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Bills Today: Players to keep watch on coaching search


Here's the Bills news of note for Jan. 2nd.

**1 - Players to keep watch on coaching search

Nobody is paying more attention to what the Bills decide to do at head coach than the players who put on the uniform each week.

After the season ending loss to the Jets, players spoke about how much the coaching search matters to them and their teammates, especially on a team with 24 unrestricted free agents.

"Yeah it matters," safety Corey Graham said. "It's very important. We're all very interested to see what's going to happen, whether it's going to be a new guy coming in or whether it's going to be A. Lynn. I don't know who the new coach is going to be. Whether there's going to a new system. We're going to have to pay attention. I definitely will because it's going to affect me, like if I have to learn a new defense or whatever I have to do."

If there's a change on defense Graham will have to play for his third defensive coordinator since he signed with the Bills in 2014. For a team that was in the bottom half of most defensive categories in 2016, adjustments have to be made. Graham just doesn't want things shaken up completely.

"We don't want a big change," Graham said. "We don't want everything to be blown up and change everything around and start all over. That's what we don't want. It's whatever they choose though. We don't have a say in that."

Kyle Williams, who has played under four head coaches in his 11 years with the Bills, echoed that sentiment.

Williams told CBS this week that he isn't sure if he would come back to Buffalo if they decided to start over and go through a complete rebuild. Williams also said that he will stay plugged into the search in the coming weeks.

"I care about my team," Williams said. "I care about the Buffalo Bills. I want to know where we're headed. At the same time, I'm not putting any input into it— that's above my pay grade."

Sammy Watkins, who will be on his third head coach in four seasons, is hopeful that the third one for him is the charm for the team.

"Oh yeah, I'll definitely be watching," he said. "Not because of me, I just want to have the right head coach that's going to lead this team and push us to make the playoffs next year."

Lynn, for his part, said after the game that remaining with the Bills would be his top choice, but admitted that both he and Buffalo will have to keep their options open.

"Well, you know this is where I want to be is right here with the Buffalo Bills," Lynn said. "This would be my number one."

2 - Players voice support of LynnFor the past week, players have spoken highly of interim coach Anthony Lynn and how much he was respected in the locker room. Lynn was dealt some tough circumstances on Sunday with having only five days to prepare for the game without the team's starting quarterback, but players said that he shouldn't be judged on one game—one way or the other.

"I don't think anybody's judged off one game," said Sammy Watkins. "You can put it on the team. We didn't play well. We didn't execute. You can't put it on a single coach or a guy. I just feel like they wanted it better. They won the game."

"If you judge off of this game, I don't think that's fair," said Jerome Felton. "I really feel like A-Lynn is going to be a great head coach whether it is here or somewhere else next year, so we will see what happens."

When asked about the potential candidacy of interim coach Anthony Lynn for head coach, players sound as though they'd be in support of him should he be given the job on a permanent basis.

"Yeah, I think he has interviewed for jobs before," said Kyle Williams. "Obviously, you evaluate him on the job he was asked to do. He did a great job. Guys respect him. He's revered in the room. When he walks in he commands the room. If he was the guy I'd be happy for him." 

3 - Injuries hamper performance vs. Jets
In line with the unfortunate theme that has plagued them all season, the Bills once again had to fight through injuries to their top playmakers. 

LeSean McCoy suffered a high ankle sprain on Buffalo's fourth drive of the game, according to Lynn. The Bills already had to adjust with not having Tyrod Taylor to help the rushing attack, and struggled to find balance all game.

Even before McCoy was injured, he only had 10 yards on five carries. As a team, the Bills only averaged 2.4 yards per carry, which was their lowest mark of the season.

The man who has been one of the biggest reasons for the success of the running game this season struggled to explain why after the game.

"I don't know what it was," fullback Jerome Felton said. "You know, we just didn't have the fire coming out it didn't look like. Obviously losing your quarterback and your coach in the same week doesn't help, but there's no excuses in the NFL and nobody is going to feel sorry for us."

Mike Gillislee became the featured back after McCoy's injury. He came into the game averaging over six yards a carry, but New York's defense held him to 40 yards on 15 carries. Gillislee did punch in his eighth rushing touchdown on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter.

The Bills have had two of their worst rushing performances of the season against the Jets. In Week 2, New York held Buffalo to only 85 yards rushing. Coming into the game they ranked fifth in the league in yards per carry average allowed.

"You know, that front seven is pretty good," Lynn said. "I think they've given up like 3.8 per attempt, so we knew that was going to be a challenge. The last couple of times we played these people we've struggled running the football so we were hoping we could pass the football a little better."

The struggles in the run game also impacted what the Bills were able to do through the air. Those issues were made worse when Sammy Watkins exited the game in the fourth quarter with a hip injury. Lynn said that noticed Watkins laboring while warming up before the game, and that he took precautions with both guys and didn't see a reason to put either back into the game.

Watkins had four catches for 31 yards in the game. With his reception on Buffalo's first offensive play of the game, he became just the fifth Bill to reach 150 receptions in his first three seasons.

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