After going 9-7 last season – their best record in a decade – the Buffalo Bills were expected to contend for a playoff spot in 2015. Instead, they’ve had an up-and-down 7-8 season that didn’t produce a winning streak longer than two games.
On some days, the offense was unstoppable. On other days, the offense struggled. The same can be said for the defense, which allowed as few as six points and as many as 40.
What happened in Buffalo this year?
“Well, it was a roller coaster,” former Bills All-Pro and current NFL on CBS analyst Steve Tasker said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “They showed some signs of being really good at times, and they did some things that were maddeningly stupid. They take so many penalties, they drop balls, they miss tackles, their defense took an enormous step back from the top-five defense it was for the last two years. I think that was a surprise for a lot of people. And of course Rex Ryan is the way he is. I think one of the reasons you either love him or hate him is he just doesn’t try to sugarcoat anything. He’s the guy he is. He likes to talk about things, he likes to be enthusiastic about his team’s chances and who good they are, and sometimes that stuff doesn’t show itself and his team ends up laying an egg and then he has to apologize for them.
“So it is a roller coaster when Rex is your head coach,” Tasker continued. “The highs are really fun and the lows really stink because there’s also discouragement and disappointment associated with those things. The downs have been really disappointing because the expectations were so high for this club, and the highs were really good because they found out about some young players, most notably Tyrod Taylor, who looks like he’s going to be their starter for the foreseeable future. So that was a big question that they answered.”
The Bills lead the league in rushing offense (154.6 yards per game) but rank 27th in passing offense (210.7 yards) and 12th in scoring offense (23.8 points per game). Overall, those aren’t terrible numbers, but something was missing for the Bills, especially on defense, where they rank 20th in total defense and 16th in scoring.
Even worse? Star players on both sides of the ball aren’t happy.
“I don’t think LeSean McCoy is all that thrilled about the way he’s been used,” Tasker said. “I know that Mario Williams is not happy with the way the defense has taken a step backwards and some of the things he’s been asked to do. I think the surprise thing has been that the new defensive philosophy that Rex Ryan and (defensive coordinator) Dennis Thurman have installed in Buffalo has really taken the players a long time to get used to and embrace. They haven’t done it, which is surprising because a lot of people would really love Rex Ryan to coach their defense, but this one didn’t seem to embrace it. I’d be surprised if there weren’t some personnel changes in the offseason just because guys don’t seem as happy to be in Buffalo as you would think they would be.”
Buffalo closes the season at home against the Jets (10-5) this Sunday. With a win, the Bills can finish with a non-losing record in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1999-2000.