In the past three years under Dick Jauron, the Bills have struggled to get to the opposing QB. It’s no big secret. From 2006 to 2008 they have only managed to bring the QB down 90 times, and every year the sack total went down.
Now there could be a few reasons for the sack total decrease.
Maybe it’s the scheme that Jauron runs. Most of the time he relies on the front four to put pressure on the QB, while he occasionally sends a LB or a DB on a blitz. Either way, the play-calling has been predictable.
It’s time to take the training wheels off. The players in the system, although young, have the experience that’s needed. It’s time to start putting more on players' plates. Get innovative.
Jauron reportedly acknowledges this by mentioning running some 3-4 looks this season to Pat Kirwan of NFL.com.
What could a 3-4 defense do to help sack totals?
Well for starters rookie Aaron Maybin would surely benefit on passing downs. If asked to hold the point of attack or take on behemoth blockers, the coaching staff would be setting Maybin up to fail. He’s simply not big or strong enough to do those things yet.
By putting Maybin in as a rush LB this allows the coaching staff to take advantage of his lightning quick first step without taking on the big uglies.
Imagine Spencer Johnson and Marcus Stroud on the ends eating up blockers while Aaron Schobel and Aaron Maybin just come with the heat. On obvious passing downs this could prove to be quite effective.
The only reason the Bills can’t run the 3-4 full time is because they have no true NT that can eat up blocks in the middle. A man who plays NT takes a special type of talent and rare size.
Another reason the sack total could be on the decline might be the fact that the top three pass rushers are fighting a losing battle in age. Aaron Schobel turns 32 this season, Chris Kelsay will be 30, and Ryan Denney is already 32.
While they are all solid veterans, Schobel is the only proven sack artist. Kelsay and Denney are great point-of-attack holders and sound against the run, but offer next to nothing in a 3-4 scheme as both rely on power to get to the QB, not speed.
Simply put they are solid 4-3 DE's, but would not be big enough to be solid 3-4 DE's.
Schobel has a lot to prove himself, seeing as he is three years removed from his 14.5 sack season. He is coming back from his Lisfranc foot injury and only time will tell how effective he can be.
Another thing the coaching staff needs to do is get LB’s and DB’s more involved in blitz packages. Kawika Mitchell performs well when asked to blitz. Last year he tied for tops on the team with four sacks.
Getting guys like Paul Posluszny, Donte Whitner, Ashton Youboty, Reggie Corner and Brian Scott to run blitzes from all different angles of the field could prove beneficial to Buffalo’s success on thwarting offenses.
Scott and Whitner both bring the speed to where if they were coming off the blind side the opposing QB would never know what hit him.
Posluszny could run delayed blitzes and whether its Youboty or Corner at NB using them in certain passing situations to be an extra blitzer could prove to be beneficial.
All in all this pass rush isn’t ready to dominate like the New York Giants just yet. Those guys are positively stacked with young solid players like Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka.
If Buffalo could get close to 40 sacks and bring solid pressure next season that would positively affect so many facets of the defense. Turnovers would be generated whether it be forced fumbles or interceptions.
Not sure Buffalo is completely done rebuilding the D-Line just yet, with so many things they have left to do. They could still stand to draft future replacements at DE or rush LB’s next year. They could also stand to get a behemoth NT.
Let’s just hope for a winning season and maybe some playoff action. Jauron has built a solid core and it would be shame to watch him have to walk away from it.
So there is just one request, please Buffalo please, bring the sack back.