12 - Will Jerry Hughes make the Pro Bowl?

Posted Jul 16, 2017

Jerry Hughes was the odd man out of the Pro Bowl when his three defensive linemates all went a few years ago. Will a big season finally make it his time in 2017?

Camp Countdown presented by M&T Bank will examine some of the more pressing issues facing the team on the field as they make their final preparations for the regular season. We also focus on a few different areas that impact the team off the field. We’ll address these subjects one at a time until training camp begins. Here now is the latest daily installment as we carefully probe for some of the answers the Buffalo Bills have to come up with between July 27th and the Sept. 10th opener at New Era Field against the New York Jets.

Buffalo Bills defensive end, Jerry Hughes, is entering his seventh year in the league has made his name known. When joining the Bills team in 2013, Hughes made an immediate impact. He had 10 sacks in each of his first two seasons with the Bills. It’s important to note that he was primarily a defensive end in the 4-3 scheme that was implemented at the time.

When Rex Ryan took over as head coach, Hughes’ job changed a little bit. The scheme went to a 3-4 base and that translated Hughes to an OLB. While his goal most of the time was to rush the quarterback, the scheme presented different angles of attack for He was also asked to drop into coverage a little more than usual.

In two years in the 3-4, Hughes sack production did take a dip. In 2015 he notched five sacks and in 2016 he recorded six sacks. History shows that a 4-3 better fits his skill set. With his hand in the dirt more often, it gives him more opportunities to create chaos in the backfield.

“Everything is put into sacks, but Jerry affects the quarterback quite a lot. I hope this means 50 sacks for him but if it is less than 10, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t have a great year. He always affects the quarterback and he is a heck of a player. I’m glad he is on my team.” Kyle Williams said.

Hughes has yet to make a Pro Bowl in his seven-year career, but he’s been a part of some dominant NFL defensive lines. In 2014, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, and Mario Williams all made the Pro Bowl. Hughes was the lone man out even though he recorded 10 sacks that season.

Another factor in his favor is Shaq Lawson on the opposite side. While the Bills have not seen much of their first round pick from 2016, if Lawson can provide pressure on the other end, it only gives Hughes more opportunity. It will take pressure away from him and allow him to be more destructive as was the case when he lined up opposite Mario Williams.

Having Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams both on the inside, who present their own pass rushing problems to an opposing offensive line, can only help Hughes get to the edge faster. Pressure from the middle will help make the pocket collapse and Hughes will be able to do more damage.

Bills defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier, has a lot of experience coaching at the NFL level. With his first year in Buffalo, he has plans for the Bills defensive line and we know he can be creative.

“In order to be successful in this league you need to rely on pressuring the quarterback with your front four. Bringing six or seven really exposes your secondary and makes it tough no matter who you have on the back end.” Frazier said. “So if we can get Jerry (Hughes) playing at the level we think he’s capable of playing and Kyle and Marcell and Shaq Lawson comes along, that could be a formidable front four. We think those guys are more than capable.”

Jerry Hughes enters his age 29 season, but this could be his best shot to make his first Pro Bowl. Getting back to a scheme that he has worked well in before, coaches that plan to use him to his strengths, and the other strong members on the defensive line could help push Hughes to Pro Bowl status in 2017.