Late Tuesday night Jairus Byrd signed his one-year franchise tender that will pay him $6.916 million in 2013, according to Chris Brown of buffalobills.com. With the 26-year old Pro Bowler back in his nest in Buffalo, it’s time to picture just what the new look Bills defense will be like with Byrd at free safety.
Through its first two preseason games, Buffalo’s defense has been a surprising success on a team that is going through a major image change on the field.
In two games, the Bills defense has recorded six sacks, scored two touchdowns and has given up just 18 points per game.
In the team’s Week 2 preseason game against Minnesota, the Bills defense allowed just three points through three quarters until their “camp bodies” gave up two touchdowns.
The play of the defense even had Vikings QB Christian Ponder singing its praises.
"They had some exotic personnel and different schemes,” he said via the Bills official website. “It was a little different and sometimes it was a little hard for us to identify...They're a very exotic defense, a very good defense. They had a lot of different looks."
If the Bills defense is getting that type of reaction now, just what type of reaction will they get when Byrd gets back on the field?
Buffalo’s secondary is the biggest question mark on the defensive side of the ball, and without Byrd, there was really no need to fear it.
Now there is a reason.
Since coming into the league as a second-round pick out of Oregon in 2009, Byrd leads all safeties in the NFL in interceptions with 18. His presence in the defensive backfield scares quarterbacks to throw elsewhere, though that doesn’t always seem to work out for the best.
And with the way new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has been using his defense in regards to blitz packages, Byrd may see even more chances at interceptions coming his way this season.
If Buffalo has its way, opposing QBs won’t have nearly enough time to make sure they don’t throw the ball in Byrd’s direction.
The ball will be forced into areas it otherwise wouldn’t be going if it was the same defensive scheme that the team used in 2012 when blitzes were a rarity.
Byrd will limit an already-limited field for QBs that could very well lead to more turnover opportunities for the Bills this season, which would be a welcomed positive to a team that was a -13 in turnover ratio in 2012.
While what Byrd can do for the team in defending the passing game is great, what he can do for the team against the run could be even better.
Year after year, Byrd has improved in his ability to come up in the play and stop the runner.
He’s gone from a simple ball hawk to an all-around safety that should be in the discussion as far as who the top safeties in the league currently are.
He’s a new shiny toy for Pettine to scheme with from here on out.
With the season opener against New England on September 8 fast approaching, both he and the rest of #BillsMafia have to be chomping at the bit to see Byrd with the rest of the Buffalo defense.