Through the first seven games of the season Buffalo's offense was averaging more than three and a half touchdowns a game, over 30 points per outing and better than 380 yards of offense. The past two weeks they've managed a touchdown a game, nine points and less than 164 yards per outing. Buffalo has played a pair of pretty quality defenses in the Jets and Cowboys the past two weeks, but the Bills offensive unit believes it's more about them than about who they played.
"If you look at both the games, just reviewing the film, a lot of it is just stuff we're doing to ourselves and mistakes that we're making," said Ryan Fitzpatrick. "I think when you look at it that way you have to find a way to correct them. I think it's a positive when you think it's more you than what people are doing to you."
A lot of outside observers believe the Jets created somewhat of a blueprint with their tight man coverage, which can take away the quick underneath routes that the Bills have made use of a good deal this season. Head coach Chan Gailey thinks that opinion is misguided.
"We've been getting more bump (and run coverage), but it's because it's what other teams do not because it's what gets us," said Gailey. "We've beat bump before this year. That's not something that concerns me. At times it does disrupt your timing, but they take the chance too that you get the fade or get the pass interference down the field, things like that. It's give and take when you bump and run."
"I think it's just a phase right now," said Stevie Johnson. "We need to pick it up. We know what we're doing wrong. It's not like people are throwing things at us that we don't know or showing us something we're not used to. I think it's a phase and I think we'll get that back on Sunday."
The men on offense believe they have to get back to dictating play to the opponent instead of reacting to what opposing defenses are doing to them.
"Our whole game is playing however we want to," said Johnson. "We don't usually play how a team forces us to play. We're a better team when we're just doing what we do. The past couple of weeks it's like we've been playing to the defense instead of just doing what the Buffalo Bills do."
Getting off to a quicker start has been a focus as well, something that hasn't really happened for the offense since Week 1 at Kansas City. Fitzpatrick is determined to make that happen this week and is ready to convince his teammates that it's possible.
"I really need to put a point of emphasis on being that guy and allowing people to feed off of my confidence," he said. "It's hard because you want to get off to a fast start, when you don't all of a sudden the heads start hanging and you try to figure out, are we going to lose like we did the last two weeks? We can't have any of that and a lot of that is continuing to talk about it and talk about the confidence level and to go out there and show it."
But confidence has to work in concert with consistency, which is what has been missing for the Bills attack of late. Gailey acknowledges the level of play has slipped a bit, and knows with a young team there can sometimes be a fine line between succeeding and struggling.
"I think that we have not been able to go on the field and get in a rhythm offensively and it's because we're not consistent while we're on the field," he said. "We're having a few more mental errors than we've had in times past. We've had a few more miscommunications than we've had in times past. We're not there yet to be able to handle those. We can't overcome those mistakes like that. We're not strong enough yet as a football team."
And while the Bills offense might not be the deepest unit or have a boatload of elite talent, they've proven they can be very, very productive with Gailey's scheme. It's just a matter of finding their groove again.
"We're not going to change who we are," said Fitzpatrick. "I think Chan has proven that his stuff is successful. We've done a good job with it at times this year and we need to get back to that. We are who we are. We're not going to change. There's some stuff with some personnel that might be a little bit different but we're not going to change who we are. We've just got to go out there and play and perform."