Someone has to be the fall guy.
The Bills are .500 after a demoralizing loss at home to the Denver Broncos, and someone had to get the axe. The people needed a head, and someone had to fall.
So out goes offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, who was fired Tuesday morning. It’s the first domino in what feels like the year from hell for the Bills. For a team that was supposed to be Super Bowl favorites going into the season, nothing has gone right and now they sit way outside the playoff picture in a loaded AFC. Something had to give, but did the Bills give up the right person?
If you just look at the Bills against Denver, you would think the offense is struggling. However, a deeper look into the unit’s performance over the course of the season shows the Bills have one of the best offenses in the league. Buffalo is top five in almost every efficiency rating and metric you could ask for, and the numbers are almost similar to what Brian Daboll did in his tenure with the Bills.
Bills offense thru week 10:
3rd in DVOA
1st in success rate
3rd in EPA/play
4th in QBR
3rd in yds/play
2nd in 3rd down conversion %
3rd in red zone efficiency
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) November 14, 2023
In fact, when you look at the side by side comparisons of both tenures, Dorsey was better than Daboll in many areas.
Zooming out to look at Ken Dorsey’s first 25 games as OC, compared to final 25 games of Daboll, here is what that looked like (excludes any games Josh Allen did not start) … pic.twitter.com/VAFHRTXS1t
— Mike Sando (@SandoNFL) November 9, 2023
So, what exactly is Ken Dorsey getting fired for?
Ken Dorsey is getting fired because someone had to answer for the turnovers. The Bills are second in the NFL in giveaways behind the Cleveland Browns, and had another fumble-ridden performance on Monday. Dorsey is getting fired because someone had to pay the bill for the poor roster construction that has finally come to a head this year, especially offensively.
The Bills don’t have a trustworthy receiver outside of Stefon Diggs, and it shows. This year, Diggs is ninth among NFL WRs in Adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR). The next Bills receiver in that metric is Gabe Davis, and he’s 24th. Davis had a pass go off his hands for an interception in the Broncos game that started the slide for the Bills offense.
Sure, some of these turnovers can just be chalked up to bad luck, but when it repeatedly happens it becomes a feature and not a bug. This feature is built on poor roster construction and the team simply getting worse. The turnovers feel so much more like backbreakers because the defense simply is worse and less equipped for injuries. It’s a result of poor drafting and talent acquisition (something that falls on GM Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott) and the aging core of the team (something that falls on Father Time).
The Bills have failed to address the WR spot in any meaningful way outside of trading for Diggs. Since 2017, the Bills’ highest draft pick used on a WR was a fourth rounder on Gabe Davis. That receiver they picked in 2017 was Zay Jones, who isn’t even on the team at this point. The Bills have done almost the bare minimum to help their offense post-Diggs trade and expected Allen and Diggs to tape over any glaring deficiencies.
When it comes to QB Josh Allen, you can make the argument that he’s playing some of his best football. Per Pro Football Focus, his Turnover Worthy Play Rate is at its’ lowest, and by Sports Info Solution’s metric, his TD rate is the third-highest of his career.
He has played great football, but the Josh Allen dumb interceptions are less on Dorsey and more a feature of Josh Allen. He’s going to throw really dumb passes; but that’s a part of the gimmick. For every bad pass, you get five lasers that people look back on film for. The turnovers just feel so heavy now because the defense isn’t as good to make up for it. Yes, injuries have hurt this team, but even before then they were a very top heavy roster leaning on aging vets to hold the defense together. Now that those vets are hurt, the lack of depth is showing, and the defense can’t necessarily stop the bleeding from turnovers.
Ultimately, Dorsey paid the price for the inaction of Beane and McDermott. Will both of those guys end up getting the axe? Who’s to say. But the firing of Dorsey felt less like a needed change and more like a sacrificial lamb.