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Bills GM Nix criticizes defense's lack of urgency

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Bills GM Nix criticizes defense's lack of urgency

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Buddy Nix places the blame for the Buffalo Bills' defensive meltdowns on an overall lack of urgency and not solely on high-priced defensive end Mario Williams. And the Bills general manager maintained his confidence in coach Chan Gailey's ability to turn around a team suddenly facing an early season crisis.

Otherwise, Nix finds himself as frustrated and ``puzzled'' as anyone after watching his team get outscored by a combined margin of 97-31 in its past two games.

``Well, obviously, we're not pleased with it. There's really no excuse for losing the way we did,'' Nix said Tuesday during a telephone conference call with reporters. ``We're all to blame. Let's do better. Hell, let's get it going.''

Nix spoke from Phoenix, where the Bills (2-3) are spending the week preparing to play the Arizona Cardinals (4-1) Sunday.

The Bills elected to stay out west to save time on travel after a 45-3 loss at San Francisco on Sunday. And yet there are many fans beginning to wonder whether the team should come home at all after putting up consecutive duds, including a 52-28 loss to New England a week earlier.

It's a two-game stretch in which the Bills have allowed 1,201 yards offense, the most by an NFL team since the New York Yanks surrendered 1,227 over that span in 1950. Buffalo has particularly struggled in the second half in each loss, having been outscored 73-14 over the past two games.

Against New England, the Bills became only the second NFL team to allow an opponent to have two players with 100 yards rushing and two more with 100 yards receiving. Against the 49ers, the Bills gave up a franchise-worst 621 yards and became the first NFL team to allow 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing.

These are numbers Nix said he couldn't have envisioned this offseason when he revamped his defense by committing about $127 million in salary to sign Williams and fellow defensive end Mark Anderson in free agency, and after Dave Wannstedt took over as the unit's coordinator.

Nix refused to single out Williams by saying there's enough blame to go around on defense that he sees to be playing with a lack of urgency.

``When you miss tackles, usually it's one of two things: It's talent or lack of effort,'' Nix said. ``And we've seen these guys do it before so I think they can. But we've got to get that urgency back somehow.''

As for Williams, Nix said it's unfair for the player to take the brunt of the blame, because it would be difficult for anyone to play up to the high expectations that were raised around Buffalo after Williams signed a six-year, $100 million contract.

``It's not just Mario. Mario actually plays better than people give him credit for,'' Nix said, noting how Williams draws attention from opposing offenses that should allow others to succeed.

``Not to defend him, he can play better. We expect him to, but so can everybody else,'' Nix said. ``I mean, we all need to play better. ... I don't care who's getting paid what, none of us have earned it the last couple of weeks.''

Williams, who was one of the NFL's top pass rushers during his six years in Houston, has been limited to 1 1/2 sacks this season. And the Bills' ability to generate a pass rush has dried up in each of the three losses. Nine of Buffalo's 10 sacks this season have come in the team's victories over Kansas City and Cleveland.

Nix said the defense has to change its mindset.

``It's refusing to lose, I'd put it that way, just being determined to compete,'' he said. ``And some way or another, we're missing that.''

Nix then turned his attention to defending Gailey, who's job status has suddenly come into question in his third season, and amid concerns that the Bills have quit on him the past two games. Nix noted how Gailey didn't lose his players in his first season after Buffalo opened with eight consecutive losses before closing 4-12.

``Chan has never lost it. He's even keel, he's the same every day. He's not going to panic,'' Nix said. ``He knows what he's doing. And he won't lose this team, neither. We will get them back. I've got great confidence in that.''

Nix also addressed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's ongoing inconsistencies by saying they're a result of the team's overall poor performance.

Fitzpatrick has thrown 12 touchdown passes versus eight interceptions this season. His struggles date to last season. In going 3-11 in his past 14 games, Fitzpatrick has 22 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

``We haven't been consistent enough at that position,'' Nix said. ``But if you can't stop anybody, if you can't stop the run and get off the field on defense, and keep your offense in the game, then you've got no chance no matter who the quarterback is.''

He then added that every position has become a concern, except for special teams.

``Other than that, we're concerned about everybody,'' Nix said. ``We've got to do better.''

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NASCAR at New Hampshire: everything you need to know about racing this weekend

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NASCAR at New Hampshire: everything you need to know about racing this weekend

Still not over that finish from Kentucky Speedway? Good, us either. NASCAR is right back after it this weekend in the Granite State and New Hampshire Motor Speedway for some short-track summer action.

Here's what we're watching for on Sunday afternoon in the Foxwoods Resort 301 (3 p.m. EST on NBCSN).

NEW HAMPSHIRE STATISTICS
New Hampshire Motor Speedway: 1.058-mile oval in Loudon, N.H.
Race information: 318.46 miles, 301 laps
Stage lengths: 75 laps, 75 laps, 151 laps
Defending winner: Kevin Harvick
Most wins: Jeff Burton (4)

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Friday, July 19

12:05 – 12:55 p.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN)

1:05 – 1:55 p.m. – Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

3:35 – 4:25 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

4:35 p.m. – Cup qualifying (single vehicle/two laps all positions) (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network)

Saturday, July 20

10:05 – 10:55 a.m. – Cup practice (CNBC)

11:15 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying (single vehicle/two laps all positions) (NBCSN)

12:35 – 1:25 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN)

4 p.m. – Roxor 200 Xfinity race (stages 45/90/200 laps = 211.6 miles) (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, July 21

3 p.m. – Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 (stages 75/150/301 laps = 318.46 miles) (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Is It Time For SHR To Panic?

Past the halfway point in the 2019 season, Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske, Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing and Spire Motorsports (!) have visited Victory Lane.

Notably absent is Stewart-Haas Racing.

2014 Monster Energy Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick had five wins at this point last season, Clint Bowyer had two, and the duo of Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch had been running consistently inside the top five and top 10. This season, they're a step behind.

Whether it's the adjustment to the new Ford Mustang or the new aerodynamic rules package for this season, SHR is behind, there's no sugarcoating it.

Although Harvick is safely in the playoffs, Almirola is in but does not have a large buffer, Bowyer is on the bubble and Daniel Suarez is on the outside looking in.

Harvick did win this race last season, and another checkered flag for the No. 4 camp this weekend would go a long way confidence wise for the organization.

More Sticky Stuff

PJ1 is back, and it seems here to stay.

The sticky adhesive that was put down last weekend in Kentucky, as well as multiple times last season, has been applied at NHMS and will be applied next weekend at Pocono Raceway as well. The adhesive is in hopes to create more racing lines and in turn, a better on track product.

With temparatures this weekend reaching upwards of triple digits, the PJ1 will become more active earlier on. The hotter it is, the more grip the substance has.

Lobstah

New England NASCAR trips and somewhat cringeworthy New England NASCAR accents go hand in hand. Like it or not, that's part of it, right?

The winner of each NHMS race gets a big ole lobster to celebrate with. But don't give one to Denny Hamlin. We remember what happened to him a couple years back, right?

2019 NASCAR STANDINGS

Next week, NASCAR heads to the Pocono Raceway for the second time this season for the Gander Outdoors 400 on Sunday, July 28 at 3:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN.

Quick Links

Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

As you would expect a first-place NL East team to do, the Atlanta Braves bounced back to even the series with Washington Friday night inside SunTrust Park. Josh Donaldson erased Victor Robles' game-tying, two-run home run with his walk-off single in the ninth. Atlanta improved to 59-40 and increased its lead over the Nationals to 6.5 games with a 4-3 final. 

Consider these notes as Washington grinds through a pivotal series in Atlanta: 

Player Notes:

Washington's first-year lefty didn't have his best stuff going Friday night in Atlanta. Patrick Corbin tossed just five innings allowing eight hits, two runs, two walks on 100 pitches. He struck out five Braves on his 30th birthday. 

The Nationals' third baseman has brought new meaning to the word 'consistency' all year long in his first season as an All-Star. Two games into this four-game series in Atlanta, Anthony Rendon has five hits, a walk, and 2 RBI.  

Victor Robles brought the fireworks in the ninth at SunTrust Park. The 22-year-old delivered a game-tying, two-run home run off Luke Jackson. The long-ball traveled a whopping 446 feet. 

The Fernando Rodney experience was alive and well. Davey Martinez made the questionable decision to bring his 42-year-old back out in the ninth for a second consecutive inning. It backfired. Just 14 of his 32 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

Injuries: 

SP Max Scherzer: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 25

RP Jonny Venters: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, Expected to be out until at least Aug 7

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

Coming Up:

Saturday 7/20: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Sunday 7/21: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Monday 7/22: Nationals vs. Rockies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park 

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: