Bills Defensive Line Creates Similar Concerns to Past Losses


The Cleveland Browns are 7 – 4 after eleven games and are in the NFL Playoff Race. They face off with the Buffalo Bills this weekend in a huge match-up up playoff contenders that no one saw coming when the season began. Most expected the Bills and Browns to be more likely to be fighting for draft positioning instead of the playoffs.

Yet somehow, someway here we are. Week 13 of the NFL season and the Browns and Bills game could have a big impact on the AFC Playoff picture.

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  • For the Browns this game could be a decisive game. The Browns are coming off a last minute win over the Atlanta Falcons while the Bills are coming off a complete destruction of the New York Jets, during the makeshift Monday Night Football game.

    For the Browns the Bills present a similar concern to those that caused the Browns problems in losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans: A Strong Defensive Line.

    Against the Jags and Texans the Browns offensive struggled to get moving due to a powerful push up the middle and an aggressive outside rush.

    The Jaguars, with Sen’derrick Marks, Chris Clemons and Telvon Smith, limited the Browns to 69 yards rushing on 30 attempts, a 2.3 yards per carry average. The lacking of rushing attack directly hurt the Browns passing game as Brian Hoyer was 16 of 41 with an interception and a 5.2 yards per attempt average.

    The Texans were similarly successful against the Browns with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Jared Crick, Brian Cushing and Ryan Pickett disrupting the Browns offense. The Browns were limited to 65 yards on a 2.8 yards per carry average. Hoyer only completed 20 of 50 passes for a 5.8 yards per attempt average.

    Now the Browns face off with the Buffalo Bills and their stout defensive line. The Bills are 5th against the pass and 8th against the run coming into this week’s game. The Bills have big strength in the middle of the defensive line with Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. On the outside the Bills come with the speed and power of Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes.

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    Expect the Bills to try to disrupt the Browns run game by getting penetration up the middle to not allow the Browns Zone Blocking Scheme to get where they want. Like the Jags and Texans they can pair that with heavy outside pressure from Williams and Hughes. This allows their linebackers to fill specific holes, between the Browns guards and tackles, taking away cutback lanes.

    Similar tactics work to disrupt Brian Hoyer’s rhythm in the passing game. The middle pressure doesn’t allow Hoyer to step up in the pocket and make his quick throws. The outside pressure makes Hoyer’s play action and roll out passes far more difficult to be successful. If the Bills ignore the play action fake with their defensive ends Hoyer will not have time to setup and deliver the ball down the field.

    The same problems that plagued the Browns in losses to the Jaguars and Texans will come to a head this weekend against the Bills. Hopefully the Browns have learned their lesson and are ready to unleash a new plan of attack that they were not able to deploy in previous games. The Bills defensive line may be the best defensive line the Browns have or will face this season. Either they have learned their lesson and can be competitive or they haven’t and will likely get destroyed once again.

    What do you think the key is to the Browns game against the Bills?