When I’m mad, I usually like to make lists. It gets my mind away from whatever it is that I’m upset about and gives me an outlet to vent on paper.
I decided to make a list of all the things currently wrong with the Bills defense on Monday because I’m just not sure what to write about after the Bills dropped their second game in a row, 26-17 to the Kansas City Chiefs to fall to 4-2 on the season.
Josh Allen and the Bills offense only putting 17 points on the board is an issue, but the offense held the ball for just north of seven minutes in the second half.
Simply put, the defense couldn’t get off the field and it showed. That’s where I’m going to start:
Defense can't get off the field
The Bills gave up 466 yards to the Chiefs on Monday night, and part of the reason was their defense simply couldn’t get off the field when it mattered the most. On 14 attempts, the Chiefs converted nine third downs against the Bills defense and went 1-for-1 on fourth down. Whether it was Patrick Mahomes breaking contain to extend plays or simply bad tackling, when the Bills needed someone to make a play defensively, none were made. Simple as that.
Zero pass rush
The Bills decided to move on from Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson in the offseason, and instead chose to bring in Mario Addison and Vernon Butler in free agency. Through six games, Addison has been off-and-on, but a major liability against the run. Butler is in and out of the starting lineup.
What Lawson lacked in pass rush ability, he made up for in setting the edge and playing sound run defense. They 100% miss Lawson’s attitude and ability to defend the run. On the inside, they badly miss Phillips’ size and pass rush ability. They decided to go small up the middle and since, they’ve healthy scratched Harrison Phillips, and Ed Oliver has been entirely invisible.
I’m not sure whether or not this is a unit built for a turnaround or not, but they’ve spent money and draft picks to a unit that was supposed to be better than the one they put on the field last season. Sitting Trent Murphy made almost no difference Monday night, and I’m not sure what to make of it.
Tremaine Edmunds looks lost
Edmunds simply hasn’t been right since his injury Week 1, but that seems like a very convenient excuse. If he’s in the lineup, he must be healthy enough to play and if he’s not, it’s on the coaching staff.
His issues extend way past an upper-body injury, however. During the game, someone had tweeted at me that Edmunds had looked slow during the game and I think that’s a good place to start. Edmunds is an athletic freak, and before this season was one of the league's premier cover linebackers. Since Week 1, he’s looked hesitant in trusting his eyes. Whether it’s making the wrong reads or finding himself in a position where he can’t shed a block to make a play, Edmunds is an easy scapegoat to pin a lot of the defensive problems on.
Although he likely should bear some of the blame, he can’t wear it all. He needs to stop second guessing his reads, play with more physicality and, maybe most importantly, play with more confidence. In no way should any of us being overly concerned as this is a player who’s shown he can play at a very high level, he just needs to find his game and do so quickly.
So. Many. Running. Lanes.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire averaged over six yards a carry on 26 carries. Twenty-six! They were gutted for 245 total yards on the ground and forced the league's most potent passing attack to settle for the run, because why not? It’s smart football to take the ball out of Mahomes' hands and into the running game, but you know, you can’t let them gut you for over five yards per-carry as a team.
Coming off a solid performance against the Tennessee Titans' run game, it’s seemingly “pick your poison” on how the Bills defense will drop the ball each week.
Defensive backfield is a shell of itself
When you see Tre'Davious White and Jordan Poyer making stupid mistakes by taking 15-yard penalties on late hits, you know that something just isn’t right. Having said that, the penalties haven’t stood out, but their play against opposing receivers and tight ends sure has.
Taron Johnson has gone from promising young slot player to a bench warmer for Cam Lewis – an undrafted free agent from the University at Buffalo. Both Poyer and Micah Hyde have looked like they’ve each lost a step, and White hasn’t played like the Tre'Davious White we’ve grown accustomed to.
It’s just not what Bills fans have come to expect from this defensive backfield regardless of the opponent.
At the end of the day, this list can and should likely be longer, but there are 10 games to get this thing turned around. They’ll have an opportunity to play against a New York Jets offense that’s historically, bad and a New England Patriots offense that isn’t a lot better before the schedule hardens up once more.
There’s a lot to nitpick, but no one is more frustrated than head coach Sean McDermott, and I still have faith he has what it takes to start a turnaround.
They better do it quickly.