Plain and simple, Bills' defense is a full-blown disaster - The Buffalo News

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Plain and simple, Bills' defense is a full-blown disaster

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No one tried applying any delicately worded or cliché-filled ointment to this one.

The wound was as wide open and raw and ghastly as the scoreboard and the stat sheet said it was. Members of the Buffalo Bills' defense knew there wasn't anything they could say in the dressing room that would come close to making what happened at New Era Field Sunday even remotely acceptable.

Their unit, the one that defensive-minded Sean McDermott was hired to make better, is a full-blown disaster. It had seemingly gone as low as it could in the Nov. 2 Thursday night debacle against the New York Jets, who rushed for 194 yards at MetLife Stadium.

No. Sunday, it got worse. It turned to vapor and the New Orleans Saints blew through it from start to finish in a 47-10 victory, the Bills' biggest home loss since a 56-10 pasting by the New England Patriots in 2007 and their first after going 4-0 at New Era Field.

"It's bad," linebacker Preston Brown said. "It's embarrassing, two weeks in a row, to just get out-manned, out-worked, out-everything. There's no excuses."

What, really, can be said?

For the second week in a row, the Bills' front seven was flat-out manhandled. For the second week in a row, its players looked as if they did not belong on the same field as their opponent.

"You don't want to start creating bad habits or start doubting yourself, and that's what happens when games like this kind of go back to back and you start seeing a routine of things happening," linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said.

You can't help but wonder whether Alexander and other senior defenders have reached a point where they simply don't physically have what it takes to do anything more than just wear a uniform. But that's far from the only issue. The younger guys look lost and confused. And McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier appear helpless as they watch from the sideline, offering nothing in the way of schematic answers to put people where they need to be to make stops.

At every turn, Sean Payton, New Orleans' offensive mastermind, was a step ahead.

The Saints' O-linemen, just as the Jets' counterparts, were blowing people off the ball play after play. Running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara took turns running through gaping holes on the way to gaining 131 and 106 yards, respectively, and combining for four of New Orleans' six rushing touchdowns (three by Ingram). The last time the Bills allowed two players to each rush for 100 yards against them was in a 2012 loss against (who else?) the Patriots. The previous time they gave up six TDs on the ground? Never.

With 298 rushing yards, the Saints became the first team to run for 295 or more yards and six TDs in a game since the 1957 Cleveland Browns.

"They killed us in every single stat, at everything you can talk about," Brown said.

"This is not easy to take," McDermott said. "Not an easy pill to swallow, especially at home. ... This was not what we expected and we've got to take a hard look at things."

Jerry Sullivan: Suddenly, Bills have that old, ominous feel

Start with effort. McDermott and some of his players seemed to think that wasn't a problem Sunday, but they might reconsider after watching the videotape, especially of the 10-play, 94-yard drive that ended with the touchdown that put the Saints up, 37-3, with 22 seconds left in the third quarter. All 10 plays were runs, including Drew Brees' seven-yard TD scramble. It was part of a sequence of 24 consecutive run plays.

Payton made it clear that he was simply going to keep pounding until the Bills' defense demonstrated it had even the slightest capacity to do something about it. This was a classic case of a bully taking away someone's lunch money.

The Bills put up no fight whatsoever.

"It was also managing the clock, where we're at time-wise," Payton said, trying to be charitable. "The objective is to go in and, just being smart, but, yeah, I mean if you're feeling like some things are going ..."

Tackling remains the largest of all of the Bills' defensive shortcomings. It is all about effort and attitude, about a willingness to do something that is hard on the body, as well as the mind. To be effective at bringing down ball carriers, there can only be a full commitment to do so.

That wasn't there against the Jets. It didn't show up against the Saints, either.

The Jets' game was widely dismissed as an anomaly, a one-time thing caused mainly by the short turnaround after a blowout home win against the Oakland Raiders. The blame was largely placed on the annoyance of having to play on Thursday night.

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There was no convenient scapegoat for what happened Sunday. The Bills had extra time to rest and heal and work on ways to vastly improve preventing another humiliation.

It never happened on any level.

"We got off to a bad start, it snowballed," defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. "We get beat physically, we're out of our gaps, we're not where we're supposed to be. It just snowballed into a nightmare."

Mass confusion. That isn't supposed to be happening this deep into the season.

But that's what has happened to the Bills' defense. Through the team's 5-2 start, there was a sense that it had become smarter primarily through smarter coaching by McDermott and his staff. If Rex Ryan was a disorganized mess the previous two years, McDermott was the opposite.

Or, at least, that has been the perception, fueled by the fact the Bills have been the NFL's best team at getting takeaways.

Player after player talked about Sunday's problems being larger than the opponent's dominance.

"When you're starting to give up those type of rushing yards, it goes beyond physically getting beat," Williams said. "We're not fitting where we're supposed to and then you start to press and then maybe guys are just trying to make a play to make up for something and maybe not where they're supposed to be. There's a lot of things to critique for sure."

The critiquing had better result in improving. And fast.

"We have to find a way to get better or we'll have five wins at the end of the year," Brown said. "We've got to make a change or we'll be 5-11. It's that simple."

Watch: Our Team's Takeaway from Bills' blowout defeat to Saints

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