For the third time in his career, the Bills named defensive tackle Kyle Williams a captain on Monday. Pretty obvious choice tabbing the senior member of the roster.
“My teammates and coaches know what to expect out of me,” Williams said Monday. “When I go out to work, I go out to work hard. I'm not playing around. It's business. I kind of play with a chip on my shoulder. I'm an emotional guy.
“When things need to be said, I'm not scared of saying them. Whether you like it or not, you can be mad with me or happy with me but I'm kind of past all that. There's a lot of things as far as leading young guys and showing them how to work and how to prepare.”
Williams and fellow captains Fred Jackson and Eric Wood will have plenty of leading to do. The Bills have just four 30-year-olds on their roster and one of them (Jim Leonhard) just rejoined the club Monday. Only seven guys on the roster were acquired prior to 2010. Talk about turnover and inexperience.
So much of the talk about youth on this club centers on quarterback. It looks more and more like EJ Manuel will be under center Sunday against the Patriots and the Bills are likely going to sink or swim with their No. 1 pick. As they should. If it's a rebuild, with a new era marked by new coaches, you go with your young guys and live with their mistakes.
But Williams agreed with the notion that whatever success the offense might have is going to be mitigated unless this defense turns it around. It won't be hard to improve on recent history of course when you look at a defense that's been, well, offensive. The numbers roll out quickly.
The Bills have given up three of their four highest points-against totals in franchise history the last three years, with 435 last season, 434 in 2011 and 425 in 2010. Only the 2-14 sad-sacks of 1984 gave up more (454).
They gave up 45 or more points three times in the first five games. Remember those 45 points Tom Brady & Co. rolled up in the last 23 minutes here last September? No 21-7 lead ever turned into a 52-28 defeat faster. There better not be anything remotely resembling a repeat come Sunday.
“A lot of it needs to fall on us,” Williams acknowledged. “We've got veteran players. Good players. It's on us to take the pressure off whoever our quarterback may be or who our offense may be, so they can get in a rhythm. A lot of it falls on us. We need to play well.”
Williams recalled the horror of last year's game, where Patriots quarterback Tom Brady assessed the Bills in a dime package and simply opted to chew up yardage on the ground.
“Everything is going to revolve around 12 and what he does,” Williams said of Brady. “The thing that's made him special for so long is he'll take what he can get. He's not going to force anything so hopefully we can show some things he thinks we're doing and actually do something else.
“He identifies what the weakness is. He doesn't have to throw the ball. He wants to do whatever he has to do to win. Hopefully we won't make it that easy to identify, and we can be multiple, do a bunch of different things and stay out of getting pigeon-holed like that.”
The Bills promise to be aggressive on defense and not sit back. That's going to burn them at times but it's part of the deal. After watching the molasses dished out by Dave Wannstedt & Co., you take your chances. Opposing offenses will see quite a different look.
“They can't stand there and identify where everybody is going to be,” Williams said. “When you come to the line or when you're breaking the huddle, you know where 2-3 certain guys are going to be or whoever it may be. So you can set your block protection, you know where they're covering. You understand the holes in the defense. But the things that we're doing now, some of those things you have to figure out on the run and post-snap. I think that's a big advantage for us defensively.”
The Bills have an experienced defensive coordinator in Mike Pettine and a young, energetic offensive coordinator in Nathaniel Hackett.
At least you have to like that they're taking chances now.
“We're ahead of where we've been schematically,” Williams said. “I think we've added good players. And you never know what the smallest difference in perspective will change for a team. Sometimes it can be just a little tightening of this screw and this screw and things can change.
“I'm a big believer in little things and have been my whole career. Being around Coach Marrone and Pet and Nate, it's all about the little things. Those things become big things. They've really harped on it and that's why I feel confident and comfortable.”