Buffalo Bills: Young “D” Is the Key

Michael McMastersCorrespondent IJuly 2, 2009

ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 19: Kawika Mitchell #59, Keith Ellison #56, George Wilson #37, Bryan Scott #43 and Paul Posluszny #51 of the Buffalo Bills celebrate Mitchell's end zone interception of a pass by Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers on October 19, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 23-14.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Everybody is talking about how in 2009 the Buffalo Bills and its offense, led by Trent Edwards, is going to have to lead this team into the playoffs.

The news flash is Trent Edwards and Turk Schonert are baby-stepping their way into improvements.

The point is if the Bills get anywhere it’s because their defense got them there.

You can argue any way you want to, but Dick Jauron is a defensive minded coach who preaches ball control and sound defensive play.

For the past three years Jauron’s play-calling has been pretty Vanilla. Granted the Bills defense is fairly young and you don’t want to throw too much at them to overwhelm them. This year though, the playbook has to be opened.

Donte Whitner and Paul Posluszny make a nice core to build around, but there are a lot of young players on the squad that need to really make a name for themselves.

Leodis McKelvin needs to show that he can handle a full time role at CB. Ashton Youboty and Reggie Corner need to step up and play the nickel CB role well. The only entrenched starter is Terrence McGee.

Ko Simpson and Jairus Byrd will battle it out for FS, but must prove they can play as well as Whitner to get a shot as the starter. Otherwise the starting safety tandem will be Donte Whitner and Brian Scott.

The linebackers are pretty much set in stone as of right now.

Yes, Keith Ellison is the expected starter on the strong side. That is scary. 

Unless Alvin Bowen or Nick Harris can prove to be smarter players and better tacklers, expect to see Ellison on the field.

Kawika Mitchell will start on the weak side again. The surprise of camp may be that undrafted linebacker Ashlee Palmer may be backing him up. He did manage to get some first team reps in spring OTA’s.

Paul Posluszny is the starting Mike backer and that’s not changing any time soon. The Bills do however have solid depth with John Digiorgio. He just has to come back from his ACL injury.

The weakest part of this defense is no doubt on the line.

It’s also the oldest part of the defense. Incumbent starters at the DE are Aaron Schobel on the right and Chris Kelsay on the left. 

Both of these guys need to show they can still play because simply put, Chris Ellis and Aaron Maybin are waiting for the first opportunity they get. They are both young and are playing for a lot less. 

They could be playing really hungry. No doubt they would want a starting spot.

Finally the middle of the line has entrenched starters Marcus Stoud and Kyle Williams.  Stroud definitely helped sure up the run defense last year and Williams performed admirably, but the Bills have no pass-rush specialist in the middle. 

John McCargo was supposed to be that guy, but so far hasn’t lived up to his first round billing. Perhaps he does this year because Bill Kollar is long gone from the team. 

The bottom line is the Bills are counting on a lot of young players on this defense to carry the team and they should now have the experience to do it.