Mario Williams’ postgame comments have reverberated throughout the Buffalo Bills’ locker room and not everyone agrees with the defensive end.
Center Eric Wood and safety Corey Graham, two of the team’s most seasoned veterans, didn’t sound thrilled with what Williams had to say after Buffalo’s 35-25 loss to Washington.
“We want to come out as a team,” Wood said. “We want to play together. And guys have questioned the scheme pretty much all year. But as far as practice and everything else goes, the effort’s been there and that hasn’t been an issue. Hopefully that’ll continue this week.”
True, on at least three different occasions – after the 34-21 loss to Cincinnati, on Dec. 4 and then after Sunday’s 35-25 loss to Washington – Williams ripped coach Rex Ryan’s defense. After the Cincy game, he wasn’t happy with dropping into coverage, saying he “probably set a record on dropping today.” On Dec. 4, before Buffalo’s game against Houston, he said “We’re still doing the same thing.”
Then, on Sunday, Williams took the criticism to a new level.
This time, he slammed the coaches for switching players so much in and out of the game from play to play. Williams said he’s never seen this much substituting in his 10 NFL seasons.
“My mindset is if you’re an attack defense,” Williams said then, “if you’re a bully on the field you don’t let anything else dictate what you do. We’re going to put who we put out there and then we’re going to be able to execute and make plays with the guys out there. I don’t need to wait on you to make a decision.
“Game in and game out, I don’t know how in the world it keeps happening.”
Players heard this all. No, nothing has been said internally this week yet about players buying in, Wood said. The team had Monday off and then returned Tuesday as a group. With two games to go, there’s signs of friction, of a fracture at One Bills Drive.
And that certainly has not helped the team’s cause at all. Buffalo will miss the postseason for a 16th straight season.
“No, definitely,” Wood said. “To win in this league, you’ve got to be all in together on effort, scheme, everything. I don’t think we were going into the last game based on postgame comments. I believe that continuity and being together is important.”
Graham agrees. He didn’t hold back himself when asked about Williams.
This nine-year veteran’s message to Williams? “Do your job.” Even if that means he’s not rushing the passer as much as he’d like.
“Obviously, he’s got his opinion on everything,” Graham said. “You know, in this league, when things are not going your way, everybody’s negative. I mean, that’s just how it is. I’m used to it. I’m not going to sit here and say one person’s right, one person’s wrong. I mean, Rex is proven in this league. He’s been doing this a long time. If there’s one thing I can say about Rex, he’s a smart guy. Very, very bright guy. He knows defenses, he knows what to do, what not to do. You’ve just got to find your place, you’ve got to find your place in the scheme.”
He didn’t stop there. Players don’t want to hear a teammate griping quite like this.
Sammy Watkins wants teammates to call each other out more? There was plenty of that Tuesday.
“Defensive linemen, they want to rush,” Graham said. “I mean, we’re not going to sugarcoat it. He wants to rush the quarterback, so when you ask him to do something that he’s not comfortable doing, it’s tough for him. But as a professional, as a defensive guy, you have to just go out there, do your job, do what they ask you to do, and do it to the best of your ability.
“Don’t worry about things like that. We’ve got to win as a defense, as a team. We’ve got to do whatever it takes to win, and if it means dropping in coverage, you’ve got to do it sometimes.”