NFL Wire News

Bills’ defense prefers KISS approach


The Sports Xchange

ORCHARD PARK, N. Y. — The Buffalo Bills’ 3-4 record is more than enough to irritate head coach Rex Ryan, but a defense that was mediocre at best for the first half of the season is especially disconcerting for the noted defensive guru.

Buffalo ranks 13th in yards allowed, 18th in points allowed, and the Bills were not been stout at key moments, particularly in their last game against Jacksonville.

After safety Corey Graham’s pick-six gave the Bills the lead with five minutes to go, capping a rally from a 27-3 deficit, the defense gave it right back by faltering on the Jaguars game-winning touchdown drive.

Earlier in the season, veteran quarterbacks Tom Brady, Eli Manning, and Andy Dalton carved up the Bills in the last three games at Ralph Wilson Stadium — all Buffalo losses — and they did so without hardly being pressured by what is considered to be a talented defensive line.

For the season, the Bills have a mere 11 sacks, which puts them on a pace that would produce fewer than half the 54 sacks they recorded in 2014 when they led the league.

Several players, including linemen Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus, believed the defense would be more aggressive if they went with the old KISS approach — keep it simple, stupid.

They said the defense was too complex and required too much reading before reacting. That sapped the Bills’ ability to play aggressively. Ryan listened and scaled back the plan in the Jacksonville game, but the Bills still lost in London, 34-31.

With Miami coming to town Sunday, a team that already played the and lost to the Bills this season, 41-14, in South Florida, Ryan knows he must change some things up and can only hope his players respond.

“You’re always constantly making adjustments on what you do and what you ask your players to do,” Ryan said. “Do we simplify things? We hope it’s getting simpler to our guys, if we’re not making the mistakes that we’ve made.

“This will always be opponent-driven as well. So we’re multiple in the fact that we can adjust what we do schematically, based on specific opponents that we play.”

Ryan said no matter what the call is, though, it’s on the players to execute it.

“I always say this, the brilliance isn’t in — and this is where some of my mentors in the past, obviously my dad, a Bill Parcells, a Bill Walsh, a Sid Gilman, a Paul Brown, the real innovators in this game — it wasn’t necessarily about, the scheme,” he said. “Sure, it’s one thing, but it’s the execution of the play call. It’s not the play call itself.

“If you just put out your call sheet and say ‘I’m going to out-coach you this way,’ or out-do whatever, it’s the execution of the calls. That’s the thing that we’re trying to make sure we’re dialed in. Is it give and take on what you’re asking players to do? There’s always that.”

The Bills had some success against Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is only 2-5 against Buffalo in his four-year career. In the first game between these teams in September, Tannehill threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by linebacker Preston Brown.

Miami couldn’t run the ball, and when it was 27-0 at the half, it didn’t matter.

The Dolphins are different now, however. Head coach Joe Philbin was fired and Miami won its first two games under Dan Campbell, beating up on woeful Tennessee and Houston.

Last week, the Patriots brought the rejuvenated Dolphins back to Earth with a 36-7 thumping.

So now the Dolphins must respond in a big way or their playoff chances could be toast, especially with four division losses on their ledger should Buffalo win this week.

The Bills are in the same situation. The loss to the Jaguars was inexcusable, even with all the injuries the Bills were dealing with. At 3-4, with two night road games on the horizon against the New York Jets and Patriots, this is a must-win for the Bills.

A loss probably ends their playoff hopes.

“This isn’t where we want to be, 3-4 is not where we want to be and that’s not what our fans signed up for,” Ryan said. “That’s disappointing to me, but this season’s a long way from being different. Right now, this is where we’re at. We earned being 3-4.”

SERIES HISTORY: 100th regular-season meeting. Dolphins lead the series 41-57-1. The last time these teams played in Week 3, Joe Philbin was the Dolphins coach, and Buffalo rolled to a 41-14 victory. That was Buffalo’s second-largest margin of victory in Miami, trailing only the first game the Bills played there in 1966 when the Dolphins were an expansion team, a 29-0 victory.

GAME PLAN: With some of their injured offensive players returning this week, including quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the Bills finally believe they can show what type of offense they have. Taylor and running back LeSean McCoy will be at their healthiest for this season. Running back Karlos Williams is back from a concussion, so the Bills probably will look to establish their ground game, especially with wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin not expected to contribute much, if anything.

On defense, the Bills did a great job in the first meeting against the Dolphins, limiting quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s effectiveness. The key for Buffalo will be to slow down running back Lamar Miller because the Dolphins need him to be in gear in order to give viability to their play-action passing game. New coach Dan Campbell has the Dolphins playing more physically, but that’s the way the Bills like to play on defense.


–Bills DE Mario Williams vs. Dolphins RT Jason Fox.

The Dolphins won’t have regular RT Ja’Wuan James in this game, so Fox, or perhaps Dallas Thomas, will have to start on the outside and be confronted with the Bills’ best pass rusher, Williams. If Williams gets on a roll, he can make things very difficult for QB Ryan Tannehill.

–Bills interior line vs. Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh.

Without DE Cameron Wake (out injured), the Dolphins will look to Suh to be an enforcer on the inside, not only in run stuffing but in the pass rush. The Bills handled Suh in the first game, but since the coaching change a few weeks ago, Suh began to resemble the player All-Pro menace he was for so many years with the Detroit Lions.

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