By Ch2 Sports Director Ed Kilgore
I still don't think I think the Bills will go 0-16. However, you'd have to be a fool to think there isn't a possibility of that happening if the Bills can't figure out a way to STOP people from physically pushing them around.
Let's at least say something positive, other than what a beautiful autumn day it was when the Bills were bashed - again - by the Jags on Sunday. Ok, here it is; Fred Jackson may be the Bills BEST player, which could be damning with faint praise, but he is NOT part of the problem.
Unfortunately, Fred can only play one position at a time, but at least with Marshawn Lynch finally gone, Jackson will get more chances to put up the numbers he's capable of and his increased work load will help the offense continue to improve.
Actually, as Ryan Fitzpatrick becomes more comfortable as the Bills starting qb, it's becoming more and more obvious that while offense is indeed a problem - the Bills are still right at the bottom of the NFL in that category - the offense is actually starting to look like it is slowly but surely improving.
Fitzpatrick can look really good at times, and then just downright awful when the football sails high on him or slips coming out of his hand. It happens in just about every game. But against the Jags, Fitz threw 3 td passes, including a perfect 45 yard strike to Lee Evans, and didn't throw a single pick. He hit 20-30, a respectable 67 per cent, and had a qb rating of 121.5.
His offensive line broke down at times, but a couple of the 3 sacks on Fitzpatrick were probably his fault for holding the ball too long. All things considered, Fitz led the Bills to 3 td's and a couple field goals, which should get you a win.
No, this Bills team is 0-5 and headed toward a disastrous season because defensively, it is a horrible football team. Not only can the Bills not stop the run; they can't even slow it down. The Jags ran for 216 yards at 5.4 per carry, and the Bills entered the game as 32nd against the run.
The Bills new brain trust hoped switching to a 3-4 scheme, even though it lacked the personnel to do it, could improve the Bills inability to stop the run. Things have actually gotten worse under new d-coordinator George Edwards. The Bills even tried using a form of the old 4-3 to slow down the Jags, and it didn't matter. Not a bit.
Any football follower understands the importance of stopping the other team's running game. If they can run the ball, they dictate what happens. They can throw when they want to and not when they have to, and they can control the clock and the tempo of the game. The Jags did that, and the Jets did it the week before that, and so on.
Not only that, when teams are not in many third and long situations because they are running the ball successfully, they don't face the kind of pressure they would if they faced must pass situations. That means fewer turnovers for the "d", and the Bills secondary still doesn't have an interception yet this season.
Compounding that, at least against the Jags, was the fact the Bills normally efficient special teams kickoff coverage broke down at the worst possible times. Its 13-13 at the half and the Bills kickoff to start the 3rd quarter, and ka-blooey, little Deji Karim brings it back 51 yards to the Bills 39-yard line. Three plays later the Jags have a td and they're in control of the game again.
So, the Bills battle back, and Fitzpatrick's short td pass to Steve Johnson makes it 20-20, and ka-blooey again; Karim brings back the ensuing kickoff 41 yards to just short of mid field. The Jags get the short field again, and again score a td to make it 27-20, and the Bills never threaten again.
A final thought; we can't fault the Bills punt coverage team.
The Bills didn't force the Jags to punt. Once.
It's that bad.