The Buffalo Bills finished the 2014 season with the number four defense in the NFL. Jim Schwartz did an outstanding job with the unit and had the Bills defense finish high in multiple categories. Buffalo's defense finished first in sacks (54) and third down percentage (33.18). The unit was third in yards per play (4.86), passing defense (205.8) and takeaways (30). Buffalo's defense was also fourth in points allowed (18.1) and fifth in first downs allowed her page (18.9). The personnel thrived under Schwartz, but the defensive coordinator was one of the first people to be relieved of their duties by Rex Ryan.
On Schwartz's way out the door, Ryan actually said that the defense finishing fourth, as Schwartz's unit did, would actually be a little disappointing.
"You mentioned how well we played on defense last year. Fourth in the league is probably a little disappointing, to be honest with you, because that's not where my expectations are. I know we'll lead the league in defense."
Yet, after six weeks Buffalo's defense looks nothing like a defense that will finish first, or fourth for that matter, in the NFL.
In 2014, Buffalo only gave up 30 points one time. Through six weeks, the unit has allowed this to happen twice. The defense that finished with 54 sacks in 2014 currently has nine. This year's defense is 17th in points allowed (23.2) and yards allowed (356.0). In terms of passing yards allowed, Buffalo is 22nd (268.8). The Bills are 5th in rush yards allowed (87.2) but that's mostly due to the success teams have had passing on the Bills.
What's most alarming is that Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman haven't done a good job of making in-game adjustments. Quarterbacks have had no problem passing on the Bills in 2015, yet adjustments have not been made. It appears that Mario Williams is getting frustrated with Ryan and Thurman's scheme. After the loss to the Bengals, Williams spoke out.
“I think I probably set a record on dropping today, but that’s part of the scheme for us to go out and be put in a position to win,” Mario Williams said. “Whatever’s called you have to go out and do it. … The three guys you said, including myself, a lot is put on our shoulders as far as the amount given out to players on this team as far as income. I would assume, those four guys, a lot is on their shoulders to go after the quarterback or stop the run, be disruptive. Like I say, if the call is three-man this or that, dropping, things like that, that’s the call.”
Continually dropping Mario Williams into coverage is not the best way to utilize his skill-set. He's not the only player that is being misused by Buffalo after six weeks.The Bills were boarding a flight to London on Sunday evening and after another home loss, perhaps Ryan and Thurman will let defensive players open up about their frustrations on the flight. At this point, Ryan and Thurman need to go back to the drawing board and talking to Buffalo's defensive stars could go a long way in fixing some of their defensive problems.