Tampa (WKBW) Doug Marrone had preached urgency all week. The Bills head coach wanted his team to take steps forward, and build a foundation over the final four weeks. Sunday is not what he had in mind.
It took Marrone atleast 20 minutes to get to the podium for his post game comments following the 27-6 loss to Tampa Bay.
His meeting with the team went much longer then normal. There was obviously a ton to address. "It's difficult after that game to get up here and defend anything", said Marrone "I feel like we let down the ownership and let down the fans", Marrone continued. "We played poorly".
It was a day to forget for the Buffalo offense and the poor play started with EJ Manuel. The final weeks of this season are all about evaluating a young team. The Bills clearly can't be happy with the performance of their young quarterback. He was tough to watch. Manuel had four interceptions in his first eight starts. He was charged with four against Tampa Bay. The rookie struggled with his decision making and accuracy in by far the worst outing of his career. All told he finished 18 of 33 for 184 yards. He had no touchdowns, four picks and a passer rating of 31.2. "It was a disappointing day", said Manuel. "It starts with me. I have to be better", said the rookie.
So does the offensive line. Manuel never looked comfortable in the pocket on Sunday. He was pressured all day and was sacked seven times. After the game Doug Marrone said the team may have to reevaluate how much they are throwing at Manuel in
terms of the playbook. Marrone said the Bills might have to "cut down what we are doing" in an effort to simplify things.
Manuel's inability to be productive on the road continues to be a cause for concern. Following an outing like this I think it's fair to have questions about him as the answer at quarterback.
I also think it's fair to wait until the end of the season before sliding into full panic mode.. I'd like to see a full body of work.
We've seen the ups and downs of a rookie quarterback this year. Manuel has shown flashes. Sundays mess followed two solid outings against the Jets and Falcons. Consistency has been an issue. While his performance against the Bucs raised more questions Manuel has the next three weeks to try and provide some answers with his play. How he responds to me will be telling.
-Manuel didn't have the benefit of an effective run game on Sunday. In fact he rushed for almost half of the Bills 67 yards on the ground.
Manuel was the Bills leading rusher with 29 yards. CJ Spiller finished with 22 yards on 11 carries. Fred Jackson gained 12 yards on 5 carries.
-Once again the big play killed the Bills defense. The Bucs finished Sunday with 246 yards of offense. 118 of which came on two plays.
Bobby Rainey opened the scoring with his 80 yard touchdown for Tampa Bay. LB Kiko Alonso over pursued on the play leaving a big hole before the big gain.
Rainey was then held to only 47 yards rushing on his other 21 carries. The other big play was Bucs Rookie Mike Glennon hitting Vincent Jackson for a 38 yard touchdown to make it 14-3.
Nickell Robey got turned around in coverage and actually was hit with a pass interference call before Jackson hauled in the touchdown.
Glennon was then held to 52 yards passing the rest of the way completing only 8 of his other 24 passes. He finished with a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions.
-Dan Carpenter was again solid in the kicking game for the Bills with a pair of field goals but you had to feel good for Rian Lindell.
The former Bills kicker hit both of his field goal attempts including a kick from 53 yards. You could almost feel Lindell saying "Take that Chan" with former Bills Head Coach Chan Gailey hesitant to use Lindell on long field goals during the 2012 season.
-I'm very interested to see how the Bills now respond over the final three weeks. I'm interested to see what approach Doug Marrone now takes. It was disappointing to see this team come out and play this poorly following the loss in Toronto. I think the setback to Atlanta and what it did to the Bills realistic playoff hopes clearly took its toll. Still there was no excuse to look this bad. It's hard to point to progress at 4-and-9 on the season. I think we've seen a better team under Marrone this year. Can the head coach pick his players up after bottomng out to the Bucs?