The Buffalo Bills uncharacteristically shelled out big money to land two defensive ends (Mario Williams and Mark Anderson) this off-season. The primary goal was obvious: improve one of the league's most anemic pass rushes as quickly as possible. But listening to head coach Chan Gailey this week, the rationale goes a bit beyond simply picking up more sacks.
"When you add Buddy Nix's years in the league, and my years in the league, you come up with two old guys with a lot of years. And we know the effect that pass rush has on the game today," Gailey said Wednesday at the NFL owners' meetings. "We've seen the game evolve. We've been in it since the '80s. And pass rush is a huge part of this thing."
Asked later on whether or not Anderson would be simply a situational player, Gailey again defaulted to the evolution of pro football in responding.
"The thing about it is, all three downs in the league today is more passing than running," Gailey reasoned. "We're a different animal than we were 15 years ago."
Finally, Gailey was asked about the team's transition from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense. Again, he pointed to the pass-happiness of the league today as part of the reason for the switch.
"I'll tell you what happened is, there's so much passing in the league today, you're in a four-man front the majority of time anyway," Gailey said. "That's just the way the league is. Because you can't stay in 3-4 on first and second down and go to nickel on third down. You're in nickel on second down, and sometimes on first down because of personnel. So it had more to do with where we are as the game has evolved than it did anything else."
Buffalo's stance this off-season is clear: they're gearing up to compete with the league's elite offenses, and they seem to be operating with more awareness of the state of the NFL than they have been in years.