The Buffalo Bills fired their offensive coordinator, Ken Dorsey, on Tuesday amid a 1-3 stretch over their last four games. The final straw was on Monday night against the Denver Broncos, where the Bills coughed up four turnovers and lost by a score of 24-22 on a game-winning field goal.
The fact that the Bills fired Dorsey seems to make no sense statistically. The Bills have scored 262 points in ten games this season, good enough for the eighth-most points in the league. Additionally, the Bills have only allowed 184 points throughout the entire season, which is the fifth-least in the NFL.
They are outscoring their opponents by almost eight points per game this season, and the offense is putting up points at a pretty good pace. The team isn't as good as last season's version, which went 13-3 and had both the second-best offense and defense in the league in terms of points scored, but they shouldn't be 5-5 and currently sitting outside of a playoff spot, either.
The big issue for the Bills is that they can't win close games. In one-score games this season, the Bills are 2-5, with their two wins coming against the Giants and Buccaneers, while all five of their losses have come by less than one score; their most significant loss has been by six, with those coming against the Jets and Bengals.
Part of that blame does fall on Dorsey, as this didn't seem to be the case when Brian Daboll was the OC in Buffalo. The Bills don't have a great run game this year, which is part of the issue, too, but the Bills run most of their offense, especially on first down, out of shotgun, and they only run the ball 35% of the time; when they pass out of shotgun, they tend to be effective, but they aren't effective running the ball out of the shotgun because they tend to run straight up the middle, which tends to be easier for the defense to handle.
However, a significant chunk of the blame falls on Head Coach Sean McDermott because he has had difficulty deciding when to be aggressive and conservative, especially in close games. Generally speaking, McDermott likes to be aggressive on both offense and defense, which tends to work out; when he is playing aggressively, he produces games like the 48-20 thrashing of the Miami Dolphins earlier this season or the 47-17 dismantlement of the Patriots in the Wild Card Round in 2021.
After injuries to several key players on defense this season, including Tre’Davious White, Matt Milano, and Daquan Jones, McDermott has responded by playing with a much more conservative style. The defense isn't blitzing nearly as much, and the offense is more focused on ball control than creating the explosive plays they are known for. This has resulted in close games or games where the Bills fall behind and need to play catch up, and if the Bills don't switch their play style early enough, they haven't been able to come back and win (see games against the Buccaneers and Giants where this has worked).
If the Bills want to be competitive this season, McDermott needs to acknowledge that the team is far better when they are playing aggressively. He also needs to recognize that even though the Bills may lose games playing that way, their backs are against the wall at this point, so the only way for them to get back into the playoff hunt potentially is to play to their strengths.
Allen is more apt to play like Brett Favre than Aaron Rodgers, two players who were Hall of Famers but couldn't have had more different play styles. He is known for forcing passes like Favre would, and he creates a lot of touchdowns and turnovers, while Rodgers is known for playing like a surgeon and cutting up a defense, gradually leading up to a massive play while not turning the ball over often.
The Bills are asking Allen to play more like Rodgers than Favre, and Allen can't get his risk-taking nature out of his system, which is no fault of his own. All players, regardless of position, fit into specific schemes better than others, and Allen is currently being forced to play in an offense that he doesn't feel comfortable with.
After the Bills fired Dorsey, they announced that Quarterbacks Coach Joe Brady would serve as the Interim OC for the rest of the season. Hopefully, Brady will be able to realize what McDermott and Dorsey haven't, which is that Allen isn't designed to fit into the system that the Bills have been trying to create and instead should be able to play how he likes to; the Bills will have to adapt their entire offensive and defensive philosophy, but they played the way they need to last season, and earlier in this one, so there is nothing saying that they can't do it. After all, the quarterback is the most important player on the field, and a team can only work well if they are firing on all cylinders.
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