Inside The Bills

’96 Bills & ’12 Bills a comparison

Posted by Chris Brown on June 29, 2012 – 9:40 am

With Chris Spielman telling he sees some similarities with respect to the 2012 Bills and the team he signed up to join in free agency back in 1996 we thought we’d take a look at where that 10-6 team in ’96 finished up and what kind of season the 2012 Bills are coming off of a season ago to see if we can gauge just how similar they might be.

The ’96 defense finished 9th overall, 10th in third down defense, 14th against the run, 8th against the pass, 8th in 1st downs allowed, 5th in pass breakups and 3rd in sacks.

The ’12 Bills are coming off a 2011 season in which they finished 26th overall, 21st in third down defense, 28th against the run, 19th against the pass, 27th in first downs allowed, 20th in pass breakups and 27th in sacks.

This year’s team might look a long way off with the numbers, but one has to consider the veteran free agent additions (M. Williams, Anderson), the players coming back from injury (K. Williams, Merriman, McGee), the draft talent added (Gilmore) and the maturation of young players stepping into starting roles (A. Williams, Sheppard) along with a proven defensive coach now running the show (Wannstedt).

Roll all that together and I believe a lot of the numbers put up by the ’96 Bills are very realistic for this year’s squad, particularly the rankings for run defense (14th), pass breakups (5th) and sacks (3rd). So Spielman appears to be onto something with his assessment.  

Yes, the defensive line talent is comparable between the two clubs (Bruce Smith-Mario Williams, Ted Washington-Marcell Dareus, Phil Hansen-Kyle Williams, Bryce Paup-Mark Anderson/Shawne Merriman). That looks like the strength of both defensive units. The 2012 unit however, has more opportunistic safeties than the ’96 squad had in then rookie Matt Stevens and Kurt Schulz, who collectively logged just six INTs.

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