ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Witnessing a troubling surge in turnovers and a worrisome drop in quarterback Josh Allen’s confidence provided Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott little choice but to fire offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey on Tuesday.
The move came 10 weeks into the season and a day after the three-time defending AFC East champions dropped to 5-5 to fall further out of the playoff picture following a sloppy, turnover-filled 24-22 loss to the Denver Broncos.
“We need to be a confident offensive football team, and find consistent production, and that’s really what it came down to,” McDermott said. “I’m as frustrated as anyone out there. We’re trying to win one game at a time right now, and we get a chance to right the ship.”
He then defended the timing of the decision in making the move entering a short week with the Bills having only five days to prepare before hosting the division rival New York Jets (4-5) on Sunday.
“There’s never a good time to do it, right?” McDermott said. “I always want to do what’s best for the team, and felt like this was needed right now.”
Second-year quarterbacks coach Joe Brady takes over as interim coordinator. He joined the Bills after spending the previous two seasons as Carolina’s offensive coordinator.
Something was bound to give with an offense showing signs of stagnation over a six-week stretch in which Buffalo dropped four of six. The last straw was an outing against Denver in which Allen committed three of Buffalo’s four turnovers, and the offense was held under 26 points for a sixth straight game to match the longest stretch since the quarterback’s rookie season in 2018.
Dorsey was unable to complete his second season on the job after being Allen’s hand-picked successor to take over after Brian Daboll was hired to coach the New York Giants.
Daboll spent four seasons in Buffalo, with his hiring coinciding with the Bills trading up five spots to select the raw and erratic but strong-armed Allen with the seventh pick in the 2018 draft.
Under Daboll, Allen set numerous single-season franchise records for passing and scoring.
Dorsey, who quarterbacked the University of Miami to win a national championship in the 2001 season, brought an intensity to his job, which was evident in how he trashed the coach’s booth in frustration following a 21-19 loss at the Miami Dolphins last season.
Dorsey, however, had difficulty outlining his philosophy or pinpointing what was going wrong beyond blaming execution and attention to detail, while saying the blame falls on him.
Too often, Allen looked hesitant in the pocket and the Bills offense lacked tempo to keep defenses off balance.
McDermott declined to go into detail when asked if his offense was too predictable, while also saying he made the decision to fire Dorsey on his own, and without any input from Allen.
“I think more than anything, it’s to make sure that we’re trying to improve our football team in every area that we can,” he said. “I think it’s important that those guys feel, hey, something’s changed, right? And there’s something new that we can be excited about.”
Very little was exciting about an offense that was misfiring all too often, and lacked the swagger of past seasons — or even during a three-game stretch in September when the Bills won three games by outscoring their opponents by a combined margin of 123-33. The run was capped by a 48-20 win over Miami.
Ever since, the Bills have been outscored by a combined margin of 129-123 over their past six games.
McDermott also ran out of patience with the offense’s struggles and its inability to pick up the slack for an injury-depleted defense that’s down three starters because of long-term injuries and was missing two more in the loss to Denver.
Turnovers have become an issue, with Allen throwing a league-high 11 interceptions, including at least one in a career-worst stretch of six straight outings. His career record dropped to 33-25 when committing a turnover, and 3-5 this season.
Allen appeared to look more dejected after each loss.
“It’s not ideal,” Allen said, on Monday, when assessing the hole the Bills have dug. “Yeah, I’m still confident. But it’s no secret. The clock’s ticking. Gotta have some urgency now.”
Buffalo’s schedule doesn’t get any easier. After hosting the Jets, the Bills face a four-week stretch — spanning their bye week — in which they play at Philadelphia (currently 8-1), at Kansas City (7-2) and host Dallas (6-3).
Allen backed Dorsey a month ago when the coordinator first began generating criticism, and he initially blamed himself for the struggles.
He said he began reeling in his emotions after Week 2 by adopting a “low-positive” approach, while acknowledging he might have gone too far.
This marks Buffalo’s second change at a coordinator position this year. McDermott took over the defensive play-calling duties after announcing in February that coordinator Leslie Frazier was taking the year off from coaching with at least one year left on his contract.
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