ORCHARD PARK - Early in the season, it was the Buffalo Bills' (4-7) defense that was struggling mightily, giving up yards and points at a record-breaking pace. For the last few weeks however, the defense has played well. It's the team's offense that has struggled to keep the Bills in games.
That will have to change today, as the Bills take on a Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) team that has played well the last two weeks, going 1-1, including an overtime loss to the Houston Texans (10-1) and a 24-19 win over the Tennessee Titans (4-7).
"When you lose, nothing goes the way you want it to," Bills' head coach Chan Gailey said earlier this week. "I just told (quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick) to keep working and keep doing the things that he had been successful at in times past the last couple of years. Just keep getting better. That is our only choice. That is what you are trying to do, go out there and find ways to get better. Hopefully I can help him be more productive as a quarterback."
What has plagued the Bills' offense the last few weeks has been its inability to produce inside their opponent's 20-yard line.
"We have to avoid the negative plays," Gailey said. "We get down there and we get a negative run, we get a missed assignment on a run or we do not get the ball up in there. We are trying to be more balanced down there and not just be pass happy. We have been throwing the ball quite a bit and we are trying to become more balanced down there because we see some eight (man) drop quite a bit."
Since their game against the New England Patriots (8-3), when they scored 31 points in a 38-31 loss, the Bills' offense has scored just two touchdowns, going 1-for-7 in the red zone - a 1-yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick to tight end Lee Smith last week.
That lack of success may just be the final nail in the Bills' coffin this year, as they are poised to miss the playoffs for the 13th straight season unless they win their remaining five games and get a lot of help.
"I think it is tiring coming up to the podium, having to talk after all these losses and having to figure out why we are where we are, why we have been inconsistent on offense or why we keep losing games," Fitzpatrick said. "That part of it is tiring, but that is part of it. We have to be able to figure those things out. We have to be able to get out here and continue to work. We have to be able to keep spirits high and look forward to the next game. Hopefully this next game will be our best game of the year."
With a dynamic running back like C.J. Spiller on the team and another talented runner in Fred Jackson, Gailey has had to rationalize some of the calls he's made, and not made, in the red zone, but Fitzpatrick still has confidence that Gailey is putting the team in a position to succeed.
"We have talked about stuff and we are focused on these last five games," Fitzpatrick said. "I think that is the most important thing. It is very important for us these next five games to show the progress we think we have made in the last few years. There has been progress. We are much better. We have to be able to go out there, do it and show it on the field."