The Buffalo Bills' defense is well on its way to setting the sort of records don't want to be near, as the 6 yards per rush it's allowed is the worst since the NFL-AFL merger.
Monday, a day after allowing Chris Johnson to nearly reach his season rushing total in a single game in the Titans' win over Buffalo, some of the frustration began to boil over.
Speaking to the media prior to the start of the team's bye week, defensive end Chris Kelsay called out some of his teammates for what he considers a lack of effort. The Titans converted more than 60 percent of their third downs Sunday against Buffalo, ran for 197 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown on a fourth-and-nine.
"Some way, somehow, we’ve got to understand what accountability means across the board, playing hard every play. You watch the film, and not everybody was playing hard every snap, and that’s unacceptable," he said. "We might have to grab guys by the shirt collar and tell them to get to moving. It’s nothing personal, but we’re relying on you. Myself included. If I’m not doing my job, I expect Kyle (Williams) to grab me by the neck and tell me to get going. That’s what it’s going to take. We’ve got a lot of young guys. We’re going to get everybody on the same page."
The Bills have been atrocious on defense pretty much the entire season. They're allowing 176.9 rushing yards per game – including two 49ers backs each rushing for 100 yards in San Francisco's blowout win two weeks ago – and have allowed at least 150 rushing yards five times in seven games. The Bills are 31st in the league this year in overall yardage and 31st in points allowed.
Coach Chan Gailey said Sunday he's leaving defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt in his job at least through the end of the year, which means the players are the ones who must adjust.
And Kelsay said it shouldn't be any other way.
"Coaches call you out … We grade hard when guys aren’t playing hard and coaches are pointing it out, but maybe it’ll mean more when it’s coming from players. Maybe as leaders some of us have let some things slide and we can’t do that. We’re not going to allow it. If you aren’t going to give us everything you’ve got you shouldn’t be on the field. I don’t care who you are.”
Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, one of the youngsters Kelsay may have been referring to, feels he's giving it all but is willing to do what it takes to achieve more. He finished Sunday's game with one tackle.
"I feel like I’m giving my all," he said. "I’m fighting through injuries, I got a couple of bumps and bruises throughout the season, you know how that is. I’m just playing the best that I can play. I take on double teams, I get no movement, and I do the best I can. I hustle to the play. I feel like I’m doing pretty good, but if they want me to give more, I’ll give more."
Running back Fred Jackson, whose effort can't be questioned after his comebacks from multiple injuries the past two seasons, support Kelsay's words 100 percent:
"You have to depend on the guy next to you, but at the same time you have to be able to tell them what you expect from them. If they’re not getting the job done, you got to let them know. But to do that, you have to look at what you’re doing on the field as well. I think guys are going to start pointing out things that need to be done right. That’s just what needs to be done."
The Bills practice Wednesday but otherwise have the week off for the bye.
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