Struggling Bills offense faces daunting challenge
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Wearing a red non-contact jersey on the team’s grass practice field, Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy worked on a limited basis Thursday as he makes his way back from a concussion.
With or without their top playmaker, the Bills and their sputtering offense will be challenged to keep up with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Monday night.
The primetime matchup — Buffalo’s first home game on Monday night in a decade — features one of the best offenses in the league against one of the worst.
“I think it’s an opportunity to come on a big stage against a great football team to get the ball rolling and do something special,” Bills receiver Zay Jones said. “Especially at home.”
Scoring and producing on offense has been difficult for the Bills this year.
Buffalo’s 81 points through seven games is the third-lowest total over that span in franchise history and the lowest since 1977, when the Bills had 75 points and started 1-7.
In comparison, the Patriots have scored 86 points in the second quarter this season.
The Bills are 31st in total offense, 32nd in points per game and 32nd in passing. Buffalo’s average of 129.4 yards passing per game is 47.2 yards behind last year’s Bills team, which ended the year 31st in passing.
Buffalo averages 11.6 points per game, while the Patriots average 30.6 points per game.
The biggest issue for Buffalo has been at quarterback, where veteran Derek Anderson is set to make his second straight start after signing with the team to provide a leadership role earlier this month.
That came after a disastrous start to the season by opening day starter Nathan Peterman and disappointing play from rookie Josh Allen, the seventh overall pick in the draft.
Allen is out with an elbow injury.
Buffalo’s passing game showed some signs of life in the first half of Sunday’s 37-5 loss to Indianapolis with Anderson before struggling. Anderson had three interceptions and lost one fumble while throwing for 175 yards.
It’s a tough spot for Anderson, who signed with Buffalo on Oct. 9.
“I’m just continuing to grab information as we go,” Anderson said. “(Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll) keeps asking me every day, ‘You good?’ Yup, I’m good. Everything we’re doing, I’m staying up to speed with and trying to grab anything extra that I can as we go and kind of get it on the fly.”
Anderson, 35, recognizes the difficulty in trying to keep up with the high-powered Patriots.
“They’re a good football team, there’s no question about that,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately I have to just play their defense. That’s my focus this week.”
There were some small positives for the Bills in their loss to the Colts. The offense topped 300 yards for the first time this season with 303 yards.
Anderson’s 175 yards passing against Indianapolis were the team’s most since Josh Allen’s 196 yards against Minnesota.
The Bills also received a spark from backup running backs Chris Ivory and Marcus Murphy. Ivory had 81 yards on 16 attempts (5.1 average) against Indianapolis while Murphy had 53 yards on four attempts, including a 30-yard gain.
“Obviously we know who we’re playing,” Jones said. “The Patriots have a good defense so we can’t overlook them either. So just stay on track with things that we have planned.”