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Bills Game Changers: Transition to the 3-4 Begins

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SB Nation's NFL blogs are proud to be sponsored by Sprint. This is the second in a series of six Sprint-sponsored posts entitled 'Game Changers.' View the first installment here, and the second installment here.

The Buffalo Bills made game-changing, franchise-altering moves when they hired GM Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey. The moves began to have an impact on the football field when Gailey began assembling his staff, and no bigger change became imminent than when new defensive coordinator George Edwards announced he's be installing the 3-4 defense.

Though the team had glaring needs at several other positions, Buffalo spent a large chunk of time during the off-season directly addressing this most significant change. Choosing to temporarily ignore needs at quarterback and (to a lesser degree) along the offensive line, the Bills instead decided to sign two new defensive starters, adding Baltimore DE Dwan Edwards and Denver ILB Andra Davis. Both are well-versed in the 3-4 and will be immediate starters as the Bills transition.

Additionally, the team invested a second-round pick in NT Torell Troup, a third-round pick in DE Alex Carrington, and two sixth-round picks in ILB Arthur Moats and OLB Danny Batten. By making these moves, the Bills got significantly bigger and tougher in their defensive front seven, which will not only allow them to run the 3-4 they want to run, but hopefully will help them shore up the league's 30th-ranked run defense. The Bills surrendered 156.3 rushing yards per game in 2009, and in the rough-and-tumble AFC East, that's nowhere near acceptable.

Edwards now has solid depth along the defensive line and at inside linebacker, but the situation at outside linebacker is a bit murkier. If Aaron Schobel retires, Buffalo's depth in the pass rushing department will be suspect. The Bills should be better defending the run, and their secondary was solid to begin with, but don't be surprised if a weak pass rush ends up as this defense's Achilles heel. Still, considering where the Bills were defensively when the switch was announced, the team has made a lot of progress on paper.