The Buffalo Bills' deficient pass rush had another forgettable outing Sunday.
The Bills are not getting to the quarterback with four rushers, so they tried more five-man rushes against the Los Angeles Chargers. To no avail.
The Bills blitzed Philip Rivers 10 times in 37 drop-backs in the 54-24 loss at StubHub Center.
Rivers was 8 of 10 for 118 yards when blitzed, with one touchdown, no sacks and just one hurry. Rivers' favorite receiver, Keenan Allen, caught six passes on blitz plays for 92 yards. Allen caught 12 balls overall for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bills now stand 31st in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt. They have 15 sacks through 10 games, a pace that would give them 24 on the season. The Bills had 39 sacks in 2016, 21 in 2015 and 54 in 2014.
The issue for coach Leslie Frazier's defense is more pressure than sacks. The Chargers rank No. 3 in sack avoidance. Rivers, however, is a stationary QB who is vulnerable up the middle. The Bills tried and failed to get in his face.
Two of the first three Bills blitzes Sunday produced incompletions. On the second, linebacker Ramon Humber stormed the center-guard gap and forced a throw-away. From there on, Rivers was comfortable in the pocket.
Ten blitzes in 38 attempts (26.3 percent) was the Bills' highest blitz rate this season, according to News statistics. Sean McDermott and Frazier prefer to get pressure with four, if possible. The Bills blitzed Tampa's Jameis Winston 11 times in 45 drop-backs. Since then, they played mostly coverage against quick-throwing Derek Carr, and then got caught up in run-oriented nightmares against the Jets and Saints.
Here are the position-by-position grades of the Chargers nightmare, based on video review:
Quarterback (0.5): The point-5 is for Tyrod Taylor, who performed capably in the second half after Nathan Peterman's disastrous first 30 minutes.
Running back (3.5): The sad thing is the Bills could have run the ball on the Chargers and stuck to a ground-and-pound script if the game plan didn't go up in flames the first 15 minutes. LeSean McCoy had 114 yards on just 13 carries. Hopefully, Travis Cadet's six-catch day keeps him ahead of Mike Tolbert on the depth chart.
Receiver (2.0): Kelvin Benjamin's injury overshadowed the receiver corps. Deonte Thompson was off-page with Peterman on the fourth INT. Zay Jones had a semi-drop on a slant, but the defender had good coverage. Jones had four catches for 68 yards.
Offensive line (0.5): Jordan Mills gave up a sack and four other hurries to Joey Bosa. That drives the entire grade down. Dion Dawkins had some power run-blocks early and wasn't awful in pass protection on the other side, mostly against Melvin Ingram. Dawkins was beaten by Bosa on the second INT. Richie Incognito was superb in run-blocking. On all three of McCoy's big runs, Incognito had blow-up blocks.
Defensive line (1.0): The run defense wasn't good enough but it was slightly better (there was nowhere to go but up). The bigger problem was the lack of pass rush. Shaq Lawson had a sack but didn't pressure enough. Neither did Lorenzo Alexander. New beef-master Deandre Coleman played 29 snaps.
Linebackers (1.5): One has to wonder if linebackers Preston Brown and Humber aren't getting too close to the line on some runs, as Bills radio man Mark Kelso keeps suggesting. Humber and Brown are playing at 3 to 3.5 yards. Melvin Gordon cut inside Brown on a 28-yard run. Humber took one step left reacting to a fake jet sweep and couldn't get in position on a 10-yard run. Matt Milano was one gap left of the alley on the 21-yard TD run.
Defensive backs (1.5): Sometimes scheme put Allen in favorable matchups, as in a 16-yarder vs. Humber, an 11-yarder vs. Brown, the 21-yard TD vs. Leonard Johnson (a Rivers audible) and the 2-yard TD. Allen's 29-yard catch looked like a coverage bust by Micah Hyde, who guessed a sideline route when Allen broke inside. We counted three Allen gains (for 10, 5 and 18 yards) in which off-coverage made the pitch-and-catch too easy. Jordan Poyer saved two TDs, with end-zone breakups against tight ends Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates.
Special teams (2.0): Colton Schmidt's 29-yard first-half shank didn't help.