The Bills are wasting one of the league's best defenses

Buffalo owns one of the worst offenses in the history of the NFL

Nate Geary
October 15, 2018 - 9:16 am

Photo: Troy Taormina - USA TODAY Sports

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The Buffalo Bills' defense took another step forward for the third consecutive week. They shut down the Tennessee Titans a week ago at home - impressive, I guess. The lacking part of that feat, though, is that prior to their matchup, the Titans were ranked 26th in total yards with a young quarterback in Marcus Mariota who’s struggled in his own right. Buffalo's defensive performance against the fourth-ranked Houston Texans was far more impressive. 

Holding Aaron Rodgers and their high-powered passing offense to just 22 points the week before was also pretty impressive. Furthermore, what this unit was able to do against Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings the week before that, truly seemed to be the igniting factor in this steady upward trend of dominance.

It seems after a tough start to the season against the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers, it's fair to say that the unit who gave up 70-plus points in just six quarters is in the past. 

The Bills defense now ranks seventh in the league in defensive efficiency or DVOA (defensive-adjusted value or average). After seven sacks against the Texans, they’re now in the top-five in the league with 19 sacks. They’re top-10 in passes defended. They’re also at the very top of the league in fumbles forced. 

Individually, they have one of the best young corners in the league in Tre’Davious White – who followed up shutting down the likes of Stephon Diggs, Devante Adams, and Corey Davis – he held, who I believe to be, the premier talent at the position in DeAndre Hopkins to just two catches, 27 yards, two yards after catch and a touchdown when covering the All-Pro wide receiver. 

Sprinkle in rookie cornerback Taron Johnson, who’s been locking down the slot since Week 1 as both a responsible slot defender against three and four wide receiver, looks like a thunderous run stopper who plays with physicality and technique – and the Bills have a great tandem of very young corners. 

They have one of the best young corps of linebackers in the league, highlighted by Matt Milano in his second season playing some of the best football on the weak side in the entire league. He can defend the run and, more importantly, he can defend the pass in either zone or man looks. 

They have one of the best, relatively young safety tandems in the league that can play with versatility. Each of them can play in the box and as the deep third defender, which allows them to confuse opposing quarterbacks pre-snap.

Then there’s the front four. You have Jerry Hughes playing the best football of his career and Trent Murphy showing why the Bills' front office invested in him in the offseason. Kyle Williams is playing great football (2.5 sacks against the Texans). They’re getting after the passer and stopping the run, but more importantly, they’re healthy. The Bills went into their Week 6 matchup with no injury designations; which is almost unheard of. 

The bad news though, is that the Bills are wasting one of the more talented defensive groups in the league by posting historically low offensive efficiency numbers. At negative-51.8-percent DVOA, the Bills rank dead last in the league. For reference, the lowest DVOA recorded was the 2002 Houston Texans at negative-43.3-percent.

The current Bills offense is a full 8.8-percent worse than the lowest recorded offense dating back to 1950. 

We’re talking historically low-efficiency numbers for an offense, which also ranked at the bottom of the league last year. At 26th overall DVOA in 2017, the thought was that you might take a step back to take a step forward in the future. They were the 32nd ranked passing team in 2017, and they’ve already managed to get significantly worse. 

Not only is the offense bad, but they’re also historically and embarrassingly bad. Most defenders of the team will say that we all knew this was coming and that we were somehow prepared for it. But to be potentially the least efficient offense in nearly 70 years of measuring efficiency – I can’t understand how anyone could prepare or defend that. 

The 2018 Bills defense is ready to win now. There’s an argument to be had that no defense is playing better than the Bills right now. The problem is, the Bills offense can’t seem to score more than 13 points and only when the Bills defense can create three or more turnovers. 

The good news though, is there are still 10 games for the Bills to dig themselves out of one of the worst offensive starts in a half-century, I guess.

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