Lack of sacks highlights Bills' problems

Posted Oct. 16, 2010 @ 5:58 p.m.
Posted By Eli Kaberon

OLB Reggie Torbor started on one of the best pass-rushing teams in recent memory, the 2007 New York Giants, who recorded 52 regular-season sacks and brought down Tom Brady five times in their shocking upset win in Super Bowl XLII.

Now Torbor plays for the Bills, a team that has struggled mightily in playing defense, especially getting to the quarterback. The team has only six sacks on the year, which is not what first-year defensive coordinator George Edwards expected when he converted the defense from its traditional 4-3 to the attack-heavy 3-4. But a variety of problems, from an inability to stop the run to confusion about the new alignment, has left opposing quarterbacks clean and upright in their games against Buffalo.

"When you allow people to rush for 300 yards, you're not going to get many pass-rushing opportunities," Torbor told PFW. "Even when they do pass the ball, it's a play-action because everyone is so focused on stopping the run, they're able to max-protect and throw it downfield. Defensive football starts with stopping the run, and if you can't stop the run, it's going to be a long day for you. You're not going to get sacks or interceptions or anything."

Switching to the 3-4 without major overhauls to the roster put the team at a disadvantage from the start. Four starters in the front seven had never played in the scheme, and they've taken some time getting used to the differences. Torbor explained that with fewer defensive linemen, each player on the second level of the defense has greater responsibilities.

"Most 4-3 linebackers are used to being able to run through and make tackles," Torbor said. "But in a 3-4, everyone basically has two gaps, so you have to take on guards a lot and basically work your way to the ball."

Bills players have said they understand Edwards' system and that they play at full speed in practice, but the results on Sundays have not shown their hard work to be paying off. The team has allowed 30 or more points in four consecutive games, something no Bills team had ever done since the franchise's formation in 1960. Torbor believes the 3-4 will show improvement soon.

"The more you rep something, the better you get at it. So, while it wasn't an overnight thing, I think as we go on more, we'll be more comfortable."