The Buffalo Bills had one of the most effective pass rushes in the NFL last year as they finished first in the NFL with 54 sacks. They brought back most of the same players in the defensive front this season and added the exotic defensive schemes of Rex Ryan. You had to figure they would again make lives miserable for opposing quarterbacks.
It hasn’t worked out that way. Through 13 games they have 19 sacks, putting them on pace for 23 this year. That would put them near the bottom of the league.
But don’t try to tell Trent Williams that the Buffalo pass rush has fallen off the face of the earth. He said that he sees the same talent along the line that he saw last year. The last thing Williams and anyone associated with the Redskins offense want is for the Bills’ defensive front to suddenly find its form.
“We just don’t want to be the team where they get the [breakout] and get five and six sacks because they are very capable of doing it with some guys who can just flat out rush the quarterback,” said Williams. “No matter what the statistics say we have a huge challenge.”
Williams said that Ryan remains extremely aggressive in dialing up blitzes despite the lack of success in compiling sacks. The key is not taking losses or getting hit with penalties.
“I think staying ahead of the chains will be the biggest thing, not getting in third and long situations where you’ve to wait for a route to open up downfield,” said Williams. “I think you can get yourself in trouble if you live in that world. That’s probably the biggest factor, staying out of third and long.”
The numbers back up what Williams said. Of their 19 sacks, six have come from behind the sticks, with the offense needing 12 or more yards for a first down. When you stack the numbers up, only 8.4 percent of their defensive snaps have come in those 12-plus to go situations but 31.5 percent of their sacks have come in those situations.