The evolution of the game of football has evolved into a passing league. Very rarely do you see a run-first offense light up the scoreboard. That doesn’t mean a defense shouldn’t have an established and steady run defense to force the pass. The Buffalo Bills arguably had the worst run defense in 2017. Statistically, not the worst but if you were to watch just one game where they gave up 200+ yards on the ground, there’s a case that can be made.
Ranked 29th in 2017 against the run, giving up approximately 125 rushing yards a game, this unit was hard to watch for Bills fans. Especially in the three week span of where the Bills gave up a combined total 638 rushing yards to the New York Jets, New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Chargers in the middle of the season.
The depth chart for the team was weak the defensive line last season, and that was before the team traded away Marcell Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the middle of the season. There was no true run-stopper, which allowed offenses’ to turn on the jets.
If it weren’t for the secondary, the defense might have crumbled as a whole for the entire season.
A total of 27 sacks throughout the season, either getting very little to no pressure every game, this defense was going to need some home improvement for 2018.
The Bills kept a majority of their defensive linemen, including Kyle Williams who could be going into his last season with the Bills. They also added Owa Odighizuwa, Terrence Fede and brought back Eddie Yarbrough. The two biggest signings for the Bills defense were Star Lotulelei and Trent Murphy. Lotulelei provides as a big stop-runner to go with Williams and Murphy is an excellent pass rusher who can collapse the pocket. Jerry Hughes and Shaq Lawson also return to the field as the teams’ sack leaders from last season. Having Lotulelei and Murphy providing pressure should allow both Lawson and Hughes to increase their numbers as well.
The key component for the team this offseason was bringing in extra help along with depth. The team lacked in this area and they payed the price, almost to the point where their playoff drought could have continued to 18 years.
The team also drafted Harrison Phillips, a vicious and physical linemen out of Stanford. He can develop into the successor of Kyle Williams. He’s big, mean and has a motor on in the inside.
The defensive line most likely is not going to make a huge leap from last season, but they have a better chance at containing the run and making opposing QB’s have to throw the ball into the Bills no fly zone secondary. Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane wasted no time to bring in the help, now it is time to see what results will be produced. Don’t expect an all-star line, but the team has a good chance to dig themselves out of the hole they put themselves in against the run.