Chan Gailey is going to use the Buffalo Bills’ bye week to evaluate his entire team.
The head coach’s star pupil, multi-millionaire defensive end Mario Williams, apparently won’t need help with his homework.
Williams, signed to a contract last March that potentially could be worth as much as $100-million US, has become the poster boy for that which the Bills defence, and there was nothing close to a remedy on Sunday afternoon against a Tennessee Titans team that had the worst run game in the National Football League.
After Chris Johnson ran wild against the Bills, the Titans got a 15-yard touchdown from Nate Washington on a pass from Matt Hasselbeck with just over a minute remaining, giving Tennessee a 35-34 victory.
No members of the Buffalo defence was anything short of disappointed, least of all Williams, who has a lot of soul-searching to do before the Bills’ next game, on Nov. 4 in Houston against the high-flying Texans.
“I have to look at myself and get better,” Williams said in the Bills locker room, long after most of his teammates had departed. “I have a lot of hesitation. It’s on me, and that’s fine. I know I have to change that.
“I don’t care about your expectations, I don’t care about anybody’s expectations. I need to play better and I need to get healthy, that is No. 1. I need to get physically back into things so I am not hesitating.”
Said Bills linebacker Nick Barnett, “They shouldn’t even be in the game with us. I hate to sit here and say this, because we lost, but they should not have been in the game. We should have beat them, bad.”
The Bills fell to 3-4 in tight AFC East, while the Titans improved to 3-4.
The Bills have the worst defence against the run in the NFL, so maybe it shouldn’t have been overly surprising that Johnson played around like a kid on Christmas morning and finished with 195 yards on 18 carries.
After going up the middle for a 16-yard touchdown on the Titans’ opening possession, Johnson scampered 83 yards for a major on Tennessee’s first play from scrimmage following a Fred Jackson major that had tied the game 7-7.
Jamie Harper also had a pair of touchdowns on the ground before Washington’s decisive score.
Bills receivers Stevie Johnson and Donald Jones also caught touchdown passes from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Brad Smith ran a Rob Bironas kick back 89 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
The Bills were resilient, trailing 21-20 at the half, and were fairly sound defensively in the third and fourth quarters. When Fitzpatrick found Johnson for a 27-yard touchdown with five seconds left in the third, the Bills went ahead 34-28 and the crowd of 68,836 was on its feet.
But the Bills couldn’t score again — Fitzpatrick, who was intercepted by Jason McCourty in the fourth quarter, and the offence failed miserably when they got the ball back on the 20-yard line with 63 seconds remaining — and the defence failed to execute the big play when it was needed.
“I need to do a better job at the end of the game, which unfortunately we did not do today,” Fitzpatrick said. “We did a good job for the most part. We had a couple of field goals I wish we would not have had to settle for.”
Gailey and his staff will have plenty to pore over before the Bills return to play the Texans, a game that is followed by a trip to New England and a date with the Patriots.
Mostly, the film won’t be fun to watch.
“We have to re-evaluate everything you do,” said Gailey, stressing that he will not make changes to the defensive coaching staff. “I don’t think we would give up as many yards as we have given up (through seven games). I did not foresee that.
“We just have to find out exactly what the problems are and we’re not solving them right now. If we don’t, we’re in for a long year.”
BILLS HONOUREE PRAISES CFL
Before he could walk into a National Football League job, Bill Polian had to find his footing in professional football.
He did that in the Canadian Football League, and Polian, who became the 28th person added to the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame on Sunday afternoon, took time to remember his days with the Montreal Alouettes and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
“It was a big springboard,” said Polian, who was the Bills’ general manager from 1986-93 and was the engineer of the Bills’ early 1990s Super Bowl teams.
“I was an obscure scout who no one had ever heard of other than my immediate family, and Marv Levy read a scouting report from a person he didn’t know and had never met, and took an interest in me and literally made my career. In my time in Winnipeg, we were able to achieve some great things with Cal Murphy at the helm, who was a close friend from our days in Montreal. And Paul Robson who was a terrific influence.
“You do so much with a small organization that when have the opportunity to come to the NFL, you are well-prepared. And you are not frightened by what you have to take on at whatever job you have in the NFL. It was a tremendous learning ground, and I would encourage anybody who wants to succeed in football, if you have the opportunity (to work in the CFL), take it. It is a great training ground.”
Polian scouted for the Alouettes in the early 1970s and later was the director of player personnel for the Bombers. He won a Grey Cup with both teams.
Polian was surrounded by family and friends, and Levy watched from nearby, as Polian was honoured at halftime of the Bills’ game against the Tennessee Titans.
A six-time NFL executive of the year, Polian, fired by the Indianapolis Colts in January, now is an analyst for ESPN.
“This is right at the top,” Polian told reporters of the Bills recognition. “You learn as you go through a long career that the accolades and the trophies and even the rings don’t mean much. In the end what you are left with are the experiences, the friendships and the memories, and I wouldn’t trade my time here for anything in the world.”