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Jim Schwartz's demanding approach gets results


When you talk to him in an interview or press-conference, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is a very unassuming guy. He doesn't dominate a room like head coach Doug Marrone and is more reserved than offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.

Photos of Bills pass rushers sacking and pressuring opposing QBs during the 2014 season.

On the field, however, Schwartz is one of the most demanding, enthusiastic coaches the players have ever had.

"He doesn't take any days off," DT Marcell Dareus said. "He's always demanding the best and wanting the best out of us. I like it. It's something different."

Other players have echoed these sentiments as well, saying that he gets upset when the offense gains yards.

"He really drives us to be great," safety Aaron Williams said. "He gets mad when the team rushes for a four-yard gain. He expects us to have zero yards or a tackle for a loss. He's really emphasized how much he wants the run game to be effective in comparison to what it was last year. And (defensive backs coach) Donnie [Henderson] does the same thing with us in the passing game. Once again it's a high standard for this defense and as long as we keep each other accountable we'll be fine."

Dareus also went so far as to say that Schwartz reminds him of his college coach, Nick Saban, who would say, 'Play every play like it has history and a life of its own.'

Like Saban, Schwartz is known for producing a top tier defense year in and year out – something we have discussed before here. But Schwartz tries to downplay just how good his defense really is.

"We're five-and-three," he said. "That's where we are right now. It doesn't matter how many sacks or turnovers or yards rushing or third-down percentage or points allowed or anything else. It's about winning the game and that's really the only stat that we judge ourselves on."

The approach of not counting stats or rankings almost comes across as unfortunate because the Bills sure have a lot of very good looking figures that are critical to winning.

To list a few, the Bills currently are as follows (Rank, Amount): Sacks (1st, 28.0); Interceptions (1st, 12); Takeaways (1st, 18); Opponent negative yards (2nd, -226); Yards per play allowed (4th, 4.89); Points per game (4th, 20.6); Third down conversion percentage allowed (6th, 36.2 percent); Passes defensed (7th, 42); Rushing yards per game allowed (8th, 92.3); Total yards per game allowed (9th, 326.0).

The players are committed to a similar mindset as well. Being top-10 is nice and all, but it's not where they want to be.

"We're happy, but we're not satisfied," said Aaron Williams. "Yeah it's great to be near the top in a lot of categories. We want to be top-three if not the best so we've got to do whatever it takes to get there and keep pushing. We never want to be complacent on what the stats say. We want to keep going and get better."

The bye week could not have come at a better time. The players have time to rest and prepare for the remainder of the season and according to Schwartz, that's when the defense will come into its true form. He said that he has been around the league long enough to know that in football it's not how you start, it's how you finish.

"We judge ourselves on wins and losses and we're five-and-three," he said. "When we get a chance, we're going to take a breath here and gear up for the second half. I think the story of our defense will be written in the second half of this year, not in the first half of this year."

Although Schwartz doesn't radiate excitement for what may come, some of the players were candid in saying that they're looking forward it.

"Just to see it build from what we were [when I got here] to what we are now, it's just great," Dareus said. "How could you not be happy to be a part of something like this? There's no telling what we can be towards the end of the year. I just hope I'll be a part of it because it's going to be great because we're going to have a lot of fun and work as hard as we can."

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