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Bills seek to get offense on track after historic record streaks come to an end

Josh Allen (17). Buffalo Bills vs Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field, November 7, 2021.   Photo by Bill Wippert
Josh Allen (17). Buffalo Bills vs Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field, November 7, 2021. Photo by Bill Wippert

Sean McDermott had not yet the finished diagnosing the Buffalo Bills' 9-6 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars when he met with the media on Monday afternoon.

The loss was an outlier for a Bills offense that had not been held to single-digit points since Week 17 of 2019 – a loss to the Jets in which McDermott elected to rest starters with playoff position secured. The previous instance was a loss to Chicago during Week 9 of 2018.

Buffalo had spent the past season and a half on one of the great runs of sustained offensive production in franchise history. Monday was about getting back on track.

"I feel like we've had good conversations this morning," McDermott said. "Those conversations will continue. I'm not done yet, to be honest with you, so I'm going to finish here and go back upstairs and go back to work in that area."

The Bills entered the loss to Jacksonville having converted 20-plus first downs in 23 straight games, the longest such stretch in the NFL since the New England had 24 such games from 2016 to 2017.

It was by far the longest such streak in franchise history, eclipsing the previous record of 10 games set by the 1991 Bills.

For what the Bills lacked in scoring, they did manage to accumulate 300-plus yards on offense (with 301) for the 18th consecutive game. That, too, is a club record and the second-longest active streak in the NFL behind the Los Angeles Rams (20 games).

McDermott and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll both summed up the uncharacteristic performance as an amalgamation of factors. Buffalo's three turnovers – two interceptions thrown by Josh Allen and a lost fumble by the quarterback – were its most since Week 12 of last season.

Allen had not had a multi-interception game this season. He entered the week as the betting favorite to be named MVP after five consecutive games with a passer rating over 100.

The quarterback was harsh in his self-assessment after the game.

"That shows that he cares," McDermott said. "And I think that says a lot about who he is and how much he puts into this. He has a lot of passion for what he does and what he expects from himself. So I think that's again, part of what makes him so good.

"That said, I think the other piece is acknowledging that he didn't play up to his standards, up to our standards and the standard that he holds himself to, and that we need him to play out every week. And that's real. But that's also that awareness that humility is the first step in terms of improving it also."

Allen was pressured often behind an offensive line missing a pair of starters in Spencer Brown (back) and Jon Feliciano (calf). The Jaguars racked up eight QB hits and four sacks. Allen was pressured on 17 dropbacks, according to TruMedia, matching a season high set during a Week 1 loss to Pittsburgh.

The line bounced back from that game against the Steelers, a similarly uncharacteristic outing on offense. Allen was pressured less than 10 times in six of the last seven games entering Sunday. The team could be getting reinforcements in the form of Brown, who is expected to practice this week.

"It wasn't good enough," McDermott said. "I mean, listen, at the end of the day, they did some things that quite honestly, we should have seen some of them, maybe not all of them. But we got to do a better job, that's the bottom line. And it's got to continue to improve as we go through the season for us to continue to improve as a football team."

While the passing game has been the hallmark of the Buffalo offense since the start of last season, McDermott felt the lack of a run game made the attack one dimensional against Jacksonville. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss combined for just 22 yards on nine carries.

The Bills' 14 total rush attempts were their fewest in a game this season. Singletary had not averaged less than four yards per carry in any game prior to Sunday.

"You've got to stay the threat at least of being a two-dimensional team," McDermott said. "And I think we experienced that earlier in the season. We experienced it yesterday again. And so that's not a healthy place to be."

The Bills won't have to wait long for an opportunity to right the ship. They head to MetLife Stadium on Sunday to face a Jets defense that has allowed 251 points, the most of any team in the NFL with eight games played. (Houston has allowed 258 points in nine games.)

"You get to come out and play and improve every week and play or play your best game every week," McDermott said. "And that's the goal is to improve each and every week and respect every opponent. So that's what we try and do, obviously we fell short yesterday."

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