When the Buffalo Bills fell to the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 37-5 Sunday in a deflating Week 7 loss, there was one new wrinkle to the offense: After spending the first six weeks calling plays from high atop the field in the coaches’ box, first-year offensive coordinator Brian Daboll called the plays from the sidelines.
The result was not encouraging, as QB Derek Anderson tossed three interceptions and lost a fumble, and TE Charles Clay lost a pivotal fumble to end a promising Bills drive early in the second quarter. Buffalo was shutout in the first half, and the offense mustered just a single Stephen Hauschka field goal in dropping its second consecutive game to an AFC South opponent.
At least for Monday night’s Week 8 clash with the New England Patriots, During Monday’s press conference, Daboll told members of the media that he plans to continue calling plays from the sidelines.
“Yeah. This week, I will,” said the coordinator. “I’ll be down there. I think the communication, particularly with [Derek Anderson] early on… Communicating back and forth with him is important. I just thought that would be a good time to go ahead and go down there so I could communicate with those guys.”
Head coach Sean McDermott said the decision is Daboll’s for where he calls the plays on game day. Echoing Daboll’s sentiments, McDermott said the communication improves whenever the offensive coordinator is down on the sideline. McDermott added that another benefit of being on the sideline comes from being able to look the players square in the eyes whenever they come off the field between series.
“I give [Brian] the right to call it from where he feels most comfortable,” said McDermott. “Sometimes, that changes from week to week. I did that in Carolina (as defensive coordinator) a few times… whether for these reasons or for other reasons, a no-huddle offense where I wanted to get the call in right away. So different situations call for different positions.”
“If I was up and I wanted to come down, whether it was from a leadership standpoint or from a strategic standpoint if we were facing a no-huddle offense, where I wanted to get the call in myself right away, instead of putting it into—this is before you could call it right in from the booth—getting it to a coach, who would then give it to the middle linebacker,” continued McDermott. “Just from a strategic standpoint, some of those things come into play.”
Buffalo has been held scoreless in the first half of three of its last four games, and the offense has scored 29 points (two touchdowns and five field goals) over the same time frame.
The Bills rank dead last in the 32-team NFL in scoring average (11.6 points per game) and now must prepare to face a major thorn in their sides—the first-place Patriots (5-2), led by all-world QB Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick.
The Patriots have dominated the Bills of late, winning 26 of the previous 29 match-ups. Buffalo hosts New England at 8:15 p.m. Monday at New Era Field in the team’s first home Monday Night Football game since a 29-27 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 17, 2008.