The Buffalo Bills‘ switch from a 4-3 to 3-4 base defense is tough to either laud or criticize, and their are valid pros and cons to each side of the argument. Buffalo has some players that are good fits for 3-4 in my opinion, like Mario Williams moving from 4-3 end to 3-4 outside linebacker. However, the move to a four-linebacker base formation combined with letting a perfectly decent linebacker like Nick Barnett — and already having major questions at this position — is cause for worry.
Buffalo not only brought their relatively new formation into their Week 2 preseason contest with the Minnesota Vikings, but they also threw the kitchen sink at Minny strategically. This is rather unusual for a preseason game and the Vikings’ head coach didn’t seem to appreciate it.
“Everybody has their way of approaching the preseason, and that’s their choice,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said, via ESPN. “They did some good things. It’s preseason. They have the option to do whatever they want to do. We didn’t spend a lot of time preparing to play Buffalo.” Added Vikings starting quarterback Christian Ponder, who went 5-for-12 with 53 yards on the night: “Just their whole defense was pretty exotic. They had some exotic personnel and different schemes, it was a little different and sometimes it was a little hard for us to identify.”
Calling a preseason defensive strategy “exotic” is both a passive-aggressive and valid point in this scenario. The Bills come away with some good PR about new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine‘s aggressive style, but I’m just not sure I take too much away from this game. It seems like one team weighed the importance of this preseason game more than the other, or at least that’s what the Vikings are expressing.
Either way, Buffalo has a lot of really good players for a defensive unit that’s been so bad in recent years. And if Jerry Hughes can abuse top left tackles like he did to Vikes LT Matt Kalil on one play, then Buffalo could suddenly have a really good bookend pass rush too. It will be an interesting D to watch.