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Defensive Overhaul Should Lead to Success
Totally rebuilt unit should take pressure off of offense.
by Steve Saslow
July 22, 2003

Takeo Spikes The Bills are hoping to take a different approach to the season this year than last. They are hoping a rebuilt defense led by free agent signees Takeo Spikes, Sam Adams, Jeff Posey, Danion Sidney and Izell Reese will give the unit a huge jump from last year's pathetic performance. If that works the offense will not have to feel that they need to score everytime they touch the football.

After wallowing near the bottom of all defensive statistics last year including points allowed and yards given up on the ground, Tom Donahoe knew he needed to strike a balance this year. That meant rebuilding the entire defense. They have stud cornerbacks already in place in Antoine Winfield and Nate Clements. A solid linebacker in the middle in London Fletcher along with Pat Williams anchoring the middle of the defense. That was a good foundation but they needed more, the acquisition of Spikes and Posey turn a weakness into a strength as the linebacker corp should be able to use their speed to roam from sideline to sideline. They will be freed up by the two big behemouths in the middle, as Williams and Adams will engulf the middle of the line, allowing for the linebackers to make plays and the defensive ends along with Posey to pressure the quarterback.

If all goes according to plan, their will be more pressure on the quarterback, fewer running backs running free in the Bills secondary, and more opportunities for interceptions by the defensive backs. That would translate into fewer points given up, and better field position for the offense.

There are some interesting battles to watch for in training camp, the one starting job up for grabs is left defensive end. Two players coming off injuries are battling for the job, Marcus Jones and Keith McKenzie. They will be joined by youngsters Ryan Denney and Chris Kelsay. If they can get pressure from that position and from Posey's linebacker position then Aaron Schobel may be able to take his game up a notch.

Another battle to watch is at the free safety position where Pierson Prioleau will be challenged by Reese. The team likes the way Prioleau plays but he is erratic and Reese brings veteran leadership to the position. The other battle is for the nickel cornerback spot and Kevin Thomas has the inside track for that job after a fine finish to his rookie year. He will be challenged by free agent signee Danion Sidney who played for Gregg Williams in Tennessee.

On paper the defense looks like it will develop into one of the premier units in the league, that would be an incredible turnaround from last year. The games are played on the field as Donahoe likes to tell everyone from time to time. It will be interesting to see if this unit is able to gell with all the new faces. That's where perhaps the biggest offseason addition comes in, new assistant head coach Dick LeBeau. He's a defensive wiz and may be more like the defensive coordinator than Jerry Gray is at this point.

Offensive Camp Preview

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