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The Adjusters

By the time the first half had come to a close Sunday the offense had failed to convert a third down, had 19 total net yards, five rushing and 14 passing and six points scored. Trent Edwards had been sacked three times and had thrown an interception.

By game's end Edwards was sacked just once more, had a touchdown pass, the offense had rolled up 258 more yards and 18 points en route to a 31-14 victory.

The defense had a second-half surge as well. After getting caught off guard on a quick flip play and having a less than perfect fit on a 29-yard Steven Jackson touchdown run, the Bills clamped down, held the Rams scoreless in the second half and scored on an interception return.

What's going on in Buffalo's locker room at halftime?


Offensive coordinator Turk Schonert and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell have done a lot in the limited time halftime provides NFL coaches, making the right alterations to their game plans to ensure greater success on the field in the final two quarters.

Buffalo's offense was stuck in neutral for much of the first half as St. Louis' reckless blitz schemes, where six and on occasion seven pass rushers were sent after Edwards, who was running for cover.

"They brought, I felt, everyone they had," said Edwards. "It was like they were bringing guys off the sideline. That's what it really looked like to me."

For the second straight week the Bills opponent strayed away from what they had shown in previous weeks on tape forcing Schonert and Edwards to tweak the game plan.

"We changed a little bit of the protections," said Edwards. "We kept some guys in that we hadn't kept in during the first half and tried to get the ball out of my hand a little bit."

"We handled it better," said Dick Jauron of the Rams' blitz scheme. "They did a real nice job with it early. We had to change up our protections schemes and it was better in the second half."

Schonert also put Edwards on the run a bit to keep the Rams defensive front guessing.

"We did a much better job in the second half of moving me out of the pocket," said Edwards. "And that's something that's going to calm their defense down a little bit, get guys open and kind of wear down their D-line a little bit. It was a great job by Turk calling those plays too."

Schonert also made sure to take advantage of the one-on-one matchups the Rams were giving Lee Evans. In the fourth quarter the Bills finally capitalized with a 39-yard touchdown hookup from Edwards to Buffalo's top wideout.

When first halves haven't gone right for the Bills there's been no outward expression of frustration. Instead there's a determination to make the changes necessary to increase the chances of success in the third and fourth quarters.

Through four games Buffalo has scored more than 62 percent of their points in the second half and outscored their opponents 71 to 30.

"He sees a lot out there," said Josh Reed of Turk Schonert. "He's on the sideline and he sees what's going on. He's just always pumped up because he knows what the offense is capable of and what he wants to do with it. And he won't settle for anything less than that."

But Schonert is also open to input from the players. While he sees what's unfolding on the field, he knows he's not in the midst of the action.

"He asked me some things on the sidelines and I told him," said Evans. "They see what we see, but sometimes the way it's played can add something. Turk does a good job of talking to his players and getting people in position to make plays."

On the other side of the ball defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has done much of the same, making key alterations at the half to help his defense play more effectively. On Sunday the Rams had unveiled some new wrinkles in their offense and Buffalo's defense had to switch some things up at the half.

"They came out with some plays and some formations that we haven't seen on film," said Whitner. "But after we took a look at what they were doing and made our adjustments we pretty much calmed down with what they were doing. That's a credit to coach Perry. He came in the locker room at halftime and we were down eight points, but we got it corrected."

Of course the Bills made sure to give some different looks of their own as Fewell blitzed both linebackers out of the nickel package as part of a new wrinkle. The pressure was effective in forcing a pair of St. Louis punts.

"Last week we didn't have an opportunity to do a lot of blitzing, but this week we had it in the game plan," said Whitner. "Those are things we're going to do around here. We're going to bring different packages. We're going to blitz, we're going to run a lot of different things. We made solid adjustments at halftime and came out and played solid football in the second half."

Hearing that kind of faith in coordinators openly expressed by players has not exactly been common in Buffalo over the years, but it is very much the case now.

And Buffalo's 4-0 start is largely attributed to the changes on the fly that have been made on game day.

"It's just a matter of making adjustments and executing," said Evans. "Seeing what they're trying to do to us. We've called the right plays and made them. That's really the mark that shows there's a lot of communication between coaches and players."

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