The Bills impressed most NFL observers in the offseason with their signing of free-agent defensive end Mario Williams, their addition of another pass rusher, Mark Anderson, the re-signing of some key veterans, and a draft that produced two opening-day starters. There was an unmistakable buzz about the team, and the Bills were a sexy pick to finally end the franchise's 12-year playoff drought.
That thud you heard at the Meadowlands were all those expectations crashing to the earth as the Bills flopped in their 48-28 loss to the Jets, a team that Buffalo was allegedly ready to surpass this year in the AFC East standings.
As bad as the offense played, the most disappointing aspect was how the revamped defense performed. Williams and Anderson could not have been lesser factors, short of not dressing for the game. Anderson didn't even make the stat sheet, while Williams made one tackle and had just one pressure, that coming on a rush off the edge where Mark Sanchez still delivered the pass and completed it.
"He was getting back there and just getting the ball out," Williams said of Sanchez. "They definitely had real good timing as far as him and the receivers and even the running backs. We've got to get there."
The pass rush was the worst in the NFL last season, and it was supposed to be vastly improved which, in theory, was going to help the secondary. Of course what happened is Sanchez had time to stand there and pat the ball and play catch with receivers running wide open. Starting cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore, Aaron Williams and nickel corner Leodis McKelvin all lost too many battles, and this was against Santonio Holmes and inexperienced receivers Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill.
"We couldn't get off the field on third downs, and we just got beat," said safety Jairus Byrd. "They didn't do anything out of the ordinary, we knew what they were going to do, and we just got beat."
The Jets finished with 266 passing yards, and they converted 10 of 14 third downs.
Coach Chan Gailey admits he pays much more attention to the offense than the defense because that's his forte, and he's the play-caller. But he didn't need to watch the film to know that his defense was terrible.
"We're letting them run too wide open right now, and we're not getting enough pressure on the passer," Gailey said. "That's something we're going to address. Dave (Wannstedt, the defensive coordinator) and I already had a conversation about how are we going to address that. We've got to change that. We understand where we are. We don't like it. It's ugly and it's my responsibility."
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