Buddy Nix did not use the big Ralph Wilson checkbook to bring in Mario Williams so that he could help them beat the Cleveland Browns. Buddy signed the Pro Bowl defensive end for games and moments like Sunday against Tom Brady and the Patriots. Mario was supposed to be a game changer, a difference maker and a catalyst to a defense that could stand up to Brady, Belichick and the rest of the Kings of the AFC East. Instead, Mario was almost invisible all afternoon, especially in the second half when the New England running game imposed it's will on the Bills and pounded them like no defense I have seen in an NFL game in recent memory. Chan Gailey used the descriptive word "whuppin" to say what happened to his defense. It doesn't all fall on Mario, but when you get the big check you are supposed to come up big.
For 34 minutes yesterday the Bills not only looked like they could compete with the Patriots, they actually looked like the better team. Ryan Fitzpatrick overcame some bad early throws the get the ball to Scott Chandler twice in the endzone. Even a very costly CJ Spiller fumble before the half wasn't killing them because they came right back in the 3rd quarter and got a play from Donald Jones that brought back a fleeting memory of Andre Reed. Up to that point the defense was making enough plays and getting enough pressure to keep the Patriots at arm's length.
But in the 3rd quarter the Patriots went to another gear that they had not shown the entire season so far. Instead of trying to pass their way deep and get a quick score, Belichick went old school. He put the ball in the hands of his running backs and on the backs of his offensive line. They manhandled the Bills much celebrated defensive line in ways I haven't seen since that awful bunch Gregg Williams trotted out 11 years ago. They were pushed and shoved around like the 1AA homecoming opponent for Alabama on a Saturday afternoon. If that bunch isn't humbled and embarrassed and ticked off after what happened and after watching the film on Monday then this team is in serious trouble.
To pin this all on Mario Williams just because he makes the most money isn't right or fair. It also let's a bunch of players off the hook who are collecting big old paychecks too and should also be hiding their heads when the lights go out and the projector goes on in the film room. But in the 2 most important games so far (Jets, Patriots) Mario Williams has a total of 3 tackles, no sacks and to be generous one quarterback pressure. Those are Aaron Maybin numbers. Statistics can lie too because sometimes a player gets a sack or two but really played a lousy game. If you went to or just watched the game you know the statistics about number 94 pretty much tell the story. If someone would have told you he was a 6th round pick you might have believed them
Gailey had talked about the winning formula for the Bills this year and that included running the ball and stopping the run. The Bills tried to keep it on the ground in the first half, but the Patriots defensive line wrecked everything they tried. So the only answer was to put the ball in Fitzpatrick's hands and you see the results. As I said coming into this one, too much Fitz is a bad thing and you certainly saw that Sunday. While I give CJ Spiller credit for toughing it out to play, you have to wonder if he did not hurt more than help. And why in the world was the guy with the injured shoulder given the ball near the goal line anyhow?
But questions about the offense have either already been answered (Fitzpatrick's limited ability) or are mere footnotes (which injured running back fumble was more costly) This game and the team's pride were both lost by a dominated defense. In the old days someone would have been yelling and screaming on the sidelines (London Fletcher) In the old, old days someone would have broken something in the locker room (Darryl Talley). I know this is 2012 and unfortunately everyone is too cool to do that, but even in the quiet of the film room I'd like to hear that someone on the defense stood up in front of their teammates and said "this can not happen again" If I am putting my money on a guy named Williams it will probably be Kyle. I'd like to see Mario standing right next to him