Five reasons the Buffalo Bills will have Top 10 Defense in 2017

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Kyle Williams /
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Sean McDermott’s 4-3 defensive scheme will help rejuvenate the Bills edge rushers.

With the Ryan’s out and McDermott in, the Bills are switching to a 4-3 defensive scheme which better suits the Bills edge rushers Shaq Lawson and Jerry Hughes. You can expect each of them to have better years this season than last.

Hughes will be the biggest beneficiary of the new scheme. In a 4-3 scheme in his first two years in Buffalo, he had 19.5 sacks and earned himself a five-year $35 million deal in March 2015. After he signed that deal, the Bills switched to a 3-4 defense and Hughes recorded just 11 sacks over the past two years. This was after having nearly double-digit sacks in each of his first two seasons in Buffalo.

Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills /

Buffalo Bills

Last season Hughes reportedly butted heads with Rob Ryan. I’m sure it feels like a breath of fresh air with a new coach who is installing the type of defense that has showcased him as one of the better pure pass rushers in the league. You can expect Hughes’ sack numbers to increase this season from the prior two.

Lawson will be helped by the switch to the 4-3 scheme too. He played with his hands in the dirt more often at Clemson than he did as an outside linebacker which was the role he was asked to play last season for the Bills. According to, Lawson is on record as saying he thinks it will benefit him. He said, “The 3-4 was very difficult for me last year. I’m back with something I’m comfortable, back to a 4-3. It’s a lot easier.”

On a macro level, switching to a 4-3 should make it tougher to find holes at the line of scrimmage for opposing running backs which will help Buffalo recover from last year’s poor performance against the run. For now, I’ll table that thought as there will be more on that later.

Click below for the third reason the Bills will be a Top 10 defense in 2017.