It took seven games, but with the Bills defense sitting at or near the bottom in several league rankings coming off a gut wrenching one-point loss to Tennessee, veteran defensive end Chris Kelsay called out the defense for lack of effort.
"Some way somehow we've got to understand what accountability means across the board, playing hard every play," said Kelsay Monday after reviewing Sunday's game tape. "You watch the film and not everybody was playing hard every snap and that's unacceptable."
Bills GM Buddy Nix cited a lack of urgency in the humbling loss at San Francisco. The team rallied after a week of isolation in Arizona to beat the Cardinals in overtime in Week 6. But Sunday against the Titans looked far too much like the defensive effort against San Francisco, and Kelsay believes it's up to the leaders in the locker room to shake down players that aren't pulling their weight.
"At the end of the day that's who is on the field," he said. "Coaches coach and players play. 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."
Kelsay sounded as if he lamented the fact that the veteran players on the team hav
e left it to the coaches to demand more of the players during the practice week and in games. After nine-plus seasons Kelsay isn't going to worry about ticking off teammates that aren't giving their level best.
"Coaches call you out. We grade loafs," he said. "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."
Head coach Chan Gailey when told of Kelsay's assessment of the defensive unit still maintains that the team is playing hard and giving effort, but he did qualify those comments when it came to describing 100 percent effort on every single snap.
"Are there plays that guys don't do 100 percent every snap? Yeah there are plays when that happens and you've got to correct that," said Gailey. "It's disturbing every time you look at it, but it goes on with every team at every level of football. It really does and you've got to squelch it and get everybody playing to the top 100 percent every snap. You just can't take plays off. I'm not saying guys are taking plays off. I'm just saying we can lay out a little bit better at times."
Kelsay wasn't pulling any punches. After watching the tape there is only one conclusion he can reach.
"If you aren't going to give us everything you've got you shouldn't be on the field," he said. "I don't care who you are. Obviously I'm not the one to make those decisions because I'm in that mix. I'm not pointing the finger. I'm looking in the mirror myself first and foremost. If you're not going to, you shouldn't play."
Kelsay doesn't deny that the effort issue is a big problem for a team, but he insists it will be addressed. And if the starters seeing the most time can't give their best effort on every play, the veteran end said he'd rather line up with a less talented player who will.
"You're only as good as the effort you put forth. I don't care who it is," said Kelsay. "I'd take Mario Williams at full health and full speed probably over anybody else in the league. At the same time I'd take Sean Ferguson, who we cut, over a guy that's playing 50 percent, and I think our coaches would too. The playmakers have to make plays and the way you do that is giving all out effort every play."
Unfortunately for the Bills they'll have to wait two weeks to redeem themselves with their bye here in Week 8. Kelsay however, is determined with the other leaders on the defensive side of the ball to demand more to get the results that just haven't been there on Sundays through the first seven games.
"It's inexcusable. It comes back to your preparation and getting ready for a game," Kelsay said. "I think we did that throughout the week. We practiced well and set ourselves up to perform well. but if you don't play on Sunday and you can't translate it to the game field then it's all for naught.
"Our coaches put in a ton of time and a lot of effort. They didn't do anything that we weren't ready for. We get paid for Sunday and to win ball games and if you don't do it on Sunday it doesn't matter what you do during the week. It's important. It's our livelihood. It's a blessing to be in this league and to go out there and lay an egg there are no excuses for it."