by Mario "Game" Granata
There were many eliminator pools that were busted this past Sunday as the Buffalo Bills pulled off an impressive victory over the Green Bay Packers, winners of five straight, 22-13 at the final game in Buffalo for the 2014 season. As many Bills fans enjoyed the rest of their Sunday, some were probably shaking their head at just how the Bills were able to ground the high-flying Packers.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Jim Schwartz – As highlighted on the Preview of the Bills vs. Packers article on Hashtag Sports, Jim Schwartz didn’t have a great track record against Aaron Rodgers during his time in Detroit. Only managing to win one out of eight games, Schwartz was witness to the greatness that was the Packers, but with the way that his defense has played all year, they have confused, befuddled, and sent quarterbacks shaking their heads at the way that they play. Schwartz’s philosophy is to simply line up and play. He doesn’t throw a lot of exotic looks, and while playing a base 4-3 defense, he trusts his players to make plays, and make plays they did, as they have for the 2014 season. The Bills defense is now ranked in the Top 10 (and in some categories Top 5) in a majority of the significant statistics for 2014. How are they doing it? Doug Whaley “The Architect” has assembled a defense full of 1st and 2nd round picks, loaded with talent, and an incredible chip on their collective shoulders. Translation, they are a hungry, attacking defense with no regard for their opponent. Now, the only question is, can they keep them together?
Recent Additions Stepping Up – Bacarri Rambo and Marcus Thigpen, although only being with the Bills for a short time, showed that they are necessary additions to the Buffalo Bills, offering depth in the secondary and a special teams threat. With two interceptions by Rambo, and a punt return touchdown by Thigpen eventually helped a sputtering offense en route to defeating the Packers. The message that gets lost is the Buffalo Bills scouting department never taking a day off, and being able to add players to this team that could be difference makers. The Bills have a young, talented receiver core, and have a secondary of ‘savages’ that want to make a statement on every pass that the opponent throws. Now the only question is, will Rambo take a multi-year contract to play for the Saints? Too soon?
Corey Graham – Another acquisition by Whaley has been Corey Graham, and since he has been named the starter, the Buffalo Bills haven’t allowed a passing touchdown in over a month, with the last coming in a Thursday night game against the Dolphins. More specifically, the Buffalo Bills, in consecutive weeks were able to hold two elite quarterbacks to 0 touchdown passes and a 50% completion percentage. It is not a coincidence that with Graham’s presence in the line-up and his aggressive “in-your-face” play, he has knocked receivers off their routes, allowing the front four to generate pressure. Maybe the play of Graham will force Leodis McKelvin to play the slot, a position where he could be very effective.
The Buffalo Bills are doing something rarely seen by followers residing in the 716. They have proven that they can play with the best in the league, and stifle some of the elite quarterbacks. With the offense still trying to find their way, this defense has stepped up and provided a bright spot for this team. The Bills need some help to make it to the playoffs, and if they are able to somehow get in, none of the teams will want to play them given what this defense has been able to do. The two questions that remain are, can they stop another hall of fame quarterback in Tom Brady, and if they are able to, can they keep this unit together for the years to come. Only time will tell.