On Friday, I explained how speed and athleticism all over the field makes the Bills' offense such a tough group to defend. Here, I'm going to take a look at the Bills' defense in head coach Rex Ryan's first year with the team. You're going to see a lot of pressure on the quarterback, but the pressure doesn't just come from his designer blitzes on a weekly basis. They have dynamic pass rushers up front and savvy blitzers at the second level.
Take this play against Miami, for instance. The Bills drop back in Cover 2 Man coverage, with five defenders manned up one-on-one and two safeties deep splitting the field in half. This means that the Bills can only send four players after the quarterback.
Here, you see the initial quickness from Jerry Hughes as well as a slick spin move to not only sack quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but get the ball on the ground to a force a turnover for the Bills.
In their other game against Miami, Buffalo sends a five-man pressure in the form of a safety blitz at Tannehill. Bacarri Rambo, a former Washington Redskin, times this blitz perfectly, shoots up the A gap from the third level of the defense and forces an interception. Whether they win with quickness or with savvy, the Bills have the ability to get after the passer.
The safety blitz from Rambo was an example of a "five-man pressure," something that Ryan has always been good at orchestrating. His ability to get after quarterbacks while only sending four or five defenders is what makes his scheme so deadly. Every once in a while, however, he'll send an all-out "Cover 0 blitz." When he does, Triple A-gap pressure is frequently used. On this play, the pressure inside causes linemen to leave their assignments to help their teammates even though it's six-on-six. A rusher gets free for the sack. The Eagles' offensive line will need to be assignment-sound on Sunday against this defensive front.
Even when the offensive line is assignment sound, this Bills pressure scheme finds ways to beat you. Before the snap, Buffalo is hoping to overload the right side of the Jacksonville offensive line. By lining up a player right on the nose, they are hoping that the center will be locked up. This would, in essence, cut the line in half, leaving three blockers at most against four rushers. But Jacksonville's center isn't fooled, he slides to the right and is there to help the right guard and tackle with protection. The savvy play by the center isn't enough though, because pressure still reaches Blake Bortles late in the game, and it results in a pick-six.
All of the shots I've shown you so far have been man pressures, but this interception against Miami came on a zone blitz from the Bills. Just like the last one, Buffalo is overloading one side of the formation, but two defenders drop into zone on the other side of the blitz. Tannehill is confused, and throws an interception to rookie cornerback Ronald Darby. The team's second-round pick this year, Darby has had a productive first season in Buffalo. He will be leaned on heavily this week with star corner Stephon Gilmore out of the lineup due to a shoulder injury suffered against Houston. This is a team that will find ways to get after your quarterback, and the Eagles' offense will have to be ready for it.
Fran Duffy is the producer of "Eagles Game Plan" which can be seen on Saturdays during the season. Be sure to also check out the "Eagle Eye In The Sky" podcast on the Philadelphia Eagles podcast channel on iTunes. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University Football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team's games, practices and opponents.