It all starts upfront, as the old adage goes.
And during the Buffalo Bills’ embarrassing 9-6 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, nothing seemed to go right. Against a terrible Jacksonville defense that entered the game with just 11 sacks, Buffalo’s offensive line was atrocious. Quarterback Josh Allen was hit eight times and Jaguars defenders took him to the turf on four occasions.
Zack Moss and Devin Singletary combined to gain just 22 yards on nine carries.
Once again, Allen was forced to try and win the game by himself. And in that effort, he threw two costly interceptions and fumbled when the game mattered most. The fourth-year passer took the blame for the loss when speaking to the media after the contest, saying he played “like shit” but it’s tough to put these ghastly offensive showings solely on his shoulders.
“Six points on the board. Not good enough,” center Mitch Morse said of the offensive line’s performance after the game. “Simple as that. Much like every loss, or every game, you look at what you can fix. I can only speak for myself, but there are quite a few plays I wish I could have back to put us in an optimal position to play more efficiently and I think most of the guys would say the same thing.”
Poor offensive line play has emerged as a common theme throughout the Bills’ 2021 season, and the team’s inability to effectively run the ball or provide quality protection for Allen is a real threat to the team’s Super Bowl chances. The line surrendered 20-plus pressures for the third time this season.
Jaguars edge rusher Josh Allen had a field day, loading up the stat sheet with eight tackles, one sack, an interception, one fumble recovery, and a pass breakup. Taven Bryan – a bust of a first-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft with just 3.5 career sacks under his belt, tallied two monstrous sacks after mauling Buffalo right guard Cody Ford.
Despite the coaching staff and front office’s offseason vote of confidence in Ford, the former second-round draft pick has proven to be a liability every time he’s stepped on the field for Buffalo, and after Sunday’s disastrous showing, it’s time for the team to move on.
Injuries played a role in Ford getting the starting nod in Week 9, but the coaching staff needs to look into the other options at their disposal – and it sounds like coach Sean McDermott agrees.
“We gotta fix some things. Let’s just start there,” McDermott said in his post-game press conference. We gotta fix some things. We’re going to take a hard look at the film. You know, you’ve got to win upfront in order to win, offensively and defensively. I have confidence in those guys, both the staff and the players. To score six points, you know, I thought we moved the ball well at times and then we’d stall. Whether it was in the red zone early there, or a turnover, we stalled out for some reason. So I’ve got to go back and look at it and scrub it down and go from there.”
This offense has major issues. The struggles in pass protection are one problem, but the team’s complete and utter inability to run the ball is putting the team in poor situations on just about every drive. When taking the Houston Texans victory out of consideration, Bills running backs have tallied just 472 yards and three touchdowns on 121 attempts – a 3.9 yards-per-carry average.
Buffalo falls to 5-3 after the loss to Jacksonville and it’s imperative that the team finds answers for the multiple question marks along their offensive line if they hope to make a push for the playoffs, let alone a Super Bowl.
For Morse and the offensive line, it’s time to do some soul searching and come up with a solution to get the Bills back on track.
“Sometimes we got outplayed, sometimes it was the right call against a play we had,” said Morse. “It was just an accumulation of a lot of stuff, which makes it very frustrating. but all you can do in games like this is point inwards, look intrinsically. It’s what professionals do. it’s the hardest thing to do, to look at yourself. I think as an offense we have to do that, each and every one of us, and go from there.”