Despite big win, Bills' defense needs improvement


LB Mitchell poster boy for struggling D (Associated Press)

I know, I know. The Buffalo Bills are coming off of a 54-31 win over the hapless Kansas City Chiefs. Buffalo's offense is getting most of the credit, but the defense was the catalyst, forcing four turnovers and putting a score on the board via rookie cornerback Leodis McKelvin. I get that. It was an exciting win. But for every revived playoff dreamer out there, there's the "it was just the Chiefs" argument. And if we're following that argument, it's only fair to point out that while the defense made plays, they also got absolutely torched on Sunday.

You think Buffalo's offense was potent on Sunday? The Chiefs out-gained them, putting up 462 yards on the Bills. Despite playing from behind for more than half the game, the Chiefs still rushed for 159 yards, and the dynamic passing duo of Tyler Thigpen and Quinn Gray combined for 303 yards and four touchdowns. The 1-10 Chiefs dialed up 9 plays in which they gained 20 yards or more against the Bills. Were these the Chiefs, or the New England Patriots?

Yes, the Bills' defense has done good things over the past few weeks. They've been put in terrible situations by a turnover-happy offense, and acquitted themselves rather well in those situations, holding opponents to field goals on several occasions. In short, they played well enough to win during the team's four-game losing streak. But like it or not, the Bills have still given up an average of 26.2 points per game over the past five weeks, a stretch in which the Bills have gone 1-4. Points are what matters in this league. The defense is failing that test.

The tackling has been terrible; the most prominent offender has been LB Kawika Mitchell, who was especially ineffective in Kansas City against the team that drafted him. The team has given up big runs of late, including long jaunts by Cleveland's Jerome Harrison and Kansas City's Larry Johnson in the last two weeks alone. The pass rush is, as usual, largely ineffective. The unit is also banged up, missing DE Aaron Schobel for the past five games and without several cornerbacks and safety Donte Whitner for stretches as well.

We know every problem that the defense has. They sprung some serious leaks against Kansas City despite the plays they did make. Unless the Bills plan on scoring 54 points every week, the Bills have some serious work to do defensively in nearly every facet of the game.

The ever-delightful Jerry Sullivan says Dick Jauron insulted his intelligence and took his conservatism to new heights by leaving Trent Edwards on the field late in the win over the Chiefs. Call me crazy, but leaving your starting QB on the field in that situation sounds more like a gamble than anything. If I'm calling Jauron conservative, I'm saying it if he took Edwards out at the start of the fourth quarter. I guess Jerry needs to be sad about something, because, well, he is.

I like this column if only because Leo Roth (a heck of a nice guy) and Sal Maiorana try really hard to use big words. Oh, and they discuss the merits of beating the Chiefs, too - and agree that Buffalo's defense has been bad.

WGRZ takes, in essence, a minute-by-minute look back at Kevin Everett's injury in an incredible interview of everyone involved. A chilling read.

If you're looking for the best blogging coverage on this past weekend's action in the NFL - for any game you may be interested in reviewing - click on this nice little button here...

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