Bills vs. 49ers: Time to Push the Panic Button on Buffalo's Dreadful Defense

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IOctober 8, 2012

This has been the scene for quarterbacks against the Buffalo Bills all too often this season: a clean pocket, and gaping windows.
This has been the scene for quarterbacks against the Buffalo Bills all too often this season: a clean pocket, and gaping windows.US PRESSWIRE

Someone may want to call the Buffalo Police Department to file a missing persons report for the Buffalo Bills defense.

It's been over a week since we last saw them.

It was assumed that it may take a bit for things to click, with a new unit and a new scheme. Many assumed things would be figured out by Week 5, and most assumed things would at least be moving in the right direction by this time.

Instead, the Bills have more questions than answers, and it seems like they're even moving in reverse.

The numbers are mind boggling:

  • The Bills allowed 621 total yards of offense, the worst in team history.
  • The Bills became the first team to give up 550-plus yards of offense in consecutive games since the 1950 New York Yanks (via
  • The 49ers outgained their previous season high by 242 yards.
  • Alex Smith had a passer rating of 156.2, setting a career high. The last time the Bills gave up a passer rating that high was in 1994 against Lions quarterback Dave Krieg.
  • The Bills have been outscored 90-10 since going up 21-7 against New England in the second half: 45-7 against New England, and 45-3 against San Francisco (per WGR 550 Sportsradio). 

The defense has performed so poorly, it earned a pretty hilarious edit on defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt's Wikipedia page: "Wannstedt hopes to put himself on the map this year by using his "Vanilla prevent" defense to make history by being the first NFL team ever to allow 50+ points a game."

That may be an exaggeration, but it's been nearly that bad in Buffalo's three losing efforts (145 points in three losses).

Yes, the Bills faced two of the league's most complete offenses in the past two weeks, but the Bills really opened up the checkbook for this defense.

The personnel, the scheme and the coordinator are all new to one another; those connections can take some time to build. The problem is, by adding Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to a line that already featured Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, the Bills reset the expectations for such an overhaul.

Instead, Williams and Anderson have combined for 2.5 sacks through the first five games, and the pass-rushing duo was held without a sack for the second consecutive game. 

Of course, those two alone are not responsible for the debacle we witnessed on Sunday. The Bills didn't have much success stopping the run (311 yards, 8.2 per carry, 3 touchdowns) or the pass (76 percent completions, 310 yards, 12.4 YPA, 3 touchdowns). Those are not new problems, either.

The Bills had success against the run early in the season, but that is a distant memory, and the team now allows 5.7 yards per carry on the season. Against the pass? They got thrashed by Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez for a 123.4 passer rating, the second-highest regular-season rating of his career.

Luckily for the Bills, the 2012 season is still only five weeks old; there's plenty of time to come together under their new coordinator with their new personnel in their new scheme.

It's going to take a lot of people doing a much better job than they have to this point—from the coaches to the players and everyone in between—if they want to turn it around, but after two weeks of giving up 45-plus points and 550-plus yards, it's hard to imagine it getting much worse.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.