BBD Staff Writer: Ryan Talbot
With Positional Previews finished for the offensive side of the ball (see the bottom of page 2 for links to all five of them), it’s time to preview the Buffalo Bills’ defensive side of the ball in the next three installments.
The Bills defense was woeful in 2012. The defense under Dave Wannstedt, who lasted only one season as defensive coordinator, was as vanilla as it comes. It showed at the end of the season. For the season, Buffalo gave up 435 total points and 362.9 yards per game.
Expectations are different in 2013, however. Wannstedt has been replaced with Mike Pettine, formerly of the New York Jets. Pettine plans on being far more aggressive than his predecessor and give multiple defensive looks. For Buffalo’s defense to be successful, the defensive line will have to perform much better than last season.
Buffalo currently has 13 defensive linemen on their roster. Some of them are absolute locks to make the team, but there are a few veterans at risk.
The Bills’ $100 million man is obviously a lock to make the roster and earn a spot in the lineup. Many labeled Williams a disappointment after last season, but his production was noticeable when he was healthy. Williams finished the season with 10.5 sacks, the third-highest total in his career, while battling a wrist injury.
In 2013, Williams will likely play a bit of outside linebacker when the Bills get into their 3-4 alignment in addition to his regular role as a defensive end. Williams proved in 2011 that he can be disruptive in a 3-4 defense when he notched five sacks in five games. This season, it’s not unrealistic to expect Williams to reach a new career high in sacks.
Perhaps I’m setting the bar high, but 15 sacks certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Williams will be a movable chess piece for Pettine and should be moved around often. The confusion Williams creates will benefit not only himself, but the entire defense.
The Bills’ dark horse at defensive end, Blatnick performed well in OTA’s and earned some first-team reps during this time according to Mark Armstrong of BuffaloBills.com. The Bills only have four players listed as defensive ends on their roster, so Blatnick’s chances of making the roster are pretty strong. He could see time as a situational pass rusher alongside Jerry Hughes. Don’t be surprised when Blatnick is named to the 53-man roster.
Cross is versatile. He could play defensive end or defensive tackle, but he’s extremely likely to be the odd man out of Buffalo’s defensive ends. Cross could find himself on Buffalo’s practice squad if he plays well in training camp, but that’s about as far as he will go.
For more on the Bills’ defensive tackles, go to Page 2.
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Tags: Aaron Tipoti, Alan Branch, Alex Carrington, Corbin Bryant, Defensive Line, Izaan Cross, Jamie Blatnick, Jarron Gilbert, Jay Ross, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Mario Williams, Mark Anderson, Positional Previews, Torell Troup, Training Camp