The Buffalo Bills defense is off to an excellent start in the 2021 NFL season. The secret to their success is continuity, according to cornerback Taron Johnson.
During an interview on the "Howard and Jeremy Show" on Thursday, the veteran slot cornerback said everybody on his side of the ball knows their role.
“We’ve been together for a while now,” he said with Howard Simon and Jeremy White on WGR. “Most teams don’t get that opportunity. We got that opportunity, and want to take full advantage of it.”
So far, so good.
Through two weeks, the Bills defense is second in the National Football League, allowing the second-fewest yards and points per-game. That includes a shutout win over the Miami Dolphins this past week in South Florida - Buffalo's first regular season shutout victory since 2016.
A key to Buffalo's continuity has been the ability to bring back multiple mainstays on discounted deals, including safety Micah Hyde and linebacker Matt Milano.
Johnson, whom the Bills drafted in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, says he finally felt like he fully grasped the playbook last season. The 25-year-old was able to play a full season in 2020 after playing through a pair of injury-shortened seasons.
The Bills aren’t having to deal with any new teammates on defense, which allows the unit to play freely.
“Everyone knows the system,” Johnson said. “It’s not necessarily an easy system, so when you get here, it might take a full year for you to understand things. So for us, being on the same page and playing fast is really the key.”
Another key part of that continuity is the defensive coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, much like offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, is back in Buffalo despite drawing head coaching interest.
But in football, everybody’s success is interconnected. Johnson credits the star safety tandem of Jordan Poyer and Hyde with helping him thrive.
“They know the defense like the back of their hand,” he said. “I know coach Frazier called me a coach on the field, but it’s those two guys. They know everything and what everyone is supposed to do. That alone makes my job easier, it’s makes the other corners’ jobs easier, it makes the linebackers’ job easier. … Just having those guys you can rely on back there just makes your job easier.”
With upcoming games against the Washington Football Team and Houston Texans, the Bills’ defense will have plenty of chances to build on what it has started.
You can listen to Johnson's entire interview during the "Howard and Jeremy Show" below: