When the Buffalo Bills hired Mike Pettine away from the New York...
Chan Goes Evil: New Coaches, New Defensive Alignment, New Brush
Chan had a presser today. An important one! Let’s review…
New Defensive Alignment
The biggest news out of the press conference was that Chan confirmed what was long suspected by everyone who typed “Dave Wannstedt” into Google: The Bills will be switching to a 4 man front as their base operating front going forward. Combined with the aforementioned new defensive coordinator’s preference for the scheme, Chan cited personnel fit as a main factor in the switch. While an argument can be made that Buffalo has spent a few drafts outfitting a 3-4 with Troup, Carrington, and Dareus, a stronger argument can be made that the best players the team have now are best suited for a 4-3, which are Williams, Kelsay, and Dareus. Dareus can play anywhere, but Kyle Williams and Chris Kelsay have been most effective in a 4-3. It could just be me, but it seems that basing your defense around your best players would be preferable to making alignment decisions w/r/t two players that have been pedestrian at best. And before you jump on me for calling Kelsay one of our 3 most important players, please recall that our OLBs in his absence were a 305 pound defensive tackle and two third day draft picks. Also, note that Barnett and Sheppard are excluded from this exercise as their roles will change the least (although Chan did say Sheppard will play the Mike, so keep an eye on that).
But even if the Bills had opted to stick with the 3-4, it wouldn’t have changed the fact that the Bills raison d’etre this off season will be to improve the pass rush. Chan proceeded to remark that it is easier to find players for a 4-3 than a 3-4 defense. In addition to the fact that most colleges run 4-3, it just so happens that the best free agent this offseason is a 4-3 pass rusher. So if you begin to connect the dots, it’s not hard to see potential reasons the Bills are heading in this direction.
However, speaking of Super Mario, it bears repeating that elite players are elite players no matter what. Case in point: With the arrival of Wade Phillips, Houston switched to the SOB 3-4 (which is a more traditional 3-4 than what Buffalo had been playing under deposed DC George Edwards, by the way). Much speculation surrounded how standing up almost full time would affect what was supposedly one of the best 4-3 ends in the NFL. Williams, despite his 6-6 283 pound frame, responded by averaging a sack a game at OLB, the best rate of his career. Of course, he went down for the season five games in, so read into that all you want, but the point remains that Mario Williams is going to be a beast in either scenario.
In the least compelling part of the press conference, Chan ran through the various changes in the coaching department. David Lee replaces George Cortez as the QB coach, Bob Bicknell moves over from TEs to coach WRs, and some other minor changes. Not really much to say here, other than Lee was sought after by at least the Jets, so that might mean he’s a hot candidate, despite not looking like the youngest buck at OBD.
Finally, in what has been no doubt the most visually striking development of the offseason, Chan Gailey’s evil alter ego Dan Haley has apparently taken over coaching duties for the Bills, complete with a black vest and beard inspired by Jean Reno. While Ryan Fitzpatrick’s beard made him look humble, endearing, and amish, Chan’s beard makes him look devious, plotting, and eastern-bloc-vagrant. Hopefully this translates into a mean streak that will allow Chan to grumble more effectively like the telestrator berator (although he may be losing his mean streak. Lines for the Super Bowl have been adjusted accordingly).