The Buffalo Bills‘ 33-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, November 13 was incredibly painful to watch. Not only did the Bills squander a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter before choking in overtime, but this upset marked the third straight game in which Buffalo collapsed in the second half.
The Bills enter Week 11 with a 6-3 record and sitting in third place in the AFC East, a steep dip for the team considered to be Super Bowl favorites. While Bills quarterback Josh Allen took full responsibility for his several costly mistakes against the Vikings, his miscues weren’t unique to this one loss. He hasn’t thrown a passing touchdown in the second half since Week 6 against the Chiefs.
However, it’s impossible to discuss the MVP candidate’s slump without talking about offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey‘s questionable playcalling. While fans have had it, calling for Dorsey to be fired on Twitter, NFL analysts believe Allen’s reckless play can be fixed with better coaching and better use of the run game.
The Athletic‘s Joe Buscaglia wrote, “Dorsey has left a bit to be desired past the team’s surge to begin the year… The Bills have devolved into an offense wholly reliant on Allen bailing them out time after time rather than the omnipotent offensive attack they’ve shown the potential to be in spurts.
“Over the last two losses, when the Bills were trying to put away their opponents in the second half, they have only called a rushing play to their running backs on 19.6% of their plays for a total of 32 yards. For a team designed to get out to huge leads that need to put away their opponents, passing the ball over 80 percent of the time in the second half is unsustainable.”
The Ringer‘s Steven Ruiz noted, “The Bills rank 20th in red zone touchdown percentage after 10 weeks. Considering they led the league in that statistic in 2021, new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, who replaced Brian Daboll, is shouldering a lot of the blame.”
Bills Coaching Staff ‘Has No Faith’ in the Run Game
Allen currently leads the league in interceptions (10), and The Buffalo News‘ reporter Jay Skurski believes that number would drop dramatically if Dorsey utilized the run game for short yardage.
“When the Bills really need to run the ball, they just can’t,” Skurski wrote. “The Bills had four of their 10 rushing attempts in the second half go for 2 or less yards… Worse yet might be the Bills’ play-calling because they can’t run the ball. On second-and-goal from the Vikings’ 2-yard line early in the fourth quarter, the Bills called three consecutive passes. That’s a clear indication the coaching staff has no faith in the Bills’ ability to pick up short yardage on the ground.”
“The Bills have just 12 points in the second half over the past three weeks. That does not speak well to any adjustments that offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey is making at halftime. Why trade for [Nyheim] Hines to give him two targets over his first two games? Why is the message about taking better care of the football not getting through? Given how much of a priority that is for head coach Sean McDermott, that’s a troubling question.”
Of course, coaching can’t be blamed for Allen fumbling the snap on his own 1-yard line or Bills safety Cam Lewis trying to intercept the ball instead of batting it down in Week 10, but the past 11 quarters of football have created a disturbing trend.
When Dorsey addressed the media on Monday, he was asked about not running at all on 2nd/3rd/4th & 2 before 1st INT,” as tweeted by WROC TV‘s Thad Brown. “Said they hit some screens, so that was choice on 2nd down. 3rd/4th were decisions to pass. ‘Something we’re going to evaluate and make sure players are in the right position.'”
As for his plan of attack with Allen, “QB play is 100% being smart not conservative,” Dorsey said, per Brown. “We’re going to continue to stress that. Can’t go into a game and be a shell. Have to continue to attack.”
Colin Cowherd Says Allen Is Regressing Without Brian Daboll
While Buscaglia noted the Bills are missing “the creative charm that was a staple” of former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, NFL analyst Colin Cowherd directly linked Allen’s regression to his absence, which was a topic of discussion since before the season started.
“I’m not insinuating Buffalo has bad coaches, but Brian Daboll is probably going to win Coach of the Year, Cowherd surmised, as he’s turned the Giants from an unwatchable team with a weak quarterback to a shoo-in for the playoffs.
“But nine games in Buffalo without Brian Daboll and Josh Allen is now reverting to the Josh Allen in college and Josh Allen the first year,” Cowherd said. “Wild, too often Superman, throwing the ball away. Even great knockout artists need movement and a jab. Patrick Mahomes, every single year… he’ll go off into the weeds mechanically and Andy Reid’s gotta bring him in and sandpaper him, refine him and get him back on the fairway. That’s okay. It happens.”
While Cowherd notes “this is not a shot on Ken Dorsey, but maybe Brian Daboll is just so good, just so excellent, that when he leaves, even with Allen’s talent, you know it.” Cowherd also noted the Bills’ lack of a run game, which has been an issue now for four years. Without Allen’s yards, Buffalo ranks 30th in the league in rushing yards.