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What the Defense is really missing...


mjt328
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7 hours ago, mjt328 said:

Over the course of the season (and especially since the divisional playoff game), I've seen lots of complaining about the defense.

Some of the most common claims:

  • The Bills defense was a "paper tiger" who were really below average and didn't deserve to be the NFL's #1 unit in points/yards.
  • The players are "soft" and cannot stop any decent teams.  Especially those with good QBs.
  • We don't have any "elite" players, and we need to trade multiple #1 Picks to obtain one.  (In other words, we need to copy the Rams blueprint).

Then you have the people calling for us to fire Sean McDermott and/or Leslie Frazier.  The cries to cut Tremaine Edmunds and replace most of the D-Line.

 

Personally, I don't buy any of this.  We don't need to a complete overhaul.  We don't need to make a HUGE splash.

What the Defense truly lacks... is VERSATILITY.

 

This team has basically been running the SAME scheme for 5 seasons.

Four man pass rush.  Very little blitzing.  Zone coverage.  Strong tackling after the catch.  Bend-but-don't-break philosophy.

Brandon Beane has supplied the coaching staff with plenty of talent to run the McDermott/Frazier scheme.  Everyone on the roster is a strong fit.  The players know the system well, and are EXCELLENT at running it.  They are VERY fundamentally strong.  In fact, I think it could be argued that our defensive players peaked in many ways during 2021.

 

The problem is... the McDermott/Frazier scheme is NOT the best gameplan for stopping EVERY SINGLE team.  Which is why we have a tendency to absolutely dominate some opponents, and then struggle badly against others.  

  • Our front 7 is generally undersized (partially by design).  Which means we often struggle against physical O-Lines and strong running teams.
  • Some QBs are patient and can pick zone coverage apart.  Especially when they are expecting to see it all-day.

I also believe the main reason our defense has good "pressure stats" each year, but lack actual sacks - is because every QB/Offensive Coordinator plans short and quick passes against us.  A split second of hesitation (if they weren't sure what the Bills were coming with) would almost certainly result in more QB sacks. 

 

One of the reasons Bill Belichick has fielded a great Defense consistently (even without elite star power), is his ability to adapt and change depending on opponent.  Our current roster simply does not have the versatility to make those kind of changes week-to-week.  McDermott can focus on fundamentals, gap-control, staying mentally tough, etc.  But it's just a simple fact that Buffalo's defense does not match up well against some opponents (Indianapolis was probably the best example of this). 

 

To conquer the NFL playoffs and win the Super Bowl, we can't have games like Kansas City.

In my opinion, adding some versatility should be Beane's primary focus this offseason:

  • We need to have a talented space-eater (0 or 1-Tech Nose Tackle) who can occupy blockers when we face run-first teams
  • We need 1-2 cornerbacks who can switch between man/zone coverage as-needed

 

Bottom line.  There is no need to make drastic changes.  Just get the pieces needed to switch things up when needed.

 

 

7 hours ago, mjt328 said:

Over the course of the season (and especially since the divisional playoff game), I've seen lots of complaining about the defense.

Some of the most common claims:

  • The Bills defense was a "paper tiger" who were really below average and didn't deserve to be the NFL's #1 unit in points/yards.
  • The players are "soft" and cannot stop any decent teams.  Especially those with good QBs.
  • We don't have any "elite" players, and we need to trade multiple #1 Picks to obtain one.  (In other words, we need to copy the Rams blueprint).

Then you have the people calling for us to fire Sean McDermott and/or Leslie Frazier.  The cries to cut Tremaine Edmunds and replace most of the D-Line.

 

Personally, I don't buy any of this.  We don't need to a complete overhaul.  We don't need to make a HUGE splash.

What the Defense truly lacks... is VERSATILITY.

 

This team has basically been running the SAME scheme for 5 seasons.

Four man pass rush.  Very little blitzing.  Zone coverage.  Strong tackling after the catch.  Bend-but-don't-break philosophy.

Brandon Beane has supplied the coaching staff with plenty of talent to run the McDermott/Frazier scheme.  Everyone on the roster is a strong fit.  The players know the system well, and are EXCELLENT at running it.  They are VERY fundamentally strong.  In fact, I think it could be argued that our defensive players peaked in many ways during 2021.

 

The problem is... the McDermott/Frazier scheme is NOT the best gameplan for stopping EVERY SINGLE team.  Which is why we have a tendency to absolutely dominate some opponents, and then struggle badly against others.  

  • Our front 7 is generally undersized (partially by design).  Which means we often struggle against physical O-Lines and strong running teams.
  • Some QBs are patient and can pick zone coverage apart.  Especially when they are expecting to see it all-day.

I also believe the main reason our defense has good "pressure stats" each year, but lack actual sacks - is because every QB/Offensive Coordinator plans short and quick passes against us.  A split second of hesitation (if they weren't sure what the Bills were coming with) would almost certainly result in more QB sacks. 

 

One of the reasons Bill Belichick has fielded a great Defense consistently (even without elite star power), is his ability to adapt and change depending on opponent.  Our current roster simply does not have the versatility to make those kind of changes week-to-week.  McDermott can focus on fundamentals, gap-control, staying mentally tough, etc.  But it's just a simple fact that Buffalo's defense does not match up well against some opponents (Indianapolis was probably the best example of this). 

 

To conquer the NFL playoffs and win the Super Bowl, we can't have games like Kansas City.

In my opinion, adding some versatility should be Beane's primary focus this offseason:

  • We need to have a talented space-eater (0 or 1-Tech Nose Tackle) who can occupy blockers when we face run-first teams
  • We need 1-2 cornerbacks who can switch between man/zone coverage as-needed

 

Bottom line.  There is no need to make drastic changes.  Just get the pieces needed to switch things up when needed.

 

 

I don't think we need a complete overhaul, I don't even take those people serious that say fire Sean McDermott but leslie Frazier on the other hand, the guy lacks the killer mentality and played completely scared on the biggest stage with the brightest lights and instead of going for Mahomes' jugular he opted for the safe route, you never win games by playing scared and not only that but too many times this guy never adjusts no matter if his defense is getting lit up or not he refuses to sway from his game planning. I agree about the space eating NT and 1-2 CB's but we also need a veteran pass rusher not named Hughes or Addison, someone who can come off the edge and get after the QB.... I really like Emmanuel Ogbah and don't get the hate on this kid, he had 45 tackles, 9 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR in 2021 and almost identical stats the previous year on a bad Dolphins team, our top pass rusher was Mario Addison with 7, I don't think we'll be able to even come close to affording Von Miller/Clowney or Chandler Jones but Ogbah imo is a guy we should definitely be looking at.

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Don't defend a hail mary and sidelines with 13 seconds left when the opponent just wants a FG attempt and they have timeouts.  Seriously, if they had handled that situation differently we could be discussing a repeat.  You can always improve but McDermott is not some idiot who uses the same gamplan every game like this appears to say.

 

You reference the Pats as being someone that adapts and is versatile.  How did that defense adapt in the wild card playoff game?  The expectation of dominating every opponent is not something that is achievable in today's game.   Not even the great Patriots can or have done that.

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14 hours ago, whorlnut said:

This is exactly what I’m saying. We aren’t stopping offenses like the chiefs. No one is. If they don’t play well, it’s because they are having an off night. What are we gonna do if we pass on a guy like Jameson Williams or Treylon Burks and the chiefs take them?  Then you are asking your first round corner to cover guys like Hill, Hardman, top rookie. All you end up doing is keep chasing your tail. 

Yes. Exactly. We have the personnel on defense. The coaches let us down. 

Kick short.

 

Hold everyone on first down.

 

Time runs out the next play.

 

We are superbowl Champs and we are doing a hard retool of the lineup this year for another run in 2023-2027

 

Now we are still chasing our first and will keep high priced aging vets another year to try and get it .

 

It still pisses me off

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14 hours ago, Buffalo_Stampede said:

Bengals switched it up dropped 8, played single high. Took away Mahomes quick throws and his ability to make plays out of the pocket. 

And in this copycat league, you can be sure the Bills are looking at that performance and trying to figure out how to make that approach work with the Bills' personnel.  Of course KC knows everyone will be doing exactly that, and will be working to stay a step ahead.  

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9 hours ago, Augie said:

 

I thought it was pretty obvious, but I’m happy to try to make it more clear. My first question was “what is your point?” He wanted to complain, just to complain, it appears. I think he knows it’s stupid to come out and say we should replace our coaches based upon how the last game ended. That feels like childish ranting. I don’t want to speak for him, but without an answer, I just have to guess. 

 

If you think McD “gets a pass” but you wouldn’t rule anything out if he goes one and done in the playoffs next year, I respectfully suggest you are also out of touch with reality. We have one of the most highly regarded front offices and coaching staffs in the league. Yep, things went sideways at the end, but adults who see the big picture will be making the decisions. 

 

Look at what you assumed in bold. You ASSUMED the playoffs! Something we missed out on for almost two decades!

 

Nobody is perfect, and we should all strive to learn and get better every year at everything we do. McD has earned my respect, and we are fortunate to have him. 

We assume the playoffs because of Allen not McDermott

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Our defensive scheme has a really high floor, but a really low ceiling, and it works without any game breaking talent. It's why we crush bad to mediocre offenses and then can get crushed by some good offenses that adjust to our scheme, who usually have game breaking talents on offense. We play a very vanilla scheme and basically never throw in any exotic looks or blitzes or adjustments.

 

And when our scheme breaks, it breaks badly. I think there was a stat that we allowed something like the fewest 10+ yard runs against, but the most 20+ yard runs. 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, ScottLaw said:

You said the guy at fault is gone… but that’s simply not true…. Like not even close to being accurate.

 

I said the ST Coordinator is gone, and you STILL haven’t answered my questions. 

 

To be fair, it all ultimately falls on the HC, and he’s accepted that. Now, what are you going to do about it? 

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2 hours ago, nedboy7 said:

Some of you deserve another 17 years of ineptitude.  It doesn’t make a difference to you.  


I just want one before I die.  Just one and rest is all gravy. I think we had one of our best shots ever minus the Norwood kick to finally do it ( yes realize getting past Cincy and rams not a given) but horrible coaching and overrated D ended it.  Hopefully Groot and Basham have breakout years next year as I think that piece and having a healthy Tre could go a long ways next year. 

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1 hour ago, Augie said:

 

I said the ST Coordinator is gone, and you STILL haven’t answered my questions. 

 

To be fair, it all ultimately falls on the HC, and he’s accepted that. Now, what are you going to do about it? 

You said the guy at fault is gone… meaning the ST coordinator… blaming the ST coordinator for the last 13 seconds is ridiculous. 
 

What am I going to do about what? He doesn’t deserve to be fired. That would be stupid. He totally ***** up. Deflecting blame to “execution” was pretty ***** weak on his part… but JMO.

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19 hours ago, Buffalo_Stampede said:

I wish the Bills threw in some 3 man rushes vs KC. I don't think man is the answer vs KC. We're not going to pay for the type of man CBs needed, and even those guys are getting beat by Hill.

 

The Bills coaches just have to have a better plan and adjust better to Mahomes making plays out of the pocket.

 

No data to actually back this up, but I don't think we are a very good man defense. But I also don't think man is the answer, but it is part of it. We just don't have a lot of "thumpers" anywhere on the field. I think man defenses generally play more physical. So I get where the thought was going. 

Our LB's style are far too reliant on our DL. And our DL belongs in the hall of "meh". We could solve the defense by shifting philosophies in different position groups. But ultimately I don't see us changing our coverage style. 

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To me the defense lacks a truly dynamic pass rusher and a run stuffer. I look at the secondary and with Tre in there I think they are very good esp if they retain Levi who has been a solid and consistent cog. They have one of the best most dynamic safety tandems in the league, Tre a true number one corner, one of the most underrated slot corners in the league in T.Johnson, Levi a solid CB2, and Dane Jackson really nice depth. I would like to see them sure up the depth but I feel that can be addressed in round 3-5 as opposed to a high end pick. 

 

The LB core is also good. Milano is a true stud and while I know Edumonds gets a lot of hate around here fairly or unfairly I do think he is a solid MLB who fits the mold of the defense. Klein is also solid depth there and can fill in for either. The D-line on the other hand is good but not dynamic. The Bills generated 42 sacks tied for 11th in the league with the Bengals. That's pretty effective but not exactly elite either as the Bills did shoot up the rankings thanks to 9 sacks against the hapless Jets had they only had 2-3 sacks (a respectable number) against the Jets they would have been around 18-19 in the league not tragic but fairly average. 

 

Ed Oliver is very good but not a "dynamic" player just yet and the rest of the defensive line is mostly a mishmash of average to above average players. I think the "dynamic" player is going to have to come from within. I don't see (and wouldn't prefer) the Bills to go after a big time pass rusher in free agency as I want the O-line addressed and Levi/H.Phillips resigned and signing that type of pass rusher will impact the ability to do both. 

 

Overall the D-line can get a run stuffer which will help along with resigning Phillips. But they need a dynamic edge rusher and for that they have to count on the development of Groot, AJ and Boogie. 

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45 minutes ago, ScottLaw said:

You said the guy at fault is gone… meaning the ST coordinator… blaming the ST coordinator for the last 13 seconds is ridiculous. 
 

What am I going to do about what? He doesn’t deserve to be fired. That would be stupid. He totally ***** up. Deflecting blame to “execution” was pretty ***** weak on his part… but JMO.

 

I actually agree with you. He made a point of being vague and not pinning blame on others. He did **** up, but all we can do is move forward. Live and learn. It should have been less than 13 seconds, and they shouldn’t have played it the way they did. I’m also upset, but people who act like they should be fired are just being childish, IMO. Big picture, folks. Look at the big picture. 

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19 hours ago, mjt328 said:

 

That is not how all defenses operate.

 

Some defenses (such as the one Rex Ryan had before McDermott) operate on aggression, and trying to force mistakes.

His philosophy was the complete opposite.  Lots of blitzing and chaos.  Leaving cornerbacks on an island in man coverage.  Etc.

 

 

How well did Rex do with our D again? I remember a core of players that were a top 5D and Rex making them one of the worst in the league. 

 

Careful what you wish for OP. 

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