Stat Watch: 3 Statistics the Buffalo Bills Must Improve or Maintain
The Buffalo Bills were a statistical juggernaut on offense for the first seven games of the 2011 season. At no point, however, were they anywhere near that dominant on defense.
Nine games later, they were neither.
With so many changes on the defensive side of the ball, the Bills have taken their improvement seriously. But it's not just about the defense, either; they need to get more big plays in the passing game.
As a team, the Bills' improvement will take place on the field, but it will also have to be visible on the stat sheet. Here are some areas to watch headed into 2012.
Improve: Defensive Rushing Yards Per Attempt
Although much of the Bills' offseason focus has been in revamping the pass defense, they should also be hopeful to improve a run defense that gave up 4.8 yards per carry last year, ranking 28th in the NFL in that category.
Moving to a 4-3 defense will put defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus in better position to defend the run.
But it's not just about the star-studded defensive line here. The Bills need to get a better season from their linebacking corps, who will have the responsibility of stopping running plays at the second level.
Specifically, middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard will have the spotlight on him to come into his own in his second season. A great way to make an early impact would be to help the Bills against the run.
Improve: Defensive Passer Rating
There's no defensive statistic that is a better indicator of efficiency than defensive passer rating.
In that sense, the Bills were one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL last year on multiple levels, and it all boils down to a 90.4 defensive passer rating that had them ranked 26th in the league last year.
That's shocking considering the fact that they raked in 20 interceptions, finishing in the top 10 in the NFL in that category.
There are a number of reasons for their high defensive passer rating, but the biggest indicators are the high completion percentage and high yards per attempt.
But with a revamped defense, the Bills know where they have to improve and they know how to improve it. A bolstered secondary combined with a fresh-look front should help them defend the pass a bit better, but all the pieces they've collected this offseason have to come together as a unit for improvement to take place.
Improve: Yards Per Pass Attempt
The buzz words that sum up the primary concern of the Bills' offseason moves, and after finishing the season ranked 21st in the NFL with just 6.7 YPA, it's not hard to see why.
It's also the only one of their needs they didn't aggressively address this offseason. The lack of one is part of the reason why they struggled offensively at the end of the season.
With the lack of moves, it seems the Bills are hoping to get a bit more production in the vertical passing game from some of their own receivers. That, or they're hoping that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is capable enough as a quarterback to throw the offense on his shoulders.
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