By CHUCK POLLOCK, Sun Senior Sports Columnist
It wasn’t the most pleasant of press conferences for Sean McDermott.
Barely 12 hours after he got back in Buffalo Monday morning after his Bills lost, 24-18, to the Bengals in Cincinnati, there he was answering questions, remotely from his office, about what happened.
This was a particularly awkward meeting with the media given the elephant in the room that wasn’t even mentioned … the loss dropped his team to 5-4 and having the NFL’s toughest season-closing eight-game schedule, making the playoffs is a longshot. As quarterback Josh Allen intimated after Sunday night’s loss, “The math (doesn’t look good).”
NATURALLY, the focus of questioning was on two areas, the struggling offense in general and coordinator Ken Dorsey in particular, and Buffalo’s injury ravaged defense.
McDermott is adamant that Dorsey isn’t in job jeopardy, but certainly has indicated that he’s unhappy with the offense’s performance.
“Overall you’ve got to be a two dimensional threat,” he said. “We ran a number of RPOs (run-pass options) in the game and that’s part of that. But there’s also when you hand the ball off, what does it look like?
“When we talk about complementary football, as much as it stays the same basic core concepts, it also evolves from week-to-week, which side of the ball is healthier than the other. So, full confidence in our offense, we’re going out there to score, score early and score as many points as possible and that’s the philosophy.”
McDermott added, “It starts with our level of execution and complementary football. It’s hard to win when you turn the ball over twice (a shot at the offense) and you lose the field position battle by 12 yards (in-game punting woes).
“Basically, the long and short of it is to get to some other styles of play … the upper tempo no-huddle. Just some other things we can look at and examine as we move forward.
He added, “I get it and can understand everyone’s frustration and we’re working extremely hard to make the adjustments we have to make and Ken is doing the same. I remain confident in Ken and our offensive staff and getting the results we’re all looking for.”
THEN THERE’S the injury-riddled defense which has already lost three crucial players for the season — cornerback Tre’Davious White, outside linebacker Matt Milano and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones — but might lose more. Rising middle linebacker Terrel Bernard is in concussion protocol, cornerback Christian Benford is again dealing with a hamstring problem and safety Micah Hyde left the Bengals game twice with injuries, once to the blue tent.
“We are banged up defensively,” McDermott conceded, “There are a lot of guys out there who are doing a phenomenal job of stepping in, albeit they were not scheduled starters for the season and they’re not blinking. They’re stepping into a big-time role.
“It seems like we’ve got a lot of injuries on one side of the ball right now … we never want injuries at all but they’re kind of gathering up on the defensive side. But I appreciate how hard the guys are playing and the backups are ready to go and that was evident (against Cincinnati) especially in the second half.
Still, McDermott hasn’t lost faith in his team.
“That’s what I’m working on here, we’ve won a lot of games (67-39, regular season, 4-5 playoffs) and for good reason and we’ve got to make the appropriate adjustments and put ourselves in positions to win games and that’s what we’re going to continue doing” he said.
“There’s a formula we’ve used here for winning and we’ve got to execute that.
You look at everything … you look to make adjustments every week to improve your football team and those are things we’ll do again this week.”
(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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