Leslie Frazier has a pretty good idea of what’s coming.
The Buffalo Bills’ defensive coordinator knows that future opponents will watch what the Philadelphia Eagles did on the ground Sunday at New Era Field and try to emulate it. The Eagles gashed the Bills for 218 rushing yards in a 31-13 victory.
“It’s something we’ll definitely have to answer the bell to, for sure,” Frazier said. “People are going to look at that tape say, ‘OK, that’s the formula right there. You can run the football.’ So, we’ve got to stand up, we have to get it fixed and improve in that area and get to the point where they can’t be balanced on offense.”
It’s fair to say Monday’s film review session had to be one of the more interesting ones of the season at One Bills Drive after the debacle against the Eagles. Frazier said there was a lot of give and take between coaches explaining what they were looking for and players in what they were seeing on the field.
“That's a long day defensively and we had a chance to go back and watch the tape and I think we made the necessary corrections,” Frazier said. “Now we have to get a chance to get out and practice next week and prepare for Washington, who can really run the football as well. But we think we handled what needs to be handled and we'll see once we get on the field.”
The Bills have had forgettable days against the run before. The team has allowed 200-plus yards on the ground five times in the three years Frazier and coach Sean McDermott have been here. The common thread in those games, according to Frazier, is poor gap integrity and subpar tackling. If those issues don’t get fixed, they will surely follow the Bills in the coming weeks.
“I think what happened yesterday, I'm hoping will benefit us in a positive way down the road, starting with this week,” Frazier said. “You take a look at it, you find out what the problem is and if you have the right people, you can get it turned around, and I think we do and you get it fixed and you move on. You can't allow one game in your season to dictate the rest of the season. I don't think that'll happen to us. I think we'll make the corrections and we'll be better going forward.”
It wasn’t just the run defense that struggled against the Eagles. The Bills also were hurt by Philadelphia’s screen game, with Frazier saying the team’s recognition and awareness of the situation were deficient. With winds blowing 30 mph consistently, it should have been obvious throwing the ball down the field was going to be a challenge.
The biggest defensive issue, though, was the inability to stop the Eagles from running when it was clear that was the game plan.
“We want to be an attack-oriented defense, with our defensive line attacking the line of scrimmage, with our linebackers attacking the line of scrimmage as well,” Frazier said. “That’s part of who we are and that’s part of our identity. And in order to stop the run, that’s what usually needs to happen. So we just want to make sure we’re always doing that. We’ve done it at times during the season and had success in doing that. You just don’t want to lose some of those fundamentals of what you say you are.”
2. McDermott said that cornerback Levi Wallace is day to day after suffering a shoulder injury against the Eagles. The same timeline was given for rookie right tackle Cody Ford, who left Sunday’s game with an elbow injury.
3. The NFL trade deadline arrives at 4 p.m. Tuesday. McDermott said he’ll be in contact with General Manager Brandon Beane leading up to the deadline.
“We talk about everything, we look at everything,” he said. “I know Brandon and his staff are on top of things and so just like with the evaluation of the game, we look at about everything.”
A report from ESPN on Monday suggested the Bills might have an interest in Chargers running back Melvin Gordon, although a deal was no sure thing.
4. McDermott explained the nonchallenge that worked in the Bills’ favor Sunday. After Devin Singletary’s 28-yard touchdown catch, referee John Hussey announced that McDermott had thrown his challenge flag too late. Thus, Singletary’s touchdown held up.
The Bills’ coach was going to challenge for pass interference on an incomplete pass to John Brown that came on a second-and-13 play, saying the defender pulled Brown’s hand.
“It worked out, obviously,” the coach said. “I felt like we were in that, it was third and real long and we were going against the wind as well, and I felt like ‘Hey, if I get one more good look at it, I’m going to throw it.’ Just because, again, the cost benefit and the chance to help our team and then we threw it, and it was too late, which worked in our favor there. So, I picked it up and on we went.”