Head coach Rex Ryan walked out of the defensive meeting room on Saturday. He wanted to let middle linebacker Preston Brown and safety Corey Graham run the show. As he sees it the defense is not his scheme. It's not defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman's scheme. It's the team's scheme, the players' scheme and he wanted them to make it theirs.
"We'll never be as good defensively until the players take ownership of it. I think we saw that today. And that was a great thing to watch," Ryan said after the Bills' 41-14 win over the AFC East rival Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
"He wanted us to take over the defense," Brown said of his coach. "[Plus], it's more comfortable without coaches."
Brown is an obvious choice to run the players-only defensive meetings considering his role within the defense. He receives the calls on the field and must dictate them to the entire group. But he's not only a signal caller. He's a play maker, too, as evidenced by his knack for big plays the last two weeks.
The second-year linebacker from Louisville delivered two interceptions in the first half of his team's Week Three road win, the second of which he took all the way to the end zone for six points. Brown also recorded seven tackles and two pass deflections.
On his interception return for a touchdown, Brown said he has no idea how it happened.
"[The ball] just went right to my hands, and then I had to do something with it," he said. "It was a great play. It just happened to come right to me."
Brown added that he has not had a game with two interceptions since little league football, if he has ever had such a game at all.
The linebacker's play was a microcosm of a larger defensive improvement from the Bills after allowing 40 points and 522 yards to the Patriots in their week two loss. The Bills did allow 399 yards of total offense to the Dolphins this week, but they held their opponent scoreless until the third quarter. They had a 27-0 lead at halftime with Brown's two interceptions and a third by rookie Ronald Darby turned into 13 points. While Ryan knows the defensive unit must continue to improve, it was nice to see the group reverse the entropic trend seen from Week One into Week Two.
Even in the loss to the Patriots, a game which left Brown feeling incredibly disappointed with the play of the defense, the Bills defensive leader flashed his penchant for being in the right place at the right time. In the fourth quarter of that game, the linebacker recovered a fumble and elicited a spark out of the team, which rallied back to within one score before losing by eight points.
Brown credits his play-making ability to hustle, just being in the right place at the right time.
"It's trying to get to the ball. Good things happen when you're around the ball," he said. "It's just popping my way right now, so I'm going to keep trying to get to the ball and see if good things keep happening."
Photos of all the action from week 3: Dolphins vs. Bills.