The Bills' switch to a 3-4 defense has not found much success. But their opponent on Sunday went through the same growing pains.
The Chiefs were 31st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and tied with the Bills for the second-highest per-carry average given up last year. But the Chiefs own the NFL’s sixth-ranked run defense and are yielding just 3.7 yards per rush attempt (eight-best in the league) this season. They’re also seventh in average points allowed per game and fifth in scoring differential.
Chiefs coach Todd Haley went through the same criticism Bills first-year man Chan Gailey is taking for going to a 3-4 with a roster built for a 4-3 defense. Here is Haley's take on why he made the change:
“As I grew up through this league as an offensive coach, I always in mind preparing for a 3-4 was a little more difficult. The more I talked to people and learned about this game and learned about defense, the more sure I was of how I wanted to play defense if I ever got an opportunity like I have here.’’
The Chiefs are succeeding with pretty much the same lineup they had a year ago. The only exceptions are rookie strong safety Eric Berry, the fourth overall pick in this year's draft and second-year inside linebacker Jovan Belcher. A number of returning players are now flourishing after struggling in their first year in the 3-4. That's a sign that the Chiefs' coaching staff is doing a good job of developing players.
While Haley stuck to his plan, Gailey has deviated somewhat by moving back to a four-man front in an attempt to improve the NFL's worst run defense. But the 3-4 will remain a part of the package. Looking at the improvement the Chiefs have made, perhaps there is hope for the Bills' defense.
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