Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix says his team needs to play with a greater sense of urgency and coach Chan Gailey is just the man to instill it in them.
Asked to assess the problem with his defense’s collapse against both New England and San Francisco, Nix said: “To be completely honest with you, what I see is not enough intensity and urgency. … And that could be on any segment or as far as any part of our group.
“But to play defense, you’ve gotta play fast, and you gotta play reckless, and you gotta play aggressive. For some reason, especially in the second half of both games, we didn’t do that. We were a step slow reacting. We missed tackles. We didn’t get off blocks. When you miss tackles, usually it’s one of two things, it’s talent or lack of effort. We’ve seen these guys do it before so I think they can. We gotta get that urgency back somehow.”
Nix visited Arizona State University Tuesday morning to scout the Sun Devils’ draft prospects. He drove 90 minutes south to the University of Arizona in the afternoon on a scouting visit. In between he spoke with reporters on the worrisome state of his team after Sunday’s 45-3 loss to the 49ers.
“Thank God that wasn’t the last game, and I gotta live with that ‘till next year,” Nix said. “We got a chance to play Sunday, so let’s do something about it.”
He disagreed with the notion the Bills have played tight defensively. But he also suggested the focus this week has to be getting them to play with abandon.
“I think the focus is that we compete, we get our intensity to the point where it needs to be, and then we compete for 60 minutes, not 30 and not 35,” he said. “But we battle ‘em for 60 minutes and we stay competitive throughout the year. And if we do that, then this will be an interesting season for us, as bad as things seem right now.”
Nix said he’s confident Gailey can pull the team together and get it performing to a higher level.
“I go back to the first year we were here and we lose eight straight games,” Nix said. “Then last year we start off big, everybody’s patting you on the back and telling you what a smart guy you are, and then all of a sudden you lose seven in a row and you’ve got absolutely no friends, not even your family, you can’t go home. And Chan never lost ‘em. He’s even-keeled. He’s the same every day. He’s not gonna panic. He knows what he’s doing. He won’t lose this team, either. We will get ‘em back. I’ve got great confidence in that.”
He acknowledged quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick must play better, but avoided putting the onus on him. Fitzpatrick now ranks 18th in passer rating, at 84.2.
“Yeah, it’s a concern, everything is,” Nix said of Fitzpatrick’s production. “We haven’t been consistent enough at that position. I keep saying this: If you can’t stop anybody, if you can’t stop the run and get off the field on defense and keep your offense in the game, then you got no chance no matter who the quarterback is.”
His take was roughly similar on defensive end Mario Williams.
“I think from the time we signed him, which everybody got so excited and we did because we’ve seen what Mario’s done for six years before he got here, it’s hard for him to live up to the expectations that everybody’s got for him,” Nix said. “But it’s not just Mario. Mario actually plays better than people give him credit for. He causes plays to be made by other people, or should be made by other people. So not to defend him, he can play better. We expect him to. But so can everybody else.”