*1 - Bills named among NFL’s best O-Line units in 2017 *
NFL.com recently came out with their 10 best offensive line units. The Bills were close to the top of that list, as they were listed as the second-best line in 2017. The top-10 teams included: New Orleans, Buffalo, Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Jacksonville.
Here’s what Matt Harmon of NFL.com had to say about the league’s second-best offensive line.
The Bills maintained a top-flight rushing offense despite LeSean McCoy turning in a career-low yards-per-carry mark (4.0). While he wasn’t as elusive as in years past, the offensive line carried more of the weight this season. Bills running backs gained 0.69 yards on average before opposing defenders got within 1 yard of them this season, trailing only the Saints. The blocking unit also gave up just 161 pressures on the year, largely keeping their quarterback clean.
Buffalo’s 0.69 average yards gained before close ranked second in the league. YGBC measures the amount of rushing yards a running back gains before opposing defenders come within one yard of a player. The league average is 0.29 YGBC. The Bills more than doubled the league average.
The line allowed 161 pressures on the season, ranking seventh among the 32 teams. Next Gen Stats defines a “pressure,” as a pass-rushing play in which a defender gets within two yards of the opposing quarterback at the time of the throw or sack.
The Bills offensive line is set up for success again in 2018. The team’s slated to return four of the five starters on the line. However, Buffalo has the seemingly difficult task of finding a replacement for center Eric Wood following his career-ending neck injury.
*2 - Leslie Frazier’s plan to improve the pass rush *
Buffalo’s defense bailed the team out of a bunch of games during this past season, but it was rarely due to applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The pass rush is certainly an area the team will look to address this offseason.
Bills defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier, jumped on the John Murphy Show to talk about the defensive line generating pressure.
“Well that’s an area where we definitely want to improve. It wasn’t really up to par for us,” said Frazier. “We were able to get the takeaways with the interceptions, but it wasn’t always due to pressure on the quarterback. Our guys on the back end did a really nice job and so did our linebackers.”
The Bills had a total of 27 sacks this past season. That was tied for 29th in the NFL. Those sacks were provided by: Jerry Hughes (4), Shaq Lawson (4), Lorenzo Alexander (3), Kyle Williams (3), Ryan Davis (3), Jordan Poyer (2), Cedric Thornton (2), Micah Hyde (1), Marcell Dareus (1), Adolphus Washington (1), Ramon Humber (1), Eddie Yarbrough (1), and Cap Capi (1).
Hughes and Lawson shared the team-lead with their four sacks a piece. Lawson’s numbers could’ve been better, but he missed the final four games of the regular season after he was placed on injured reserve.
Thornton and Williams are two players who’re questions marks to return to the team in 2018. Thornton, a 29-year-old defensive tackle, is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Williams, the heart and soul of the defensive line, is contemplating returning for his 13th season.
At the very least, the Bills will need a slight makeover to their defensive front. Bringing a proven pass rusher to Buffalo is almost a necessity in 2018 to increase to team’s sack totals.
“We need to improve our pass rush. Being able to win with four [linemen],” said Frazier. “When we look at free agency this offseason, when we look at the draft, that’s an area we really want to address.”
3 - Former Buffalo Bill becomes high school HC
He suited up for the Bills for two seasons, and now he’s manning the sidelines of a high school football team. Former Bills defensive back, Cary Harris, was just named head coach for Glendale High.
The Los Angeles Times posted a story about Harris’ hiring. Inside, they provided a statement from Glendale principal Benjamin Wolf.
“We’re very excited to welcome coach Harris to the Nitro family and hope that his impressive football background, both as a player and a coach, will attract talented student-athletes to our program,” said Wolf in a press release by the Glendale Unified School District.
Harris was a sixth-round selection by Buffalo in the 2009 NFL Draft. He played in six games for the Bills from 2009-2010. In those games, he tallied two interceptions, two passes defended, one forced fumble, and one tackle.
Prior to becoming Glendale’s HC, Harris served as an assistant coach at Moorpark College and was a coaching intern for the Oakland Raiders.
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