Here's the Bills news of note for Nov. 16th.
1 - Buffalo ranks sixth in toxic differentialGranted the stat that matters most in the NFL is wins and losses, but teams that routinely rank high in the toxic differential category are often in a playoff position as season's end.
Toxic differential is a statistical measure of a team's ability to force turnovers and generate big plays while preventing their opponents from doing the same. It adds turnover differential and big play differential to reach a toxic differential.
Entering Week 11 the Bills rank sixth in the league in toxic differential with a figure of plus-10. The teams ahead of Buffalo in order are Dallas ( 24), Atlanta ( 18), New England ( 17), Tennessee ( 12) and Denver ( 12).
Buffalo is plus-seven in turnover differential and plus-three in big play differential, making them one of just six NFL clubs with the coveted double-positive. The only other teams with positive figures in both turnover and big play differential along with the Bills are Dallas, Atlanta, New England, Denver and Baltimore.
Last season 10 of the top 12 teams in toxic differential made the playoffs. The two teams that did not were the Bills ( 35), who ranked fourth, and the New York Jets ( 17) who ranked ninth.
2 - 'D' working to eliminate inconsistencyIt's been the biggest stumbling block for Buffalo's defense this season. Inconsistency.
One week their defense gives up just seven points (Week 1) and the next they're surrendering 37 (Week 2). The last three games for the Bills defense however, have been particularly troubling as they've surrendered an average of just over 33 points per game (33.3).
Buffalo is hoping that stepping away from the grind of weekly preparation and practice, will give the players a fresh perspective in readying themselves when it comes to execution on game days.
"The biggest thing for us is just playing consistent football. We go out there and give up 28 points in the first half, make some adjustments in the second half and give up three," said Lorenzo Alexander in reference to their last game at Seattle. "So we have the ability and the talent to go out there and be dominant, but right now we haven't been able to show that consistently game in and game out and that's why we're 4-5. We're right in the middle of the pack with everybody else."
The veteran pass rusher pointed to teams like the Seahawks and the Patriots as teams that deliver consistent performances every week.
"You know what you're going to get out of them," he said. "They're going to play good, quality football and not beat themselves and that's what always separates teams in this league."
So Buffalobills.com asked Alexander how a team can capture the kind of consistency he's talking about and implement in games.
"Really just repetition and guys growing up, taking accountability if it happens to be them making the mistakes," said Alexander. "Whoever it may be and going out there and executing, being a pro. Really looking in the mirror and evaluating yourself honestly. Where you fell short and picking it up in those particular areas."
It's clear that has failed to occur at some positions, which is why head coach Rex Ryan has opened some starting roles to competition.
3 - Safety position sees turnoverIn the last two weeks the faces at Buffalo's safety position have seen a healthy dose of change. With Aaron Williams moving to injured reserve on Nov. 1st following his second neck injury in as many seasons, the position suddenly looks a lot different.
Robert Blanton is starting, for now, opposite Corey Graham in Williams place.
S Sergio Brown was signed just before the bye and veteran James Ihedigbo was signed Tuesday at the expense of fellow safety Duke Williams, a former fourth-round draft choice (2013).
The additions are a clear indication of what Rex Ryan and his defensive staff are after in terms of player makeup. They want experienced players they feel they can depend on. Veterans, who have proven themselves in the league can often fulfill that requirement.
That's not a knock on Duke Williams. He was putting extra time in this offseason and regular season to master Buffalo's defense.
Some players are just fits for complex defensive schemes and some are not. The Bills staff obviously felt Williams was the latter.