Bills players get the 'point' after disasters

Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) runs the ball against the New England Patriots in...

Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) runs the ball against the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter of their NFL football game in Orchard Park, New York September 30, 2012. (REUTERS)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:24 PM ET

Buffalo Bills players held a team meeting of sorts following their historically horrible 45-3 loss to San Francisco on Sunday.

So said centre Eric Wood from Phoenix, Ariz., on a conference call Monday night with reporters back east.

“After the game, things were said (among players only) after the coaches spoke, and hopefully people take it to heart and figure out what they need to do,” Wood said.

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams, another team veteran, said the ‘search-yourself’ discussions continued Monday, as the 2-3 Bills began preparations to play the 4-1 Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

“Every guy on this team has to understand the only way we’re going to get better is to point at yourself (and ask) what can I do better?” Williams said. “How can I do my job better to help us be better on defence, or be a better football team?

“And if you’re not looking at it that way, you’re looking at it the wrong way. That was what we talked about today, and hopefully it carries a little weight.”

My take: It sure sounds as though there were players pointing fingers at others, rather than at themselves, behind the scenes – although neither Wood nor Williams said as much.

The Bills defence has utterly melted down the past two weeks. The New England Patriots scored six second-half touchdowns a week ago, and this past Sunday the Niners became the first team in NFL history to amass 300+ yards both in the air and on the ground.

Williams implied the problem starts with the massively under-achieving defensive linemen – starters Williams, Marcell Dareus, Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, and backups Chris Kelsay, Alex Carrington and Spencer Johnson. They aren’t playing “gap sound” in their 4-3 scheme.

“When you don’t play gap sound – when everybody doesn’t take care of their job – bad things happen,” Kyle Williams said. “That’s how it goes. I think you get to a point where … guys are trying to make a play and they do too much, and they’re not where they’re supposed to be, and that’s when big plays happen.”

The Bills defence statistically is one of the worst in the league by any measure – 31st in total defence (449 yards per game allowed), 31st in rush defence (172), 26th in pass defence (278), 30th in first downs allowed (125), 32nd (dead last) in rushing first downs allowed (54), and 32nd in rushing TDs allowed (9, when no other team has allowed more than 7).

It’s not that defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt’s schemes are complex, Williams said. But refinements are coming.

“We’re going to define some things, make it clearer, so we can play faster, be more gap sound, and get back to doing what we think we do pretty well.

“We’ve got three months of the season left. We’ve got a lot of football left to play. But, that being said, we have to get a lot better – fast.”

Very fast.

OUT FOR THE YEAR: Arizona Cardinals running back Ryan Williams will have shoulder surgery and is done for the year. With regular starter Chris (Beanie) Wells out till at least month’s end, the Cards are desperate.

OTHER INJURY UPDATES: Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu will not play Thursday against Tennessee, after aggravating a right calf muscle injury against Philadelphia. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley might be able to play despite straining his right hamstring, head coach Mike Tomlin said … Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson suffered a mild ankle sprain and his workload this week was uncertain, head coach Leslie Frazier said … Dallas expects nose tackle Jay Ratliff to return from a high ankle sprain on Sunday in Baltimore, ESPN reported … New York Giants wideout Hakeem Nicks’ return remains uncertain (knee) … And in a blow to the Chicago Bears, impressive rookie wideout Alshon Jeffery fractured a bone in his right hand Sunday in Jacksonville, it turns out. Although the injury does not require surgery, he will likely miss a couple of games, according to ESPNChicago.com.

LATEST SUSPENSION: The NFL suspended backup Giants safety Will Hill for four games without pay, effective immediately, for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Meantime, Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden apologized to fans upon his return Monday from the same four-game suspension.

RGIII TO RETURN

RGIII might play this week, Matt Cassel probably won’t and Jake Locker is out.

Here are your quarterback injury updates.

After suffering a concussion Sunday against the Falcons, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will take an exertion test on Tuesday, head coach Mike Shanahan said. If RGIII passes, he might be cleared to practise Wednesday.

Griffin did not experience dizziness or headaches after taking a hard but legal shot, and Shanahan said he was optimistic RGIII would start against Minnesota.

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel said it appears doubtful that his quarterback, Cassel – who was classlessly cheered by some home fans upon leaving Sunday’s game with a concussion – will be cleared to play Sunday at Tampa Bay.

Brady Quinn would get the nod instead.

And Matt Hasselbeck will start again for the sinking Tennessee Titans on Thursday against Pittsburgh, as Jake Locker remains sidelined with a dinged-up shoulder.

FIVE STORIES TO WATCH

1. NFC championship game rematch

The Ravens had their chance to avenge their AFC championship game loss to the Patriots, and succeeded. Can the 49ers avenge their NFC title-game loss to New York? The Giants are even flying back out for the return engagement. The past two weeks, Frisco has outscored the Bills and Jets 79-3. The Giants' D is both banged up and under-achieving.

2. Packers staring 2-4 in the face

Green Bay is 2-3 -- and 4-5 dating back to mid-December. The rollercoaster results are a trend. And who do the Packers play this week? The Texans -- the undefeated Texans -- in Houston. On Sunday night. Everything seems to be a struggle this year for Green Bay. Another awaits.

3. AFC West: Chargers vs. Broncos

This one doesn't quite have the same ring to it as Brady vs. Manning. But with Oakland and Kansas City looking awful, this game in San Diego, and the return game Nov. 18, might well decide the division. This one's on Monday night.

4. Romo vs. Flacco

No, it's not a tomato sauce taste-testing competition. It's a showdown of two hated-but-loved-but-kinda-liked-but-yeah-not-really quarterbacks -- Tony Romo of the visiting Cowboys, and Joe Flacco of the Ravens. Neither will do much right, regardless. Signed, Cowboys and Ravens fans.

5. And speaking of can't do much right

The 11 men who purport to play NFL-calibre defence for the Buffalo Bills are in Arizona all week, preparing to play the host Cardinals on Sunday. The Cards offensive line is downright terrible. In other words, it's a wash against the Bills' DL.

TAKING STOCK

GOING UP

He's still Alex Smith. And the Bills and Jets defences suck. But the Niners QB has hit big plays in the passing game the past two weeks, completing 67% for 443 yards, three TDs and no picks.

GOING DOWN

The Tennessee Titans lost Jake Locker, sure. But there is a whole lot of bad here. The Titans are 1-4, allowing 36 points per game.

ON THE HOT SEAT

Bills head coach Chan Gailey. Even if his job is safe, and it probably is with longtime friend Buddy Nix as GM, no team has disappointed its fan base more than the Bills. The punter and punt returner can't be your best players.

HYPE

We're buying

The Bears defence. It's not just Brian Urlacher and a decent supporting cast anymore. The DL in front of the aging linebacker, and the secondary behind him, are both smokin'. Tiny corner Tim Jennings leads an excellent secondary, good for a pick-six a week it seems. Jennings particularly is playing lights-out. And the DL is eating up everyone's OL. No more pining for '85, Bears fans.

HYPE

We're not

The Arizona Cardinals. So they're 4-1. And their defence is fabulous, granted. But if you saw last Thursday's awful loss to the St. Louis Rams, you know the offensive line's spit-and-bailing-wire act has finally failed. QB Kevin Kolb has no time to do anything. And with RB Ryan Williams now out for the year after shoulder surgery, and no Beanie Wells till month's end at the earliest, the Cards' hot start is approaching the Arctic.

WOULDA

San Diego led New Orleans 24-21 after three quarters Sunday night, in part thanks to 107 yards rushing on just 14 carries from Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown (7.6 average). But Norv Turner didn't call another running play the rest of the game. San Diego lost 31-24. I woulda continued mixing up the run with the pass.

SHOULDA

The Packers shoulda started throwing more to Randall Cobb earlier this year, and should play him yet more. Aaron Rodgers has a 158.3 passer rating when targeting Cobb, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Cobb played a season-high 65% of the snaps at Indy. Should be more. Cobb is electric.

COULDA

The Buffalo Bills coulda just saved themselves, their fans and everyone the grief and just mailed in the loss to Frisco. As Buffalo News columnist Bucky Gleason wrote, Bills defenders were adamant that no one quit in an historically bad 45-3 drubbing by the Niners, so imagine how much worse it would have been if they had.

GOAT OF THE WEEK

Michael Vick

Almost every week he said it last season. All off-season he was saying it again. And after all but last week's win over the Giants, this season he's had to keep on saying it -- that he must stop committing turnovers. Fumbles, interceptions. His goal-line fumble in Pittsburgh might have been the difference in a 16-14 loss.

HERO OF THE WEEK

Chuck Pagano

The Indianapolis Colts head coach will be hospitalized for many more weeks as he fights a rare form of leukemia. But with a poignant letter, which our Mike Zeisberger wrote about yesterday, he further inspired his team to pull out an improbable comeback win against the Pack.

ZERO OF THE WEEK

Panthers QB Cam Newton not only is in the throes of a sophomore slump, he fumbled on Carolina's last possession in a 16-12 loss to the offensively woeful Seahawks. Newton was 12-of-29 for 141 yards, and one Seattle defender afterward intimated Newton's level of play drops off when he is frustrated.

 

 

 

 


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