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Bills Mathia: Defensive Adjustments in the Sean McDermott Era

If you think they’ve been terrible, get ready to yell at me in the comments

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It’s been a weird season so yes, maybe the content is also a little weird. Take this video below, for instance. The Buffalo Bills’ 2023 NFL season has featured a defense plagued with injuries. Head coach Sean McDermott has had to constantly adapt with his personnel rotating on a weekly basis.

That got me thinking of another extreme example where the Bills had to adapt to a drastic defensive difference. So I made a math-heavy video about it.

I wasn’t planning on six minutes so it’s longer than I expected if you check out the video, but still pretty reasonable. Support local Skarekrow(‘s YouTube channel). For the readers in the room, we begin our tale with a screen grab from Pro Football Reference and highlight a column showing how many points opponents of the Buffalo Bills were able to drop on them.

Not the 2023 season though — the 2017 campaign. You might recall that defensive tackle Marcell Dareus was ditched during the bye week that season. The defense that had played strong quickly looked destined for collapse. How did the Bills rebound? A change to a nickel-heavy defense saved the season and broke the playoff drought.

Are there similarities this year? Perhaps. The Bills have lost several main starters such as cornerback Tre’Davious White, linebacker Matt Milano, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, and safety Micah Hyde to injury. Like the 2017 season, Buffalo looked ready to take on anyone, then had a streak of games where late-game lackluster performances sunk the team.

The last two weeks have seen quite a rebound. With a bitter rival in the Kansas City Chiefs poised to take the lead late in the game the Bills could have continued their streak of late losses. Instead, they clamped down and shut down quarterback Patrick Mahomes and company preventing even a field goal to potentially force overtime.

Then the Dallas Cowboys came to town. One of the hottest offenses in the league, if not the hottest, never got going in Orchard Park, NY. The starting offense of the (generic) Cowboys could only muster a field goal against the starting unit of the (specific and awesome cowboy) Buffalo Bills.

If 2023 plays out like 2017, the best defensive efforts may be yet to come. Fingers crossed Bills Mafia!