Over the coming days, yours truly is going to break down each position group by three factors: depth, reliability and performance. They’ll be graded on all three of these factors accordingly.
Today, we’ll be looking at a strength this year that could be a position of need next year: safety.
Going into the season, it looked like the Bills were stacked at safety. Jairus Byrd and Aaron Williams as starters with Da’Norris Searcy and Jim Leonhard as backups is a pretty good group on paper.
But with an injury to Byrd and inconsistency on the part of Searcy and Leonhard, this grade took a serious hit. Leonhard had a few big moments but looked like he’s in the twilight of his career, and Searcy was beat badly more than a few times.
When Byrd and Williams were healthy, this position did well. But without them it was a big question mark. Grade: B
From a health standpoint, this was a pretty reliable group. Searcy, Leonhard and Williams all stayed healthy, and Byrd missed the first five games but was healthy thereafter. It’s hard to get more reliable than that from an injury standpoint.
On the field was another question, and this group depended wildly on who was out there. With the starters, this was a good group was as good as can be by making plays, limiting big plays against and generally making the defense better. But when the backups got involved, things got dicey. Grade: B-
This will be a real strength next year if Byrd is still around. He didn’t miss a beat when he returned from injury by picking up a sack, a forced fumble and a team-leading four interceptions.
With him out, Williams was outstanding. He made plays all over the field (he tied Byrd and two others for the team-lead in interceptions) and stepped up in a huge way. Between the two, they got fantastic production. This grade suffers because of the big drop off when the backups came in. Grade: B+