Leslie Frazier, the new defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, said something that Bills’ fans everywhere have wanted to hear for quite a while now.
In an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio and transcribed by The Buffalo News, Frazier told Alex Marvez and Bill Polian that the Bills “don’t want to complicate things for our defense at all in what we’re trying to get accomplished.” He continued by saying that he believes “sometimes, less is more.”
After watching the Bills’ defense scramble to communicate during the Rex Ryan era, often with great futility, this statement is one that seems to fit right in with other instances of regime-change coach-speak. Of course, its necessity is rooted in truth—the Bills were often caught out of position during plays, appeared confused before plays, and bickered after blown assignments ruined plays for the better part of the last two seasons. Those don’t even count instances where the team had to burn timeouts in an attempt to clarify the assignment on the sidelines.
The bickering is the part that brought about the most toxicity, as players sniped at coaches through the media, coaches publicly threw players under the proverbial bus in interviews, and there never seemed to be enough blame to cover the obvious problem: players did not know what they were supposed to do on a given play.
We Bills fans are a funny group with regard to what we seem to want out of our defense—the Wannstedt-era defenses were “vanilla” (and, of course, terrible), which gave way to our excitement over Mike Pettine’s complex scheme borne from Rex Ryan’s tree. When Pettine was replaced with Jim Schwartz, many of us were nervous about the supposed simplicity of Schwartz’s scheme causing the team’s up-and-coming defensive unit (ranked 10th in yards against, 20th in points, and 6th in takeaways) to revert back to its Wannstedtian ways. Instead, the Schwartz defense improved across the board, making the decision to hire Ryan and start over again in the wake of Doug Marrone’s departure all the more baffling. The hope, of course, was that Ryan’s reputation as defensive guru would bring out the best in an already fantastic unit. That plan went about as well as most of Wile E. Coyote’s.
Sean McDermott and company have positioned themselves as the yin to the Ryan Brothers’ Family Circus’ yang. A simpler defense that focuses more on execution and fundamentals than it does exotic scheming, combined with success on the field, would help to solidify that image.