Thursday night was a bad loss for the Buffalo Bills . Capt. Obvious points aside here — They lost! Losses aren’t good! — egging at home in a 37-31 loss to the New York Jets puts Rex Ryan in a more uncomfortable place than the back of a Volkswagen.
Ryan was on the hot seat heading into this year after a disappointing 2015. Then he hired his brother to run his defense and spent all offseason bragging about how good his team would be. Rex can run a defense, but he’s miserable at managing expectations.
Witness what happened on Friday afternoon, with Rex canning offensive coordinator Greg Roman six days into the season. Desperation is a stinky cologne.
Now the Bills are 0-2 after losses to the Baltimore Ravens and Jets, two teams who missed the playoffs and two teams who Rex previously worked for — if you’re going to get your players amped for revenge games, those were the best spots.
The schedule only gets tougher from here:
|Week||Opponent||Location||2015 Opp. Record|
|4||New England Patriots||Road||12-4|
|5||Los Angeles Rams||Road||7-9|
Glare at that for a little bit and see how it really looks. Even the good news on the schedule is kind of a nightmare. Getting the Rams-49ers-Dolphins in succession offers Rex three winnable games.
But two of them are on the road and they go from New England to Los Angeles back to Buffalo and then down to South Florida in that stretch. NFL teams travel, because it’s what they do, but getting the Rams as a second-straight road game and a cross-country flight after potentially falling to 0-4 is sub-optimal. Take a breath when you get back and the 49ers might sneak one on you.
Even the Week 10 bye is sandwiched between two of the toughest games on the schedule — at the Seahawks and at the Bengals. So travel is easier but those aren’t easy matchups.
The one game against the Patriots without Tom Brady is in New England after playing the Cardinals a week before.
It’s not difficult at all to envision a 2-6 stretch over the Bills next eight games (best case?) and them sitting at 2-8 and effectively done for the year coming out of the bye.
This is made even more probable by the quality of team they have on both sides of the ball.
Let’s start with — theoretically — the best part of this team, the secondary. Stephon Gilmore has allowed the Ravens and Jets to complete 75 percent of their passes when he’s in coverage according to Pro Football Focus. PFF has Ronald Darby giving up a 57.1 completion percentage. Again: we’re talking about Joe Flacco and Ryan Fitzpatrick here. The Cardinals and Patriots won’t make life easier on these guys.
The offense was a top-10 unit last year. It is not in 2016. There are several issues here.
LeSean McCoy isn’t his usual joystick self right now. He’s only created four missed tackles in two games so far, per PFF. He does rank 10th in the NFL in yards after contact … but he’s also played two games. (The only other primary runner with two games is Matt Forte , who ranks first at 152.)
Sammy Watkins is in even worse shape, with just 9 yards after catching the ball total in two games. Watkins should get a pass for being injured, but the bigger problem there is that Rex has been publicly sniping about Watkins injury, insinuating it’s a “pain management” thing. He has a Jones fracture in his foot, a similar injury suffered by Julio Jones and Dez Bryant in recent years, and had surgery on it in May. The Bills are approaching this unrealistically and kind of foolishly when it comes to treating the best offensive (and maybe overall?) player on their roster. If Watkins goes down for a lengthy period of time this offense is going to be in really bad shape.
People propping up Tyrod Taylor for his performance Thursday can point to the final score (31 points) and his touchdown passes. But consider for one second how fluky it is to have two long-bomb scores on third down.
The Bills have two third down passing TDs of over 70 yards tonight.
There were 2 in the entire NFL last year (Manning/OBJ, Wilson/Baldwin).
— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) September 16, 2016
So to sum up: the Bills defense is worse than it was last year thus far (although in fairness it will be getting Marcell Dareus back at some point, we’re told). The offense is substantially worse than in 2015 and could sink further depending on Watkins health.
The team is 0-2 and about to face a Murderers’ Row in terms of its schedule.
The coach, a guy who drives his team with his energy, looked like the human version of a Southwest Airlines commercial after the loss Thursday.
This isn’t some “the Bills are about to go 0-16” hot take or anything. But Buffalo and the Ryan brothers are in really big trouble right now.
It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
Source: CBS Sports / Already 0-2, here’s why things are about to get worse for the Bills and Rex Ryan