Rotating defensive linemen will continue

Posted Sep 13, 2017

Much was made of Marcell Dareus' playing time in the season opener, or lack thereof. But head coach Sean McDermott said it's their philosophical approach to roll the defensive line to keep key players fresh for the end of the game when big plays are needed.

The defensive line of the Buffalo Bills is going to be operating like a revolving door this season. If Week One wasn’t indication enough, coach McDermott has stayed true to this philosophy since his days in Carolina.

“Our system is our system in terms of rotating players. We want fresh players… we’re always going to do that. That’s just philosophically what we believe in,” McDermott said.

Flashback to last season, when McDermott was the defensive coordinator with the Panthers, he did something very similar in their season opener as he did with the Bills in their opener on Sunday. With Carolina, he used a total of eight guys on the defensive line throughout the game; all of them played 33 percent or more snaps and only one played over 70 percent. After Sunday’s success, the Bills players like the new philosophy.

“The rotation is great… fresh bodies, go hard, and whenever you’re tired come out. That’s the great thing about it,” said Shaq Lawson.

It may take a while for people outside of the locker room to buy into the new system. Especially when the team’s highest paid player, Marcell Dareus, plays under 60 percent of the snaps. However, the 2011 first-round pick is on board with the defensive mindset.

“I like the rotation. I like what we have going on. I’m just going to play my role, doing the best I can. It takes a little getting used to, but at the same time we all feel fresh and are ready for the fourth quarter,” Dareus said.

So far so good for the Bills’ new defense, in Week One the defensive front only allowed 2.5 yards per carry and 38 rushing yards. They also got a pair of key pass pressures on the Jets’ last two possessions that led to interceptions.

“We wanted to keep our guys fresh,” said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. “I think it paid off for us on that last drive when Lorenzo (Alexander) and Kyle (Williams) were able to come back and be fresh and get the kind of rush that we need in the last two minutes of the half or of the ball game.

“We’re going to need that this weekend. It’s going to be a lot warmer in Carolina than it is where we’re practicing. So, that rotational system, we want to keep it in effect throughout the season.”