The 2011 Buffalo Bills had an extremely tough time stopping the run and covering tight ends, which came from poor play of the linebacking group as a whole.
But after a year of experience together, the unit should be on the same page. The weakside linebacker is usually the fastest of the three linebackers, because he is the pass coverage linebacker. It is an extremely important position, and the Bills have some nice depth there.
Let's take a look at the weakside linebacker position of the Buffalo Bills.
When the Bills signed Nick Barnett from the Green Bay Packers, Bills fans knew that things were looking brighter. Barnett lit it up last season, racking up 130 tackles, forcing three fumbles and picking off three passes as an inside linebacker in the Bills' 3-4 front.
Barnett played primarily in a 3-4 during his tenure with the Packers, but he does have some experience in the 4-3.
Coach Wannstedt had some kind words to say about Barnett's transition to outside linebacker, explaining:
“A lot of guys play three downs but there’s a lot of linebackers that when they’re in there on third down you’re trying to do some things schematically to compensate for maybe a little lack of quickness or speed or whatever, not with Nick. He can cover any back or half the receivers in the league.”
Barnett has set lofty goals for the 2012 season, going as far as to say that the Bills' defense could be the best:
“Well I think we could be as good as the best defense in the NFL if we do what we are supposed to do,” he said. ”I definitely think that we have that potential, we’ve got great pass rushers, great interior linemen, and we’ve got young hungry linebackers. I mean I am getting a little long in the tooth, but I still consider myself young and we also have some good defensive backs that look good. So, we have a lot of potential to be one of the best defenses in the NFL.”
Arthur Moats has been a fan-favorite ever since he knocked Brett Favre out of a game, ending his 321 consecutive game streak.
Now, he is trying to earn his role on the Buffalo Bills' roster. Last season, he moved around to each linebacker position. The defensive staff is still cross-training him at every position to find his niche.
Like Nick Barnett, Moats has set himself lofty goals for not only the 2012 season, but his career as a whole, explaining to BuffaloBills.com that he is ready to be a leader.
“I feel like in this role right now, I am kind of on the brink of becoming a leader on this defense. I am more vocal now when I am playing the linebacker position and it is only going to help me become a leader. My goal this year is to be more of a leader and make more plays.”
Chris White is currently penciled in as the No. 3 weakside 'backer on the Buffalo Bills' depth chart.
His rookie season was cut short due to a knee injury that required reconstructive surgery. White was a key factor on special teams. If he can keep producing in that aspect, he can keep himself a job, barring any health issues.