Jairus Byrd
CB: Drayton Florence
CB: Leodis McKelvin

4-3 run defense
DE: Chris Kelsay
DT: Marcus Stroud
DT: Torell Troup
DE: Aaron Schobel
OLB: Kawika Mitchell
ILB: Andra Davis
OLB: Paul Posluszny
CB: Terrence McGee
SS: Bryan Scott
FS: George Wilson
CB: Drayton Florence

4-3 pass defense
DE: Aaron Maybin
DT: Kyle Williams
DT: Spencer Johnson
DE: Aaron Schobel
OLB: Kawika Mitchell
ILB: Paul Posluszny
OLB: Keith Ellison
CB: Terrence McGee
SS: Donte Whitner
FS: Jairus Byrd
CB: Drayton Florence

4-lineman nickel package
DE: Aaron Maybin
DT: Dwan Edwards
DT: Marcus Stroud
DE: Aaron Schobel
LB: Keith Ellison
LB: Paul Posluszny
CB: Terrence McGee
SS: Donte Whitner
FS: Jairus Byrd
CB: Drayton Florence
CB: Leodis McKelvin

4-lineman dime package
DE: Aaron Maybin
DT: Dwan Edwards
DT: Alex Carrington
DE: Aaron Schobel
LB: Nic Harris
CB: Terrence McGee
SS: Donte Whitner
SS: George Wilson
FS: Jairus Byrd
CB: Drayton Florence
CB: Leodis McKelvin

By now, hopefully, you've got the point. There are dozens upon dozens of personnel groupings that Buffalo can utilize. Again, we're not making an attempt to project personnel groupings; this is more an exercise in exemplifying how the Bills can utilize different personnel in different situations. We didn't even list players like Chris Ellis, Danny Batten, Arthur Moats and Cary Harris, who themselves could see situational looks.

The point is this: 2010 is going to be an experimental year for Buffalo, not only in the sense that they're looking to see what they've got amongst a deep pool of unproven young players, but figuring out what those players that do emerge excel at. Right now, the Bills can comfortably line up pretty much any defensive look they want to. George Edwards' job in his first year on the job is figuring out which players, and which fits, work best for this team.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Buffalo Rumblings

You must be a member of Buffalo Rumblings to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Buffalo Rumblings. You should read them.

Join Buffalo Rumblings

You must be a member of Buffalo Rumblings to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Buffalo Rumblings. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker