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Inigo Montoya

5 Reasons the 2019 Bills defense could be historically good.

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Posted (edited)

There is a good article about the Bills defense on WGR's website that talks about the bulk of the defense from last season being back this year and being healthy.  Here's the link;   https://wgr550.radio.com/articles/news/while-bills-offense-has-dealt-injuries-defense-benefiting-continuity    It got me curious to look at last year's defense and wondering if the defense has the potential to take another step forward this season and become a historically great defense, and by historically great, I mean defenses like the '85 Bears, '00 Ravens, '76 Steelers, and '13 Bucs. I think there are five reasons why this is possible, but first I put some stats from last season's defense to show how our defense fared and see about where we should be starting from this season.

 

Bills Defense Rankings 2018

Yards Per Game;                   2nd 

Passing Yards Per Game;    1st

Rushing Yards Per Game;   15th

Points Per Game;                  17th

Take Aways;                           7th   (16 INT/ 11 FUM)

Sacks;                                     14th Tied with Tampa & Detroit

Def Touch Downs;                 Tied for last with 9 other teams (0 TDs)

 

Obviously, the rushing defense was our achilles heel.  We had three game last season where we gave up 200+ rushing yards.  

 

Week 7       At Indy            220 yards    Loss

Week 12    Home Jags    226 yards     Win

Week 16    At Pats            273 yards    Loss

 

It would be easy to think that the reason our defense's pass stats were so stout was because teams could just run the ball successfully against us and didn't have to pass, but I don't think that is the case.  Our run defense was still ranked in the top half of the league even with those three 200+ yard games. I think our secondary was simply playing at an elite level last year. Here is the starting D lineup at minicamp this week, and note that Ed Oliver isn't on this list;

 

  • DE - Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy
  • DT - Star Lotulelei, Jordan Phillips
  • WLB - Matt Milano
  • MLB - Tremaine Edmunds
  • SLB - Lorenzo Alexander
  • CB - Tre’Davious White, Levi Wallace
  • (Slot CB) - Taron Johnson
  • S - Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer

 

Pretty damn solid all around.  I think there are five reasons we should expect even better play from our defense this year.  

 

1.  Another year in the same defensive system;   Everyone, especially Edmonds, will have another year of knowing what is expected of them.  Less time to think about the scheme and more time to simply react to the play as it unfolds.  This may be the single biggest factor.  I think it's fair to expect Edmonds to play better this year.  That alone should be huge for the run defense.  Harrison Phillips and Jordan Phillips will both be in their second season in the system as well, and Horrible Harry will also have a year of NFL experience under his belt. 

 

2.  Defense bringing almost everyone back;  We lost Kyle Williams and that is a huge hole to fill.  The Bills recognized that and spent their first round pick to bring in Ed Oliver.  We'll just have to wait and see how Oliver plays this season to see how much, if any, drop off there is at that position.  I think the Bills did the best they could to mitigate the loss of Kyle Williams. Kyle was our only loss on defense.  Our secondary should only get better this year. We have added Kevin Johnson and E.J. Gaines to the secondary.  Solid pieces and great depth for an already stout secondary. Wallace continues to ball in OTAs and mini camp and looks like the real deal.  I think we will have the best secondary in football again this year.

 

3. Pass rush should get better;    I think people are going to be surprised with Trent Murphy this year.  He is now fully recovered from his ACL and I expect him to bring a lot more game.  With Hughes and Murphy coming off the edges and Oliver pushing up the middle, we could have a real "pick your poison" situation for opposing offensive coordinators.  Our secondary should be better too, leading to more "coverage sacks" by our pass rush.

 

4. I think the AFC East is trending in our direction;   Our six division games are more than a third of our season, and I think our defense is set up to have a great year in our division.  The Jets have added some skill position players and I think Darnold is a solid QB, but they didn't do enough to strengthen their already suspect offensive line.  As we all know too well, it's hard to do anything well on offense if your line is the weak link.  The Jets went for the shiny toys in free agency and should have focused more on their line.  I think it is going to cost them.  I think our defense is going to feast on their offense. 

 

The Dolphins are in full on rebuild mode.  We don't play the Phins until Week 7.  Miami starts off the season with the Ravens, Pats, Cowboys and Chargers.  A tough stretch.  Week 5 is their bye week and then the Phins play the Redskins at home in Week 6.  I would guess that is where Rosen will start if he doesn't win the competition outright in training camp.  I'll take Rosen in a new system against our defense any day of the week.  

 

That leaves the Pats. Brady is another year older, Gronk is gone.  Many have been predicting the end of the road for the defending Super Bowl Champs for a long time, but it just can't last forever, can it?  I think we will split with the Pats this year.   I think we now have the talent on the roster to do it.  We play them in Orchard Park Week 4.  Hopefully the Pats get off to their typical slow start and we can capitalize on that and home field advantage to grab a win.  Everyone knows the cheat code to beating Brady is pressure, look no further than the 1st Round picks in the AFCE this year;  Wilkins, Oliver, and Williams.  If Oliver can get some push up the middle and our linebacking corps can fill those run gaps I think we will take it to the Pats this year.

 

5.  Our special teams / offense will be better (can they be worse?);   Better special team's play helps the defense as much as it helps the offense.  I think special teams is still an unknown at this point, but the special teams were so bad last year I would hope the only way to go is up.  Beane has made a point to bring in aces on special teams.  Let's hope it pays some dividends. 

 

It's almost impossible to overstate how many times the offense put the defense in a hole last season.  Despite being on the field way too long because of failed offensive drives, having horrible field position, and rarely having the benefit of playing with a lead, the defense still managed to have a fantastic season.  If we get even modestly improved offensive play this season the defense should benefit immensely. 

 

In the end,  I think we have the makings of a very special, historically good defense this year. 

 

 

Edited by Inigo Montoya
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Posted (edited)

Mike Schopp will tell you that NFL defenses can rarely be counted on to stay good from year to year.  Take that whence it comes.

 

 

Edited by BillnutinHouston
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, BillnutinHouston said:

Mike Schopp will tell you that NFL defenses can rarely be counted on to stay good from year to year.  Take that whence it comes.

 

 

 

I wish that guy would stick his head in the Micro Wave...

Image result for microwave gif
 
Edited by HOUSE
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I like your optimism, Montoya.  Even better, it is grounded in a good bit of factual reasoning rather than just "we should be great!"

 

I believe the defense will be significantly ahead of the offense the entire summer.  I predict much hand-wringing during training camp about how Josh is not "lighting it up" but the truth is that the Bills' defense is very good.  By the time the regular season hits, my hope is that the offense has been "sharpened" by practicing against their own defense and as a result, Josh will be prepared for whatever an opponent throws at him.

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1 hour ago, HOUSE said:

 

I wish that guy would stick his head in the Micro Wave, I will hit start

Image result for microwave gif
 

Given the stupid and arrogant things he says I think he may have done that already

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Statistically, Bills defense was 18th in the league in scoring, which puts them in the bottom half of the league.  Plain and simple, too many times in 2018, the Bills defense gave up Red Zone TDs  rather than holding their opponents to FGs.   If the Bills are to be considered a great defense in 2019, they have to make it much harder for teams to score on them, especially in the Red Zone.

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2 hours ago, Inigo Montoya said:

Def Touch Downs;                1st   Tied with Minnesota (4 INT / 1 FUM)

Inigo, thanks for a good topic.  The above #s reflect TDs teams scored on us.  The Bills D did not score last year and were last in that stat.

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7 minutes ago, freddyjj said:

Inigo, thanks for a good topic.  The above #s reflect TDs teams scored on us.  The Bills D did not score last year and were last in that stat.

 

Thanks for setting me straight freddyjj, I’ll hop back into the post and fix that.

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27 minutes ago, SoTier said:

Statistically, Bills defense was 18th in the league in scoring, which puts them in the bottom half of the league.  Plain and simple, too many times in 2018, the Bills defense gave up Red Zone TDs  rather than holding their opponents to FGs.   If the Bills are to be considered a great defense in 2019, they have to make it much harder for teams to score on them, especially in the Red Zone.

With our pathetic offense last year, the defense was on the field a lot.  In addition, between turnovers and bad special teams play, the opposition frequently had a short field.  These factors distort the numbers a bit.  I agree with you that the Bills played too soft in the red zone.  The lack of good d-line play really showed up here.  They generated little pass rush and gave up too many rushing yards inside the 20.  All of these things need to change for the Bills defense to make significant statistical improvement.

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I think the defense SHOULD finish in the top 5, easily the top 10. Historically good? I dont know. Injuries always happen, lets hope not to anyone vital. Need the offense to consistently move the ball and score points, that helps the D. I think you are expecting a lot from Trent Murphy, show me the baby.

 

I think the D will be very good...historically good? IF that happens that is icing on the cake.

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2 hours ago, eball said:

I believe the defense will be significantly ahead of the offense the entire summer.  I predict much hand-wringing during training camp about how Josh is not "lighting it up" but the truth is that the Bills' defense is very good.  By the time the regular season hits, my hope is that the offense has been "sharpened" by practicing against their own defense and as a result, Josh will be prepared for whatever an opponent throws at him.

 

One thing I've always wondered about in this regard:  if the difference between the offense and defense is big enough, could it actually be detrimental in practice?  If the offense rarely produces against the defense in practice, how does that carry over to a productive offense on Sunday? 

 

There's still something to be said for the mental side of football, and part of that mental confidence is being successful at practice and then translating it to success on the field.  

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Vosean Joseph was an interesting add this off season.  He may need time to acclimate to the discipline of the pro game, as he was a bit of a wild man in college, but the Bills have that luxury with Alexander starting.  I expect to see him mostly on special teams at the start of the season, but the Bills will sprinkle him in in relief of Lorax as the season rolls on.  That way the defense won't miss a beat when Lorax retires.

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2 minutes ago, TigerJ said:

Vosean Joseph was an interesting add this off season.  He may need time to acclimate to the discipline of the pro game, as he was a bit of a wild man in college, but the Bills have that luxury with Alexander starting.  I expect to see him mostly on special teams at the start of the season, but the Bills will sprinkle him in in relief of Lorax as the season rolls on.  That way the defense won't miss a beat when Lorax retires.

Love this GUY. 

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3 hours ago, Inigo Montoya said:

There is a good article about the Bills defense on WGR's website that talks about the bulk of the defense from last season being back this year and being healthy.  Here's the link;   https://wgr550.radio.com/articles/news/while-bills-offense-has-dealt-injuries-defense-benefiting-continuity    It got me curious to look at last year's defense and wondering if the defense has the potential to take another step forward this season and become a historically great defense, and by historically great, I mean defenses like the '85 Bears, '00 Ravens, '76 Steelers, and '13 Bucs. I think there are five reasons why this is possible, but first I put some stats from last season's defense to show how our defense fared and see about where we should be starting from this season.

 

Bills Defense Rankings 2018

Yards Per Game;                   2nd 

Passing Yards Per Game;    1st

Rushing Yards Per Game;   15th

Points Per Game;                  17th

Take Aways;                           7th   (16 INT/ 11 FUM)

Sacks;                                     14th Tied with Tampa & Detroit

Def Touch Downs;                 Tied for last with 9 other teams (0 TDs)

 

Obviously, the rushing defense was our achilles heel.  We had three game last season where we gave up 200+ rushing yards.  

 

Week 7       At Indy            220 yards    Loss

Week 12    Home Jags    226 yards     Win

Week 16    At Pats            273 yards    Loss

 

It would be easy to think that the reason our defense's pass stats were so stout was because teams could just run the ball successfully against us and didn't have to pass, but I don't think that is the case.  Our run defense was still ranked in the top half of the league even with those three 200+ yard games. I think our secondary was simply playing at an elite level last year. Here is the starting D lineup at minicamp this week, and note that Ed Oliver isn't on this list;

 

  • DE - Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy
  • DT - Star Lotulelei, Jordan Phillips
  • WLB - Matt Milano
  • MLB - Tremaine Edmunds
  • SLB - Lorenzo Alexander
  • CB - Tre’Davious White, Levi Wallace
  • (Slot CB) - Taron Johnson
  • S - Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer

 

Pretty damn solid all around.  I think there are five reasons we should expect even better play from our defense this year.  

 

1.  Another year in the same defensive system;   Everyone, especially Edmonds, will have another year of knowing what is expected of them.  Less time to think about the scheme and more time to simply react to the play as it unfolds.  This may be the single biggest factor.  I think it's fair to expect Edmonds to play better this year.  That alone should be huge for the run defense.  Harrison Phillips and Jordan Phillips will both be in their second season in the system as well, and Horrible Harry will also have a year of NFL experience under his belt. 

 

2.  Defense bringing almost everyone back;  We lost Kyle Williams and that is a huge hole to fill.  The Bills recognized that and spent their first round pick to bring in Ed Oliver.  We'll just have to wait and see how Oliver plays this season to see how much, if any, drop off there is at that position.  I think the Bills did the best they could to mitigate the loss of Kyle Williams. Kyle was our only loss on defense.  Our secondary should only get better this year. We have added Kevin Johnson and E.J. Gaines to the secondary.  Solid pieces and great depth for an already stout secondary. Wallace continues to ball in OTAs and mini camp and looks like the real deal.  I think we will have the best secondary in football again this year.

 

3. Pass rush should get better;    I think people are going to be surprised with Trent Murphy this year.  He is now fully recovered from his ACL and I expect him to bring a lot more game.  With Hughes and Murphy coming off the edges and Oliver pushing up the middle, we could have a real "pick your poison" situation for opposing offensive coordinators.  Our secondary should be better too, leading to more "coverage sacks" by our pass rush.

 

4. I think the AFC East is trending in our direction;   Our six division games are more than a third of our season, and I think our defense is set up to have a great year in our division.  The Jets have added some skill position players and I think Darnold is a solid QB, but they didn't do enough to strengthen their already suspect offensive line.  As we all know too well, it's hard to do anything well on offense if your line is the weak link.  The Jets went for the shiny toys in free agency and should have focused more on their line.  I think it is going to cost them.  I think our defense is going to feast on their offense. 

 

The Dolphins are in full on rebuild mode.  We don't play the Phins until Week 7.  Miami starts off the season with the Ravens, Pats, Cowboys and Chargers.  A tough stretch.  Week 5 is their bye week and then the Phins play the Redskins at home in Week 6.  I would guess that is where Rosen will start if he doesn't win the competition outright in training camp.  I'll take Rosen in a new system against our defense any day of the week.  

 

That leaves the Pats. Brady is another year older, Gronk is gone.  Many have been predicting the end of the road for the defending Super Bowl Champs for a long time, but it just can't last forever, can it?  I think we will split with the Pats this year.   I think we now have the talent on the roster to do it.  We play them in Orchard Park Week 4.  Hopefully the Pats get off to their typical slow start and we can capitalize on that and home field advantage to grab a win.  Everyone knows the cheat code to beating Brady is pressure, look no further than the 1st Round picks in the AFCE this year;  Wilkins, Oliver, and Williams.  If Oliver can get some push up the middle and our linebacking corps can fill those run gaps I think we will take it to the Pats this year.

 

5.  Our special teams / offense will be better (can they be worse?);   Better special team's play helps the defense as much as it helps the offense.  I think special teams is still an unknown at this point, but the special teams were so bad last year I would hope the only way to go is up.  Beane has made a point to bring in aces on special teams.  Let's hope it pays some dividends. 

 

It's almost impossible to overstate how many times the offense put the defense in a hole last season.  Despite being on the field way too long because of failed offensive drives, having horrible field position, and rarely having the benefit of playing with a lead, the defense still managed to have a fantastic season.  If we get even modestly improved offensive play this season the defense should benefit immensely. 

 

In the end,  I think we have the makings of a very special, historically good defense this year. 

 

 

Its gonna be real difficult stopping anyone with only 8 men on the field.  At least we dont have to worry about penalties for too many men on the field.😎

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Posted (edited)

Would be great. I do however think that they "should" at least get more QB pressure and QB sacks than last year,which could lead to more turn overs. Am excited to see them in action as well as the offense this year.

Edited by Patrick_Duffy

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I think Jordan Phillips is going to be an important piece in shoring up the run D. I hope he play some like he's gunning for a big contract next year...

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All good reason why expectations should be high for this group. #5 is probably the biggest one for me. With the improvements in the line and opponents having to respect our receivers I have to believe that the RBs will be a lot more effective this year. Time consuming drives = less snaps for our D.

 

Wish it was football time already!!

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4 hours ago, BillnutinHouston said:

Mike Schopp will tell you that NFL defenses can rarely be counted on to stay good from year to year.  Take that whence it comes.

 

 

 

Which is just common sense.   Fans all too often fall into the trap of "Last Year's Performance - Guys who left + Guys who arrived = This Year's Performance", and fail to account for the randomness of events that have significant impact on individual plays and by extension games, and by extension seasons.

 

Not every guy is going to play as well as he did last year.  Injuries will happen, luck (good and bad) will happen, opponents will be better/worse than expected, crappy ref calls will happen, the ball will deflect in the other direction than it did last time, etc.

 

Sure, if you are the '00 era Ravens you can be pretty sure the defense is going to be top notch again.  But if you were in the middle of the pack last year in scoring defense, there's not much reason beyond blind optimism to think they will suddenly be a top defense, much less a historically great defense.

 

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3 hours ago, SoTier said:

Statistically, Bills defense was 18th in the league in scoring, which puts them in the bottom half of the league.  Plain and simple, too many times in 2018, the Bills defense gave up Red Zone TDs  rather than holding their opponents to FGs.   If the Bills are to be considered a great defense in 2019, they have to make it much harder for teams to score on them, especially in the Red Zone.

i would be interested in where we were scoring defensive for the last 14 games- the first two games were abominations and i thought we were gonna be 0-16 but our defense improved quickly. 

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A lot of good stuff in this thread.  One more observation:

 

Inigo Montoya correctly points out that middle-of-the-pack rankings for rushing yards and points allowed have to improve.  Successful rushing games also eat clock.  I'm not rehashing the Time of Possession argument but rather thinking about getting the ball back when you need it, especially in the fourth quarter.  Even with expected offensive improvement, I don't know how often the Bills will carry a two- or three-score lead into the 4Q so the opposition can't run anymore.  More likely we'll need the ball back and the D will have to pick it up so the O will have a chance.

 

Old timers like me will remember how the K-Gun Bills would play keepaway with long ground drives in the 4Q and just end the game before the opposition could do anything about it (whether or not the Bills had a two- or three-score lead).  That's what I'm concerned about this Bills D protecting against.  Also, obviously, improving on points allowed will necessarily result from improving on rushing yards allowed so long as the Pass D doesn't collapse.

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Good post. Thanks.

I'll add that two factors -- the addition of Ed Oliver and the emergence of Tremaine Edmunds -- should be huge factors in our defensive improvement. The return to health of guys like Milano and Taron Johnson will also help. Added depth in the secondary will be helpful, too. Between the natural growth and maturation of our youngsters, the personnel additions, and the likely improvement of the offense, the Bills defense does indeed seem to be set up for improvement.

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I'm optimistic about the defense this year because I think they have upgraded on the defensive line, their middle linebacker has a year of experience, and they got deeper at cornerback.

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7 hours ago, Inigo Montoya said:

Points Per Game;                  17th

 

When it comes to how good the defense was last year, this is all that I see. 

 

Yards allowed does nothing more than support fake narratives. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I love Edmunds... I think he is a huge weapon in coverage and a sideline to sideline linebacker all day... if he played slb he would be maybe the best in the league... I think he has a long way to go between the tackles against the run and he could be the sole difference in the run defense IF he can apply the proper instincts and physicality between the tackles. I think the transition to MLB was a pretty overwhelming task for him against the run last year and I think our run defense at times suffered due to it... Also a major hit to the run defense was when Milano went down. (And Taron Johnson as a previous poster said.)

 

 

Edited by akcash
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