When the Buffalo Bills announced that they were transitioning from a 4-3 defensive alignment to the 3-4, many Bills fans viewed the move as the end of the line for veteran Chris Kelsay. Barely passable as a 4-3 end, it was difficult to foresee Kelsay having any sort of success as a 3-4 outside linebacker, where he'd carry more responsibility in coverage and lacked the athleticism to get the job done.
Yet here we are, two weeks into the 2010 regular season, and Kelsay is a mainstay on the strong side, playing in every major and minor defensive package coordinator George Edwards throws onto the field. Teams are finding ways to take advantage of Kelsay's limitations.
In the first quarter of Sunday's 34-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers, quarterback Aaron Rodgers motioned a receiver to the left side of the alignment. As the Bills' defense adjusted to the shift in alignment, Kelsay moved out to the slot to cover Donald Driver. Yes, that Donald Driver. Rodgers' pass, of course, went to Driver. It was a predictable, easy completion. Later on in the first half, the Packers again used motion to match Kelsay up against tight end Jermichael Finley, who would, of course, scorch past Kelsay for a big gain. That particular play is pictured in this article.
Buffalo's offense is clearly the team's biggest problem at the moment, but the defense has a major weakness of its own, and that's its linebackers, particularly on the outside. Aaron Maybin can't cover any better than Kelsay can, and Kelsay is too valuable in the base 3-4 package as a set-the-edge run defender to take out of the lineup too often. This trend of opponents creating mismatches against Kelsay will continue until further notice. Add an athletic OLB to your 2011 NFL Draft wish lists, and don't blame Kelsay for the team needing him to do things he's physically incapable of doing.