Thursday, March 15, 2012
How Williams can bolster Bills' pass rush
The Buffalo Bills have ranked tied for 27th each of the last two seasons in the NFL in sacks (29 in 2011, 27 in 2011).
With the addition of Mario Williams -- who has agreed to a deal with the Bills, according to a league source -- Buffalo can only assume that number will increase significantly in 2012. Despite missing the final 11 games of 2011 with a pectoral injury, Williams had five sacks in as many games. And among players with at least 20 sacks over the last five seasons, Williams is tied for third in the league, averaging 0.73 sacks per game.
Williams' five sacks last season, in only five games, would have ranked him tied for second on the team's leaderboard. Rookie Marcell Dareus led the Bills with 5.5 sacks in 2011.
Williams should help bolster a lackluster blitz from the Bills, who recorded just seven sacks when rushing five or more defenders last season. That was the second-lowest total in the league behind the Colts. And their opponents' Total QBR of 76.3 in those situations was the highest in the league.
Williams has 13.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Despite the Texans using five or more rushers at the third-highest rate over that span, Williams picked up 10 of his sacks when part of a pass rush that sent four or fewer after the quarterback.
No matter the number of pass-rushers, the Bills struggled to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks last season. Opponents dropped back to pass 551 times against the Bills and were sacked or put under duress 91 times, the fewest times in the NFL. ("Duress" is defined as forcing a QB to move or alter his throw due to pressure.)
The Bills are switching to a 4-3 defense, which means Williams will move back to defensive end. He originally was drafted as a defensive end, but moved to outside linebacker last season when the Houston Texans went to a 3-4 defense.
The Bills ran a 4-3 scheme in 2009, but transitioned to a base 3-4 in 2010 before switching full-time to it last season.
As for the Texans, the defense in 2011 under new coordinator Wade Phillips played just as well after Williams suffered his season-ending injury. In 11 games without Williams, the Texans allowed fewer points (19.0 to 16.6) and fewer passing yards per game (314.0 to 272.8) than in the five games he played.