One week, the Buffalo Bills used pressure and simulated pressure to fluster Tom Brady for stretches. The next, they rushed four or less (unofficially) on 34 of 37 Alex Smith dropbacks.
So... was veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore surprised the team didn't ramp up the pressure more after such success?
"Yeah, to be honest with you," he said after a pause. "Every game is going to be different. The quarterback, Smith, he can buy time with his legs. And Brady, he couldn’t do that. He’s more of a dropback passer. It’s going to be different every week. We’re all in it together. So when they’re getting pressure, we’re happy. When they’re not, we have to hold up on the back end, no matter what. So we’re in it together.”
This was the overall vibe in the locker room after the 30-22 loss to the Chiefs, too. Linebacker/end Manny Lawson, who was used almost exclusively in a wait-and-see role on the edge instead of rushing said the team's primary goal was to "contain" Smith, not rush him. Yet even then, Smith found a way to escape free on a few runs. And the plan to sit back mostly backfired --- he did damage downfield with 255 yards, two touchdowns and 112.5 rating.
A week after hitting Brady 10 times, the Bills got to Smith zero times.
A lack of pressure does make it "very tough" for the cornerbacks on the back end, Gilmore added.
"Especially, timing-wise in your head, when you know the ball’s going to come out you kind of anticipate it," Gilmore said. "But the timing is off. So obviously it’s different. They’re two different types of quarterbacks — one of them can buy time and one of them if nothing’s open he’ll get rid of it.”
So, sure, Gilmore admits he was "surprised" by the game plan. He's probably not alone, either. But he repeats the plan will change week to week. Chances are, injuries up front to Kyle Williams and Mario Williams were a factor to on Rex Ryan's call sheet.
"It's going to be different every week depending on the call, depending on who’s out there, depending on who’s on and who’s not, it’s going to be different," Gilmore said. "Different things go into account.”
And Gilmore believes there's still enough time --- with five games left, a playoff spot still a possibility --- to turn things around on defense.
“Oh yes. There’s time,"he said. "We’ve got five games to sell out. We’ve got to take it one day at a time though. One game at a time. One practice at a time. So we’ve got to really focus in on practice every day and get ready for Houston. That’s our main goal right now. Get ready for those guys.”