In the midst of a season that was falling below expectations on Tuesday, the Buffalo Bills made a significant move by dismissing offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and appointing quarterbacks coach Joe Brady as his temporary successor.
Coach Sean McDermott stressed that the choice was made in order to “find consistent production” and to feel more confident and energized.
The Bills suffered a season-high four drops and turned the ball over four times in their defeat to the Denver Broncos on “Monday Night Football,” which was hours prior to the action. However, ESPN Analytics notes that Dorsey’s dismissal is also a reaction from the Bills, who are now 5-5, out of the postseason picture in a competitive AFC, and have the toughest schedule left.
McDermott said on Tuesday afternoon, “I think those times have become few and far between. There have been times when we have moved the ball and scored points.” “I can think of the Miami game [in Week 4], which I was very happy about since we obviously scored on almost every drive there. However, there have been moments after that Miami game—and even before that, to be honest—when I didn’t think we were scoring enough points and moving the ball well enough.
“So, it’s just— you know, the whole thing? the whole corpus of work. It’s not limited to two or four games. At this time, the whole season is involved.”
In 2022, Dorsey was promoted as Buffalo’s offensive coordinator upon the hiring of Brian Daboll as the New York Giants’ head coach. After Daboll left, Josh Allen, the team’s standout quarterback, recommended Dorsey to take over as quarterback coach of the Bills.
However, since Week 5, the Bills have failed to put together drives and establish offensive consistency under Dorsey’s leadership as offensive coordinator (after 12% ended in a turnover during the first four games). Since then, 21% of drives have resulted in a turnover, worst in the NFL. Turnovers have been a big problem for Buffalo’s offense, which hasn’t scored more than 25 points since Week 4. Allen leads the NFL with 14 turnovers and 11 interceptions.
Josh and I talk every day. And I took the choice to terminate Dorsey alone,” McDermott said. “Beyond that, it’s Josh’s responsibility and job to come out and help Coach Brady formulate the game plan and to come out and execute the game plan and take care of the football and be our offense more than anything.”
With 33 turnovers since Dorsey took over as coordinator, Allen has six more than the next player, Trevor Lawrence, and has two more than the next closest players, Desmond Ridder and Mac Jones.
The Bills’ offense seems to be among the best in the NFL statistically; it is ranked third in yards per play (6.0), second in completion percentage (70.3%), and third in offensive efficiency per play. However, despite having a reasonably healthy offensive, the Bills’ truth is that they weren’t regularly producing at a high level, and because the offense deteriorated after Week 5, dissatisfaction was evident.
Following their spectacular offensive displays in Weeks 2-4, when they scored at least 37 points a game, scoring points, especially in the first half, started to become an issue. The Bills fell behind early and often as a consequence.
The Bills offense has averaged seven points per game in the first half of games since Week 5 (fourth fewest). It leads the league in turnovers since Week 5 with 13, having committed a league-high eight in the opening two quarters of those games.
Even Buffalo’s best players have had inconsistent games. Prior to the season, Allen and the Bills discussed their desire for the two-time Pro Bowler to take less hits and to use the football more wisely. Actually, it appeared to reduce Allen’s effectiveness, particularly when opposing defenders did not have to worry about the prospect of his rushing as often.
There were also few splash plays; Allen equaled Jordan Love for the most interceptions this season with 10 on tosses of 10 yards or more. Since Week 6, he’s completed 15 of 38 throws (39.5%, 22nd) involving 15 or more air yards.
“Just some of the new energy around our offense, my hope is, and my aim is that it will create a little bit of confidence, clarity and ability to anticipate, as opposed to in some cases react,” McDermott said. “And I think that’s what a part of playing the quarterback position is all about.”
McDermott has also expressed a desire for the offense to have the threat of a running game. However, Buffalo hasn’t been consistent either, as they have run for less than 100 yards in three of their last six games.
Nevertheless, James Cook, the rushing back for the Bills, just finished with 109 yards against the Broncos.
In addition, the defense has been emphasized. Despite major injuries, the defense has adjusted, and as a result, the Bills have the third-worst starting field position margin since Week 5 (-5.9).
In his first six games of the season, wide receiver Stefon Diggs of the Bills had five receptions for 100 yards. Since then, he has not had one, and on Monday, he had a season-low three catches for 34 yards on five targets.
For the first four years of his career, Allen had Daboll as his offensive coordinator until he joined Dorsey.
Brady worked as an offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers from 2020 to 2021, until he was dismissed by Matt Rhule during the 2021 season. According to McDermott, the organization is still figuring out how to handle hiring a new quarterbacks coach and determining Brady’s whereabouts on game days.
“Some of this is a projection and also want to see what [Brady] can do in this role,” McDermott said. “He has a close relationship with Josh as the quarterback coach, and we’ve talked … he’s got some ideas and we’ll see where it goes from here.”
Brady oversaw the passing game at LSU in 2019 before joining the Panthers, a year that saw Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow win the Heisman Trophy and lead the Tigers to the national title.
Joe is fantastic. Joe is very imaginative,” Burrow said on Tuesday. “He always has something to capitalize on a certain appearance that you’re seeing on camera. He has a great potential here. I can’t wait for him. I have nothing but affection for Joe because he helped me develop into the player I am today.”