Bills' CBs get some blame for struggling 'D'

Posted Nov. 18, 2011 @ 4:29 a.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Heading into the 2011 season, the Bills' concerns rested with the front seven, coming off a season in which they finished dead-last defending the run. The secondary was the strength of the "D," as the Bills were third in the league in passing yards allowed.

This season, though, the play of CBs Drayton Florence, Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin has not been pretty. The Bills are now 27th in the league against the pass, despite being second in the league with 15 interceptions, but only three of those have come from the trio of starting corners.

The poor play at corner was evident in the loss to the Cowboys, when Tony Romo threw only three incompletions in a 44-7 drubbing.

McKelvin lost out on a jump ball to Dez Bryant in the endzone, despite his good coverage. It wasn't the first jump ball he lost this season — Raiders WR Denarius Moore beat McKelvin for a 50-yard score in Week Two. Head coach Chan Gailey addressed the fourth-year corner's struggles this week.

"Leodis is struggling. He'll tell you that, I'm sure. You have to have extreme confidence out on the edge like that. ... His confidence has been shaken a bit, and we've got to get him back where his confidence can be regained," Gailey said.

One daily team observer pointed out that McKelvin has regressed since his rookie season, when he also made an impact on kickoff returns.

The Bills re-signed Florence in the offseason after arguably his best season, when he had 15 passes defensed and three picks. According to Pro Football Focus, 69.8 percent of the passes thrown at Florence this season have been completed. The league average is around 60 percent. He had three pass-interference penalties in the loss to the Giants, including two on the Giants' game-winning drive.

According to PFF, McKelvin and Florence have given up eight combined TDs — three by McKelvin and five by Florence. McGee has had some nice plays since returning from injury and hasn't given up as many big plays covering receivers in the slot, but he's 31, injury-prone and had his struggles against the Jets.

It is important to note that the pass rush hasn't done the corners any favors. If you ignore a 10-sack effort against the Redskins, the Bills have a dismal five sacks in eight games.

The way we hear it, the Bills' organization is of the belief that you can never have enough cornerbacks, explaining its decision to use a second-rounder on Aaron Williams in April's draft. Cornerback may be right behind pass rusher in terms of the Bills' priorities for the offseason.

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