This past Tuesday marked the official NFL trade deadline, with big names such as Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Leonard Williams, and Kevin Byard being traded. With that in mind, the Buffalo Bills didn’t land as big of a name but addressed a dire need for a depth upgrade at the cornerback position. After losing star cornerback Tre’Davious White for the season in Week 4’s win over the Miami Dolphins 48-20, a move needed to be made. On Tuesday, the Bills acquired cornerback Rasul Douglas and a fifth-round selection from the Green Bay Packers in exchange for Buffalo’s third-round selection in this year’s draft. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Douglas provides a clutch factor to head coach Sean McDermott’s defense, having the most interceptions among all cornerbacks in the 4th quarter and overtime since 2021. Will it be enough to salvage the injury-riddled Bills’ defense?
The Bills not only lost White but also 2022 first-team All-Pro linebacker Matt Milano. The undrafted linebacker out of Boston College has two interceptions, one forced fumble, and tackle for loss so far this season. While the Bills haven’t confirmed Milano’s season is over yet, he suffered a gruesome leg injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London this year and was carted off the field, being placed on injured reserve. The 29-year-old is a fan favorite of Bills Mafia and arguably the heart of its defense. Defensive tackle DaQuan Jones recently had surgery to repair a torn pectoral, which looks to require a long recovery process as well. Jones was averaging a sack every two games so far this season. Von Miller returned to action in Week 5 in London after recovering from a torn ACL suffered last season. The future Hall of Famer has been nothing more than a decoy so far, recording one tackle in the past four weeks.
With everything that has happened to Buffalo’s defense so far let’s take a look at the depth chart at certain positions. The starting cornerbacks are Christian Benford (CB1), Taron Johnson (Slot Corner), and Rasul Douglas (CB2). Dane Jackson will also get time to relieve Benford and Douglas. Kaiir Elam was supposed to be one of Sean McCdermott’s go-to corners, being selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft by the Bills. But after struggling to prove his worth, he’s only received playing time this year due to White’s injury. The secondary as a whole is solid, with star veteran safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde still healthy.
The “starting” defensive line: Greg Rousseau (Left Defensive End), Ed Oliver (Defensive Tackle 1), Tim Settle (Defensive Tackle 2), and Von Miller (Right Defensive End). Miller usually plays on third downs and crucial moments of the game, so veteran free agent signing Leonard Floyd has played most of that position lately. Floyd has been a great signing for Buffalo, recording six and a half sacks in only eight games. So has “backup” defensive end AJ Epenesa, recording five sacks in eight games. Head coach McDermott likes to rotate his defensive line, keeping everyone fresh frequently. The Bills’ defense ranks towards the top of the NFL in total team sacks. Imagine what it would look like with a dominant Von Miller?
The starting linebackers are Terrel Bernard (Middle Linebacker), Tyrel Dodson (Outside Linebacker), and Dorian Williams (Outside Linebacker). Losing middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds in free agency, Bernard has stepped up big time as the captain of Buffalo’s defense. The third-round selection in 2022 has two sacks, three fumble recoveries, and two interceptions on the year. Milano’s injury has promoted rookie Dorian Williams to outside linebacker. Playing college football at Tulane, he has 24 total tackles on the season. This is the weakest part of the Bills’ defense, as they tend to struggle against the run in previous years.
The Bills have ridden a roller coaster of emotions, and so have their fans this season. With inconsistent play from Josh Allen and offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey’s game plan and performance. In Week 1, they had a disappointing loss to the New York Jets without Aaron Rodgers. They then won three straight games over the Las Vegas Raiders, Washington Commanders, and Miami Dolphins. The next week, they headed to London, where they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 25-20. Bills Mafia then welcomed home former quarterback Tyrod Taylor as he nearly defeated his old team. Buffalo squeaked out with a 14-9 win on a defensive stand at the end of the game at the one-yard line. The Bills are 1-1 since then, losing to the Patriots on a late Mike Gesicki touchdown and then defeating the Buccaneers in prime time at home.
This upcoming Sunday, Buffalo (5-3) heads to Cincinnati, Ohio this week to take on the Bengals (4-3) on Sunday Night Football. The last time both teams played here, Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest, and the game was ended and never made up. The Bengals have followed a similar path as the Bills so far this year, losing their first two games and now riding a three-game winning streak. Which Buffalo team will its fans see this week? It’s almost unpredictable at this point.
Regardless of what happens this Sunday night, there are so many questions surrounding this Bills team this season: Will Josh Allen become more consistent over the course of the season? Will Ken Dorsey still have a job by the end of the season if the offense continues to struggle? How will the defense perform without Matt Milano and Tre’Davious White? The list of questions goes on and on. The Miami Dolphins are 6-2 on the season, with one of those losses coming against the Bills. Buffalo is a game behind Miami, and the Jets are right behind the Bills at 4-3. None of these games can afford to lose a game with hopes of winning the division or even making the playoffs.
After Cincanti, Buffalo takes on the Denver Broncos and New York Jets before their bye week. The weeks following the bye week will show the Bills’ true colors, taking on the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, and two division rivals to end the season. As fans may know, the Eagles and Chiefs faced off in last season’s Super Bowl. The schedule makers didn’t make it a cakewalk for Bills Mafia to end the regular season.
In order to win the division or make the playoffs, the Bills have to establish their offensive game plan. It seems each week, a part of the offense fails to show up. When the offense shows up, the defense doesn’t, and vice versa. Therefore, in order to make another run at a Lombardi Trophy, the Buffalo Bills need complete team showings and consistency from Josh Allen and its offense.