Heading into to the bye week the Bills are sitting at 7-3 after a heartbreaking loss to the Arizona Cardinals. One of the biggest concerns heading into the bye week is a non existent Bills run defense that surrendered 217 rushing yards to the Cardinals in week 10. So far in 2020 opponents are averaging a whopping 4.8 yards per carry and an average of 135 yards per game against Buffalo. That 135 yards per game is the 5th worst in the NFL and something needs to change sooner than later. Obviously the Bills are missing defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who opted out of the 2020 season, more than a lot of fans and experts anticipated. So I ask, why not fill the void with 15 year veteran Domato Peko. Domato Peko has been productive in the trenches for a long time with 11 years of it in Cincinnati. Peko was a for and on some pretty good defenses too. In 2019, Peko signed with the Baltimore Ravens halfway through the season after the team suffered multiple Injuries at the position. He would appear in 7 regular season games (starting in 3 of them) logging 14 tackles on a Ravens defense that was ranked #5 in the NFL against the run. Per PFF Peko posted a run defense grade of 63.2 which is much higher than the abysmal 48.0 grade being posted by current Bills defensive tackle Vernon Butler Jr.
Why this makes sense for Buffalo:
With Buffalo only sitting at about 2.8 million in cap space Peko would not come at an expensive price tag most likely signing for a pro rated veteran minimum. The 6’3 322lb defensive tackle could replace some snaps taken by Vernon Butler Jr on early downs to give Buffalo the 1 technique in the middle of the line they are severely missing. Butler’s performance thus far in 2020 has been underwhelming and inserting an experienced Peko could help linebacker Tremaine Edmunds have clean lanes to the ball carriers. The move should alleviate Ed Oliver from being double teamed every down increasing his chances to wreck havoc in the backfield. The reason Buffalo drafted him 9th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft was to create havoc at the line of scrimmage. Oliver can’t do that taking on double teams every play and it would be smart to insert Peko here. Don’t get me wrong in recent weeks the Bills have seen a serious uptick in their defensive performance especially their pass rush tallying 14 sacks in the last 3 games but that alone won’t help them on specifically on early downs. Teams will continue to run the ball abandoning the pass if it’s effective. There’s no doubt Peko could help this run defense while having the right attitude to fit into the locker room culture.