Sean McDermott and Rick Dennison were searching for answers Monday.
The Buffalo Bills’ head coach and offensive coordinator were peppered with questions about why the team managed just a measly field goal in a disappointing 9-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
“I feel the frustration out there,” McDermott said a day after watching the offense gain just 176 total yards.
Pick a job on offense, and the Bills didn’t do it well. Blocking, rushing, passing and catching the ball were all subpar.
“We’re looking at everything to change things up,” McDermott said. “We’ve got to obviously try and keep defenses on their heels a little bit more. That was an aggressive defense we faced yesterday, we knew that, and there were certainly things we could’ve done better, and we didn’t get it done.”
One thing that won’t change is the quarterback. McDermott confirmed that Tyrod Taylor will remain his starter. Taylor went 17 of 25 against the Panthers, but managed just 125 yards on those completions.
“The quarterback, myself, all parts of this football team need to do a better job,” McDermott said. “Really you say, ‘Hey, regardless of the outcome, we’ve got to continue to get better’ and that’s true. That’s what you do in the process of developing as a football team. All parts of us need to improve.”
The Bills put themselves in supremely difficult situations on offense with their performance on first down. On Buffalo’s first four possessions of the game, here are the yardages gained on first down of each drive: 0, 2, 3 and minus-9.
“That is a little bit tough,” Dennison said. “We have a series of things that we want to start to play with. We had to shoot the first 15, we couldn’t quite get into those even. We started the second half with plays that we still had in the first 15, plays that we as a staff kind of designed as ‘hey, this will get us going, this is our momentum, this is what we’re going to check with formations.’ We just couldn’t get into that rhythm. From that, we’ll learn. Maybe we need to do something a little bit different, but that’s on us as staff.”
Through the first 57 minutes of Sunday’s game, the Bills had just three completions to receivers. That’s after Taylor completed just four passes to receivers in Week One. Taylor did complete four passes to wideouts on the team’s final drive as Carolina played off coverage in an effort not to get deep.
"I don't know that you can say it that way. That's a different statement," Dennison said when asked why the team is having such a tough time getting the ball to its wideouts. "We haven't completed as many balls to the wide receivers. You know, we're trying to get the ball, spread the ball around, do whatever we need to do to move the ball. We didn't execute very well early on – 57 minutes, as you said. We just didn't move the ball very well. It wasn't just the wide receivers."
No matter how you say it, the offense struggled. The man in charge of it likewise had a tough time explaining why.
"They played better than us," he said. "We didn't execute. The consistency, you watch play after play, you know, one play we're doing well, one play we're not. It's not any one person. It's us as a group. So we'll go back, they'll be corrected on the mistakes they made, we as coaches correct our mistakes and try to get a better plan going and moving forward."
Taylor attempted just three passes that traveled at least 20 yards, according to analytics website Pro Football Focus, none of which were completed.
“Some of the deep shots we had up, called up down the field didn’t work out the way we wanted them to,” McDermott said.
“Whether it’s a wide receiver creating separation or a protection, there’s many things” that potentially can lead to those plays not being successful, Dennison said. “We just didn’t execute. We didn’t get the ball down the field. We gave it a try a couple times, the ball went out, didn’t make those plays, so we’ll move on.”
That needs to happen soon. The Bills entered Monday night ranked 25th in the NFL in scoring with just 12.0 points per game.
“Three points, it’s hard to win games in this league when you’re scoring three points,” McDermott said. “We’ve got to look at a lot of things, and we’re going to do that this week.”