From the moment the Los Angeles Rams finished their first offensive drive, you knew the Buffalo Bills’ pass rush already looked good. The hype around Von Miller entering the season was at a fever pitch and Bills Mafia was convinced the pass rush was fixed. Well, boy was that ever true in Week 1.
The Bills sacked quarterback Matthew Stafford seven times while totaling an additional 15 QB hits. Per Next Gen Stats, a pass rusher made contact with Stafford within 3.5 seconds on four of those seven sacks.
Von Miller recorded a 47% pass-rush win rate. Five different players were able to total at least three QB hits, with Jordan Phillips leading the way at six hits.
The key factor here is that the Bills didn’t blitz once.
Buffalo accumulated seven sacks simply by rushing four, which has them now tied for the fourth-most in a game during the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016). Since 2016, there have only been three games where a defense did not blitz and all three have come by the Bills under head coach Sean McDermott.
It’s promising to see Buffalo’s pass rush do this well so early without blitzing a single time. One can only imagine what will happen when we do blitz.
All in all, this is likely due to the “Von Miller Effect.” When someone like Miller comes into the locker room, it not only makes the defensive line better just because of him but it also makes those around him better. He requires more attention, which opens up opportunities for younger guys like Greg Rousseau, A.J. Epenesa, Boogie Basham, and even Jordan Phillips.
The sky’s the limit with this Bills defensive line (and overall unit, too).