ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — As the Buffalo Bills continue to limp through the middle of the National Football League season, they are beginning to become known not just for penalties, but also injuries.
One of the most injured teams in the league, the Bills had a devastating Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, losing four additional starters.
Throughout the game, Marquise Goodwin had to leave due to a rib injury, Sammy Watkins sustained a new ankle injury, Seantrel Henderson may have incurred a concussion and perhaps most horrifying of all, Kyle Williams left the field on a cart for a knee injury.
Each person has a spot on the Buffalo Bills offense, but it has gotten so bad that the team is heavily preaching the “next man up” philosophy.
“I said it last week, if you’re on this team, you’re a starter,” quarterback EJ Manuel said. “It’s always going to be next man up.”
Manuel, who in his own right is a backup quarterback, started the game after starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor suffered an injury to his knee against the Titans.
Before losing the four starting players, the Bills looked to be competitive in the game, but the Bengals wore both the offense and the defense down, dealing a heavy-handed loss 34-21.
The offense is spread thin, having lost many of its productive players. Percy Harvin is out with a hip injury, Karlos Williams — Fred Jackson’s replacement — is out with a concussion, Marcus Easley is out with a shoulder injury, MarQueis Gray is out with a broken forearm and Cierre Wood is out with a knee injury.
On the defensive side of the ball, Aaron Williams did not play with a neck injury, however there are several defensive standouts who will likely not play again this season, including linebacker Ty Powell, defensive end Jarius Wynn and cornerback Leodis McKelvin — whose replacement is arguably performing better than he would.
The injuries are staggering, completely changing the image of the Bills from the beginning of the season to now.
“I thought we’d be a hell of a lot more healthy (at this point),” Head Coach Rex Ryan said of his once-healthy team. “We’ve got to take a long, hard look at what we’re asking our guys to do.”
To him, the team hasn’t yet found its identity due to the injuries.
“I think it’s affecting everybody’s morale. Mine included,” Ryan said. “It’s been a frustrating year.”
Ryan, who has blown up in frustration at different points in time throughout the year appeared more defeated than he has in any post-game press conference in the 2015-2016 season.
His team is 1-3 at home, marking a 3-3 record on the year — hardly where he thought he would be before they opened the season against the Indianapolis Colts, bragging about his team’s playoff potential.
But Ryan didn’t blame the entire loss on Sunday to injuries, he noted he made some bad calls and his team had missed opportunities that could help shuttle them past other opponents. After all, the Bengals are undefeated and have shown themselves to be a championship-caliber team throughout their season.
“It’s tough sledding, we knew it was going to be tough. That’s as good an offense as you’ll play in this league,” Ryan said. “That team’s lit up everybody in the league.”