Buffalo Bills Player to Watch: Mark Anderson

Bills fans should be very excited about the new 4-3 defense that is starting to take shape in Buffalo. Newly drafted cornerback, Stephon Gilmore, will solidify the defensive backs; but the real stars of this team will need to be on the defensive line if they are going to have real success. With two superstars (Mario and Kyle Williams) and a man coming off of an impressive rookie campaign (Marcell Dareus), the defensive line should be very tough to play against. Before we start imagining a 50-sack season however, the old saying says, “You are only as strong as your weakest link”. Without further ado let me introduce you to the weak link, and the Buffalo Bills player to watch, Mark Anderson.


Before I address why Mark Anderson’s performance this year is so important, lets go over what makes the 4-3 defense so successful. Generally this scheme utilizes a dominant run stopper playing in the 1-technique. That player is then paired with a 3-technique, which is someone that has the quickness and strength to disrupt the passing game and force runners to the outside. Finally, you should have two defensive ends that can secure the edge against the running game; but also posses the first-step quickness and body control to get to the quarterback when called upon. Dareus and Kyle Williams will be a wrecking crew in the middle and will demand at least three blockers between the two of them. Mario Williams can also handle most LTs and he can even beat TE and RB “helps” against the run or the pass.


With that said, if the Dolphins hand it off to Reggie Bush and tell him to run right, all the talent on that line is useless if Mark Anderson can’t get off his block. Fortunately though, I believe Anderson is more than capable of doing this. He showed in New England that he had all the tools to attack the edge as long as you have another quality player or two with him on the defensive line, like Vince Wilfork/Andre Carter.


Another reason to watch how Anderson plays is because this year he will be asked to do a lot more than maybe any defensive end in the league. Twice a year he will have to face Miami Dolphins’ rookie, Ryan Tannehill, who is as dangerous with his legs as he is with his arms. That being the case, Anderson will have to take an extra second and work down the line instead of listening to his instincts that will be screaming to make a straight line to the quarterback.


In New England, he will be asked to chip Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez so that they don’t get a clean start off the line. Not only that, but Tom Brady is one of the most frustrating quarterbacks in the league to take down because he is so good at finding one of his many dump-off targets before the pass-rusher gets hands on him.


In New York, the Jets are pretty weak at right tackle and Mark Sanchez has a propensity for making costly mistakes, so no wrinkles there right? Wrong, just when Anderson will be getting into a rhythm and the Jets will bring out their (not so secret) weapon. Suddenly it goes from chasing slow-footed Sanchez to Tim Turbo (I couldn’t help myself). Then Anderson has to make sure that he doesn’t become the guy on the highlight reel that Tim Tebow boots away from for a crucial fourth quarter touchdown.


In the end, Mark Anderson may be the least known and most scrutinized player on the Buffalo Bills roster next year. It will be interesting to see if he looks like the 10+ sack player that we saw in 2006 and 2011, or if he is closer to the guy that only averaged a measly 2.7 sacks a year in the five season span between those performances. He has everything a player could want size, speed, and talent around him; now it is time to see what he is made of.

About Will Lomas

Grew up in a town in Tennessee named Dyersburg, and played ball there. When I realized I was too small to play college ball, I found my passion in breaking down game film, analyzing athletes, and finding the little things that decides whether a player is good, bad, or great.

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