Although the Bills have lost three of their last four games, a sliver of improvement has arisen from Buffalo’s defensive unit.
After giving up an average of 176.8 rushing yards through the first six weeks of the season, the Bills’ front seven has buckled down in past weeks, allowing only 95.5 yards a game. In fact, the past four games rank in the top five games this season for fewest rushing yards allowed, only beaten by the Bills’ win in Cleveland where they allowed just 33 yards on the ground.
In the last two weeks alone, Buffalo allowed an average of only 2.75 yards per carry in a win against Miami and a loss to Indianapolis, marking the first time this year the defense has had back-to-back games of allowing less than 100 yards rushing. The Bills held the Dolphins and Colts to 60 and 87 yards on the ground, respectively. The last time Buffalo had back to back games of allowing less than 90 on the ground was in Week 1 and 2 of 2009.
“A good chunk of the yards we’ve given up in the past couple of weeks have been quarterback runs, so if we can get that under control I think we’ll be playing really well,” Williams said.
The Bills face a Jacksonville team this week that currently ranks 31st in the league in rushing yards per game, giving the front seven another opportunity to hold their opponent to under 100 yards.
Williams admitted he was taken aback at the Jaguars ranking.
“They (Jacksonville) have a decent offensive line and a big back who runs hard and guys are blocking rough for him,” Williams said. “I’m surprised to hear that (they’re 31st), but every week is always a test.”
If the Bills are able to hold the Jaguars to under 90 yards this Sunday, it would mark the first time since 2003 that the Bills have had three consecutive games of allowing less than 90 rushing yards on the ground.
“Any given Sunday, if you don’t come out and play they can rush for however many yards,” Merriman said. “We have to approach this game as first of all that it’s a mandatory ‘W’ we have to go get. Second of all we have to bounce back from last week’s loss.”
With two home games and their game in Toronto in the next three weeks, Merriman said the run defense is expecting to continue their success against the run over the past four games.
“We set the bar high for ourselves and now we have to not only maintain that, but get better,” Merriman said. “We have to become that dominating defense we know we can be.”
The run defense will have their work cut out for them for the remainder of the season with all four opponents after Jacksonville ranking in the top half of the league in rushing yards per game.
Williams said the defense is in a confident mindset after improving from the beginning of the season.“We’re encouraged by how we’ve been playing the past few weeks,” Williams said. “As long as we play fast and everybody hits things downhill and knows where to guard and get there I think this playing could definitely become a trend.”