As has happened so often in the last four games, the Buffalo Bills faltered on offense for long periods of time in a 24:18 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on November 5th.
After the game, comments from quarterback Josh Allen and head coach Sean McDermott appeared to point to offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, with one insider questioning whether Dorsey’s job could be in jeopardy. Sunday’s loss dropped the Bills to 5-4, missing an opportunity to move into a tie for first place in the AFC East and putting their playoff hopes in doubt.
Josh Allen can’t explain the pace of the offense
The Bills were criticized for their pace on offense, as they found success when they didn’t huddle and hurried, but often struggled when they slowed down and took a more methodical approach. When asked why the team didn’t use a fast-paced offense more often against the Bengals, Allen responded, “What.” The Athletics Joe Buscaglia called it a “subtle but coded response” aimed at Dorsey.
“Exactly the game plan we had,” Allen replied.
Buscaglia added that the normally subdued McDermott appeared to be taking a more direct shot on offense.
“This can’t happen,” the Bills coach said. “Against a good football team that is known for scoring points and a good quarterback. We have to be able to get points and we haven’t done that enough.”
Biscaglia noted that the more direct shots at Dorsey represented a “pretty interesting change in the way things have sounded” and could represent even more desperation as the team continues to struggle and Super Bowl hopes appear to be fading .
“The subtle messages are becoming fewer and fewer,” Buscaglia wrote. “The frustration and desperation is increasing and the words used have become harsher. After a great start to the game where the Bills averaged 12.1 yards per play on their first drive, that dynamic offense was missing. They gained just 158 yards on the next eight drives and watched the Bengals slowly pull away.”
The offense is weak, the defense is broken
While the Bills struggled to find their footing on offense, the defense was hit hard by a number of key injuries, which were exacerbated in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals. When Tre’Davious White suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon tear, the Bills had already lost a key player in the secondary, losing safety Micah Hyde and cornerbacks Christian Benford and Dane Jackson during the game.
Linebacker Terrel Bernard, who emerged as a key leader on defense this season, also left the game with a concussion. As WGR 550 reporter Nate Geary noted, the team could be very shorthanded next Monday night against the Denver Broncos.
“If Christian Benford misses time (McDermott mentioned he tweaked his hamstring, which isn’t good) and Dane Jackson doesn’t finish the game either, the Bills will be down to their 5th and 6th CBs in Week 10,” Geary continued X, formerly known as Twitter. “If Bernard misses time due to a concussion, they’ll be down to the 3rd and 4th lines.”
The Bills could have a great chance to turn things around next week. According to Quarter4 predictions, the Bills have a 69% chance of winning against the Broncos and are projected to have a 5.5 point advantage.
Nathan Dougherty is a sports reporter who covers the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions for Heavy. He previously wrote for the Rochester Business Journal and was associate editor of the sports journals Coaching Management, Athletic Management and Training & Conditioning. He lives in Rochester, New York and loves all things soccer. More about Nathan Dougherty