Early blitzing backfires for Bills

August, 25, 2013
8/25/13
3:00
PM ET
The Bills defense wants to be known this season as an attacking, pressure-based unit that uses blitzes and blitz looks to keep opposing quarterbacks from becoming comfortable.

But in Saturday's preseason loss to the Washington Redskins, Mike Pettine's defense had a rough go of it. The Redskins capitalized on the Bills' first three blitz calls of the game, coming away with three big plays.

Here's a breakdown of each one:

FIRST QUARTER, 12:28 REMAINING

Situation: 3rd-and-4 from Redskins 31-yard line.

Offensive personnel: Shotgun, 1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR

Defensive personnel: 2 DL (Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus), 2 OLB (Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes), 2 LB (Kiko Alonso, Bryan Scott), 5 DB (Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, Da'Norris Searcy, Aaron Williams)

Result: Rex Grossman completes pass to Roy Helu for 21-yard gain.

What happened: The Bills rushed five against the Redskins' five-man protection. Alonso and Searcy both blitzed up the middle, leaving Mario Williams in a one-on-one against left tackle Trent Williams, but none of the rushers generated pressure. The blitz left the Bills in man-to-man coverage, with Scott picking up Helu on a wheel route out of the backfield. Scott took a step forward -- he may have thought Helu was staying back for pass protection -- before trailing Helu in his route down the left sideline. Grossman lofted the pass over Scott's shoulder, and Aaron Williams, who had single-deep responsibilities because of Searcy's blitz, could not get over in time.

FIRST QUARTER, 10:27 REMAINING

Situation: 2nd-and-10 from Bills' 38-yard line.

Offensive personnel: 2 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR

Defensive personnel: 3 DL (Corbin Bryant, Alan Branch, Jay Ross), 4 LB (Hughes, Alonso, Manny Lawson, Nigel Bradham), 4 DB (Gilmore, McKelvin, Searcy, A. Williams)

Result: Grossman completes pass to Fred Davis for 31-yard gain.

What happened: The Bills again rushed five, but the Redskins were in a six-man protection scheme. Lawson and Alonso both blitzed on the left side, with the two running backs doing enough to keep the two blitzers off Grossman after his drop. The blitzes created a coverage gap on the offensive's left side, filled by Bradham sliding over to that side in his zone assignment. However, Aaron Williams was also in a deeper zone to that side of the field, allowing Davis to clear behind him on a 20-yard flag pattern. It was poor awareness on Williams' part to not recognize the empty flat to the left side and instead pick up Davis' route.

FIRST QUARTER, 4:49 REMAINING

Situation: 3rd-and-10 from Redskins' 31-yard line.

Offensive personnel: Shotgun, 1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR

Defensive personnel: 2 DL (K. Williams, M. Williams), 3 LB (Hughes, Alonso, Scott), 6 DB (Nickell Robey, Gilmore, McKelvin, Brooks, Searcy, A. Williams)

Result: Grossman completes pass to Santana Moss for 45-yard gain.

What happened: The Bills showed a heavy blitz look at the line of scrimmage, and kept both Kyle and Mario Williams standing until the last second, trying to confuse Grossman. Up the middle, Alonso and Scott faked a blitz before dropping into zones. But on the left side, Brooks and Robey came in on blitzes and were effectively chased behind the pocket by LT Trent Williams. The Redskins also essentially triple-teamed Mario Williams when he stunted inside, with the left guard, center, and running back all picking him up. In the right slot, Hughes jammed Moss at the line, with Searcy late to pick him up as he broke inside on a deep crossing pattern. Aaron Williams had the deep middle and was dragged outside by the left receiver, giving Moss room the make the catch. Williams then over-pursued Moss, allowing an even larger gain before Gilmore could make the tackle.

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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