Here is Chan Gailey’s take on statistics:
“I think we make too much out of numbers sometimes,” the Buffalo Bills’ coach said Wednesday. “Statistics are for people to make evaluations that sometimes are true and sometimes aren’t completely valid.”
Keep that in mind when reading this: The Bills are on pace to give up a franchise record for most points allowed and the second-most yards allowed in team history.
That raises the question, does Gailey think those numbers are valid?
“The yards are more true than the points are because of field position and kick returns,” Gailey said. “Everything factors into that. Turnovers that they end up at the 10-yard line or scoring on, the points are not as indicative as yards would be, in my opinion. I think that we had made some strides up until last week. Now it’ll test our mettle a little bit, to see how we come back from playing like that as a defense [last week against Seattle], to see how mad that made them and if we can go down [to Miami] and play well this week.”
After last week’s 50-17 debacle against the Seahawks in Toronto, the Bills have given up 404 points through 14 games. The franchise record for most points allowed in a single season is the 454 yielded by the 1984 edition. With 5,173 yards allowed this season, they are on pace to yield 5,912, which would trail only the 5,938 yards allowed last season.
“We all have to be accountable to our job and do what we’re supposed to do,” defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. “When you don’t do that, you get burned pretty good.”
That’s happened far too often this season. The Bills are the first team since 1986 to give up 45 or more points four times in a season.
“It bothers you … more than anything that you’re losing games and you can’t find a level of consistency,” Williams said. “That’s the main thing we’ve got to get fixed. … I think the teams that are consistent, they find a way to be consistent over the course of a year. Obviously every team is going to have a bad game or two, is going to have some bad things happen, but the teams that can avoid those the most and play consistent are going to win football games, and we’re just not very consistent.”
It’s more than just a season-long issue, too. Gailey’s three-year run as coach will go down as the worst stretch of defensive football in franchise history. It’s all but assured the Bills will have three of the four worst scoring defenses in the club’s history and three of the five worst seasons in regards to yards allowed since Gailey took over.
What’s frustrating for players and coaches is that Sunday’s 50-spot came after they thought they had turned the corner on defense. Statistics would say that was true.
Heading into last Sunday’s game, the Bills had allowed 272.8 yards per game in their last five, second to only Pittsburgh (248.7) in the NFL.
Their run defense had allowed 78.4 yards per game and 3.1 yards per rush, figures that were second and tied for first in the league, respectively.
“You feel like you’re playing better, then something like Sunday happens, and it’s definitely a shock to the system,” Williams said. “The only answer for it is to try to come out and get better and work. We all have to trust one another — players, coaches, everybody — that we’re going to do the right thing by one another. We’re going to prepare the right way and continue to play the right way.”
“Every week erases everything before,” defensive end Mario Williams said. “I don’t care about what I did before, because it’s ‘what have you done for me lately?’ That type of mentality.”
To avoid going down as the worst defense in team history, the Bills will have to improve their performance against the read-option offense the Seahawks used Sunday. Buffalo’s opponent Sunday, the Miami Dolphins, runs some read-option plays.
“They’re somewhat unconventional runs, but we got to be able to stop those,” linebacker Nick Barnett said. “It’s not that big of a deal if we execute our responsibilities and we got a little nosy a couple times [against Seattle] on a couple of plays and you can’t do that.”
“It comes down to us going out and fixing those things and being able to respond better,” Mario Williams said.
Statistics would say that’s true.