Published October 11, 2012
TEMPE, Ariz. – The Buffalo Bills' horrendous defense over the last two games isn't the only problem.
The Ryan Fitzpatrick-led offense has been inconsistent, at best, and now features an injury-depleted line that is expected to be down some starters this weekend.
From bad to worse.
Indeed, when the Bills (2-3) face Arizona (4-1) on Sunday, they will be short-handed and searching for answers. Guard Chad Rinehart has a calf injury and did not practice Wednesday, and left tackle Cordy Glenn and guard Kraig Urbik are both recovering from right ankle injuries,
As it stands, Buffalo, which is training all week at Arizona State, is down to just six offensive lineman.
In the Bills' first three games, the team averaged 29 points per contest. In their last six quarters, Buffalo has been outscored 90-17. In the 45-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday, they registered just 10 first downs and 204 yards offense. That was the worst since managing six first downs and 162 yards in a 2010 season-ending 38-7 loss at the Jets.
Get the idea? Wait, there's more.
Fitzpatrick's 126 yards passing in the contest are the fewest by a Buffalo quarterback since Trent Edwards managed 102 in a 38-7 loss at Green Bay two weeks into the 2010 season. And Fitzpatrick has thrown 22 touchdowns and 24 interceptions in his past 14 games, a stretch in which he's gone 3-11.
Something has to change — soon.
"Last week, just three points wasn't us," said Fitzpatrick, who returned to Arizona where he grew up and played high school football. "We have put up some points, in the first four weeks. We also have had a lot of turnovers. There has been a lot of inconsistency. Trying to find that consistency, that balance, whether it is running the ball, throwing the ball. We need to continue to do that."
The injuries won't help.
"There have been a ton of injuries on the offensive line. We have new faces in there, we have had to pull our practice squad guys. It is the next-man-up mentality," said starting center Eric Wood, who has been limited in practice with a foot injury. "We are not going to be quite as comfortable with each other as we were with the group that started pretty much from last year. No matter who is in there, we expect a lot of ourselves.
"We don't anticipate any dropoff."
On Wednesday, the Bills signed veteran guard Reggie Wells. The 10-year veteran played seven seasons with the Cardinals, however is not expected to see any action this Sunday when Buffalo takes on his former team.
The Bills' running game has also been affected by injuries. The tandem of Fred Jackson, who missed two games with a knee injury and C.J. Spiller, who has been nagged by a shoulder injury, are starting to come around. And when healthy, they provide an offensive dimension that has been sorely missed.
"That is just it. Our defense has taken a lot of heat, but we have not done anything to help them as an offensive unit," Jackson said. "We scored three points last week. You are not going to beat a lot of people in this league scoring three points. Our goal is to go out there and put up some points. Kind of take some pressure off of our defense. That is what we are focused on.
"We have to be able to establish the running game with myself and C.J. We have to get that going early."
Another issue that has plagued the team is ball security. The Bills have turned over the ball 13 times (eight interceptions, 5 fumbles), ranking third most in the NFL, and 12 have come in the three losses. Opponents have scored 55 points off the 13 turnovers.
"Teams have taken advantage of that and gotten points," Jackson said. "We have to eliminate that and we have to convert third downs. If we can get that done, eliminate the turnovers, then we can be a pretty dangerous offense."
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