Giving up a franchise worst 5,938 yards and getting only 29 sacks in a season, 10 of which came in one game (against the Redskins) it’s no secret that the Bill’s defense was abysmal last season.
Dave Wannstedt, Buffalo’s first-year defensive coordinator and long-time veteran coach has taken over and hopes to turn that around. He’s changed back to a 4-3 defense, with the dynamo front line composed of Mario Williams, Mark Anderson, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus.
He recently told The Buffalo News, “It’s going to be a defensive-line friendly scheme, and by that I mean we’ll be as good as our guys up front play…That’s how it was at Dallas, at Miami, every place where we’ve run this scheme. The guys up front, it all starts there. If we can get a good rotation going, keep some guys healthy, you know that kind of sets the foundation for what we’re trying to get done here.”
Luckily, the Bills have stacked up their line, and on paper, they look deadly. Any quarterback should be shaking in his Nikes staring down this line.
Here’s the lowdown on this fantastic four:
#94 Mario Williams aka “Super Mario”:
This North Carolina alum was the first pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He played five years with the Houston Texans, where he recorded 241 tackles and 53 sacks. The 6’6’, 292 pound defensive end surprised the nation when upon free agency, he chose to visit Buffalo, and decided to stay without checking out any other teams. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick invokes another popular video game describing Mario’s physique: “He looks like a Madden character you create when you sit there and up-up the strength, and the guy keeps growing. And then he’s the fastest guy on the field, too.”
#97 Mark Anderson:
The Alabama alum also was picked in the 2006 NFL Draft and broke Brian Urlacher’s record for the Bears with 12 sacks in his rookie season. He played a year in Houston and recorded 10 sacks last year for the Patriots.
#95 Kyle Williams:
The 3rd Buffalo lineman coming out of the 2006 NFL Draft from Louisiana State, Kyle Williams has been a 2 time Pro Bowler and was named Pro Football Focus top defensive player of 2010. He’s coming back from injury last season and hopefully can return to Pro Bowl status.
#99 Marcell Dareus aka “The Incredible Hulk”:
The big man, the Bills picked him 3rd in the 2011 draft. At 6’3”, 340, the Alabama alum recorded 43 tackles and 5.5 sacks in his rookie season. He dubbed himself the Hulk as his alter ego on the field. He told Yahoo Sports: “The Hulk takes control, he doesn’t let anything get past or anything get in the way. That is what I call myself and before I go out to play I get myself into that state of mind. It helps me get ready.”
So we have Super Mario and The Incredible Hulk. I feel pretty comfortable leaving the fate of my team in those hands.
Ideas are floating around for a nickname for the d-line as a whole – Mario even suggested his own nickname, Buffalo Soldiers, via twitter (Mario Williams @bbwolf90).
For all the tweets on nicknames for the dline I’m letting y’all know I’m bringing da #buffalosoilders into the mix
Whatever their name, hopefully they can perform up to their potential, because the talent level has more than doubled and us fans are expecting the defensive numbers to reflect that. There’s no better sight as a Bills fan than one of our guys chasing down Tom Brady or Mark Sanchez, and getting that sack. There’s a healthy competition brewing between former teammates Mario Williams and Mark Anderson – and I hope it brings out record numbers for both of them. The defensive line will be a key factor in any success the Bills have this year, if not the biggest factor. Super Mario can’t do it by himself, but the line as a whole has a real good shot.