The Buffalo Bills gave Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden plenty to think about this week.
The Bills used a dizzying array of defensive looks in confounding the Kansas City Chiefs during their 35-17 win on Sunday.
"I know if I was the quarterback turning on the film that we just watched, my eyes would be pretty big," said second-year linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, who got his first career sack Sunday. "I think that's good going into this next week."
The Bills were consistently able to get pressure on Matt Cassel and keep the Chiefs' offense guessing where the rush was coming from.
"That was the plan going in to balance the pressure and the eight drops. Try to keep them off balance a bit more," Bills coach Chan Gailey said.
In the first half alone, the Bills dropped defensive end Mark Anderson into coverage on three separate plays. But that doesn't mean they would always rush three. On one of those plays, out of the nickel formation, cornerback Justin Rogers came in on a blitz. On another, safety Jairus Byrd rushed Cassel.
The Bills also showed blitz, then backed off, like linebacker Bryan Scott did in the second quarter. On the next snap, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus executed a perfect stunt with Kyle Williams and got the team's first sack of the season.
"The main thing was this week we were able to get them in more third and 5 plus, places where we could rush the passer and throw some different things at him and do some different things in our front seven to confuse them," Williams said. In the third quarter, the creativity continued. At one point, even Dareus dropped into coverage.
Gailey indicated that was the game plan for the Chiefs - "we wanted to do some things against them that we felt like would be good in that ball game," he said, and that it may change this week.
But it's clear the Bills gave the Browns a lot more defensive looks to analyze.
"I think the way the game was working out, we were able to pressure them and keep them . not knowing exactly where everybody is coming from," defensive end Chris Kelsay said. "Any time you can bring more to the table it makes it a lot more difficult, especially on a young quarterback, but at the end of the day it's a matter of the one-on-one matchups, winning those. I think we've got the guys up front to do that, I think we've got the guys behind us to do that. We tightened up our coverage this week and had some more success up front. It all goes hand in hand."
That was evident on the Bills' second sack of the game, which came on a basic four-man rush out of the base 4-3 defense. Cassel had nowhere to go with the ball and had to step up in the pocket. When he did, Alex Carrington disengaged to sack him and knock the ball loose, setting up the Bills' third touchdown.
Sheppard got his first sack on a play in which Anderson dropped off the line into coverage in the third quarter. The Bills still rushed five, also sending safety George Wilson in off the right side. That forced running back Peyton Hillis to pick him up. The three rushing down linemen all shifted left at the snap. Sheppard delayed for a split second, then burst through a gaping hole on the right side to have a free shot at Cassel, who simply ducked for cover.
"It was one of our fire zones. Everybody stunted the right way. When you have the blitz on, it takes a collective 11-guy effort for it to get home. The coverage first and foremost has to be there so the quarterback has to hold the ball. I just delayed it a little bit and I was just zeroed in on No. 7," Sheppard said.
Sheppard said it's a play the defense works on just about every day in practice, and one he expects to run more as the season goes on as the players get more comfortable in defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt's scheme.
"As the season progresses and we move on here, the pressure will pick up," Sheppard said. We'll get more comfortable with the multiplicity with the schemes," he said.