How did the Bills do on defense in 2010…we all know how they did. It seemed like they took two steps backward and not even a step forward. The season started out with the team switching from the 4-3/Tampa 2 to the 3-4 defense. Most times with switching defenses is that it takes time for the players to adjust to the new system, plus you need to have the right players for that system. It was painfully obvious that the Bills did not have the right players to run a full-time 3-4 defense, which is why they switched back to a 4-3 defense during the season and ran variations of the 4-3 and 3-4. Only in a couple of games this year, did the Bills players look like they were finally getting a grasp of George Edwards’ system (The Detroit & the 2nd Miami game), but that all changed when the Bills got manhandled by the Pats & Jets in the last two games of the year. Let’s take a look at some of the questions the Bills had going into the season:
1. Would the defense improve or do worse switching to the 3-4?
The Bills did worse in every statistical category from 2009 to 2010.
In 2009, the Bills defense ranked 19th overall with 340.6 YPG, Pass defense: ranked 2nd at 184.2 YPG and Rush defense: ranked 30th at 156.3 YPG.
In 2010, the defense ranked 24th at 361.6 YPG, Pass defense: ranked 3rd at 192.0 YPG and Rush defense: 9,999,999th (seriously, 32nd) at 169.9 YPG
2. How would Kyle Williams perform switching from DT to NT?
Kyle performed much better than expected and looks to be Buffalo’s best player on the field.
In 2009, Williams had 66 Tackles, 4.0 Sacks and 1 Forced Fumble.
In 2010, Williams had 77 T, 5.5 Sacks and 1 Pass Defended.
3. Could switching Aaron Maybin from DE to OLB make him more effective?
Does a former Drill Instructor make a terrible therapist? “You know what makes me sad……..(Enter Aaron Maybin’s name here). Maybin is on very thin ice with Chan Gailey, as Gailey stated: "Right now, he’s on the outside looking in," Gailey told reporters. "That’s where he is. And if he improves, he’ll improve his status. But if he doesn’t improve his status, he won’t find playing time on this football team." It looks like Maybin will get another offseason to show improvement. If Maybin fails to improve, he’s likely to be a preseason cut.
4. How would Dwan Edwards back & neck hold up?
His neck & back held up fine, but too bad his hamstring didn’t. Edwards was effective in his first year with the Bills as he had: 57 T, 1.0 Sacks, 1 FF, 1 INT in 11 games with the Bills.
5. How would Andra Davis perform?
Davis played six games for the Bills (started in four) before being placed on season ending IR. Davis injured his shoulder in the season opener against the Dolphins and never fully recovered. In Davis six games played, he had 41 T, 1 pass defended, 1 INT, 1 FF. Davis along with many other Bills LB’s ended up on IR.
6. How would Marcus Stroud perform switching from DT to DE?
Stroud had a very quiet year and his numbers dropped in almost every category.
In 2009, Stroud had: 56 T, 2.0 Sacks, 8 Passes Defended.
In 2010, Stroud had: 49T, 3.0 Sacks, 2 PD, 1 FF.
Are Stroud’s days numbered in Buffalo? Only time will tell, we should know that answer by the end of the NFL draft in April.
7. With switching to the 3-4, and with the secondary playing more man-to-man coverage, would they become a more play making unit?
No, between teams focusing more on running the ball on the Bills D (due to it being almost non-existent) and the Bills pass rush being about the same as the run D, the secondary did not get its first INT until week 11 when the Bills played the Bengals.
In 2009, the Bills had 28 INT’s for 335 yds and 2TD’s (ranked 2nd in the NFL).
In 2010, the Bills had 11 INT’s for 210 yds and 2TD’s (ranked 28th in the NFL).
8. How would the pass rush do without Aaron Schobel?
Worse, it seemed like until the Bills switched back to a more 4-3 front mid-way through the season (and the last two games), the opposing QB’s had all day long in the pocket.
In 2009, the Bills were ranked 18th in Sacks with 32.
In 2010, the Bills ranked 27th in Sacks with 27.
9. How would Kelsay perform switching from DE to OLB?
Once Kelsay lined up with his hand on the ground in his original role as a DE, he started to show some life. As an OLB, Kelsay was getting schooled all day long by the opposing team’s TE’s and was getting a constant beating in the run game. Still, fans are absolutely baffled that Kelsay received a contract extension mid-way through the year.
10. Could Jairus Byrd repeat his success from 2009?
No. In 2009, Byrd had 45 T, 0 Sacks, 11 PD, 9 INT’s, 0 TD’s and 0 FF’s
In 2010, Byrd had 89 T, 1 Sack, 2 PD, 1 INT, 1 TF and 3 FF’s.
While Byrd’s Passes Defended and INT’s went down, his Tackles and his run defense improved significantly. If the Bills can generate a pass rush, expect Byrd’s pass defense numbers to increase again.
11. How would the rookies do on defense?
Torell Troup had a quiet year, but considering how well Kyle Williams played, Torrell’s play is nothing to be disappointed about. Troup played in 15 games, but started in 2, racking up 23 Tackles and 2 PD.
Alex Carrington, like Troup, he had a quite year, but did manage to do something Aaron Maybin has yet to do, record a sack. In 9 games played (zero started), Carrington had 8 T, 1 Sack & 1 PD.
Arthur “Don’t Cross the” Moats had the most impact out of all the defensive rookies. This year, Moats started out at ILB, but was switched mid-year to OLB due to his ability to get pressure on the QB. Moats played in 15 games, started in 4, had 33 T, 2.5 Sacks, 1 PD and 1 FF. Moats will always be remembered as the guy that ended the Iron Man streak of Brett Favre, as he knocked Favre out of the Vikings game after the 3rd snap of the game.
Like the Jauron/Fewell Tampa 2 defense, the Edwards hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense lacked a consistent pass rush and run stopping capabilities. If the Bills want to win games and compete with the best in the league (more importantly the Patriots) then the Bills will need to get much better at stopping the run and developing a consistent pass rush. If not, then teams will be able to a Hulk Hogan: “Run Wild on YOU!” all year long as evident by the Bills letting teams run for over 200 yards eight times on them this year. If the Bills can’t get multiple players to get consistent pressure on the opposing QB, especially since they play the best QB in the league twice a year, we can expect the Bills to continue to lose twice a year to Brady & the Pats. The defensive front 7 needs a serious overhaul and by the way it looks, the secondary will be depleted as well with Whitner basically gone, and with Florence & Wilson’s contracts expiring. On top with all the holes on offense, don’t expect all the holes on this team to be filled in one offseason. The only positive note I can add for the defense this year, is that they didn’t burn out and let leads slip away from them like during the Jauron era. Maybe the new strength & conditioning program added some value to the team after all. Anyway you look at it, Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey have a lot of work to do in the offseason.