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Carucci Take2: Let’s slam the brakes on Super Bowl-bound Bills talk

Carucci: There’s nothing about what the Bills did in Jacksonville that resembled the look of a team that should be mentioned in the same breath as the Super Bowl.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Here are my five takeaways from the Buffalo Bills’ 9-6 loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday at TIAA Bank Field:

1. Plain and simple, this was a pathetic offensive showing.

I’ll make the public service announcement that we can all pump the brakes – or, better yet, slam on them – on this direct flight to the Super Bowl that so many of us have been discussing since before the season began.

There’s nothing about what the Bills did in this game that resembled the look of a team that should be mentioned in the same breath as the Super Bowl.

They showed a blatant lack of discipline (as evidenced by their 12 penalties for minus-118 yards) and their energy was questionable at best. And please, please, please DO NOT put this one on poor officiating. By no means was this crew stellar, but the complaints about calls/no-calls do nothing to change the fact the Bills were horrendous. Play well enough, and there’s no need to give officiating a second thought.

For the second week in a row, the Bills faced a one-win opponent and played as if a victory would be granted simply for showing up. They did come out of their slumber in the second half of last week’s game against Miami. On Sunday, they napped all the way to a third loss. That’s three defeats in the AFC, which does nothing to help the old home-field-advantage discussion for the playoffs – if that’s even worth talking about now.

2. Where do we begin with the problems with the Bills’ offense?

The offensive line was terrible. It did a poor job in pass protection, with Josh Allen sacked four times and frequently running for his life. It was equally atrocious in run-blocking.

The Jaguars’ defensive front consistently had Bills blockers on their heels and/or was in the backfield before they could get set. Even with the awful work by the line, the Bills’ running backs did almost nothing on their own to make things happen – and that was long before Zack Moss left the game with a concussion.

Receivers weren’t getting open, often forcing Allen to hold the ball too long or run, which he did to the tune of 50 yards on five carries. 

For most of the game, Allen also looked out of sorts. He struggled to find any sort of rhythm and seemed to be trying too hard to make something, anything, happen. That helped result in two interceptions and a fumble.

3. Before we get too far into this, let’s give the Bills’ defense some credit.

It isn’t saying much to acknowledge the NFL’s top-ranked D played well against one of the league’s worst offenses. The Jaguars have almost no ability to push the ball down the field. I know, I know. The Bills did little of that as well, but this has been a season-long issue for Trevor Lawrence and the rest of the Jags’ offense.

Still, the Bills’ defense did what it was supposed to have done by keeping Jacksonville’s offense from generating any difference-making plays. That should have been good enough to result in a Buffalo victory.

4. This was one of the worst coached games of the Sean McDermott era.

For whatever reason, he did not have his players ready to play. He was clearly unable to convince them that, in the NFL, even losing teams require you to give something greater than a casual effort. Otherwise, you can suffer the sort of embarrassment that the Bills did.

The volume of penalties was inexcusable. When you’re at the midpoint of the season, you shouldn’t be committing the sort of infractions that constantly put you in a hole.

The offensive play-calling was also suspect. Once again, Brian Daboll looked to be far too conservative, either because he couldn’t find solutions to deal with the coverages and fronts the Jaguars were employing, or he didn’t trust his players to execute more aggressive plays effectively.

5. Where do the Bills go from here?

I’m at a loss on this one. I have been one of those true believers in the Bills’ ability to go the distance. I know their offense hasn’t looked anything like he one that was so dominant last season. But the defense continues to play at a championship level and I assumed the offense would eventually come into its own.

Obviously, that looks to be a long way off. There is much for this team to fix and if it doesn’t do so soon, it could definitely go into a tailspin.

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