A week removed from one of the biggest deals in Buffalo Bills history and I am still just as excited as I was that thursday afternoon. Signing All-Pro Defensive End Mario Williams to a earth shattering six year, $100 million deal with a guaranteed $50 million for a small market, usually conservative team like Buffalo seemed like a laughable dream until the talks about Mario visiting Buffalo started brewing on Tuesday. The longer he stayed in Buffalo, the greater the chance something serious was happening. It may have taken almost three days but the deal eventually got done and Mario Williams became the richest defensive player in NFL history. This deal is huge for Buffalo on and off the field in so many ways wrangling in the prize defensive player on the market and one of the best to ever be on the free agent market.
The Combination Makes Football Sense
Even before the Bills made the move for Mario, defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt announced that the defense would switch to a 4-3 for the 2012 season. Now after the deal, Dave looks like a genius. Now Mario can fit into his proper position at defensive end unlike in Houston where he would play linebacker in their 3-4 defense and succeed in it. The move to the 4-3 will also move sophomore defensive lineman Marcell Dareus inside to defensive line with Pro Bowler Kyle Williams, both of whom should see spikes in production this year with the addition of Mario on one end. Throw in either Chris Kelsey or another end (Looks like Mark Anderson now) and the Bills now have one of the best looking defensive lines in the NFL. One of the Bills biggest problems was getting pressure on the quarter back and when you are in the same division as Tom Brady playing him twice a year, that is a huge problem. The Bills recorded only 29 sacks which ranked 29th in the NFL, gave up 30 passing touchdowns which ranked 30th in NFL, and opponents passer ratings against the Bills defense on the season was 90.4, ranking 26th. Expect all of those numbers to lean more in the Bills favor with the addition of Mario.
The Bills for the past 15 plus years have been a afterthought in the NFL by just about everyone. Every year as free agents hit the market the Bills would sit with their hands in their laps and watch as big name players went to other teams and settle on overpaying for backups or washed up former stars. But with this one move, it has started to change the was a lot of people look at Buffalo. With the Bills picking up a big name, all pro type player who can take a shaky defense and make it one of the best in the league and empty their pockets to do so, it tells other free agents who are looking for new teams on the upswing to call home to give Buffalo a look when they in the past would have looked right past the Bills.
Moving Back In The Right Direction
As everyone knows the Bills have not been in the playoffs since 1999 and over time the drought just keeps getting more and more painful. But with the introduction of Mario wearing a Buffalo hat, there is a buzz around the team that normally screams playoff aspirations. And when this type of buzz is surrounding a team, the fans have reacted. Bills Chief Executive Officer Russ Brandon announced that over 1,400 new season tickets were purchased and over 4,000 season tickets were renewed since the signing of Mario Williams. And now if you go onto the Buffalo Bills website you can sign up to receive a email about when Mario’s new Bills jersey will be on sale. According to Russ Brandon, more than 6,000 people have already enquired about the new jerseys. The amount of national attention the Bills have gotten about the deal has been a breath of fresh air for all Bills fans. After not having any real primetime games on Sunday or Monday night, their chances of picking up at least one game on ESPN or NBC seems much more likely. The deal being broken down on ESPN by Adam Schefter and other analyst who normally wouldn’t be talking about Buffalo is always great to see and reinforces the impact of this deal. Adam Schefter even went as far as comparing this deal as close to the Reggie White to Green Bay deal. It makes looking forward to the 2012 season much more exciting for all Bills fans.
As many teams in the past have told us, winning in the offseason does not always guarantee results on the field but for the Buffalo Bills the signing of Mario Williams isn’t just a step in the right direction, its a giant leap.
by Andrew Isaac