Bills offense hits speed bump at midway point
Receiver Stevie Johnson doesn’t need to analyze the numbers to
realize Buffalo Bills once-prolific offense has hit a sudden speed
”Yeah, I kind of sense it. I think we all sense it,” Johnson
said before practice Wednesday. ”We feel like we should be more
explosive than what we are.”
Turnovers are up and production’s down for a unit that was among
the NFL’s best in helping the Bills get off to a surprising 4-1
start. Buffalo (5-3) has dropped two of its past three in preparing
to open the second half of its season facing a daunting three-game
road swing that starts at Dallas (4-4) on Sunday.
And if the Bills are serious about staying in the playoff
picture, the offense needs to regain its uptempo swagger.
”It’s something we’ve got to fix now,” receiver David Nelson
said. ”We’re in the AFC East hunt. We’re trying to get to the
playoffs. And guys have to step up and make plays.”
The Bills are coming off their first dud of the season in which
they were stymied in a 27-11 loss to the New York Jets. But their
troubles on offense were becoming apparent well before Sunday.
After scoring 133 points and racking up 93 first downs in their
first four games, the Bills have managed just 89 points and 69
first downs in their past four.
They’re no longer perfect when it comes to scoring in the red
zone. After scoring 96 points (12 touchdowns and four field goals)
on 16 drives inside an opponent’s 20, the Bills have managed just
51 points (six TDs and three field goals) in their past 12
Running back Fred Jackson hasn’t scored in his past two games,
after having six touchdowns in his previous five. And quarterback
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s numbers have suddenly sagged.
He had1,040 yards passing, with nine touchdowns and four
interceptions in his first four starts. In Fitzpatrick’s past four,
he has 890 yards, six TDs with six interceptions and a lost
”At times, me in particular, I’ve been a little bit more
careless than I probably need to be,” Fitzpatrick said. ”And
that’s something that I’ll address and look at, move forward and
try to eliminate.”
One thing Fitzpatrick’s sure of is the faith he has in himself
and the offense’s ability to bounce back.
”We don’t like the losses that have come. But I think we’ve
still got a lot of confidence,” Fitzpatrick said. ”We still think
we’re going to do good things every week.”
The offense will need to produce to compensate for a defense
that’s allowing 381 yards and 22 points a game and banged-up –
linebacker Shawne Merriman (Achilles tendon) and defensive tackle
Kyle Williams (left foot) are on injured reserve.
Despite the offense’s recent struggles, the Bills are still off
to one of their best starts in reaching the midway point of a
Their 27.8 points per game rank fourth in team history, while
their 368.5 yards per game rank fifth.
Individually, Jackson’s 1,194 yards from scrimmage through eight
games is the second-highest total behind O.J. Simpson, who had
1,300 yards at this point in 1975. And Fitzpatrick’s 92.3 passer
rating through eight games is the fourth highest.
Coach Chan Gailey is disappointed by the sudden rash of
turnovers and how his offense has lacked finish. And yet he also
chalks up part of the sputters to going up against some imposing
Two of Buffalo’s three losses have come against teams whose
defenses are currently ranked among the NFL’s top 10 – Cincinnati
(fourth) and the Jets (eighth).
As disappointing as the loss to the Jets was, Gailey reminded
his players this week that the Bills still control their own
It’s a message that resonated with Fitzpatrick.
”There were a lot of guys that were disappointed and frustrated
and down, me included,” Fitzpatrick said. ”You can lay an egg,
which you don’t want to, but sometimes it happens. But you put it
in the past, and then you get back on track.”
NOTES: Gailey said Williams had surgery to repair his injured
left foot on Wednesday, a day after being placed on injured
reserve. … PK Dave Rayner practiced for the first time a day
after signing with the Bills to replace Rian Lindell, who’s out
indefinitely with a broken bone in his right shoulder. …
Fitzpatrick has combined to throw six TDs and seven interceptions
in the first half this season, and eight TDs and two interceptions
in the second half.