The Buffalo Bills banged-up defense was stellar on Monday night against the Denver Broncos. The Bills offense was a different story, extending their string of inconsistent performances with three sloppy turnovers and numerous stalled-out drives.
The subsequent move was firing offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey on Tuesday morning, replacing him with quarterbacks coach Joe Brady (unrelated to Tom).
And that makes sense. After all, the Bills offense has been a shell of its former self.
But the defense — and head coach Sean McDermott, in particular — are certainly part of the team's struggles this season because they've failed to get big stops.
Despite elevating their play on Monday night, the defense was given an opportunity to close the game out when Bills quarterback Josh Allen scored a six-yard rushing touchdown with one minute and 55 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
The defense forced Denver into a third and ten with zero timeouts remaining from the Bills 45-yard line, McDermott called cover zero and Bills cornerback Taron Johnson was burned by Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy before getting flagged for pass inteference on a severly underthrown football.
The Broncos went on to miss their first chip-shot field goal attempt before a Buffalo penalty effectively ended their chances of surviving with a victory.
But the point is that Buffalo's defensive playcaller and his units players failed to get an all-important stop when their offense — and the team itself — desperately needed it. Buffalo's offense has been a downer this season, but in multiple games, they've found ways to score enough points for the defense to steal the show one last time in the dying moments of regulation.
Reverse backwards to the Patriots game and it's a similar story.
The Bills offense was deplorable for most of that game, there's no denying that, but they still scored a game-leading touchdown with one minute and 58 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. McDermott and his defense's challenge was 75 yards of separation between Mac Jones (Mac Jones!) and the endzone — and he scored, with ease.
In the Giants game, the Bills defense was a missed holding call away from allowing former Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (Tyrod Taylor!) to drive 50-plus yards in one minute and 25 seconds with only one timeout remaining.
McDermott preaches the term "complimentary football," but the Bills haven't played much of it this season. When the offense struggles, the defense gets stops. When the offense finds its groove — albeit, late in the game — the defense finds ways to flounder.
Now, the defense certainly gets some leeway for having been decimated by injuries this season, but this has been trending for some time. Has anyone rewatched the highlights of '13 seconds' or 'Hail Murray' lately? In case you haven't, the Bills scored go-ahead touchdowns with 13 seconds (of course) and 34 seconds remaining in those games, respectively.
The Bills lost both of those games.
Dorsey wasn't a creative enough play caller, his offense was stale and predictable. But McDermott should certainly be checking the temperature of his barstool before taking a seat — because it should be hot.
None of the Bills units, including its special teams, have been effective enough to win games this season. While its offense has been the worst of the three units, its defense has failed (or luckily succeeded) in clutch situations — and its special teams committed the back-breaking penalty that won the game for Denver on Monday night.
Whether its been dropping passes, not forcing turnovers, or kicking bad punts, everybody has failed to execute in Buffalo this season — and McDermott is the only player or coach that has a hand in every facet of the football game.
When Buffalo takes the field against the New York Jets this Sunday, their playoff clock will have started clicking.
And so should the 'Black Monday' clock for Buffalo's seventh-year head coach, Sean McDermott.