Share this article

print logo

Bills Notebook: Bills’ defense braces for Eagles’ quick pace

There’s a lot for the Buffalo Bills to like about the way they match up against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, beginning with LeSean McCoy facing his former team’s porous run defense.

One exception, however, is the Eagles’ ultra-fast-paced offense against a Buffalo defense that has occasionally had issues getting substitutions on and off the field before the opponent runs a play.

The Bills’ struggles in this area have resulted in chaos, communication breakdowns, and, in a few instances, touchdowns. It should be noted that none of the opposing offenses in question move at the same brisk tempo of Philadelphia’s, because no other offense really does.

Chip Kelly brought his signature scheme with him when he left the University of Oregon to become the Eagles’ coach in 2013, and when it’s humming along, it can be extremely difficult to stop.

“They’re just like Oregon,” Bills cornerback Ronald Darby said. “I’ve played Oregon before” while at Florida State. “The pace is going to be fast, but the key thing is just getting lined up. If you can get lined up and step in front of them and just play, just do your job, they’ll have trouble. But they like to catch you when you’re not lined up, like what happened to us last week,” against Houston “when they threw it out there and got that easy touchdown. You’ve just got to be lined up.”

The task is easier said than done.

The Bills’ defense has spent the week working against a scout-team offense that has done its best to replicate the Eagles’ pacing. The greatest challenge is getting defensive signals called and communicated to everyone accurately when time is of the essence.

“Those guys move very fast, they get plays going very fast, so we’ve got to get the call in fast and be ready to play,” safety Corey Graham said.

That means the Bills will likely be forced to limit their usual extensive array of defensive sub-packages that require greater substitution of personnel. It also means they’ll have to abbreviate some of the verbiage involved with certain calls.

“We’ve got to do everything to try to make,” the communication “as fast as possible,” Graham said. “You want to make it easier for guys so you know what you’re doing out there, so guys aren’t running all around trying to figure out whether they’re in and stuff like that. You’ve got to adjust to it.

“It’s definitely something we think about, it’s something that we have to factor in, and we’ve got to be prepared to play.”


Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (shoulder), linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle), running back Karlos Williams (shoulder), cornerback Ron Brooks (concussion/neck), linebacker Tony Steward (back) and safety Aaron Williams (neck) are listed as out for Sunday’s game.

Offensive guard John Miller (ankle) is listed as questionable.

Tight end Charles Clay (knee), wide receiver Chris Hogan (knee), offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (illness), defensive end Mario Williams (hand) are listed as probable. Jordan Mills, who started for Henderson at right tackle last week and has practiced as the No. 1 right tackle all week, is expected to start against the Eagles, although coach Rex Ryan said Mills and Henderson would play.


To help get everyone in a Philly state of mind, the theme from “Rocky” was blaring over the speakers during the Bills’ pre-practice stretch.

Rumors of cheesesteaks being served for lunch were unconfirmed.


Recently fired New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, Rex’s twin brother who has been at the Bills’ practices all week, said he has enjoyed his stay in Western New York.

“But where’s all the snow?” he asked a reporter after practice. “I thought I’d be seeing some snow.”