It’s not really December until Christmas songs fill the airwaves, snow coverage blares from the TV news and … reports of dysfunction start to trickle out of One Bills Drive.
All three of those things came together Sunday at New Era Field, where the Bills’ listless 27-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at New Era Field was overshadowed by speculation about the future of head coach Rex Ryan.
Reports from both CBS Sports and The Buffalo News before the game suggested that Ryan’s time with the Bills could be nearing an end, just two seasons into a five-year contract. If and when that time comes, the team’s defensive failings will undoubtedly have played a massive part. Ryan came to town blabbering about how it was a disappointment the defense he inherited from Jim Schwartz in 2014 finished fourth in the NFL. After watching this defense most of the last two years, those qualify as the good ole days.
The coach who wanted to “build a bully” watched his defense get its butt kicked over and over again by Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who broke the Pittsburgh single-game rushing record with a mind-boggling 236 yards and three touchdowns. But, hey, at least the Bills held Bell to less than 300 yards from scrimmage. He finished with “only 298.” If it wasn’t for Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger apparently having money on the under – he threw three interceptions, including two in the red zone – this could have been a blowout of epic proportions.
Which brings us to the offense. It was offensive. Playing in the biggest game of his career, quarterback Tyrod Taylor failed in spectacular fashion. With less than 10 minutes left in the game, Taylor had 71 passing yards. The debate about whether he should return in 2017 should end now, just as his time as the starting quarterback. Don’t let the stats in garbage time fool you – he was atrocious.
The Bills would be better off playing rookie Cardale Jones in the final three games. That’s not just some hot take, either. Playing Taylor the rest of the way exposes him to the risk of injury. If that happens, his contract option for next year is guaranteed. Under no circumstances should the Bills run that risk.