After the Bills defense ranked 29th in rushing and allowed the most touchdowns in the league with 22 a season ago.
They also struggled to get to the quarterback registering the fourth fewest sacks last year with 27 so, general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott made an effort to bolster to the defensive line in the offseason.
On the edge, they signed veteran defensive end Trent Murphy and added defensive tackles Star Lotulelei in free agency and Harrison Phillips in the draft.
Last season, Jerry Hughes had a red hot start to the year registering four sacks through the first four games. He then failed to bring down an opposing quarterback for the next 10 weeks before sacking Patriots QB Tom Brady on Christmas Eve.
With Murphy and, hopefully an improved effort from former first round pick Shaq Lawson, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier believes it could be a big year for Hughes.
“I just feel like he’s going to have a terrific season,” Frazier said on Sunday. “At this stage of his career, he kind of knows what to kind of expect of opponents and how people are going to block him and the respect that teams have for him. He’s done a great job this season preparing to have the best season of his career.
“With the addition of Trent and then Shaq coming on the way he is, it should take some of the attention away from Jerry, we think.”
And, with Lotulelei and Phillips hopefully drawing attention on the interior, the hope is it makes things easier for the edge rusher as well.
“We didn’t always get that a season ago and the fact is that Star has the ability to be able to get an inside push fur us and we think Harrison will provide that as well,” Frazier added. “We know that Kyle (Williams) can get it done on occasion, so that should increase Jerry’s opportunities.”
“He’s done a good job, he’s taken everything in stride,” Williams added on Phillips. “He’s asked the right questions just going out and competing and he’ll continue to grow.”
At 35, Williams is the second oldest player on the Bills’ roster behind linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who is 11 days older.
Frazier admitted Sunday wanting to avoid playing Williams an overabundance of snaps and, much like they did last year, will rotate players in the trenches.
And, with that, they’re also looking for a strong season from Adolphus Washington to help ensure the line’s success.
“(Adolphus) can provide that for us and not have a big drop off when Kyle’s not in the game, because we want to have a system where we are rotating our front and he’s going ot be a big part of our success. We need him to really be consistent and just keep rising and not have plateaus.”