Distractions dominate Bills in preparing to host Cardinals
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Bills offensive guard Richie Incognito defiantly asked the team’s doubters to check back next week before anyone starts writing off Buffalo’s season following the latest jolt of distraction.
“We’re not rushing around like the building’s on fire,” Incognito said. “I think we have enough veteran presence and enough talent on this roster to overcome this hump. And we’ll talk next week if it’s a house fire or not.”
At the very least, there are signs of smoke after offensive coordinator Greg Roman was fired abruptly Friday.
Already missing two players to four-game suspensions, including defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, and another two projected starters to injuries, the Bills are off to an 0-2 start in which their offense and then defense took turns unraveling. And next on Buffalo’s schedule, following a 37-31 loss to the Jets , is hosting the pass-happy and turnover-inducing Arizona Cardinals (1-1) on Sunday.
Bring it on, coach Rex Ryan said.
“You know what, this might be the exact team we need to play,” he said. “We’ve been far from perfect. But we’ll see how we measure up against maybe the best in the league here.”
The Cardinals rebounded from a 23-21 loss to New England with a 40-7 rout of Tampa Bay .
It was a game Carson Palmer blew open by completing three touchdown passes in a 14:34 second-quarter span. Arizona’s defense forced five turnovers, including Marcus Cooper returning an interception 60 yards for a touchdown.
Palmer’s not buying the narrative of the Bills being in freefall.
“When a team is in the situation they’re in, where they’re trying to get their first win and they’ve got a little turmoil going on with coaches and stuff like that, their backs are against the wall,” he said. “And we’ve got to be prepared for that.”
Star receiver Larry Fitzgerald is mindful in remembering what happened in his only previous game at Orchard Park during his rookie season in 2004. Arizona’s 38-14 loss, stands as his only NFL career game without a catch.
“The only thing good that actually happened that week for me is I got to see Niagara Falls,” Fitzgerald said. “And it was like frozen over, so I didn’t even get a good view.”
He’s since caught a pass in his next 181 games to establish the NFL’s longest active streak.
With that in mind, Fitzgerald has no interest in revisiting Niagara Falls.
“I’m going to be in my playbook when I get there from the time I land,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t want history to repeat itself.”
Some things to look out for in Buffalo’s first non-conference matchup of the season:
KEEP IT SIMPLE: Bills running backs coach Anthony Lynn replaced Roman, and is focused on simplifying an expansive playbook .
Running back LeSean McCoy expects the amount of plays available per game to be cut in half to about 40. Lynn will also call plays from the coach’s box as opposed to Roman, who worked on the sideline.
In two games, Buffalo has combined for 27 first downs, converted six of 23 third-down chances, and has fewer than 48 minutes in time of possession.
CHALLENGE FLAG: Fitzgerald wasn’t entirely shut out in his game at Buffalo. He was credited with a 4-yard run off a bubble screen, which he believes came close to being a forward pass.
“Is it too late to get it overturned?” he said.
CARDINAL TAKEAWAYS: The Cardinals lead the league with a plus-7 turnover margin, forcing four interceptions and three fumbles, and have yet to turn the ball over.
Coach Bruce Arians attributes the lack of giveaways to a certain amount of luck.
“Any time your quarterback goes without throwing interceptions, either the ball didn’t get tipped or somebody didn’t catch one,” Arians said. “We had one thrown the other night and he didn’t catch it.”
Buffalo has forced two fumbles, including Nickell Robey-Coleman returning one 36 yards for a touchdown against the Jets. Buffalo has turned the ball over once, a Taylor interception.
SHORT-TERM MEMORY: Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore is looking forward to putting behind his performance against the Jets. He was part of a secondary that gave up 100-plus yards receiving to both Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. Though disappointed, the fifth-year player said he’s having an easier time dealing with what happened than Gilmore might have earlier in his career.
“My rookie year, I probably would’ve cried,” Gilmore said. “But now I understand it’s the NFL.”
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Cardinals set a franchise record in winning seven road games last year, including their final five. The last time they won six straight road games spanned the 1975-76 seasons, when the team was based out of St. Louis.
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