Bills new safety rotation will continue

Posted Sep 12, 2016

The Bills defense deployed a heavy rotation at safety. Only Corey Graham was a regular as Aaron Williams, Duke Williams, Robert Blanton and Jonathan Meeks rotated in and out throughout Sunday's game.

In Sunday’s season opener Buffalo’s defense had a safety tandem that wasn’t expected. Though Aaron Williams was healthy and ready to play he did not start opposite Corey Graham. Fellow safety Duke Williams earned the start and played most of the first two series alongside the 10-year veteran. Rotation soon followed with Aaron Williams, Robert Blanton and Jonathan Meeks all seeing time on the field in specific packages.

“We were all locked in pretty much from the start,” Jonathan Meeks told “(Coach Ryan) told us multiple times throughout the week to be prepared to play and Rex is a man of his word, so we were all ready. Duke got the start. I got the rotation in the second half and Blanton was in there for different packages. So they just used everybody. You’ve just got to be ready.”

Head coach Rex Ryan confirmed it was the plan going in. One of the main reasons why was they didn’t want Aaron Williams to take on a full workload knowing the time he missed coming off of neck surgery and a subsequent concussion in the preseason.

“We were trying to get (Duke) in base (defense),” said Ryan. “We need Aaron for the long haul. He missed a ton of time. All minicamps and training camp, so we felt (it would be good) with Duke and Meeks rotating. We’re going to play our whole roster we said that.”

Aaron Williams missed a couple of weeks of training camp after sustaining a concussion in a collision with teammate Dez Lewis during a team segment of practice at St. John Fisher. He also did not appear in a preseason game.

“We’re breaking (Aaron) in,” Ryan said. “I did that with Ed Reed before when he was coming off an injury. I did that with Ed Reed. If I can do it with Ed Reed I can do it with Aaron as well.”

Buffalo’s safeties combined for seven tackles in the game, although Ryan knows which play will be remembered from Sunday’s game concerning his safeties. The 66-yard touchdown play from Joe Flacco to Mike Wallace caught Duke Williams in a one-on-one mismatch. It was a play for which Ryan took the blame.

“Obviously there’s a big play and it’s easy to point fingers and whatever, but it was my responsibility and my mistake in that situation,” Ryan said. “They had three wides and the inside receiver went vertical on us and that was Mike Wallace. And he made a big play. We should’ve doubled the receiver that caught the touchdown. Instead we doubled somebody else.”

With starter Aaron Williams getting back into the flow of game speed on defense Ryan plans for the rotation to continue. For his safeties it’s a unique opportunity for all of them to be involved and contribute on defense.

“He said we have quality depth and we realized that this offseason so we’re going to rotate everybody and get everybody a chance to play,” said Meeks of his head coach. “You never know when your number is going to be called so just be prepared to play.”