When former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier stepped down from his role in the offseason, there were questions as to what the defense was going to look like this season. The Bills never officially named the defensive play-caller going into the season, but all of the signs pointed toward Head Coach Sean McDermott. As a defensive-minded coach, this gives the Bills' defensive player an advantage to be coached directly by McDermott.
Since McDermott started his coaching career in the NFL, he has worked with the defensive backs and eventually worked his way up to become the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. In 2015, McDermott was leading the way for the top defensive unit in football with the Panthers and assisted with a 15-1 dominant regular season all the way up to the Super Bowl.
When McDermott was hired in 2017, the Bills continued with a defensive minded coach after firing Rex Ryan, but McDermott was known to be a disciplinarian and in a familiar 4-3 scheme rather than a 3-4.
Heading into the 2023 season, McDermott had a tough task on his plate. He believes in development with the players that were drafted by him and Brandon Beane. Players like Terrel Bernard and Christian Benford are examples of players who may not have been starters on other teams. Rather than retaining Tremaine Edmunds, or even addressing the linebacker position, McDermott went with his guy in Bernard and he would end up winning the middle linebacker position over Tyrel Dodson.
In the first three weeks of the season, Bills fans have seen a defense that has been disruptive and pressuring opposing quarterbacks. Not only that, but they have seen good coverage amongst the secondary and linebackers. The defense has only given up 35 points through the first three games, which included a Commanders team that put up 35 points in Week 2 but only managed to score a late fourth quarter field goal against the Bills in Week 3.
The last touchdown they gave up was in the first quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders, and have given up only 13 points in two weeks. If you have watched the Bills this season, you will see that the front four has been creating pressure which has made the secondary be able to get into position to make a big play. The edge rusher room has been productive with getting the pocket to collapse and Ed Oliver has been in the backfield almost every other play for three weeks.
The Bills' defense has had to face 31 drives through three weeks, and they have only allowed two touchdowns (none last week against the Commanders), as well have recorded 12 sacks (nine against the Commanders), seven interceptions, and allowed only 142 passing yards per game.
As the Bills start to prepare for the high-powered Miami Dolphins offense, they may want to consider playing to their strength on defense and finding ways to hit Tua Tagovailoa, who has only been sacked once heading into Week 4.