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Buffalo’s elite run defense returned in Bills’ win over Browns

Buffalo’s run defense shines as they stonewall Nick Chubb

Cleveland Browns v Buffalo Bills Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills beat the Cleveland Browns, 31-23, in their Week 11 matchup. The Browns came into the game possessing a top-five rushing attack in the NFL featuring one of the game’s best running backs in Nick Chubb. Given Buffalo’s recent struggles defending the run, much attention was given to this matchup leading up to the game.

The Bills held the Browns' rushing attack in check, allowing only 80 rushing yards on 26 attempts for a meager 3.1 yards per carry. Furthermore, they stifled Chubb by containing him to just 19 yards on 14 carries for an astonishing 1.4 yards per carry. Let’s take an All-22 end zone view to see how the Bills were able to pull off such a dominating performance.

Bills’ Ed Oliver has a nasty club & rip

This play is all about defensive tackle Ed Oliver winning his matchup. The Browns try to run a draw play and have guard Wyatt Teller invite Oliver up the field to pretend it’s a pass play. Oliver uses this to his advantage as he speeds past Teller with a club & rip move to get to the ball carrier right as he gets the handoff.

DaQuan Jones and Ed Oliver make quick work getting to backfield

The Browns run a zone-blocking scheme on this play, and the Bills fill their gaps perfectly. At the snap, everyone on the defense matches the play's movement towards the jet motion. Defensive tackle DaQuan Jones is too quick for his blocker, and immediately gets into the backfield. Oliver does get reach blocked, but he uses his strength to push his blocker into the backfield and get in on the tackle.

The greatness of linebacker Matt Milano

How good is Matt Milano? Let me answer that for you—he’s not good, he’s great! It looks like Milano knew that this play was coming. He explodes like he’s shot out of a cannon and tackles Chubb for a six-yard loss.

Bills display great form and instincts to minimize gains

Two Bills players hit the deck on this play, and they still stop the run for only a three-yard gain. The double team on Oliver knocks both he and linebacker Tyrel Dodson to the ground. Defensive end Shaq Lawson does a nice job of attacking the pulling lineman and squeezing the back inside. Cornerback Taron Johnson shows good instincts, and scrapes all the way over from the other side of the formation to make the tackle.

Bills defensively sound containing outside damage

Defensive tackle Tim Settle gets penetration on this pla,y but instead of going straight up the field, which would likely result in him running by the play, he smartly moves sideways with the play and forces Chubb to keep the run outside. Lawson does a wonderful job of taking on two blockers and keeping his outside leverage. Lawson uses his long arms to disengage both blocks and make the tackle.

Strength of Jones and Oliver too much to handle

Buffalo’s defensive tackles show off their strength in this play. Jones throws his blocker to the ground, and Oliver overpowers his blocker into the hole. They both meet in the middle to tag team the tackle for a loss.

Milano possesses elite football intelligence

Milano is such a difference-maker when he’s in the lineup. This is another example of his superior athleticism and talent. He immediately diagnoses the play and is too fast for any offensive lineman to block him. Not to mention the tackle, where he throws Chubb down to the ground like a rag doll. This is the type of film you show to young football players learning to play the linebacker position.

Buffalo defense maintains proper run fits

This play is a great example of Buffalo filling their proper run fits. Edge rusher Von Miller gets reach blocked initially, but he fights back outside to maintain his outside leverage, which forces Chubb back inside. The most important part of this play is with Dodson, who fills his proper run gap. He has a wide-open lane to get in the backfield initially, but that isn’t his run fit—that's Milano’s task. If he were to take that initial lane, he would have been behind that play and it likely would have resulted in a nice gain for Chubb. Instead, Dodson stays patient and shuffles sideways to his run fit, and makes the tackle for a minimal gain.

In Summary

Buffalo’s run defense has been a hot topic of debate for Bills Mafia in recent weeks, but the defense showed it’s more than capable of stopping a top-tier rushing attack. The Bills had some outstanding play from their interior defensive line, which I think was a huge part of their success in stopping the run. It also helped having Milano back on the field—he truly is a game-changer for the defense. I would expect this performance to give the Bills’ defense some confidence against the run moving forward.