Old, but experienced Bills D-Line starting to dominate

Sports

Lorenzo Alexander’s twitter handle is “OneManGang97” because he’s played so many different positions and roles during his long NFL career. 

This year, that includes a role at defensive tackle. He’s a part of the Bills preferred foursome for rushing the passer: Alexander and Kyle Williams at tackle. Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy at end. The Bills have produced five of their eight sacks when this group is on the field. 

Alexander, Williams and Hughes are also three of the 11 guys on the team at age 30 or older. However, combined with Murphy, the group has 39 years of NFL experience. They’ve been using it to their advantage. 

“I have a great synergy with those guys,” Alexander said. “We can communicate very late in the down, as the quarterback is snapping, and still be able to execute some games or some stunts.”

“When you have guys who know how to rush the passer and know how to do it right, you can really feed off each (other),” Hughes said. “It’s not really a bunch of one on one’s, individual matchups. It’s more so married up to a four on five.”

Hughes is in his sixth season lining up next to Williams. Alexander is playing his third season in Buffalo. The group feels like they all know exactly where each other is going to be and what they are going to do on every play. 

“I know Jerry likes to come underneath a lot. I know I can come back, maybe come out late, pop and cover him up,” Alexander said. “When you have guys that are working well like that with each other, without really doing any talking, it’s when you have something special going on.”

Even though Murphy is the new guy to the squad and missed most of training camp, he’s had no issue fitting in. Usually, he and Alexander rush from the same side.  

“He’s a blue collar grinder like me,” Alexander said. “He doesn’t say too much so we connect on so many different levels. It’s easy to talk to him about football because that’s what he’s all about.”

According to Pro Football Focus, Hughes is tied for the league lead in quarterback pressures with Khalil Mack. Both have 20.

Sean McDermott says he’s noticed a maturity in a guy normally known for out of control 15 yard penalties. 

“He’s bought into everything, at least that I can tell, that I’ve asked him to do,” McDermott said. “It’s an emotional game. I get that. I’d rather have to rein a guy in a little bit once in a while than kick a guy in the backside to get him fired up.”

“We really focus on the big picture,” Hughes said. “How to play complimentary football. How to set our team up for success and being smart football players. We really try to preach that here and you can see it paying off on the football field.”

McDermott liked how his defensive line played fast against the Vikings. He says Alexander is moved to tackle on passing downs to be an extra “fastball.”

“When you can throw fastballs at the quarterback, good things usually happen,” McDermott said. 

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