Bills WR Johnson backpedals on coaching criticism

Associated Press Modified: November 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm •  Published: November 26, 2012

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Stevie Johnson and the Buffalo Bills' offense suddenly have one thing in common. Both are moving in reverse.

The Bills' leading receiver found himself backpedaling Monday, a day after openly questioning coach Chan Gailey's offensive play calling following a 20-13 loss at Indianapolis.

Johnson said he misspoke when suggesting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick take over the play-calling duties from Gailey. What he meant to say is Fitzpatrick should have more opportunities to change plays at the line of scrimmage.

"I didn't mean changing play-calling duties and all that," Johnson said. "I may have said it, but what I meant to say was audible and giving Fitz the audible a little more."

Johnson said he should have chosen his words more carefully, and can appreciate why his comments could be perceived as challenging Gailey. He blamed himself, saying he spoke the heat of the moment following a loss that all but mathematically ended the Bills' chances of making the playoffs.

"It's all frustration," Johnson said. "I was just frustrated because I know what was at stake playing against Indianapolis, playing against an AFC opponent and feeling like we need to take their spot. And then they beat us."

The Bills (4-7) have lost four of five and fallen to the fringes of the playoff race in preparing to host Jacksonville (2-9) on Sunday.

Gailey played down the stir the comments created, saying he understands Johnson's intention.

"I know where he's coming from. Stevie just wants to win," he said. "If you know a guy, you know where his heart is. Even though he might not have said it exactly right, you know where his heart is. And I know Stevie."

Whatever Johnson meant to say, he did get at least one thing right. Something's got to change to a Gailey-designed, Fitzpatrick-run offense that's been sputtering at best and has lacked finish for much of the past two months.

Buffalo has topped 310 yards on offense and scored more than 19 points just twice in its past seven games.

The offense has been particularly lethargic in the red zone over its past eight games. In their last 25 drives that entered an opponent's 20, the Bills have scored nine touchdowns and settled for 12 field goals.

Against Indianapolis, Buffalo was limited to scoring a touchdown and two field goals on three red-zone opportunities.

The lack of production is what sparked Johnson's outburst following the game, when he said: "I think we need to let our quarterback call these plays. He's out there on the field. He sees the adjustments that need to be done."

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