The vitriol being directed at Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt reached a fever pitch during the team's bye week. To his credit, however, Wannstedt is firmly staying the course as he tries to direct his defense out of the league's cellar.
Appearing on WGR 550's The John Murphy Show on Thursday evening, Wannstedt said that inconsistency has been the biggest obstacle for the defense to this point in the season.
"The biggest thing we've got to do is be consistent at what we do, whether it be third down, or whether it be stopping the run, or whether it be rushing the passer," Wannstedt told Murphy. "We have no consistency right now. It's one game up, one down."
Pointing out that the Bills have had stretches of solid to excellent play this season, Wannstedt insists that the defense simply needs to play with more consistency to take the next step in becoming a good unit.
"Consistency is what we've been stressing," Wannstedt said. "One play at a time. Let's go out there and play as hard as we can play, and execute one play. And then let's make it a series, and then one game, and then go from there.
"The thing that I've tried to do is be very transparent," Wannstedt later continued. "'Hey guys, here it is, put the tape on, let's talk about it now. Does everybody understand what we're trying to do here? Does everybody know what their job is? What went wrong? What went good?' And just keep pressing on."
Speaking freely while riffing on a Murphy question, Wannstedt went out of his way to note that the youth of the defense - particularly in the secondary - is not being used as an excuse for the team's poor play.
"I don't want to say it's youth, because that's a copout," Wannstedt said. "It's been a combination of guys; if it was just one player, you replace him."
Murphy brought up the idea of blitzing more frequently to the coordinator, and Wannstedt fell back on the idea that they're not blitzing frequently because of the team's inexperienced starting cornerbacks, Stephon Gilmore and Aaron Williams. Instead, Wannstedt will rely on his expensive defensive line to create pressure.
"Our bread and butter is our front four. We're going to live and die with those guys," Wannstedt explained. "When they're clicking, and they're cranking and making plays, it makes up for a lot of problems. Trust me. Coverage-wise, run-wise, everything. We've just been banged up a little bit there."
Murphy noted that Wannstedt sounded frustrated speaking about the defense.
"In this league, you have to win the ones that you expect to win, and you should win, and we should have won the game last week (against the Tennessee Titans)," Wannstedt exclaimed. "For a lot of different reasons, we should have won that football game, in our minds. So now we've got to steal one back. Now you've got to go win one that maybe the outsiders don't think you should win."
Coming off of a poor performance in that loss to Tennessee, Wannstedt says that the Bills need to set aside their frustrations and step up to the plate if they have any chance of competing well against a very good Houston Texans offense.
"It is frustrating, trust me," Wannstedt said. "Very frustrating - as much for all of us coaches as it is for the players. But it's not a secret what we've got to do to get it corrected, and what went wrong. Now the key is we've got to respond the right way. This'll be a good test for us this week. We'd better bring our mouthpiece this week, because they're going to try to bloody our noses."