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The Buffalo Bills, who have been positively atrocious defensively in the last two games, appear set to promote a rookie fourth-round pick (linebacker Nigel Bradham) into the starting lineup.
After two consecutive historically bad weeks on the defensive side of the football, the Buffalo Bills appear set to make at least one change, and it's a minor one: you can safely expect Nigel Bradham to be the team's starting strong-side linebacker from this point forward.
Bills head coach Chan Gailey has not yet confirmed the switch, per WGR 550's Joe Buscaglia, but considering that Bradham (39 snaps against San Francisco) more than doubled the playing time of the man he's likely to replace, Arthur Moats (18 snaps), this seems like a foregone conclusion. Kelvin Sheppard and Nick Barnett were the only Bills linebackers to get more playing time on Sunday.
Moats was pulled in favor of Bradham early in Sunday's loss after the third-year player out of James Madison was repeatedly torched in coverage by the 49ers, and tight end Vernon Davis in particular. Bradham looked slightly better against the pass and made a couple of big hits, but was also victimized, losing outside contain on several running plays and generally looking like the rookie fourth-round pick he is.
It's a move that I'm sure will inspire many "re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic" themed comments below, but in the end, it was also a necessary move. Moats, who beat out veteran Kirk Morrison for the starting job during training camp, has been the clear weak link for Buffalo in their base defense. Bradham may still end up being that, especially in the short term, but there's a much higher upside and significantly better athleticism when he's on the field.
Time will tell if more changes are forthcoming, but two things remain clear: any amount of change made this week won't be enough to placate a justifiably cantankerous fan base, and the only way the defense will be making significant strides is if the guys that have been on the field all along stop playing like garbage.