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Lean and Mean, or No? [thread about Bills Defense]


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I saw the title and thought this would be a thread about the defense - Lean and mean, or no?

 

In fact, I think that IS the question about the defense.  It's a defense, physically and in terms of style, that's designed be tough to pin down - really quick off the ball, attacking in multi-faceted ways, and quick to the ball.  To play that way, they will be short on bulk.  They aren't going have many immovable objects on the field.   

 

The question is whether they'll be mean enough.  Whether they come out every weekend with enough fight in them to over come what might be size and strength disadvantages at certain matchups.  They'll be smart and well coached.  Will they be scrappy?

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Idk if were built to beat KC or TB. KC made the defense look terrible both games and can go to a balanced attack when they need to. Same with Tampa. They can pound it when needed and we can't stop goo

Neither.  "Mean" in the "Mean Joe Green" or Football sense, meaning tough, physical, and punishing     That's exactly what we were last year - we could stop the run if we "sold out" t

Now we might not have done ENOUGH to improve the D.  That's entirely possible. But it seems to me we took a good number of steps intended to improve the D, specifically the DL.   1) We

This is a really good point, Shaw66. 

 

Lotulelei is not all that big - 6'2", 310

Harrison Phillips - 6'3", listed at 307 but in interviews said he was playing at 320 before the ACL

Ed Oliver 6'1" listed as 287

Vernon Butler 6'3" 330 is about the biggest

of the new signings Eli Ankou at 6'3" 325

 

Meanness is a good question.  As I recall, one of the NFL Network reporters literally questioned Harrison Phillips manhood (in a football sense) saying she'd been around plenty of top DLs and they were some pretty mean guys, "are you guys mean enough?"

 

I kind of felt like one factor with the AFCCG was how fast and physical the Bills had played the Ravens the week before.  They really put it all out there.  It seemed like they were a bit out of "gas" the next week against a team with fresh legs coming off a rest.

 

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37 minutes ago, Shaw66 said:

I saw the title and thought this would be a thread about the defense - Lean and mean, or no?

 

In fact, I think that IS the question about the defense.  It's a defense, physically and in terms of style, that's designed be tough to pin down - really quick off the ball, attacking in multi-faceted ways, and quick to the ball.  To play that way, they will be short on bulk.  They aren't going have many immovable objects on the field.   

 

The question is whether they'll be mean enough.  Whether they come out every weekend with enough fight in them to over come what might be size and strength disadvantages at certain matchups.  They'll be smart and well coached.  Will they be scrappy?

I don't think we are real quick to the ball at all. We take away the big play and keep the ball in front of us waiting for numbers, imho....While we get some negative plays, they're usually strung out or coverage sack negative plays.

 

For better or worse, Tremaine Edmunds is the heart & soul of our defense imho.... I am not one of those fans that thinks he bad nor am I a big fan. What I like is his huge size which gives him the ability to make his tackles stick. Our safetiesare small and so is Milano so it's comforting to have a big guy downfield. He's super athletic as well. What I don't like is that I don't think I have ever seen him take on a block and win in his entire Bills career, that and he doesn't seem to have a nose for the ball. Like a lot of fans, I think he would have become a household name as a 3-4 OLB that often rushed the passer. I think our defense doesn't help him develop a nose for theball as he is asked to play very safe most of the time. He'd be better attacking not reacting, imho...Even though he still can't beat blockers....It doesn't seem like he even tries to beat a block often, he just goes with the lineman.... 

I admit I wanted a another Brian Urlacher after we traded up to get our two captains and that is not fair to Edmunds but Iabsolutely loved watching Urlacher play.... So good at everything all the time. If Tremaine could take a big step up (he definitely could use a more successful line!) this year, he would give us a chance vs. KC. Everybody thinks Mahomes is why they beat us but it clearly is KC's defense that separates us. Especially if our offense is healthy this year. With Allen, Diggs, Sanders, Beasley, Davis, Singletary and Knox all playing behind a healthy O-line, it might not matter that KC's defense is good. We might be able to just outscore them. Maybe we could win the ST battle? I think KC has excellent STs too though....

I still can't believe Tampa handled them like they did....

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9 hours ago, billybrew1 said:

I don't think we are real quick to the ball at all. We take away the big play and keep the ball in front of us waiting for numbers, imho....While we get some negative plays, they're usually strung out or coverage sack negative plays.

 

For better or worse, Tremaine Edmunds is the heart & soul of our defense imho.... I am not one of those fans that thinks he bad nor am I a big fan. What I like is his huge size which gives him the ability to make his tackles stick. Our safetiesare small and so is Milano so it's comforting to have a big guy downfield. He's super athletic as well. What I don't like is that I don't think I have ever seen him take on a block and win in his entire Bills career, that and he doesn't seem to have a nose for the ball. Like a lot of fans, I think he would have become a household name as a 3-4 OLB that often rushed the passer. I think our defense doesn't help him develop a nose for theball as he is asked to play very safe most of the time. He'd be better attacking not reacting, imho...Even though he still can't beat blockers....It doesn't seem like he even tries to beat a block often, he just goes with the lineman.... 

I admit I wanted a another Brian Urlacher after we traded up to get our two captains and that is not fair to Edmunds but Iabsolutely loved watching Urlacher play.... So good at everything all the time. If Tremaine could take a big step up (he definitely could use a more successful line!) this year, he would give us a chance vs. KC. Everybody thinks Mahomes is why they beat us but it clearly is KC's defense that separates us. Especially if our offense is healthy this year. With Allen, Diggs, Sanders, Beasley, Davis, Singletary and Knox all playing behind a healthy O-line, it might not matter that KC's defense is good. We might be able to just outscore them. Maybe we could win the ST battle? I think KC has excellent STs too though....

I still can't believe Tampa handled them like they did....

 

 

We're absolutely real quick to the ball. Milano and Edmunds are fast, it's a huge feature for both, and they get more of the tackles than most. Nobody on this D is a Deion Sanders or a Tyreek Hill, but this D is filled with guys who are quick and fast. 

 

Fast, heady, multi-faceted, system-based, team-centered. That's how it's constructed.

 

That is why they need Lotulelei in the middle, he (or if he's not in there then Zimmer or whoever else plays 1-tech) clogs things up and eats two on inside runs and that gives the Bills the gap advantage.

 

I don't think we'll ever be the smash-mouth D many here would love to see. They've built this D to defend the pass first, but still be solid against the run. And that's what makes sense these days against modern offenses. We're tough but not slobber-knockers.

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Shaw's point is spot on. We're not that physical on Defense. That does not mean we cannot be good. Our quickness, smarts, a few top-tier players, and the experience of playing in the system together for a few years now, is our edge. I do think this D can back to top 10 status, maybe top 5?

 

One observation: It is interesting that Lotulelei is on the small side of an NFL nose tackles. Vernon Butler (6'3" 330) seems more suited for it. But I don't recall him getting a lot of time there, or doing much when he was there. I guess size isn't everything. Is Star's return is the the key to this Defense returning to elite status?

 

Some, I think. More important, though, is the continued development of ability, production, and leadership the younger guys: Edmunds, Oliver, Harrison, Epenesa, the rookie edge guys, Dane or Levi, etc.

 

If the D does (and I do think it will), combined with the Offensive potential, watch out!

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We're not built for smash mouth teams, but we are built to slow or stop the best passing offenses in the league (KC, TB, etc.).  If we ever find ourselves behind a smash mouth type of team, we might be SOL (Titans come to mind).  

We'll get a tough test right out of the gate in week 1.  

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1 minute ago, P Riv said:

We're not built for smash mouth teams, but we are built to slow or stop the best passing offenses in the league (KC, TB, etc.).  If we ever find ourselves behind a smash mouth type of team, we might be SOL (Titans come to mind).  

We'll get a tough test right out of the gate in week 1.  

Idk if were built to beat KC or TB. KC made the defense look terrible both games and can go to a balanced attack when they need to. Same with Tampa. They can pound it when needed and we can't stop good balanced teams. We're good against one dimensional teams but struggle against balanced offenses. It's like we pick either stop the run or stop the pass and ignore the other one. 

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6 minutes ago, Ridgewaycynic2013 said:

'Mean' meant to imply wretched, spiteful and straight razor toting?

*
Or 'mean' meant to imply average? (Cue the analytics nerds!)

 

Neither.  "Mean" in the "Mean Joe Green" or Football sense, meaning tough, physical, and punishing

 

16 minutes ago, Not at the table Karlos said:

Idk if were built to beat KC or TB. KC made the defense look terrible both games and can go to a balanced attack when they need to. Same with Tampa. They can pound it when needed and we can't stop good balanced teams. We're good against one dimensional teams but struggle against balanced offenses. It's like we pick either stop the run or stop the pass and ignore the other one. 

 

That's exactly what we were last year - we could stop the run if we "sold out" to do it, or we could stop the pass, but  we weren't able to do both because we simply couldn't get enough pressure to affect the QB with our front 4.

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30 minutes ago, Hapless Bills Fan said:

 

Neither.  "Mean" in the "Mean Joe Green" or Football sense, meaning tough, physical, and punishing

 

 

That's exactly what we were last year - we could stop the run if we "sold out" to do it, or we could stop the pass, but  we weren't able to do both because we simply couldn't get enough pressure to affect the QB with our front 4.

 

Considering how little we did to improve the D overall that's pretty concerning.  

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To the point about our D stopping either Run or Pass, but not both - this guy breaks down a lot of film from the Ravens game where our D IMO played at their best and took rightful pride in what they did.

 

But you can see on film (though he doesn't point it out) where a better QB with a better designed passing game filets us with the same plays.

 

 

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Well my question would be, can we be smaller and mean and still avoid injuries. That seems to be the issue when little guys start trying to stop big guys and then they get hurt.   

 

It would be nice to have all your fast guys to attack but still have a middle linebacker that could lay the wood to anybody that got loose.

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20 minutes ago, Comebackkid said:

Well my question would be, can we be smaller and mean and still avoid injuries. That seems to be the issue when little guys start trying to stop big guys and then they get hurt.   

 

It would be nice to have all your fast guys to attack but still have a middle linebacker that could lay the wood to anybody that got loose.

 

Are you thinking TKO (Takeo Spikes)?  That is what I think about regarding a LB able to play MLB who can lay the wood (I have his hat).

 

The issue with Bills defense is it is a 4-2-3-2 defense and I think many cases it would be better as a 4-3-2-2 defense with Tremaine Edmunds playing OLB not ILB which he is not playing since there are only 2 on field.  Klein is much better suited for MLB and then when he is not on field Bills can go back to 4-2-3-2 defense when they are trying to prevent throws.

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10 minutes ago, Limeaid said:

 

Are you thinking TKO (Takeo Spikes)?  That is what I think about regarding a LB able to play MLB who can lay the wood (I have his hat).

 

The issue with Bills defense is it is a 4-2-3-2 defense and I think many cases it would be better as a 4-3-2-2 defense with Tremaine Edmunds playing OLB not ILB which he is not playing since there are only 2 on field.  Klein is much better suited for MLB and then when he is not on field Bills can go back to 4-2-3-2 defense when they are trying to prevent throws.

Well spikes, Ed Reed,. Urlacker.  I like the whole premise of a defense basically how it is with the speed guys. I just think you need that one middle linebacker that can cover all the bases when your speed guys miss. Edmunds is okay if he can wrap up otherwise he gets trucked.  I'll mention like everyone has said before he doesn't attack, he just waits for them to come to him and by then usually they just run right by him or he gets caught up in traffic.   

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The whole Defense concerns me, personnel, scheme, all of it.  We have a championship caliber offense and special teams, but the D is our handicap.  This article is telling: https://www.si.com/nfl/talkoffame/nfl/scoring-defense-the-key-stat-for-super-bowl-contention

The severely overmatched Patriots held Mahomes and Co. to 17 points last year and probably would have won with even decent QB play.  All because of how they played the Chiefs offense from a scheme standpoint.  Why can't we crack that code???? https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/gametracker/recap/NFL_20201005_NE@KC/

That and they ran the ball all over them...  

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3 hours ago, P Riv said:

 

Considering how little we did to improve the D overall that's pretty concerning.  

 

Now we might not have done ENOUGH to improve the D.  That's entirely possible.

But it seems to me we took a good number of steps intended to improve the D, specifically the DL.

 

1) We signed a FA who is supposedly 9th in the league in per-snap (or some other normalized metric) of sacks, and two other vet FA DTs

Obada would have led the Bills in QB hits with 18 and sacks with 5.5, which may say more about our output, but he may be more than JAG

2) We used our top-2 draft picks on DL in Rousseau and Basham

3) We tried to improve linebacker depth (depth was lacking), signing FA Tyrell Adams.  Adams would, I think, have gotten more buzz if he had the same stats as he had last year, but on a better team

https://www.buffalorumblings.com/2021/6/18/22533429/90-players-in-90-days-linebacker-tyrell-adams-buffalo-bills-2021-nfl-offseason

 

The Bills are apparently counting on Lotulelei to return and contribute, and on Harrison Phillips to be back from injury, freeing Oliver and Butler to play their best position at 1TDT.  They're counting on last year's 2nd rounder Epenesa to take a step, and some contribution out of their FAs and rookies.

 

They did something similar on DL to what they did to improve the OL in 2019.  In 2019, they signed a bunch of capable but 2nd tier FA and drafted a rookie, as well as hoping for improved play from Dawkins at LT.  They believed that when the dust settled, they'd have an improved OL.  It worked.

 

Time will tell if this will work.

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