ORCHARD PARK NY - DECEMBER 12: Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns fumbles as he tries to jump over Paul Posluszny #51 of the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 12 2010 in Orchard Park New York. Buffalo won 13-6. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
If there's any current Buffalo Bills player hovering near bulletproof territory within the Bills' fan base, it is, without doubt, defensive tackle Kyle Williams. Over the past two seasons, in the midst of Buffalo's defense being a total fiasco, Williams has emerged as one of the league's best multi-dimensional linemen, capable of wreaking havoc against the run and as a pass rusher.
There's still a catch with Williams, however, that doesn't get enough play: he's not a classic fit for the 3-4 defense that George Edwards is trying to install. The fact that the team moves Williams around the line so much is indicative of his talent and impact, but also done out of necessity. After the jump, we'll take a peek at how Williams was least frequently used in 2010: as a defensive end in a base 3-4 defense.
In the below screen shot, you can see a base 3-4 defensive package the Bills used that featured Williams at defensive end.
This alignment does not feature an earth-shattering personnel adjustment on Buffalo's part. In fact, aside from changing out two of the defensive linemen - Williams for Marcus Stroud at end, and Torell Troup for Williams at nose tackle - the rest of the base personnel is exactly the same (with the exception of Terrence McGee replacing Leodis McKelvin at cornerback, likely just to spell him for a play or two).
Chris Kelsay is the team's strong-side linebacker in this alignment, and you see him lined up next to Williams over Cleveland's tight end. Williams is the strong-side end, and Spencer Johnson (who at that point in the season was a full-time starter) is the weak-side end, lined up next to outside linebacker Arthur Moats. Akin Ayodele is the Mike (strong-side) inside linebacker, with Paul Posluszny the Will (weak-side).
Cleveland is in a base personnel package offensively (two backs, one tight end, and two receivers), which is why the Bills came out in their base defense. Here, you can see the flexibility they have in their secondary to play zone or man thanks to the coverage experiences of Jairus Byrd, who drops down to cover the slot receiver, letting McGee stay on his side of the field. (Donte Whitner dropped into deep center field, and is not pictured.)
Williams offers the Bills a lot of versatility. He can play this responsibility as a five-technique end, though he is not physically suited to do it all the time. The same is true of the zero-technique. His versatility is a necessity; he's too good to not be on the field, but the Bills need to keep him moving not just to keep offenses aware of him, but to mask his own physical deficiencies. Yes, they exist. Kyle Williams may not appear it on the field, but he is human.
The Bills are now legitimately six-deep in defensive linemen with the addition of Marcell Dareus. Of those six players that are locks for the final roster, five can comfortably play end (all but Troup), and three can comfortably play nose (Williams, Troup and Dareus). All six - Williams, Dareus, Troup, Johnson, Dwan Edwards and Alex Carrington - can play multiple techniques out of a 40 front, as well.
Getting Dareus was key in that it gives the Bills the same level of versatility - if not more - that they had in their defensive backfield last year. Knowing that Williams isn't a classic scheme fit, and that the scheme isn't going away, versatility is absolutely essential. The next step for Buffalo: getting better at linebacker.