Ah, so this what former Bills offensive coordinator Turk Schonert meant when he said head coach Dick Jauron wanted a Pop-Warner offense.
I can remember when Schonert was fired about 10 days or so before the start of the season and he said that the offense wasn’t simple enough for Jauron, citing as one of the chief reasons he was shown the door. Well, now eight weeks later and fresh off a 31-10 beat down at the hands of the Houston Texans, it’s safe to say this offense is simple: there isn’t one.
Allow me for a moment to review Jauron’s comments about Schonert’s firing at the time. They went a little something like this: “It was just the lack of productivity and the direction we were moving. I just didn’t feel like it was going certainly where I envisioned it. Hopefully, it’ll provide a jolt, hopefully a jolt forward. I just didn’t feel like we were progressing and I didn’t get the sense that we were going to move forward. It was a decision I needed to make, I felt, and made it.”
We’ve all seen this movie before and by now we can close our eyes and collectively recite the ending. The defense plays their guts out and keeps the Bills in the game until crunch time. The offense fails miserably to match the effort of the defense. The defense is forced to put on the Superman cape, come flying out of the phone booth and save the day. But to no avail. By this time the defense is running on fumes and they can’t keep the flood gates from bursting open.
Some teams use hand out rally towels to their hands before a game, but if you ask me the Bills should hand out skunks for their fans to wave when the offense takes the field. The excitement of the day came early and vanished. The Bills’ status quo single offensive score came on a Terrell Owens 29-yard reverse in the first quarter. If your imagination stretches that far, the Bills took a 10-6 lead into halftime, and as the fourth quarter commenced held the lead 10-9.
Take away Owens’ second touchdown of the year, and the Bills did nothing. They were beyond inept and well past pathetic. For the second game in a row Buffalo registered nine first downs, only two first downs after halftime. Their first, first down of the second half came with about three and a half minutes to go in the game.
Let’s put to rest the vicious rumors right now: there is no quarterback controversy. Because the Bills don’t have a quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 117 yards and threw two interceptions. Most of his pass attempts were Trent Edwards-like short, safe five and six yarders. The sum of a couple of quarters would be greater than Fitzpatrick’s passer rating on Sunday. We already knew it, but in case anybody had any lingering doubts, Fitzpatrick’s not the solution either.
Marshawn Lynch had just 43 yards rushing while Fred Jackson eked out 28 yards on the ground. Owens had five catches for 39 yards, while Lee Evans had only two receptions for 29 yards. These are the Bills’ four playmakers, and thanks to a putrid decision making, crummy play calling, bad quarterbacking and a total disregard for the offensive line, this group has been rendered invisible for the much of the season.
Unfortunately the numbers get much worse. The Bills’ streak of games with 160 passing yards or fewer is now at six after Sunday. Buffalo’s 204 total yards also makes it six straight games in which they’ve been held under 300 total yards. Over this six game span, the Bills are averaging less than 240 yards per game, while giving 210 yards on the ground alone.
Third down conversions? Forget about it. The Bills were dreadfully 2-of-10. The time of possession on Sunday for Buffalo was 20:52. That stat right there tells you all you need to know. The Bills had their defense on the field for almost 40 minutes of a 60 minutes game. Is it a surprise to anyone that the Texans scored 22 points in the fourth quarter and outscored the Bills 25-0 after halftime?
Jairus Byrd continues to be a revelation in the secondary, now making it three straight games the rookie has intercepted two passes. Defensively in the first quarter, Buffalo forced three turnovers. It’s too bad that after a turnover the ball goes back to the offense. The Bills’ offense turned three turnovers into just seven points.
Just like against New Orleans, Houston wore down the Bills’ defense and eventually delivered a few devastating knock out blows. The Texans scored three touchdowns in the last 15 minutes of the game, all from running back Ryan Moats. Moats, who was inserted into the lineup after starting back Steve Slaton was benched in the first quarter after losing a fumble, had touchdown runs of 11, 3 and 1. Moats finished with 126 yards and three scores on 23 carries.
Houston finished the afternoon with 439 yards of total offense. The Bills have now allowed three straight 400-plus yard games after allowing 425 yards to Carolina last week and 414 yards to the Jets two weeks ago. Just like the New Orleans game in Week 3, the Bills didn’t allow a passing touchdown. Quarterback Matt Schaub went 25 of 34 for 268 yards and two picks. The Bills defense has held both Drew Brees and Matt Schaub scoreless this season, but all the Bills have to show for it is two, 20-plus point losses.
So when Jauron decided to fire Schonert, was this the productivity he envisioned without Schonert? I guess it’s kind of balanced itself out. Jauron wanted a simple offense, and Schonert got the last laugh. That is, if he’s stopped laughing by now at what the Bills daftly describe as offense.
On Halloween weekend, the Bills disguised themselves as a team that had its sights set on .500, some (not yours truly) even believing a win over Houston would give the Bills a fighting chance at challenging for a wildcard berth. But as it usually is, reality was cold and unforgiving on Sunday. The two-game win streak was fun, but staying with the Halloween theme it turned out to be a trick. The Bills are comfortably back on course for a fourth consecutive 7-9 finish as they head into their bye week.