Bills starting with the man in the mirror

KyleBuffalo Bills players held a team meeting of sorts following their historically horrible 45-3 loss to San Francisco on Sunday.

So said centre Eric Wood from Phoenix, Ariz., on a conference call Monday night with reporters back east.

“After the game, things were said (among players only) after the coaches spoke, and hopefully people take it to heart and figure out what they need to do,” Wood said.

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams (right, my photo from OTAs), another team veteran, said the ‘search-yourself’ discussions continued Monday, as the 2-3 Bills began preparations to play the 4-1 Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

“Every guy on this team has to understand the only way we’re going to get better is to point at yourself (and ask) what can I do better?” Williams said. “How can I do my job better to help us be better on defence, or be a better football team?

“And if you’re not looking at it that way, you’re looking at it the wrong way. That was what we talked about today, and hopefully it carries a little weight.”

My take: It sure sounds as though there were players pointing fingers at others, rather than at themselves, behind the scenes – although neither Wood nor Williams said as much.

The Bills defence has utterly melted down the past two weeks. The New England Patriots scored six second-half touchdowns a week ago, and this past Sunday the Niners became the first team in NFL history to amass 300+ yards both in the air and on the ground.

Williams implied the problem starts with the massively under-achieving defensive linemen – starters Williams, Marcell Dareus, Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, and backups Chris Kelsay, Alex Carrington and Spencer Johnson. They aren’t playing “gap sound” in their 4-3 scheme.

“When you don’t play gap sound – when everybody doesn’t take care of their job – bad things happen,” Kyle Williams said. “That’s how it goes. I think you get to a point where … guys are trying to make a play and they do too much, and they’re not where they’re supposed to be, and that’s when big plays happen.”

The Bills defence statistically is one of the worst in the league by any measure – 31st in total defence (449 yards per game allowed), 31st in rush defence (172), 26th in pass defence (278), 30th in first downs allowed (125), 32nd (dead last) in rushing first downs allowed (54), and 32nd in rushing TDs allowed (9, when no other team has allowed more than 7).

It’s not that defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt’s schemes are complex, Williams said. But refinements are coming.

“We’re going to define some things, make it clearer, so we can play faster, be more gap sound, and get back to doing what we think we do pretty well.

“We’ve got three months of the season left. We’ve got a lot of football left to play. But, that being said, we have to get a lot better – fast.”

Very fast.

 

RGIII MIGHT PLAY SUNDAY: Robert Griffin III might play this week, Matt Cassel probably won’t and Jake Locker is out.

Here are your quarterback injury updates.

After suffering a concussion Sunday against the Falcons, Washington Redskins quarterback RGIII will take an exertion test on Tuesday, head coach Mike Shanahan said. If RGIII passes, he might be cleared to practise Wednesday.

Griffin did not experience dizziness or headaches after taking a hard but legal shot, and Shanahan said he was optimistic RGIII would start against Minnesota.

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel said it appears doubtful that his quarterback, Cassel – who was classlessly cheered by some home fans upon leaving Sunday’s game with a concussion – will be cleared to play Sunday at Tampa Bay.

Brady Quinn would get the nod instead.

And Matt Hasselbeck will start again for the sinking Tennessee Titans on Thursday against Pittsburgh, as Jake Locker remains sidelined with a dinged-up shoulder.

 

OUT FOR THE YEAR: Arizona Cardinals running back Ryan Williams will have shoulder surgery and is done for the year. With regular starter Chris (Beanie) Wells out till at least month’s end, the Cards are desperate.

 

OTHER INJURY UPDATES: Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu will not play Thursday against Tennessee, after aggravating a right calf muscle injury against Philadelphia. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley might be able to play despite straining his right hamstring, head coach Mike Tomlin said … Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson suffered a mild ankle sprain and his workload this week was uncertain, head coach Leslie Frazier said …  Dallas expects nose tackle Jay Ratliff to return from a high ankle sprain on Sunday in Baltimore, ESPN reported … New York Giants wideout Hakeem Nicks’ return remains uncertain (knee) … And in a blow to the Chicago Bears, impressive rookie wideout Alshon Jeffery fractured a bone in his right hand Sunday in Jacksonville, it turns out. Although the injury does not require surgery, he will likely miss a couple of games, according to ESPNChicago.com.

LATEST SUSPENSION: The NFL suspended backup Giants safety Will Hill for four games without pay, effective immediately, for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Meantime, Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden apologized to fans upon his return Monday from the same four-game suspension

 

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