Bills Camp Preview: Safeties

The Bills Report
Micah Hyde Jordan Poyer

PITTSBURGH, PA – DECEMBER 15: Jordan Poyer #21 of the Buffalo Bills and Micah Hyde #23 walk toward the field before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 15, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

As the Bills get ready for training camp, we are previewing the 2020 team by position group. One group every day until camp begins in full July 28th. Today is the safeties.

STRENGTH

Smarts

Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer know everything. They know the defense. They know the league. They know each other and they know it all about as well as anyone can. That’s on top of already being pretty smart guys.

All that knowledge comes in handy during a season with significantly limited practice time. To a large degree, Hyde and Poyer don’t even really need practice. A few days of refreshing and they’ll be ready to go as the best pair of anchors in defensive football.

WEAKNESS

Backups

This is pretty similar to the situation at linebacker. If either starter goes down, the safety position could be in some trouble.

Dean Marlowe is a McDermott favorite and followed him to Buffalo from Carolina. He’s got great intangibles, but doesn’t seem much above replacement level.

Siran Neal has been effective in a few different roles, but seems much stronger in the box as a run defender. He’s likely the top candidate to be the third safety in a “big nickel” look, but it’s hard to envision him an effective starting safety.

Beyond that, all the Bills have are a few super young dart throws. Hyde and Poyer have each missed exactly one game since coming to Buffalo. The Bills need that level of health to continue.

X-FACTOR

Creativity

While most NFL teams will spend the preseason simply getting their defense on its feet, the Bills could be working on some deep wrinkles. This works in concert with the rest of the defense, but expect Poyer and Hyde to be at the heart of it.

The Bills open with the Jets and Dolphins. That means a still young QB (Sam Darnold) with an entirely new offensive line and mostly new receivers followed by, potentially, a rookie QB making his second start (Tua Tagovailoa). There’s no reason Hyde and Poyer can’t be playing chess while their AFC East rivals are playing checkers.

THINGS WERE SAID

Even without a superb third safety, expect Sean McDermott to roll out a three safety look a fair amount this season. To illustrate, Hyde and Poyer missed a total of 126 defensive snaps last year. Neal, Marlowe, Kurt Coleman and rookie Jaquan Johnson combined to play 405 snaps of defense.

That’s a lot of big nickel and things won’t change in 2020.

“I think it gives it gives Leslie Frazier various looks that he can throw at an offense or a quarterback and make them not know who’s coming, how many is coming, who’s dropping,” Brandon Beane said. “It’s been an effective piece, but again, you got to have the right personnel.”

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