What's behind the Bills' incredible turnaround on defense?

The unit is suddenly near the top of the league

Sal Capaccio
October 15, 2018 - 10:10 pm

Photo: Troy Taormina - USA TODAY Sports


The Buffalo Bills’ defense allowed 75 points through the first six quarters of the season, an average of 12.5 points per-quarter. They were giving up points at a historic pace over the first two games.

Since then, they’ve allowed a total of 56 points over 18 quarters, an average of 3.1 points per-quarter (not counting the touchdown given up by the offense Sunday in Houston).

On top of that, the unit is now ranked near the top of the NFL in most major defensive categories:

Quite the dramatic turnaround.

I asked both head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier what they believe the difference might be between the first six quarters of the season and the next 22 quarters. Here’s exactly what each had to say:

HC Sean McDermott

Q: What do you attribute to the turnaround on the defense from the first six quarters to the level that they’re playing at now?

A: They’ve done a good job. I’ve seen an uptick in the urgency, and uptick in the discipline, and just the identity overall of the defense, and that’s been fun to watch, it really has. They’re playing at a high level. Some opportunities yesterday that I thought we could’ve done a better job with, but we’ll learn from those, I’m confident and we’ll move forward.

DC Leslie Frazier

Q: Is there anything intangible you can point to after the first six quarters of the season compared to where the defense is now, coach, because there’s been such a turnaround?

A: You’ve been doing this a long time, it’s such a long season and there are so many ups and downs over the course of a season. I don’t know if I could point to one thing, I just know that it’s a long season, and where we are today, you just want to keep building on where we are. Just keep building and improving; that’s the goal.

Q: Do you think that if you look back and wonder if there is anything that could’ve been done and revaluate, is it time to do that now or wait until the end of the season to [figure out] 'how did we start slow?' When does that happen, that reflection?

A: Well I reflected, and I know exactly what we would do different. That’s for another day. After realizing where we were and what the corrections needed to be, I don’t know if you remember this, but after the [Los Angeles Chargers] game, someone asked a similar question. In my mind, I felt like I knew what our issues were, and we went through something similar a season ago where we had a three-game streak that was not the best football. You just have to take a look at where you are and figure out what the solutions are. If you believe what you’re doing, you can usually get it turned around if you have the right people working around you. Like I mentioned a moment ago, it’s a long season, there are a lot of ups and downs. You just can’t push the panic button, and those players understand that as well. If you believe in what you’re doing, and you have the right people, you can get it turned in the right direction.

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