Bills LB confident in turnaround
To understand why Paul Posluszny is optimistic about where the Buffalo Bills are heading, consider where he has been.
Prior to leading a resurgence at Penn State — and becoming what no less an authority than Jack Ham once called the best linebacker in school history — Posluszny endured 3-8 and 4-7 seasons in Happy Valley.
“We had the talent, we just had to go out and get that winning feeling. And learn how to win football games,” said Posluszny, a Hopewell graduate. “It is the same situation (in Buffalo). We have started off rough, but we feel like we have all the right people in place. We have the ability to win games. We just have to play with a lot of confidence and be able to win those games.”
The Bills are trending upward after an 0-8 start that included three consecutive losses by three points. And Posluszny is a big reason why the Bills take a modest two-game winning streak into Sunday’s game against the visiting Steelers.
The 6-foot-1, 238-pounder is eighth in the NFL in tackles (88) despite missing two games.
Showing the versatility he displayed while becoming a two-time All-American and Butkus Award winner at Penn State, Posluszny plays inside when the Bills are in their 3-4 base defense.
He moves outside when they go to a 4-3 set and is an every-down player
“This guy is a sideline-to-sideline tackler,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “Very good in coverage.”
Indeed, Posluszny tied for second among NFL linebackers in interceptions last season (three) despite missing four games with a broken arm.
He has posted double-digits in tackles in six of the Bills’ last seven games and had 18 stops in a 13-10 overtime loss at Kansas City on Halloween.
Posluszny made 10 tackles last Sunday, as the Bills scored 35 unanswered points to stun the Bengals in Cincinnati after trailing, 31-14, at halftime.
“Paul has really taken off,” first-year Bills coach Chan Gailey said. “The last three or four weeks has been a big jump for him.”
Posluszny, a second-round pick draft in 2007, set the bar high for himself in Buffalo when he joined Shane Conlan, his idol and fellow Penn Stater, and Jim Haslett as the only rookie middle linebackers in team history to start the season opener.
Injuries are the all that have held back Posluszny since he debuted with 10 tackles against the Broncos.
He has missed 19 games in three-plus seasons, including 13 his rookie campaign after breaking his left forearm.
A sprained knee sidelined Posluszny for two games in September, but he has been stronger than ever since his return.
“It’s great to finally be healthy and to be able to help this team out,” he said.
Posluszny’s contributions, as he sees it, aren’t just limited to making one tackle after another.
He also has to take the lead in making the Bills, who have one winning season and zero playoff appearances this century, relevant again — something he has experience doing from his days at Penn State.
Perhaps that is why Posluszny said earlier this week that he wants to stay in Buffalo even though he is in the final year of his contract.
“Now that we’ve won a couple, we’re starting to build on that,” Posluszny said. “We’re still 2-8, there is no hiding that, but we feel like we’re headed in the right direction.”
Linebacker Paul Posluszny has averaged 8.6 tackles a game since joining the Bills in 2007. Here is a year-by-year look at the Hopewell High and Penn State graduate.
Year — G — Tackles — Sacks — INT — Passes defended
2007 — 3 — 26 — 0 — 0 — 0
*2008 — 16 — 110 — 0 — 1 — 6
2009 — 12 — 110 — 1 — 3 — 4
2010 — 8 — 8 — 1 — 0 — 3
*Named Bills’ defensive MVP