The Bills have moved OLB Kawika Mitchell to middle linebacker to fill the hole left by the injured Paul Posluszny. The move, which Jauron hopes will help the Bills stop the run, may have come two weeks too late as the Bills have given up an average of 236 yards on the ground in their last two games.
Mitchell, at 6’1″ 235 lbs, is a bigger body than 24 year-old Marcus Buggs (5’11”, 225 lbs) and has established himself as a versatile, and experienced player at the OLB position the last few years. Mitchell’s open weak side spot will be filled by undrafted rookie Ashlee Palmer. Despite being a rookie overlooked in the first seven rounds, the Bills were impressed with Palmer in training camp and on special teams. He is considered a “sideline to sideline” defender with agility and quickness among his strengths. At the weak side linebacker position he will be expected to force runs to the sideline and stop rushing attempts aimed at getting outside of the tackles.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, who calls this “Plan B” and said “Plan A wasn’t working so I had to go to Plan B.” An understatement by most Bills’ fans account. I think maybe it’s time to start considering at least Plan F, or G. Regardless, the move should be a positive one as it will give the Bills’ defense more strength up the middle behind Stroud and Williams – a spot which has been weakened with Poz’s loss. A major factor in the move comes from a lack of leadership and command in the middle of the field, a challenge which Kawika embraces.
“It’s a natural position for me,” Mitchell said. “I enjoy making the calls and the checks and all that. I’m excited about it and it’s not going to be that difficult of a move. I do take pride in the fact that I am (going) in there during a time that we’re having some problems. I have always felt that the ‘mike’ is the one that takes responsibility for all that so I’m excited to be that guy.”
Fewell added that, “there were a lot of mistakes that were made and we have to have somebody that can take control, run the defense and have confidence in what you’re doing and how to get it done … I had to go with the person who I felt could do that.” There is no question that Fewell is convinced of Mitchell’s talent as the Bills take on a Browns rushing game that is currently ranked in the league’s bottom quartile. If they can’t stop the run this week we’ll know we really have a big problem on our hands.