Amidst the Buffalo Bills' abysmal start to the season defensively, one player has consistently earned praise for his performances despite his team's struggles overall. That player is fifth-year defensive tackle Kyle Williams. It is clear, however, that Williams may not have earned that praise at all had the team not moved away from the 3-4 defense they still plan to run at some point down the line.
Buffalo has played three games this season in which they used the 34 alignment as their base defense - Week 1 against Miami, Week 2 in Green Bay and Week 4 against the. In those three games, Williams amassed 14 tackles, two of which were for losses.
The Bills' remaining four games were predominantly spent in 43 looks. In Week 3 against New England, the Bills spent most of the game in nickel and dime alignments, using four down linemen far more frequently than their base 34 look. Then the team switched to their heavy 43 alignment in Week 5, and have used it for the past three games. In those four games, Williams has amassed 19 tackles and six tackles for loss - a total that includes all three of his sacks on the season.
Williams is coming off of his best performance of the season by a considerable margin - and perhaps the best game of his career - this past week in Kansas City. Though the Bills still surrendered 274 rushing yards, Williams was a dominant force, recording nine tackles, four tackles for loss, and two sacks in Buffalo's overtime defeat.
This confirms what we knew going into the season, when the Bills had Williams penciled in as their starting nose tackle: he's a better fit in a scheme that emphasizes his block-defeating, penetration abilities. Williams' effectiveness might be one of the biggest reasons that the Bills appear to be content using their 43 alignment for the foreseeable future.