by Greg Gabriel
March 21, 02012
Earlier today free agent defensive end Mark Anderson signed a 4-year deal with the Buffalo Bills. While it won’t be publicized like the Mario Williams deal last week, this deal is important for both the Bills and Anderson.
Anderson was a 5th-round pick of the Bears in 2006. As a role player he had 12 sacks in helping lead the Bears to an NFC Championship. Because of that great rookie season, a lot was expected from Anderson and he didn’t deliver. Yes, he had some injury concerns but his play just didn’t live up to what he did in 2006.
Anderson is a classic speed rusher and because of that speed and his great initial burst he was tough to block when coming off the edge. Like everything else in the NFL, once a coordinator watches enough tape, he finds ways to stop what a player does best and that’s what happened with Anderson. It looked as if he was a one-move guy and when you took that move away he became average. Because of that, the Bears did not bring him back for the 2010 season and he signed with Houston. The one year in Houston was not much different than what we saw in Chicago.
Last year New England needed some pass rush help and took a chance and signed Anderson to a 1-year deal. The move did wonders, as Anderson had his best season since his rookie year. He finished the year with 10 sacks, playing as a designated pass rusher. What you saw on tape was a different player. Anderson played with the enthusiasm we saw in 2006. He showed a variety of pass rush moves and became a more complete player. This new deal with Buffalo gives Anderson the contractual security he has not had since his rookie year.
In Buffalo, Anderson should flourish. He will not be asked to play fulltime but rather in the same role as he played in New England. Playing opposite Mario Williams will help both him and Williams because the offense is going to have to pick their poison on passing downs. They won’t be able to double team both.
The move also gives the Bills added flexibility in the draft. Having signed two pass rushers in free agency they now have the luxury of drafting the proverbial “best available athlete.” Picking at 10, the Bills could go in any of several directions. They may be looking at a quality wide receiver, which they could use. They could draft probably the second-best corner in the draft (Dre Kirkpatrick) or they could choose to go offensive line (Riley Reiff). No matter what they decide to do, they have upgraded their team tremendously. You have to like the moves Buddy Nix is making in Buffalo.