After two preseason games Buffalo's top defensive unit has surrendered four drives of 10 plays or more and 234 yards from scrimmage. Fortunately those four long drives resulted in just six points allowed as a blocked field goal and a goal line stand kept the opposing offense at bay.
Nevertheless entering preseason game number three against Tennessee tonight, widely considered the final dress rehearsal for the starting units, Buffalo's defenders want to demonstrate an ability to get off the field a lot sooner.
"The thing we want do, this week especially, is to come out and have a good opening series as a defense," said Chris Kelsay. "The way things have gone the last couple games, even though we didn't give up points both of those times, to have an offense drive down the field on you is very disappointing."
Strong safety Donte Whitner admitted that he and his defensive teammates were bothered by the way Atlanta came out last week and ran it right at them with a 10-play drive on the first series.
"It affected us a lot because on any given play we want to come out and we want to be perfect," said Whitner. "In the first quarter against Atlanta they had a couple of long runs and we don't want to give those up. We've evaluated the film and hopefully we've fixed those mistakes."
"It was our first defensive unit going against an Atlanta Falcons defense that didn't have their quarterback, didn't have their tight end or starting running back in so it was a concern," said Kelsay. "The biggest thing we took from the game is we kept points off the board. Do we want them to drive the length of the field on us? Absolutely not, but we're learning from our mistakes and growing as a defense."
Rookie linebacker Paul Posluszny was disappointed in the way their run defense performed at the outset against Atlanta. Falcons third string tailback Jason Snelling ripped off runs of 22, 6 and 12 yards on his first three carries before the Buffalo's run front tightened up.
"We'd like to play a little bit better against the run," said Posluszny. "They moved the ball all the way down the field on us and it shouldn't have been like that. We definitely have addressed the long drives."
Buffalo's defense actually began to address the long drives right after Atlanta's first possession last week. Terrence McGee's interception late in the first quarter gave the ball back to the Bills offense after just one play. That was followed by a three-and-out and a then a forced fumble by Coy Wire which was recovered by John McCargo and permitted the Falcons to run just two plays.
"You want to get three and outs," said Kelsay. "We did pretty well in that category this last game against Atlanta. Our first team has to do it early on and set a tone. I don't care what you say; a defense has a great opportunity to set the tone and tempo in a game. Whether it is a turnover, three-and-out whatever it may be. We want those things that have happened later in drives the first two games to happen earlier. We just have to go out and play football, play as hard as we can on every snap and make things happen."
For details on the offensive outlook heading into preseason game number three go to the multimedia section of Buffalobills.com
Bills-Titans game notes
The starting units on offense and defense are each expected to play into the third quarter. Head coach Dick Jauron confirmed that Marshawn Lynch will see the most action he's had the entire preseason.
"If he doesn't start he'll be in there early and play a lot because we need to see him a lot," said Jauron. "But he'll be in and out and he'll see most of the action because he needs the most work."
Lynch is looking forward to the increased workload.
"As a running back that's what we like," said Lynch. "We want the ball and when we've got it we do great things with it. Getting a little more playing time is going to be a lot of fun."
Jauron also said that Craig Nall will see action in the game though he did not divulge when he would enter the game or how many snaps he will see.
John DiGiorgio is expected to start at middle linebacker and Jauron said he and Paul Posluszny will rotate by quarter until the latter stages of the game.
Not expected to play Friday night are Sam Aiken, Brad Butler, Melvin Fowler, Aaron Merz and Josh Scobey. With two guards out in Butler and Merz, Duke Preston will not only man the starting center spot in place of Fowler, but also the right guard spot with the second unit.
Angelo Crowell is expected to play.