The Buffalo Bills are moving to a hybrid 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, and last season’s huge offseason signing Mario Williams is a focal point for the new-look front seven as far as alignment goes. Williams had a disappointing first season in Buffalo largely thanks to injuries, but he has a chance to explode in the Bills 4-3 scheme with some more 3-4 scheme. It sounds like Pettine is going to do whatever he can to rejuvenate the Bills high-priced DE/OLB, and a large part of that plan will be moving him around the formation.
Williams told the Bills official site, “If I was going to be labeled I’d probably be labeled defensive end because of my size. But I don’t have a position.”
With no set position for Williams, it will be interesting to see how often the Bills move him around the front seven. I would expect Williams to see the brunt of his playing time as a 3-4 OLB, but he could also rush the passer with his hand on the ground when the Bills use their four-man fronts.
On the John Murphy show, Pettine praised Williams’s versatility and expanded on how the Bills might use Williams, “He’s a versatile guy. I think he could play at the defensive end spot. He could play outside linebacker. He could be up. He could be down. I think there will be times in our third down package where he’s down over a guard, down over a center.”
The Bills don’t want offenses to be able to key in on Williams and know where he is going to be lined up, and keeping the offense offguard will help Williams get back to the total of 8.5 sacks he recorded when last a part of a 3-4 defense for a full season.