Bills Defense Struggling To Adjust


Injuries are now mounting up on defense. Take a look at how the Chiefs took advantage of it, and how the Bills additions may help.

The Bills went out and signed DT TJ Barnes and DE Lavar Edwards this week. Barnes played NT for Rex Ryan when he was in New York. Edwards has played in a hybrid scheme before at LSU. These two players are going to be important role players for the rest of the season. The holes on defense are getting worse by the game, mainly because of injuries.

The Chiefs initially tried running against the Bills defense and they weren’t successful. For several reasons. The Bills were shutting them down anytime it was an obvious down and distance to run. The Bills also shut them down when they decided to use 21 or 12 run based packages. 

Anytime the Bills’ coaches believed that the Chiefs were going to run, or if the down and distance led them to believe that they stayed in their base defense. The Bills’ defense was in good shape. They forced the Chiefs in 3rd and long situations early. 12 personnel vs. base defense looked like this:

So the Chiefs adjusted…

The Chiefs decided to stretch the Field. They threw deep to Maclin as soon as they realized the weather was favoring the offensive players. Reid did a great job of adjusting. He saw that Sammy was lighting the DBs up. So why couldn’t Maclin produce as well? The rainy weather gives the WRs an advantage because they know where they are going. The defenders react to the WRs routes, making it difficult when the weather is nasty.

The Bills began to struggle more and more, and in the middle of the 3rd quarter starting LB Bradham got injured. This hurt on many levels. He is an every down LB. He is in on base packages and in sub-packages.

The play below is the 1st series after Bradham got hurt. Notice they are in 11 personnel. Notice Tarpley….The Bills couldn’t put more in the box when the Chiefs showed this look. They were getting torched by Maclin so they had to defend the deep pass. This put Rex and Company in a tough spot. Tarpley and even Brown to a certain extent aren’t as athletic as Bradham. Here is a 5 yard gain on 1st down….

The back breaker was Alex Carrington getting injured. Carrington was filling in for Mario Williams. He is more of a run stopper than IK Enemkpali. Most downs early in the game, Carrington was in. Even in nickel situations, Carrington played well versus the run. His injury really opened up the options for Andy Reid. All credit goes to Andy Reid and his staff. They made the right adjustments and the Bills didn’t have any answers because of injuries.

AJ Tarpley and IK Enemkpali in on run downs severely hurt the Bills. That is why the Bills began giving up big plays in the run game. Watch IK and Tarpley on the play below. Watch the blocking of the Chiefs’ line against Bryant (0 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 stops vs. Chiefs). Bryant couldn’t handle the double team. He is not that kind of DT. Now if the Bills had someone to take on the double team and occupy that lineman, so that he doesn’t move to the second level this play would have been contained. Enter TJ Barnes…

Even new addition Lavar Edwards could have helped on this play. Having his length and skills in instead of IK, would have made a difference. He has such long arms, that he wouldn’t have gotten eaten up as much in the second half of that game.

Injuries are not an excuse in the NFL, I totally agree. But when your defense is struggling because of an overhaul in the scheme, you just can’t plug in players and expect to be consistently successful.

Expect the Bills to use these new additions to help the run defense the rest of the year. TJ Barnes can occupy lineman so that they don’t get to the second level defenders. DE Edwards comes from a traditional 4-3 scheme in Dallas but he still has the versatility to drop into coverage if needed.

Eventually getting Mario Williams and Nigel Bradham back will help on defense. But expect these new additions to play a major role going forward.