A defense from last season that faced plenty of up’s and downs throughout the season, the Buffalo Bills took matter into their own hands to strengthen their weaknesses. Let’s face it, the Bills run defense was horrible and they lacked the depth once a man went down with an injury. The only real kind of stability was the secondary, a link that was projected to be at it’s worst due to the new turnaround from getting rid of Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby.
After trading away Marcell Dareus in the middle of the season, the teams’ run defense crashed and burned. Ranking near the bottom of the league against the run with almost no depth help at all, opponents took advantage of that weakness.
The good news was that the secondary of Micah Hyde, Tre’Davious White, Jordan Poyer and E.J. Gaines held the unit together in crucial moments. They came up big against teams like the Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins.
The only difference apart of that unit is that Gaines is out of Buffalo and the team brought in veteran Vontae Davis.
The team also brought in Tremaine Edmunds and Harrison Phillips through the draft as part of the future and the run stop. Edmunds is expected to provide an immediate impact for the squad while Phillips develops under longtime Bill, Kyle Williams.
The defense looks to be in much better shape heading into this season. Leslie Frazier is back with Sean McDermott and the defense will look to carry the team potential wins this year. Don’t expect an all-star defense, but expect different results from last season.
1.) Jordan Poyer Leads Secondary in INT’s
Poyer made a huge impact for the Bills last season. Being more of a rotational player his career before Buffalo, he came up big along with Hyde. He ended the season with 5 intersections, one of them being a pick-six against Tom Brady in Week 16.
Even though White is developing himself in a shutdown corner and Hyde is a freak of an athlete, Poyer is one of the players that’s all over the field. Poyer has the opportunity to take a lead for the Bills defense and develop his game that took a major step forward in 2017, and leading the team in interceptions is how you do it.
2.) Trent Murphy Leads D-Line in Sacks
Signed to the Bills this past offseason, Trent Murphy has a lot to prove from last season. Seeing as how he tore his ACL along with serving a four game suspension, he needs to show McDermott and Frazier why he was brought on board. Now, go back to 2016 and that’s where you see the productivity from him.
He racked up 9 sacks and was a force in the trenches. Jerry Hughes and Shaq Lawson lead the Bills in sacks last season, each with four of their own. Not very impressive. Murphy should set the tone in the trenches and pressure QB’s often. Even if he can’t get to the QB, it will allow other pass rushers to expand the pressure. With his size and strength though, Murphy has the highest ceiling to obtain the most sacks this season for the Bills.
3.) Edmunds Leads Team in Tackles, Wins Defensive Rookie of the Year
It’s still a shock that the team was able to get their hands on Edmunds at #16 in the draft. The potential steal of at least the first round has one of the highest ceilings out of every rookie if not the highest. He’s already been shown as a star by teammates as a true natural leader. The best part is that he’s only 20 years old.
Edmunds brings an upgrade to the run game for the Bills and assuming he stays healthy, his game will grow as time goes on. Expect Edmunds to develop into possibly the Bills best defensive player for the future and put his name in the conversation as the best defensive rookie player in 2018.
4.) Kyle Williams Racks Up 10+ Sacks
The heart and soul of the team is back for one more season most likely. After finally helping lead the Bills to the playoffs last season, Williams career was up for question as to whether or not he would return. He got his one-year extension and now it’s go time. The team is hopeful that it found Williams’ successor in Harrison Phillips, but Williams should give his everything this season.
He’s only reached 10+ sacks once in his career. With the circumstances he faces heading into this year, he should not hold back. Williams has always been physical and downright violent in the trenches his whole career. He’s one player that you never see take a play off and this season is arguably is last with the Bills so he could go all out and get into double digits in the sacks column.
5.) Matt Milano Shines in Sophomore Season
A fifth-round draft pick in 2017, Milano showed signs of promise throughout the season last year. He’s not exactly a great player, but he can develop into one very quickly. His highlight play last season was a fumble recovery against the Oakland Raiders and returned in 40 yards for a score.
He ended the season with 29 tackles, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. He’s a lot like Kiko Alonso in the type of player he is when on the field. In his rookie year, Alonso was never the star player but he was making plays left and right, sideline to sideline. Milano was like that last season as a rookie and with Edmunds being brought in, the two could form a dangerous linebacker duo. Not dangerous either, but a young and dangerous duo.