Things just go from bad to worse for a Buffalo offense that is dipping its toes into a cesspool of misery and dysfunction.
In the wake of their 25-6 loss to the Patriots on Monday Night Football, the Bills have now had four games where they failed to score a touchdown. With 87 points in eight games, they rank dead last in the NFL in scoring, yards per play, passing yards, passing yards per play, and interception percentage. They make a quantum leap up to 31st in the NFL in total yards per game, sacks allowed per pass attempt, and third-down conversion percentage.
“It’s clearly not good enough,” coach Sean McDermott said in a classic understatement. “Offensively we shot ourselves a little bit in the foot there at times and just couldn’t get it going enough.”
Now, the Chicago Bears come to New Era Field Sunday and it’s possible that human wrecking ball Khalil Mack, who played his college football a few miles away at the University at Buffalo, may be back after sitting out last week’s game.
And if that isn’t bad enough news, even worse, Derek Anderson suffered a concussion in the loss to New England. And even worse yet, Nathan Peterman could start Sunday.
"We’ll see where things stand as we go through the week with Derek and then we’ll take it from there," McDermott said Tuesday. "The best approach is to take it one day at a time and see how he comes in tomorrow."
(10/31/2018 UPDATE: The Bills, preparing for the possibility that Anderson cannot play, signed free agent backup QB Matt Barkley and free agent QB/WR Terrell Pryor.)
Buffalo’s offensive struggles have become a redundant story, and of course, this isn’t just about this year, it’s about nearly two decades of incompetence. Since 2000, the Bills have failed to finish in the top half of the league in scoring in 13 years, and this will be the 14th in those 19 seasons.
In terms of passing yards, the Bills have been in the top half once since 2003, that in 2011 when they were 15th with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their quarterback. In the past five years, they have ranked 25th, 28th, 18th, 28th, 30th and 31st.
Buffalo is the place where offense goes to die, and it has never been worse than 2018. Since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, the Bills lowest point total in a non-strike season was 200 in 1985, the second of their back-to-back 2-14 teams. The next year, Jim Kelly came to town when the USFL folded, and things began to turn to the point where the Bills were dynastic on offense in the late 80s and early 90s.
In other words, there’s no end in sight to the suffering, and no one is feeling it more than running back LeSean McCoy. McCoy carried 12 times and gained 13 yards against the Patriots. He now has 257 yards in the six games he has played with an average of 3.4 yards per attempt which, if it holds true, would be the lowest of his career by more than half a yard.
“I didn’t play good,” he said with a tint of resignation in his voice. “I thought I’d have a better game running-wise; I usually run the ball good on them. I’m just disappointed that I’m not doing well, we’re not winning, I’m not putting up numbers that I’m used to, not winning games, all that stuff. We put a lot of work and effort into your craft, your job, but the results and the outcomes are the same, so it’s frustrating.”
The Bills’ 11 possessions (not counting a kneel down at the end of the first half) ended with five punts, two turnovers on downs, a lost fumble, a pick-six, and two field goals.
“The hard work that we put in, the hard work I’ve put in my whole life, my whole career, for it to happen like this every game, it’s tough,” said McCoy. “I’m not really playing well at all. We’re not doing much on offense. In 10 years, I mean, I’ve had bad games, but the whole flow of the season and everything, it’s just bad. It’s a different season, 30 years old, been playing since I’ve been in high school, this stuff had never happened, so it is tough.”
-- QB Derek Anderson piled up some fourth-quarter yardage and finished with 290 yards passing before leaving the game in the final two minutes after getting sacked. He suffered a concussion and is now in protocol.
-- RB LeSean McCoy continues a descent that is more about the lack of talent around him than his decline as a player. He had 13 yards rushing on 12 carries, including one yard on his last 11 carries. McCoy did contribute six catches for a team-high 82 yards.
-- WR Zay Jones is one of the few players on offense who seems to be coming around and improving. He caught six passes for 55 yards.
-- SS Micah Hyde was in on six tackles and he also served as the punt returner and ripped off a 31-yarder in the third quarter that helped set up a field goal.
-- LB Tremaine Edmunds was in on eight tackles in the first half, but he suffered a concussion and entered the protocol at halftime. His status this week will be questionable until he is or isn’t cleared.
-- LB Lorenzo Alexander continues to play well at age 35. He made six tackles and recorded two more sacks and now has 4.5, tied with Jerry Hughes for the team lead.
-- DE Trent Murphy was inactive due to a knee injury suffered last week against the Colts.