The Buffalo Bills overhauled their coaching staff this offseason, and new head coach Doug Marrone looked within the division to find the man to run his defense, as former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was hired.
With Pettine running the defense, the Bills figure to run multiple fronts and present an offense with an abundance of different looks. As standout defensive lineman Kyle Williams told Tim Graham of the Buffalo News, a versatile defensive scheme is imperative against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
"With us playing Tom Brady twice a year, you have to do different things to him," he said, "because if you're going to get in your defense, and 'This is what we're going to stay in, and we're going to play it well,' no matter how well you play, he's eventually going to figure out how to spin the top on you."
As Graham notes, the Bills ran a more vanilla, generic base defense under former coordinator Dave Wannstedt, primarily out of four-man fronts. Last season, the Bills found themselves in a pickle when they turned to their sub defense in a Week 4 matchup with the Patriots to counter the passing attack, only to have New England hammer away on the ground and total 247 rushing yards.
This year, it sounds as though the Bills won't settle into a single defensive front, something aimed towards confusing opposing quarterbacks prior to the snap.
"The way of, 'We're going to play 3-4 or 4-3 for the most part is kind of moot, and it's kind of dead at this point,'" Williams said. "You look on film, and there's so many teams that are so multiple. They do so many different things because you have to adapt to offenses. You have to adapt to Tom Bradys and Peyton Mannings."
The Bills are looking to turn their fortunes around as a franchise, and they hope establishing an identity on defense will serve as a good foundation. They'll need to find an answer for Brady and the Patriots as well, as they've dropped 18 of their last 19 meetings against the Patriots.
The Patriots visit the Bills in the season-opener Sept. 8.