The Buffalo Bills begin training camp on Wednesday and once again there will be a new defensive coordinator calling the shots. Former Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz brings experience to a squad that overachieved in 2013. If the team wants to take the next step though, the defense will need to come up big in one key area in which the team came up dramatically short last year.
“I think when you’re good against the run, it affects all other areas of your defense,” Schwartz said per Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News.
The Buffalo Bills ranked 28th in rushing yards allowed, which proved to be a major weakness on the team, given that they ranked 4th against the pass and 2nd in team sacks. The Bills sport a fierce pass rush and a secondary that will be challenged without safety Jairus Byrd. That’s why Schwartz plans to put a strong emphasis on the run.
“If you’re good against the run, you’re going to generally be better on third down, because they’re going to have longer third-down distances to get,” Schwartz said. “The best teams in the red zone every year are the teams that can run the ball and stop the run.”
It’s like Schwartz read the mind of every Bills player and fan. The Bills were abysmal in the red zone last year. The offense ranked 29th in red zone efficiency while the defense actually did all right at 10th in the league.
Still, there’s always room for improvement. Detroit ranked 2nd in red zone defense and 3rd against the run last season under Schwartz, so it’s not hard to expect that the Bills will find more success against the run in 2014 than they did last year. If they can do that, then the rest may fall in place for a Buffalo squad hungry to break its NFL-worst playoff drought.
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