Mike Pettine summed up his game plan for the Buffalo Bills defense in one word Wednesday: flexibility.
One Bill who’s trying to prove he can fit that mold is defensive back Aaron Williams. (photo: Jeffrey Beall, Flickr)
Williams, who is entering his third season with the team, was recently thrown into the safety role by Pettine after a disappointing run at the cornerback position. According to the former Jets assistant, Williams is taking the change in responsibility in stride.
“He’s doing a nice job, and that’s a difficult thing,” Pettine said, via Chris Brown of buffalobills.com. “You could make the argument, he’s a DB and he’s staying at DB. But the safety world is very different from the corner world. He’s very intelligent. He’s soaking it all in.
“Every day is a challenge for him as far as new concepts in the playbook. I think he’s done a real nice job buying in and really getting quickly to the graduate level details of it.”
Williams move to the head of the class is a crucial one for Pettine’s system. His schematic hinges on the squad knowing the assignments of multiple positions in order to effectively confuse the offense pre-snap and disrupt the play with an aggressive move once the ball is snapped.
Pettine’s plan for Williams and the secondary is dependent on two factors: the strong play of corners Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin, and, more importantly, the eventual return of two-time Pro Bowler Jairus Byrd.
Byrd represents one of only two true safeties on the Bills’ roster — the other being Nevada rookie Duke Williams. Pettine will look to him to help lead the young DB squad and to familiarize the two young safeties with their new roles. Byrd was franchise tagged by the team earlier this year but has yet to sign the one-year, $7 million deal.
Williams has just one interception and zero sacks since joining Buffalo. If Pettine’s system is successful, that’s likely to change, though Williams will also need to stay healthy to make that happen. The former Longhorn has struggled with various injuries since he was drafted, playing in only 20 games over the past two years.