Mario Williams has doubled down, tripled down, and now quadrupled down on comments indicating a season-long disconnect between the Buffalo Bills’ defensive scheme and their defensive players.
In a lengthy exchange with reporters Wednesday, he wanted to clear he wasn’t going out of his way to be critical of Rex Ryan or the coaching staff but simply responding to questions. Then, Williams asked reporters if they were seeing the same things he did. Reporters said they agreed, which seemed to satisfy Williams.
However, he went into great detail to explain what he believes is the major reason the defense that led the NFL with 54 sacks last season now ranks 30th in the league with only 20. Williams pointed out that under Ryan the “Cold Front,” the nickname of the Bills’ four-man defensive line, no longer has the prominent role it held in 2014.
“I can tell you right now, the personnel” on the Bills “is totally different” from what Ryan had in his previous coaching stops, Williams said. “With the Baltimore Ravens,” with whom Ryan served as defensive coordinator, “they had Ray Lewis commanding the ship. The coaches made a statement the other day about the control of the defense, how Ray would change a call completely. The call would come in, he’d see this, and that’s not even what he called. He called something entirely different. You had linebackers of that nature doing that with the Jets, linebackers who were generals on the field.
“You had safeties who head-hunt, Ed Reed in Baltimore and the Landry brothers, Dawan and LaRon, “with the Jets. You’ve got two lock-down corners, and three guys up front that get after it, and then two ’backers. That’s the difference I see.
“The ‘Cold Front’ is four guys. Even though we can be a hybrid, because we’ve done that before in one year clearly two years ago, we were a hybrid. Last year, we were a 4-3. So it’s not like we can’t play it. It’s just about how you play it and the personnel. It’s just different personnel from the last however many years you want to go back to the Ravens and now with us. Because we went two years building the ‘Cold Front,’ and obviously a lot of time and money keeping the two guys we kept this year” Jerry Hughes and Marcell Dareus. “And then, all of a sudden, it just hasn’t been that ‘Cold Front’ out there. And that’s the thing. Our defense, the past two years, has been very, very heavy on that D-line.”
LeSean McCoy appreciates the honor. As part of a team with a 6-8 record and having been slowed and forced to miss two games because of a hamstring injury, he just isn’t entirely certain he deserves it.
“My season wasn’t a Pro Bowl-type season,” the running back said Wednesday of being the Bills’ lone Pro Bowl selection. “The record is what it is, the playoffs are not in the picture, the type of plays I should have made this season I didn’t make.
“We have the No. 1” rushing “offense, but we could have done more things. We couldn’t get going.”
McCoy made the Pro Bowl three times during his previous seven seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. He has rushed for 895 yards in 12 games this year, a far cry from the 1,319 he had last season and the 1,607 he had in 2013.
“Another year in the Pro Bowl, honestly, I’m honored,” McCoy said. “But sitting back and thinking of the type of year we had, injuries and not being where we wanted to be at, it’s one of those things where it’s tough to really enjoy right now.
“Later on, I’ll be able to enjoy it more.”
McCoy did not practice Wednesday with a knee injury he suffered in last Sunday’s loss at Washington. It has been reported that he sustained a torn MCL, something the running back refused to discuss.
McCoy was non-committal about playing in the Bills’ final two games.
Four Bills have been selected as Pro Bowl alternates: guard Richie Incognito, center Eric Wood, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
Incognito was thought to have an inside track to be chosen, because of a consistently strong year. But he did struggle badly in the Bills’ Dec. 13 loss at Philadelphia and that might have cost him some votes.
Still, he is happy that, after being out of football for more than a season because of a 2013 bullying scandal with the Miami Dolphins, he was able to make an impact.
“Yeah, it’s a great honor to be selected as an alternate to the Pro Bowl,” Incognito said. “We got Shady in and we take great pride in getting our running back into the Pro Bowl, that’s awesome, that’s on all of us, so it’s fun to see him get in.”
For Wood, it marked the second year in a row he was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate.
“Kind of always a bridesmaid never the bride,” said Wood, who wasn’t picked to play in the all-star game as an alternate after last season. “I was hoping to get over the hump this year, but I’m not disappointed in the way I played this year. I feel like I’ve continued to get better and put out some pretty good film and that’s all I can do.”
Bills players voted offensive tackle Cordy Glenn as their recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award for playing the past two seasons after having a kidney surgically removed in the 2014 offseason.
Besides McCoy, the only other player who didn’t practice Wednesday was safety Bacarri Rambo (knee).
Wood (shoulder), defensive lineman Stefan Charles (shoulder), linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle), cornerback Ronald Darby (groin), guard John Miller (ankle), linebacker Ty Powell (hip), running backs Karlos Williams (shoulder) and Boobie Dixon (knee) were limited.