Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams spoke out after the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday stating he was unsure on why he was dropping into coverage instead of attacking the passer.
With the pass rush as a whole being minimized by poor play and quick throwing quarterbacks, a coach could justify dropping his defensive lineman into coverage to eliminate shallow passing lanes.
But the Bills defensive line wasn’t suppose to adjust to offenses. They were supposed to be a disruptive hard charging group that dictated opposing offenses.
Outside of the games against Indianapolis, Miami and Tennessee, the front four have been left out in the cold for the most part. The teams that have frustrated them the most have a combined 14-3 record (Giants, Patriots & Bengals).
One can say that having some defensive lineman drop back into coverage is part of Rex Ryan’s multi-faceted defensive scheme, which is true, but you can also say that Rex is getting too cute with his defense and not just letting his players play.
So far this season Jerry Hughes, Marcel Dareus, Mario Williams and Kyle Williams have dropped back into coverage 64 times. Hughes accounts for just over half the drop backs with 33, but this isn’t exactly what fans envisioned after two straight 50+ sack campaigns.
In fact the Bills are dropping one of their feared pass rushers into coverage on 25% of all throws. Every fourth attempted pass you have been seeing Hughes, or Kyle Williams, or even Mario dropping into coverage.
A year ago the front four played the pass a total of 34 times. Mario himself has already tied last years total in 10 fewer games (13).
NFL Network Analyst Daniel Jeremiah stated recently on his Move the Sticks Podcast that he thinks that Rex is over complicating the defense because of the players he has on hand. He cites the talent of all the players is clouding Ryan’s judgement as he fantasizes about all the different pressure packages he can bring, instead of simply let the defense line up and play.
Even Marcel Dareus spoke up before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London furthering the points made by Mario and Jeremiah. Dareus cited that there have been few plays were all four men are rushing the passer at the same time.
After last week’s performance, and going against a quarterback who holds on to the ball longer than most, Ryan should heed he’s players words and just let them loose.
These players along the defensive line have earned their money by being a force in the backfield and pressuring quarterbacks. Why have them do something other than that?