Bills' offense bottled up again

Posted Nov. 14, 2011 @ 6:27 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Oct. 30 seems like a lot longer than two weeks ago in Buffalo.

On that day, the Bills shut out the Redskins 20-0 in Toronto, dominating in every facet of the game. At 5-2, they were atop the AFC East heading into a key stretch.

In the two games since, the Bills have been outscored 71-18, falling to 5-4 and looking like a team that is a year or two away as opposed to this season's surprise playoff candidate.

To add insult to injury, the Bills lost C Eric Wood for the season in the 44-7 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday.

Dallas' defense, like the Jets', took Chan Gailey's offense completely out of its rhythm, while the Cowboys' offense steamrolled the Bills' "D." Sunday's game against the Dolphins is suddenly a must-win for Buffalo, and it's no longer a walkover.

The PFW Spin

In the past two games, Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown two touchdown passes and five interceptions. WR Stevie Johnson was held to two catches for eight yards against the Cowboys. RB Fred Jackson, production-wise, has still been consistent, but he has lost a fumble in each of the last two games. He also had four catches for only one yard vs. Dallas.

Brad Smith did not have a carry in either game. C.J. Spiller, who was supposed to be another playmaker at wideout, was not even targeted in either game.

When the Bills entered Week Nine, they were 10th in the NFL in total offense, third in points and 12th in points allowed. Their total offense has dropped to 14th, points to eighth, and the defense is now allowing 24.2 points per game, which ranks 23rd.

While it is noteworthy how much the defense was manhandled by the Cowboys on Sunday, the offense's problems are a bit more jarring.

We are learning how desperate the Bills are for another playmaker in addition to Jackson and Johnson for Fitzpatrick to throw to. And we will learn in the coming weeks how crucial Wood is to the offensive line.

Fitzpatrick and Jackson said Monday that much of the problems are self-inflicted, but it should be a concern for Gailey that his offense, the team's strength, was outplayed two games in a row.

Looking down the road in a competitive AFC, the Bills have their work cut out for them with meetings remaining against the Patriots and Jets as well as a game at San Diego.

Buffalo does have two games left against the Dolphins and it hosts the Broncos, giving it three winnable games. However, while the Bills have been out of sorts the past two games, the Dolphins are finally playing to their potential, winning two in a row.

This Sunday's game against Miami is no cakewalk. Mike Nolan's aggressive defense is finally playing that way and could cause problems for a shuffled offensive line. Miami is vulnerable in the secondary, and Fitzpatrick should use this game to get the passing game back on track.

The defense is young and still needs a pass rusher, but this team's backbone is its offense, and if the Bills are to get back into contention, it will be by scoring points. Gailey might need to get creative with the play-calling going forward and should consider getting Smith and Spiller, two playmakers, the ball more often in space.

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