Buffalo Bills are not getting good return from their high-priced defense

Brian McIntyre
Shutdown Corner

Over the 2012 offseason, the Buffalo Bills changed defensive coordinators (out with George Edwards, in with Dave Wannstedt) and defensive schemes (moved from a 3-4 to a 4-3). The Bills also spent a lot of money improving the talent on the field, signing pass-rushing defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to contracts worth a total of $115.5 million with $57.9 million in guarantees, and using a Top 10 pick on cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who was signed to a four-year, $12.084 million contract that is fully guaranteed.

In fact, no NFL team is spending more cash — base salary, signing bonuses, roster bonuses, workout bonuses and "Likely To Be Earned" incentives than the Bills. Due to the signings of Williams, Anderson, the selection of Gilmore and other high-priced veterans already on the roster — Kyle Williams ($5 million), Spencer Johnson and Nick Barnett ($3.5 million each) — the Bills are poised to spend over $77 million in cash on the defensive side of the football.

Five weeks into the 2012 regular season, the Bills rank:

31st in total defense (449.4 yards)
31st in scoring defense (35.2 points)
32nd in yards allowed per play (6.73 yards)
30th against the run (171.8 yards per game)
32nd in rushing yards allowed per play (5.69 yards per run play)
24th against the pass (277.6 yards per game)
29th in passing yards allowed per play (8.02 yards per pass attempt)
30th in 1st downs allowed per play (25.0 per game)
30th on third down defensive percentage (47.54 percent)
30th in red zone percentage (70 percent)

[Reggie Wayne's career day almost as stunning as his return to Indianapolis Colts]

And in their 45-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, the Bills defense became the first team in NFL history to allow 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing in the same game. In a 52-28 loss to the New England Patriots a week earlier, the Bills were the second team in NFL history to allow a 300-yard passer, two 100-yard receivers and two 100-yard rushers in the same game.

It's not all doom-and-gloom for the Bills defense. Even though Williams and Anderson have combined for just 2.5 sacks through five games, they are in the middle of the pack (tied for 17th) in terms of sacks (10) and are No. 2 in the NFL in forced fumbles with eight.

Buffalo Bills Defense Spending (NFL average)

Defensive Line: $50.7 million ($21.44 million)
Linebackers: $8.475 million ($15.935 million)
Defensive Backs: $17.852 million ($20.935 million)
Total: $77.027 million ($58.31 million)

Conversely, the Houston Texans, who enter Monday night's game against the New York Jets ranked third in the league in total defense, tied for second in scoring defense and are No. 1 in third down defense, will spend just over $41 million on their entire defense this season. Building through the draft with players like J.J. Watt ($885,795), Brian Cushing ($1.153 million), Brooks Reed ($588,716) and Kareem Jackson ($700,000), who are still on their rookie deals, with a sprinkling of free agents (Antonio Smith, Johnathan Joseph) has a lot to do with the league-low price tag of the Texans' defense.

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