Estimated reading time: 2 minute(s)
(Counting down to Opening Day at The Ralph, I’m going to highlight four critical questions facing the Bills as we head into the 2007 season. This is the first of four articles, focusing on our run defense.)
As you are well aware, the 2006 Buffalo Bills ranked among the league’s worst in defending against the run. Teams piled up rushing yardage against us. It seemed we couldn’t stop anyone. Or did it? If you think about it, teams did not score that many rushing TDs against us. The Bills knew how to stiffen up when it mattered. In overall points allowed, the Bills ranked 10th in the NFL in 2006.
But that was with London Fletcher, Nate Clements, and to an extent, Takeo Spikes.
Those guys are gone, and unfortunately after a rough pre-season, so are Ryan Denney, Keith Ellison, and even Al Wallace, who was brought in to add depth in Denney’s absence. We could not afford to lose anyone there, and we have lost several players. They’ll be back, but not for a while.
One of the biggest questions I have about this Buffalo Bills team is their ability to stop the run. Marv and Company have built a smaller, smarter, faster team… will their super-quick pursuit be enough to slow down the opponents’ rushing attack? Can’t tell that from the pre-season, we’ll just have to see from the real thing, starting this Sunday. There will be some good tests this year. Travis Henry and the Broncos, Willie Parker and the Steelers, Maroney and the Pats, Jones and the Jets, the other Jones and the ‘Boys. Then we get to face a fired-up Willis. Not going to be easy.
Might seem strange, but pass rush pressure might be helpful. If Kelsay and Schobel et al can put pressure on the passing game, that might force the offense to run, which the Bills would then at least be prepared for… and maybe then could stop. Blitzing linebackers could also do the trick. Hopefully Perry Fewell has a few things up his sleeves.
With four days to go, the run defense is BIG QUESTION #4 for the 2007 Buffalo Bills.
Question #3 tomorrow: “RB By Committee… Will It Work?”