Buffalo Bills new defensive coordinator, Dave Wannstedt, is more excited about the team’s new defense then anyone else in Western New York. Wannstedt is currently still wearing a neck brace following off-season surgery; otherwise he would have literally jumped for joy when the team’s new-look defense hit the field for the first time. The unit looks strong, fast, and much more confident then it has been over the past decade.
Wannstedt is eager to implement his new 4-3 playbook around superstar free agent addition, Mario Williams. Wannstedt is no stranger to finding ways to utilize an All-Pro’s pass rushing ability, as the former Miami Dolphins head coach did it from 1999-2004 with 6-time Pro Bowl defensive end and dancing with the star champion, Jason Taylor. Wannstedt’s experience at finding space to work with behind superstar pass-rushers will in time will prove to be the best thing that ever happened to Mario Williams.
Williams and the rest of the Bills’ stout d-line will give the linebackers tons of room to work with at the second level and will only help Wannstedt design more blitz packages. Wannstedt’s unit will be lead by returning linebacker, Nick Barnett, who posted an outstanding 130 tackles, 3.0 sacks, and 3 interceptions in his first year in Buffalo. However, it has been rumored that Barnett will be moved to the outside to accommodate second-year middle linebacker, Kelvin Sheppard. Either way, Wannstedt will find a way to get both of the linebackers on the field at the same time.
The team is also clouded with uncertainty as it comes to their injury-prone linebacker, Shawne “His Lights Are Out” Merriman. Merriman is a far cry from the linebacker who racked up 29.5 sacks in his first three years in the NFL, but after a miserably, injury-riddled 2011 season, many in the NFL community believe Merriman does not have the NFL-body any more, which is ironic considering his steroid suspension in 2006. The team will still be returning a very experienced group of linebackers for Wannstedt to utilize, and the group will only get better as they begin to get comfortable with the new line in front of them.
Buffalo desperately tried to bolster their defense all off-season, something that has become increasingly evident with each big addition the team has made on defense. Their main goal this summer was to find a way to get to New England Patriot’s quarterback, Tom Brady, and it looks like they have done exactly that on paper so far. The fans are back, the coaches are excited, and the front office is finally spending money. This is what dreams are made of for Buffalo Bills fans.