In just two years under Rex Ryan, the Buffalo Bills defense took a major drop and caused Sean McDermott and his staff to go into a rebuilding mode after this past season. Before Ryan’s arrival in 2015, the Bills defense was scary good and balled out. Getting 50+ sacks in two consecutive seasons with arguably the best defensive line of Kyle Williams, Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus and an up-and-coming Jerry Hughes, QB’s who faced off against this line ended up on the turf one way or another.
The entire defense was complete for the most part. The unit almost helped the Bills get back into playoff mode in the 2014 season after dominating Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers late in the season to keep hope alive.
After the departure of Doug Marrone, along came Ryan and it was really never a pleasure sight for Bills fans. Becoming an undisciplined team, racking up penalty yards and taking plays off cost the Bills many games and it turned into chaos at some points.
The Suffering Is Brought To An End
After the Bills fired Ryan after failing to secure a playoff spot in 2016, Buffalo brought in a disciplinarian who had the Carolina Panthers as a top ten defense in four of six years as the defensive coordinator. McDermott built a strong Panthers defense with the scheme that Bills defensive players are used to and he brings that attitude that the entire team lacked.
Not much was guaranteed for McDermott’s new defense he was receiving. The only things he was able to obtain was two leaders in Kyle Williams and Lorenzo Alexander and a new secondary. All sorts of questions surrounding the Bills roster as a whole, and a majority of it around their quarterback situation and the defense. With the presence that McDermott was bringing to Buffalo, it can be argued that things could turn around soon. Maybe not in 2017, but soon enough.
Rebuilding Mode…Or Reloading?
Let’s see…a new secondary, not much depth in each position, definitely shows signs of rebuilding mode. Who knew how the first and second level would perform as well? A bunch of unanswered questions that fans would find out soon enough. Even with the run game taking a big hit, the secondary proved to be the strongest unit and both Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer showed that they are one of the more dangerous duos in the league.
The team had this duo and also had rookie standout Tre’Davious White playing like an experienced player and the services of E.J. Gaines who provided a big impact for the team when healthy. The secondary was all set.
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With the big men in the trenches and the linebackers, it was a different telling. Being ranked as one of the worst run defenses’ in the league and losing many games because of opponents’ rushing game, it was obvious that there would be renovations in the offseason.
Players Who Showed Promise For 2018
These players made an impact one way or another at some point in the season. The clear #1 pick is Tre White who could set himself up to be a lockdown defender for the future. White was surrounded by experienced veterans and it helped his game tremendously. White could be a contender for the historic ‘sophomore slump’, but always hope for the best.
Linebacker Matt Milano will have the opportunity to keep up production from last season. More than likely to start at outside linebacker, Milano will be paired with rookie Tremaine Edmunds to start something special for the Bills defense.
Trent Murphy and Star Lotulelei are two big names to watch out for on the Bills. Murphy provides QB pressure while Lotulelei can stop the run up the middle with Kyle Williams. There is also more depth in the trenches which will make a difference.
Acquiring Edmunds to pair him with Milano and Lorenzo Alexander is huge upgrade. Edmunds has the size and athletic ability much like Luke Kuechly, who McDermott coached in Carolina. There are two young, upcoming linebackers and a veteran captain at the linebacker position who can contribute to the run defense.
Vontae Davis is brought into the secondary which has to reason to go backwards. The secondary could be seeing more passes if the run defense can contain the run game which will set the Bills up for success to get the offense going.
It’s quite simple. Stop the run game and force offenses’ to pass into Buffalo’s centerfield made up of men who played lockdown at certain points last season. Just ask QB’s like Matt Ryan, Alex Smith and Derek Carr. All three had the passing yards, but they all threw crucial picks that affect the game greatly for the Bills.
The defense looks to improve from last season. If everyone stays healthy and the injury bug can avoid Buffalo, look for the defense to start to build themselves back up from a messy era under Rex Ryan.