By Tim Graham
Doug Marrone admitted that some questions provide a fleeting moment of relief.
When reporters remind him this was supposed to be a rebuilding season anyway or ask about the bounces that could've put the Buffalo Bills in the middle of the playoff race, Marrone conceded those are easy exits ramps to escape his angst.
Marrone, though, said he's not like that.
Marrone closed his eyes, rested his head in one hand and kneaded his forehead while fielding questions at Sunday's postgame news conference. He was glum again this afternoon for the postmortem of a 34-31 overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Toronto.
"My expectations are extremely high," Marrone replied at One Bills Drive today when asked about acceptable growing pains. "I'm very disappointed in myself, with where we are, and it starts with me.
"I've got to find a way to get it better because I really believe that if I come across as the head coach and don't have those expectations, then we'll fall short of our goals at the end. I want to make sure that we're accountable, starting with myself, and keeping those things extremely high and keep fighting for that. We can do that.
"That's where I'm struggling. We have players here that are capable of winning games. We have coaches here that are capable of winning games, and we're not getting that done. That's where I'm struggling, to get ourselves over that top and creating that consistency."
The Bills, like many teams, break down their season schedule by quarters and try to win each four-game set. The Bills are entering their final quarter and have gone 2-2, 1-3 and 1-3 over their first three quarters.
The Bills have not been mathematically eliminated from the postseason yet, but their chances are microscopic. Plus, three of their last four games are on the road.
Marrone spoke today like a coach who's motivating his players not to pack it in.
"There has to come a point where you have to go forward and work and get the foundation right," Marrone said. "It's a work in progress, and I don't want to be that guy that stands up here and says that, but it is what it is.
"We're not satisfied, obviously, with the record or where we are. Being competitive and playing close is not what we do. What we're here to do is to win. At the end of the day, we haven't gotten that done consistently."
The Bills are 1-5 away from Ralph Wilson Stadium. They haven't won consecutive games since Weeks Two and Three last year, but they've had their chances to win more than four times.
They should have beaten the Falcons on Sunday, but late fumbles from Stevie Johnson and Scott Chandler ended their hopes. The also lost the New England Patriots on a field goal with five seconds left, fell to the Cincinnati Bengals in overtime and had the Kansas City Chiefs on the ropes but gave up a pair of defensive touchdowns to lose by 10 points.
"It's difficult," Marrone said. "It gives you a moment of relief to think 'What if? What if?'
"But, for me, the way I handle things, it gives me high levels of anxiety. It hurts me that we collectively -- players and coaches, and it starts with me -- can't get it over the top where you can start that run."