The Buffalo Bills haven’t been to the playoffs in 13 years, and it’s been about that long since they have had a consistent pass rush from both edges. They’ve spent years with more bulky end players like Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney. The only elite pass rusher that they had in that time was Aaron Schobel. The Bills have been at the bottom of the league in sacks for years. As a matter of fact their two starting interior linemen, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, have both led the team in sacks at one point or another in their careers.
It’s why they gave so much money to Mario Williams two offseasons ago. No matter who they drafted to rush the passer nobody seemed to pan out so they decided to go all in on the best pass-rusher in free agency. When Williams led the team with 10.5 sacks in his first season it looked a lot like the years where Schobel produced but not much else happened in the pass rush.
The Bills thought outside the box this past offseason. They had third year LB Kelvin Sheppard who didn’t seem to be a fit in new DC Mike Pettine‘s defense so they called the Indianapolis Colts about their fourth-year former first round DE Jerry Hughes who didn’t fit into their defensive scheme. The Bills and Colts struck a rare player-for-player, potential-for-potential trade.
Hughes has revitalized his career in Buffalo. Through 10 games he has 33 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles. His previous highs in tackles and sacks were last season when he recorded 41 and four. He’s on pace to double his production from his best season and he’s already more than doubled his career sack total (five to 11) this season. He’s been the consistent second guy to put pressure on the QB of the edge that the Bills have been missing since they had Bryce Paup and Bruce Smith in the mid-1990s.
Hughes is still under contract through next year, and if he continues to produce then the Bills should make every effort to try and retain him. The Bills are still a team with many holes, but it would be a big help to the front office if one of their long-standing issues was finally filled. For now the Bills will hope that Hughes continues his success after his much-needed change of scenery.