Bills seek defensive improvement

Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey said the key to upgrading the team's defence is to upgrade...

Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey said the key to upgrading the team's defence is to upgrade their cornerbacks and pass rushers. (Doug Benz/Reuters/Files)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:31 PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS - Upgrading their woeful defence, particularly the pass rush, isn't just a priority this off-season for the Buffalo Bills.

"It is THE priority," Bills GM Buddy Nix told QMI Agency in a one-on-one interview Friday morning at the NFL Scouting Combine.

In a separate interview on Thursday, head coach Chan Gailey also underscored the priority of improving the defence.

"Our offence last year jumped from 26th to 14th," Gailey said. "But our defence the past two years has been 24th and 26th (out of 32 teams). If we can get our defence to come to where our offence is, and our offence improves a little bit more as well, then we start to give ourselves a chance to be where we need to be to compete for a championship."

Gailey said the key to upgrading the Bills D is to upgrade their cornerbacks and pass rushers.

"Corners and pass rushers -- that's where it is. That's our game," Gailey said. "Linebackers are important, but corners and pass rushers are where the game is. You've got to make sure you keep those good players coming at those positions. You've got to be able to rush the passer.

"And I'm taking into account all four defensive positions on the line. You've got to have guys that can rush the passer ... If you get a great safety, that's gravy. And if you get great linebackers, that's gravy. But you've got to have corners and pass rushers."

Nix said a defence can get away with lesser corners if the pass rush is elite.

"Obviously, if you can disrupt the QB's rhythm, you've got a chance," Nix said. "And that's the priority. It doesn't mean we can fill that, because the draft may not produce that kind of guy, and free agency is kind of a wait-and-see deal until March 13. And I don't mind telling you, that is the priority for us."

This year's draft, however, is seen to be thin at defensive end. As tantalizing as it might be to pick the best available rush end with their 10th overall pick in April's draft, Nix said the Bills will not gamble on a player they have graded for lower in the draft.

"We won't do that. It won't work," Nix said. "I've tried that. So we'll take the best player."

If the Bills should not re-sign offensive tackle Demetrius Bell, a free agent come March 13, Nix would not rule out taking one of the group of highly regarded tackles with Buffalo's first pick.

"Without a doubt," Nix said. "If you can get a guy who can start for you for 10 or 12 years, you've had a good pick."

Nix reiterated that he expects to meet with the agents of all his free-agents-to-be here at the combine, especially Bell's and wideout Stevie Johnson's.

"We'd like to re-sign Stevie, and he says he'd like to be here," Nix said. "Now we'll see. I hope so.

"We meet with about 20 to 25 agents every combine, so his is one of the group, and obviously he's the one that everybody's interested in, and we'd obviously like to get it done ourselves. If both sides really want that, I'm sure it'll work out."


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