The Buffalo Bills defense has been getting zero respect this preseason. After last season, they probably do not deserve any.
The Bills ranked 32nd in the league in run defense last season, and anyone who watched their defense knows the pass defense was only ranked high in yardage because nobody was throwing on them. Why throw against a team who you can run for 250 yards on?
The Bills pass defense was not great. They had a strong secondary, but the pass rush was almost non-existant. With no pass rush and no ability to stop the run, there is no question why they went 4-12 last year.
While getting no love from "experts", the Bills have actually improved their defense a lot this off-season. They drafted well, and had a solid free agency.
Let's take a look at five reasons why the Bills' defense will better than what "experts" think.
The Buffalo Bills always seem to have a good secondary, and that continues this season.
The Bills lost safety Donte Whitner in the off-season.
Whitner was a good run defender, but always struggled to defend the pass. While he was a solid player, he has yet to live up to his draft status.
Losing Whitner could be a huge blow to an already struggling defense, but not if you already had two more starting-caliber safeties on the roster who can easily replace him.
Buffalo has George Wilson and Bryan Scott, two very good players who deserve more playing time. Wilson may even be better than Whitner.
The Bills still have Jairus Byrd at safety. His interception numbers were down last season, which may have been a result of a terrible pass rush, but his ability to defend the run improved greatly. Byrd had an underrated season last year.
The Bills have three solid starting-caliber cornerbacks in Terrence McGee, Drayton Florence and Leodis McKelvin. McKelvin is inconsistent, but consistency comes with experience. McGee has injury concerns, but when healthy he is more than good.
The Bills did a smart thing and addressed their last ranked run defense early in the draft.
With the third overall pick, they selected big Marcel Dareus to stuff the run on the defensive line.
In the second round, they added another cornerback in Aaron Williams. Williams is big and athletic and could be starting for Buffalo in no time.
In the third round, Buffalo got lucky because linebacker Kelvin Sheppard was still available. Sheppard has the ability to start in this league, but he is young and will need time. He will definitely see playing time this season.
With Dareus up front, Aaron Williams in the secondary, and Sheppard giving depth off of the bench; the Bills drafted three guys who can make an impact immediately.
An enormous problem with Buffalo's defense last year was the lack of depth at inside linebacker.
They had Paul Posluszny and Andra Davis starting, not bad, but after those two they had nobody worth mentioning.
When Andra Davis went down last season, it was noticeable how much they needed him.
Buffalo lost Paul Posluszny in free agency. Losing your leading tackler does not help your last ranked run defense, but Buffalo fixed that problem.
Nick Barnett is a little older, but he is better than Posluszny and comes a lot cheaper.
Buffalo also signed linebacker Kirk Morrison from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Morrison will likely battle Andra Davis for the starting job next to Nick Barnett. Morrison is a good run stuffer and will give the Bills more strength at the inside.
With Barnett, Davis, Morrison and the drafting of Kelvin Sheppard; Buffalo finally has some good depth at inside linebacker.
Buffalo claimed Shawne Merriman off of waivers last season, but they placed him on injured reserve immediately after.
Merriman had almost a full year to heal. He may be the healthiest he has been in years.
Buffalo's pass rush was awful last season; they only had 27 sacks.
If Merriman can continue to play as well he has in training camp and in preseason, Buffalo's pass rush will dramatically improve.
Merriman also brings new attitude to the Bills defense.
Good play, sacks and winning are all contagious. With Merriman's confidence and dominant play, the rest of the team will catch his confidence and try to play on his level.
Merriman will help the Bills more than the "experts" are giving him credit for. He has had some injuries, but he is young. If Merriman were 34, then his injuries would probably mean he is done, but he is only 27 years old.
With Shawne Merriman leading the way, Buffalo's pass rush could be twice as good as last season.
One major thing the "experts" seem to forget about Buffalo is... Kyle Williams is a MONSTER!
Kyle Williams has been good for a few years now, but he is improving every year.
Last season, one could argue that he could have been defensive player of the year.
Williams led all defensive linemen in stops, he had 5.5 sacks as a nose tackle and was unblockable all year.
With Marcel Dareus taking up some blocks as well, Williams could do even better.
The casual football fan may not know how good Kyle Williams is, mainly because he is a nose tackle and plays for a small market team who has not won in over ten years, but he is phenomenal.
He is the best player on the Buffalo Bills and just got a six-year contract extension to stay with Buffalo.
Buffalo does not have a lot of superstars, but Kyle Williams might be the best nose tackle in the NFL.