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Inigo Montoya

Bills' defense by the numbers 2019 vs 2020

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We have all seen the big step backwards the Bills' defense has taken this year.  I have listed the key stats comparing last year's dominant squad vs this year's below average group.  I'm just not sure what can account for such a huge drop off.  It would be one thing if we had new coaches and schemes.  We brought back most of the unit.  I've read a lot of conjecture here about the "Star Effect" and the ripples created in this defense when you don't have an immovable object clogging up the middle of the defensive line, but I don't know that you can reasonably put all of this drop off on Star opting out.

 

In addition to Star, I think it is becoming very obvious how fortunate we were last year to have so few injuries on our team and it seems like this year we are falling back to the norm.  In 2019 the Bills were 11th best in the league with 64 AGL (Adjusted Games Lost).  The NFL average was 75.8.  AGL is a metric created by Football Outsiders to measure the impact of players lost and guys playing injured throughout the season.  They don't have numbers for this season yet, but I'm certain we won't be in the top half of the League again this season.

 

Here are the Team Defense stats to compare...

 

2019

Points per game:  16.1

Points per game League rank:  #2

Yards per game:  298

Yards per game League rank:  #3

Rushing yards per game:  103

Average yards per rush attempt:  4.3

Passing yards per game:  195

 

2020

Points per game:  26.5

Points per game League rank:  #21st

Yards per game:  373

Yards per game League rank:  #20th

Rushing yards per game:  135

Average yards per rush attempt:  4.8

Passing yards per game:  238.7

 

Falling from 2nd in the League in points allowed in 2019, to 21st in 2020 is horrific.  Last year we had a bend but don't break defense.  This year we are bending and breaking.  The consensus during this off-season was that the Bills would go as far as Josh Allen would take them based on the idea that we would return the same stout defense, and if we could just manage to score more than 19 points a game (the 2019 average), we would win more games.

 

After 10 games played it is still the consensus that the Bills will go as far as Josh Allen can take them, but now it is because Josh needs to score enough points to make up for our poor defense, and so far he has.  Barely... The offense is averaging 27.2 points per game this year, and the defense is giving up an average of 26.5 points a game.  You can see how this team is living on the razor's edge week to week.  Fixing the running game should be a big focus during this bye week, but figuring out what the hell is going on with the defense should be a close second.

 

Edited by Inigo Montoya
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Starting QB’s Bills played against in 2019:

 

S. Darnold x 2

E. Manning

A. Dalton

T. Brady x 2

M. Mariotta

R. Fitzpatrick x 2

C. Wentz

D. Haskins

B. Mayfield 

B. Allen

D. Prescott

L. Jackson 

D. Hodges

 

That defense only played 6 games against a QB that was considered good to elite and 10 games against QB’s ranging from average to straight garbage.  I’m gonna be the one to say it......the defense was way overrated.

 

 

 

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34 minutes ago, Inigo Montoya said:

We have all seen the big step backwards the Bills' defense has taken this year.  I have listed the key stats comparing last year's dominant squad vs this year's below average group.  I'm just not sure what can account for such a huge drop off.  It would be one thing if we had new coaches and schemes.  We brought back most of the unit.  I've read a lot of conjecture here about the "Star Effect" and the ripples created in this defense when you don't have an immovable object clogging up the middle of the defensive line, but I don't know that you can reasonably put all of this drop off on Star opting out.

 

In addition to Star, I think it is becoming very obvious how fortunate we were last year to have so few injuries on our team and it seems like this year we are falling back to the norm.  In 2019 the Bills were 11th best in the league with 64 AGL (Adjusted Games Lost).  The NFL average was 75.8.  AGL is a metric created by Football Outsiders to measure the impact of players lost and guys playing injured throughout the season.  They don't have numbers for this season yet, but I'm certain we won't be in the top half of the League again this season.

 

Here are the Team Defense stats to compare...

 

2019

Points per game:  16.1

Points per game League rank:  #2

Yards per game:  298

Yards per game League rank:  #3

Rushing yards per game:  103

Average yards per rush attempt:  4.3

Passing yards per game:  195

 

2020

Points per game:  26.5

Points per game League rank:  #26th

Yards per game:  373

Yards per game League rank:  #29th

Rushing yards per game:  135

Average yards per rush attempt:  4.8

Passing yards per game:  238.7

 

Falling from 2nd in the League in points allowed in 2019, to 26th in 2020 is horrific.  Last year we had a bend but don't break defense.  This year we are bending and breaking.  The consensus during this off-season was that the Bills would go as far as Josh Allen would take them based on the idea that we would return the same stout defense, and if we could just manage to score more than 19 points a game (the 2019 average), we would win more games.

 

After 10 games played it is still the consensus that the Bills will go as far as Josh Allen can take them, but now it is because Josh needs to score enough points to make up for our poor defense, and so far he has.  Barely... The offense is averaging 27.2 points per game this year, and the defense is giving up an average of 26.5 points a game.  You can see how this team is living on the razor's edge week to week.  Fixing the running game should be a big focus during this bye week, but figuring out what the hell is going on with the defense should be a close second.

 

The bills are ranked 20th in yards a game and 18th in points allowed per game. Still not good but your rankings are way off bro. 
 

I think you looked at cumulative yardage and point rankings on the year without factoring in the fact we haven’t had a bye week. Simply put, if you go to ESPN to do something like that click on the yards per game tab or ppg tab and it will give you a more accurate ranking since we haven’t had byes all play out yet. 

Edited by Stank_Nasty
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Great post, @Inigo Montoya.

 

3 minutes ago, Inigo Montoya said:

We have all seen the big step backwards the Bills' defense has taken this year.  I have listed the key stats comparing last year's dominant squad vs this year's below average group.  I'm just not sure what can account for such a huge drop off.  It would be one thing if we had new coaches and schemes.  We brought back most of the unit.  I've read a lot of conjecture here about the "Star Effect" and the ripples created in this defense when you don't have an immovable object clogging up the middle of the defensive line, but I don't know that you can reasonably put all of this drop off on Star opting out.

 

I often hear people say that "we brought back most of the unit", but actually I don't believe that's true.  In addition to Star opting out, we let Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson leave in FA.  Lorenzo Alexander retired.  We also moved on from rotational DTs Corey Liuget and Vince Taylor.


It's not quite losing 4 of our front 7, but it's pretty close to that.  We kind of finished the season with a 3+ man rotation at DE (we used Zo in interesting ways there) and a 5 man rotation at DL, so you could say we lost 5 out of 8. 

 

So no, you absolutely can't put all the drop off on Star, but you can't say we "brought back most of the unit" either.  The back end, the secondary, yes.  The DL and LB, no.

 

And the players we did bring back, have not been the same players.  Harrison Phillips, has not been the same player he was before the ACL.  Then there's losing Milano or having him very limited - he's fundamentally played 2 games - Edmunds playing injured.

 

I guess I'm not sure what the puzzle in the "huge drop off" is.  We don't have the same guys up front, either literally or figuratively.  We thought we brought in or drafted good replacements in Addison and Epenesa at DE and in Quinton Jefferson and Vernon Butler at DT, but there certainly wasn't any continuity to help make up for the limited off season and lack of preseason games.

 

The question is whether McDermott, Frazier, and new DL coach Eric Washington are right that "we have the right guys in the room" and they'll get it working better as we move into December.

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25 minutes ago, streetkings01 said:

Starting QB’s Bills played against in 2019:

 

S. Darnold x 2

E. Manning

A. Dalton

T. Brady x 2

M. Mariotta

R. Fitzpatrick x 2

C. Wentz

D. Haskins

B. Mayfield 

B. Allen

D. Prescott

L. Jackson 

D. Hodges

 

That defense only played 6 games against a QB that was considered good to elite and 10 games against QB’s ranging from average to straight garbage.  I’m gonna be the one to say it......the defense was way overrated.

 

Who is who on that list o' QB?  Of course, there is the little point that our defense doesn't just play the QB...the quality of the running game also matters.

 

The Bills D played good games against some of the top rated offenses in the league - the Cowboys, the Ravens, NE.    The fact is, the D last year was capable of shutting down some of those top offenses in a way we have not shown ourselves to be capable of yet this season.

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27 minutes ago, Stank_Nasty said:

The bills are ranked 20th in yards a game and 18th in points allowed per game. Still not good but your rankings are way off bro. 
 

I think you looked at cumulative yardage and point rankings on the year without factoring in the fact we haven’t had a bye week. Simply put, if you go to ESPN to do something like that click on the yards per game tab or ppg tab and it will give you a more accurate ranking since we haven’t had byes all play out yet. 

 

Here is where I got my stats Stank:  https://www.foxsports.com/nfl/buffalo-bills-team-summary-stats?category=defense&sort=def_pts_a&season=2020&seasonType=reg&sortOrder=asc

 

I did have the wrong numbers and I adjusted the original post to put the right numbers there, but your numbers and mine are still off a bit, not sure how to square that.  In any event, thanks for the heads up.  

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16 minutes ago, Inigo Montoya said:

 

Here is where I got my stats Stank:  https://www.foxsports.com/nfl/buffalo-bills-team-summary-stats?category=defense&sort=def_pts_a&season=2020&seasonType=reg&sortOrder=asc

 

I did have the wrong numbers and I adjusted the original post to put the right numbers there, but your numbers and mine are still off a bit, not sure how to square that.  In any event, thanks for the heads up.  

I dunno man. If you go to ESPN and hit the points allowed tab it has us as the 18th team listed. 
 

https://www.espn.com/nfl/stats/team/_/view/defense/table/passing/sort/totalPointsPerGame/dir/asc


i don’t necessarily disagree with your points but I would say that the d is playing better as of late. They’re basically middle of the pack in Points allowed and coming out of the bye will still be top ten in sacks and to’s. I can live with a d that average to below average but at least gets to the qb and creates turnovers. 

 

Edited by Stank_Nasty
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I think the fact the offense is scoring more is also causing defensive stats to suffer. Ya fall into the old prevent defense trap and teams pile up yards against you. That however doesn't explain the sieve run defense. And of course my most irritating thing, 3rd and long failures which seems like it has gone on forever.

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15 minutes ago, Mike in Horseheads said:

I think the fact the offense is scoring more is also causing defensive stats to suffer. Ya fall into the old prevent defense trap and teams pile up yards against you. That however doesn't explain the sieve run defense. And of course my most irritating thing, 3rd and long failures which seems like it has gone on forever.

The drop in run defense starts with losing our 1tech Star. Oliver and the other DT's just haven't kept up. Then everything trickles down from there. It affects the LB's then DB's.  The Seattle game and parts of the Arizona game we were able to create some chaos. 

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1 minute ago, LABILLBACKER said:

The drop in run defense starts with losing our 1tech Star. Oliver and the other DT's just haven't kept up. Then everything trickles down from there. It affects the LB's then DB's.  The Seattle game and parts of the Arizona game we were able to create some chaos. 

Whats interesting is that many here thought Star and Shaq were busts. Guess thats a big opps now,

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10 minutes ago, LABILLBACKER said:

The drop in run defense starts with losing our 1tech Star. Oliver and the other DT's just haven't kept up. Then everything trickles down from there. It affects the LB's then DB's.  The Seattle game and parts of the Arizona game we were able to create some chaos. 

 

Keep in mind that it can't be just losing Star.  Star typically played just over 50% of the Bills defensive snaps (40-56% with a couple low and high outliers).  A lot of other guys were lost from the line also -Jordan Phillips, Liuget/Taylor who played opposite Star after Harrison Phillips was hurt, Shaq Lawson was a good run defender, so was 

Zo who played a sort of hybrid role at times.

 

Then as you note, our LB play has been skidmarks.

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21 minutes ago, Mike in Horseheads said:

Whats interesting is that many here thought Star and Shaq were busts. Guess thats a big opps now,

 

I do not think Shaq was thought of as bust but a player not worth 5th year tag and someone who was slow to getting up to spec.

 

Star had his supporter (I was one) but many posters thought he was "overpaid player from Panthers".

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I think Hapless nailed it: We lost Star, Zo, Shaq, and Phillips. Milano, Edmunds, and Oliver have been injured off and on all year. We have yet to play a single game this year where our top four corners are all active.

 

Combine loss of personnel — two of whom, Star and Zo, were really good and important players — with injuries to three core guys and much of our secondary, and you have a recipe for major decline.

 

I think the defense will improve for the stretch run of the season. They’ve already improved greatly at third down defense the past couple weeks, for instance. But I don’t think they’re ever going to completely “figure it out” this season and look like the unit we’re used to seeing.

 

Going forward into 2021, I trust McDermott and Frazier and Beane to right the ship. I think as long as we have McD and Frazier running things, the Bills are likely to have a good defense more often than not.

 

Oh, and one more thing: it’s not a stretch to say that Star opting out (and the lack of a capable replacement at 1T) really, really hurt our defense. When your three star front seven defenders all make their living off of speed and quickness, you need that anchor that draws double teams, keeps the LBs clean, and gives your 3T one-on-ones. Star was a BIG loss.

Edited by Logic
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2 hours ago, streetkings01 said:

Starting QB’s Bills played against in 2019:

 

S. Darnold x 2

E. Manning

A. Dalton

T. Brady x 2

M. Mariotta

R. Fitzpatrick x 2

C. Wentz

D. Haskins

B. Mayfield 

B. Allen

D. Prescott

L. Jackson 

D. Hodges

 

That defense only played 6 games against a QB that was considered good to elite and 10 games against QB’s ranging from average to straight garbage.  I’m gonna be the one to say it......the defense was way overrated.

 

PLUS!!! 

2019 schedule bottom 5 in the league,,2020 schedule top 3 in the league. defense definitely got exposed for what it is..Decent when opportunistic (Turnovers) below average when not.    Still gonna do damage this post season barring major injuries.

 

2 hours ago, streetkings01 said:

 

 

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Star is plenty of it, and as you say, his absence causes others around him to have to try to do more than they did last year, which destroys the ability to just "do your job."

 

There's more, though, obviously.

 

New d-line guys, the absence of Milano for much of the year, Edmunds' injury, Oliver's injury and the consistent injuries to CBs all hurt. A lot.

 

What isn't mentioned nearly as often as those is maybe one of the biggest reasons, I think. This defense is one that requires everyone to be on the same page all the time. More so than most, it's varied and multiple. Every year they seem to have times when people are having problems with run fits, since responsibilities change quickly and often depending on the call and the offense's personnel and formation.

 

We've seen a significant uptick in defensive performance the past three or so games. 

 

I believe the reason for that is that the lack of a preseason hurt this defense more than most that are more just see-ball get-ball styles. They weren't acting together. They needed time to get on the same page and I don't think they got it, and that all the injuries and personnel shuffling they caused has hurt their ability to cohere.

 

Edited by Thurman#1
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2 hours ago, Logic said:

I think Hapless nailed it: We lost Star, Zo, Shaq, and Phillips. Milano, Edmunds, and Oliver have been injured off and on all year. We have yet to play a single game this year where our top four corners are all active.

 

Combine loss of personnel — two of whom, Star and Zo, were really good and important players — with injuries to three core guys and much of our secondary, and you have a recipe for major decline.

 

I think the defense will improve for the stretch run of the season. They’ve already improved greatly at third down defense the past couple weeks, for instance. But I don’t think they’re ever going to completely “figure it out” this season and look like the unit we’re used to seeing.

 

Going forward into 2021, I trust McDermott and Frazier and Beane to right the ship. I think as long as we have McD and Frazier running things, the Bills are likely to have a good defense more often than not.

 

Oh, and one more thing: it’s not a stretch to say that Star opting out (and the lack of a capable replacement at 1T) really, really hurt our defense. When your three star front seven defenders all make their living off of speed and quickness, you need that anchor that draws double teams, keeps the LBs clean, and gives your 3T one-on-ones. Star was a BIG loss.

 

 

Yes, this.

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I don't know what any one else said in response to this thread because I didn't read not 1 reply but I? If we fielded the same defense as last year we would be superbowl favorites hands down! No debate!!!

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4 hours ago, Inigo Montoya said:

We have all seen the big step backwards the Bills' defense has taken this year.  I have listed the key stats comparing last year's dominant squad vs this year's below average group.  I'm just not sure what can account for such a huge drop off.  It would be one thing if we had new coaches and schemes.  We brought back most of the unit.  I've read a lot of conjecture here about the "Star Effect" and the ripples created in this defense when you don't have an immovable object clogging up the middle of the defensive line, but I don't know that you can reasonably put all of this drop off on Star opting out.

 

In addition to Star, I think it is becoming very obvious how fortunate we were last year to have so few injuries on our team and it seems like this year we are falling back to the norm.  In 2019 the Bills were 11th best in the league with 64 AGL (Adjusted Games Lost).  The NFL average was 75.8.  AGL is a metric created by Football Outsiders to measure the impact of players lost and guys playing injured throughout the season.  They don't have numbers for this season yet, but I'm certain we won't be in the top half of the League again this season.

 

Here are the Team Defense stats to compare...

 

2019

Points per game:  16.1

Points per game League rank:  #2

Yards per game:  298

Yards per game League rank:  #3

Rushing yards per game:  103

Average yards per rush attempt:  4.3

Passing yards per game:  195

 

2020

Points per game:  26.5

Points per game League rank:  #21st

Yards per game:  373

Yards per game League rank:  #20th

Rushing yards per game:  135

Average yards per rush attempt:  4.8

Passing yards per game:  238.7

 

Falling from 2nd in the League in points allowed in 2019, to 21st in 2020 is horrific.  Last year we had a bend but don't break defense.  This year we are bending and breaking.  The consensus during this off-season was that the Bills would go as far as Josh Allen would take them based on the idea that we would return the same stout defense, and if we could just manage to score more than 19 points a game (the 2019 average), we would win more games.

 

After 10 games played it is still the consensus that the Bills will go as far as Josh Allen can take them, but now it is because Josh needs to score enough points to make up for our poor defense, and so far he has.  Barely... The offense is averaging 27.2 points per game this year, and the defense is giving up an average of 26.5 points a game.  You can see how this team is living on the razor's edge week to week.  Fixing the running game should be a big focus during this bye week, but figuring out what the hell is going on with the defense should be a close second.

 

That 10 points per game jump is eye-opening. That’s an average of almost 4 touchdowns a game. Crazy!

 

Like some have said though, it seems like the defense is starting to play better. If they can just stay average and aggressive, we have a good shot with the offense we have.

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5 hours ago, Hapless Bills Fan said:

 

Who is who on that list o' QB?  Of course, there is the little point that our defense doesn't just play the QB...the quality of the running game also matters.

 

The Bills D played good games against some of the top rated offenses in the league - the Cowboys, the Ravens, NE.    The fact is, the D last year was capable of shutting down some of those top offenses in a way we have not shown ourselves to be capable of yet this season.

 

Yea. I think it works a bit both ways. When you are looking at our averages this year - especially pass yards allowed - to me that speaks to quality of QB played. There was always going to be a drop in the numbers this year I think most predicted that. It was a tougher schedule of teams to keep quiet. 

 

But at the same time the Bills defense did do a decent job on some good offenses in 2019 as well. So it is a combination of some regression in performance and some opposing quality adjustment IMO.

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