Buffalo's defense finished in the top 10 overall in 2013, but when it came to run defense they were right where they've been all too often the last several years, 28th in the league. The Bills gave up 129 rushing yards a game last season, which is part of what prompted the club's most recent additions at linebacker in free agency. Most notably Brandon Spikes, who is beyond motivated to dramatically change the run defense ranking for Buffalo.
"Yeah I actually saw that in seven games they gave up 150 yards on the ground," Spikes said Monday. "I want to come in and help them out. That's one of my strengths is the run and I feel like I can help them. Whatever they need me to do I'll do it at a high level. I'm real excited for this challenge."
Spikes is out to prove he can be a difference maker after the team that drafted him, New England, decided they wanted to go in a new direction at linebacker. Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz informed him he'll be lining up at the 'mike' linebacker position in Buffalo's defense.
"Yeah absolutely I'll be in the middle," Spikes said. "It reminds me of the defensive scheme I played in all four years at Florida. It was a scheme where I was able to play at a high level and had a lot of success. I'm looking forward to it."
Set to enter his fifth NFL season Spikes has a body type more suited for the collisions that take place in the hole than the lighter and rangier Kiko Alonso. Known as a big hitter Spikes doesn't consider himself an intimidator, just an intense competitor.
"That's what people say, but I don't know any other way to play the game," he said. "I've always played aggressive and watching all the older guys who played way before us those linebackers just all the old school throwback backers. I just molded my game after them and it just stuck with me the whole time. I'm just playing. Just go all out and be relentless and play every play like it's your last. That's how I play every time."
Although teams are passing now more than ever Spikes still sees the value in forcing opponents to pass by neutralizing their ground game.
"I take a lot of pride in it because if you can stop the run you will make a team one dimensional," he said. "I know a lot of people are saying the league is passing now and it's pass, but as you can see in the playoffs everybody just starts running the ball. (You need) a run stopper that can take that away like in the playoffs late in the season when the weather becomes a factor and stuff like that. It's big and it seems like the last couple of Super Bowl winners have had a great run game. I think that's key if you can make a team one dimensional and force them to pass, I feel like you have the edge."
Lining up in an important position on defense Spikes is motivated to convince his new teammates they can count on him.
"I always feel like I have something to prove," he said. "It just puts some fuel on the fire with that burning sensation I have inside of me for the game. Whatever it is I have something to prove and I just go out and do it. I'm just looking forward to this fall. It's going to be interesting. It's going to be a great season."