To say the Buffalo Bills defense has been dreadful at the midway point of 2010 would be insulting your intelligence. You’ve watched the games and seen with your own eyes. Under Chan Gailey the offense has moderately improved since Dick Jauron and Perry Fewell (briefly) held the head coaching reigns. Conversely, the defense under first-year defensive coordinator George Edwards has gotten worse.
Whether its Edwards, the 3-4 schematic base he brought with him, the players or a combination of all three, the defense has been abysmal. With the exception of Dwan Edwards, the personnel is essentially the same as it was last year.
Donte Whitner and Paul Posluszny never took that next step most fans hoped they would. Leodis McKelvin and Drayton Florence have flat-out regressed. Either Jairus Byrd is suffering a severe sophomore slump, or was just extremely lucky as a rookie last year.
Reggie Torbor, Akin Ayodele and to a lesser degree, Andra Davis (before the shoulder injury that landed him in I.R.) are what most expected them to be–stop gap retreads.
The Bills used two of their first three draft picks on rookie defenders, but Torell Troup has had a quiet start on the field, and Alex Carrington more silent off it. In fact, Carrington has only dressed once this season.
Aaron Maybin? He hasn’t been on the field in three weeks and barring a surplus of linebacking injuries, may never see it in Buffalo again.
You want statistical evidence to be convinced this defense is headed towards epically bad historic numbers?
Buffalo has allowed 1,426 rushing yards so far in eight games, putting them on pace for 2,852 allowed over a 16-game season. It would be the most rushing yards allowed in a season by the team since 1978 and the second-worst in franchise history. In fact, over the duration of the Bills existence the team has never finished dead-last in the league against the run, but that’s where they’re sitting right now.
They’re yielding points in bunches as well. The Bills are on pace to give up 466 points, which would be the largest amount allowed in the history of the organization. The current record is 454 by the 1984 team that went 2-14.
The only other time they’ve allowed more than 400 was 2001, when the opposition lit up scoreboards for 420 total points.
To say interceptions are scarce is an understatement. After leading the AFC with 28 picks last year, the Bills have exactly one interception halfway through 2010. In the history of the team, Buffalo has never had less than 10 interceptions in a season.
Getting to the quarterback has also been a rare occurrence. With half the season down, Buffalo has just 12 sacks. The franchise-low is 22, set in 1978. Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has one less sack this year than the entire Bills defense.
As coordinator, Edwards deserves some of the heat. It’s not like Gailey hired a coordinator with a proven track record. He’s been a NFL defensive coordinator just once, 2003 in Washington and that year his defense was 25th in total yards allowed and 24th against the rush. Since that he spent one year in Cleveland and five in Miami as the linebackers coach. During that time twice he helped coach defenses that ranked among the top ten in the league in total yards, but also was twice at least partially responsible for having the worst rush defense in the league. In other words, this Bills defensive struggle isn’t unlike anything he’s seen or been a part of before.
Things aren’t likely to get easier over the second half of the schedule. Buffalo still has to play all three AFC East teams again, as well as a tough-nosed Pittsburgh Steelers squad, not to mention Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings on the road. Think the Cleveland Browns are a remedy for this ailing defense? Peyton Hillis is averaging 4.8 yards per rush and just shredded the Patriots defense last Sunday.
It’s easy to argue the Bills need to target a quarterback with what’s likely to be the top overall pick in the 2011 draft. That very well could and perhaps should be the case, but Buddy Nix better take far more stock on his defense this time around because frankly, this unit stinks.
In this case, the numbers don’t lie. They’re ugly. Historically ugly.
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