Bills still trying to solve 3-4 defenses

November, 28, 2008
11/28/08
2:06
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Speaking of coincidences and the Buffalo Bills, one series of recurring events has been a disconcerting topic among their fans.

The Bills routinely have been successful against 4-3 defenses, recording all but one of their victories against them.

Against 3-4 defenses, however, the Bills have struggled. They have won just once against that setup, which unfortunately for them is used by the rest of the AFC East.

The Bills will face another 3-4 defense when the San Francisco 49ers visit Ralph Wilson Stadium to challenge another trend Bills coach Dick Jauron considered coincidental.

The 49ers switch in and out of 3-4 and 4-3 looks depending on how they want to use Justin Smith, but their base is a 3-4.

Here's the breakdown of how the Bills have fared against 4-3 teams:

  • Week 1 vs. Seahawks, W 34-10
  • Week 2 at Jaguars, W 20-16
  • Week 3 vs. Raiders, W 24-13
  • Week 4 at Rams, W 31-14
  • Week 5 at Cardinals, L 41-17
  • Week 12 vs. Chiefs, W 54-31

Here's how the Bills have fared against 3-4 defenses:

  • Week 7 vs. Chargers, W 23-14
  • Week 8 at Dolphins, L 25-16
  • Week 9 vs. Jets, L 26-17
  • Week 10 at Patriots, L 20-10
  • Week 11 vs. Browns, L 29-27

The Bills average 30.8 points, 334.8 yards and 1.5 turnovers a game against 4-3 defenses. That includes Week 5, in which backup quarterback J.P. Losman played virtually the entire game.

The Bills average 18.6 points, 300.6 yards and 2.6 turnovers against 3-4 defense.

"I think that we've faced the 3-4s and we've seen what a majority of their defenses can do," Edwards said. "Hopefully we can handle it.

"The past couple of weeks the 49ers haven't shown as much defensively as they had earlier in the season. But, again, I've said this about past defenses that they don't show a lot and then once we play them they bring the kitchen sink. And that hopefully won't happen to us, but we've faced that before, and we've got to be able to handle it."

Here is Edwards' average stat line against 4-3 defenses (excluding the Week 5 game at Arizona because he was hurt on the third play):

  • 20 of 30 for 240.6 yards, 1.2 touchdowns, 0.4 interceptions and 2.2 sacks. His passer rating against 4-3 defenses is 99.3.

Edwards' average stat line against 3-4 defenses:

  • 20 of 30 for 209 yards, 0.8 touchdowns, 1.6 interceptions and 1.8 sacks. His passer rating against 3-4 defenses is 73.3.

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