Going into the 2012 season i've seen a few conversations where people are wondering who is going to be starting at corner in Buffalo. Did Buffalo waste a 2nd round pick on a non-starter in Williams? Did Buffalo waste a 1st rounder on a non-starter in Gilmore?
The answer to both is obviously, no. In the NFL their is a premium on defensive backs and Buffalo is one team that uses defensive backs more than most.
I love Pro Football Focus. Football geeks that put things in easy to read format for football info junkies like myself. So when articles pop up that doesn't get a lot of attention that clears up some questions regarding the Bills I like to try and make it more well known. If you can get past the Zombies of course. Most readers probably know this information but i'm guessing that most readers probably don't know most of this information. Was that confusing? O.K.
Charting NFL Personnel packages is something that i'm guessing most of us don't have the time or resources to do. Honestly I like the info but i'm certainly not hardcore enough to put that info together, especially for every NFL team. That's where the guys at Pro Football Focus come into play and specifically the Defensive Personnel Packages article.
When looking at the Bills, 60% of all defensive packages for the entire 2011 season had either 5 or 6 DBs on the field. 47% of all defensive packages had 6 backs. while 13% had 5 backs. I highly doubt that trend will change so fans should expect to see McGee, Gilmore and Williams out there for the majority of the time barring injury. I wish I had a breakdown of Bryan Scott's play time because that would give us a more accurate breakdown of how often guys like Rogers and Brooks will see the field.
What's also interesting is that Buffalo was only in it's base defense for 35% of the time, with 28% being in the traditional 34 or 43; 3rd lowest in the NFL (GB, NYG). It's also funny that Buffalo was in the 34 only 2% of the time last year while 26% of their snaps were in a 43. The other 7% came in a 5-2-4 alignment and since they had 4 DBs that was considered a "base defense". So while we may complain about the switch from the 34 to the 43 fact is we barely if ever played the 34 last year with a whopping 2% and Wannstedt said much of the terminology will remain the same. Props to Nix, Gailey and Wannsted for implementing a methodological approach to having defensive flexibility.
Buffalo's 47% running Dime was 9% more than any other team in the NFL. We had 6 DBs on the field more than any other team in the league by a wide margin. It's no coincidence that Buffalo has drafted corners high and has that philosophy that they will draft a corner every year. In a league where most teams are going pass wacky the defensive backfield is a smart investment. Fans shouldn't be concerned about Gilmore and Williams seeing snaps because both of them will see more than their fair share of snaps in our defense. Since our LB's aren't a stellar group I expect to see Barnett, Scott and then a plethora of DBs on the field next season.
One final note; in Gilmore, Williams and McGee you have good tackling corners. When teams spread you out you need your DBs to be able to shed and tackle in space when teams run from that spread and all 3 of these guys do this well. So when looking at the next draft for corners Buffalo might take i'd be looking at guys with size and good run support or guys that can run a sub 4.4.