Is the collective commitment there top to bottom with the Buffalo Bills as they get ready to seemingly play out the string to another non-playoff season?
Veteran Bills running back Fred Jackson said the team is about to find out during the campaign’s final three weeks. A couple of his other teammates were more blunt in their assessment of the situation Monday — a day after the Bills’ listless 27-6 loss at Tampa Bay.
“Obviously it’s not,” said defensive tackle Kyle Williams when asked if the collective accountability of the team is where it should be right now. “The thing about it is it’s got to be everybody or it’s not good enough. If you’re missing one or two, it’s not good enough because this game is unique enough where one guy can’t make a game or win a game for you. If you don’t have everyone on the same page, you’re not going to be effective.”
While the Bills’ slim playoff hopes still mathematically exist, the annual time of year has come for players to remind their peers and coaches as to who can be counted on to show up and keep playing hard with nothing but pride on the line so that the organization can figure who are the right players to keep during its quest to find a solution to ending its losing ways. The Bills haven’t made the playoffs since 1999.
No one’s happy about the extension of that drought.
“We don’t want to be sitting out here with four wins on the season with a 4-9 record,” Jackson said. “That’s not where we want to be. That’s not what we signed up to play this for. That’s not in our job description, come in and have a 4-9 season and be OK with it. That’s not what this locker room is about. We’ll continue working. We’re going to do everything we can to get these last three games under our belt and try to finish this thing with three wins.
“If you’re not all in about winning, you will be evaluated at the end of the year — myself included. If they feel they have to go in a different direction they will.”
Center Eric Wood said it’s time players grow up and it’s time to for them to get called out by their position groups if necessary.
“Just a couple of weeks ago we were saying we’re not far off from where we want to be as a team,” said Wood, referring to the Bills being among the teams in the hunt for the final wild-card spot in the AFC coming off their bye. “Then you go and lay an egg like yesterday and you feel like you’re starting over at Square One.”
Jackson on coach Doug Marrone’s comments following Sunday’s game on scaling back the playbook for rookie QB EJ Manuel:
“It’s just what you have to do to help a young quarterback. … We’ve got to do what we can to help him. When you’re going to see a lot of defenses thrown at you in the NFL, it’s going to be tough to adjust to. One of the things we can do is scale back the playbook and help him in that fashion.”
What is Marrone looking for out of Manuel and the Bills during the final three weeks?
“This is what I’m looking for specifically, win. I want to win football games,” Marrone said.
Marcell Dareus recorded the Bills’ 44th sack of the season Sunday.
That’s the most they’ve had as a team since notching 45 in 2004. The Bills are six sacks away from the team record of 50 set during the 1964 AFL Championship season.
Dareus’ sack was his seventh of the season and gave the Bills four players with at least seven sacks in a season for the first time since the NFL started counting the statistic back in 1982. The 2008 Dallas Cowboys were the last team to have at least four players with seven or more sacks.
A few young players made a good impression on Marrone during Sunday’s loss, including linebacker Ty Powell, tight end Chris Gragg and guard J.J. Unga.
Marrone said Unga, who is more comfortable on the right side, will likely get more reps at the spot. Kraig Urbik is the current starter at the position.