New guys give Bills a rush

Defensive end Mario Williams (Bob Levey/Getty Images/AFP)

Defensive end Mario Williams (Bob Levey/Getty Images/AFP)

John Kryk, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:59 PM ET

PALM BEACH, FLA. - By signing Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, the Buffalo Bills sure created a lot of buzz around the NFL.

It has been a long time since people talked in glowing terms about the Bills defence. Last year it was third worst in the league in points allowed (434).

But with the signing of those two defensive ends -- especially Williams, the $96-million man -- the focus of conversation between Bills head coach Chan Gailey and reporters Tuesday at the league's annual meeting centred on that side of the ball.

Exactly how much can those two help improve the sad-sack defence, and the entire team's fortunes? More than you think, Gailey said at the annual AFC coaches breakfast.

"Yes, you can measure it. There is no statistical measure. But when you add (general manager) Buddy Nix's years in the league, and my years in the league, you come up with two old guys with a lot of years. And we know the effect that pass rush has on the game today. We've seen the game evolve. We've been in it since the '80s. And pass rush is a huge part of this thing.

"You hope that you've got a viable pass rush with four people (making) our football team better. And you hope that (the opposing quarterback) feels like he has to get the ball out quicker, and maybe that makes him rush something. And if he rushes something, maybe he throws it to us instead of to his own guy."

Williams is the big-buzz acquisition -- the premier free agent on defence this year. As for Anderson at the other defensive end, some wonder if he'll have much impact because he is a pure pass rusher.

"He's capable of playing all three downs, I think," Gailey said. "And the thing about it is, all three downs in the league today are more passing than running. We're a different animal than we were 15 years ago."

Gailey also talked up inside linebacker Nick Barnett, whom the Bills picked up last July after the Green Bay Packers released the then-eight-year man. Barnett starred for the Bills, racking up 130 tackles -- third most of his career -- along with three sacks, five pass knockdowns and a forced fumble.

"Nick Barnett played extremely well," Gailey said. "If we'd have won more football games, he probably would have been in the Pro Bowl, because his statistics matched up with a bunch of the guys who went to the Pro Bowl.

"He got his feet wet, so to speak, in Buffalo. And I think this year he'll have a better year, maybe, than he did last year ... He'll feel a lot more comfortable about a lot of things this year."

All of which has caught the attention of the whole league, especially the Bills' AFC East division rivals.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Monday he figures one of the reasons the Bills loaded up on pass rushers is to come "after our boy, No. 12" -- quarterback Tom Brady.

"Well, he's right. He's exactly right," Gailey said. "That's what we feel like we've got to do -- you've got to rush the passer in our division. That's the first thing you go after is your division."

Is New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan scared? Yeah, right.

"They are a talented football team, no doubt," Ryan told QMI Agency. "But we'll see. We certainly don't fear anybody. We'll bring it on."

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca


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