Friday, April 12, 2013

Bills' defensive line listings telling of transformation


Though the move may have flown under the radar a bit this week, Kyle Moore’s departure to the Chicago Bears paints an interesting picture for the future of the Buffalo Bills’ defensive front.

As reported by Tim Graham of the Buffalo News, Moore shipped off to Chicago after signing a one-year deal Monday. (photo: Chris Seward, Flickr)

That left the Bills with only two "listed" defensive ends on the roster: Mario Williams and Mark Anderson.

But while Buffalo may be lacking in the DE department, the team is currently stockpiling defensive tackles. Alan Branch is the newest addition to that crew, putting the team’s DT total at eight. For a revamped 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, that may be just what the doctor ordered.

Pettine’s vision of a hybrid-style defense in Buffalo, which will likely draw similarities to his work with the Jets, will call for flexibility and physicality on the part of the defensive line. The tackles will carry a multitude of assignments through an assortment of formations (one- or two-gap schemes, odd or even fronts), a task that demands a higher level of versatility as well as quick feet.

Branch brings that knowledge to Buffalo, having played in a 4-3 and a 3-4 in the past. The same can be said for Williams, Anderson and even Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, who have proven their worth up front on the pass rush in the Bills’ flip-flopping game plan.

More telling may be the sheer size of the squad that Pettine is building. Of the 10 defensive lineman currently on the roster, only three are listed under 300 pounds: the two aforementioned defensive ends and Jarron Gilbert, a former Jet. The remaining seven average 315 pounds, which Pettine will likely use to his advantage against the run while working on first-step explosiveness in the pass rush.

Under Rex Ryan, Pettine thrived running a "multiple" defense and earned the Jets' unit a No. 1 ranking in his very first year. Buffalo can only hope he does the same in Western New York, and much of that will bank on the versatility of his defensive frontmen.

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