The Buffalo Bills hope to have a special defense under Rex Ryan in 2015. They'd like to blitz and disguise and make The Ralph hell on earth for opposing quarterbacks.
But they won't know exactly where they stand until around 4 p.m. Sunday.
"After this game, we’ll definitely know where we’re at," Bills linebacker Nigel Bradham said. "Right now, we feel good about it. We feel good about our guys and feel like we know what we’ve got.
“Going against a great offense you really find out how good of a defense you really are. So this is what it’s all about.”
Andrew Luck and the NFL's No. 1-ranked passing offense added Andre Johnson, Frank Gore and Phillip Dorsett. Buffalo's third-ranked pass defense added Rex Ryan.
It'll be quite a collision course at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
While safety Aaron Williams called Luck "just another quarterback," Bradham sang a different tune on Friday.
"It’s definitely a challenge," Bradham said. ""One of the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s one of the guys who could be wearing a gold jacket. When you’re going against a guy like that, you have to be on your ‘A’ game, that’s how we have to be on defense. That’s how we have to be on defense, communication-wise, disguising, putting pressure on him, everything. We have to make him uncomfortable. And it’s going to be tough because he’s an athletic quarterback. So we have to keep him off his spot and disrupt him a little bit. Get him distracted. Try to frustrate him as much as we can.”
This will probably be the No. 1 key to the game: Pressure up front. The Bills are still breaking in a rookie cornerback (Ronald Darby), so getting to Luck in a hurry is important. He has a deep, talented pool of receiving options.
And the inside linebacker Bradham will be another critical part of this front seven. Preston Brown pointed to him as the leader in the meeting room.
After all, Bradham is suddenly a fourth-year veteran at a very youthful position. On the field, he says he talks a lot. Off it, not so much.
Said Bradham, "I’m more of a lead-by-example type.”
And as the Bills continue to write checks on defense, Bradham could be next in line. This is the final year of his rookie contract.
As Jerry Hughes noted this week, a contract year can wear on a player mentally. Bradham isn't stressing.
“Just remain focused," Bradham said. "One of my things I say in a year like this is ‘it’s going to come.’ You already know it’s going to happen eventually. I honestly feel like at this point in my in my career, I don’t have to worry about money. As long as I keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll be able to make enough money.
“It’s my fourth year and I’ve been living comfortable up to this point. My life is nice right now as it is. That’s why I feel like I don’t have to worry about it — it’s going to happen.”
Bradham had 105 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season. Starting Sunday, against Luck, he'll try to bring his style to Ryan's new scheme.
"You’re going to get a real aggressive linebacker," Bradham said. "He’s going to work hard and play with passion. That’s what I do. Play the game the right way, have fun, play with passion.”