Baker's Dozen Bills Scheme Fit: Nick Fairley

AUBURN AL - NOVEMBER 6: Defensive tackle Nick Fairley #90 of the Auburn Tigers sets on defense against the Chattanooga Mocs November 6 2010 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn Alabama. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The Buffalo Bills transitioned to a 3-4 defense in 2010. The lack of personnel to fit the scheme forced Chan Gailey and defensive coordinator George Edwards to play more 4-3 defense as the year wore on. While Buddy Nix will continue to draft personnel for the 3-4 defense, Gailey said that the team will run a multiple front defense. The hiring of Dave Wannstedt, historically a 4-3 coach, reinforces the point. I expect Buffalo to run three to four variations of their defense.

Bullough-Fairbanks 3-4

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This is the base 3-4 defense employed by members of the Bill Parcells coaching tree. This defense is very stout when the three defensive linemen are capable of playing two-gap assignments, but is vulnerable to two-tight end offenses.

3-4 Over (also known as the 4-3 Over)

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This defense is effective at penetrating and disrupting the offense, but can be run against effectivelyy by teams that can rush with power.

46 Defense

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This is a difficult defense to play against when run effectively, as seen in New York and Philadelphia. Effective West Coast or possession-passing teams that can protect the quarterback can beat this defense.

Nick Fairley in the Bullough-Fairbanks 3-4 Defense

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Fairley's game is penetrating. Unlike Kyle Williams, who can play two gap assignments at times, Fairley is best when kept moving and shooting gaps. Playing Fairley as a two gap lineman wastes his natural talents. This is also true for Williams, and Buffalo has schemed to Williams' strengths. Adding Fairley to Buffalo's defensive line would nearly eliminate this front from Buffalo's defensive playbook, since both the nose tackle and one end would need to play in a one gap scheme.

Fairley in the 30 Over Defense

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The 30 Over would essentially become the 3-4 defense that Buffalo would use with Williams at nose tackle and Nick Fairley at defensive end. This defense is similar to the defense that Dallas played under Wade Phillips. Fairley would take advantage of his natural burst off the line of scrimmage, shooting into gaps and disrupting the offense. Edwards could even walk Fairley down into the 3-technique position for a defense that looks like this:

Hybrid_3-4_with_three_technique_fairley_medium

Here, Fairley is at his most natural position. Shading over the left guard, Failey would be playing a similar role to Warren Sapp's 3-technique position in the Tampa 2 defense, taking advantage of his explosiveness.

Fairley in the 46 Defense

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This 4-3 defense, while technically a fit for Fairley front-wise, still has Fairley playing two-gap, a la Sam Adams, which is not Fairley's strength. Edwards and Wannstedt would need to adapt the defense to this:

Fairley_hybrid_46_medium

Wannstedt and Edwards adjust the defense to have both their defensive tackles, Williams and Fairley, playing one gap assignments. This fits both players well, but also gives their linebackers gap assignments, and takes away from some of the stoutness of the defense against the run.

Assessment
Fairley is a schematic fit for any defense that Buffalo runs where he is responsible for only one gap. Buffalo already has Williams, who is somewhat similar in skill set, though Williams isn't as explosive as Fairley, and Williams can play some two gap assignments. By drafting Fairley, Buffalo could field a dynamic trio of defensive tackles, including a reportedly bigger Torell Troup. While the defense may be more explosive and talented on its interior, drafting Fairley also cuts Buffalo's playbook in half, as Edwards and Wannstedt would need to call moslty one-gap assignment fronts.

This doesn't meet the intent of Gailey's use of a multiple front defense.

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