On Monday, we took a look at the lack of pressure in Buffalo's 30-22 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills rushed four or less on 34 of 37 Alex Smith dropbacks, one week after flustering Tom Brady. It was strange to many outsiders. And cornerback Stephon Gilmore said he was even "surprised" by the game plan himself.
"Whatever. I mean, I don't know," Ryan said. "Right now, you're looking for anything. We're just trying to find a way to stop people."
The "way" Ryan chose to stop Kansas City did not work. Smith shredded his defense through the air for 255 yards and two scores, practice squad call-up Spencer Ware went for 114 yards on 19 carries on the ground. All game long, the Bills dropped players in shallow zones in an effort to negate the Chiefs' screen game and contain Smith as a scrambler. Smith still found a way sneak through for a few big runs, and then simply drove the ball downfield through the air because Ryan dared him to.
Players played on their heels. Linebacker/end Manny Lawson, for one, shuffled backward almost the entire game.
And most alarming was defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, the one inked to a $108 million contract, dropping into coverage on both of the Chiefs' touchdown passes.
On Wednesday, Ryan was asked about both of these plays.
"In those things, you know, I guess looks can be deceiving," Ryan said. "We certainly didn't have him in the... one of them we did. It was supposed to be a trap coverage and it was supposed to trap the route they got the touchdown on. So we might've been talking about that a little differently. We never executed it. I think it surprised the offense but they threw right into it. But we weren't there for it."
Ryan didn't specify which play he was speaking about or who defensively threw the design, the execution off.
At one point, Ryan was reminded he once said he knew where this defense would end up. To which he chuckled and said, "I thought I did." He's not ready to concede that this group isn't as good as promised.
"It's different for me," Ryan said. "I've never been in this situation. The worst I've ever been in this league is 11th. So I think it's new for me. Obviously last year, they were really good, fourth in the league, but we'll see. I'm not going to press the panic button. Obviously we have to improve. There's not question about it.
"At times, I've seen us play better than the 20th-ranked defense or whatever the heck we are."
And overall on Wednesday, he sold a message of "all together." Ryan still believes there's enough talent on this team to make a run these final five games.
"In my opinion, we're good enough to beat anybody," Ryan said. "But if we don't play with the consistency that we need to take, then obviously that's not the case. We're going to lose them. I think I know how we're going to play. I feel good about how we're going to play. But at the end of the day, the proof's in the pudding. At times, at one point last week, we had over 200 yards of total offense and they had 26 yards. At times, we can play as good as any team in the league. And then there's other times we make mistakes and we don't play as well, obviously. So there's still a little inconsistency in how we're playing. In my opinion we haven't played as good as we can yet. That's obviously what you strive for. I think we can play with any team in this league. I know we can.
"There's no room for error. We know we're backed up as far as we can be backed up. I'm a glass-half-full guy, I get that. There's no question about it. I believe we'll play very well. I don't think there's any doubt."