This Season's Failure Is Brought to You By the Letter D: Defense Is Dead
When your team is 2-10, it can be difficult to justify that ANYTHING is going right. But, when you look at the nuts and bolts of the 2010 Buffalo Bills campaign, there are some things that fans can look at in hopes of future success.
Yes, I know the Bills have come close to a lot of good teams. But you can only come close so many times before you say “We have to win one of these!” You’re only as good as your record, and 2-10 is not good at all. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, in only 10 games, is ninth in the NFL in touchdown passes. The offensive line is coming together (when it’s healthy) and has given up only 17 sacks in 12 games (eighth fewest in the league).
However, the defensive side of the ball has been…horrid. And that’s putting it lightly. In case you may think otherwise, let’s look at some stats first…
Inside the Numbers
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Here are some of the defensive statistics for the 2010 Buffalo Bills thus far:
Stat Value NFL Rank
- Total Yards/Game 378.1 26
- Passing Yards/Game 207.2 10
- Passing TDs Allowed 22 26
- Rushing Yards/Game 170.9 32
- Rushing TDs Allowed 14 28
- 1st Downs Allowed/Game 22.2 31
- Sacks 21 24
- Interceptions 8 28
- Forced Fumbles 10 15
- Total Plays 823 30
- Opp Time of Possession/Game 34:15 30
What Do the Stats Say?
The defense stinks!
There’s no other way to put it. The front seven can’t stop anyone. I know, I know, the 3-4 transition takes some time. But, here we are in week 12 and the Bills just gave up 387 yards to a Tarvaris Jackson led, 4-7 Vikings team. You may think “Hey, Adrian Peterson only got 107 yards.” True, not too bad considering how talented of a back he is. When you add Toby Gerhart’s 54 yards, 49 from Albert Young and Jackson and you get 210 total rushing yards. Not to mention Buffalo gave up 22 first downs.
This coming offseason has many Bills fans hoping for Andrew Luck. Yes, if he’s available, we shouldn’t pass him up. We know Carolina will be picking first. I don’t think anyone has them winning a second game this year. But, the Panthers just drafted Jimmy Clausen and clearly they need a lot more help than just a quarterback. Maybe they trade for multiple picks? After them, there are three teams with two wins: Buffalo, Cincinnati and Detroit. And, since those two teams are our only wins, if we end up tied with either of them, they will draft before us. Detroit just drafted Matthew Stafford and may end up in a quarterback conundrum if Drew Stanton can play the way he did against Chicago. The Bengals are the biggest threat to take Luck. They have lost all confidence in Carson Palmer and will definitely be looking for his predecessor.
If Luck is there, take him. If not, the Bills MUST address all the holes on defense.
Bills Need a Pass Rusher
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The transition to the 3-4 defense came with the transition of Marcus Stroud from tackle to end. The once dominant run stopper has only 25 tackles and 3 sacks in 12 games. Dwan Edwards has 31 tackles and a sack and Spencer Johnson has 26 tackles and a sack. Edwards is lost for the rest of the season due to a hamstring injury. The highlight of the defense has been defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who has 44 tackles and a team-leading 5 sacks. The team’s sack leader shouldn’t come from the inside. The Bills need a defensive end that can get around the corner and get to the passer.
Draft Considerations: Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson; Robert Quinn, North Carolina; Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
Bills Need an OLB That Can Cover a Tight End
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Whether it has been Chris Kelsay, Aaron Maybin or any other linebacker, tight ends have been able to run rampant against the Bills. Some of the top tight end performances include:
Packers - Jermichael Finley - 4 catches, 103 yards
Patriots - Aaron Hernandez - 6 catches, 65 yards
Jets - Dustin Keller - 4 catches, 28 yards, 2 touchdowns
Ravens - Todd Heap - 3 catches, 59 yards, 2 touchdowns
Draft Considerations: Von Miller, Texas A&M; Akeem Ayers, UCLA; Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma
Bills Need a Cornerback That Can Be a True Number One
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Remember the days of Winfield and Clements? Well, Antoine Winfield reminded us all last Sunday as he picked off a second quarter pass by Ryan Fitzpatrick. Bills top corner, Terrence McGee, has been plagued with a knee injury. This has left the team with Drayton Florence, an eight-year veteran, and Leodis McKelvin, who is in his second full season. McKelvin hasn’t seemed to rekindle the quality of his rookie year of play. However, lately, Drayton Florence has been playing very well. In Week 11 against the Bengals he had a key fumble return for a touchdown, as well as his first interception of the season. He tallied two more picks this past Sunday against Minnesota.
Draft Considerations: Patrick Peterson, LSU; Prince Amukamara, Nebraska; Janoris Jenkins, Florida
Bills Could Use a Playmaking Safety
Donte Whitner is a good hitter (not necessarily a good tackler), but he’s not a safety that offenses shy away from. This season, his fifth, he’s made an impressive 75 tackles. He nabbed his first interception of the season in Minnesota. Whitner is great at stepping up to stop the run, but he needs to improve his vertical game.
Jairus Byrd seems to have flown south for the winter. He’s a shell what he was last season. In 2009 he had 9 interceptions and was in the running for Rookie of the Year. This season, he’s racked up only 42 tackles and zero interceptions. Hopefully, it’s a sophomore slump, but the Bills could use some insurance.
Draft Considerations: Rahim Moore, UCLA; DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson; Quinton Carter, Oklahoma
Defensive Keeper #1
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Kyle Williams – DT
The big man in the middle is having a fantastic year. He has 44 tackles and 5 sacks on the season, which leads the team. He has been the anchor of the line this year, providing just about all of the quarterback pressure. He has a motor that doesn’t quit, but he can’t do it alone. Regardless, he should be going to Hawaii in January (likely Buffalo’s only Pro Bowler).
Defensive Keeper #2
Arthur Moats – OLB
Right now, the Vikings are awaiting MRI results for the shoulder of Brett Favre. Should he not be able to play this week against the Giants, for the rest of time there will be the trivia question of “Who ended the career of Brett Favre?” And the answer would be Arthur Moats. Moats laid out Favre on his first passing attempt which caused the football to float right into the awaiting hands of Drayton Florence. In addition to that play, I was consistently seeing Moats’ jersey around the ball. While he may not be making the plays, him being near the ball so frequently could be great signs from the rookie out of James Madison.
On the Bubble
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Over the first few games of the 2010 season, Kelsay was transitioning to outside linebacker as part of the switch to the 3-4. Instead of rushing the passer like he had the past seven seasons, he was now busy getting torched by more athletic tight ends. However, over recent few games, I’ve noticed Kelsay has been down in a three-point stance and rushing the passer. Maybe they’re running a hybrid 3-4/4-3 but, he has been near the quarterback quite a bit. He recorded a sack in the game against Cincinnati, and almost won the game with his sack against Pittsburgh, bringing down Roethlisberger near the goal line in overtime.
If Kelsay continues to be a successful pass rusher then he can easily be a keeper on the defense. But, if they keep trying to use him in coverage, Buffalo will be in need of a new OLB. Bottom line, he needs some more production having that "C" on his chest.