Latest Bills dud opens questions over Ryan, Taylor's futures
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Bills coach Rex Ryan isn't delivering on his vow that his prized defense will be improved over last year's porous unit.
And Tyrod Taylor is showing few signs of being the Bills' long-term answer at quarterback or worthy of having his lucrative five-year contract extension being picked up by the team this offseason.
The only thing that's close to being certain is the Bills (6-7) are all but eliminated from playoff contention, closer to extending the NFL's longest active postseason drought to 17 years following a 27-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Ryan was defiant when asked about whether he deserved a shot to continue on the job beyond his second season.
''What do you think I'm going to say? You're dang right I do,'' Ryan said. ''It hasn't gone exactly the way I wanted it to go, that's obvious. But we have three games left and we'll try to win every one of them.''
And he said the blame for the Bills' record falls on everyone.
''I'm saying as a football team we failed,'' Ryan said. ''We lost games. But you're never going to say it's just the defense or it's this side of the ball or whatever. It wasn't good enough on either side of the ball today.''
It was the second consecutive dud the Bills have produced. They squandered a 15-point third-quarter lead in a 38-24 loss at Oakland last week.
Ryan's prized defense got torched by Le'Veon Bell, who scored three times and set a Steelers record with 236 yards rushing. It's the second time the Bills have given up 200-plus yards rushing. They gave up 256 in a 28-25 loss at Miami on Oct. 23, when Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi had 214 of those yards.
''That is disgusting when you say that stat out loud,'' linebacker Jerry Hughes said, referring to Bell's rushing number. ''We understand that is not what you can do to get to the playoffs.''
The Bills finished 19th in yards allowed last season - the worst finish by a Ryan-coached defense in his 11 years as head coach or coordinator.
It didn't help Sunday that Buffalo was missing veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams, sidelined after his back locked up following practice on Thursday.
The Bills' offense, however, couldn't lean on injuries as an excuse.
With Robert Woods returning after missing two games with a sprained left knee, the Bills had their top three receivers in the lineup together for the first time since the first two weeks of the season.
The Taylor-led offense sputtered through much of the first three quarters before engineering two touchdown drives in the final 7:27 of the fourth quarter to make the score respectable.
Ryan was noncommittal, saying ''we'll see,'' when asked if Taylor will remain his starter through the final three games of the season. Taylor would only say it's Ryan's decision on who will start.
As for his performance, Taylor acknowledged it was subpar.
''Definitely didn't play my best,'' Taylor said. ''I let the team down a couple of plays, but gotta move forward.''
In signing Taylor to a five-year contract extension in August, the Bills retained the right to opt out of the deal - and the $27.5 million he is owed in salary and bonuses - before it kicks in this offseason.
The Bills had minus-1 yard through two series in the first quarter, becoming the NFL's first team this season to have negative yards through the first 15 minutes. And they had combined for seven first downs and 87 yards net offense on their first nine possessions.
That included Sammy Watkins' 8-yard touchdown catch set up by Stephon Gilmore returning Roethlisberger's second interception to the Pittsburgh 7 midway through the second quarter.
Watkins came to Taylor's defense, saying the quarterback isn't the only one to blame.
''You just can't say, `blame him.' You've got to blame everybody,'' Watkins said. ''It's not on one player. I can do things better. The wide receivers. The tight ends. The line can help him out.''
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